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Slow Down, Cowboy

By Emily Claus

Action / Humor

Chapter 1

"And Sally and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on there that day? Should we tell her about it? What should we do? Well… what would you do, if your mother asked you?" Smiling warmly, Mary shut the picture book and rubbed a hand over her stomach.

"Do you often read aloud to yourself?" a concerned voice came from the doorway. Mary looked up to see Sherlock hovering there with a half-eaten bagel in his hand. He took another bite and invited himself inside.

"How long have you been standing over there?" asked Mary.

"Depends. How long have you been reading that?"

"Couldn't have been much more than five minutes."

"Well. There you go."

"It's supposed to be good for the baby," Mary retorted. "Stuff like that keeps her stimulated. Being read to, listening to Mozart…"

"I think they meant after it's born." Coming closer, Sherlock reached for the book and picked it up from the arm of her chair, holding it open with one hand. He blinked and raised both eyebrows at it.

"That would be your godfather Sherlock," the woman informed her stomach matter-of-factly. "I know he seems like a bit of a killjoy, but don't worry; underneath all that he's really just a big softy."

"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day… And you're absolutely sure this counts as literature?"

Mary rolled her eyes. "C'mon now, even you must have heard of Doctor Seuss."

"Heard of, yes. But I'm afraid I never had the… pleasurable childhood experience." Sherlock set the storybook back down beside where Mary was seated.

A second door to the living room swung open further and a rather flustered-looking John Watson hurried through with a loud "Hon, have you seen my—"

The man halted next to the nearest end table, stared at it for a moment, and then picked up his wristwatch with an "oh". As he fastened it around his wrist, he glanced up at his wife and former flatmate and smiled. "Ah yes, my two favorite people. Sorry. Um. Are you here at this moment for a reason?"

Sherlock blinked. "You invited me?"

"Well, yes, I know that. But you said you could come three hours from now."

"Finished what I was working on early."

"And so you just… let yourself on in?"

"Naturally."

"And it didn't occur to you to give us a few minute's heads up first?" Sherlock shrugged at this and went right on eating his bagel. The doctor let out a sigh and shook his head. "You know what? Never mind. I suppose I ought to be thankful you're coming at all."

"Thankful he owed me a favor," smirked Mary.

"Yeah. Whatever. But might I remind you, the screening does start at two…"

"I can wait," Sherlock grinned back, sinking into the armchair positioned a couple feet from Mary's.

"'Course you can…"

"Well," Mary started, "I was just going to begin another story, since they're not particularly long."

Sherlock wrinkled his nose. "Oh, God. Do promise me it isn't another Doctor Seuss."

"How do you feel about Green Eggs and Ham?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Hey, why doesn't Sherlock read her a story?" suggested John cheerily, leaning up against the back of Mary's seat.

Sherlock furrowed his eyebrows and frowned back at John. "I beg your pardon?" he repeated. But it was too late - the damage had already been done.

"I think that's a marvelous idea!" exclaimed Mary. "John, could you please be a dear and fetch—"

"No. No, absolutely not. I am not reading one of those idiotic made up language poetry books. You can't make me and I refuse."

"Oh, please," snorted John, rather amused by Sherlock's defiance. "As if youcould write a better children's story."

"I bet I could," Sherlock shot back. "In fact, I bet near anyone could. Some of my lab reports demonstrate better character development than those… Well, I'm not sure I even want to call them books, to be perfectly honest."

"Is that so?" purred John. "Because five pounds says you couldn't."

"Five pounds says I certainly could."

"I could match that," Mary chimed in.

There was an uneasy pause before Sherlock jumped right into it: "Once upon a time there was a great pirate king called Captain Holmes—"

"Really? Could've sworn he was a simple farmer."

Sherlock made a face. "No, no. I'm fairly certain he was a bloody pirate. I should know, considering I'm the one telling the damned thing."

"Sorry mate, but I've got to agree with the Mrs. on this one. The version I know most definitely took place in the Wild West. Cowboys and Indians. The whole sha-bang."

"…well then maybe I was mistaken. But I don't think farmer is quite right either. Now, maybe it's that this Holmes was actually a great Sheriff? Yes. That seems right. A genius who was good at his job and kept his town safe from outlaws and everyone loved and respected him for it."

"Fair enough," nodded John. "But the townspeople also very much like Sheriff Holmes' deputy, Watson."

"Who was happily married to the beautiful Lady Mary," his wife smiled.

Sherlock tilted his head. "Lady? Isn't that medieval?"

"Shhh, let her have this one."

"Fine," Sherlock sighed. "In that case, our story coincidentally takes place on the day of their wedding. All the town residents were in attendance (which probably isn't saying all that much), and after Sheriff Deputy Watson and the Lady Mary had finished saying their vows Sheriff Holmes gave a lovely speech to see them off on their sex holiday…"

"Honeymoon."

"Whatever."

