John Watson could be considered a man of many talents. At his young age, he had already accomplished more than many will in their entire lifetimes. He had earned his medical degree, seen the battlefield, and now played music for a living. The London Symphony Orchestra had welcomed him with open arms upon hearing for the first time the incredible sound John could emit from his clarinet and within two short years, he had been promoted to second chair. It was a sedentary lifestyle, predictable and often mundane, but John didn't mind so much. After his chaotic trip to war, mundane was very good.
John woke up in the morning, had a hearty breakfast, read the news, and walked to the conservatory every weekday. Rehearsal lasted for three hours, to which he was then granted a two hour long lunch break before continuing on with his instrumental playing, during which he had a nice filling sandwich and a walk around the block where he could revel in the sunny warm air and fresh scent of home. On the weekends, he went out with friends, sometimes to a bar, and sometimes he would return home with a pretty young lady. Often these females would not last more than the weekend-storming out yelling "you care more about that damn clarinet than you do about me!"
But John didn't mind too much. He liked his life. It was normal. Steady. Stress-free. Bound to let him live up to a ripe old age.
Upon preparation of the Orchestra's annual summer performance, conductor Greg Lestrade announced that a prized violinist had returned home after his grand world tour and had graciously agreed to be the soloist for their upcoming recital. All around him, musicians began to chatter amongst themselves in excited frenzies. John, perplexed by the situation, turned to Sally Donovan, the first clarinetist and asked "what's got everyone in a rally? We've had soloists before."
Sally rolled her eyes as if she were annoyed by the entire scenario. "Oh, but this one's special."
"Special?" John asked, raising his eyebrows in curiosity.
"Sherlock Holmes," Sally sighed, obviously exasperated. "Supposedly the greatest violinist of our time, but I think he's more of a twit, really."
John nodded slowly. "Sherlock Holmes." The name seemed to roll right off his tongue as if it was meant to be said. You'd have to be a hermit not to know who Sherlock Holmes was. A child prodigy, graduated from the American school Julliard, who claimed to be able to play any piece by ear-blindfolded. John didn't know too much about the man, he had only seen him on television once or twice and didn't think too much of his instrumental skills. He had seen Sherlock mostly on the news being arrested for drug abuse. Violin prodigy turns to heroin. Musical genius arrested for suspected drug usage. Young violinist found unconscious in home, rushed to hospital-drugs to blame? The most recent headline had occurred just before Sherlock left on his world tour. Sherlock Holmes to give performances around the world after year long rehab. John figured his fame was mainly attributed to his pretty face and lively drug history, but if the mention of his presence excited the whole orchestra, perhaps he really was as good as everyone claimed.
"Okay quiet down, everyone," Lestrade commanded upon his conductor's podium. "We've still got practice. Remember, Sherlock only plays with the orchestras he believes are the best. If we show him we suck, he'll walk out the door faster than he came in."
This mention surprised John and he turned back to Sally. "He can do that?"
"Oh sure," Sally answered. "He's infamous for turning down highly respected companies because he doesn't think they play well enough. And it doesn't ruin his reputation because he's such a fantastic violinist."
"What an arse!" John exclaimed. Sally only nodded in agreement.
John went home that night with his clarinet in his hand and his mind busied with Holmes. The name was no epiphany, of course. Another Holmes-Mycroft, owned the orchestra, as well as probably most of London. He was the main contributor to the orchestra and the reason everyone got paid so generously. From what John had heard, Mycroft was a politician-the entire British government, people say-and infamous for manipulating anybody into getting what he wants. John doubts he follows the rules half the time, but hey, nobody will arrest you if you're rich enough.
As a child, John often fantasized of being rich, as most children do. He came from a middle class family where money was tight but stable, and he lived a very comfortable life. Of course he yearned for luxuries, as children often do, but he was always understanding if he couldn't get a certain videogame for Christmas. He could just imagine how the Holmes children must have grown up. They probably had nannies and butlers and a whole bunch of friends to play with in their massive oversized rooms. Still, perhaps they had to be careful about running around the house with their parents' expensive vases and various ornaments strewn about. Sherlock probably got any videogame he asked for.
So as John drifted off to sleep in the comforts of his own little bed, he nuzzled his face into the soft linen covers of his sheet and thought to himself that it must be rather nice to be rich.
Of course John was excited the next morning. It's not every day you get to meet a violinist that could play Mendelssohn at the age of six, after all. He was nervous as well, naturally, for Lestrade's warning lingered in his ears. If Sherlock did not like what he heard, he would not bother himself to stay, and more than anything, John wanted to perform with him-if just to be able to tell his grandchildren that one time he had performed with the great Sherlock Holmes.
