John had insisted. He hadn't wanted to stop, especially after such a tremendous victory, but John forced food upon him. The murderer, that nasty man with the ragged scar across his cheek, was behind bars and that couple's murder was finally solved. The satisfaction of knowing that he'd done it again was more than enough to fill him up. He certainly didn't need the plate of microwaved potatoes and eggs that sat in front of him.
"We're not going until you eat some of that," John said in between mouthfuls of lasagne. Four small slices of bread and three pats of butter-he certainly wasn't worried about being in fighting shape. It was useless to consume so much. Sherlock took a small bite and let the rubbery taste of the scrambled eggs slip around his tongue. He swallowed the acrid concoction to get John to move on from his maternal naggings.
"Greg invited us to his housewarming."
Sherlock laughed. He'd recently bought a home to share with his fiancee whom Sherlock had informed him was already cheating on him. Greg didn't want to listen to him but it was clear from her frequent manicures and recent change in perfume. What was the use in going to a party for a home that would be sold before the next year?
"You can go," Sherlock said as he took a sip of water.
John shook his head. "You're coming. I went to the last party on my own. Not again."
"Oh stop being so dramatic."
John gestured wildly with his soiled fork. "You do realize that they all don't like us as much as you think, right? I could have melted from all those glares."
"All the more reason not to go," Sherlock said.
John pointed towards the plate. "Eat your food."
John took a long gulp of his lager. It was his third drink of the night. The case had been a hard one for him. Sherlock hadn't noticed at first that John kept leaving the room as they examined the bodies. They never spoke of it but Lestrade told him later that it upset him to see the animals so badly mutilated. It didn't bother Sherlock-a body is a body. He'd never taken John for one so easily swayed by something so mundane as a housepet. Either way, if a few pints of lager was what it took to get him back on board, then it was worth the inevitable drunken ramblings he'd endure as the night dragged on.
"Oh," John said, "I have a date tomorrow so I can't do the autopsy with you."
They were to examine a stabbing victim from a case that had run cold a few weeks back. "Cancel it," Sherlock said.
"No," John said, "I've already cancelled on her twice. You go without me."
"I can't," Sherlock said. "Molly's on holiday and the M.E. said he'd only do it if you came along."
"Then reschedule," John said.
Sherlock examined his friend's face.
Eyebrows slanted slightly.
His muscles tensed around the glass.
Anger. Anger at what?
Ah. Of course.
"If I go to the party…" Sherlock began.
John shook his head incredulously. "You'd go to the party?
"If I go...will you reschedule?"
John looked out the window with a bemused expression. "You'd really go to the party?"
Sherlock didn't have time for the guessing game. "Yes," he said.
"Fine," John said. "But we have to stay for as long as I want, understand?"
He couldn't hide his disgust. This trade was wildly uneven but he needed John to do his work. He choked back the bile. "Yes."
"Brilliant," John said.
John's phone shook violently on the table. It was one in the morning. Both of them stared at the phone in confusion. "Who would be calling…" John began.
John grabbed the phone and peered at the ID. "Just Greg."
As he spoke, John's face grew paler. He hardly said anything at first, just clips and chirps at the man on the other end.
"Yes, we will."
He took the phone away from his face and it was a different man than the one who'd answered the call. His entire face had fallen. Every muscle had lost its power to hide his devastation.
"What?" Sherlock asked.
John gulped back the emotion that rose in his chest. "Mrs. Hudson was attacked."
He felt the adrenaline course through his body. "Attacked?"
"Yeah, um, she was stabbed. They...they took her to the hospital." John drifted away as he spoke. Sherlock pounded the table with his fist to refocus him.
"John? Is she…?" He couldn't even form the words. It was too painful to even consider.
John's flickered over lifelessly. "No," he said, "but they said it didn't look good."
Sherlock jumped from his chair and raced for the door.
"Where are you going?" John shouted from the chair.
He didn't have to answer. It was obvious. He had to go to her. He had to be there.
His muscles barely coordinated with each other as he slapped the door open and stammered out onto the sidewalk. His entire head swirled as he threw a hand up for a cab. Every breath seemed tighter than the last.
She had been attacked.
The woman had no enemies.
It was his fault, certainly.
He bit his tongue to keep from screaming. Where were the cabs. Why wouldn't anyone help him?
Sherlock felt a hand on his shoulder and he winced in surprise.
"Just me," John said, dazed.
"We have to get to her," Sherlock said.
John moved a few feet over and put his hands up as well.
Out of the fog, a cab appeared and the pair barreled inside. Sherlock couldn't stop shaking as the cab moved at what felt like a drugged snail's pace. He berated the cabbie to run stop signs and race through red lights but the louder he shouted the slower they moved.
In pure exhaustion he gave up.
He had to be there. He had to see her one last time.
"We're coming," he whispered to himself. "Wait for us."