A/N: I'm starting to forget what I've written over at sherlockbbcfic. Mostly this is a good thing. Then I (re)discovered a fic and realised that the reason it wasn't being updated was because it was mine and I'd forgotten I wrote it. Note to self: The Third Bullet. Get back on it and ignore the new Study In Emerald prompt.
The Sherlock Holmes Is An Arrogant Sod And We Must Bitch About It Club met in a random pub just about every Wednesday, when enough rage had built up over the week that it had to be vented. Sometimes they met on a Tuesday. Those were the sort of weeks it was better to strike completely from your memory.
Lestrade thought of himself as a founding member, but really, the entirety of the metropolitan police force belonged to the alliance. It was the most epic networking site existing without the help of the internet. Pretty soon, every single officer would at some point have met every other officer of the force in a pub somewhere in London, no work-related incident necessary to facilitate the meeting.
"I give it two days," Donovan said cheerfully.
"I give it another two hours," Anderson countered. "He doesn't look stupid."
"You'd know," Lestrade muttered into his pint, and apologised immediately, even though he knew they all understood. The frustration Sherlock Holmes' abrupt tactlessness engendered needed to be shared around. It had become a fact of life in Scotland Yard, the casual response to someone storming in and complaining about nothing - 'Ah. Just seen Holmes, have we? I forgive you this time, but just so you know, Anderson was right over there...'
"Well, come on," Donovan said after a moment. "What's your guess?"
Lestrade thought about it, being careful with the amount of scrutiny he gave to the way Sherlock had said 'he's with me' as if that should explain everything, and how Sherlock sounded quite... bemused - yes, bemused was a good word, a safe word - when he told John that it was 'fine' to compliment him. He definitely did not think about the sense Sherlock made when he talked about the shooter, or his abrupt 180 when he caught sight of his flatmate. "A week," he said.
"A week?" Donovan sputtered.
The appearance of Sherlock Holmes in an officer's day automatically made it feel ten hours longer. The thought of being around him for longer than half an hour at most was the police equivalent of cricket as a metaphor for eternity.
"You didn't see 'em when he was crawling over the crime scene," Lestrade said. "I'd call it flirting if there hadn't been a corpse in the room."
"I'd definitely call it flirting then," Anderson said.
Donovan snorted with agreement. "Like a corpse in the room makes a difference to Sherlock Holmes."
"Of course it does," Lestrade said guilelessly. He waited until they looked at him for explanation. "That's practically ambience for Holmes."
"Ugghh," Donovan said, shuddering theatrically. "Still, a week? Are you mad?"
"Well, a week will give the poor sod time to realise what a mistake he's made-"
"A day without a murder case ought to give him that," Anderson said. "You know what he'll do when he's bored, don't you? He won't bother moving, he'll just sit there and take pot-shots at the nearest available person. Which'll be the doctor. Or his landlady, but I gotta say, I think even he might know better than to piss off the person he's renting from."
"Then he ought to know better than to piss off the person he's renting with," Lestrade said dryly. "Anyway, my week theory - dunno if you noticed, but the bloke seems to find Holmes' deductions 'fascinating'. A week'll take the shine off, and when there's no longer the novelty of having someone who doesn't know he's a complete pillock, Holmes'll drive him off, he won't be able to help himself."
"I still say it's too long," Anderson said.
"I still can't believe that anyone could think Sherlock Holmes is fascinating," Donovan said. "The way he knows things just by looking at you? That's not cool, that's creepy as hell."
"There's got to be a term for that," Anderson mused. "Thinking something creepy is hot."
"There is," Donovan said. "Nightmare fetishist."
"I meant a proper medical term," Anderson said, with what passed for dignity as far as he was concerned.
"...Did you just make a case for those two being more than flatmates?" Lestrade said weakly. And after all that effort to see absolutely nothing unusual in the way they interacted with each other...
"Well, they moved in together pretty fast... And he did get all stubborn when I told him to stay away from Sherlock," Donovan mused. "You know, your mum tells you not to date that bloke with tattoos on his knuckles and you like him even more that you did before because of that..."
"I can safely say that situation is not one I recognise from personal experience," Lestrade said. "How about you, Anderson?"
"What is this, pick on Anderson day?"
"I thought the pain had been shared pretty equally myself," Lestrade said carefully avoiding Anderson's indignant face. "Usually Sherlock gives you so much more trouble I can feel better just looking at you, but I'm just not feeling that today."
"You know, I can totally see it," Donovan said, ignoring them in favour of swirling the remnants of her drink around in its glass. "The freak'll be like, 'well, the sensation is quite pleasant, if not very hygienic, but I'm afraid I'm not quite seeing the fascination... increase the pressure of your lips by another thirteen percent and we may have something worthy of further experimentation...' And the doctor'll be, like, 'seriously? Are you sure you wouldn't prefer your right hand?' and-"
"Donovan, it is surely a crime somewhere to mentally scar your superior officer!"
"We're off work, Inspector," she pointed out cheerfully.
"But tomorrow we're not, and I can change the rota shifts."
"It's alright, sir. Like you said - the longest we give it is a week."
A week later, they met up in The King's Head (the head in question being Henry VIII of course, a self-evident champion drinker) to compare notes, having just performed another 'drugs bust' to see how things were going in Baker Street. They stared gloomily at the money lying innocently in the centre of the table, now to become a tip for a very lucky barmaid.
"I can't believe it," Anderson said faintly. "I really can't."
