This fic was co-written by my brother, Jackal, and I. Hopefully we were able to fuse our styles well enough that this thing is cohesive. Sherlock Holmes and his many friends do not belong to us. Please enjoy, and if you feel like it, let us know what you think.

The Framing of the Shrew

Chapter 1

Mary hurried down the street, carefully picking up her skirts to avoid the dark puddles of mud that perpetually stained all the sidewalks in gloomy, drizzly England. She was due at work, but she wanted to make a quick stop first. Specifically, she wanted to see her fiancé's best, and perhaps only, friend. The legendary Sherlock Holmes. She didn't like the man. He had the annoying habit of being able to pick you apart, laying you bare with a piercing gaze. Of course, she had other reasons to dislike the man. Her fiancé, Dr. John Watson, was Holmes' friend as well as his colleague. They had worked together for many years, even shared a flat together, and as a result, they had quite the codependent relationship. Mary needed to break some of John's ties to Holmes so she herself could fill them. She respected their friendship, but her marriage could never work if John was already married to his best friend.

She arrived at the flat that Holmes had previously shared with John. John had since moved out, now living in a place more appropriate for a man of his stature. As far as she knew, Holmes had not yet found someone to live in the extra room. She doubted he would. He was eccentric and moody, not the combination one would want in a flatmate.

She was invited in by the housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. The older woman had a harried look about her. "He's upstairs, but I wouldn't go in if I were you. I've been hearing crashes and the most awful noises," she said, shaking her head. "No doubt making quite the mess. As always." Mary thanked her, and proceeded upstairs. She would rather stay away as well, but she had a mission.

He didn't answer her knocks at first, although she could hear him inside. She could also hear the ringing clangs of metal on metal. She took a breath and pounded forcefully on the door. The sounds inside paused, and the door was thrown open to reveal the man inside.

His dark hair was sticking up in all directions, and he obviously hadn't shaved in quite some time. In addition, what looked like soot was covering his face as well as his clothes. The sleeves of his now barely white button-up shirt were rolled up, revealing many nicks and cuts on his forearms, and his suspenders hung free about his waist. She stepped back from the pervasive smell of liquor that spilled from the room.

Upon seeing who his visitor was, Holmes' blood-shot eyes narrowed. "Ah, Miss Morstan, to what do I owe the pleasure?" he asked, leaning in the doorway. She looked him in the eye. "I've come to fetch the money you've been holding for John," she said. He studied her for a moment, and his gaze made her uncomfortable. She couldn't meet his eye, and instead looked past him into the room beyond. The air was hazy with smoke, and there were papers and books scattered across the floor. There appeared to be several things smoking and bubbling on an open range.

He crossed his arms. "As his fiancé, you should know that old Watson's got a bit of a gambling problem. I think I'll hang on to that money and keep it safe for him." He smirked, and said, "I can think of no one better to keep track of Watson's finances."

She blushed, trying to hold herself steady. She knew he was goading her, and knew it was working. Unfortunately, she also knew he knew it was working. "I believe it is time that I take up some of the responsibilities in John's life," she said. She felt a rising anger. "He has already moved out, and you two haven't worked together for months." She stood up on her toes to reach his height. "I can offer him more than you can." Her voice was edged with venom. "You've always needed him more than he needed you. And now he doesn't need you anymore," she spat.

Holmes scratched his scruffy face and grinned at her. She rocked back on her heels, caught off guard. She had wanted to hurt him, but as always the man seemed aloof to her and her jibes. He moved out of the doorway. "Please come in, Miss Morstan. I suspect you already know where to find the money." He went over to a desk overflowing with papers, selected a book, and then sat in an armchair to read. He had apparently lost interest in her. She paused, looking around the room. She wrinkled her nose at the overflowing ashtrays, the unlaundered clothes, and the bits of machinery. She maneuvered around what appeared to be a cannon and went directly to the cupboard where John had told her Holmes kept his money. She knew she was doing the right thing. John had only mentioned the cabinet in passing, but surely he would want her to hold on to the money, not some crazy man who was more likely to blow it up. As she was placing the pounds in her purse, however, Holmes' voice stopped her.

"Dear me, that Watson does know all of my hiding places, doesn't he? One might say he knows more about me than he does about, say, his own fiancé." Holmes didn't glance up, just innocuously turned the page. "In fact, I bet he doesn't even know you're here. Imagine that, the marriage hasn't even begun, and you've already started lying to him." He turned another page as Mary wiped her eyes, shoved the rest of the pounds in her purse and left the room, slamming the door behind her. He smiled to himself and turned another page.

______________________________________________________________________________I hope you liked this first chapter, let us know!- nyxlett