No Match for the Man

Chapter 4

Finding Irene Adler sleeping peacefully in his bed, wearing one of his winter lounging shirts, wasn't entirely unwelcome, but Sherlock did silently make a note to burn his sheets later on. Waking her wasn't terribly hard, especially when John started making coffee. John made coffee capable of waking the dead, a testament to his old army days when it was needed to help a soldier remain alert for days on end with little sleep.

Her little trick with using a false number on his replica of her smartphone annoyed him, but not as much as her approaches into his personal space. His only incentive for solving the mystery of the email so quickly was so he could move away from her as soon as possible without looking like that was his intention. It helped having John there, keeping him on track by the sheer fact of his presence. Otherwise, he might have gotten stuck in the strange competition of manipulation and intimidation with Irene.

Irene had quite a way with words, but instead of being stimulating, her admiration gave him a sour taste in his mouth. Impressing her with his own cleverness, where her own methods had failed, was laughably simple, but it didn't hold the warmth that showing off to John did. That was why he addressed most of his findings to John, rather than Ms Adler. John stimulated his thought process, while all she did was utter empty promises. Now he just had to figure out what sort of operation 'Bond Air' was supposed to be.

John watched fondly as Sherlock lifted his violin and settled into his armchair. As the detective started murmuring to himself, the doctor gently closed his laptop. A soft tap to his shoulder called his attention back to the Woman who had invaded their flat.

"Does this often, does he?"

Nodding, John dragged himself up from the desk, "You get used to it after a while. Tea?"

"That would be lovely, Doctor, thank you," Irene smiled winningly. She followed him into the kitchen and settled herself in front of Sherlock's microscope. "So, you get used to him talking to himself?"

From the other room, Sherlock's voice drifted over, "John, it's obviously got nothing to do with James Bond."

Rolling his eyes to the ceiling, John leaned against the counter across from Irene and answered her with a flippant smirk, saying, "Among other things."

"Shouldn't you answer him?"

"No." Turning back to the kettle, the doctor carefully prepared three cups of tea and then handed one over to Irene. "He wasn't actually talking to me. When he's like this I'm more of a sounding board than an active participant." She followed him back inside the living room as he brought the second mug of tea in and placed it within the detective's reach. "Mind you, it's still really irritating, especially if I have no idea what he's talking about."

He settled back down at the desk, and they both quietly watched as Sherlock plucked the same pair of notes over and over again, occasionally mumbling or speaking John's name before a fact. After a few minutes, John observed out of the corner of his eye that Irene was looking equal parts fascinated and concerned. Hiding a smirk behind a sip of tea, he tried to decide if throwing the afghan over the man's shoulders in a clearly possessive way would a) get her to sod the bloody hell off, or b) bother Sherlock's concentration.

Irene shifted uncomfortably for a moment, then placed her cup on John's end table. "He does this all the time? Seriously?"

"It's not nearly as frustrating as when he makes decisions when I'm not here and then gets angry at me when I have no idea what he's on about." At her amused smirk, he added, "Don't even get me started on the random body parts that seem to magically appear in our fridge every other week."

"Why put up with him then?" Irene purred. "You don't strike me as the sort of man to indulge madness. Why do you stay? Besides the obvious fact that you are," the sly, knowing smile that quirked her expressive mouth made bile rise in his throat, "shall we say, enamored of him?"

"The rent's good." He took another sip of his tea at her huff of amusement. "Also Sherlock's occasionally entertaining beyond his crime solving abilities. It's almost like owning a cat, really. I make sure he's fed, watered, and clean up after his messes, and sometimes he deigns to grace me with his presence. He's also easily distracted by laser pointers."

A startled giggle burst from her lips, and Irene turned her head away to control her laughter. When she finally composed herself, she turned back again and whispered, "You know, doctor, even as a disguise is always, in some way, a self portrait, so to can be said of a comparison like that."

"So, what?" John just barely managed to keep his face drawn in a puzzled way as he continued speaking, "Are you saying I think Sherlock is a giant pussy?"

Irene choked quietly on the mouthful of tea she had been in the process of swallowing. Smiling, the doctor rose to aide her but was stopped as she raised a hand and rallied herself back under composure. The smile she let slip just before the wall went back up was genuine, "You know, Doctor Watson, I think I'm beginning to see why he keeps you around."

"Good. When you figure it all out, please share with the rest of the class?" John smiled wryly at her.

Somewhere in the kitchen John's phone beeped insistently. Rising with a soft apology, he made his way to the kitchen and rifled through the mess on the table until he located his mobile beneath a small pile of photographs of bees. Finding some texts from Lestrade, he almost went back into the living room to attempt to rouse the consulting detective from his revelry. The first two mentioned a string of bank robberies along with a request for Sherlock's expertise. The next one after that held a disregard and the message that the same robbers where involved in a crime in progress.

It was the last that got his attention: 3 hostages inside, officers down. EMTs unable to help. Could use some1 w/ combat & med xperience? - GL

Barely hesitating, John answered: On my way. 15 mins. - JW

Snatching his keys from the counter, the doctor sprinted up the stairs to his bedroom and pulled out his medical field kit and his shoes. Thundering his way back down the stairs, he leaned on the arm of the sofa to put his shoes on. While he struggled to tie the slightly frayed laces of his trainers, he addressed Irene in a sharp voice, "Sorry, Ms Adler, I have to dash out for a bit. By the by, Sherlock might be disoriented time-wise when he snaps out of it, thinking he was just talking to me and the like. Just tell him to text me when he comes round?"

Irene's barely there affirmation followed him out the door.

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