By J. H. Watson
(App. 1,000 words)
[Author’s Note: Right. If I’m late to the Seattle Sherlock Birthday Party, it’s not my fault. I’d timed everything perfectly, but the boys had other ideas and insisted I write this and post it before I leave. I’ll be back later to fix the typos and what not, but right now, like the White Rabbit, I’m late.]
John Watson awoke with a hangover and a desperate need for the loo. He sat up groggily on the sofa. The blanket fell to the floor beside his shoes. Funny, he didn’t remember taking off his shoes or getting the blanket.
As he stumbled in his stocking feet to the bath room, he ran through the fragments of what he could remember. He’d stopped at a pub for a drink on his way back to his flat. A routine he’d developed, and probably should stop, every since New Year’s Eve when he thought he heard… well, he should probably just avoid pubs for awhile.
There’d been some idiot with one of those tabloid rags with Kitty Riley’s name on it. She’d done a piece for Sherlock’s birthday raking up the coals of the past by cobbling together a few quotes from people who believed Moriarty was real and rehashing Brook’s bits of lies and half-truths. That was when the drink became drinks. Things were a bit fuzzier after that.
And louder. John remembered some louts about half his age making some snarky comments about posh fakers and wankers and eventually John threw the punch.
John remembered being thrown out of the pub, along with the louts, and some more words being shouted and some vomiting before he’d made his way back to his flat with a stop for…flowers. He’d picked up flowers to take to…Sherlock’s grave today. Sherlock’s birthday.
John started to zip his trousers and thought, “What the hell? Might as well get cleaned up and take the flowers. I can’t feel any worse than I do now.”
He’d almost dozed off again under the warm water, so he’d switched to a cold shower, yowling at the first sting of the icy cascade, then gingerly toweling his head. He found the aspirin in the medicine cabinet and chewed four without water and moved clumsily to get some clothes. He’d gotten as far as pants and jeans, but when he went to grab a jumper he discovered one missing. Now what had he done with the cream-colored cable one he’d had for years? He didn’t think he had anything at the cleaners. John grabbed the dark, patterned one instead and opened the drawer for some socks when he paused.
He stood for several seconds staring at his socks and trying to recall when, and why, he had carefully indexed them in the same manner as…Sherlock. Get a grip, John. The therapist would have field day with this one, if she found out. He deliberately messed up the order as he chose first one pair, put it back, and then another.
Dressed, with the aspirin taking the edge off the ache in his head, John looked for the bouquet of flowers he’d purchased on the way home the night before. He couldn’t find them.
He looked everywhere, including the fridge, but he found no flowers. He stopped and glared at the skull sitting on the desk. The skull had been the only thing of…Sherlock’s that he’d taken from Baker Street. “Where the hell are the damn flowers? I know I bought flowers? I remember buying flowers?”
The skull simply grinned at him.
Oh, great. Now I’m talking to the skull.
John pulled out his mobile and dialed his therapist. She wouldn’t say “I told you so,” but she was definitely going to point out that it had been awhile since he’d come in.
Sherlock Holmes sat in a corner booth of the cafe wincing at the bitterness of the coffee. The waitress nodded at the flowers as she slid a plate of eggs and bacon in front of him, and asked, “For your girl?”
“No. A gift from a friend.”
“It’s my birthday.”
“Happy birthday! The refills free.”
She winked at him as she left and it suddenly dawned on Sherlock that she was flirting with him. It made him think of Molly. He glanced at the flowers and thought, “Molly would probably like flowers. That was the sort of thing they liked.”
It had been foolish of him to follow John, but he’d been feeling a bit foolish ever since the near miss on New Year’s Eve. Besides, his Irregulars had reported John stopping at the pub each night since then and given the alcoholism in John’s family, that wasn’t good. At least that’s what Sherlock told himself was his reason for checking up on John.
Sherlock swallowed a bite of greasy egg with as little chewing as possible. Admit it. You followed John as a treat. A birthday present for yourself.
“True,” Sherlock muttered as he contemplated the slightly burnt toast.
“Did you say something to me?” the waitress asked as she poured more molten acid into his coffee cup. There was an actual green sheen of coffee oils on the top.
Sherlock realized the waitress still stood by the table staring at him. He looked at her. She said, “Cute jumper. Where’d you get it?”
“Another gift from my friend.” Taking John’s jumper was a completely wrong sentimental gesture, but Sherlock needed a change in wardrobe in order to blend in where he was going. And you wanted something of John’s. Don’t lie to yourself. That’s what losers do. So Sherlock sat now in a pair of cheap jeans, John’s jumper, and work boots eating, but definitely not enjoying, a bit of cafe breakfast. Happy birthday, Sherlock.
The waitress was twirling a strand of hair around her finger. Sherlock found it very annoying and wished she’d stop. Or better yet go away. “Flowers and a jumper. She must like you a lot.”
“He,” Sherlock corrected. “And yes, I believe he does.”
The hand fell away from the strand of hair. The waitress’s expression grew sour and she spun around. As she stormed away, Sherlock heard her mumble, “Shoulda known. All the cute ones are gay.”
Sherlock burst out laughing.
### The end ###