Author's note: If you think you've seen this before, you have. It got pulled for the title, which had a swear word in it. My bad! So here you go- exact same fic bar a few grammar/word changes under a different, more family friendly label. Set somewhere between Baskerville and Reichenbach. I hope you enjoy it!
It had been one of those things that made perfect sense at the time. It had continued to make sense when he reached the flat, when he rang the doorbell, and even when he sat down. It was only halfway through his sentence that Greg Lestrade began to realise what an awful, awful mistake he had just made.
"You're kidding, right?" John asked after a long and relatively painful silence. Greg tried to decide which answer would induce the least mockery. Nothing presented itself as a decent option.
"Yeah, well it's not exactly my idea of a good time," Greg said. "But hear me out."
"Okay, try again. Exactly what is happening?"
Greg exhaled. "Scotland Yard have decided to introduce more team-building exercises. They felt that morale was too low- most likely due to him-" Greg gestured at Sherlock- "calling every single one of them some variation of the phrase 'pathetic idiot'."
"Yup, can see that. But why don't they just do those awful obstacle courses or something?"
"They do. Nobody turns up. So they offered a nice little incentive- if people do a dinner party like on that TV show and offer photographic evidence, they'll pay whoever wins. I don't know about you, but I'm more than a bit short this month, and an extra thousand quid would go down pretty nicely."
"A thousand?" John asked incredulously. "For just throwing some food together?"
"And doing the voting and other stuff, yeah."
"Why are you asking us?"
Because for some unknown reason, you're the two people I like the most. "Without being funny, I'm pretty sure you could do with the cash." John averted his eyes in something not entirely unlike agreement.
"Would they even pay us? We put in more hours than most of your employees, but we still don't technically work for Scotland Yard."
"Yeah, I cleared it with them."
"So it doesn't have to be strangers?"
"Nope. It's literally just each person cooks, we score each other, we offer up some photos proving it and they throw money at whoever wins."
John was actually considering it. Greg was amazed; he had expected to be laughed out the door. All of a sudden, he realised that a certain somebody had been very quiet for the entire conversation, and that was rarely a sign of anything good.
"What do you think?" John asked, turning to Sherlock. The man was perched with his legs up on the settee, reminding Greg of some kind of vulture.
"I don't cook," Sherlock said flatly.
"You don't eat," John replied.
"My point exactly. Not to mention that I get paid more than enough for doing what I do."
"It'll be fun though, won't it?" Greg tried. "Something a bit different."
"You haven't moved from the sofa in five days, Sherlock."
"There haven't been any cases to move from the sofa for, John."
"My point exactly."
"Don't use my own words against me; you have neither the voice nor the charisma needed to make them work."
"I forgot to mention," Greg interrupted, "that we'd need a fourth contestant, and I really don't care who it is." He let this sink in. "So you two can choose."
"Did you know somebody broke into our flat last weekend? They implanted tiny microphones into every mug we own." Greg blinked.
"Mycroft," Sherlock finished. "But he'd never go for it."
"He owes you a favour," John reminded him. "From the farm debacle last week?"
"We agreed not to speak of that," Sherlock broke in loudly. "And why would I volunteer to spend extra time with my arch enemy?"
"Think about it. Money, food and booze might not be motivators for you, Sherlock, but I'm pretty sure the potential to annoy and psychologically damage is."
Greg had no idea what on earth they were talking about, but the slow smile that spread across Sherlock's face made a little burst of hope light up inside of him.
"Interesting," he mused. "Revenge through organised catering."
"You could get at least eight jabs about his diet in."
"Closer to twelve, I would think."
"So are we doing this?" Greg asked, clapping his hands together. John looked at Sherlock, who sighed heavily.
"Fine. But only to ruin Mycroft's week, and preferably life."
"So when do you want to do this?" John asked.
"Next week'd be good. The deadline's the end of this month, and I want to get it over and done with."
"What if we get a case?"
"We'll work around it."
"Fair enough. Who wants to go first?" John asked.
There was a rather telling silence.
"I will," Greg finally volunteered. "Might as well get it out of the way."
"S'okay. Well, I'd best be off," he said, getting to his feet. "Crimes to solve, and all that." Sherlock snorted. Greg glared.
"Okay, till Monday then," John intervened, showing their guest to the door. "Your house, yeah?"
"Yeah. Eight okay?"
"One more thing," Greg asked just before he left. "Can any of us actually cook?"
