"I'm getting a second opinion."
Silence permeated the St. Bart's morgue.
"A—a what? Could you say that again, please?"
The phone dinged. Sherlock scanned the information quickly and slid the cell back into his pocket, a smirk gracing his face.
"I was getting a second opinion."
"You?" said Anderson. "Getting a second opinion?" He crossed his arms and scoffed.
Sherlock gave a long suffering sigh.
"Anderson, stop speaking, it's making me nauseous. Oh, and it was the stepmother." Lestrade blinked.
"What?" he asked. Sherlock gestured to the little girl lying on the slab.
"She killed Sophia Grace," he said. "Blow to the back of the head was postmortem She locked the girl outside with the bees."
The team stared.
"…sorry, what?" Sherlock sighed and rolled his eyes and explained it to them, slowly and with much exaggeration.
"Now wait just a minute," said the D.I. as the consulting detective made to leave. "Who exactly did you get that second opinion from, Sherlock? We might need to bring him in."
"Why?" Sherlock asked, fixing his scarf. "I'm sure even Anderson can confirm the basic conclusions of an allergic reaction and a post-mortem head wound." The forensic scientist bristled and Lestrade gave Sherlock a look.
"Who was it, Sherlock?" he repeated. The sociopath rolled his eyes.
"My boyfriend, John." Sherlock was texting. "He's a doctor."
The room, once again, became silent.
"I'm sorry," said Lestrade. "I must be going barmy tonight. First you ask for a second opinion and now you've got a boyfriend?"
"Happened the other way around, actually," Sherlock muttered.
"Nothing," the man snapped. "Just—nothing. Ugh, you're all so stupid." He ran a hand through his hair. "Is it really that hard to believe I've got someone?"
"Yes," said Donovan. Sherlock glared at the woman.
"Oh, come on," said Lestrade. "He's just having us on. Aren't you Sherlock?" He grinned as if it was some sort of inside joke, and Sherlock wanted to punch him. "That doctor's not real. Or if he is, he's certainly not your boyfriend."
"Yeah," said Donovan. She smirked nastily. "Who'd want to date you?"
"Oh, come on, Sally." Lestrade laughed. "I was more wondering who he'd want to date." Sherlock stared at them.
"John Watson," he said finally. There was something odd in his voice, almost like hurt. "Dr. John Watson. On both counts."
He left the morgue with Anderson's scoffing to see him to the door.
The next time they heard anything about Sherlock's doctor, it was because of the texting. They were driving out to a spot a few hours outside of London to where some poor soul had been thrown off a cliff by an unknown assailant, and Sherlock was on his phone. He would tap incessantly at the keys and then wait, biting his lip impatiently. Occasionally he smiled at the responses he got—small, soft smiles that unnerved the company with their sincerity—but it wasn't until Sherlock Holmes actually laughed at something that popped up onto his screen that Lestrade broke the silence.
"Sherlock, what are you doing on that thing?"
The gangly man raised a brow but didn't bother looking away from his phone, typing furiously.
"Texting John," he said absently. Donovan scoffed.
"You mean your fake boyfriend?" she said. Sherlock paused in his texting to glare at the two.
"He's not fake," he bit out. "His name is John Hamish Watson, he's twenty nine, he graduated from St. Bart's with an MD and he's thinking of going back into military service even though I don't really want him to, because—"
"You've really put thought into this haven't you?" said Donovan. She looked faintly disgusted. "Freak."
Sherlock went still at the word, and Lestrade glared sharply at his subordinate.
"I don't have anything to prove to you, Sally," Sherlock hissed. "Now, if you'll excuse me. I've got to text my imaginary boyfriend that we've just arrived."
The car pulled up to the crime scene and Donovan seethed as Sherlock slipped his phone back into his pocket.
Gregory Lestrade's first visit to 221b Baker Street was at an entirely ungodly hour of the morning, and he was surprised at the niceness of the flat and how clean Sherlock apparently kept it. Lestrade knew that the consulting detective wasn't inclined to tidy up after himself, to put it kindly, and he wondered if the nice old woman who'd let him in was the man's housekeeper. As it was, Mrs. Hudson fetched Sherlock from the kitchen with a kind smile at Lestrade's request and crept quietly back downstairs, leaving the two men alone to talk. Sherlock perched daintily on the edge of the sofa and Lestrade rolled his eyes before sitting down in one of the chairs opposite the sociopath.
