Warning: Set between 1.01 and 1.02, no real spoilers. Quite silly.
Beta/Britpicking: Endless thanks to ditdatdo!
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or this world, I am merely abusing them for sick jollies.
A/N: See post-story note for what inspired this. Technical details of this are haphazardly gathered from Google and Wikipedia, and used entirely for comedic effect so don't set any stock in them. Oh, and don't try this at home.
The Simple Joys of Home
John Watson grumbled none-too-quietly to himself as he trudged up to the front door. It had been a horrible day. He'd managed to lose his umbrella and his mobile on the Tube and ended up arriving half an hour late to the most recent possible job interview looking like something that had been fished out of the Thames. Disheartened, he'd headed back home a full two hours before he'd planned, missed the notice about closures on the Circle line and ended up walking a mile and a half in the rain in his interview shoes.
The rain was stopping now, but it was too late, he was home. He was cold and wet and wanted an uncomplicated cup of tea, hoping at the very least there weren't any intestines in the microwave.
John opened the door and was overwhelmed by a waft of fragrant air. He staggered back a step in shock more than anything. It smelled... good. Really good. Like vanilla and mince pie and warm, sugary, wonderful things. It smelled a bit like Christmas in the middle of March.
"Mrs. Hudson?" he shouted in the direction of the Landlady's flat as he unlocked his door. "Whatever you're baking smells glorious!"
But then he opened the door of the flat he shared with Sherlock Holmes and the baking smell intensified.
"Sherlock?" John called. No answer either. He hung up his coat and walked into the kitchen, but stopped in the doorway. He should be used to being surprised by the contents of their flat's kitchen after a month of living with Sherlock, but this was different.
As usual the room was a mess, but atypically a far more kitchen-appropriate mess. John assessed it as he picked his way through to the kettle and turned it on.
The oven was going, adding warmth and a chocolate note to the fragrances in the air from a tray of biscuits inside. The table was covered with drifts of flour, batter-coated bowls, whisks, an empty egg carton and a rolling pin that had probably never been used to bludgeon anyone to death. Bags of flour and sugar leaned against each other like drunken mates heading home from the pub; a bottle of vanilla extract stood stiffly beside them like their long-suffering designated driver. All around the room on plates were as wide a variety of baked goods as one would find at Christmas tea. On the counter by the sink was a clean mug with a spoon and a dry tea-bag in it.
"Sherlock?" John called again, leaving the extraordinary kitchen for only a moment in case the contents vanished to be replaced by the usual bits of human cadaver and mad scientist's chemistry sets. The smell of baking followed him everywhere. Sherlock wasn't in the flat. John went back to the kitchen and looked at the abandoned mug on the counter again.
Sherlock must have left it behind and hared off after something. Lestrade had probably called. The steaming kettle switched off. No sense getting out another cup if there's one here going idle. John poured boiling water into the mug and leaned against a treat-free section of counter in front of the sink, trying to make sense of the kitchen, mug hot in his chilled hands.
"Well, it obviously can't have been Sherlock. He barely even opens a tin of beans unless pressed." Not that he couldn't, he just didn't. John had stopped worrying that the detective didn't seem to eat much of anything once he found that leaving a cheese and tomato sandwich in Sherlock's line of sight and then exiting the room usually ensured its disappearance.
Imagining Sherlock getting up to this level of cookery was rather like imagining... John wasn't sure what, really. Something quite unimaginable. Plus, it would have involved a great deal of shopping for all the ingredients, and Sherlock never shopped. Some of the items they might have had on hand, but John had done the shopping himself for the past month and was dead certain they had nothing like vanilla extract.
"So. Someone, not Sherlock, has been baking extensively in our kitchen." John looked around the room again as he sipped his tea. Little mince pies and scones were lined up with military precision on a cooling rack that took up most of the counter space. Beside that was a plate of what his grandmother had called 'jammy dodgers' despite bearing little resemblance to the packaged version; a sugar cookie with a thumbprint divot filled with jam before baking. Next to them, a plate of shortbread sat in a patch of emerging March sunlight, fairly twinkling with a dusting of sugar. A sponge cake lurked beside the pantry on top of a stack of anatomy reference books. One chair, pulled out from the table, held an apple crumble.
The oven ticked and hummed, the red glow of the element giving a view of the tray of chocolate biscuits. The timer was set with a few minutes left, but based on the very faded memories of his youth and his grandmother's baking, John judged they were almost past done already. He set his tea on the counter and, using a double-wrapped kitchen towel, pulled the tray of deep brown chocolate biscuits out of the oven.
Of course there wasn't a level surface left to put them on. John tried to balance them over the sink, but merely managed to knock his barely-touched tea and a canister of bicarbonate into the basin. He cursed and glanced around before pulling the second kitchen chair out with his foot. God only knew where the rest of the kitchen chairs had gotten to; perhaps being tested for their efficacy at barricading doors. Wouldn't Mrs. Hudson be thrilled about that.