"I refuse to try."
"Well, we're all on equal ground then. See you on Monday."
"I'll ring Mycroft," Sherlock said, glee in his eyes. Greg had the sudden feeling that this was going to be a very long week.
Greg opened the door, looking as though he was already regretting this. "Mycroft's here," he told the men.
"Oh, okay," John nodded.
"He arrived by helicopter."
"Yup, he'll do that."
"On the school field."
"I have to refund them for their goalposts!"
"Oh, tell them not to be so fussy," Sherlock said. "Can we come inside now? This conversation is dull."
"Yes, okay," he ushered them in. Sherlock stalked off upstairs without asking. Greg went to call after him, but decided it wasn't worth it. "I'm trying to figure out how to get the oven to work," he confided in John. "I don't really use it all that often. It'll be around an hour, I think."
"You're going to leave me alone with Sherlock and his brother for an hour?"
"Is that going to be a problem?"
"If you can direct me to large amounts of alcohol, we'll cope." Greg nodded understandingly.
"There's wine in the dining room. Go on through. I'll go and see what Detective Arseface is up to." He jogged upstairs and found Sherlock sorting through his bookshelf.
"What're you doing?"
"Irrelevant. How long have you been having headaches for?" he asked, putting the book he was holding back.
"Since I met you. And no, please don't bother explaining how you got that one."
"Are you sure? It really was quite clever."
"I'll take your word for it. Come on, away."
Sherlock clattered downstairs, and Greg trudged after him before diverting off into the kitchen. John and Mycroft were sat down at the table, waiting. John's face was halfway between relief and dread when Sherlock entered and caught sight of his brother.
"Mycroft," he acknowledged formally.
"Sherlock," his brother replied similarly. "How are you? I must say, you still smell slightly. Goat is always a hard scent to remove, I suppose."
"Are you sure it isn't yourself you're smelling? A little like a Cadburys factory? Really, Mycroft, couldn't you wait until the starter came?"
"I can't even get this thing to turn on," Greg complained loudly.
"The chocolates were a gift for Greg," Mycroft explained as if to a toddler. John poured himself a glass of wine.
"I don't think Lestrade will see your recent weight gain as a gift."
"Shut up, Sherlock." Mycroft paused for a second. "And I have not-"
"Yes, you have."
"Well, only one-"
"What in the bleeding hell is a fan oven?" Greg's voice rang out from the kitchen. John tried very hard not to laugh. "And do I have one?"
"How would we know?" John called back, at the exact same time that Sherlock and Mycroft replied with a firm 'yes'. They glared at each other across the table. John poured more wine.
"So then, how is the diet going?" Sherlock asked sweetly.
"Very well, thank you. It would be most rude to refuse any food on this occasion, but I can assure you that I won't allow it to affect anything in the long run."
"As if you could cope with a long run."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"You don't make any sense."
"Oh, so we're back to childhood. Would you like a colouring book?"
"I seem to remember you ate the crayons."
"How the fucking fuck does this fucking oven work?"
John poured more wine.
"Please don't," Greg asked as he set the main course down.
"Don't what?" Sherlock asked.
"Don't say any words."
"'Greg has served fish fingers and baked beans'," John announced.
"That isn't even the right show."
"Is a right show for this kind of thing?"
"For the good of the nation, I hope not."
Sherlock looked down at his plate as though he had only just noticed it was there. "No, I don't see that happening," he said simply, got up from the table and left.
"Should I go after him?" John asked.
"I don't see much point," Greg said sympathetically. John nodded, and the three of them obediently ate their food in silence until a loud crash had Greg jumping to his feet.
"Stay there!" he shouted as he pounded up the stairs. "Sherlock, you absolute bastard! Whatever you're doing, stop it."
"Go away!" the muffled reply came.
"It's my house!" Mycroft smiled awkwardly at John across the table, who replied in an even less enthusiastic manner.
"I can't entirely remember why I agreed to this," John muttered into his glass.
"I was emotionally blackmailed," Mycroft replied.
"You have emotions?"
"Some prehistoric form, perhaps."
"Look…" John began uncertainly. "You are aware that Sherlock intends to destroy you this week, right?" He felt it was only fair to provide a warning. Mycroft's face split into a genuine smile.
"Oh, good. It's been so long since we had a decent war."
