Characters: Sherlock, John, Lestrade, Molly, Gladstone
Warnings/Triggers: language, off-screen sexytimes and banter about same, very vague references to a body
Pairings: John/Sarah, Alec/Molly (background in both cases)
Word Count 2, 820
Summary: Sherlock Holmes turns 40 and celebrates it exactly as he wants to.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse, but only canon characters appear.
I'm very sorry about all the stories I'm posting of late, I'm just trying to get what I can posted before Series Three comes along and announces that John hates the name Abby and never wants children, or something.
Sherlock didn't often have the experience of waking up and realizing it was his birthday. He didn't really have the experience of waking up very often, however. He didn't sleep enough. Normally, he would look at the clock on the wall and realize it was now past midnight, and therefore he was, technically speaking, another year older. That was, if he even remembered what day it was or remembered what day his birthday was. Remembering both was a rarity.
On the occasion of his 40th birthday, however, he did wake up in the morning, like a normal person. He'd even gone to bed a normal hour, and awoken at a normal hour.
He sincerely hoped this wasn't some sign of impending middle-age and turning into a person who slept and woke up when everyone else did.
He got up and opened the door to his room. Gladstone was not asleep in front of it, as he did when he was in residence at Baker Street and Sherlock slept. Sherlock's room was off-limits at all times to Gladstone, unless he was specifically sent to get something from it, so the dog draped himself in front of the door when Sherlock went to bed. His lack of presence meant he was likely with John, and therefore Sherlock didn't need to feed him. Or he was missing from the flat, but that was a less likely scenario, so Sherlock considered it moot.
He went to kitchen and discovered he was out of tea. He could have sworn he went to the store at least a month ago, he didn't know where all the tea had gone. One of the things that was inconvenient about John living elsewhere now was that there was no one to do the shopping and keep track of things like how many tea bags were left.
There was some coffee, however, and Sherlock was adaptable. He made that, and went down to get the newspapers, as Gladstone wasn't there to be sent for them.
Yes, January 6th, as he suspected. Definitely his birthday. Probably.
He had managed to convince everyone that he did not need any celebration, but he expected his mother would ring, as she usually did, and Mrs Hudson might come up to make some sort of fuss. Otherwise, he hoped to be left alone.
He sat down in his chair, and scanned the newspapers for murder.
The first interruption was, as he predicted, from his mother. She timed it with the delivery of his birthday parcel. He'd spent far too much time since he'd moved to London trying to figure out precisely how she knew A) when to send the parcel so that it was delivered on the day and B) when to ring, so that it was concurrent with the delivery. His final conclusion was that she bribed the Royal Mail. Or was a witch.
He opened the parcel, and was pleased with what she'd sent--she always sent proper, useful gifts. He chatted with her for the minimum fifteen minutes, and then rang off.
The second interruption came in the late morning, when Mrs Hudson limped her way upstairs. He suspected she'd need her other hip replaced soon; the cortisone shots were no longer effective. She came up behind his chair in the kitchen and planted a kiss on his cheek, presenting a fairy cake with a candle in it.
“Happy Birthday, Sherlock,” she said. “Now, you don't have to eat it, but I thought we should mark the occasion in some way. Abby helped me make these the last time she was here, and I saved one out for you.”
Sherlock eyed the pastry with distaste. He liked sugar, as a rule. It was useful for grinding through those last few hours before sleep became vital. He'd never seen the point of decorating food, though. Why put so much effort into something that would be eaten and gone forever? He understood art; art was around for millennia. He just couldn't fathom spending even ten minutes trying to make a plate look nice, when, ten minutes after that, it would all be a mess.
“I won't sing,” Mrs Hudson said. “But you should at least make a wish.” She struck a match and lit the candle.
Sherlock didn't believe in wishing, but he did believe that putting an idea in one's head helped to make it happen. It would roil around until it gained enough steam to be realized. So, he conjured up something he would like to happen, and blew out the candle.
“Now, go away,” he said, politely.
Mrs Hudson kissed his cheek again. “Happy Birthday, dear.”
Sherlock's afternoon was blissfully quiet. He had several hours entirely without anyone wishing him well. It was lovely. If only all birthdays could be like that.
The peace was interrupted in the early evening by John's arrival downstairs. Gladstone came bounding up to the flat.
“No. Sit,” Sherlock said, before the dog pounced on him in his chair.
Gladstone abruptly stopped and plunked himself down. Sherlock had to admit, he was an obedient animal. He had managed to teach him all sorts of useful skills, and he did them immediately upon command. With enthusiasm, as though he somehow found enjoyment in doing what he was told.
“All right, come gently,” Sherlock allowed.
Gladstone stood back up and trotted over, sticking his face in Sherlock's hand and rubbing it around. John reached the top of the landing, and came into the living room.
“Hey, just taking Gladstone for a walk, thought I'd stop in,” he said. “Happy Birthday.”
Sherlock nodded a thank you. “You normally go anticlockwise to wind up here, not start here,” he said.
“I fancied a change,” John replied.
“If you're on a walk, why are you carrying beer behind your back?” Sherlock asked.
