Mrs Hudson pushed the magazines to one side before checking if the cup was full. I shifted my feet for her as she shuffled past. Sherlock came downstairs, looking more stoic than usual. He tucked his hands into his pockets staring out the window.
"Who is she?" I asked over my paper.
Sherlock looked over at me. "Mm?" He asked.
"This Irene," I said. "I've never seen you look at someone like that before."
"Drop it John" Sherlock said dangerously, his jaw clenched.
I watched him for a moment. "Sherlock," I said. "Is she going to pose a threat?"
"I doubt it," Sherlock muttered.
"Where is she?" I asked.
"Sleeping." Sherlock replied. "She's been through a lot."
"She told you?"
"She doesn't need to tell me John," Sherlock snapped.
"Oh, so now you're psychic?" I asked.
"Just drop it!" He said angrily falling onto the chair, propping his feet up on the coffee table. He opened the newspaper and hid behind it. I stood up and took it from him, shifting his feet so I could sit on the coffee table.
"Sherlock," I said. "Who is she?"
Sherlock sighed looking up at me. "You tell me." He said.
"What?" I asked.
"What?" he asked. "Well, you saw her. Deduce Watson! Deduce!"
I frowned, stunned slightly. "She's... American..."
"Correct," Sherlock drawled, pulling the newspaper forward. He flung it up in front of his face and remained silent.
I frowned. "Sherlock," I pulled the paper away. He sighed, staring up at me.
"Yes?" He asked.
"Tell me who she is!" I cried. "What's she doing here?"
"She's an old friend." Sherlock said. "And she needs my help."
"Are you going to give her your help?" I asked.
"No," Sherlock said.
"If you went through what we did, you would refuse her help too." Sherlock said bitterly.
I became quite confused at this. "Where is she?" I asked.
"In my bed." Sherlock said. He caught my look. "Don't look at me like that. She just came back from Peru. She's jet lagged."
"What does she want from you?" I asked.
"Long story," Sherlock muttered.
"Please, do tell. I'm all ears." I said.
"John," Sherlock said calmly. "This is none of your business. Please. I'm asking you as a friend. Just leave the subject alone."
I paused, sighing. "Were you two involved?"
Sherlock folded his newspaper. "Would that make you happy? Would that make you happy to know that I have screwed up in love and lost everything before I even met you? Just drop it."
My shoulders dropped. Sherlock's eyes were dark and dangerous. I nodded. "Right, well when you're ready to share."
"Piss off!" Sherlock said looking away.
I stopped and stared at him. I shook my head sadly and wandered off. Irene was sitting on the stairs leading up to Sherlock's room. She had her head in her hands.
"Hey," I said.
"Hey," She muttered miserably.
I sat down beside her. "I... I don't know you that well. For all I know this could be a usual demeanour for you. But you don't look all too.. Happy..."
"I'm not," She said. "He really never talks about his past?"
I shook my head. "Sorry," I said. "I mean, he's said some things that have made me uncomfortable. And I've met Marie and Phil-"
"Is that tart still around?" Irene asked.
I shook my head sadly. "She died a few months ago." I said.
"Oh," Irene paused. "How?"
"Killer police officers," I said.
"I beg your pardon?" Irene asked disbelievingly.
"Long story," I replied.
"Why didn't you write it up on your blog?" She asked.
"Because," I sighed. "Sherlock asked me not to."
"You always do what Sherlock asks you to?" She asked.
"I think you do. I think you like being ordered about. Y'know like from the army." Irene said.
I shook my head. "That's... That's not true." I said.
"Sure," Irene said.
"What part of America are you from?" I asked.
"Boston," She replied. "Dad relocated after mom died. Uprooted the entire family to London."
"Entire family?" I asked.
"Brothers, grandma, great aunt, the fish..." Irene said. "Only... We didn't have any fish."
"Brothers?" I asked.
"Oh." I looked at my feet. "How old were you?"
"14 years old." Irene said.
"And you still kept your accent?" I asked.
"Couldn't exactly leave it." Irene said. "I met Sherlock when I was sixteen."
"Wow... That's a long time to know each other. Isn't he like... 36 years old?"
"34." Irene corrected.
"Wow," I muttered. "That's..."
"18 years we've known each other," Irene said. "Yeah. It's scary when you think about it."
We sat in unsteady silence. Irene sighed, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.
"He's not going to help you," I said quietly.
"I guessed." Irene said miserably. She looked over. "Well, you're almost as smart as him. Maybe you could help me."
I began to chuckle. I stood up. "No," I said.
"But... John!" Irene grabbed my hand. "You could help me. I'll give you money. I know you're always looking for money to pay the rent."
"Yes, I know that," I said. "But Irene, I barely know you and it would be stupid to even think about it."
"Irene," I said calmly. "I can't help you. I'm sorry." I left and went back into the front room, forgetting that Sherlock was in a bad mood. I sighed.
I picked up my jacket. "I'm going out." I said.
"Get milk." Sherlock said sulkily.
"No." I said.
"Because the last time I got milk you decided to make a decapitated head float in it for three days straight."
"It was an experiment."
"For which you never gave a hypothesis." I said.
"I never had time to think of one." Sherlock said.
"No because you just did it to make my life a living hell." I said, picking up my keys. "talk to Irene and stop being a pain in the arse. If I get back and you two aren't playing nice, I will ground you for a week."
"I'm not six!"
"Stop acting like you are then." I said, slamming the door behind me.