"Me neither," Donovan said. "I mean, sure, I was stubborn about Kevin because my mum didn't like him, but I dumped him in the end when I realised he was an awful boyfriend anyway..."
"Mnn," Lestrade said, trying to express 'Sergeant Donovan, I'm going to demote you if you force me to contemplate Sherlock Holmes' sex life again' with one incoherent syllable of misery. He had a bullet in his pocket that declared John Watson intended to stick around, and also that Donovan's joking suggestions about life in 221B might have more truth in them than first thought. He really hoped it had just been a matter of soldiering instinct kicking in. Usually people were willing to kill Sherlock Holmes within a day of meeting him, not kill for him.
"But no," she continued, either oblivious or doing a very good impression of it, "A week and it's more obvious than ever. I swear, every time they looked at each other I had to look around for hearts and rainbows, or at least a knife to cut the tension with."
Anderson made a noise somewhat reminiscent of 'ughk'. "Must you, Sally?"
"You can't tell me you didn't notice? Not exactly hiding it, are they? I swear, the way he says 'Sherlock', I feel a little skeevy just being able to hear it."
"Now you're just reaching," Lestrade said, and was buoyed by the thought that maybe it was all Donovan's imagination. That would be nice. He might even be able to stop giving the pair of them paranoid glances whenever they turned up at the Yard and Sherlock might look a little less 'hmm, what exactly am I doing that is mentally scarring you and how may I further your self-sabotage?' every time they interacted.
"Maybe a little," she admitted. "But not by much! Come on, I've never heard you say your best mate's name like that."
"That's because you haven't met my best mate," Lestrade said.
"Yeah, but you still wouldn't say his name like that, would you?"
"...No." Lestrade admitted, and added another point to the list of reasons he was going to have to demote Donovan.
"You're going to have to start knocking instead of just walking in," she said. Lestrade couldn't tell if she was being very sly or genuinely oblivious.
"I don't want to learn to knock," Lestrade said miserably. "Why should I learn to knock? It'll make me feel like even more of a supplicant."
"And more careful about when you schedule the drugs busts," Gregson, most recent Holmes-survivor added. "Don't want to walk in on anything."
"Do you know what my brain just did when you said that? It went 'fatal error' and started acting like bloody Windows Vista."
"Walking in on them would be a vista all right."
"Fatal error, system crash, please wait to reboot."
Three weeks later, John Watson had not run away screaming, and the consensus was that if he'd lasted three weeks, he was probably in it for the long term. Always eager for a bet, the focus of the Sherlock Holmes Is An Arrogant Sod And We Must Bitch About It Club gradually shifted to a related mystery-
"Oh, my god," Donovan said, watching them walk away - were they a step closer than might be expected? It wasn't goddamn fair that Lestrade had to worry about the typical social etiquette of how far apart two friends typically stood from each other. He really was going to demote Donovan, it was for the sake of his sanity, it couldn't be helped. "They weren't actually talking about food, were they?"
"Anderson, don't-" Lestrade snapped, but knew the moment the words left his mouth that he was already too late.
"What else could they possibly be talking about?"
"Victory sex," Donovan said grimly.
"Anderson, when we get to The Grenadier, it's your round." Lestrade said. There was no point pretending not to be traumatised, but he tried his hardest to sound normal anyway. "Donovan, you - you have to talk to Holmes for a full ten minutes next time he skips in."
He had a sinking feeling, however, that things would only get worse when they reached the pub. The Grenadier was that kind of a pub. Had a ghost and everything.
Things got worse. God help him, Hopkins was waiting.
"Is it true?" Hopkins demanded.
Lestrade must have looked as gormless as Sherlock was constantly telling him he was, and she sighed impatiently.
"Sherlock Holmes," she snapped. "Him and that 'flatmate' of his, is it true?"
Lestrade's brain did a woeful little flop of protest. Eventually he managed to say, "Er." Hopkins seemed to take it as affirmation.
"Oh god, it isn't fair!" She wailed. Lestrade wasn't sure who she was talking to; she appeared to be shaking her fists at the ceiling. "Sherlock Holmes is having more luck getting laid than I am! I'll have to buy a cat and prepare for the inevitable."
Lestrade quite liked cats, and couldn't see why that would be a hardship.
"I don't want to be a crazy cat lady!" Hopkins said, sounding bitterly disappointed at the way the world had betrayed her. "I don't like cats! I'm allergic!"
"So don't buy a cat," Lestrade said, and wondered if he was somehow the only person left that had managed to maintain even a sliver of his sanity after prolonged contact with Sherlock Holmes.
"Crazy dog lady just doesn't work as well, Inspector," Hopkins said gloomily, shoulders slumped.
"I don't understand why you seem to think you're going to end up alone save for pets..." Lestrade said.
Hopkins gave him the 'you are an absolute idiot who is missing something very obvious' look that all of his officers - or the ones that had been around Sherlock Holmes for longer than a minute - seemed to know. "Sherlock Holmes," she said very clearly and slowly. "Is having more sex than I am. Sherlock. Holmes. That is wrong on so many levels and only proves that clearly I am destined to end up alone if a weirdo like that can get someone and I can't."
"...uh... I'm sorry?" Lestrade offered, though he wasn't sure why he was apologising.
"It's no good, Inspector," Hopkins said wearily. "I know when the universe is trying to tell me something. If you need me, I'll just be at the pet store."
Lestrade couldn't understand when the world had stopped making sense, but suspected it was Anderson's fault anyway.
"Right," he sighed. "Put me down for a tenner on finding incontrovertible proof about the - the Holmes and Watson thing by next month."