Whatever is Fickle
“It’s a major repair, Sherlock. There will be holes in the wall.”
“You won’t be bored when you can’t even type on your phone because your fingers have frozen stiff.”
“I’ll wear gloves.”
“It will be too cold.”
“We’ve lived through cold and perforated walls before.”
“Yes. Thirty years ago. Not to mention that you’ve made quite a few more enemies in the meantime. I want to walk at night without being on high alert.”
“I told you to leave your gun at ho—”
“Besides, it’s far more difficult to commit a crime in the city than it is to commit one in the country! Out where there’s little technology for communication, and fewer people to discourage criminals. Commit a crime in London, and you’re probably on a CCTV, a private security camera and at least one phone camera. Commit a crime in the country and no one is going to know, and if a person happens to witness it, there is—”
“You do realize that mobiles have worked in the country since they were invented?”
“Shh!” John put a hand on Sherlock’s arm and cocked his head toward the sound of raised voices.
“Over there!” Sherlock pointed toward a dark alley, from which a man was running wildly. A gun went off, and John ran toward the fallen man, followed by Sherlock.
John pulled aside the man’s jacket, and used his own scarf to put pressure on the wound, vaguely registering the logo for a band he didn’t recognize on the victim’s t-shirt, and the sound of Sherlock’s voice as he spoke with 999
Within several minutes an ambulance had arrived at the scene, closely followed by a police car.
“That’s it. We’re going to the country.”
“I’m going to bed, and you should, too. You’re always irritable after eight o’clock.”
“I wouldn’t be if I hadn’t witnessed a crime and then had to give my statement to THREE policemen.”
“Don’t blame me for their incompetence.”
“I don’t. But I’m not staying here in a cold flat and witnessing crimes for the next three weeks. We’re going to the country. Harry has a place near Chichester, and she’s in Boca Raton now.”
“Remember I told you about Joan?”
“Never heard of her.”
“You met her.”
“She must have been too boring.”
“That’s not— Anyway, we’re going to Harry’s place.”
“I’m not going to anywhere where Harry is.”
“I’m not leaving London!” And with that, Sherlock stalked out of the room.
Sherlock glowered at John, who was sat opposite him on the train, reading a paper.
“I know you told them to start with my bedroom.”
“Of course. But if you cared about that, you shouldn’t have made me the sole legal owner of the house to get out of remembering the taxes and utilities. Or overseeing any repairs.” He turned the page of his paper, and glanced up at Sherlock as he shook it out. “Besides, you’ve dealt with cold before, so I assumed it would be fine.”
Sherlock looked like he was about to say something, but then he crossed his arms and redirected his glare toward the power lines zooming past his window.
Sherlock walked into the living room, swept past John, stumbled, and turned to make another grab for the remote he hadn’t actually swiped.
John just held it to the right. “You’ve never done it in fifteen years of trying.”
“I regain control of the remote at least once every day.”
“Not when it’s in my hand.”
Sherlock flopped onto a chair and then grimaced as he reached back to pull a lumpy pillow from behind him. “Why would you buy a pink—”
Sherlock blinked at John, who was overly interested in a toothpaste commercial. “Right.” He threw the pillow across the room, and then stared at the ceiling. “I’m hungry.”
“You can cook! Very well, according to yourself.”
“What can I not do very well?
“Politeness. Walking a dog. Getting to a party on time. Answering emails. Cleaning the kitch—”
“I don’t want to do those things well.”
“Then you admit you could clean the kitchen?”
Sherlock glared at him
“Besides, I know you want to be able to shoot straight, but I’ve never seen you do it.”
John looked up. “There’s some prawn fried rice from yesterday.”
Sherlock closed his eyes, and John went back to watching television.
A few moments later Sherlock said, “There’s not much left to cook with.”
John shook his head, turned off the telly, got his coat, threw a set of keys and Sherlock’s coat at him, and stomped out of the cottage toward the car.
“If you break Harry’s good cooking utensils because of your arachnophobia, she will kill you!” John shouted from the living room.
“These spiders can be deadly this far from civilization!” Sherlock shouted back
John walked into the kitchen. Sherlock was rinsing off a plastic spatula. “Spiders can be deadly?”
“Amaurobius ferox, Steatoda nobilis, and Cheiracanthium punctorium are just three highly –”
“Yes, some spiders might give you a little rash. You know they won’t—”
“This was a Loxosceles reclusa.”
“I don’t speak scientese.”
“A brown recluse spider.”
“From America. It shouldn’t be here.”
“Then it probably isn’t, Sherlock. You have arachnophobia. Everyone has something. Indiana Jones was scared of snakes.”
“I do not have an Achilles’ heel, John.”
“Of course not.”
“It had a violin on its back.” Sherlock had dried the spatula and was stirring the sauce again, but spent more time squinting at the spots on the wall and at the corners of the room than at the pan
“Where are your glasses, Sherlock?” When Sherlock did not respond, John said, “I know you don’t need hearing aids!” and went back to the living room.
“I’m going for a walk, Sherlock.”
“No you’re not.”
“Sorry? That wasn’t actually a request for permission.”
“You’re going to peel these potatoes.” Sherlock waved the knife he was using to trim some lamb chops toward a bag of potatoes on the kitchen table.
Sherlock put down the knife and reached for a medicine bottle on the corner of the counter. “You didn’t forget, did you?” He peered into it.
