Taking Exception

Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing.

Summary: John does not appreciate people's assumptions… Not about himself and certainly not about Sherlock.

John stood back to watch the circus that had become his normal life, or what passed for normal since he'd been introduced to Sherlock Holmes. It was their fifth body of the evening. A single gunman had spent the afternoon meandering across London shooting people seemingly at random with very little concern for whether he could be identified. At least that's what the police thought, but Sherlock had taken one look at body number two and declared that to be wrong. He'd gotten that twinkle in his eye that said he wanted to jump for joy at having a case that wasn't boring.

That twinkle had begun to dim slightly at the third body and John saw a frown appear on Sherlock's face, one of genuine concentration. At the fourth body, Sherlock had even stopped mocking Anderson. He'd simply walked around the body, nearly glaring at it as if it had done something to annoy him, then stood back and thought… and thought, his hands clasped in front of him, held at his chin.

Now John watched as Sherlock crouched beside the fifth body. Whoever the dead man was, it looked like he'd run into the alley to get away. He was lying face down and had been shot in the back. Sherlock stared at the body, paying no attention to the fact that the tail of his good coat was dragging through the dirt, muck, and whatever else had collected in the disgusting alley. Sherlock didn't care. He wasn't the one after all who would have to take the coat to be laundered. Again. He wasn't the one who would have to put up with the world's most frustrating consulting detective who didn't have his favorite coat because he'd managed to get it filthy. Again.

Sgt. Donovan walked up and stood beside John watching Sherlock who remained motionless, crouched down, staring at the body. "What's the matter with him?" she sneered. "Your freak boyfriend off his game?"

Your freak boyfriend off his game? John wasn't sure which part of that question was the most insulting, but he certainly took exception to all of it.

1) Freak. Sherlock was many, often annoying, things, but he was also brilliant, gifted, special, extraordinary. It frustrated John that others, for whatever reason, didn't appreciate Sherlock's talents, be that because of envy, stupidity, anger at being caught, or anger at being told the boldfaced and often ugly truth.

Maybe it was because of John's military service, but he had no problems appreciating people who were better at a given task than he was. In Afghanistan, having someone at hand who was better at something often meant the difference between life and death. A talent, any talent, was something to be valued and Sherlock was by far the most talented person John had ever met.

2) Boyfriend. It wouldn't bother him expect John was straight and Sherlock was… Sherlock. How that wasn't obvious was beyond him. Didn't these people work with Sherlock? Didn't they see him? Know him? Sherlock's only real pleasure was in solving puzzles. Sex wasn't a puzzle. Sex was sex. By its repetitive nature, it would bore him. John could practically hear him now. "Bored. Bored, bored, bored."

If he were being honest with himself, however, the assumptions really did bother him. What he and Sherlock had was so much more than the obvious would-be romantic relationship. Even putting the word romantic and Sherlock in the same sentence made him want to laugh. Sherlock just wasn't built that way.

No, what he and Sherlock had was more than that. It was friendship, the kind that only came along once in a lifetime and only then if one was very, very lucky. It was mutual respect, at least as much as Sherlock was capable of offering. That he offered any at all meant something to John. It was understanding of the other person and appreciating them despite the fact that one of them was a narcissistic know-it-all who kept eyeballs for experimental purposes and the other was a former soldier with some impressive emotional scarring to go along with the physical. Perhaps most importantly and what truly bound them together was their shared love of danger, of things happening. Sherlock might become bored, but John was lost without something real to do.

3) Off his game. Sherlock had followed the police from body to body all evening and into the night, working tirelessly, as he always did for them. He was now crouched beside a body, thinking so intently John could practically hear the gears whirring. It was obvious that something about this case was troubling him, although John wasn't sure how. One thing he was sure of, however. If anyone was going to solve the case, it wasn't going to be Sgt. Donovan and her snide comments while she looked at a body from afar. It was going to be Sherlock who was putting all of his considerable mental faculties into the problem.

For that matter a Sherlock who was off his game still had a better chance of solving the murders than Lestrade, Donovan and Anderson put together.

"Right." Anderson walked up and stood in front of Watson, his arms crossed across his chest and his perpetual annoyed expression on his face. "Is the freak going to stay there all night or can we get on with our jobs?"

