Characters: John, Sherlock,
Word Count 2,270
Summary: John and Sherlock go to New York, discover Jeopardy!, and solve a crime.
Author's notes: Do you remember when I wrote stories that weren't AU? No, me neither. But look, I did it! I wanted to make sure I could still write John and Sherlock as canon before Series Three starts, so I picked up an old plot bunny laying around. Not a lot of point to this, I mostly wanted to practice the dialogue and voices, so I let it wander where it wanted to go.
If you are unfamiliar with Jeopardy!, this fic may not make a lot of sense. Apologies. Also, I doubt there are actually late night Jeopardy! marathons on any channel, so I've used a little artistic license.
Set probably during Series One, or early Series Two.
John had tossed and turned until the hospital corners of the king-sized bed came untucked and he had a little nest in the middle of it. The bedside alarm clock told him it was 3:00AM in New York, but he was wide awake, still operating on London time. He sighed and tossed the covers off of himself, deciding there was no point in going crazy trying to force himself to sleep.
The Presidential Suite the client had put John and Sherlock up in was huge, almost to the point of ridiculousness. John's room alone was big enough to have an entire living room occupying one corner of it, complete with a big screen TV, a sound system, a coffee table, and three couches, one of which John tripped over trying to get out of the room.
He squinted against the light from the main living room after he opened the door. Sherlock was perched on one of the sofas, in what John privately thought of as his 'gargoyle pose': knees up to the chest, hands on knees, chin on hands, perfectly still as though he were sitting on the side of a Gothic building, waiting.
“I thought you were going to bed?” Sherlock said, without turning his head.
“I did,” John said. “Six hours ago.”
Sherlock looked at his watch and seemed surprised by the time. “Oh.”
“Have you slept at all since we got here?” John asked.
“I'm fine,” Sherlock said.
“Oh yeah, I forgot you operate on Holmes Standard Time,” John said. Sherlock never slept or ate unless there was nothing more interesting to do, so what would it matter what time zone he was in?
John made his way through the mess of newspapers that littered the floor around the couch. The hotel offered free papers, both local and international, and it looked like Sherlock had dissected all eleven of them. John stepped on a picture of Nicholas Sarkosy's face as he sat down. The coffee table was covered with more papers.
“Make any progress while I was asleep?” John asked.
Sherlock pointed past him to one of the floor to ceiling windows. Dozens of papers and photos of the key suspects in the case had been Sellotaped to it in the haphazard way the mirror worked at home.
“So, no progress?” John said.
Sherlock ignored him, and turned up the volume on the television. A very American voice was announcing that this was Jeopardy, whatever that might be. Three smiling, nervous looking people were introduced, the last one with the announcement that he had a three day cash winnings of $67, 534.
“What are we watching?” John asked, as a grey-haired man walked on screen to great applause, and started talking.
“Jeopardy!” Sherlock said, with sudden enthusiasm that immediately died away. “It has an exclamation mark. I'm assuming that's the accurate emphasis.”
“It's a sort of quiz show,” Sherlock explained. “They seem to be doing one of those things you watch at home, when a show gets played back to back...”
“Marathon?” John suggested.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “Some of the answers are challenging. It's good.”
John raised his eyebrows, surprised. Sherlock didn't have much of an attention span for television; he couldn't get his brain cleared out enough to follow a plot for long. Something always loomed in and distracted him, so that John had to explain what was going on, or Sherlock just lost interest and left. The only thing they'd successfully managed was some James Bond films, and even then Sherlock blogged most of the way through, and spent the rest of the time complaining about the science.
“So did—” John began.
“What is californium?” Sherlock asked.
John was about to reply that he didn't know, but then a person on the screen asked the same question, and was deemed correct.
“You have to answer in the form of a question,” Sherlock explained. “Which seems stupid, but in Double Jeopardy! They won't allow answers not in the form of a question.”
“All right,” John said. “So, did—”
“What is Grimaldi?” Sherlock said.
He was right again, and John realized they weren't getting anything accomplished for now. He played along with Sherlock as the first half of the board was cleared. They actually were pretty even in right answers (or questions), as Sherlock was good with the most obscure stuff, but John had all the pop culture.
