This is a ridiculously late update, I know, and I'm sorry. I was diagnosed with an illness that had a huge impact on me and have been struggling with that, work and my studies and ultimately failing at all three. C'est la vie!
Thank you so much to every single reviewer, alert and favourite! You have no idea how much I appreciated it and the last few reviews have really spurred me on this week!
John was not a desperate man. He flat out refused to tail a man around that clearly didn't want him around like some pathetic lost puppy.
He had been to war, shot in the shoulder even, for God's sake. He was made of tougher stuff than that and he was not, not, not going to chase him around.
If Sherlock bloody Holmes wanted his assistance again, Sherlock bloody Holmes could contact him.
He had the man's bloody dog anyway, so he had to contact him. But that wasn't the point. No way.
It was with this determined frame of mind that John trudged home with Conan. The first three taxis had refused him, claiming that he wasn't allowed the dog, despite John's angry protests that it was a service dog, that it was illegal to refuse him on the grounds of the dog.
It was fourth time lucky for the ex solider. A young taxi driver, the type of young that made John feel just a bit too old, a bit too grey, had reluctantly allowed the dog in when John lied, claiming it to be a seizure dog and threatened to call the police if he was refused. Perhaps the threat was a bit too much, but it was starting to bucket and his leg was at him and all he bloody wanted as a cup of tea and a book and his pain pills that sat hidden in the cutlry drawers, a million miles away from Lauriston Gardens.
It was 11pm when John's phone bleeped, punctuating the otherwise peaceful and calm atmosphere. The dog ran over to him, much to his confusion, before John belatedly realized that the dog was attempting to alert him to the sound. If John was more awake he would have found that amazing, thinking back to his old pet dog that urinated on herself every time a mug smashed.
The phone screen read that he had received one new text from an unknown number
Baker Street. Come at once if convenient. SH
John hesitated for a moment, looking between the TV and the steaming mug of tea. The dry, thick woolen jumper was deliciously warm and the heating was turned up, making the room just that perfect temperature for sleeping. Coronation Street was on and the rain continued to hammer down relentlessly outside.
But the tea was slightly too weak, his cuff of the jumper was fraying, Coronation Street was repeated tomorrow afternoon and he never really liked it much anyway and the heating was about to go bust, judging by the clanging noise the pipes were making.
Another text jolted him out of his reverie.
If inconvenient, come anyway. SH
So, the decision was made for him, that was John's excuse. He didn't really have a choice. Not really. It could easily be an emergency, and John had taken an oath as a doctor to never harm another person, and this may kind of be breaking that oath, if you read between the lines and squinted a bit.
Besides, the dog was sure to be getting hungry having not been fed all night, and perhaps all day. John had no idea what to feed the thing, he certainly wasn't forking out for a tin of Pedigree, at 86p a can in Asda.
So the dog was put back in his burgundy coat and clipped onto his leash and they both vacated the miserable little halfway house, making their way back into the unfriendly weather. The rain continued to pelt down onto the dirty pavement, pedestrians darting about under coats pulled over their head and umbrellas threatened to poke out a careless person's eye.
John was just about to start the already incredibly irritating task of finding a cab that would allow both him and mutt on without a fuss (how Sherlock manages it every day, he didn't know) when a large, incredibly ominous black car rolled up in front of him.
One tinted window rolled down to reveal Mycroft Holmes and John had to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing at the drama and cliché of it all.
'Doctor Watson, if you don't mind,' the passenger door was opened smoothly, Mycroft looking at is pointedly.
John hauled himself in, pulling in his injured leg with his hands, the rain already taking its toll on the tired muscle once again and John thought longingly back to the heat pad left in his room. Conan hopped in, sitting up beside him and shaking water droplets all over the undoubtedly expensive upholstery much to the doctor's amusement.
'It's John, please,' he corrected, with a smile that looked undoubtedly fake.
Mycroft smiled tightly.
'John, of course,' he drawled, 'where are you headed to?'
'Oh? That's rather good news,' he said, and he did look genuinely pleased. Albeit in a sort of strange, smug manner, 'I assume you have considered the problems that could arise with cohabitating with a deaf person, John?'
John shrugged noncommittally. He was a man used to adversity, and whilst the whole thing did leave him a little uneasy, he also knew he was more uncomfortable with his lack of knowledge as opposed to the fact the man was deaf. John fancied himself as a can-do-anything sort of bloke, try anything once and all that, so this suddenly rather large gap in his knowledge left him feeling a little lost.
'What is the main challenge facing you?'
'What is this, an interview?' John laughed, a little surprised by the serious tone the other man had suddenly adopted.
'Of sorts, yes. He is my brother, Doctor Watson. I worry.'
'Yeah, I'm sure you do, but he can make his own decisions, right?'
Mycroft pulled a face, looking like he was sucking on a wasp.