He got to the conservatory earlier than usual, perhaps to get a glimpse of the violinist, but alas Sherlock was nowhere to be seen.
In fact, nearly an hour and a half into rehearsal, he had still not shown up and John was beginning to worry. More than anything, though, he had begun to worry that nobody else seemed to be worrying. Lestrade seemed extremely focused on his conducting and the musicians seemed extremely focused on their playing, and John couldn't help but wonder why they weren't as worried as him.
While Lestrade took a five minute break to catch a breath and grab a bottle of water, John leaned over and asked Sally, "is he coming today?"
"Who?" Sally asked, puzzled.
"Sherlock Holmes!" John exclaimed, surprised that she had forgotten.
"Oh!" Sally nodded. And then her face twisted to something unpleasant. "Him. Oh, he'll show up when he feels like it."
Just then, as if right on cue, the auditorium doors burst open and all eyes were on the entrance as a tall thin figure emerged into the room.
Chatter began amongst the orchestra yet again, but John's eyes were silently transfixed on the elegant creature that strided towards the lot of them.
Lestrade sputtered a bit as he rushed to greet the figure. "Sherlock!" He gave a short laugh. "Welcome home!"
"Yes," Sherlock responded, and John was quite shocked to find how deep of a voice the young violinist had. He and Lestrade shook firm hands as he said "I apologize on being tardy. I was working on an experiment and I must have lost track of time."
"An experiment?" John asked, mostly to Sally.
Sally turned to face John and said "oh, didn't I mention? He's also a chemist. Isn't that charming? Is there anything that man can't do?" Her sarcasm was blatantly obvious, but John could see her point. He let out a whistle. A scientist and a musician. Strange combination indeed, but an outstanding one nonetheless.
Lestrade clapped his hands and rubbed his palms together. "Well, let's waste no time then, Sherlock! Are you prepared for Tchaikovsky?"
"That one's dull," Sherlock responded blatantly. "I was hoping to start with the Mendelssohn."
John was shocked. The nerve of that man! It was a common rule in the music world that the conductor is god and that all should obey him no matter what the circumstances. Usually, backtalking the conductor earned you a one way ticket out of a job and into the streets. However, John witnessed as Lestrade simply nodded and muttered out "Oh…o-okay then, yes, indeed. We'll start with the Mendelssohn then."
As Sherlock tuned his instrument, John took the chance to look over him just a bit. There was no doubt Sherlock was a handsome fellow, tall and slim and well-proportioned. He had high cheekbones and a mess of curly dark hair and a well-defined upper lip and his eyes were…what color? Blue? Green? Both? Neither?
His body was sharp and angular, his hands long and bony as they gripped his instrument. Quite honestly, he looked so elegant and fragile John was almost afraid he'd break in half right in the middle of rehearsal.
Even as Lestrade raised his arms and began conducting, John couldn't take his eyes off the captivating presence of Sherlock Holmes.
And when Sherlock began to play, John could swear he was an angel of music descended from the heavens to show the world what music should sound like. His fingers moved nimble and quick across the strings and the bow glided across the instrument with such elegance and ease. John could hardly concentrate on his own music with Sherlock standing there looking like his violin just belonged right there on his shoulder.
Never before had John been blessed to witness such an angelic presence right there in front of him. Never before had he been able to listen to such majesty live and in person. He had listened to Sherlock play only once or twice before, but he had never been able to just sit down an enjoy it. And of course, he only sounded so much better in person.
When the piece was over, Sherlock slowly let his arms down, his violin dangling at his side. He glanced over his shoulder and scanned the orchestra, and for just a split second, his eyes locked onto John and John could feel a chill rush down his spine.
And then Sherlock raised a bony index finger at the pit and pointed straight at an individual. All eyes were suddenly on the trumpet section. "You there," Sherlock's deep booming voice called. "What's your name?"
The trumpet player in question sputtered a bit before answering "Anderson, sir."
"Anderson," Sherlock repeated, with perhaps just a tiny of a sneer. "I never want to hear you play that loud and that awful ever again. You drown out the entire orchestra and I can hardly hear my own instrument. Or at least if you must play that loud, play the right notes. No wonder your wife's gone and left you-she probably couldn't take any more of your horrible playing."
Anderson's mouth gaped wide open and he stuttered a bit before instantly shutting up and shrinking down into his seat. Around him musicians struggled not to laugh. John was more interested in how in the world Sherlock had deciphered Anderson's recent divorce.
Beside John, Sally began to fume silently. Her hatred towards Sherlock was quite evident, and John had to wonder what her motive was for disliking him so much. True, he was arrogant, but then again most soloists are.
