"You know," said John, "winter break is coming up."
"I am aware."
John waited for me to elaborate, which is why I didn't.
"So, erm, what're your plans?" he asked, rubbing the back of his head. It was a quirk of his, he only did it when he was stressed or nervous.
"Nothing," I said, "same as last year."
"Oh. I, erm, good. I'm going to stay here too, actually. My mum is working all break so I didn't see a reason to go home. You wanna, er, hang out?"
He blushed. Nervous then. Did he expect rejection?
"Of course, John, we are roommates, I expect that we will see each other and 'hang out,' as you put it."
He relaxed. "Good," he said. "Er, see you at lunch then," and left.
What was he planning?
I was in maths until lunch, a dull, utterly useless class. A complete waste of my time. I was extremely thankful of my ability to delete unnecessary information as several years of maths took up a lot of space. The math professor here, an American named Epps, was entirely predictable.
Start off lesson "Hello class," Describe a vivid real-life situation. Turn it into a long, complicated equation. Provide another example. Take questions. Fiddle with chalk and stumble a bit. Flick curls out of face when thinking. Assign homework. Fiddle with papers. Dull. Useless.
I didn't eat lunch. It was distracting and the canteen was entirely too noisy. I wasn't a fan of crowded places, they tended to give me sensory overload and I could shut down.
The high probability of getting punched in the ribs happened to deter me from dining with the unintelligent masses, which is why I usually spent my lunch break in my room. Today, however, I was heading outside for an appointment.
Lunch outside, usual bench. -SH
He would be there before I as his class was closer, and I didn't want my bench taken by some overly-affectionate couple or a large, stupid rugby player. I was halfway there when I saw, down a deserted hallway, the Trio of Idiots (as I've dubbed them) beating up another kid. Looks like the rugby player was outed anyway, I thought. I kept walking, there was nothing I could do without injuring myself or making it worse for him, but not before one of them saw me looking.
"Hey! There's the freak!" Idiot One shouted.
I ran. Down the corridor, taking the second right to lead me to a set of stairs. I could hear them pounding after me. I couldn't just disappear into a crowd, most were at lunch or outside. I ran up the stairs, the trio rumbling up in my tracks. They might've been strong, but I was faster. Top of the stairs, left, janitor's closet? No, too obvious, Aha!, a classroom in use by a club, that will do. I stopped and entered the room with a calm walk, closing the door after me as the club looked up.
All underclassmen, I've never seen them, so I played confused.
"Um, hi, could you tell me how to get to lunch?" I asked, imitating John's nervous habit by running my hand through my hair.
One of them was halfway through directions when I heard the Trio pass, I waited a moment, said a quick thanks, and left the way I came, taking a shortcut to outside and walking to my bench.
John was already there. I spotted him first but he turned around got up from our bench, a half eaten sandwich in his hand.
"Hey Sherlock!" he said. "Have you seen my jam anywhere? I can't seem to find it and this peanut butter sandwich isn't the same."
He looked almost sad.
"No." I couldn't exactly tell him that it was used as a vital part of an experiment.
I should replace it for him, it's the nice thing to do.
John nodded and I walked past him towards a nearby tree. The girl standing nervously under the tree was a client of mine, one underclassmen Molly Hooper. She was fidgeting, wringing her hands (didn't think I'd come) but she visibly relaxed when she saw me. I felt John follow me in curiosity.
"Miss Hooper," I smiled, "good to see you again."
John's eyebrows went up, he hasn't seen me act before. Maybe I should've informed him to my part-time job, no, this is more fun.
"Hi Sherlock," she looked up at me, "did you find, did...er, did everything go okay with my, my case?"
"Yes Molly. As soon as you told me your story, I had a hunch. You said your private journal was stolen from a place only you know about. Who else would've seen it? Your roommate, obvious. I followed her between classes but she didn't act suspiciously so it wasn't on her, nor in her locker that I broke into. I had an acquaintance of mine go into your shared room, but it wasn't in there, that would be too easy. No, I had her steal your friend's keys and find her car, it was in the glove compartment." I handed her the journal, pink with some sort of horned horse on the front. Her face lit up and she grabbed it.