"Ahhhh!" he said to himself as he put down the hot tray and turned the oven and timer off, "Mrs. Hudson! She must have some big social do on, and she's borrowed our kitchen for extra baking room!"
Congratulating himself on his brilliant deduction and judging Mrs. Hudson wouldn't mind one being absent when he'd rescued the batch for her, John pried a hot-from-the-oven chocolate biscuit from the tray and raised it to his mouth.
John jumped as Sherlock strode into the kitchen and knocked the biscuit out of his hand.
"Oi!" he said, frowning and stooping to pick up the dropped treat. "I didn't think you were in."
"I wasn't. Eggs. You can't eat that, John!"
"Well not now, it's been on the floor!"
"It's an experiment!"
"It's a biscuit, Sherlock!" John snapped.
"It's an experimental biscuit!"
"Oh." John dropped the biscuit into the sink and rinsed his hands under the tap.
"John. This is very important. Did you eat anything in this kitchen?" Sherlock's intent glance flitted around the room, taking inventory of the baked goods. "Anything at all?"
"No, I only-"
"No, no, I see now you haven't. All accounted for. Good."
"You mean you made all this?"
Sherlock pulled a carton of eggs from a plain plastic bag. "Yes?"
"But- You? Baking?"
"I am quite capable of following simple instructions and measurements when required, John," Sherlock said archly. "Baking is merely edible chemistry."
"Surely you didn't borrow everything to make all this from Mrs. Hudson."
"She's in Cornwall," Sherlock said, setting the carton of eggs down on the table in a drift of flour.
Re-marriage of an old friend. "Right, I forgot."
"I only borrowed the baking trays and pans and things." Sherlock lifted the carton again, examined the resulting marks left behind, nodded, and put it on the chair next to the apple crumble. "The lock on her flat is of dreadful quality."
"You stole our landlady's kitchen utensils to use in an experiment?"
"They will be returned, cleaned, of course."
John had an idea of who would be stuck with the washing up. "Dare I ask what sort of experiment involves a day spent baking?"
"There was a case in the archives," Sherlock picked up a whisk and examined the drying residue of batter. "Death by poison, took years for the murder to be brought to light, method never fully discovered, I was determining the effect of baking on a wide variety of poisons for future reference."
John looked around at the suddenly ominous baked goods. "So these are all-"
Sherlock dropped the whisk into the mixing bowl with a clatter. "Poisoned."
"Po-! Sherlock! Poisoned?" He thought of the biscuit in the sink behind him with a faint nausea. "Bloody hell! You could have left notes! 'Do not enter kitchen, mad poisoner has been baking!'"
Sherlock looked vexed. "That's hardly fair, John. I did send a text."
"Lost my phone on the Tube!"
"Yes." Sherlock glanced down at John's still soaking wet shirt. "And your umbrella. Well."
"What if Mrs. Hudson had come in!"
"Even if she wasn't in Cornwall, I'm certain Mrs. Hudson wouldn't voluntarily eat anything that came from our kitchen."
"You do have a point there." John wasn't sure he wanted to himself. He felt quite ill, and hoped it was a psychosomatic reaction to nearly being poisoned and not a virus he'd picked up on the Tube exacerbated by getting soaked. That would be all he needed to cap off the week.
"It is a very good thing you didn't eat that biscuit, John." Sherlock picked one off the tray and bent it in half, examining the newly exposed edges. "The previous murder victim was a mine foreman in Castleford, nearly twice your size. Depending on how it was effected by the baking process, the dosage involved would have killed you much faster than it did him."
"Oh." John swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. Sherlock dropped the mangled biscuit back onto the tray and picked up a jammy dodger. "Why- What were you planning to do with all this? Poison a church bazaar?"
"Of course not, I was going to-"
"Wait." John held up a hand. "On second thought, I don't want to know. I don't want to be called as a witness for the prosecution."
Sherlock tipped his head sardonically. "Really, John. I was going to take them into the lab at Bart's and test them."
"Well, that's all right then." John looked around the kitchen again at the piles of aromatic deadly baked goods. "All of this? Poisoned?"
Sherlock held the jammy dodger up to the kitchen's fluorescent fixture at an angle, tilting it so light reflected off the jam. "The exact poison was indeterminate in the file. Shoddy medical examiner. Drunk. Resulting damage could have been any of several toxins or contaminants, or possibly a combination."
"But- baking?" Between the disappointment of the day and nearly being poisoned by his relatively new flatmates' baked goods, John wished there was somewhere left in the kitchen to sit. He wondered again where all the chairs had gone and leaned an elbow on the counter next to the sink.
