It all started on one September afternoon.
John and Sherlock had been living together for quite some time now, and the detective had gotten used to the various females that appeared around their flat now and then – John's girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, patients, relatives of patients, and basically every other girl within a half mile. However, he could sense that this time, it was something different. She didn't seem as if she was John's love interest; they seemed to be on more of a casual basis, so it could be easily assumed that they were colleagues.
“Sherlock, this is Joan...” John said, leading her into the living room that day.
Of course, introducing her by the name was meaningless – Sherlock would forget it anyway.
“Hi,” she said a little bit cautiously, shaking his hand. Beeswax cream, Sherlock noted mentally. She washes her hands frequently, has callouses on her palm - obviously works with her hands - but she can't be doing anything which her hair would hinder... Indeed, Joan could pride herself in owning a flowing mass of charcoal hair. She was of a very feminine body type – slim waist and thin legs, exposed by the use of a mini skirt. “John had told me loads about you. He told me you were some sort of... private detective?”
“Consulting detective,” came another voice from the doorway. There stood a tall man with tattoos down his arms and, most likely, torso, which was obstructed by a yellowish T-shirt with some heinous clover printed on it. “Hello,” he advanced quickly towards the armchair occupied by Sherlock. “I am The Other Holmes.”
“Um...” Joan mumbled, “The two of us normally work in the US, but Sherlock had some private matters to sort out down here, so he dragged me with him. And then I met John, and we figured that you and him-” she pointed to Holmes, who was sticking his hand out to Sherlock, “-have a lot in common, so I kinda thought it's a good idea to introduce the two of you to each other. And um... why don't you just, you know, have a chat, while John and I pop out to the cinema?” She sounded, for a moment, as if she was talking to a pair of incompetent children.
Holmes' hand was not shaken. Instead, Sherlock shot a long look at it and fired out, “Tell me, Mr. Holmes,” the words we stressed so much that one could almost hear glass creaking from it. “Did you enjoy your last encounter with the prostitute you ordered?”
John nearly inaudibly breathed 'Oh, God' before shoving Joan out of the living room softly. “It's going to start now...” He responded to her silent expression that clearly conveyed her confusion. “They're going to start bickering like five-year old kids, so I suggest we go.” And, with that, they left.
Suddenly, the temperature in the flat got a whole lot colder.
“Very much indeed,” The Other Holmes responded. He shot a glance to Sherlock, who still seemed very interested in reading the morning paper. “You're probably waiting for me to ask what gave me out? Don't forget that I am a detective, too, and I could easily-”
“The skin on your wrists is raw – both of your wrists, in fact, so they were most likely tied together... or, in this case, bound. If the marks were old, they would have probably faded by now, but they're still fresh. So, it is from something that happened not too long ago. You haven't given the impression of being an abduction victim, at least not a few nights prior. So, either you have recently tied your hands together of your own accord... or some one has done it for you. Besides, you have a slight bruise on your cheekbone where you've been hit with... what? A riding crop? Very classy.” Sherlock made his entire deduction not even looking at his subject. Someone, probably a certain ex-army doctor would have called this 'amazing,' but this Holmes...
“Well, at least I don't use my fridge for housing cadavers,” he remarked snidely while closing its door, behind which resided a box with some poor bloke's liver. “And I don't drag my Watson to bed saying it's for an experiment.”
If one were to look closely, they would see that a small blush was spreading on Sherlock's cheekbones. “I didn't 'drag him to bed.'”
The Other Holmes barked out a humorless laugh. “I'll bet you ten quid that my Watson is better than yours.” He placed a ten-pound note on the coffee table right in front of the other detective. Sherlock slowly looked up from the note to the face of its still-rightful owner. He made sure that he had his most ominous look in place; of course, The Other Holmes could not possibly know what it meant.
Prepare to die.
“Are you sure they're gonna be fine?” John seemed a little bit uneasy. He fidgeted in his seat. “Because the longer we are here, the more nagging the thought becomes that they are likely to tear each other’s eyeballs out. What I mean... was placing two such impulsive characters in such a near proximity really a wise idea?”
“Relax, John. They'll be fine.” Joan, on the other hand, looked completely unmoved. She sat calmly, waiting for the film to start. “Besides, they're both grown-ups.”
“My Watson is female, so no one finds it awkward when we go together for supper. I bet everyone takes you as a couple wherever you go. And besides, you're two blokes living together and you claim you're not shagging? How's anyone ever gonna believe you?”
“Well, at least I don't try to force my John into my shoes and try to make him into a detective. I-I find him quite brilliant just the way he is.” This unlikely confession was supported by a snigger from The Other Holmes. “And if other people claim that we are a couple, then it just shows how imbecilic they are. John is so over it. My John is so much better than yours.”