"Ssh," he snapped. He waited a moment. "Do keep your voice down, Detective Inspector, John is still sleeping."
"John?" he said, incredulous. "As in, John Watson? Your imaginary boyfriend?" Sherlock nodded. "He's your flat mate?"
"No," said Sherlock stiffly. "He's my boyfriend. He was my flat mate, but we've uh, stepped it up a bit."
Lestrade raised a brow.
"How so?" he said, foolishly.
"Well, we have sex now, for one thing," said Sherlock rather thoughtfully. If Lestrade had had tea available, he would have choked on it. "We also eat more meals together, sleep in the same bed; John leans on my shoulder when we take a cab and I like to hold hands when we walk." The Detective Inspector laughed, caught as he was by surprise.
"You like to hold hands?" he said.
"Yes," said Sherlock, rolling his eyes again. "And to kiss and to snuggle and to occasionally play romantic music on my violin when John feels I've grown too annoying." He glared at the man. "Now that we've satisfied your little stint of curiosity, why don't you tell me why you're bothering me this time?"
"Right," said Lestrade, still chuckling. He might need to get a written statement out of the taller man later. "Sorry. We've got this new case…"
It turned out to be a fairly simple matter that Sherlock solved with only Lestrade's explanation, a handful of crime scene photos and less insults to the detective's person than usual. Lestrade even got a cold cup of tea out of the man before their discussion was over and was feeling rather flummoxed by it all. It was, however, when Sherlock offered to let him stay for breakfast that Lestrade decided enough was enough.
"Alright, that's it," he said, standing. "I want to see him." Sherlock raised a brow.
"Oh, come on, Holmes, deduce it," Lestrade snapped. "John Watson. The imaginary boyfriend. You say he's still sleeping, so, wake him up and bring him out here." The man's voice had been growing steadily throughout his speech and Sherlock stood as well, looking angry and oddly anxious.
"I'm not going to wake up my partner just so you can have proof that I'm capable of finding one," he spat.
"Oh, so he's your partner, now, is he?"
"I never said he wasn't!"
"No, you said he was your boyfriend; there's a difference, Sherlock, a big—"
"Sherlock?" called a voice. "Is that you?" The two men stood frozen in the middle of the living room.
Sherlock was the first to move.
"Coming, John," he called. A blush began to creep into his too-pale cheeks. "No need to be alarmed. I apologize for the noise." He turned back to Lestrade, his eyes narrowing.
"I think, Detective Inspector, that it's time for you to go," he said stiffly. "Please call ahead the next time you decide to come over." Sherlock strode briskly out of the room to where the bedroom must have been, leaving Lestrade to show himself out. As he closed the door behind him he heard the other man's voice again, still heavy with sleep.
"Sherlock, who was that?"
"No one," came the reply. "Just an idiot failing to observe."
"Well, how was I supposed to know it was the bloody gardener?" an officer was screaming. Lestrade and Donovan winced in tandem. It had been the distraught man who'd cleared the killer after his interrogation and mentioned Sherlock's name, unwittingly setting him on the consulting detective's trail. Said sociopath was now neither happy nor whole, judging by the scowl and blood gracing his angular face.
"Maybe if you'd bothered to think before you let the man go you would've realized it sooner!" the taller man bellowed. Someone handed him a plaster and he brushed it away irritably. "I'm still fearing for my life."
"Why? We have the bloody bastard in handcuffs?" the officer yelled back, gesturing to the aforementioned gardener.
"Yes, but with you on the force, who knows how many criminals with have air tight alibis!" The entire café was staring by then, and Lestrade figured it was time to intervene.
"Now, Sherlock," he said, stepping forward. "I didn't know it was the gardener either, alright? And—"
"Hardly a surprise."
"And," Lestrade continued, narrowing his eyes. "We wouldn't expect a clever murderer like this one to hunt you down and attack you in a public place."
"Yes, a very public place where a good many people come to eat and could have gotten killed today. We're lucky that John was able to—"
"John?" the new policeman interrupted. "Who's John? Was he involved?"