John removed his hand from his back, and looked at it as though he were surprised. “Huh,” he said. “How did they get there? Want one?”
Sherlock smirked, and held out his hand. “Fine,” he said.
John brought it over and they clinked the bottles together, before John took the chair opposite Sherlock. Gladstone laid himself happily between the two chairs, his tag wagging on the floor.
“So, feeling depressed yet?” John asked. “Going to dye your hair? Get a motorcycle?”
“I already have a motorcycle,” Sherlock replied.
“Get another motorcycle,” John amended.
“No,” Sherlock said. “It's another birthday, it doesn't make any difference. Forty is no different than thirty-nine.”
“Yeah, but it's all down here from there,” John said. “Aches and pains. Pissing all the time. Arthritis. Having to take naps.”
“You're far older than me, and you haven't done any of that,” Sherlock said.
“I'm only four years older, sod off,” John replied. “Do you even have any grey hair, yet?
“I don't really pay attention,” Sherlock said. “Perhaps it's sprung up overnight. My mother was entirely white by the time she was my age. She started early.”
“Yeah, well, she raised you,” John said. “Why do you think me and Lestrade are grey? What about your dad?”
Sherlock shrugged, trying to force his chest muscle to relax. It really was a stupid reaction to have to the mention of one subject. “He was fifty-one when he died, and he didn't have much more than Mycroft has,” he said. “The skunk streak is a Holmes trait; Father had it too.”
“Maybe you'll look like him, then,” John said.
For some reason, Sherlock found that concept pleasing. “It doesn't really matter,” he said.
“So, you sure you don't want to go out? I know I could get people down the pub,” John said.
“No,” Sherlock said. “I've never liked parties--particularly ones held in my honour. Everyone would be having fun but me.”
“Yeah, well everyone's always having fun but you,” John said. “Except when you're the only one having fun and the rest of us are horrified. You've got a faulty radar for fun. Anyway, might as well give you your present then.”
“I don't need a present,” Sherlock objected. “I hate when people buy me things; I'm expected to buy things in return.”
John just laughed. “No one expects anything from you, Sherlock, we're all too used to you,” he said.
He pulled the small package Sherlock had seen in his pocket out, as well as a magazine rolled up and put in his trouser waistband, as though he were going to steal it from a shop. The magazine was tossed his way, first.
“Next issue came today,” John said. “My column thing is in there, if you'd like to read about yourself.”
John had begun serializing their exploits in some magazine for crime enthusiasts. It was, apparently, a 'popular feature'.
“Ah yes, at last I'll know the exciting conclusion of 'The Hounds of Baskerville',” Sherlock said, flipping idly through the pages. “That's a decent name, at least. Except there was only one hou--” He stopped and frowned at the illustration. “Why do they always put me in the Hat? I didn't wear the Hat once on that case. Do you ask that they draw me in the Hat?”
“Yeah, Sherlock, when they ring me up and ask me what sort of picture I want, I always say 'something hatty',” John said, with a roll of his eyes. “Go back to the inside cover.”
Sherlock flipped back. A folded piece of paper was tucked in there. He took it out and unfolded it. It was covered in colourful crayon scribbles. “Does your child do anything but draw?” he asked. “I hope you're teaching her other skills.”
“That is a very specific Sherlock drawing,” John said. “She came home with that yesterday, and we tried to put it on the fridge, and she informed us it was for Sherlock. It's a lion.”
Sherlock squinted and turned the page around. “It in no way resembles a lion,” he said. “Her writing is getting better, however. That's almost an A in her signature.”
John found that amusing for some reason. Sherlock could see his eyes flicker with that look he got when he thought Sherlock was doing something appropriate for a human being. It was a sort of pride. Sherlock found it annoying.
“My present,” he said, holding out his hand.
John tossed it over. Sherlock ripped the paper off. It was a flash drive, as he expected, but he obviously couldn't deduce anything more than that. He stared expectantly at John.
“It's got some music stuff on it,” John said. “I don't know if you remember that musician you got off for murder back in October; you liked his music. He was a pianist. You said it was 'decent', so I figured it was probably pretty good. I asked him for some MP3s, since you never remember anything for longer than ten seconds, and it's hard to find things you like. He was so thrilled with you that he sent me MP3s, and sheet music, and arranged songs so you could play them on your violin. I think there's even a track to duet, if you want. Just piano for you play with. It's all on there.”
Sherlock had only a vague memory of the case and the music involved. It was thoughtful. Sherlock didn't particularly like when people were thoughtful. It made him feel as though needed to be thoughtful in return, and he really wasn't thoughtful very often. He had to make an effort. “So, you've got me something free, then,” he said.
“Hey, that flash drive cost me five quid,” John said. “For three.”
“You'll never pay for your daughter's education spending money like that,” Sherlock replied.
“No, you're doing that,” John said. “We have that money you gave her for her birthday in a bank account. If the interest rate holds out, apparently she can buy an island when she turns twenty.”
“Perhaps I'll go there for my birthday and not have anyone bother me,” Sherlock said. He nodded at the flash drive. “Thank you.”
