Chapter 1- A forgivable mistake
John had been staring morosely at his computer screen for the last half hour, trying desperately not to panic. He then eyed the unpaid bills that were neatly stacked into a frightening large pile at the side. He would have to sell a kidney to get out of these debts!
It was a lovely night out and a cool breeze swept through the open window where John had set up a tiny writing table, to get away from whenever his flatmate was in a frenzy of 'discovery', or the middle of an investigation. Sherlock gave new meaning to the word pacing.
It hadn't been easy last time to approach the topic of a loan with his tactless roommate, and neither was it any easier this time, but there was no other choice. The consulting detective had received close to 25,000 pounds two weeks ago for solving the case of the 'Blind Banker'. Surely he couldn't have spent it all already. The gentle doctor summoned all of his remaining patience and held on to it tightly.
'Sherlock,' he called out quietly, 'can I…can I talk to you for a minute?'
His tall colleague was sitting across the room, staring into the fire, deep in silent thought.
'Certainly,' he replied carelessly, 'you can speak to me for more than one minute if you would like.'
It always gave John a small smile when the man bungled common terms. It made him seem more likeable.
The doctor opened his mouth but no sound came out. It had been a dreadful day that started with a stomach twisting shouting match with Sarah, and John honestly didn't think he could end it sitting through a conversation with Sherlock. God only knew what humiliating insult would roll off the man's acid tongue. Perhaps this mortifying situation would be best tackled on a good night's sleep and a hot breakfast.
Decision made, he closed his computer.
'It can wait,' the doctor murmured as he picked up his belongings and prepared to leave the room, 'Good night.'
'John?' Sherlock called out in confusion as the doctor quickened his pace, eager now to escape to the confines of his room.
The small man had collapsed face down on his bed, fully dressed; luxuriating in the softness and smell of his clean sheets when he heard the first scratch at his door. People always took these small gifts for granted, but not John and not any soldier longing for a glimpse of home.
However, the doctor raised his head when he heard his name being called.
'What?!' he said in a bit of sharper voice than he intended, when Sherlock opened the door and stuck his curly head in.
'I was just about to ask you the same question,' the other replied mildly, not at all put out by his unfriendly tone.
Sherlock walked in and sat on the edge of a chair, looking so dreadfully uncomfortable, that John had to stifle a hysterical round of laughter.
The man had left the door open and the light fell in a thick bar across the floor and part of the bed but it was enough for them to see each other. After a minute when Sherlock didn't leave or offer any other trying-on-the nerves exclamations, John obligingly turned to face his visitor, tucking a pillow under his stomach to give him some height.
'I got let go from the clinic today,' he confessed, feeling glad for the semi darkness so that the flush of shame across his cheeks went unnoticed
'Are you sure?' Sherlock asked bizarrely.
'Of course I'm sure,' John snapped back testily. It wasn't like his detective roommate to ask such a silly question and reflexively his insides clenched in anticipation of the expected insult.
Of course Sherlock didn't disappoint.
The slim young man snorted in disdain, 'I told you that Sarah woman was a MORON! Why you bother to ever question my judgement is beyond my understanding.'
What? Hang on…
'Don't call her that!' he said sharply.
Sherlock's eyes glinted malevolently in the gloom. 'Why not? I reserve the right to insult anyone who upsets you.'
'She is not a moron!' John insisted, shaking his head to clear his thoughts, taken by surprise by Sherlock's fury. 'I haven't been exactly pulling my weight at the office. It's not her fault.'
'Of course she's a moron!' Sherlock interrupted him with a disgusted look, 'Gifted, talented doctors do not work in quiet little clinics. She should have fought to keep you on staff.'
John was floored by Sherlock's words of praise.
'You think I'm talented?'
'Oh...I don't know…thanks. Thanks for saying that. Sorry that I'm nattering on like this, but yesterday you called me "exceptionally dense".
'You're that too,' Sherlock informed him unforgivingly, to which John could only sigh in his heart. He should be use to his new room mate by now but sometimes it was hard to understand how anyone could be so enormously insensitive.
'But I am glad,' the man continued in a flat voice, unaware as he always was that he was giving offense, 'it is a bloody nuisance to turn around and realise you are not where I left you.'
John pressed his lips in annoyance at these sentiments. He was a mild mannered man, but being referred to like a load of laundry did tend to make one a tad irritated.
'Well,' Sherlock sprang out of his seat looking relieved that it was all over… 'this was nice. We should do it again.'
The doctor sat up in dismay when he realised his flatmate was ready to dart off. Sherlock's face fell when he saw the small man's look of unhappiness.
'John…I beg of you,' the man pleaded as he started to agitatedly pace the small room, 'speak quickly and succinctly…if you cannot, release me from this present torture.'
'I need money,' John bawled out before he could stop himself.
'For God's sake John,' Sherlock whirled on him in disgusted disbelief, 'is that what all these dramatics are about? That's why you have been staring at your computer for 36 minutes?!'
John swallowed hard as Sherlock loomed over him with a sneer. This was awful. He wanted to crawl under the bed and just die rather than speak again.
'Have you spent all the money from the last case?' he asked meekly as the detective sat back down and opened the computer to log into the internet
'Almost…' Sherlock said absently as his thin long fingers flew over the keyboard accessing his online bank details.
The detective turned the device around and put it in his hands, 'I just changed the password. It's your birthday spelt out backwards. Take as much as you want from any of my accounts.'
John looked down at the figures blindly. His roommate didn't have much left. The money was all but gone.
He moved the cursor listlessly down the rows of neat figures. In spite of this disappointing turn of events, John wanted to tell Sherlock how much he appreciated the gesture, but he didn't know how to do so without flustering his mate into a moody silence. It was not everyday, that a new friend gave you unconditional access to their meager funds, urging you to help yourself. Mycroft was dead right about John in that the doctor had chosen, of all people, to trust Sherlock but that was only because his younger brother had trusted him first. Sherlock had seen some invisible quality in him and within the space of one conversation had wanted John at his side.
'Oh, right…and that's you there,' the detective suddenly announced pointing to the screen.
There was a folder right at the bottom of the list named Watson, and the depressed ex-army captain clicked on it.
'Oh Christ…are you crying? Why? What did I do?! Look…just stop that …or I am going to leave,' Sherlock added threateningly, appalled by the quiet sniffs coming from his gentle room mate.
'I'll make tea!' the tall man cried out in panic as he shot straight out of his seat, 'I'll cook!'
'Calm down,' John berated him sternly, wiping his eyes on his sleeve, 'you didn't do anything wrong. I'm a little…'
'…tired?' Sherlock suggested eagerly. 'Yes...you're tired…you need to rest…excellent…excellent. GOOD NIGHT!
And with those words thrown over his shoulder, the man hurriedly sprinted for the door.
John snorted with soft laughter at the man's sudden disappearance. Sherlock was such a nut case at times. He knew he shouldn't laugh, but the way his big brained friend handled emotions was just too funny at times.
With a deep sigh of relief and incredulity, the small doctor once again turned to stare in shock at the 12,500 pounds that Sherlock had apparently set aside for him.
Why hadn't the detective told him? Why hadn't he told him that he split the payment for the consultation in two? Right down the middle, as if this was the only choice that Sherlock could make.
It didn't matter. This was one mistake that John was more than willing to forgive.