John looked past Anderson toward Sherlock. "Did you ask him to move?" he inquired.

"Of course, I did. He ignored me completely." Anderson looked behind him and pursed his lips. "Which is odd. He didn't even shout at me or call me stupid."

As they watched, Lestrade approached Sherlock and bent down slightly to talk to him. Sherlock didn't so much as budge, ignoring him entirely. As usually happened when a situation like this arose, Lestrade straightened and began looking around until his eyes settled on Watson. He promptly waved for him to come forward.

John sighed in resignation and hurried toward them, glancing at Sherlock who was still ignoring them all. Lestrade kept his voice low, and John suspected it was because he knew Sherlock disliked excess noise when he was thinking. "Anderson and his people need to finish up here. Do what you can."

John nodded and turned toward his friend. "Sherlock?" No response. "Sherlock." John crouched down beside him and took a good look. Sherlock's eyes were downcast as if staring at the body, but John could tell he wasn't seeing anything right now except what was going on inside his own head. His eyes were moving back and forth very slightly, almost as if reading, and John had occasionally wondered if that was how Sherlock's brain worked, sorting everything he kept locked away.

John sighed again. It wasn't the first time something like this had happened, nor was it the one hundred and first. Sherlock frequently disappeared inside his own head. It was just that he usually had the decency to do it in the privacy of their flat where John could leave him sitting on the couch for hours at a time.

"Sherlock, stand up," John said in a tone that would brook no opposition. He put a hand under one arm and lifted to reinforce the order. After a second, Sherlock complied, although John knew he still wasn't in the here and now. "They need to get to the body, Sherlock. Back up." John added a bit of pressure to the arm he was still holding and Sherlock backed up until he bumped into the alley wall.

"Freak," John heard Donovan mutter. He resisted the urge to snap back a comment about Miss Sally-Snide-Comments and her amazing lack of assistance in solving cases.

"It's just basic motor control," John murmured instead. "He's thinking. I doubt he even knows we're here." John had seen him like this too often, sitting, thinking, sometimes plucking the same few notes over and over again on his violin or doing something else equally obnoxious, his body on auto-pilot while his brain worked out whatever was puzzling him.

"So he won't know if I kick him?" Anderson asked dryly, although John had no doubt he was slightly serious.

John's eyes narrowed dangerously. "I wouldn't recommend it."

"The freak would figure it out anyway," Donovan warned. "You know how he is."

"Fine," Anderson grumbled. "Just get him away from here. Some of us have work to do while he has his meltdown."

John opened his mouth to reply, but Lestrade quickly said, "When he comes out of…," he waved his hand vaguely toward Sherlock, "this, tell him to let me know if he comes up with something."

"When he comes up with something," John felt it necessary to say.

Lestrade huffed impatiently. "Right."

John decided to take pity on the man. He'd been going from murder scene to murder scene for hours now and he at least had the sense to tolerate Sherlock somewhat patiently. John tightened his grip on Sherlock's arm and began to pull toward the mouth of the alley.

Suddenly, Sherlock gasped making everyone around him startle. "Yes," he drawled out, his voice low and definitely pleased. "I see it now." As if a switch had been thrown, the light returned to his eyes and Sherlock's considerable intelligence flooded his expression.

"Yes!" he said again triumphantly. "Don't you see?" He looked at the others standing around him, apparently thinking nothing of it that no one was where they had been when he'd decided to have an out-of-body experience. "Nevermind. Of course you don't." He began marching out of the alley toward the road, every bit as animated now as he had been unresponsive before.

"What don't we see?" Lestrade demanded, hurrying after him.

"The coffee, Lestrade, the coffee!" he called over his shoulder.

"What about it?"

John smiled inwardly. Sherlock had come out of his pseudo-trance, but his mind was still far beyond the simple questions the detective inspector was asking. As he always did, John simply trailed after them, hurrying to play his many roles in Sherlock's life. Nanny, bodyguard, sounding board, interpreter.

John followed Sherlock into the cab he'd managed to hail despite the late hour. Once again, John thought that they weren't so very different. Above all things, Sherlock hated being bored. John had been standing around for hours and now finally, he had something to do. Disconcerting as it was, all it took was a multiple homicide and life was good again, normal again.

Or what passed for normal since he'd been introduced to Sherlock Holmes.

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