Characters: Sherlock, John
Word count: Approx. 2000
Summary: While working on a case overseas, John attempts to observe local customs and Sherlock is not particularly impressed. (A Halloween fic.)
Author's notes: This is for Ama, who wanted John and Sherlock giving out Halloween candy. I know the culture is a bit different in Britain, so I've come up with a flimsy excuse for them to be in an appropriate country. Happy Birthday, Ama!
It turned out Halloween was a much bigger thing in Canada than it was in England. A much bigger thing.
John knew this academically, of course, from watching a lot of American telly and film. He hadn't quite realized the extent of it until the neighbours started putting up their decorations a week before the day and all the shops had blazing displays of sweets and costumes for sale. He didn't know the enthusiasm had spread up north as well.
He and Sherlock were in Ottawa for a few weeks, semi-undercover to work on a big case. The client had set them up in a semi-detached house in a suburbanish neighbourhood close to where the heart of the case was and Sherlock had told John to try and 'blend in'. John tended to think of himself as 'Chief Officer in Charge of Appearing Normal'. So he thought he better try and do as the locals did. He bought a pumpkin lantern thing and put it on the porch and a few bags of sweets (the lady who lived in the other part of the house had said to expect about 200 kids, which seemed like an absurd amount). Now he was sitting on the stairs to the upper level of the house, writing a blog entry in between answering the door.
He was actually enjoying himself, a little.
"Happy Halloween," he said, to the pirate and soldier to whom he'd just handed out sweets.
"Thank you!" the pirate replied. The soldier seemed mute. He wouldn't even say 'trick-or-treat'. He just looked shy and smiled.
John smiled back and closed the door, turning around to find a begoggled Sherlock standing behind him.
"That is the sixth time the doorbell has rung in the last twenty minutes," he said. "What's going on? Is there some sort of convention of religious pamphleteers on the loose?"
John gestured to the large bowl of sweets he was holding. "Trick-or-treaters," he explained. Sherlock looked blank. "Halloween. It's a Halloween thing. Kids dress-up in fancy dress and go door-to-door and ask for sweets. That's what they do here."
"Tell them to stop," Sherlock ordered. "I can't concentrate with all that racket."
"I don't really have any control over it, Sherlock," John said. "They come to everyone's house."
Sherlock glared at him. "Put a sign up and tell them we don't have any sweets," he suggested.
"No. That would be a lie and a complete waste of the twenty dollars I paid for the sweets this morning," John said. "On sale, by the way. They take Halloween seriously here."
The doorbell rang. John ignored Sherlock's continuing glare and answered it, finding a butterfly, a ninja and a knight on the porch. He dropped a sweet in each of their pumpkin shaped buckets and received a chorus of thank yous in return.
"Is your costume a scientist? Or a carpenter?" the butterfly asked.
John realized Sherlock was peering over his shoulder at the children, still wearing his goggles.
"I am not in costume," Sherlock replied, coldly. "What are you supposed to be?"
"I'm a butterfly," the butterfly said, turning to show off her home-made wings. "See?"
"That is not an accurate representation of any known species," Sherlock informed her and shut the door in her face.
"Sherlock!" John said.
"I can't work under these circumstances," Sherlock said. "If you must lure children with sweets, stand outside and do it. That way I won't be interrupted by the constant ringing of the doorbell."
"I am not luring children," John objected. "It's perfectly acceptable to hand out sweets tonight. It's just for a few hours. Besides, it's bloody freezing here. I'm not standing out on the porch. You aren't even working on anything case related. You're just messing about for fun. "
"I'm thinking," Sherlock retorted. "And I can't do it with the interruptions."
John shoved a lolly his way. "You told me to blend in, I'm blending in," he said."Have a sweet and stop being whatever the Halloween equivalent of a Scrooge is."
Sherlock ignored the lolly and stomped back to the kitchen. John went back to his blogging. He answered the door a few more times and then Sherlock re-emerged, carrying a screwdriver like a dagger and looking determined.
"What are you doing?" John asked, knowing very well he probably didn't want to know.
"I'm disabling the doorbell," Sherlock replied.
John sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Sherlock, you can't disable the doorbell," he said. He held up a hand before Sherlock could speak. "Yes, I know you're capable of disabling the doorbell, but you weren't the one who had to listen to the client's lecture when you broke the... wotsit... 'garburator' thing in the kitchen sink. I'm not getting another one about doorbells. Stop renovating."
Sherlock sighed. "Leave the inside door open, maybe they'll knock instead," he said. "That might be less annoying."
"It's cold," John objected.
"Put on one of your jumpers," Sherlock replied. "I'm sure you must have some absurdly patterned one appropriate for the holiday. Pretend your costume is a badly dressed pensioner."
"Ha," John said, humourlessly. "No."
The doorbell rang. Sherlock glared at it.
"You get it," John said, with a smile. Sherlock moved the glare to him."Seriously, answer the door one time and I'll leave it open, so no more doorbell."
Sherlock contemplated this and picked up the bowl of sweets. He opened the door.
"Trick-or—" the kids began.