"Ah, yes," said one of the customers, shuffling forward. He looked a little worse for wear, like many of the hostages, but unlike the rest of them, he didn't appear terribly shaken. "Sorry. I was the one who, um—"
"John managed to wrestle the man's gun away while he was distracted trying to bludgeon me with it," said Sherlock curtly. "Why you didn't just shoot the bastard I'll never know…"
"Because, Sherlock," the man, John, sighed. "I told you. The police will do much better with their case if they can actually interrogate the murderer." The blond patted Sherlock's arm.
"Go on. Why don't you go get a head start giving your statement to Sergeant Donovan over there, yeah?" he said. To Lestrade's surprise, the consulting detective huffed and sauntered over to Sally, his hands shoved deep into his coat pockets. John turned back to the remaining two men, smiling sheepishly.
"Sorry about him," he said. He stuck out his hand for Lestrade to shake. "I'm John, by the way."
"John Watson," said Lestrade, disbelievingly. He shook the man's hand. "You're Dr. John Watson."
"Oh. Um, yes. I mean, yes that's me," said John, looking pleasantly surprised. "Are you Detective Inspector Lestrade, then?"
"Yeah," said man replied, his mouth gaping a bit. "I woke you up once." John laughed.
"I think you did," he said. He smiled again. "Aren't you supposed to be taking my statement or something, Mr. Lestrade?"
"Oh, Greg is fine, really," Lestrade said. "And yes, I'll uh, take your statement, now, Doctor."
"John, please," said Dr. Watson kindly. "Alright, so um, let me tell you what happened."
John Watson was an entirely remarkable man, as it turned out, and Lestrade was left wondering why he hadn't noticed him at once amidst the customers. But the more he talked to the man, the more Lestrade realized how his seemingly normal countenance could be John's deadliest asset, especially when standing next to Sherlock Holmes. He was almost the exact opposite of the consulting detective in every way—he was short and reasonably handsome with a warm air about him where Sherlock was tall, striking and cold; John was quiet, unobtrusive and practical whereas just a day with Sherlock was a trying one; he was plain-stated when Sherlock seemed to speak his own language; and he could be just as clever and calculating as his genius counterpart when he needed to be. It was the last bit that disturbed Lestrade the most, but the detective couldn't help but be quietly amazed as John calmly explained his waiting until Sherlock had drawn the gardener to face completely away from the customers before he swiftly broke the man's wrist and brought him down with a punch to the kidney. Lestrade chuckled lightly.
"Remind me never to get on your bad side, Dr. Watson," he said, half-serious, and they shared a laugh. "Sorry, sorry. What happened next?"
"Actually, that's about it," said John. "I'm pretty sure Sherlock yelled a few choice things, but the gunman just stayed tied up until you lot got here." John shrugged. "I tended to some of the other hostages, but it wasn't for anything serious."
"Right," Lestrade muttered. "You're a doctor. Right." John nodded and Lestrade finished scribbling in his notepad. "Guess you can go then, John. I'll need a phone number, though, just in case we have any follow-up questions."
"Oh, uh, you can just call Sherlock," said the doctor, smiling. "He'll pass it on." Lestrade raised a brow but nodded nonetheless.
"Will do," he said. He slipped the notepad into his pocket and gave John a smile. "Thank you for your time, John. We'll be in touch."
The doctor gave him a wave and wandered back to where Sherlock was seething next to Sally Donovan. Lestrade watched in amusement as John introduced himself and the sergeant rapidly paled in response. She turned to Lestrade in horror and the detective shrugged. He watch the two men walk out the door and head toward Baker Street, arms linked, talking quietly. He sighed.
"Who was that with Holmes?" said Anderson, back from checking the murderer for any serious injuries.
"That," said Lestrade, heading back to the rest of the customers, "was Dr. John Watson, my good man." Anderson's mouth fell open.
"I know," said Lestrade. He huffed. "I think we may owe Sherlock an apology."
Sally hissed and crossed her arms.
"I still don't think they're a bloody couple." Lestrade rolled his eyes.
"Come on, Donovan," he said, exasperated. He, Sally and Anderson were sitting impatiently at a restaurant table, watching Sherlock open the door for his flat mate. "Look at them."
