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No Match for the Man

By Mother_of_Monsters

Romance / Drama

Chapter 1

Ms Irene Adler was, without a doubt, the most intriguing woman Sherlock Holmes had ever had the misfortune to be on the wrong side of. Perhaps, if she had been less of an unapologetic vixen, he might actually have enjoyed her company. Unfortunately, he discovered that, clever as she seemed, she was basically no more than a sexually predacious spider, which was about as fascinating to Sherlock as picking up dry cleaning.

For example, it had given him a bit of pause when Mycroft brought him to the morgue. He was sad, for a moment, until Molly pulled back the sheet, and he saw that the body displayed before him was decidely not Ms Adler. Had she thought he, of all people, would be fooled by a body double? A terrible sense of ennui enveloped him at that revelation, which Mycroft seemed to believe was an expression of grief.

It was actually more an expression of disappointment. How predictable - things get too hot, and instead of changing the game, making it more challenging, she scarpered. Boring.

As he relished his first few drags of suffocating cigarette smoke in months, watching the emotional display of a pair of parents come to identify their dead child, he actually felt a little ashamed of himself. Here he was, cashing in on his brother's misguided attempt at succor, when these people were going through so much emotional trauma it was manifesting itself in physical pain.

When he rhetorically questioned his brother, he hadn't expected Mycroft to speak the same, hated words their father had spat at them every day of their lives. He saw every day how much damage caring could do; his flatmate was a daily physical reminder of the twisting anguish brought on by the supposedly marvelous sentiment of 'love'. Mycroft's nostalgic pronouncement just deepened the suffocating depression that had begun to sink into his mind and bones.

Instead of taking a cab, he opted to walk home, borrowing the chill of winter to sharpen his thoughts and drive out the sentiment swirling around within him. He forcibly focused his mind on the task at hand, namely, Ms Adler's phone. Obviously, there was something more on it then just pictures, and the information was valuable enough that Ms Adler deemed it necessesary to fake her death in order to save herself. It had to have something to do with those Americans that had been at her town home, of that at least he was certain. What it was they sought, he was not so sure of, and that annoyed him.

The frustration of not knowing was a constant bane to Sherlock's orderly way of thinking. He had cultivated his innate ability to deduce everything using the input of all his senses, as well as linear logic, in order to avoid not knowing. It drove him to solve every puzzle he could get his teeth into, even the simplest ones. Well, that wasn't entirely true.

There was one puzzle that didn't bother him, even though its constant presence should have driven him mad with irritation. His inability to solve it did not dishearten him in the least, a fact which both baffled and comforted him at the same time. That puzzle's name was John Watson.

Since their first meeting, John had managed to be both completely surprising and utterly ordinary at the same time. How someone so disgustingly normal managed to knock an all-noticing genius like Sherlock for a loop nearly every time he opened his mouth was astonishing. It was as if Fate herself had designed Dr John H Watson specifically to be Sherlock's own personal enigma, social guide, and enabler all in one.

John mentally shrugged off Jeanette's parting words and kindly asked Mrs Hudson to start her search in the kitchen. Forgoing the rest of the flat, he slipped into the detective's surprisingly clean bedroom, and tried to focus on the task at hand, rather than his surprising lack of emotional turmoil over his inability to maintain a romantic relationship. Seriously, shouldn't that be worrying?

He took prodigious care not to mess up Sherlock's sock index and the color code in the closet, but otherwise did not hide the fact that a search had been made. The detective probably already knew the place would be searched, so why bother covering it up and be berated for doing a bad job of it? It wasn't like Sherlock really trusted him anyway.

Finding nothing wasn't as good a feeling as it should have been. He would have no opportunity to search again once the detective returned home. If Sherlock decided he wanted to purchase something on the way home, John would never find it. Rubbing his hands down his cheeks, the doctor leaned back against the wall, mentally listing the things he would have to watch out for.

He concluded his search with a thorough check of the bathroom and slipped back into the living room. Mrs Hudson replaced the last of the couch cushions and bid him goodnight and good luck with a sad sort of smile. John thanked her quietly and sank into his armchair, then lifted his book off the table beside him, just to give his hands something to worry at.