At the end of the day, Sherlock left the scene rather quickly. John was perhaps a bit disappointed, as he had wanted to congratulate the violinist on a job well done, but he figured he'd have another opportunity in the near future. Tomorrow, perhaps.
As they were packing up, John acknowledged Sherlock's talents to Sally. "He's quite good though, isn't he?"
"He's just a freak," Sally answered. "And no more good than any other soloist out there. He's only famous because he stands out, and he only stands out because he's a freak of nature and he likes to challenge authority. If I had my way around here, I'd kick him out in a heartbeat."
John pressed his lips together tightly, but left the conversation alone.
And so he packed up his things and set off for home.
About halfway home, he was just in the middle of mentally planning out his supper when he had an aching feeling he was missing something. Something rather important, in fact. Indeed when he set his clarinet case down in the middle of the sidewalk and opened it, he was startled to find that his reeds were missing. He vaguely recalled taking his reed box out during the lunch break to change out an old one, but he couldn't remember ever putting the box back in his case. Those reeds were important and extremely not cheap, and it would be terrible if he had lost them, so he set his mind on turning around and heading to the conservatory to search for them.
Being a military man, John could run without losing much energy so it was no burden returning to the auditorium. It was good for his health anyways, as he feared he wasn't getting enough exercise nowadays with his musical profession.
He let himself in through the backstage door and headed to the orchestra pit.
There he found himself startled by a presence on stage. He gasped and froze in place as his eyes laid sight on a certain violin player sitting in the middle of an empty strings section, legs propped up on the chair in front of him and fingers picking lazily at his violin strings, playing random notes and nothing comprehensible.
Their eyes meet and John was face to face with astound beauty. And then Sherlock reached beside himself and took a small black box into his hands. John's reeds. "looking for this?"
John stuttered a bit. "Uh, yes, actually. I was. Thank you."
He took a step forward but froze again when Sherlock began to speak. "You know, you can learn a lot about a clarinet player from his reeds. How far down the reed is in your throat, how hard your teeth imprint into it, its quality and age, etcetera. For instance," with an elegant hand he opened up John's box and pulled out a single reed. "I can tell you used this one on a Monday, a day after having a bit too much to drink. Do you do that often? Are you an alcoholic?"
"N-no!" John hesitantly defended himself.
"Of course you aren't," Sherlock agreed. "Your hands are far too steady for that. You are, however, a soldier. Am I right?"
John's jaw dropped wide. "How did you know?"
"Just look at yourself," Sherlock explained. "Your haircut, your posture, the calluses on your hands that don't match playing the clarinet. You'd have to be an idiot not to notice. Ah, but you were injured or else you wouldn't be here playing with this dull orchestra."
"I'm not…it's not…" John scoffed. "Dull?"
"Were you shot?"
"The orchestra isn't dull!" John right near shouted, ignoring Sherlock's question completely. "And what are you doing here anyways? Shouldn't you be home?"
"I haven't got one," Sherlock responded.
John was taken aback. "So what, you're just going to sleep here in the conservatory?"
"Not quite sleep, no."
"Nobody made you housing arrangements?"
"Of course they did. My brother prepared a room for me at our childhood estate."
"So go," John said, quite puzzled by Sherlock's stubbornness.
Sherlock sneered as if the thought of sleeping at his brother's house was the most repulsive idea in the world. "I'm not sure if you've been keeping up with the rumors, but my brother and I aren't exactly on speaking terms."
"Well…" John started. "You can't stay here. I'm pretty sure it's illegal."
"And you have a better suggestion?" Sherlock asked, raising an eyebrow.
John pressed his lips tightly together as he thought hard.
"That's what I thought," Sherlock nodded.
"No," John shouted abruptly. "No, you could stay with someone. Lestrade."
"Lestrade is married to a woman with whom I have never gotten along with."
Silence filled the entire auditorium.
And then Sherlock spoke. "You?"
John doesn't have time to regret what he had said because he finds his body involuntarily nodding. "Me. It…it's not as large as you're used to, I suspect, but it's homely, and I don't have any kids or bothersome pets."
Sherlock let his lips curl into a little smirk. "You don't know what you're asking of."
"Of course I do," John defended himself.
"I'm a horrid roommate," Sherlock told him. "I play the violin at odd hours and I perform dangerous experiments wherever they suit me."
"You're also homeless," John pointed out. "So I don't understand why you're so determined to be difficult about this."
Sherlock nodded slowly, finally giving up. "All right then. I'll room with you." He outstretched his arm, John's reed box in hand. As John walked over to collect it, he finally asked John his name.
"Watson," was his response. "John Watson. And I was injured. Shot."
"In the left shoulder."
"How did you know that?" John asked, bewildered.
"I'll tell you on the way home."