"Or we could not," said Anderson. "It's a little nauseating."
"Ssh," Lestrade hissed. "Here they come." He plastered a smile on his face.
"John, Sherlock," he said. "Glad you could make it." Sherlock raised a brow as he and the shorter man sat.
"John invited you," he pointed out. "Why wouldn't we 'make it'?"
"Well, you are almost twenty minutes late," Anderson snapped.
"Oh, yeah, sorry about that," said John. All eyes shot to him, and he smiled slightly. "We were trying to catch a car here, but Sherlock kept insulting the cabbies." Sherlock scoffed.
"Please, John," he sniffed. "It's not my fault that first one was a wife beater. Or that the second was a closet case. Or that—"
"Or that the third was part of an underground dogfighting ring, yes, Sherlock, I realize that," said the doctor patiently. "That doesn't mean you have to call them on it. We've talked about this."
The consulting detective grumbled and miraculously fell silent just in time for a waitress to wander over to their table.
"Hi, welcome to the Lion's Head," she said. She scanned the table's occupants and settled her gaze on Watson. "What can I get you?"
"I'll have the salmon with sauce on the side," said John without picking up a menu. "He'll have tea and a glass of water, no ice." He nodded to Sherlock at the last and the girl scribbled down the order with a laugh.
"Come here often, do you?" she asked, cocking her head cutely. John nodded and gave the girl a polite smile.
"Yep. You, uh, must be new here; we haven't seen you before." The girl beamed.
"Yeah," she said. "I'm Jenna. What do you—"
Lestrade cleared his throat.
"Oh!" Jenna jumped and turned to the rest of the table, blushing. "Sorry, I'm so sorry. What can I get for you?"
The girl's face stayed beet red the whole time she took down their orders, but she smiled at John anyway before she left to fetch the drinks. Sherlock sulked as she walked away and wound one of his arms through John's. The blond man raised a brow at his flat mate and squeezed the offered limb gently.
"So what's with you?" said Donovan. The couple looked at her.
"Sorry, what?" said John, blinking and giving her a rather forced smile. "What's with who?"
"With you. I mean, there must be something off about you to hang around with him," she said, gesturing to Sherlock. "You're not really his boyfriend are you?"
"Of course he is," Sherlock snapped. "I'm tired of this, Donovan. You don't have to act like a child just because I have a relationship and you're stuck being fucked against Anderson's floors when his wife is away." Sally gasped and Anderson let out a sound suspiciously like a growl.
"Sherlock," said John, sharply. "That was uncalled for."
"No, she's uncalled for," said Sherlock angrily. "I shouldn't have to prove my relationship to anyone."
"And you don't," John said firmly, and Lestrade was astonished once again when Sherlock went quiet and leaned against the doctor's shoulder. "You don't have to prove it to anyone, Sherlock." The taller man grumbled something unintelligible, and John chuckled.
"Why don't you go check on those drinks," he said. "I think Jenna's a bit busy flirting with the barkeep. Rouse her, will you?"
Sherlock stood and stalked off to where their wayward waitress was leaning against the bar, chatting aimlessly with the bartender. John waited until his counterpart was safely engaged in embarrassing the girl before he turned to the rest of the team, his face hard in a way Lestrade had yet to see.
"I'm not really gay, you know," he said. He looked pointedly at Donovan. She raised a brow.
"What's that supposed to mean? That you're not getting it on with the freak?" Sally crossed her arms. "I gathered that, thanks." John shook his head.
"That's not what I meant at all," he said. "I'm just saying, that's what's off. I'm not really gay. It's just Sherlock. He's the only one I…yeah."
'The only one you what?" asked Lestrade. John smiled in Sherlock's general direction.
"He's just…the only one," said John. "That's all. He's just Sherlock." Donovan stared at him, incredulous.
"And you what? You love him or something?" John stared at her.
"Of course I do," he said, bewildered. "How else would I be able to put up with him?"
"Put up with who?" asked Sherlock, walking up to the table with a tray full of drinks balanced in one hand.
"You," said John promptly. He looked ready to say more, but paused when he took in Sherlock's load. "Sherlock, why do you have that tray?"
