Author's note: Erm… hi. I'm really nervous about submitting this. There's an OC, which is one of the reasons I'm nervous. I don't know how you, the reader, will react. There's no romance, though, and no slash.
You'll find that the entire story has been edited within an inch of its life, and is as accurate as it can be, research-wise. If you find any errors, please contact me so I can correct them.
I don't own Sherlock Holmes or any characters you recognize. However, my original character is mine, as is the plot, so I would be verygrateful if you wouldn't steal them!
EDIT JULY 10, 2011: I'd just like to give a quick thank you to TV Tropes for recommending my story on their website. And to all the readers coming from TV Tropes. I honestly did not know until today that my story was on there-I never expected it at all! Also, I take anonymous reviews, and I can't reply to them unfortunately, but I'd like to thank all those who have reviewed anonymously.
Sherlock Holmes and the Man with Two Names
By the Salt Monster
221 Baker St.
I struggled with a fairly large box of belongings. Kicking the door to my new apartment open with one leg and trying to steady myself with the other, I tottered through the doorway and set the box down on a chair sitting in the corner. I went back to the taxicab waiting at the curb, took out two large suitcases, and met a similar challenge getting into the apartment building itself.
As I fought with my suitcases, I noticed the door to the apartment above mine was cracked open and that a pair of eyes was peering through it, at me.
"Couldn't help me with the door, could you?" I called to person behind the door. There was no reply. Instead, the door shut and I was left alone with my battle with the luggage. Much grumbling ensued.
A good while later, Mrs. Hudson found me sitting in the lone chair, staring wistfully out the window into the late afternoon sky.
"Oh, dear!" Mrs. Hudson proclaimed, making her presence known. I sprang to my feet in surprise, trying to look as if I was doing something. "I wasn't expecting you to be here so soon, Miss Barber," she continued. "I was hoping I didn't miss you so I could help you with your things, but it looks like you've got it all squared away, now. Mind you, I'm not sure how much help I would have been with my hip and all…"
"Oh, no, it's alright, Mrs. Hudson, I was able to manage." I gave her a warm smile. "I haven't many things to worry about, so I was fine."
"Well, I hope you find this to your satisfaction, Miss Barber. I daresay it's not the best, but with a little renovation, I'm sure it will be wonderful. If you ever need a hand with that, feel free to call on me. I can help you with that." She turned to leave, but did a double-take at the door. "Oh, don't forget, there's a kitchen upstairs, but use the separate staircase. And make sure you're quiet when you do. One of the residents of 221B isn't exactly keen on being disturbed."
As the new resident of 221C, I looked around at the white walls of my apartment and sighed. "Blank canvas," I whispered to myself and smiled…until the sound of gunshots above me made me scream and jump about a foot.
I froze and listened for any other sound. Seconds passed. No other screams. No police sirens. No cries of agony. It almost seemed as if gunshots in an apartment were a natural occurrence. Part of me wanted to investigate the gunshots, but another part wanted to keep my nose out of others' business.
I stood still for a minute, wondering what exactly I should do, finally deciding on unpacking my belongings. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little homesick. But wasn't this what I wanted—to get away? My mind was elsewhere as I hung clothes in an empty closet, and I started thinking about the gunshots, and who they were meant for…but why in the apartment above mine? I couldn't help but wonder why…
Finally, curiosity got the better of me, and I left my apartment and made the climb up to 221B. I paused before knocking on the door, preparing my speech on "getting to know the neighbors." Taking a deep breath, I knocked three times.
I stood outside for a few seconds, while I heard footsteps coming to the door. There was a bit of fumbling with the lock, and then the door opened.
I immediately recognized the eyes I had seen looking through the door earlier. A man stood in the doorway. He was rather tall, or at least taller than me, and he had a certain way of looking down his nose that made feel incredibly insignificant. He had a mop of black hair that contrasted sharply with his pale complexion and ice blue eyes.
"Yes?" he asked in a bored manner. I froze up, intimidated.
But then, remembering my speech, I started to babble. "Hi!" I said happily with a small wave. "I'm Emily Barber; I just moved into 221C. You saw me earlier today with the luggage, remember?" He made no indication that he had or had not, but stared at me. Awkwardly, I continued. "Anyway, I'm new to London, so it might take me a while to find my way around." He continued to stare at me. I sighed. "Uhm…I guess I was really just wondering what the gunshots were about," I said in a small voice.
The man seemed to unfreeze. "Oh, yes, sorry," he said, not sounding the least bit sorry. "Sometimes I get a little bit bored. Please, come in." He stepped aside, and I entered the apartment. What I saw made my jaw drop.
Books, papers, and photographs lined every inch of the floor. Stacks of books sat on every flat surface except for a couch along the wall. There were heaps of clothes lying on an armchair and I counted no more than nine dirty tea cups lying around.
"Wha-what happened here?" I stammered, afraid to take another step for fear of treading on something valuable.
"I'm Sherlock Holmes, one of the occupants of 221B," he replied, ignoring my question. "My roommate Doctor John Watson is on his honeymoon with his new wife, but he'll be back in a week or so." I raised my eyebrows at the mess in front of me.
"Is this what happens when he's gone?" I asked. Again, he ignored my question.
"Tea?" he asked instead, moving towards the kitchen. I nodded, though still rooted to the spot. "Don't mind the mess," he added, shoving the pile of clothes off the armchair and stepping into the kitchen. I groaned internally and stumbled towards the chair.
