Title: Just a Little Secret
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Word Count: 2039
Warnings: None, unless you have a fear of tuna
Spoilers: None really.
Summary: Sherlock is hiding something and John is determined to figure out what. Just a bit of silliness to keep an 8 year old from reading S/J shaggage.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)
Author's Notes: I realize that we see no evidence of a back door into the yard and that if there was one, the boys would likely have to go through Mrs. Hudson's flat, but I gave them one anyway. I wrote a story called Words Have Weight and Power and one little idea from it got stuck in my head and wouldn't leave me alone. Then I had an odd conversation with my 8 year old who wanted to read the story I was working on at the time. As that one involved naked John and Sherlock, I distracted her with this one. Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for making this Sherlock and John so amazing. I tried to fight it, but they were just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Emma de los Nardos and Gemma for the super-fast beta jobs. Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me and giving me the ending. And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.) This story is for Catharine, who wanted Sherlock and John to have a cat.
Just a Little Secret
John sticks his head out of the kitchen looking for his flatmate. Sherlock is sitting on the sofa reading and he doesn't look up when John calls him. John sighs and walks over to the couch.
"Hey, what did you have for lunch?"
Sherlock looks up at him with one raised eyebrow.
"You know I don't eat lunch."
"So you didn't have tuna today?"
John sees something like guilt in Sherlock's eyes, but it's gone in a second and Sherlock shakes his head.
"No, I didn't. You know I don't even really like tuna, John."
"That's the third can of tuna gone missing in a week," John says frowning.
"Are you sure you aren't miscounting?" Sherlock asks, going back to his book. "Or maybe you're eating them and don't remember."
"Okay, you had me wondering with the counting thing," John says, his eyes narrowing. "But you would never seriously suggest something as inane as my sleep eating tuna. What's going on, Sherlock?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sherlock says, eyes never leaving his book.
John huffs at him and goes back into the kitchen. He knows Sherlock well enough to know something weird is going on, but he can't quite pin down what. Sherlock must be using the tuna for an experiment of some kind and he just doesn't want to admit it. John is going to have to get more creative and catch him in the act.
Over the next three days, two more cans of tuna go missing and John tries everything, including coming home from work early, to catch Sherlock with his hands in the tuna. John has to admit that he felt a bit stupid jumping around the door frame, only to find Sherlock sitting at the table holding his pipette over a dissected liver. John just barely stopped himself from yelling, "ah ha!" which would have been mortifying in retrospect.
On the fourth day, when there's only one can of tuna left, John just gives up. Whatever his mad flatmate is doing, he's obviously taken steps not to get caught. John sighs and adds tuna to the shopping list before he goes off to bed, shaking his head. He hopes Sherlock will at least share the results of his experiment when it's done so John will know what he sacrificed his tuna for.
John settles in bed, pulling the covers up, when he realizes that he's not really sleepy. It's only 10:00 and maybe a little reading will help him relax. John reaches for his book on the bedside table, cursing quietly when he remembers that he left it on the coffee table in the sitting room. He can either get up and go find it or forgo the reading and try to sleep. Sighing, John gets up and pulls on his robe.
He's muttering to himself as he goes down the stairs and he almost misses the noises coming from the kitchen. It's not unusual for Sherlock to be in the kitchen this time of night, but John hears him rummaging in the cupboards. John hears what sounds like a bowl or plate being put on the table and Sherlock is opening the silverware drawer. Since when did Sherlock get a before bed snack? Sherlock doesn't eat that much.
John cautiously opens the kitchen door a crack and looks in. There is a bowl on the table and Sherlock, still completely dressed, is holding a can opener in one hand and the last can of tuna in the other. John's eyes widen and he reigns in his first impulse to confront Sherlock, curiosity to know what's going on winning out. Sherlock isn't a huge fan of tuna, so John is pretty sure he's not going to sit and eat a bowl of it. What in the world is going on?
Sherlock dumps the tuna into the bowl, using a spoon to scrape out the last bits. He rinses the empty can out, wraps it in a plastic grocery bag, and stuffs it in his pocket. No wonder John never found any evidence. Sherlock picks up the bowl and heads for the door where John is hiding. John panics and moves quickly through the open sitting room door, making surprisingly little noise. He leans around to see Sherlock going down the stairs. John waits a minute, then follows. He expects Sherlock to go out the front door, but Sherlock turns and goes past Mrs. Hudson's door and out the back entrance into the yard behind the house.
Now John is confused. He follows, stopping just inside the door, opening it enough to look out and see what his flatmate is doing. He's holding the bowl of tuna behind his back and looking around the yard. After a minute, he starts to make a quiet clicking noise with his tongue. John is starting to think his friend is crazier than he lets on when he hears another noise. There's a high pitched, excited yowling and from the shadows, a cat emerges. It meows loudly, winding around Sherlock's feet. John is startled when he hears Sherlock laugh.
"Hey there," Sherlock says in a voice John has never heard him use before. It's soft and gentle, a voice most people reserve for children or babies. "Sorry it's so late, but I had to wait for John to go to bed. Knew you'd be here waiting. Hungry?"
Sherlock drops to a crouch and brings the bowl out from behind his back. He puts it down and the cat stops its fussing and comes to eat. Sherlock smiles down at it and reaches out, scratching its ears.
"Yeah, see, I told you I wouldn't let you starve." The cat ignores Sherlock, but he keeps petting it.