"Obvious," the sociopath replied, setting it on the table. "Jenna was busy, so I took the liberty of delivering the drinks myself." Watson eyed him suspiciously.
"And?" Sherlock scoffed.
"And I asked that the next time she felt like flirting she inform us sooner so that we may vacate the premises."
"Oh, Sherlock, please tell me you didn't," John groaned. Next to the bar, a teary-eyed Jenna was complaining to a man who looked suspiciously like the owner. "Ugh, you did. Right." Jenna's boss was rapidly approaching the group and John stood up, pulling Sherlock with him. "You lot enjoy your lunch, it's on us." He pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket and handed it to Lestrade before tugging Sherlock hurriedly toward the door.
"Where are we going? John," Sherlock whined. "I haven't had my tea yet."
"And I haven't had my meal," said the doctor, "but we have to find a new place to eat. You really have to stop insulting the wait-staff."
"Then the wait-staff really have to stop chatting you up," Sherlock replied. "Really, John, must you be so polite all the time?"
The two left, bickering lightly as they headed down the street. The manager made it to the table and huffed.
"Anything wrong here?" he asked, somewhat dangerously. Lestrade shook his head.
"Not at all, and uh, sorry about that." He gave the man a smile. "If it's any consolation, I don't think they'll be back again."
"Yeah, well, they'd better not," the man grunted. "Won't have anyone harassing my bloody waitresses…" he walked off grumbling and Anderson started to laugh.
"Looks like we finally found someone who can handle Holmes better than you, Greg," he chuckled. Lestrade nodded absently, ignoring Sally's disapproving look.
"Yeah," he said. "We might have to start bringing Dr. Watson along on cases."
The criminal's face was barely recognizable. Lestrade watched, speechless, as the man was carted away on a stretcher, moaning and unable to move. Sherlock eyed the injured man disdainfully from his place sitting in the back of the second ambulance. Next to him, John Watson was holding an icepack to his cheek. Lestrade made his way across the street to the pair of them, putting on his most intimidating glare.
"Sherlock," he growled, "what the bloody hell happened!" The consulting detective looked up at the man, eyebrow raised.
"It seems our dear somehow found himself in the path of an oncoming car," he said mildly. He wrapped an arm around Watson.
"And how exactly did that happen, Holmes?" Lestrade yelled. "Did he trip?"
"Of course not, Detective Inspector," said Sherlock. "I pushed him." Lestrade could feel his face getting redder by the second.
"He is our primary suspect, Sherlock!" Lestrade ran a hand through his hair. "What would we have done if he had died?"
"You would have been able to tell Christina Trevors that her husband's killer died a horrible death," Sherlock snapped. He tightened his grip on Watson.
"He tried to kill John," he muttered quietly. The doctor sighed.
"I confronted him and he reacted violently," said John. "I seriously doubt he was trying to kill me, Sherlock."
"I told you to wait for me!" Sherlock exploded. Lestrade took a step back, his eyes wide. The consulting detective stood abruptly. "What if I hadn't gotten there fast enough?"
"But you did," said John, rising to his feet as well. "And that's what matters isn't it? I'm here, you're here, and Kuntz is in a stretcher." Sherlock stared at his doctor for a long moment. Lestrade sighed.
The man strode way before Lestrade could finish, his posture rigid and his coat pulled protectively about his shoulders. John sighed and held up a hand when the detective made to follow the taller man.
"I'll talk to him," he said quietly. "We'll come by the Yard tomorrow and give our statements. I'll see if I can get him to text you the details of the case tonight." Lestrade clapped the doctor on the back.
"Thanks, John," he said. "But if you can't manage it, don't worry." Lestrade gestured to the ambulance containing the suspected murderer. "We've got enough to hold him for a while."
John nodded and walked off to where Sherlock was sulking next to an alley, his shoulders hunched. Lestrade watched the doctor touch Sherlock lightly on the arm. He watched the sociopath whirl to face Watson and bite out something that would no doubt level lesser men. He watched John unwaveringly pull Sherlock into a hug and hold him until he stopped shaking. He watched Sherlock Holmes pull his partner into a kiss. He watched, silently, smilingly, as they turned away, hands intertwined, and disappeared into the dark.