“No, no! But I really shouldn’t. Besides I want to take a walk!”
Sherlock picked up a potato peeler and started on the first potato. “Someone needs to clear up, though.”
“That’s part of cook—”
“You do remember what happened last time I made you mashed potatoes?”
John sighed, started brushing potato peels into a bin bag, and then shoved the bin near Sherlock just in time to catch the next one. “Of course you remember that you need someone to remind you to turn the oven off now.”
“It would never do to burn down Harry’s house.”
“I could think of worse ways to spend an evening.”
John and Sherlock giggled.
“John, what is it?! Why did you...” Sherlock was panting from the exertion of running across the field.
John lowered his gun sheepishly. “They shouldn’t be out this late in the year!”
“What? What was it?”
“Calm down, Sherlock. It was an adder. Only I wasn’t expecting it. What’s got you so upset?”
“You’re afraid of snakes!” Sherlock snorted.
“Which you’ve known for years, so it can’t be that funny anymore, Sherlock.”
“And besides, you’re not answering me – What’s got you so upset?”
“Adders are protected. You shouldn’t have killed it.”
“I’m carrying a gun that I shouldn’t even own. Why are you upset?”
Sherlock looked hard at him, and then his face fell. “I-I-”
“Never mind.” John put a hand on Sherlock’s arm for a moment before leading the way back to the cottage.
“Bed for me,” John muttered as he slowly got up off the couch.
“One of those Bond movies will be on in ten minutes,” Sherlock said from behind his laptop.
Sherlock looked up. “An old one.”
John sat back down and contemplated the remote. “I’ll fall asleep though... I can’t...”
“That couch is quite comfortable.”
“You’re forgetting that I snore? ‘Louder than the tube’ was what you said, I think.”
“Louder than three trains coming into the tube station.”
Sherlock shrugged. “This room is heated better.”
John’s eyebrows shot up. “This room is... Is this an experiment?”
“I didn’t arrange for Goldfinger to air this evening.”
“Goldfinger!?” John glared at Sherlock for a few moments, and then pulled the blanket off the chair in the corner and settled into the couch to watch some telly.
John woke to the sound of a shout and a body hitting the floor. His gun still lay where he’d left it on the end table. He winced as he reached for it. There were two intruders. He shot one in the kneecap and then trained his gun on the other
The other’s gun was pointed at Sherlock’s head, and his foot was planted firmly on Sherlock’s back. John couldn’t tell if Sherlock was conscious or not.
“Drop your weapon!” John growled.
The man’s right hand twitched minutely, and John pulled the trigger.
He shoved the dead man aside. “Sherlock!”
Sherlock groaned. John turned him over gently. “Sherlock?”
Sherlock’s eyes were closed, but he mumbled, “Should call Mycroft.”
“Mycroft! Sherlock, what’s going on here? I know there’s something you’ve...”
“John, now!” His voice was stronger. “I am in no mood to call him myself, but it’s important. Phone in my dressing gown pocket.”
John rolled his eyes, but found the phone. “Hello, Mycroft? We’re at Harry’s place and...”
The next morning Sherlock groaned as he sat down at the breakfast table
John smirked. “Playing the hero’s not so much fun after sixty, eh?&rdquo
“What are you talking about?” Sherlock snapped.
“You tried to protect me, instead of telling me that we were in danger, like the idiot that you are, and now your back is paying the price.”
“’The couch is comfortable’! I knew it was a scheme, but hadn’t figured it out. You really are an idiot. Now tell me how you knew they were coming.”
Sherlock sighed. “I’ve intercepted three threatening emails sent to you.”
“You screen my emails?”
“And I traced them to their source.”
“Didn’t call the police, then?”
“The police in this county are bumbling idiots.”
“So they didn’t believe you?” John grinned.
“And I was right, which only proves that they’re idiots. I did not know, however, that they were connected with the Mantolini family, or we would have gone straight back to London where it’s safe. As it is, I’m going home this afternoon whether you do or not.”
“We are staying here for the rest of the week. And why was the Mantolini family after me?”
“That’s not yet clear. Mycroft’s people are looking into it. There seems to be a connection to a band named American Pied, but I can see no reason that—”
“American Pied! Sherlock, that’s the name of the band that the stage-hand worked for. The one who was shot and we helped?”
“How do you know that?”
“It was on his shirt.”
“You didn’t see? You looked straight at him.”
Sherlock stared hard at the kitchen table. “I can’t remember,” he muttered to himself. “I can’t...”
John started shredding a napkin. When he was done, he threw the mess into the bin and started the kettle. “Tea?”
Sherlock shook his head
John coughed as he put a teabag into his own mug. “At least it wasn’t the country.”
“It wasn’t the fault of the country that we are in this mess, so we can stay here for the rest of the week, just like we planned.”
Sherlock glared at him. “Like you planned. We can stay, but we are leaving the moment I wake up on Saturday.”
“In the meantime, you’ll go for a walk with me?”
“I don’t think I—” Sherlock grimaced as he stood up.
“It will do your back good.”
Sherlock sighed. “Will you stop nagging?”
“About going on a walk?”
“I don’t know where my coat is.”
“Right on the hook by the door.”
Sherlock let out a deep sigh. “But I’m only doing this because you’ll be miserable on your own.”
“Well, glory be! Once you’ve experienced the miraculous invigorating power of the country air, maybe you’ll reconsider my suggestion that we move house—”
“Don’t test your luck!”