It came about because Sherlock had used another of his ridiculous words that seemed made up, but was found in the dictionary (the decades old gigantic dictionary) later to prove to John it did in fact exist.
"Why can't you just use words everyone knows?" John had complained.
"I refuse to dumb myself down to the level of the like of Anderson."
John snorted. "Hardly. You just like proving you're clever. I bet you couldn't go an hour without using a word of more than one syllable."
"Really? Well it's a good thing you're not a betting man. Honestly John, you should know by now there is little I cannot do."
"Solar system," John muttered.
Sherlock fixed him with a glance. "Heard that. I bet I can last longer than you can."
"Oh yeah? You're on."
"Excellent. Any ground rules we need to set up? I think not, really-"
Sherlock looked up at John.
"What might that be?"
"Your name. I can say your name. Because what else am I supposed to call you? Sher? Lock? They both sound stupid and make me sound like I'm talking to a child. Or a dog."
Sherlock sniffed indignantly. "Fine. And on that note, we should exempt all names. What if we have to go to a crime scene? I have to be able to insult Anderson."
"Yes. Fine. Good."
They looked at each other for a moment.
"So shall we begin?" Sherlock suggested.
John nodded. "Sure. Now."
They didn't speak for a while. It was easier that way. And then when they did, it was carefully thought out and guarded.
Sherlock studied John.
"John, tea," he demanded, picking up his violin.
"Black?" he asked, grinning slyly.
Sherlock frowned. "Milk and... sweet."
John furrowed his brow. "Sweet?" he repeated.
"Yes," Sherlock muttered. "The thing you add that is sweet. From a cane. Can be white. Or brown."
John smirked at him and set off to make the tea, with milk and sugar for Sherlock.
Crime scenes were interesting.
"The man you seek has a green thing you climb to reach up high."
Lestrade studied him for a moment.
"A green ladder?"
"Yes," Sherlock replied impatiently.
"Well, why didn't you just say so?"
Sherlock waved a hand. "Dull."
"Right... And how do you know this?"
"Obv..." Sherlock trailed off. "Damn," he muttered.
He pondered for a moment. "Look. Green paint marks in stones. No hole in wall to see through. No sense for it to be here. Boy with blood link." He looked to Lestrade expectantly.
"And... why did the brother kill him?"
"Drunk. Thought it would be bad luck to walk..." he gestured beneath the ladder. "He knew that and put the green thing here so he fell in the pond. Wet in his lungs, dead. Check with Molly."
"No," Lestrade insisted. "What was the motive?"
"Oh. Ask the wife. The house seems like the best bet."
The first time they got in a cab to go home, it was awkward.
"221... Bake... Street," John stammered.
"Yes. That. Oops."
The man only shrugged and off they went.
"Shut up," John whispered to Sherlock.
"I said not one word," Sherlock replied smugly.
"And that was the... err."
Sherlock raised an eyebrow.
"Shut up," John repeated.
They sat in silence for the rest of the trip, throwing multi-syllable words at each other in their heads.
Even life at Baker Street was interesting.
"Mrs Hudson!" John called.
"Yes dear?" She appeared at the top of the stairs as if she'd been there all along.
"Oh. Do you have more of those... flat cakes?" he asked, gesturing with his hands.
She looked confused for a minute. "Oh! Biscuits?" John nodded. "Of course dear, just let me go get them." She smiled at John and headed back down the stairs.
She reappeared a moment later with the tray.
"Here you go boys," she said, smiling at them as she settled the tray on the one spot of the table that was cleared. "John, I'm a little shocked you forgot the word biscuits. That's more of a thing for an old lady like me to do."
John smiled at her and swallowed his biscuit before speaking.
"I know the word. I did not say it. It has more than one sound. Sherlock and I are in a game."
She studied him for a moment, her eyes finally lighting up in recognition as she laughed.
"Oh you two. Always something new going on."