"The spouse confessed to the crime - the victim had been very cruel to her for years and she finally got her own back, the usual - but not how she'd done it." Sherlock picked up the apple crumble and sniffed it before setting it back down next to the carton of eggs on the chair. "Based on the case files alone, given the man's size and demeanor and the woman's unassertive nature and reputation in the community as an excellent baker, the most plausible answer would be she baked him a poisoned treat and left it out for him to gobble up."
John inclined his head. "Reasonable theory."
"However, the details were absent. What sort of poison? How many biscuits to make a fatal dose? The poison can't have been evenly distributed throughout whatever she made." He picked up a mince pie and scrutinized it. "Also, there's no existing research of any sort into the effect of sultanas or cocoa on toxic compounds."
"A shocking gap in scientific knowledge," John said facetiously.
"Indeed," said Sherlock, either missing or ignoring John's tone.
"So the uh, biscuits, what have they got in them?"
"Abrin. There's a Rosary Pea down the alley."
"Christ! What are you doing with that!"
"Making scones, obviously."
"Well. Yes. Obviously." John cleared his throat. "Mince pies?"
"Cyanide. The bitter almond scent is quite hidden by the scent of the mince." Sherlock held the pie in his hand out to John.
John flinched away at the sudden invasion of deadly pastry into his personal space. "I- I can see how it would be. Shortbread?"
John's eyebrows raised. "Oh, they're safe then?"
"I didn't say that." Sherlock picked up a glittering shortbread. "Ground glass. Makes a sparkle. Rather festive in all."
"Ah." John edged further away from the plate of shortbread and made a note to beware if he was still alive and living with Sherlock around Christmas time. "Apple crumble?"
"Taxine, from the yew in the neighbour's garden."
"Jammy dodgers? Er," John pointed at the jam-filled cookies. "Those?"
Sherlock's mouth quirked. "Atropine. Nightshade cherries, crushed into the jam."
"Well. There's creativity for you." Not like grandmother used to make at all then. John leaned on the edge of the sink with his other elbow as well. The room seemed to tilt.
"I thought it would be an elegant way a murderer could-" Sherlock's eyes narrowed as he glanced up at John.
"What?" John wondered if he'd turned the oven up instead of off. It was getting hot in the kitchen. Like an incubator. The eggs would start hatching soon.
The egg carton peeped.
Hang on, what?
Sherlock grabbed John by the wrists, then hunched slightly to look him in the eye. "Pupils dilated. Fast pulse."
Poisoned. God. "But I swear, Sherlock! I didn't eat anything!"
Sherlock stepped to one side and put a hand on the kettle. "Tea. John, did you make yourself a cup of tea? The cup-" He got a clear glance into the sink: sodden chocolate biscuit, fizzing bicarbonate and a tipped mug. "Go, vomit, now!"
John gaped. "You poisoned our bloody tea?"
Sherlock grabbed John by the elbow and dragged him towards the washroom. "Just one bag. It was an experiment, the effect of boiling water-"
"But- Tea, Sherlock? You poisoned the tea?" John stumbled along behind Sherlock like a sleepy toddler. "No one should ever poison the tea!"
"People have and do, John, and it's important to understand the mechanism-"
"What sort of poison?" John asked weakly, hoping it was at least one with a simple antidote and trying not to be distracted by the way the bamboo print on the hall wallpaper waved in the breeze as they passed.
"Angel's Trumpet. Hallucinogen, multiple toxins, lethal in high concentrations." Sherlock stopped and spun John to face him. "How much did you drink?"
John wanted to answer his flatmate but he also didn't want to interrupt the stirring soliloquy being delivered by Sherlock's hair. Was it Hamlet or King Lear? Whichever it was, it was quite good. Well, for hair.
"John!" Sherlock was shaking him and drowning out his own hair, how rude. "How much did you drink!"
"Just a few sips," John murmured. "Knocked most of it into the sink with that tray of poisoned biscuits."
"Not enough to be lethal, unless you have a heart condition or weigh less than five stone, which you don't." Sherlock exhaled and nodded, hair bowing. "Good. You need to be vomiting now. I'll ring the ambulance."
As Sherlock and his stentorian hair left the washroom, John sank down next to the wonderfully cool toilet. He supposed he should be glad that the hallucinations weren't themed around Afghanistan, and then stopped that train of thought before the hallucinations got any ideas.
The events of today would definitely not be going on his blog.
"Tell me John," Sherlock shouted from the other room. "Since you've been non-lethally poisoned regardless and it will be at minimum three minutes and twenty-seven seconds before an ambulance arrives, when did you first start to feel it take effect?"
While the bath sponge, toilet brush, and toothpaste grated out a mismatched falsetto rendition of 'I'm Going Slightly Mad', John flipped two fingers in the detective's general direction and commenced vomiting.
- - -
Post A/N: See, I have a habit of occasionally making experimental cookies and whatnot (see link at LJ posting of this story), where I don't have a recipe or half the ingredients I should and just sort of throw everything together and see what happens. I did this again this weekend, and then Sherlock got involved. And lo, there was fic.