Sherlock looked out onto the street. It was calm and peaceful and quiet. It always was at this time of night. He picked up his bow and began to play.
He wasn't completely sure how long he'd been playing when he heard John's bedroom door open, and the sound of John himself hurrying downstairs. A quick glance at the clock told him that it was just after two in the morning. He had clearly been playing too long and too loud and he braced himself for John's (quite justified) tirade.
John came into view.
"I'm sorry," Sherlock said. "I'm going to st…"
John hurried past, waving him away.
Sherlock raised his eyebrows but as John slammed the bathroom door and started to loudly vomit, the reason for this unusual rudeness became clear.
Sherlock wondered what he should do, but then he decided that as John was already awake, there was no harm in him continuing to practise, and there was that particularly tricky phrase that he wanted to conquer.
Five minutes later John emerged a shaken man. He filled himself a glass of water, and sat down on his armchair and looked at Sherlock who had paused in his playing.
"Well that was fun."
Sherlock shrugged. "It's all in your mind, John. You need to learn to control your body's baser functions."
"It's not all in the mind. It's a virus, and it's in the gut."
"And this tiny, microscopic virus is holding your body to ransom. I'm telling you, you can conquer it."
"Good. Thanks for the advice." John sipped at his water.
Sherlock looked at him sympathetically.
"Shall I tell you the story of the first case on which I worked with Lestrade?"
"To help take your mind of the virus that's compelling you to vomit."
"So, you reckon that you can be more irritating than the virus that's currently irritating my digestive system."
"If you want to put it that way, yes. Though I'd suggest that I can inspire your mind to such an extent that your brain functionality is entirely devoted to the task, thus it won't be able to make you sick."
"Well, the virus has a head-start, so give me a tick." He headed back to the bathroom and Sherlock was forced to entertain himself for a few more minutes.
John returned and sat back down. He hugged the Union Flag cushion to himself and sniffed.
"OK. Go on then. Distract me."
"Are you sure you're ready?"
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be."
"OK. Wait – is there a chance I'll catch this virus?"
"Almost certainly seeing as you ate half my dinner from my plate with my fork this evening. Oh hell, hang on a minute…" John didn't move other than to take a few deep breaths and after a minute he started to look less green. "OK. Sorry. Besides, if you do catch it, surely you'll just conquer it with the power of your mind."
"Quite right. I just want to know whether I'll need to reserve brain capacity for that task."
"Well, if you're going to get it, you're going to get it."
"Fine, I won't get it then. My mind is above such things. OK, then, please sit back and relax, and give me your full attention."
John sat back and closed his eyes.
"Right," Sherlock said. "It was a dark and stormy night…"
John burst into laughter. "It was what?"
"It was a dark and stormy night!"
"OK, it was mid-afternoon it was that sort of drizzly stuff that's not quite rain and not quite not, but I was doing that thing that you do."
"What thing that I do? Blatantly lying?"
"I was giving the story colour."
"You think I do that? Thank you!"
"I'm not saying I approve of it. It's just that your brain clearly requires it to be able to engage."
"The 'dark and stormy night' thing's a cliché. It's almost as bad as 'a shot rang out'. I don't do that."
"At least I can spell."
"I might be able to projectile vomit over you if you give me a half a minute."
"Fine, I'll start again. It was a sort of drizzly afternoon, six years ago in June."
"Is this a poem?"
"If you want the whole thing in iambic pentameter, I'm sure I could arrange that."
"Sorry. I'll be quiet. Wait, no I won't…" he pegged it back to the bathroom. When he returned he was shivering slightly and he grabbed the blanket from the back of his chair and wrapped himself in it. He looked forlornly at Sherlock.
"You're not cold. It's just your mind telling you that you're cold." Sherlock told him.
John uttered a curse that came one hundred percent from his heart and not at all from his mind.
"Mrs Hudson doesn't like that kind of language."
"Mrs Hudson isn't here. Look, if you're going to talk, talk. I'm just going to sit here and whimper slightly." He half turned so he was half curled up on his chair.
"OK. It was a cool afternoon in June and I was I received a phone call from one Detective Inspector Lestrade, of Scotland Yard. The work of Lestrade was known to me as I'd been watching him with interest for some time. It was true that his work was rough and regularly lacked anything that might be considered original thought, but I felt that he showed potential. He wasn't quite as much of a clot as some of the others of his profession and status, and I had taken the time to observe him and where necessary, encourage him to do better."