"Thank you," John said, motioning to the tray. "Case is at end. Sherlock can eat now. He will not eat things that are not these."
"Oh, that silly boy. Sherlock!" she called. He skulked out of his room. "John told me about the case finishing and your little game. Now eat your share of biscuits before John eats them all."
John blushed, shoving a third in his mouth.
"It's all right dear," she assured him, patting him on the shoulder. "But remember, I'm not your housekeeper. I expect that tray to be washed before it comes back."
John nodded. "Of course. Bye."
Mrs Hudson left, smiling to herself all the way down the stairs. Those boys.
Their game continued for days, both of them ridiculously good at it and too stubborn to give in to the other.
"You can give up now," Sherlock informed him, smoothly.
"There!" John said triumphantly. "Oh. Or not."
"This makes me tire," John sighed.
"I know," Sherlock added, also sighing.
"But you will not give up. And I will not."
Sherlock nodded. "It seems we are at a mate which is stale."
John furrowed his face at him. "You stole that," he accused.
"No. Did not steal the words. Take for short time, then give back."
John rolled his eyes.
"Pass me my song string," Sherlock ordered, referring to his violin.
"Do not know what you say. Oops," John retorted, not wanting to give in.
Sherlock glared at him a while more before finally getting up himself and retrieving it. He plucked at the strings viciously, so much so John thought they were going to break.
"Be nice. Be soft," John scolded.
"Why?" Sherlock retorted. "It does not feel. I can't hurt it."
"No," John admitted. "But it can hurt you."
And just as he said that, as though it was some divine violin god that was fed up with Sherlock's abuse, or perhaps just the tiring strings, one of the string snapped and hit Sherlock in the face.
"Ow!" he yelped, clutching it. "John! Hurt! Blood! Fix it."
"Hush," John ordered, peeling Sherlock's hand from his face, already at his side. "Let me see."
He managed to pry fingers away enough to see a clean wound that was bleeding profusely.
"Fix it," Sherlock demanded.
John shook his head. "We said no face. I sew you up, but not your face. We have to go."
"Don't. Want. To."
"Too bad. Coat. Shoes. Scarf. Now." John stood over Sherlock menacingly.
Sherlock struggled into his coat and scarf with one hand, the other clutching his face. John solved that problem by grabbing bandages to stick to it.
They hailed a cab with some difficulty. Oddly enough, none of the cabs seemed to want to take them. John almost laughed when he remembered the day Sherlock had returned, covered in blood with a harpoon, muttering about how none of the cabs would take him.
Giving a destination was slightly more difficult.
"Umm... med place please."
The cabbie looked at him.
"St. Bart's," he offered. "He needs... nurse."
"The hospital?" he finally suggested.
"Yes!" John agreed. "There please."
The man only shrugged. John was sure he'd seen worse before.
"Don't tell," Sherlock muttered to John while they sat in triage.
"Do not tell them one sound word game."
"We told Mrs Hudson," John noted with confusion.
"She is one thing. They are not the same. Don't tell," Sherlock declared.
"Fine," John sighed. "That will make it hard to tell what..." he gestured to Sherlock's face.
"Mr Holmes?" a voice called. A nurse was summoning them.
Sherlock got to his feet, John trailing behind him.
"Who's this?" she asked, looking at John.
"My mate," he announced. "He comes."
"Alright," she said, shrugging while she lead them to a cubicle. "As long as he doesn't interfere."
"He is sort of like you," Sherlock informed her. "He has an M D."
"Oh?" she asked, her eyes lighting up. "He's a doctor?"
Sherlock nodded on John's behalf, who was more wishing he could fall into the floor.
"And is he your... partner?" she asked carefully.
"No, no. Just mate. He does work with me though. We share a flat. But not like that," he added, spotting her expression.
"Right. The doctor should be in shortly," she stammered, backing away slowly.
"Nice job," John muttered. "She got the wrong thought."