There was a group photo of them during dessert, and John privately thought it was the kind of thing they would need to burn immediately after its use had expired. Photos like that had a way of turning up at unfortunate later dates. John didn't want to think about how it would seem in ten years' time, on the internet, if it was that bad now.
"You have to rate what I cooked," Greg explained tiredly to Sherlock at the end of the night, "and I have to take a picture of it, or none of us can get any money."
"But I didn't eat any of it. I can offer a provisional rating based on appearance, aroma and my perception of your cooking abilities, but could your sense of self-worth cope with that?"
"Cope with it? My self-worth is like a dragon."
"Non-fucking-existent. So hurry up and do the ratings so I can forget my troubles with a large wad of cash."
"If you insist." Greg pointed the camera. Sherlock scrawled a large '2' onto his piece of card and held it up.
"A two? What- okay, no, don't worry. Could you try and smile, though?"
"I don't think a 'two' is a smiling matter."
"I'd accuse you of attempting to poison us if I thought you had the intellect."
"Yes, alright, I get it. Shut up and hold still."
Greg pulled a ten out of thirty in total. Mycroft gave an unapologetic three, and John offered him a five- explaining that at least four of those points were for the wine.
"Evening," John greeted Greg. "Mycroft isn't here yet, and I sent Sherlock out somewhere."
"Don't you trust him?"
"On the contrary, I'd trust him with my life. But I also trust him to sabotage any attempts I make at winning this money, because he's Sherlock Holmes and he's an eight year old who shows affection through bullying."
"If that's true, Sherlock's the friendliest person on the planet."
"I said bullying, not abuse. I'm pretty sure he just plain hates most people." There was a horribly awkward moment in which John realised what he had said. "Not you," he added hurriedly. "I'm sure that he-"
"Did you get wine?" Greg interrupted. John looked very grateful and guided Greg over to the fridge. He had to give John some credit- literally every available space was filled with can after can of beer.
"We can't all afford wine. This lot should do us for- oh, two hours?"
"I- is there a foot in the salad drawer?" John slammed the fridge shut.
"No, you didn't."
"Is that a limousine?" John said, turning to the window. "Mycroft must be here."
"Oh, goody," Greg muttered, but left it at that. "So, what's the menu for tonight?"
"Alcohol," John explained. "Followed by alcohol, and then some more alcohol. There may or may not be food in between the alcohol."
"I didn't have you down as a big drinker, Watson."
"I'm not. But I'm also not a chef, and I'm also not inhuman. I can't take another night of Sherlock and Mycroft, and it wouldn't be fair of me to expect you to do that sober. I'm hoping that if I just get everybody really, really drunk, we can magically skip to Wednesday."
"John, I think we should be friends."
John was actually a moderately good cook, but that was not something he was prepared to admit. Sherlock and Mycroft almost certainly already knew, but he was determined to hang on to whatever small amount of masculinity Greg still believed he possessed.
So he was doing very simple (yet hopefully winning quality) meals that required very little effort. This meant that he could spend a lot of time sat in the lounge, mediating. 221B was small- too small for two very large egos. Without saying anything out loud, he and Greg had established a drinking game in which they took a long swig every time Mycroft's diet, Sherlock's mental age or their mother was referenced in any way.
"Try some," Greg suggested, several cans later. "You'll like it!"
"Absolutely not. I don't want anything interfering with my cognitive processes."
Mycroft raised an eyebrow. "Really? Because I have several drug raid reports that state that-"
"Yes, alright," Sherlock hissed, as Greg frowned and sat up slightly. "That's quite enough of that."
"Have you even had beer before?" John asked.
"Yes. I just don't like it."
"Unsurprising," Mycroft muttered.
"But have you ever had enough to get drunk?" John specified. Sherlock hesitated for a few seconds.
"Ha! Busted. Go on, try it." Greg pushed his currently half-drunk can towards Sherlock, grinning.
"Consider it an experiment," John advised.
"What's my hypothesis?"
"'Can I become tolerable if I ingest large amounts of toxins?'" Mycroft drawled. "Oh, but you've attempted that before. Did it work?"
"Just do it, Sherlock," John laughed before Sherlock could retort. The detective sighed, and drained the can without pausing for breath.
"Nope. Not even you're that much of a lightweight. Come on, do it properly," Greg said, fetching a new can from the fridge and placing it neatly in front of Sherlock.
"It should be a family thing," John commented. "The Holmes versus Holmes drink-off."
"Mycroft would win. He has significantly more body fat," Sherlock mused, examining the can.
