It started with the roses.
The dozen roses, tied up in pink ribbon and left on 221B's welcome mat- The roses that Jo was desperately allergic to, a fact which Sherlock, the mad genius who served as her ready excuse for both friend and flat mate, apparently found hilarious.
"And what, exactly, is so funny?" she asked, as she sneezed her way over to the trash can.
"You," he cackled from the sofa where he was lounging, utterly unconcerned with the fact that his flatmate was dying in front of him. "You just would be the girl that's allergic to roses. "
She opened her mouth to ask him just precisely what he meant by THAT—and was interrupted by yet another sneezing fit.
"Oh fuck- ah-ah—CHOO—Sherlock, for the love of – ah—God-will you fucking get your arse up here and –(sneeze)- clean these up before-(sneeze)—you-(sneeze)- end up paying the rent by yourself?"
Sherlock reluctantly vacated his seat and grabbed the flowers from her hand, though whether out of concern for her or fear over his bank account, she would probably never know.
She slumped into her favorite chair, eyes watering, and distangled the ludicrously pink ribbon from where it had woven itself around her arm, noting, as she did so, the little cream card attached to it.
"Sherlock," she called. "I think you have an admirer—"
(Again), her inner voice supplied with a groan. No matter how open Sherlock was about his relationship with Ian Adler, it never seemed to quell the frankly concerning ardor of his female fans.
Sherlock growled something incomprehensible from the kitchen (apparently, the genius had deleted that roses had thorns) and Jo shrugged. She flipped open the card, intending to put it right back- (ok, ok, fine, maybe she'd wanted a peek—but Sherlock hacked his way into her computer all the time, so it was fair, right?)- And stopped.
"For the lovely Joanna," it read in curly gold script. "Xoxo—"
That couldn't be right.
It was signed, simply—
"But how many JMs are there in London? There must be tons, right?"
"That sign off xoxo? Unlikely."
"Even less likely."
"Oh fine then," Jo snapped, flopping in her chair. "I just got a love note. From Jim Moriarty. Jim- fucking- Moriarty-Sherlock, don't you have anything to say to that?"
Sherlock pursed his lips. "He should have reconsidered the ribbon, the pink clashes entirely too much with the red."
Sherlock grinned smugly at her. "Can't. Gay."
"Yeah, well, we thought he was too and look where that got us. Why though? He's got to be up to something, but what?"
Sherlock gave her 'the look'.
"Is it not obvious?"
For three days, there was nothing. Jo had almost forgotten about the roses-incident. Sure, she sneezed her way through doing the laundry, but that was hardly an unusual incident when one lived with a mad genius—as long as it wasn't fatal, Joanna Watson was fairly flexible about these things.
She staggered upstairs, basket in hand—and nearly dropped all the clean clothes on the doorstep to 221B.
Hung casually around the doorknob was a necklace. A large opal, to be precise, set in a golden lace that made Joanna's eyes go wide.
She wandered into the living room, where Sherlock was hanging upside down off the side of the sofa, feeling a bit faint. "Sherlock—"
"Busy," he told the ceiling.
"I said, BUS—OH." He took in the gleaming stone she'd suspended above his head, his head cocking curiously to the side. "Hmph."
"Hmph? That all you got?"
"Expensive?" he suggested. He swung his legs off the back of the sofa and righted himself.
That hadn't, somehow, occurred to Jo. She stared at him, jaw hanging open.
"It isn't—is it—is it REAL?"
Sherlock took it out of her hands and raised his eyebrows.
"Very real indeed."
"And stolen from the Rani of Jaipur—with a death penalty set on the head of the thief, of course-"
"FUCK, fuck, FUCK—"
"About 306 years ago," Sherlock finished. He held it back out to her. "Here. Blue makes your skin look less sallow."
"Thanks," Joanna snapped. "Really helpful."
Sherlock shrugged. "Would you rather I tell you that your current yellow and purple jumper is a travesty that you would do well to never inflict upon humanity again?"
Jo snatched the jewel from his hands.
"I," she announced, with as much dignity as she could muster, "Am going for a walk."
"Your turn to buy the milk," Sherlock called after her.
"It's always my turn to buy the milk, you lazy sod-"
"Whole, not skim and don't forget the beans-"
At least, she mused, there was still some satisfaction to be had from slamming the door in his smug face.
The black car had been following her for entirely too long.
It crawled next to her.
She pulled out her cellphone and hit speed dial.
"Mycroft," she said sweetly. "If you are going to have the car follow me around, at least pretend to be subtle, won't you?"
Mycroft thrust a silver-wrapped parcel at her as soon he stepped out of the car, his face serenely interested. "This is yours, I presume, Ms. Watson?"
"Doctor. DOCTOR," she snapped at him. She eyed the parcel apprehensively. "The hell is that?"