"I don't care," Sherlock cut them off. He took a handful of sweets and dropped them into the pillowcases that were held out. "You, dinosaur, step closer. I can't reach past this mouse child."
"You're the only person who knows I'm a dinosaur," the boy said. "Everyone else thinks I'm a dragon."
"That's ridiculous," Sherlock declared, dumping another handful into the pillowcase. "The layout of your plates is consistent with a stegosaurus."
He received a chorus of very enthusiastic thank yous, likely because no other house was giving out fistfuls of sweets at a time. Sherlock closed the outside door and stepped back, raising his eyebrows at John.
"Acceptable?" he asked.
John nodded. "Very well done," he replied. "Very good impression of a human being."
Sherlock returned to his experiment, but stomped back about fifteen minutes later.
"I've been getting to them before they even knock!" John said, in preparation for the complaint.
"I can hear them giggling," Sherlock declared.
John rolled his eyes.
Another group of children arrived at the door. John handed out the sweets, Sherlock staring curiously over his shoulder again. This was when the really fit single mum from down the street came with her child and did nothing to dispel the general impression that John and Sherlock were a married couple who'd moved out to the suburbs. Everyone kept asking John how long they'd been together and telling him how totally fine they were with the fact that they were together. He'd given up trying to explain that they weren't a couple.
"My brother has strep throat and he couldn't come, so I'm collecting for him too," a cowboy informed John, holding out an extra bucket.
"That is clearly a lie," Sherlock said.
John elbowed him in the stomach and dropped a boiled sweet into the bucket."I hope he feels better soon," he said.
The children left. John tried to smile at the single mum, but received only a polite one in return. There was really no way to pull anyone when Sherlock Holmes was around. He created some sort of negative flirting force field.
"You're too gullible," Sherlock told him, when he closed the door and returned to his perch. "That child is plotting something. He'll probably trade them at school tomorrow."
"He's six, Sherlock," John replied. "I don't think he's that devious. And it's sweets. He's not trafficking weapons."
"Yet," Sherlock said.
John shook his head and went back to his typing. For the next half hour Sherlock moped around the hallway, peering over John's shoulder when he answered the door and amusing himself by deducing the various parents and guardians and older siblings accompanying the children and sometimes the children themselves. John let him go to it, keeping his elbow ready to intervene if he was on the border of upsetting the kids. They tended to come in waves—a huge group together and then no one for several minutes.
"Oi, you've already had one," John scolded one of the kids in a large group. He was attempting to get another sweet by moving to the back of the crowd. He gave him a mock stern look and the boy moved on to the neighbour's door.
"Are you British?" a Spider-Man asked, staring up at John with wide eyes.
"Yes," John said.
"Do you know The Doctor?" Spider-Man said. "You talk like him."
"Which doctor?" Sherlock asked.
"The Doctor," Spider-Man replied, in a 'duh' tone of voice.
"No," John said, before Sherlock could reply. "No, we don't. Not personally."
"That sucks," Spider-Man declared, and hopped down off the porch.
John laughed and waved away Sherlock's confused look. A couple of stragglers arrived before he could close the door.
"I'm a ladybug," the ladybird announced, happily.
"I can see that," John said, with a smile. He had to crouch down to reach her bucket. She was very small. "You look lovely. And... er..."
"It's okay," the boy with her said, sounding defeated. "No one's understood my costume all night."
"You're the periodic table of elements," Sherlock said, matter-of-factly.
The boy lit up. "I am! That's right! How did you know?"
"You're a table and you have the elements stuck to you," Sherlock replied. "In appropriate arrangement, too. Very clever. Here." He took the bowl of sweets from John and unceremoniously dumped what was left in to the boy's pillowcase.
"Wow! Thank you!" the boy said. "You rock!"
"That's not fair!" the ladybird objected. "You have to share some of that with me, Kevin!"
Sherlock closed the door on their argument. John just looked at him. "What? It was the only clever costume I've seen and now you don't have to hand out any more sweets, so there won't be any more noise and I can get back to work. I've solved everyone's problems."
"I didn't have any problems," John said.
Sherlock gave him a look that clearly implied John had a number of problems in general and went back to the kitchen. John unplugged the pumpkin lantern and turned off the porch lights, hoping to discourage any further trick-or-treaters.
There was a lone lolly that had fallen out of the bowl and on to the steps next to John's laptop. He unwrapped it and stuck it in his mouth, then continued to write his blog entry.
He was in the middle of editing it when Sherlock came dashing out from the kitchen and grabbed his coat from the rack. "I've figured it out!" he announced, triumphantly. "I told you all I needed was a little quiet. Come on, we have to go now!"
John put his laptop aside and grabbed his own coat, following Sherlock out the door. A group of children were at their neighbour's door.
"I wonder what his costume is," a small girl in a clown costume said, as Sherlock sped out to the car they'd hired and John stopped to lock the door. "His coat is really cool."
John looked over to her and smiled. "He's a detective," he explained. "He's in costume as a detective."
The girl turned to her mother. "Next year," she declared. "I want to be a detective too."