"Just because you have the body mass of a stick insect doesn't mean we all do, Sherlock," his brother replied disdainfully.
"But not all of us have the body mass of a killer whale."
"How about if I can drink more than you, you put an end to the diet jokes for one night?"
Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "Interesting proposal. What if I win?"
"Then… I don't know. You get to pick." This was a very dangerous thing to say to a man like Sherlock.
"How are we defining the end point?"
"That doesn't seem overly safe."
"That's what makes it fun, little brother."
"I feel like I'm watching some horrible and terrible thing yet I have no interest in stopping it," John said to Greg, who could appreciate this.
"Should you be cooking?"
"Who gives a shit? Sherlock and Mycroft are having a drinking competition. I'd have left Afghanistan for this."
At some point during the haze of intoxication, John did serve three courses of food. All four of them- even Sherlock- ate everything without really paying any attention, because it turned out that the Holmes brothers were very interesting individuals when drunk. Greg and John even decided to forgo alcohol themselves for an hour or so that they could fully appreciate what they were seeing.
"Had enough yet, little brother?" Mycroft asked. His usually precise speech was slightly slurred, and he had to take for a short break halfway through the sentence.
"What? No, shut up, I'm fine. Completely and totally fine. Really," Sherlock nodded. "What're… what're those things that people do when they've got alcohol?" he asked nobody in particular.
"Prostitutes?" Greg offered.
"No, no, like the games," Sherlock elaborated.
"Drinking games? You want to play a drinking game?" John asked disbelievingly.
"I'm pretty sure Sherlock Holmes initiating a drinking game is one of the signs of the apocalypse," Greg said.
"Do you even know any drinking games, Sherlock?" John asked.
"I did go to university, you know."
"How about 'I never'?" Greg asked. "Do you remember that one?"
"Yes, of course."
"So how do you play it?"
"… I can't be bothered to explain. It's a waste of my precious time."
Greg decided to take charge. "Do you have anything that'll have more of an impact than beer?" he asked John.
"I think so. Give me a minute." John slipped off to check, and Greg took the opportunity to explain the rules.
"Right, okay. So you just say something you've never done, and if anybody has done it, they have to drink."
"I'm aware," Sherlock snapped.
"I know that it's all very grown up and intimidating for you, but there's really nothing to be afraid of," Mycroft simpered.
"I wouldn't be so sure," Greg said, as the doctor reappeared. "I think John has vodka."
"I've never shot anybody," Greg stated.
"Only because you're an awful shot," John complained. He, Sherlock and Mycroft drunk. John went looked questioningly at Mycroft, but decided he probably didn't want to know.
"I've never had human organs in my fridge," Mycroft said smoothly. Slowly and regretfully, John and Sherlock drunk.
"I bloody knew it!" Greg cried.
"It was only a little bit of liver," Sherlock protested.
"And the lung," John added.
"Oh, that barely even counts."
"Where do you get these things?" Mycroft asked.
"Places, people. And I've never eaten a two litre tub of ice cream in one sitting," Sherlock accused. Nobody moved. "Mycroft." Grudgingly, the man drained his glass.
"Oh, love, did your boyfriend dump you?" Greg asked. Mycroft did not dignify this with an answer.
"Okay, um… I've never cried at a movie," John said. Greg let out a deep sigh, and drank.
"Which one?" John asked, starting to giggle.
"I can't remember."
"Which one?" Sherlock probed.
"... The Notebook. Oh, shut up!" he snarled at John, who was nearly dying of laughter. "I've never shagged a man!" Nobody drank. Greg looked unconvinced. "You're kidding me."
"No, I'm not."
"You two? Really? No?"
"Not even once?"
"You sound almost disappointed, Lestrade," Sherlock commented.
"I've just lost a fair amount of bets," he said gloomily.
Several turns later, John and Greg were still relatively sober, whereas competition had driven Sherlock and Mycroft to nearly finish the bottle. John had to smile when Mycroft was interrupted midway through his sentence by a loud hiccup.
"How much have they had?" he whispered to Greg.
"More than too much," the inspector grinned. "Struggling a bit there, mate?" he asked Mycroft, not bothering to try and hide his amusement.
"I'm fine, thank you," he said icily, but the effect was broken by another hiccup. "Well, I'm in a better state than Sherlock!"
"What?" Sherlock's head shot up. "I'm fine, thank you very much."
