Content Warnings for Story: Transphobia, graphic descriptions of the murder of a trans*man
Sherlock's dreaming mind was slowly infiltrated by familiar morning sounds: John making breakfast, humming softly to himself; the asthmatic whistle of the clanky copper tea kettle that his flatmate refused to replace; the soothing lilt of the smooth jazz radio channel that the doctor preferred. It was Sunday, judging from the faint sizzling noise and the strong, tantalizing smell of pork pervading their cozy apartment. John only cooked bacon for breakfast on Sundays: it was his little way of reminding them both that they had survived yet another week of crime and terror and constant exhilaration without their hearts (or legs) giving out.
Another noise interrupted the rest, causing John to turn off the radio and grab the tea kettle from the stove. Sherlock fully awoke to the sound of John's voice murmuring into the phone. He could tell from the anxious tone of his voice that it was Lestrade, calling them away from their Sunday breakfast ritual to investigate some horrific tragedy for him, offering a delicious puzzle for Sherlock to tease apart. The consulting detective felt a smile brush across his lips, and then he was bounding downstairs, grabbing his dressing gown from its ornate peg on his bedroom door. Bacon could wait indefinitely if need be. Adrenaline called in the form of a murder, and Sherlock could never refuse its pleading.
"Yes, he's sleeping … no, he really does actually do that sometimes. I know, it surprised me too. I don't really think this will be good case for him. No, I haven't asked him about it, I just … no, everything's fine, it's just … "
"Just what?" John turned around, startled at the sound of his partner's raspy morning baritone. "A case is a case. I only refuse if they're boring."
"I know, Sherlock, but this one, I really don't think you'll want." John's eyes were pleading, begging Sherlock to drop the subject and let him refuse. He shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot as the tall detective strode toward him, plucking the phone from his fingers with a smirk. Defeated, the Army doctor slumped his shoulders and returned to the kitchen.
"I want all of them, if they're interesting enough. Lestrade? … Yes. Yes I will." Ending the conversation with a jab of his thumb, Sherlock carelessly lobbed the phone at the couch and strode quickly into the kitchen, finding his partner busily portioning sugar into their cups: John's a plain white mug emblazoned with the Royal Army Medical Corps logo, Sherlock's a chipped junk-shop find emblazoned with a cheesy advertisement for Blackpool, stained from years of strong tea. He wrapped his arms around the broad shoulders of his doctor, feeling the muscles involuntarily tense and relax out of habit.
"I didn't think you would want it."
"It's too close to home. It will upset you." John's voice quavered slightly, and he brushed off Sherlock's marauding hands, turning to hand the curly-haired detective his cup of tea.
"I will decide that for myself." Sherlock was decidedly firm, his glacial eyes fixing his partner's grey ones with a fixed, determined glare. "You do not get to pick and choose what assignments I take, regardless of the nature of our romantic arrangement."
"Yes, that. Business is business, and pleasure is pleasure. Do try to keep them separate, Watson," the detective spat.
John's throat dried, and he swallowed nervously. Sherlock only referred to him by his last name when he was exceptionally frustrated with him; it was a blessedly rare occasion, but enough to give him an anxious Pavlovian reaction to his last name.
"We are absolute equals in regards to our romantic relationship, John. This has always been the case, and will remain the case for as long as we choose it. But professionally, you have no jurisdiction over the cases I undertake. You are myassistant, John: my colleague, yes, but not my keeper. And you do not get to turn down cases for me."
"Yes, Sherlock. I just thought –"
"I don't care what you thought," Sherlock replied calmly, all pique drained from his demeanor. "Obviously you thought wrong. And you will not make that error in the future."
Satisfied with the response, Holmes took a drag of his tea, nodding appreciatively. "You didn't tell him?"
"What? No, of course not."
"Good. He has known me for five years without suspicion. Regardless of the specifics of this case, I would like that ignorance to continue."
"I won't say anything to him, I promise."
Sherlock seemed to disregard his statement, pacing frenetically about the sitting room. The mug in his hand sloshed occasionally, and with a practiced, resigned sigh, John grabbed a tea towel and scooted it about with his foot, following the lanky detective as he strode energetically to and fro.
"This was a passion killing. It's a simple hate crime – that much is obvious simply by the target and the description of the wounds. But because of the victim's 'stealth' status, it's a calculated slaying. A serial killer. Ooh, I love those."
"Just waiting for a mistake, then?" John asked wearily, handing Sherlock his coat and scarf and catching the mug before it fell from his hands.
"Oh no. I think the waiting is done, but I want to be absolutely sure."
"What color are we looking for this time?" the doctor demurred, locking elbows with his partner.
"Not a color this time, no. A person."
Sherlock turned to John, his eyes bright as he kissed him. "You."
The look of surprise on John's face must have been visible from space. "What?"
"Come along, no time to explain now. Taxi!"