"Gay?" Sherlock asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Ah. Most think that. Wrong though."
"You do not help by..." John waved his hands around. "What you told her," he finished lamely.
Sherlock nodded. "Oops," he offered.
John waved away his apology. "It's fine. It's all fine."
They grinned at each other.
A doctor parted the curtain as they were madly grinning at each other.
He wisely chose to ignore that.
"Mr Holmes?" he directed towards Sherlock, who nodded. "I'm Dr Hernd. How did you get that laceration?" he inquired, pulling away the gauze to examine it.
"String... was tight. It went snap."
"String on what?" he continued, ignoring Sherlock's hisses of pain as he prodded the wound.
"Song. It makes songs. With strings." Sherlock pulled away from the man to gesture like he was playing on his violin.
"A stringed instrument? A violin?"
"Yes!" Sherlock blurted. "The string went snap and hit my face. Lots of blood. John said no fix. Not the face," he continued mournfully.
"Are you a doctor?" Dr Hernd asked John.
He nodded. "I can sew him up at home, but not the face. We have a deal."
The man nodded. "Probably for the best. I'll have a plastic surgeon come down and do the stitches. And can I talk to you for a minute?"
John nodded, ignoring the look Sherlock gave him.
"Does he always speak like that? In broken sentences?"
"Oh, no," John reassured. "He's just in a mood. He gets like that. It's just one of those things. He's... odd," he added, grinning at the man for reassurance.
"And he really got the injury from a violin string snapping?"
"Yes. He pulls them too tight. It should have been a while back, but..." John shrugged. "He's fine."
The doctor nodded, slapping John on the shoulder. "I'll have the plastic surgeon down asap."
John nodded. "Thank you."
The plastic surgeon showed up within the hour to stitch up Sherlock's face. His cheek was comfortably numb, and John was watching closely.
"See Sherlock. I can't do this at home," he informed him as the surgeon used two layers of different types of stitches.
"It looks like it'll be seven or eight," the plastic surgeon said.
"Eight," Sherlock declared.
"I can do eight, if that's what you want."
"Yes. Eight is more good."
The man shrugged and added the last little stitch in.
"All set. Read the booklets on wound care, and come back to get them taken out."
Sherlock waved a hand. "John can do it."
Thankfully, either the man pretended not to hear, or actually didn't, because there was no response.
They went home, again to 'Bake Street'.
"This is dull. I tire of it," John admitted, collapsing into his armchair.
"As do I," Sherlock concurred.
"Shall we call it a draw?"
"Do I need to write it down? So you can't claim to have won."
"You do not win. Just so you know."
"So as of now, it is done?"
"Absolutely," Sherlock sighed.
"Fantastic. Brilliant. You completely mad fool you."
Sherlock grinned at John, who grinned back.
"Mrs Hudson!" Sherlock bellowed, frightening even John. "Please bring to our dwelling some of those delightful biscuits for us to enjoy in your company."
"Gee, don't overdo it now."
"Not at all. Eloquent as always." Sherlock grinned at John. "Love words. BRILLIANT! Can't wait until we have another case so I can tell Lestrade and his team that they are imbeciles and that it's obvious."
"Why wait?" John offered.
Sherlock practically beamed. "Shall we?"
"Yes," John called, jumping out of his chair, suddenly full of energy.
"Boys?" Mrs Hudson called, empty handed. "I'm all out of the biscuits, but it sure is nice to hear you using longer words again."
"No matter Mrs Hudson," Sherlock replied, slipping his scarf on. "We're going to make up for lost time."
"Of course dear," she replied fondly, watching them dash down the stairs to hail a cab.
"Scotland Yard," Sherlock told the driver.
"I get to tell him on the way back," John informed him.
"Alright," Sherlock conceded.
"Fantastic," John claimed.
"Meretricious," Sherlock added.
"And a happy new
year," came a voice from the front of the cab.
They only looked at each other and shrugged.