"Prove it!" Mycroft challenged.
"Walk over there."
"Walking? Mycroft, I'm a consulting detective," Sherlock slurred, rolling his eyes. "I can tell anything about anybody. I can certainly do walking."
"Go on, then."
Sherlock pushed his chair back dramatically and rose to his feet, only swaying a little. He glided to the other side of the room, let out a triumphant shout, and spun around. Unfortunately, his gloating was cut short when he lost balance and fell flat on his face, a loud crash reverberating through the flat.
"Sherlock? Sherlock, you alright?" John was by his side in a second, helping to sit him up.
"I'm more than alright," Sherlock said, waving John away. "See, Mycroft, I proved it!"
"You did not!" Mycroft exclaimed, looking comically offended at the suggestion.
"You fell over!"
"You only said I had to make it there. You didn't say anything about coming back." This argument would have been much more convincing if Sherlock wasn't currently leaning quite heavily on John.
"If you can't cross a room, you should probably take a break," Greg said, sounding a little sad at the thought.
"I could cross it if I wanted to."
"Do it, then," Mycroft challenged.
"I don't want to." Sherlock shut his eyes and let himself go limp. "I'm tired."
"Well, there's two words I've never heard him say before. Probably won't hear them again either," John commented.
"Stop talking," Sherlock complained, eyes still shut. "It's distracting."
"I'm not a pillow, Sherlock."
"Shh!" Sherlock demanded sleepily.
"We might as well give up and drink," Greg advised John. "If you can't beat them, join them."
"I'm pretty sure we could beat them."
"Excuse me? I just won a bet against Sherlock," Mycroft pointed out, "and he doesn't often get things wrong." All three men were very glad that Sherlock was unlikely to remember that particular admission.
"Do I look like the kind of man to lose drinking contests?" Greg asked.
"You don't look like the kind of man to win them."
"Oh, good," John said happily. "I was worried things were going to get boring."
"You can't even move right now. Sit this one out," Greg instructed John.
"Nope. I'll just play along from down here." John moved carefully so that he was propped up against the sofa, Sherlock's arms still thrown around his neck and head lolling on his shoulder. Greg relented, and rolled several cans of beer across the floor to him.
"Tell me, does my brother often fall asleep on strange men?" Mycroft asked Greg, who he had apparently deemed to be knowledgeable of such things.
"Um, I don't really know. I think it's mostly just John."
"This isn't a regular occurrence!" John objected.
"Yeah, mostly just John."
At this point, John decided his masculinity was more or less completely depleted, and asked them to please keep their voices down because Sherlock had gone to sleep.
There were pictures from John's night, but on Thursday they unanimously agreed that most were unsuitable for use in the competition. This would have been agreed on Wednesday, but none of the men were conscious for the majority of the day.
John and Sherlock did make an effort to put 221B straight in the evening- putting the door back on its hinges took a good hour alone- but as it was Sherlock's night, nobody mentioned that anybody was supposed to be cooking. They all scored him fives the next day, which he accepted without much complaint. They all scored John nines and tens on the condition that he ensured the photos from his night were burned.
"I don't think I've ever seen Mycroft's house before," John commented as they drove.
"I doubt it's interesting."
"You told me he has a helipad."
"Well, not that interesting. We almost certainly won't be going there, anyway."
"What do you mean?" John frowned. "He gave me the address."
"He gave you an address. Mycroft doesn't disclose where he lives."
"Surely he'd trust us?"
"He's Mycroft, John. He doesn't trust anybody. I've only visited him three times, and each time it's been a different house. To my knowledge, he hasn't moved in that time."
"So how do you-"
"He has a personal helicopter. It was a somewhat simple deduction." They laughed at that, and drove in comfortable silence until they reached the house. It was more of a mansion than anything else- huge and almost unbelievably grand. John gaped.
"No," Sherlock answered, examining the garden as they drove in. "Mycroft just knows a lot of very wealthy people who owe him a lot of favours."
"Greg's already here," John commented, pointing at the familiar parked car.
"I wonder if Mycroft's forgiven him for Tuesday. He certainly hasn't forgiven you."
"I'm sure I'll struggle through the pain."
A rather shapely woman in a rather short dress met them at the door. Sherlock frowned disapprovingly at John as she showed them inside.
"Stop what?" he asked distractedly, eyes not leaving the hem of her dress.
"You know what." This had no effect.