"Sherlock! Oh thank you thank you thank you!" she screeched, jumping forward to embrace me.
I did not enjoy that. She was too... squeezy. Completely unlike John's hug.
"But why would she steal my private journal?" she asked. "I thought she was my friend."
"I have no clue why Miss Donovan would do that, but I am sure the answer lies in whatever is written in your journal," I replied.
Her eyes got wide and glanced away. She seemed to remember she needed to be somewhere and hurried off after another 'thank you.'
John cleared his throat. "Sherlock, do you do, erm, that often?"
"Do I do what? Solve mysteries? Find lost kittens and misplaced items? Yes I do. Problem?"
"No, no not at all. I think it's brilliant, really."
I smiled, only John.
I turned, ready to head back in before the bell rang in order to grab what I needed for my next class. John began to follow but stopped.
"What?" I asked.
"I forgot my bag on the bench, you go on and I'll catch up," he said, walking off in the opposite direction.
I continued on towards the door, dodging the odd trashcan or tree, when I felt like I was being followed. Thinking it was John, I slowed a bit, but that theory was soon blown away by a sharp shove in my kidneys, knocking me to the ground. I rolled over and saw the Trio standing over me.
"Lookie what we have here," mocked one, "the freak has gone outside. I thought he was allergic to the sun."
"Naw," drawled another, punctuating his answer with a kick to the ribs, "we just flushed him out of his cave."
Kick. Ribs bruised. Curl up, protect yourself. Another kick to the head, cut on my forehead. Too fast. Step, kick, push, wrist exposed pull back - no too late a step on that too, grinding my hand onto the mud. I cried out in pain. They laughed. Then they stopped and one of them came crashing down on me, elbowing me in the temple and all I saw was black.
"Ugghhherughner," escaped from my mouth as I awoke.
I blinked open my eyes, luckily shaded by the trees overhead. There was a weight pressing against my arm, pushing and pulling. John.
"John!" I said, sitting up to meet his eyes. "Ow."
"Sherlock! Thank God you're awake! I thought they killed you or something!" he grinned at me through his split lip, wrinkling a black eye.
Split lip. Black eye.
"John! What happened to you?"
"I was coming after you like I said when I saw them attacking you, so I kinda... jumped on one. Knocked him over on to you, sorry about that, but I kicked the others off and they got in a few punches too, but the bell rang and they took off. I've been trying to get you up for about five minutes."
I stared at him stunned.
"You took on those guys, all on your own, for me?"
"Well yeah, of course," he replied. "Stand up then, lets get back to our room."
I stood with his help and we made our way to the other side of campus, of course, missing the rest of school. We limped up stairs and through the door and John went to the over-used First-Aid kit while I sat on his bed, the closest.
He took my hand ever so gently and said: "Here, let me wrap your wrist up and clean that cut."
After he was finished, he sat next to me and started on his wounds while I observed him. His left shoulder was obviously in pain as he winced while trying to reach his face.
"Let me," I said, taking the damp gauze from him. I turned his head by the chin and looked at his hurt bottom lip. It was full enough without the swelling. I dabbed at the dried blood with the gauze, taking my time. I finished there and moved to a small cut on his forehead. Keeping my hand in place, I set the gauze down and looked at him.
He was staring at me, mouth slightly open. "Thank you," he breathed, although why he was thankful I wasn't sure. The confusion must've showed on my face because he smiled and shook his head a bit.
I didn't know what to say, he saved me from the Trio. He got hurt protecting me.
That must mean he's my best friend.
I dropped the hand holding his chin and leaned forward. His eyes widened as I drew him in to an uncomfortable hug, smiling against his neck.
"Thank you," I rumbled.