-x-

"I have had the pleasure of working with Deputy Watson for nearly half a decade now, and I can assure you that myself aside, there is no better man to be trusted with the task of protecting this lovely little town and all of her people. In fact, Watson is perhaps the bravest, most kind, and now, thanks to the Lady Mary - sorry, MRS. WATSON - one of the happiest gentlemen on this side of the Mississippi. As Sheriff of Little Rock Springs, it is my pleasure and privilege to personally congratulate the Deputy and his new wife, and wish them many blissful years to come. To Mr. and Mrs. Watson." Raising a glass, Holmes tipped his wide-brimmed cowboy hat towards the blushing newlyweds.

"To Mr. and Mrs. Watson!" the rest of the guests in the bar cheered and lifted their own glasses and mugs into the air.

"Thanks," Watson said softly to the Sheriff. "That was… That was surprisingly sweet."

Sheriff Holmes showed off a most winning grin. "Of course. Anything for the man who has helped me keep this town safe through all these years." He quickly downed the last of his ale, slammed the empty glass down against the wooden countertop and wiped off his mouth with a silky blue ascot. "Now, don't you two have someplace to be? I couldn't help but notice your carriage waiting outside."

"Oh, yes!" Mary exclaimed, tugging at Watson's sleeve. "C'mon, dear, if we hurry we can still make it to the lake before dark!"

Watson detached his silver star badge and held it out to his friend. "Mm, and here's this to hang onto while I'm off-duty."

"Keep it. It'd probably just get lost on my desk if I held onto the thing anyway."

"Oh? Alright, then." The man put the pin back into his vest. "You sure you can keep Little Rock Springs in check while I'm gone?" Watson teased, the Lady Mary already beginning to drag him out of the bar by the crook of his arm.

"That's the plan." With a superficial grin, Holmes waved at the couple until they disappeared through the swinging door entrance, giggling all the while. Once they were gone Holmes turned back to the bartender, who was currently cleaning out a mug with a small rag. "I'll have another one of those," he announced rather loudly.

Outside, the Sheriff Deputy and his new wife climbed into their horse drawn carriage and set out along the dusty path heading out of town.

"Isn't this wonderful?" Mary sighed, leaning back in her seat. "A little cabin by the lake, all to ourselves for an entire fortnight!"

"It wouldn't be the first time we went down there together," pointed out Watson.

"Well, yes, but it'll be different now that we're married."

"How so?"

"For one, we won't be sharing the space with your sister."

The couple traveled for just short of two hours before pulling over to stop for lunch. Despite her husband's claim that they could shave off some time traveling in full daylight if they ate on the move, the Lady Mary insisted upon them having their picnic in a traditional sit-down fashion. They found a quaint little meadow alongside the road, where they covered the ground with a blanket and began unpacking their things.

"These look wonderful," Watson commented, taking a sandwich out from a wooden basket they'd brought along.

Mary beamed. "Thank you. I made them this morning."

They'd only just begun the mean, however, when a young boy came riding down along the path on horseback. Upon seeing them he pulled back the reigns, stopping his horse just behind their carriage. "Oi, can I interest you folks in a copy of this morning's paper?"

Watson tilted his head to the side. "Innit a tad late for the paper?"

"Rough start on the day," the boy answered. "What'll it be, then? Only costs a penny."

"Oh, no, I think we're quite all—"

"Sure, we'll take one," Mary answered for him. Watson shot her a look. "What? It's for a good cause. 'Sides, it's important to know what's going on in neighboring towns. Could be relevant."

"Relevant to what, exactly?"

The Lady Mary ignored him and came up to the boy with her coin purse out. He dismounted his horse and took the penny before reaching into his satchel and handing Mary a copy of the newspaper. She thanked him and the boy continued on his way.

Watson shook his head. "Never could say no to a kid asking for money, couldn't you?"

"Hey… John?"

"Mm?"

"Come have a look at this."

Watson hesitated for a moment before getting up and joining his wife. "Jim Moriarty, arrested for armed robbery and multiple accounts of murder, released early from lifelong sentence," Mary read aloud. "Moriarty - wasn't the the fellow Sherlock got locked up not long before we met?"

-x-

"Now hold up," Sherlock interrupted. "Moriarty? Seriously? What's he doing in this story?"

"Well. Every good Western needs a classic villain character," John argued.

"And you couldn't have just… made someone up? It just had to be someone we've had a history with in real life?"

"Someone's touchy," whispered Mary, looking away from the others.

"It was convenient, alright? I'm not good with making up characters."

The consulting detective folded his arms and slouched back in his seat unhappily. "That's all very well, although I do vaguely recall that I was the one being asked to come up with a children's story."

"It's become more of a team effort, really," John shrugged. He'd relocated to the arm of Mary's chair since they'd begun. "That being said, are we good? I promise I'll hand it back over to you in just a moment."

Sherlock made somewhat of a grunting noise, which John took as his cue to clear his throat and continue.

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