The evil crackling of electricity in the air could almost be heard.
“So, you're saying that your Sherlock is really enjoying this?” John waved about a small, brightly colored packet of cereal. After they finished the film, Joan remembered that she had some shopping to do, so they decided to pop into Tesco for a bit.
“Mhm,” Joan said, closely examining a bag of frozen strawberries. “He keeps telling me about them being nutritious, and that they help his brain work... but on the other hand, they have so many calories...” She patted her already flat belly. “It's not that he's growing obese, but isn't it a bit unhealthy, eating them every day?”
“Well, my Sherlock claims that 'digestion slows him down.' He can go without food for three days straight!”
“You're kidding!” Joan was shocked. “You mean, like no food at all? But that's...”
“I care for my Watson,” The Other Holmes said with a surprisingly gentle voice. “I bought her a new spatula when hers got ruined while shooting a porn film.”
“Well, I threw myself off a building to save my John's life. Isn't it obvious that I care for my John more?” Sherlock was feeling quite smug now, thinking that he's already the victor in this battle.
“I didn't shoot up cocaine, despite having the opportunity, in order to not worry my Watson!” The Other Holmes bounced back into action.
Time to roll out some big guns, then.
“...He might give out a bad impression at first, but he is actually a very nice person – caring, even. He just has a big burden to carry on his shoulders, and it makes him act... the way he does,” Joan explained. They left Tesco with just two bags to carry, now heading back towards the flat. Joan and The Other Holmes have to leave already; they have a plane to catch in the morning.
“Same here,” John said, unlocking the door to the flat. “When we first met, he claimed that he's a 'high-functioning sociopath,' but now, as years pass, I get to see who he really is. He's a wonderful person – intelligent, resourceful...”
Words die on his lips as he enters the living room. Both of the Holmes' are standing on the far ends of the room, panting slightly, as if they had gone through a particularly exhausting experience. They also appear to have been throwing things at each other – including the Union Jack pillow and bunched-up newspapers.
“...Mature,” John finishes absent-mindedly, just in time for The Other Holmes to fire away with his most powerful argument.
“My Watson at least has TITS!” He yells so loudly that there's no doubt even the neighbors have heard him. Joan, hearing this, immediately crosses her arms over her chest.
Sherlock suddenly sucks in a deep breath. “Well, my John has a-” the rest of his exclamation is muffled by John's hand, which the doctor pressed against his mouth to stop further embarrassment – for both him and the detective.
“You stop right here,” he says sharply, and then turns to Joan, who still stares in dumb shock at The Other Holmes who is now smiling sheepishly at her. “I'm going to take care of this. You can show yourself out, right?”
“Oh... yeah, of course,” she snapped out of her daze. “See you again soon, John.”
He nodded at her briefly, then took Sherlock's hand – quite easily, since he wasn't resisting – and led him to his bedroom. Sherlock sat on the edge of the bed while John crouched on the floor in front of him, attempting to look at his face; it was proving to be rather difficult since Sherlock kept shying away from him.
“Sherlock, look at me,” he said finally, and was granted a glimpse of the gray eye visible under the mass of black hair. “I don't know what sort of argument you had, but that,” he emphasized “was certainly not a way it should have been dealt with. You're not a child anymore, Sherlock, and you can't throw a tantrum whenever you encounter something you don't agree with.”
“He insulted you,” Sherlock mumbled finally, his voice slightly damp, as if he was about to cry. “He called you simple-minded, thick-headed... and he made fun of your jumpers...” He raised his head, looking at John more fully now, smiling. “Of which I am actually quite fond of, might I add.”
They didn't register which of them moved first after that, but they soon found themselves in a new position – Sherlock was leaning over John slightly, arms around his broad shoulders and face hidden in the crook of his neck, and John had his hands placed lightly against Sherlock's spine. It was a brief, yet very warm hug, the kind that needed no justification.
A few moments later, John got up from his kneeling position. “Well, I'm going to make some tea. D'you want any?” Without waiting for a response, the doctor left for the kitchen.
Sherlock sat a little straighter on the bed and smiled to himself. There was only one benefit to the argument he had with The Other Holmes – he realized just how much John meant to him.
“John!” Suddenly, Sherlock called after him. “I'll be needing your assistance in an experiment!”
“Oh yeah?” John asked, pouring water in the kettle. “And what kind of experiment is that?”
Suddenly, Sherlock came up from behind and wrapped his arms around John, whispering somewhere near his ear, “It involves you, me, and a bed...”