John stands just inside the door completely speechless. Whatever it was he thought Sherlock was doing with the tuna, this isn't it. For a minute he has horrified thoughts of Sherlock experimenting on the cat, but the genuine smile on Sherlock's face and the way he keeps petting the animal relieve John of that idea.
Sherlock stays in his crouched position, petting the cat and watching it eat until it's done. It starts to meow again and wind around Sherlock's legs and Sherlock actually laughs.
"Stop that you silly beast. You're going to knock me over and who'll feed you if I'm cross with you?"
The cat continues to rub against Sherlock's legs, then gets up on its hind feet with its front paws resting on Sherlock's knees. Sherlock's eyes go wide and he smiles and reaches out to pet the cat again.
"Well, maybe you do like me for more than my tuna," Sherlock says with a chuckle. "Though technically it's John's tuna. Are you horrified?"
The cat meows and rubs against Sherlock's hand and he laughs again.
"Yeah, I'm planning on replacing it. I couldn't let you starve though, could I? Just don't tell him, okay?"
"You don't have to replace it," John says, stepping outside the door.
"John," Sherlock says, looking up with wide eyes. "I was just…"
He stops and looks down at the cat winding its way around his legs again and sighs.
"Feeding a stray cat?" John asks with a smile.
"Well, yes, that would be the technical term for it."
"Why didn't you just tell me?"
"I…I didn't want you angry that I wasted your tuna."
"And you didn't want me to know you have a sentimental streak?" John asks with a laugh.
"That too, I suppose," Sherlock answers with a scowl. "But when I found him out here a week ago he couldn't even stand up he was so weak from hunger. I couldn't just let him die. I didn't think you'd mind losing just one can of tuna if it meant saving his life. I came out the next night to check on him and he seemed to recognize me, so I fed him again. It just got a bit out of hand after that."
Sherlock is looking at the ground, his shoulders set in the same way as when he's waiting for ridicule from Anderson or Sally Donavan. John walks over to him and puts a hand on his arm.
"I'm not upset. I think you did the right thing."
"You do?" Sherlock looks up at him, searching his face.
"Course I do. You couldn't just let it starve."
"He seemed so helpless," Sherlock whispers. "And then he actually seemed to…like me."
John is moved by the vulnerable look on Sherlock's face. Sometimes he forgets how lonely it gets being Sherlock.
"Do you want to keep him?" John asks.
Sherlock looks surprised.
"No. I mean, we have so many dangerous experiments and sometimes we're gone for days on a case. We really couldn't take proper care of him. I just…I just didn't want him to starve to death all alone."
And suddenly John is touched beyond words to see this side of his flatmate. The man everyone calls cold and unfeeling cares about the fate of one lonely cat and John can't help but smile.
"You know, maybe we could find him a home," John says, squeezing Sherlock's arm. "Maybe Mrs. Hudson? Then he'd be close, but out of the blast zone."
"Mrs. Hudson?" Sherlock asks, looking momentarily excited at the idea, but then he frowns. "She has that yappy little dog. I don't think the cat would like that at all."
"You make a good point," John says. He thinks a minute. "We should ask some of the other people we know. Someone like Mike or Molly, maybe Lestrade. Then you'd know the cat was safe and we could go visit him occasionally."
"That's not a bad idea," Sherlock says, nodding. "Do you think any of them would take him?"
"I'm pretty sure Molly would. And we could get a couple of toys to take with him."
"John, he's a cat, not a child." Sherlock pauses and frowns. "Although I suppose something to play with wouldn't be a bad idea so he doesn't destroy anything."
"Tell you what," John says, smiling. "Do you have anything deadly going on upstairs right now?"
"Nothing I can't pack up. Why?"
"Let's take him inside for tonight so he's not too cold and tomorrow we'll find him a home."
"That's a very logical idea," Sherlock agrees, stooping and picking up the cat.
It purrs and rubs against his hand and Sherlock smiles.
"Come on, let's get you upstairs. I think John may even have some milk he's willing to share with you."
John shakes his head and follows Sherlock and the cat inside. He's really going to have to find a home for that thing quickly before Sherlock gets too attached to it. The last thing they need is something that they can easily kill when an experiment goes wrong or something blows up.
"I'll get you some milk and then maybe John will share his bed with you," Sherlock says, as they get into the flat.
"Not very likely. He's your friend. I'll share my milk, but he's sleeping in your room tonight."
"Well, I guess I can do that for one night," Sherlock says, getting a bowl and putting the cat on the table. "But if he eats any of my possessions, I'm not replacing your tuna."
John can't help but chuckle.
The next day John and Sherlock stand just outside the morgue staring at each other. John shakes his head, frowning at Sherlock.
"You have to ask her."
"Why do I have to?" Sherlock is standing with his arms crossed over his chest, one eyebrow raised.
"Because it's your cat," John says. When Sherlock just stands there, John sighs. "Molly always says yes to you. You could ask her to take a python and she'd do it. Just remember to smile at her."
Sherlock tips his head, both eyebrows going up now.
"Isn't that a bit manipulative, John?"
"We could give the cat to Sally Donavan. I'm sure she'd love to have you over to visit him."
"Maybe if I told Molly the cat was a gift?"
"Now you're thinking," John says, pushing Sherlock towards the door and praying Molly isn't allergic to cats.