November 15th, 2018


Fic fragment: An Unwatched Pot [sherlock]

Originally posted on gentle_edgar in 2011.

{Another ficlet due back in June, this time for Therese: Sherlock, Watson, and Tea, though I'm afraid this shows my inability to write the first two.}


John puts up with the body parts in the fridge, the odd (disgusting) concoctions that show up in the sink when the drain stops working, the violin at 3 AM, the WC being occupied and locked for hours on end (forcing him to run downstairs to Mrs. Hudson’s flat), the interrupted dates, the remorseless and repeated appropriation of his laptop, and all the rest of it. But after his twelfth spoiled cup of tea (contaminated mug, contaminated tea kettle, no tea leaves, contaminated tea leaves, timer reset, dragged off before tea finished steeping, dragged off just after tea finished steeping, etc.) in under a week, he’s had enough. And says so.

“That’s it, Sherlock,” he says, trying to somehow focus his dull rage into something that can pierce Sherlock’s semi-willful obliviousness. “Last warning. Next time something happens to my tea because of you, I’m walking out.”

Sherlock makes a few noises that mean ‘line busy, try again later’, too caught up in the latest case to actually hear what John’s saying. But there’s a little girl's life at stake, so John doesn’t push any further. Just grits his teeth and goes to pour the latest undrinkable brew down the (currently functional) drain.

A day and a half, three strokes of genius, and one Mexican stand-off later, the little girl is saved, and Sherlock has already begun the slide down into boredom again, his euphoric high from solving the case having dissipated with predictable quickness. John, on the other hand, is focused solely on staying awake long enough to make it through his shift at the clinic—which is why he doesn’t remember until three sips in that the tea leaves still haven’t been replaced after the incident with the iodine and his previous failed cup of tea.

At which point he stalks over to where Sherlock’s draped across the sofa, hands him the tea cup, says “I warned you,” and then stalks out the door and down the stairs without looking back. It’s early, and Sarah’s flat is almost on the way to the clinic; maybe he’ll be able to get some tea and a sympathetic ear there, since neither seems to be found here.

He can and he does, and although his shift runs long, it runs well, and by the time he gets home again, he’s all but forgotten about the morning's incident. The only reminder is a bag of loose-leaf Earl Grey in his pocket, a gift from Sarah. So when he goes slowly up the stairs, it’s from exhaustion, not reluctance. And when he hesitates with his key in the lock, it's because he’s been distracted by the bag of tea and the memory it carries of the morning’s conversation with Sarah. The reason that conversation happened at all has slipped his mind.

You’re back,” Sherlock says from the depths of the sofa, in perhaps the most perfectly non-committal tone John has ever heard. Although he’s still too distracted by thoughts of Sarah—and, separately, his bed; he hasn’t seen it except in passing for almost 48 hours now—to notice.

[And this is where I’m stumped. I know more or less what would happen next: Sherlock completely misinterprets everything and asks John when he’ll be leaving. John, tired and still distracted, thinks Sherlock’s talking about getting take-away and so answers accordingly. Which baffles Sherlock, who’s utterly convinced John won’t being staying. They talk past each other for a bit longer before John finally realizes what’s going on. Then he explains to Sherlock in the bluntest terms possible that he’s staying, although the tea really is off-limits, and Sherlock finally believes him. And they go have Chinese.

I just can’t hear the actual conversation in my head. You’ll have to imagine it yourselves.]