John nodded back. “I better get home, I'm skiving off on my next column,” he said.
“What's this one called?” Sherlock asked.
“No title yet. I'm thinking something along the lines of 'Arsehole In Hat Throws Himself Off Building',” John replied.
“Oh,” Sherlock said. “Reached there in the narrative, have we? Can't you skip that one?”
“That's the big seller,” John said. “What do you think: The Final Problem?”
Sherlock made a face. “No, that was his name for it,” he said. “He doesn't need any more notoriety. How about 'the Reichenbach Fall'? It has the pun you're so fond of.”
“Maybe,” John said. “All right, off to kill you. Let me know if you want to do something; I can get people together.”
“Don't sit by the phone,” Sherlock replied.
“You coming, Gladstone?” John asked.
Gladstone lifted his head from his paws, and then put it down again.
“All right, guess that's a no,” John said. “See ya.”
“Bye,” Sherlock said.
Third interruption done.
The fourth interruption didn't come until 11:12 that night. Sherlock was trying to learn a piece of music from John's flash drive. Sherlock couldn't remember it, but he did like it, as it turned out. Neoclassical, complicated but not pretentious. Melodic but not romantic. Very good thinking music, if he could get the hang of all these collé and martélé strokes it called for.
Gladstone was lying on his back with all four paws in the air, asleep near Sherlock's feet. He leapt to attention when Sherlock's mobile rang.
“This had better be in regard to a case and not in regard to my birthday,” Sherlock said, after a glance at the screen to identify the caller.
“It's both,” Lestrade said. “Someone's been murdered, happy birthday!”
Sherlock grinned. “Thank you, it's what I wanted,” he said. “Tell me where to meet you, I'll ring John.”
“Come to Barts, we didn't realize it was hinky until after the autopsy,” Lestrade said. “His insides are...wrong.”
“Excellent! I'll be there shortly,” Sherlock said. He hung up and hit John's number.
“Yeah, I'm here,” John said, after several rings. He was half-laughing about something that was happening the background. “Excellent timing as always, I was just about to go to bed.”
“Don't. Meet me at Barts,” Sherlock said. “Someone's insides are wrong, apparently.”
“Yay,” John said, humourlessly “M'on my way. Er...” He laughed again. “Soon.”
“Happy Birthday, Sherlock,” Sarah called, in the background.
“Stop snogging your wife,” Sherlock ordered.
“No,” John said, and hung up the phone.
“And so, I said I would think about it, but...it's quite a big thing, isn't it?” Molly was saying, when Sherlock entered the mortuary. “Oh, hi, Sherlock. Happy Birthday! Is it still your birthday?” She looked down at her watch. “Yes, it is. Happy Birthday!”
She held out her arms, and Sherlock felt obliged to step into them because if he didn't she'd be offended and then hard to work with. He let himself be hugged for an appropriate length of time, and then stepped back.
“Where's John?” Lestrade asked.
“Performing indecent acts with his wife,” Sherlock replied.
“I really don't want to know how you know that,” Lestrade said. “But good on him. Body's over here, but it's the x-ray things you'll want to see.”
Molly flicked on the lightboard. Sherlock stared. Well, that was certainly unexpected.
“Any ideas on how that happened?” Lestrade asked.
“Ten,” Sherlock said. He pulled out his mobile to bring up an internet search. “Possibly eleven, depending on the weather in Cornwall yesterday.”
He went to work, eliminating possibilities and conceiving of and dismissing new ones. Molly and Lestrade resumed what Sherlock assumed was their previous conversation, which was something to do with her boyfriend (if 'Alec' was her boyfriend, it could be her cat; Sherlock often got the names confused) suggesting he move in with her when the let on his flat was up at the end of the month (probably the boyfriend; cats were unlikely to have lets on flats). Lestrade's conversation seemed solely to consist of agreeing with everything she said, whether it was positive or negative, and so Sherlock wasn't sure why she was consulting him. Sherlock ignored them, but the conversation drifted in and out.
John finally arrived several minutes after it should have taken him, looking very pleased with life. Molly let out a giggle, which she hid behind her hand and Lestrade tried to stifle a snort of laughter.
“I'm really glad we were never room-mates at uni or something,” John said, once he'd figured out the source of their mirth. “I have this image of you coming home to find the sock on the doorknob and grabbing a megaphone and announcing to the world that I was getting laid.”
“Why would you have a sock on the doorknob?” Sherlock asked.
This was apparently funny, but Sherlock didn't know why, nor did he care. He let them banter back and forth about it while he continued his investigation.
“S'midnight, birthday's over now, Sherlock,” John said, after a while. “Too late for a party.”
“Isn't this a sort of party?” Sherlock asked.
“No, Sherlock, this is a murder investigation,” Lestrade said.
“Isn't that the same thing?” Sherlock said.
“Yeah, this is a good example of you having fun and us being horrified,” John said. “I was thinking more along the lines of a drink down the pub, or having dinner or something.”
“Well, this is more fun,” Sherlock said. “This is the only kind of party I want, and you've thrown it for me. Consider my birthday well-celebrated.”