“How did you know that?” Sherlock demanded.
“You are the only person on Earth who doesn't know that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are together,” John replied.
“I don't know even know who they are, why would I care if they're married?” Sherlock said.
“I don't think they are married, actually...” John said.
“Well, I don't care if they're living in sin, either,” Sherlock replied. “I don't care if they're living on the moon.” He huffed, and turned down the volume on the telly. Then he trampled over the newspapers to the window where all the evidence was posted. “All right, I need you to make sure you've told me everything Bethanny Larson and Lisa Moscovitz said.”
John followed him to the window, trying not to look too hard at the view outside. The floor-to-ceiling windows gave them an excellent vantage point, but John kept feeling as though, if he took a step too close, he was going to fall into New York below them.
“I think I did,” John said. “I mean, aside from 'Oh my Gawd, you sound just like Harry Pawtah!'.”
“Who's Harry Potter?” Sherlock asked.
“Oh my Gawd,” John repeated, in his New Yawk accent. “Even I've read Harry Potter, and I was invading the Middle East at the height of their popularity. It's a series of children's books.”
“You read children's books in Afghanistan?” Sherlock said.
“We sort of passed them around, yeah,” John said. “Sometimes you need something light to give your brain a break.”
“Well, I've never heard of them,” Sherlock declared. “Is it relevant?”
“No, which is why I didn't mention it,” John said.
“Very well,” Sherlock said. “I think we can safely rule out Larson as our spy—you said she was wearing stilettos.”
“What does that matter?” John asked.
“If you were sneaking around, listening in on private conversations in search of secrets to sell, would you wear shoes that make that much noise when you walk?” Sherlock said.
John wouldn't even have considered that. Which is why Sherlock was the genius, and John was the one who read children's books. “Lisa wears trainers,” he said.
“Yes, she's an exercise freak,” Sherlock said, dismissively. “She has one of those balls in her office instead of a chair, they apparently help your core or something to that effect. She has a yoga mat in the corner, and her bin was full of protein shakes. It doesn't rule her out, but we can't rely on footwear as concrete proof. Who is Kant?”
“Who is Bentham?” a contestant on the telly said.
“Wrong!” Sherlock said. “Bentham was utilitarian.”
“Who is Kant?” another contestant said.
He was deemed correct by the host. Sherlock went back to the evidence. “I need more data,” he said, sounding frustrated. “I have pieces, but they don't connect yet. It's all such a mess in there—everyone hates everyone else, no one is content in their work, and everyone is trying to climb over someone else to reach the top.”
“Welcome to your standard office,” John said.
“It's fascinating,” Sherlock said, with some enthusiasm. “But there are so many threads to unravel, it's taking forever. For example, first I thought that she was upset with her because she is sleeping with him. But it turns out that she is actually sleeping with him, so she doesn't like her because she was promoted over him, and therefore she bet on the wrong horse. And none of it tells me anything useful. I keep coming to dead ends. What is Bermuda?” He smiled in triumph when he was right, and then it dropped away and he made an impatient gesture toward John. “Do you see? The majority of it is trivia, but if I don't investigate it, I may miss the actual, important piece of information. It's too—” he made a 'jazz hand' gesture near his head. “I can't think through it all. What is gravity?”
John could see that Sherlock was genuinely overwhelmed by the information. Which he'd never seen from him before. Usually Sherlock had a good hold on what he needed to know and what he didn't. But then, he'd never been dropped in a high profit business full of back-stabbing and sex before, and John imagined, even if he wasn't admitting it, that Sherlock was probably suffering from jet lag too.
“All right,” John said. “Can we organize the information? It'll take time, but we can go through person by person and you give me all the—threads or whatever—and I'll write them down, and we'll organize them in some way. Maybe we can eliminate some people, and then concentrate on those that are left.”
Sherlock made a sweeping gesture that suggested it was worth a try, but he doubted it would help. He went and flung himself back onto the sofa in his gargoyle pose. John decided to see if he couldn't get some tea.
“What is Elizabethan?” Sherlock asked.
After two more Jeopardy! shows, John felt they were starting to get somewhere. His notebook was a mess—he could see what Sherlock meant about everyone being involved with everyone else. It was all very incestuous, and John had arrows running over pages and around corners trying to link everyone.