All things considered, it hadn't exactly been a bad Christmas, even considering the sad end of Ms Adler. Not that John was the kind of man to wish ill on anyone, but truly, she had brought it upon herself, hadn't she? Besides, she had treated Sherlock rather foully and deliberately tricked John out of the room in order to hurt Sherlock. Flipping a page a little more violently than necessary, John tried to ignore the knot of protectiveness that settled in his gut as the sound of Sherlock's steps echoed up the stairs.

Returning home to find that the whole flat had been searched, and John apparently put on babysitter duty - wait, make that dumped and put on babysitter duty - Sherlock snapped a snarky reply and retreated to his room. Since John did not reply, he assumed that his solitude would be uninterrupted. He wasn't sure if he was happy or not when he was correct.

As he refused to sleep on principle, Sherlock waited until an hour after John had retired upstairs before venturing out into the living room. The cozy fire had been left lit, and the kettle in the kitchen had been left on low with a mug and teabag sitting before it. A small piece of folded paper had been left on his violin case, with his name in John's oddly neat handwriting.

Within, it read: Don't leave the kettle on all night, and please try not to play too violently. Not even Christmas cheer would save us if the neighbors start complaining again. - John

Sherlock allowed the barest hint of a smile to grace his lips as he gently placed the note on his desk, feeling a bit of warmth settle in his chest. Pulling his beloved instrument from its velvet-lined case, he brought it to his shoulder and smoothed the horsehair bow along the strings until the soft strains of 'Silent Night' shivered in the air. It was the least that could be done to thank John for his misplaced kindness.

That time of night, with only the stars and streetlights for company, was Sherlock's favorite. Being alone protected him, allowed him to hear every blessed note of music wrung from the wooden instrument within his pale hands. It allowed his thoughts the freedom to roil about in his incomprable mind until they could settle again in an orderly fashion, just as the notes plucked and pulled from the strings continued on to their finish. This was a time for composing.

A creak from the mattress in the bedroom upstairs reminded him that he wasn't precisely alone, as John was somewhere above him, settling into the land of slumber. But the doctor would not return downstairs unless summoned, something the detective had learned early on in their strange partnership. John just seemed to know when Sherlock needed space, a fact which should have bothered the detective to no end, but didn't.

It wasn't in Sherlock's nature to feel comfortable being seen as anything but enigmatic, ethereal even. Somehow, though, being understood by John was neither unpalatable, nor unwelcome. It was almost a relief to find someone who, though he might find some aspects of the detective's character grating, never seemed to actively try to change anything more than unpoliteness. John was the first person, in a very long time, to address the man at the metaphorical heart of the detective, and to find in that man someone worthy of befriending.

Such thoughts caused a revelation that brought the hand hovering a pen over a half-blank music sheet to a halt. The revelation was thus – before John Watson, Sherlock was, God help him, lonely. It was such a striking realization, Sherlock nearly dropped his violin in astonishment. How could he, a Holmes, be lonely?

He shook himself of the shock as the light of dawn tinged the cloudy horizon silver. Soon, John's footsteps would creak down the old staircase into the kitchen and ruin the silence that had ensconced the flat. Sherlock once again placed bow to string and tried to rebuild the invisible wall of untouchability around himself, hoping that would deter the doctor from speaking at all.

It seemed to work, for when John drowsily stumbled into the kitchen, he only sighed in exasperation, instead of chiding the detective for leaving the kettle on all night again. After a few moments of running water and metal clinking against ceramic, a steaming mug of tea appeared on the desk near Sherlock's music stand. A newspaper rustled from somewhere in the vicinity of John's chair, but not a word was spoken.

Comfortable silence, broken only by the depressing vibrato of the violin strings, the scratch of a pen, and the sound of newsprint folding, settled around the room like a giant, sleepy cat. Sherlock was distressed to find it so soothing, so like all good Holmes men he took the feeling and shoved it to the rear of his mind, focusing his thoughts about how to open Ms Adler's phone instead. The feeling rattled against the door he'd locked it behind when he took a sip of the tea John had prepared exactly to his liking.

It was going to be a long holiday.

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