"I'll bet you did."
"I thought you'd gone to sleep."
"I hadn't. So you had stalked Lestrade and regularly told him what he was doing wrong."
"That's not what I said."
"Yes it is."
"Fine. You're clearly too weak to think clearly."
"Anyhow, I had contacted Lestrade with various pieces of information as I saw fit and suddenly out of the blue, he called me and asked me to go and meet him on Ridgewood Allotments. Do you know the allotments in question?"
"If I say no, will you describe them to me in great detail?"
"Yes, of course I will!"
"Then yes, I know them."
"Well I met Lestrade at the lower end of the area, quite close to the ditch that runs along the bottom of it. You know the ditch?"
"Good. He stood up to me squarely and he said 'I suppose you know why I've asked you here, Mr Holmes,' and I agreed that I knew why he had called me.
"'Good, well that makes things easier. Remember that body in the factory last week? The one that you mailed me about and told me that it was, without a shadow of a doubt, a suicide?'
"I affirmed that I did.
"'Well that suicide's gone and killed another person.'
"You can imagine how shocked I was, John! A serial suicide! Such a thing was unheard of and of course, it was impossible! Are you still awake?"
"Mm. Serial suicide, ten a penny, boring stuff."
"I see delirium is setting in."
"Funny. So please do tell me how you proved it was murder."
"Well, Lestrade led me down to the ditch where I observed a body, lying face-down at the bottom of it. The weather had been unseasonably damp for several days, and there was about a foot of dirty water at the bottom of it. I could tell from the amount of bloating, not to mention the amount of interest that the local wildlife had taken in the corpse, that it had been there approx… where are you going! Assert your control, John! You're an army doctor, you are not as squeamish as… oh never mind, you go ahead an puke your guts up then, see if I care!"
Sherlock went back to his violin for a while, playing a dark, melancholy tune in a sulky fashion.
After ten minutes, he considered sending a search party in after John. He abandoned the idea when he decided he wouldn't like to enter the bathroom himself, and he wasn't sure that Mrs Hudson would be too sympathetic if she was woken in the early hours of the morning because a nearly-forty-year-old-man had a virus.
Of course she would have masses of sympathy for John, but it wasn't so much John he was worried about.
Fortunately, John emerged a few minutes later. He staggered across the room, grabbed the blanket as he passed it, and fell onto the sofa where he lay shivering and sniffing.
"I think I'm going to die!" he moaned.
"Oh undoubtedly. Most people do at some point or other, but I think you're unlikely to expire tonight."
"Would you like some more water?"
"Well, your glass is just on the table there. Put the kettle on while you're out there, could you. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the corpse… well I'll skip over further descriptions and just let you know that the corpse was a forty year old man, he'd only been there for two days, and he had the calling card of the man who had killed himself the week before."
"What was it then?"
"What was what?"
"The calling card?"
"It was a calling card. A business card. A card given out when you've visited someone, or have met them for the first time so that they have all of your details in a convenient form."
"Oh. Literally a calling card."
"Yes, why what did you think I meant?"
"Like a serial killers calling card. You know, where they leave like a red rose on every victim to show it was them that killed them."
"A red rose? Why would anyone ever do that? That's a stupid idea!"
"OK, whatever, just finish the story so I can go and die somewhere."
"You're not going to die, John! It's all in the mind, I tell you! You can control yourself, you can!"
"Fine whatever. Just carry on. Allotments, ditch, water, rotting corpse, calling card. Go ahead." After a few moments of silence he opened his eyes and looked over at Sherlock.
Sherlock was sitting in his armchair looking fixedly at something across the room. His hand was over his mouth as if he was smelling something on his knuckles. He looked pale. Or as it was Sherlock, he looked paler.
"Sherlock? Are you OK?"
Sherlock swallowed. "Yes, yes I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." He swallowed again. "I'm fine."
"You look kind of queasy. Would you like me to distract you by telling you about the first time I had to amputate someone's arm following an incident with a mine in the heat of…"
Sherlock dropped his violin onto the armchair opposite as he stormed towards the bathroom.
"It's all in your mind, Sherlock! Assert control over your baser functions!" John called after him with a very slightly smug smile.
He decided he felt much better now.
Sorry, I was just in the mood for an hour of nonsense! Characters are not mine.