Disclaimer: Own nothing, make no money, just having fun.
A/N: Just a oneshot to try and explain exactly why 221 Baker Street has such a strange door numbering system. It was bothering me; and once I get an idea like this in my head, it doesn't go away until I write it.
Set just after ASIP, when John is busy moving his stuff into the flat. Enjoy…
A, B, C
Mrs Hudson answered the polite little knock on the front door of her ground floor flat, 221a, already knowing it would be her newest lodger. Sherlock, bless him, never knocks when he can shout, and the Doctor seems like a nice young man; someone's taught him his manners. Now, if only he can pass them on to Sherlock…
"Hello, dear," she said, with a maternal little smile, as her expectations were confirmed by the stocky little Doctor waiting in the hallway. "All settled in, are we?"
"Yes, thank you, Mrs Hudson; I didn't have much to move anyway, and Sherlock gave me a hand," he replied politely. "I was just popping out to the shops; I wondered if you needed anything while I'm there."
"Oh, that's so sweet of you," she gushed in response. "It's so nice to have a proper gentleman in the house; Sherlock's a good boy, but he's not much of a one for shopping."
"Yes; I worked that one out from the state he's made of the kitchen," John responded wryly. "He's got about fifty jars of chemicals and not a single teabag; I'm surprised he's lasted this long."
"Oh, you poor thing!" She exclaimed. "All that work unpacking and you can't even sit down for a nice cuppa afterwards. Would you like to come in for a tea? I never did make you your welcome cup that day you came to view the flat before you and Sherlock dashed off out…"
"Oh…" He tried hard to look reluctant, but the effect was far from convincing. "Well, I wouldn't want to put you out…"
"Don't be silly, dear; I was just about to put the kettle on anyway, and it'll give us the chance to have a nice chat. I think I've got some biscuits, too…" She tempted, remembering his fondness for them.
"Well, if you're sure…"
Five minutes later they were sitting at Mrs Hudson's kitchen table with two mugs of tea and a plate of chocolate digestives between them. John took a blissful sip of tea and his landlady couldn't help but smile. He might not need looking after quite as much as Sherlock, but the poor love certainly needs feeding up. He's practically skin and bone.
"Have you lived here long?" John asked politely, helping himself to a biscuit and dunking it with almost scientific precision.
"Just over a year, since I got back from America," she replied, pleased by his interest, as well as his enthusiasm for something as simple as tea and biscuits. "I've always liked to feel I'm in the centre of things, and you can't beat London for bustle, I've always said. My husband was in property, among other things; he bought houses and rented them out all over the world. Most of them had to be sold to pay for the lawyers, of course, but I managed to hold onto this one. I've always been fond of it."
John licked a smear of melted chocolate off his thumb. "It does have a lot of character," he said thickly, trying not to speak with his mouth full.
"Exactly. There's more than two hundred years of history in this house, Doctor Watson; I can't imagine all the life that's gone on in it."
"Oh, John, please," he corrected gently. "Did you have to do much with the place, or…"
"Well, when my Henry first bought it back in the eighties, the house was practically a shell." She explained eagerly. "It'd been empty for years; kept for tax reasons, apparently. We decided it'd be best split into two maisonettes; 221a, the basement and ground floor, and 221b upstairs. I used to help him fit the places out; he wasn't much help when it came to picking out curtains and wallpaper, and I've always had an eye for that kind of thing," she added modestly.
"Well, of course; I noticed that the minute I walked in," John complimented her politely, munching on his second chocolate digestive with evident relish.
"Ooh, you big flatterer, you," she giggled. "If I were twenty years younger, young man, you'd be in trouble."
"Twenty years? I must look older than I am, then…" He answered with a boyish grin. Mrs Hudson couldn't help but warm to his bashful charm. It's been a long time since a nice young man tried to flatter me with a twinkle in his eye, no matter that he doesn't mean anything by it. No wonder Sherlock's so keen on him; he does love compliments.
"If I didn't know better, John Watson, I'd think you were angling for another biscuit," she declared teasingly.
"Well, I wouldn't say no; and I can always make myself useful and pick you up another packet while I'm out."
She pushed the plate over towards him with a smile. "Just for offering to help out your old landlady; you help yourself, dear."
"Thank you very much," he replied, taking another digestive. "So why does the front door say 221b, then?"
"Well, there were some complications with the planning office, years ago; they were saying we didn't have permission to split the house and they were threatening God knows what; fines, legal action; you know what councils are like. I don't understand all the regulations myself, but in the end, Henry had to have the official number of the house changed to 221b to get round the red tape. Then, of course, a few years later, he decided to split it again so he could let out the basement to some very nasty men; and he definitely didn't tell anyone official about that."
Henry never told anyone official anything if he could help it; as if I didn't know exactly what he was up to. A wife always knows these things, it's how I managed to get Sherlock the evidence he needed to convict the bastard.
She became aware of John's cautiously sympathetic expression and purposefully brightened her tone before he could ask any awkward questions. "So, 221c ended up underneath 221a; it's very funny, if you think about it; b at the top, a in the middle, then c in the basement."
"All history of the house, like you said," John said, respecting her change of subject as he finished off his tea, soggy biscuit crumbs and all.
"Yes; not the best chapter, I'm afraid. Henry was a master with a wallpaper brush, but he wasn't picky about who he took money from, if you take my meaning. Goodness knows what they were up to down there; whatever it was, it's not fit for human habitation now. It's the damp; I've always said it's the curse of basements."
"Well, thanks for the tea, Mrs Hudson," John said, as he rose to leave. "I'd better be going if I want to be back before Sherlock decides he's bored and starts going through my stuff. Was there anything else you wanted, other than the biscuits?"
"Oh, no, dear; it's quite all right. I go to the supermarket on Mondays; I've quite enough to last me till then. So nice to get a chance to have a natter; you'll have to pop round again sometime."
"It was my pleasure," he replied genuinely. "I'll drop your digestives round in an hour or so?"
"That's very kind of you, dear. And do make sure Sherlock gets some proper vitamins in him; that boy's got less meat on him than that horrible skull."
"Oh, yes; he'd been wondering what'd happened to it…"
"Hidden safe and sound, dear. And you can tell him from me; if he doesn't stop throwing pig's blood at my carpets he's not getting it back." She told him sternly.
"Oh, I'll tell him." John grinned broadly, openly admiring of her tactics. "See you later."
"Goodbye, dear; and do watch your leg, won't you." They shared a conspiratorial little smile as she showed him out.
Oh, I think he's just perfect for my Sherlock. Kind and generous and polite and thoughtful; I'd never have let him move in if I thought he'd break that poor boy's heart. Plus he's a Doctor, and not hard on the eyes either; I may be an old woman, but I'm not quite dead yet, thank you. I wish I could meet a nice man like that.
I wonder if that dishy Inspector of Sherlock's would be interested in a nice little chat over tea and biscuits…
I can't help but think Mrs H has a soft spot for Lestrade. She giggled a lot around him in their shared scenes in TGG. And Rupert Graves is definitely a silver fox.
Hope the explanation of the flat numbers worked for you.
Let me know what you thought.