'One would like to think…but getting straight back to the point. I have prepared some literature for you, regarding Deaf culture and sign language. You have been signed up to a Level 1 BSL evening class in Chelsea, travel and costs have been arranged and paid for, assuming you're willing.'
The tone of his voice left almost no argument and it was just as well that John was only happy to take an opportunity to expand his knowledge. And perhaps a chance to meet new people, certainly a chance to add another skill to his CV. Competition for jobs in London was tough, even for a highly qualified doctor such as himself, and John refused to allow Sherlock to pay rent alone. He knew he certainly couldn't afford rent on an army pension.
Mycroft handed him a small cardboard box, filled with books, leaflets and sheets.
John flicked through some of them.
A Dummy's Guide to British Sign Language
Teach Yourself BSL
Let's Sign Dictionary (2nd Edition) – Cath Smith
Signs of Health – Cath Smith
A large, black tome towered over them. British Sign Language/English – British Deaf Association was emblazoned across the ridiculously thick spine.
Along with the bundle of books, were also reams of photocopies sheets, stapled together in tidy bundles. Several included basic information, such as 'key words' that included greetings, question words, days of the week, and basic answers. A finger spelling guide and alphabet, from various sources for some reason.
There were also several sheets listing resources, websites, blogs, interpreter's contact details, YouTube videos, deaf clubs and gatherings in the near future and a further smaller wedge of leaflets discussing basic etiquette and skills for when dealing with the Deaf, seemingly aimed at employers rather than people in John's position.
Mycroft chuckled at him.
'It must seem rather daunting, mustn't it? You needn't worry, it's no harder than any other language. Once you get to grips with the basics the rest will come quickly.'
John raised his eyebrows at the loads of information he was expected to memorise.
'Tell me John, have you ever gone away to a foreign country and emerged yourself in the culture?'
John thought about it briefly but decided that, ultimately, no he hadn't. He was a typical tourist. Speak slowly in English and hope to God they caught onto the gist on what you meant.
'Well, if you had you may be able to understand better. Most people find that language learning is far easier when oneself is surrounded by the intended language. Of course, in this case, it is also a culture, but the same idea applies.'
John nodded, half listening, thumbing through the large black book.
'That books is the complete guide, you best not worry about that just quite yet. Sherlock has his own copy in fact, although it is somewhat outdated. BSL is a living language after all, and words do change.'
'How do you mean?'
'Well, take the telephone, for example. The sign for telephone today is,' he paused, fisting his hand and holding his thumb to his ear and little finger to his mouth, 'as you may have seen in countless advertisement. Whereas, many decades ago this sign,' he paused again, holding a bunched hand to his ear and a cupped hand below his mouth, mimicking the old style methods of phone calls, 'would have been prevalent.'
John frowned, nodding.
'It is simple,' Mycroft reassured, picking up on his apprehensiveness, 'some words and just like what you'd imagine. Not all of them, obviously,' he laughed, as if this was a ridiculous notion, 'but take book for example. Obvious. The simple idea of two flat hands, mimicking the opening of a book, the same way you'd gesture it to a child, perhaps. 'Hello' is just a wave and 'good' is a thumbs up. Bad is different, and consists of the hand being fisted and the little finger being stuck out. But that particular hand shape is interesting, because is has negative conations. It is the same hand shape used in the words 'awful', 'damn', 'feeble', 'discriminate', 'evil', 'rotten', 'quarrel', 'criticize', 'forbid' and well, I rather imagine you're getting the picture. That said, it is also used for 'chemist' which is the same sign as 'poison', and used for 'grey' in some part of the country. Colour signs tend to be very much localized, I've outlines the ones Sherlock would use in the smaller dictionary. It is also the hand shape used for sheep. Which makes me very wary of sheep,' Mycroft joked, laughing, sitting up straighter as the car slowed down, pulling up outside of 221 Baker Street.
'Well, thank you for the books and everything.'
'You are most welcome John. I do hope you plan to make good use of them. Of course, Sherlock would most likely take delight in assisting you with your studies, he does so like to show off. I will text you further details on the class tomorrow morning. As for now, I do believe mon petit frere requires your assistance. You have my number is you need it. It is on your phone, don't ask questions.'
John knew a dismissal when he saw one, and he packed up the large, now heavy cardboard box and heaved himself out of the car, Conan following him patiently. He struggled briefly to regain his balance with both cane on the slippery tarmac and box weighing him down on one side, but he managed, making his way back into 221b Baker Street for the second time that day, mind now focused on why Sherlock's texts were so urgent.
Maybe a bit of a filler chapter? I'm not sure.
I would love, love, love every and any review! I love every single one I get, I'm greedy like that.
I would love to say this will be updated very soon, but it cannot be promised. I hope to though, and will try my best
You can follow me on tumblr at my new URL Of a-black-car-has-pulled-up-and dor tumblr dot com. You can ask me questions there about BSL if you so wish, or just to request more info on signs, where I'll post a scan up if you wish!