"John, you look like a sex pest." At that John's eyes shot away, and he scowled and blushed simultaneously. The woman didn't break stride, and was still smiling beatifically when she showed them into the room.
"Ahh, welcome," Mycroft greeted them, either ignoring or not noticing John's apparent fascination with the carpet. "Thank you, Lisa, you can leave." Only when the woman was gone did John look up.
"Sit down, please. Dinner won't be long," Mycroft smarmed. A painful silence followed, in which John tried to think of anything to talk about that wasn't Tuesday night and failed miserably.
"Any interesting cases?" Greg eventually asked Sherlock.
"No, not really. It's been a long time since anything of interest happened. People seem to have tired of killing each other."
"How inconsiderate," Greg lamented.
"Well, I'm sure you could always turn to drinking as a new hobby," Mycroft commented, "and I'm sure the kind doctor can accompany you. Your housekeeper-"
"She's not our housekeeper," Sherlock interjected.
"- your landlady, then- has she found the vomit in the flowerbeds yet?"
"I cleaned that up," John said.
"How about all of the glasses you smashed?"
"Or the picture of-"
"How is the diet going, Mycroft?" John asked, leaning forwards and watching the smirk die on Mycroft's face. Sherlock looked almost proud.
Annoyingly enough, Mycroft produced an incredible array of food. He never left the table and Greg was almost certain that Mycroft hadn't cooked a single thing, but the quality was undeniable. A range of various beautiful women wandered in and out to bring new dishes and remove old ones, and after a while Greg decided he might as well just give up and leer. There was wine, but it was vintage, expensive fare, and certainly not binge-drinking material.
They spent the majority of the evening silently thinking awful things about each other- except for Sherlock, who was quite vocal in his opinions on Mycroft's food, servers and general appearance. At one point, Sherlock went to fetch them a fresh bottle of wine from the kitchen, and Mycroft had to briefly rest his head in his hands. John counted to nine 'weight gain jokes' before Mycroft cracked.
"Do shut up, Sherlock."
"I don't see why I should."
"Because I might be inclined to kill you otherwise."
"I'd like to see you try." Mycroft's phone buzzed in his pocket, and he excused himself politely to take the 'extraordinarily important' phone call. Sherlock wasted absolutely no time in taking Mycroft's wine glass and beginning to crumble a small, suspicious looking tablet into it.
"You do remember I'm in the police force, right?" Greg asked incredulously, watching Sherlock stir the liquid with his fork and set the glass carefully back in place.
"The clubs you belong to mean very little- after all, I'm a registered member of PETA. It's- what? Oh, it was for an investigation!" Sherlock hissed at John, who seemed to have brightened at this latest revelation.
"You cannot be serious," John breathed. "PETA?"
"It was for a case!"
"You'd probably call it 'The Case of the Dissolving Vegan', or something equally pointless and overly colourful."
"Oh God, he's a closet vegan," Greg said in horror.
"That's the worst kind of vegan," John nodded.
"I bet he's a member of Greenpeace as well."
"He's probably got Save The Whales badges that he hands out when we're not around."
"I'll bet he has tofu hidden in the back of the freezer."
"I'd better check that he's not hiding alfalfa sprouts in his bedroom."
"What's going on?" Mycroft asked as he re-entered.
"Sherlock has alfalfa sprout porn," Greg informed him casually.
"Oh," Mycroft said calmly. "Dessert will be here soon."
"I hate every single person in this room," Sherlock told them very seriously.
"Good to know," Greg said, clapping him on the back. "At least the week's nearly over."
"Yes, well. Perhaps we should toast to that," Sherlock said.
"Sounds good. Here's to this godforsaken thing being done with," John proposed, and they all drained their glasses- except Mycroft, who set his back down without taking a single mouthful. John looked at Sherlock out the corner of his eye, but couldn't see any visible reaction.
"It's been… an experience," Mycroft said in a very restrained manner.
"And hopefully I've got some money out of it," John added.
"What makes you think you've won the money?" Greg frowned. John looked at him. "Yes, okay, point taken."
"I think you'll find you still have to score my evening," Mycroft reminded them. "And as it's been the first to have any kind of normalcy-"
Almost on cue, Sherlock hit the table, face-first, and did not move.
"What the hell?" John asked, hurriedly beginning to check vital signs.
"Don't concern yourself over it, John," Mycroft said, leaning back in his chair. "When Sherlock is involved one learns to come prepared. The drug will wear off within a few hours."