"He's coming back to live with you then, your roommate?" I called after him, taking a seat and trying to make conversation.
He came out of the kitchen tea-less. "Why wouldn't he?" he asked, though he didn't seem like he wanted an answer. I shrugged, but decided to give him one anyway.
"Well, don't married couples usually buy their own home or apartment or flat together after they're married? I mean, not to sound rude or anything, but why would he come back to live with you when he could be living with his wife?" Sherlock blinked and sat on the arm of a chair across from me.
"Sorry, not exactly my area of expertise," he drawled, picking lint off the sleeve of his sweater.
"What is your area of expertise?" I asked, looking at all the books and papers on the ground.
"I'm a consulting detective," he said coolly.
"Do you really think he won't come back?" he asked, changing the subject rather abruptly.
"I don't see why he would," I said, starting to get irritated, "if you never answer any of his questions either."
He sighed and gazed out the window. "Now I have to find a new flat mate…" he muttered…sadly? It was hard to tell with him. Then he turned his head towards me, a smug smile on his face and a glint in his eye.
"Oh, no," I chuckled, standing up from the chair. "Don't you look at me. I don't even know you." He raised his eyebrows.
"You don't?" he asked, surprised. I gave him a quizzical look. Did I know him? Had we met somewhere?
"No," I said slowly, sitting back down. "No, I don't. Or at least I'm pretty sure I don't." We stared at each other for a long minute. I started to get uncomfortable, and was wondering whether I should leave, when Sherlock spoke again.
"I know all about you," he said, leaning in towards me. I blinked, but was unfazed. There was no way. "Just from spending ten minutes with you, I can tell you things about yourself you don't even know," he continued.
I returned his smug smile with one of my own. "Alright," I said.
Sherlock leaned back again. "You're obviously not from London, or even England for that matter. Your accent makes that certain. You're from the US, but not somewhere sunny, due to your lack of a tan. Your clothes are nice and rather stylish and you wear sensible shoes, so you come from a city, but not exactly a big one because your hairstyle is out of date. No coloring, no product. I'd assume, by your accent, around the New York area. Buffalo, perhaps.
"As for your family, judging by your clothes and choice of living arrangements, they're fairly wealthy. You're an only child, which explains your confidence and pride. The "ALS Awareness" wrist band that you're wearing has been well-worn, showing that is of great significance to you. Someone close to you died from it…your father, I'd assume.
"Your other bracelet- the one with the charms- shows that you still cherish childhood memories, thus having charms for all of the things you did. You're a very organized person. I can tell from your watch. Not many young people wear a watch.
"When you waved, I could tell you have calluses on your fingers, so you play an instrument of some sort…I'd assume guitar. Your arms are quite muscular, so you're in some kind of sport…probably a martial art. As for your occupation…a teacher. Your clothes aren't exactly business-like, but are still dressy enough for a teaching position. And the pencil behind your ear says it all."
He rattled off all the information very quickly, bouncing around from topic to topic. I gave him a small smile, and had to bite my bottom lip to keep from laughing.
"Well?" Sherlock said after a moment of silence.
"Well, what?" I retorted.
"How did I do? Did I get everything right?" he asked anxiously.
"Erm…no," I said, relaxing and lounging on the chair. I laughed. "Not at all."
"Dammit," he muttered, and started pacing. "What did I get wrong? Was it the city-the bracelet…? The instrument? "
"First of all," I said loudly over his questions, "You suck at placing accents. I'm not from New York." He swore. "I'm from a small town in Ohio. My family is poor. I have two older brothers. I'm using savings bonds to be able to rent this apartment and I got it for a discount on account of the mold. My father's still alive." He swore again. "My best friend's father died of ALS." ("The best friend! Always the best friend!" he moaned.) "Good guess on the 'father' bit, though it affects more males than females, so it was sort of a given. I picked my charm bracelet up from a rummage sale two months ago, along with almost half of my 'dressy' clothes, so no sentimental value there. I'm not an organized person. In fact the only reason I wear a watch is because I got into the habit a few years back when I didn't have a cell phone. I do play an instrument, though;" He gave a smug smile. "the clarinet. I marched bass clarinet in my college's marching band, so that would explain the muscles, and I'm not a teacher."
"What are you then?" he demanded.
"An artist." He rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath.
"I didn't get anything right," he groaned, staring out the window again. "Maybe I'm losing my touch..." I laughed, but he didn't. I realized I probably shouldn't be laughing at something he was taking so seriously and stopped pretty quickly.
"It was a nice try, though," I consoled him. "And anyway, even if you did get all of that correct, would you really know me? Know what I'm like?" He stared at me again, didn't answer, and turned sullenly away.
"Am I ever going to get some tea?" I asked after five minutes of his silent brooding. He snapped back to reality.
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I don't have any tea left, sorry." I sighed, stood up from the chair, and headed towards the door.
"It's all right, I'll pick some up tonight—I'm going shopping. Do you need anything? You're welcome to come with."
"No, I don't shop," he answered darkly, still pouting about his incorrect deduction.
"You also don't clean, either," I muttered under my breath.
"What was that?"
"Nothing! It was nice meeting you, Mr. Holmes. Hope to see you again sometime soon," I called and left the apartment and the strange man inside.
Author's Note: Comments? Questions? Complaints? Suggestions? I love 'em all.