The Best Laid Plans
By: Lady Shelley
Thanks to MyJim for the idea and Watsonfan for the beta read.
NOTE: This was my entry for the Sherlocking fan fiction contest. The contest was to write a complete story in less than 1000 words. Since it appears the contest will never be judged, I'm posting the story; enjoy!
A quiet morning was something to be savored. Sherlock was out investigating something with Inspector Lestrade, and John had the flat to himself. He came down from his bedroom to the sitting room with the idea of setting up his computer by the window and writing up some of their recent adventures on his blog.
He walked into the sitting room, took one look at the desk and hung his head.
"The best laid plans," he thought to himself.
The desk was hidden under piles of who-knew-what Sherlock had been sorting through the night before.
"Maybe I can find a corner," he mumbled out loud with a sigh.
He set his laptop down on the table in front of the sofa and waded into the assorted items stacked on the desk.
At first he was content to shift things around and try to find a spot large enough for the computer. As he started really looking at what he was moving, John became intrigued.
He picked up a strip of leather and discovered it was actually an animal collar. The leather was old and brittle, but the tag had been cleaned and 'Fudge' was still easily read.
John sat at the desk and studied the collar. He fingered the leather and held it to the light streaming in from the window. He found the worn hole in the leather where the collar's buckle was closed and fitting the two ends together, he noted the size of the opening. "Must have been a small dog," he said aloud to the room. "Too big for a cat. When did Sherlock have a dog, I wonder." He looked at the collar again. "Leather is worn, but the tag is still polished. Must have been a special dog."
John set the collar aside and rummaged through the pile to see what else he could find. He glanced over several printed emails asking Sherlock for help with one problem or another. He moved them into a handy box on the floor and continued digging, occasionally mumbling something to himself as he tried to figure out what various items could tell him.
Unbeknownst to John, Sherlock was standing at the doorway watching as the doctor sifted through the piles on the desk. He had started to say something, but changed his mind and instead watched with interest as John picked up various items and tried to deduce their meaning.
John found a stack of papers all stained in different places and sat shuffling back and forth amongst the sheets. The papers themselves all looked rather basic: printer paper, sheets from a cheap notepad. The stains though, spilled across all of them. Some looked like tea or coffee, others were darker and thicker. For a brief moment John wondered if the darker stains were dried blood, then realized they appeared to be curry sauce. "Testing different liquids on different papers to see how they stain?" he wondered aloud.
Hearing a noise behind him, John turned to find Sherlock watching him from the doorway. "How long have you been there?" he asked.
"Long enough. What are you doing?" Sherlock walked over to the desk glancing at the laptop still sitting on the coffee table.
"I wanted to get some writing done this morning," John explained putting down the stained papers.
"From what I saw there wasn't much writing going on," Sherlock stated. "Looked to me like you were practicing."
John tried to keep the guilty look off his face as he stood. "More like trying to decide if any of this was safe to throw away," John said defensively. Feeling a bit embarrassed at getting caught playing detective, he turned away from Sherlock and picked up his computer.
Facing his flat-mate again John had a fleeting glimpse of a smile on Sherlock's face. "What?" he asked exasperated by the whole conversation.
"Nothing," Sherlock said, grinning openly now. "Nothing at all. For the record, I've never owned a dog, the collar is from an old case. Good job, though, figuring out it was a beloved pet, you were right with that one."
John said nothing and waited for the other shoe to drop.
"You missed where the dog was owned by a woman, the hearts woven into the collar with the leather should have given that away."
Sherlock then picked up the papers with the various stains and shook his head. "You really give me too much credit sometimes, John. Testing how different liquids stain paper? Imaginative I'll grant you - but not entirely correct."
John sighed, sat on the coffee table and set the computer down. "So what is it then?" he asked the floor.
John jerked his head up. "What?"
"Rubbish," Sherlock repeated. "All of this, well most of this, is all for the bin. That's why I was sorting through it last night." As Sherlock finished speaking, he swept everything off the desk and into the box John had dropped the emails into earlier. He then picked up John's computer and set it on the now clean workspace and turned toward the door.
Rubbish, John mouthed silently still sitting on the table.
"You can stay here and write if you like. I just stopped in to ask if you wanted to come along with me. Lestrade has a peculiar case involving an old recluse and a stolen first folio of Shakespeare's plays. Should be interesting."
John shook his head and couldn't help the smile on his face as he saw the contents of the desk now in the box on the floor. "Rubbish," he said to himself and started to laugh as he followed Sherlock out the door.