Mycroft shrugged. "We found it outside 221B. Seemed likely to be an explosive of some sort, but the X-rays came up negative. No toxic chemicals, at least none that are traceable and no weaponry or metal that we can detect."
"So why bring it to me?" she asked, her heart sinking.
Mycroft looked at her as if she was being purposefully dense (which she was, clearly, but it was still RUDE). "It's addressed to you," he said pointedly.
"And you're going to stand here and watch me open MY mail—"
"When it's from Jim Moriarty, you can hardly blame me from being extra careful. For your own safety, of course."
"Fine, whatever—" she tore at the silver wrapping paper and noticed, for the first time, the branding on the box.
She could feel her cheeks begin to turn faintly pink. "Look, Mycroft, maybe it's better if you didn't—"
"We can do this the hard way or the easy way, DOCTOR Watson, but I assure you that it will be done." Mycroft said pleasantly.
"Right," she mumbled. "Um—"
Suddenly, she was furious. Damn the Holmes' and their confounded condescending attitude. She had nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing—she wrenched open the box-
Alright, so she should have thought that one through. Just a bit.
Ruffled undergarments tumbled all over the pavement in an admittedly embarrassing explosion of pink silk and fine lace.
"Oh my god," she choked, torn between a wild desire to laugh madly and an equally pressing desire to cry.
She decided to go with the former.
Mycroft's face was too priceless to waste.
"Women's lingerie," she gasped, chortling despite the familiar burning sensation in her cheeks. She picked up a particularly frothy piece of black lace and waved it at him. "Here, want to check for, er—toxic chemicals?"
She bit her lip and snorted inelegantly.
Sherlock was going to LOVE this.
"No—I—" Mycroft looked utterly scandalized. "I have to go—"
"National emergency, is it?" She nodded, wiping at her eyes and then, unable to resist, offered him a pair of particularly risqué panties.
"Silk though—why silk? Do I seem like a silk girl to you, Mycroft?"
"I should think," Mycroft said crisply. "That it's perfectly obvious."
He slammed the car door pointedly in her face.
Jo ended up gathering as much of the lingerie as she could, weary now that the fun was over. Still, she told herself, it seemed an awful waste to leave the stuff in the middle of the street and it wasn't like she hadn't already scandalized half the neighborhood—might as well do the job thoroughly, she supposed.
She tucked the parcel under her arm and walked to the café two streets over, mostly because it was too early to justify beer. God, she needed alcohol. Plenty of it, preferably. She was going to get absolutely pissed tonight, she decided. She had just drawn out her phone with the intention of texting Greg (who was always good for a pint), when a shadow fell over the screen.
"Darling," a familiar voice cooed. "Didn't you like the presents?"
Jo might or might not have squeaked, but she'd deny it to her dying day. It didn't put her in any better of a mood.
She glared up at Jim. "Don't you have a criminal empire to run or something? A nuclear bomb to set off? A small country to destroy? Absolutely ANYTHING else to do with your time but drive me mad?"
Jim pouted. "Darling, Canada's next week, do keep up."
She groaned. "Right, that—look. What the hell are you playing at?"
Jim smiled bashfully at her. "Isn't it obvious?"
That was IT—
"No," she snapped. "No it fucking well is not. It might be to all you geniuses, but to us mere mortals, presents seem to indicate—well—"
And now this was fast becoming utterly ridiculous. She wondered what it said about her life that the idea of someone romancing her was more ridiculous than spilling lingerie in front of the British government, but there you had it.
It. Was. Ridiculous.
"Go on," Jim prodded. 'Presents are for—"
"For romance," she finished, a flush rising in her cheeks. "When you like someone—roses, jewelry, pan- um- clothing-—it's like you're trying to—"
"Well, court me, I suppose."
Jim clapped his hands together in glee. "Oh, I KNEW you'd get it. You're not that stupid after all!"
She decided to ignore that.
"You know," she told him patiently instead. "I was supposed to get a job after I got back from Afghanistan. A real job. At the surgery. And then I was supposed to marry a nice doctor. And have kids—1.9 kids."
"Not 2?" Jim asked, eyes wide.
"No," she said firmly. "1.9. The national average. Exactly that. "
Jim brushed his fingers over her knuckles. "Well, dear," he drawled slowly. "It all sounds—adorable—"
"No," she told him bluntly. "It sounds boring as all hell."
Jim looked up at her and grinned. "Does it now? And what sounds less boring?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "But what have you got?"
"A tropical island-?
"Not a fan of the heat anymore, really. Bad memories."
"An iceberg, then?"
She felt her mouth twitch despite herself.
"Too much upkeep, thanks all the same."
"Jewels? Clothing? Designer heels?"
Jim leaned forward, covering her palm with his own. "Consulting criminal," he mused, his mouth curving wickedly upwards. "Don't have much to offer. Well. Except—"
"Danger, of course."
"Well, why didn't you just offer me that in the first place?"