They'd eliminated ten people, which left them with five. Five was workable.
“Who is Aretha Franklin?” John said. He might have got a bit involved with the show.
“You seem to know a lot about this genre of music,” Sherlock noted. “You've run the category.”
“My mum loved Motown, it was basically all she listened to,” John explained. “That and 'The Archers'.”
“That's a...radio show?” Sherlock said.
“Yeah, good job,” John said. “It's the longest running soap opera in history.”
“What is The Archers?” Sherlock replied.
John rolled his eyes. “Okay, never letting you near American telly again,” he said.
“Can we get this at home?” Sherlock asked.
“No,” John said. “I don't think so. You might like University Challenge, though, or Mastermind. Or QI. We have shows like it.”
Sherlock pouted. “I like this one. What is Montana?”
“What is Missouri?” John guessed.
“What is Michigan?” the contestant said.
“Correct,” the host said.
“We are crap at American geography,” John noted.
“Don't worry, it's not remotely useful,” Sherlock said.
He slouched back in his seat, his eyes darting back and forth, working on the case again.
“Are you sure this isn't distracting you?” John said, pointing to the telly.
“No, it's helpful. It's like composing music,” Sherlock explained. “If I focus too narrowly on the problem, I miss solutions outside of that focus. If I am too distracted, I can't think at all. This is simple enough to be distracting, without requiring so much attention that I can't also work on the problem. It's not entertainment, it's work. What is cerium?”
“All right, so Zielinski, motive: greed,” John said, pointing to a photo on the window. The sun was rising over New York, now, and the Jeopardy! marathon was over. Sherlock was focussed completely on the case, and so being extremely annoying. “Jefferson, motive: power. McLean, motive:...well, you didn't give one, you just said 'his trousers are suspicious'.”
“They're pressed,” Sherlock said, sounding annoyed about it. “None of the rest of his appearance is remotely tidy, he gets by on intellect and is allowed to be eccentric because of it. Yet his trousers are immaculate, and he doesn't have a partner to press them for him. It's incongruous. I grant that it doesn't make him a spy, but it can't be ignored.”
“Okay,” John said. “And Julian, motive: revenge.”
Sherlock sat crossed legged on the coffee table and stared. He hummed the Jeopardy! 'thinking' music to himself. “I should be able to figure this out,” he said. “It should be obvious, why isn't it obvious? We've eliminated everyone who couldn't be the culprit, we've eliminated all motives that are irrelevant. Why isn't it connecting? It has to be here, it has—” he froze, mid-gesture. “Where is Jefferson from?”
“Erm...” John said, looking franticly through his messy notes. “He's from...Michigan. Detroit.”
“Where's Levi from, the stupid one, with the face?” Sherlock said.
“Windsor,” John said. “Which is in Canada. Ontario.”
Sherlock's eyes went mad going back and forth, and then leapt up. “Phone the client, I know what's going on,” he said. “Tell him to meet me at the office.”
“It's five-thirty in the morning,” John said.
“What is irrelevant?” Sherlock replied.
John very carefully put the cheque the client had given them into the safe in the hotel room. It was massive, and John felt a bit sick looking at it. He didn't want to carry it in his wallet. He didn't want to have the responsibility for it.
The client had offered to pay their hotel expenses for another week if they wanted to stay in New York for a 'vacation'. That was highly unlikely, but Sherlock had at least consented to stay for another night before flying home. He was done with the case, and now jet lag had caught up. He looked a bit confused, and kept looking at his watch as though he couldn't figure out the time of day.
“I'm fine,” he said, when John asked. “I am completely—” he yawned. “Fiiiiiine.”
John went to have a shower, and when he returned, Sherlock was barely awake on the sofa, curled up in a ball with the remote in his hand. There was yet more Jeopardy! on. This must be its regular timeslot. John pulled the remote from Sherlock's grip.
“What is topography?” Sherlock murmured, and closed his eyes.
“What is tomography?” John corrected.
“What is tomography?” the contestant said.
“Yep,” the host said.
John smiled, shut the telly off, and went to take a nap, extremely grateful they didn't air Jeopardy! in Britain.