"How did you even get it in his glass without him realising?" Greg marvelled. Mycroft went to speak, but then doubled over suddenly. His eyes narrowed as he seemed to remember something he had quite successfully repressed. He looked first to his brother, then to his other two guests.
"I am getting rather out of touch with these things," he sighed. "I think it's best if you leave now. John, please take your deadweight with you." John nodded, and slung Sherlock's arm over his shoulder. Greg took the other side, and together they manoeuvred him out of the room and to the front door.
"Thanks, Mycroft. We'll phone the scores through or something."
"You're welcome, John." He paused for a moment, before saying "and please do let Sherlock know that I'm incredibly ashamed that he opted to take the laxative route. It really is quite unimaginative and I'm relatively sure that I've built up something of a tolerance to his brand of choice over the many, many years of family Christmas dinners."
"Oh, good God," John heard Greg say.
"I'll let him know," John said, trying very hard to keep his face straight. "Your childhood seems more interesting every time I hear about it."
"If interesting is an unusual synonym for scarring, then perhaps. Goodbye, John. Goodbye, Greg. I'm sure I'll be in touch soon."
"Yes, I'm sure you will," John said. The door shut behind them, and John and Greg looked at each other slowly. Silently at first, they began to shake with laughter.
"Laxatives," John eventually choked out.
"You've got to be shitting me," Greg said, shaking his head. It took him a few seconds to realise why John was laughing so hard, and when he did he joined in so enthusiastically that Sherlock went cascading onto the grass.
"Oh, bollocks," John cursed through his laughter. They turned him over carefully, to see an angry red mark forming on his forehead. John checked it carefully as they picked him back up again.
"Is he all right?" Greg asked, sobering up.
"Oh yeah, he'll be fine. It's just a bruise."
"If he asks, he fell over."
John nodded vigorously. "Sherlock has got to stop falling over things."
"It would help if he wasn't so freakishly tall." Together, they carried him towards the parked car, and managed to fold him into the back seat.
"I think I might actually miss seeing you, Watson," Greg said briskly as they shut the door.
"It's been alright, hasn't it?"
"You'd better not let Sherlock hear that; he might drug me out of jealousy."
"Nah. He might do it out of boredom, though. I'd watch your coffee for a while."
"Noted. See you next time there's a case we can't solve."
"So tomorrow, then. I know, I know, I'm sorry. But Sherlock isn't conscious, and I don't think he'd ever forgive me if somebody didn't say it." Greg nodded acceptingly, and they shook hands.
"Greg?" John called as he began to walk away. "One last thing."
"You aren't actually going to enter us in the competition, are you?"
"Sweet Jesus, no. Do you remember the photos from Tuesday night?"
"I am trying my absolute hardest not to."
"Good man. No, let's just forget everything that happened this week."
"For the record though, I did win."
"Are you sure? Mycroft did do the best food."
"But nobody ended up with severe diarrhoea on my night."
"Yes, okay, thank you!"
Later that evening, when Sherlock woke up (and John stayed awake, by his side, for six hours to ensure that he did so), he didn't seem concerned that he had been sedated.
"I should have seen it coming," he mused. "It's been a long time since we ate together. We've forgotten each other's ways."
"The laxatives worked, though," John told Sherlock, whose faced cracked into a broad smile.
"But he didn't drink the wine."
"No, of course not. That was just a sugar pill- I knew there was no way he'd drink it."
"Then why did you put it in?"
"To distract his suspicions away from the food."
"Oh. When you offered to fetch the wine?"
"Yes," Sherlock beamed.
"So he knew you'd been near the kitchen unattended, and he still ate the food?"
"John, if you have learned one thing from this entire experience, let it be this: every man has his weakness. For some, it's love. For others, it's pride. For Mycroft, it's chocolate cake."
As agreed, the events were forgotten, the photographic evidence was burned and the week was never spoken of again. They all swore a solemn oath to never publicise any material from any of the dinner parties.
The only thing to escape the rigorous purging was a single digital photo of the four of them together on the first night, which Greg saved onto his computer. Much to his embarrassment, he found himself occasionally looking at it and smiling fondly. And on the days when Sherlock was being particularly insufferable or Mycroft was causing some kind of government-related crisis, he would soothe himself with the knowledge that he would upload it to Facebook in ten years or so.
(Assuming that, by then, he'd understand how Facebook worked.)