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I think the Cat is on Fire!

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I Think the Cat is On Fire

Author: Howlynn Realm: Sherlock Story Title: The life of a consulting mouser

Summary: When Sherlock died, John moved on, married, and adopts a stray cat that reminds him a great deal of someone. What happens when Sherlock returns and discovers that his namesake is a hideous fur bag.

Character/Relationships: John/Mary Sherlock H, Sherlock the cat

I Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This is a prompt from thequeergiraffe who wrote a story called The Night Descending. You might consider reading that story first but not critical to follow this one. or  Buts/8268913/1/The_Night_Descending

This is a pure fluff and silly return fic. There will be no punching, suicide or point to this story other than it was entertaining to imagine Sherlock's reaction to how John memorialized him. This is my one story that I could face Mr. Cumberbatch and Mr. Freeman, knowing they had read it, and there is still a scene in which Sherlock is starkers! Please review – the new box is easy to use so give it a shot.

I Think The Cat is On fire - The life of a Consulting Mouser

Sherlock, the cat, did not seem grateful that John had saved his life. In fact, he seemed to feel it was his right to be in John's lap, warm and cozy, petted and tempted into eating delicacies only from John's plate. His wounds healed and he should have long ago left his convalescent abode for the wild world of the London nightlife.

There were feline criminals to be chased, and exciting territorial battles to wage and girly cats heart's to win, but he instead, preferred rubbing his head on this pleasantly 'himself' scented human. The human stroked his fur making it crackle and the cat showed his pleasure by composing purrful sonatas and vibrato elegy to his only friend.

Sherlock may as well have been a regal lord of his domain. He had almost at once taken on the mannerisms of a show cat that must be pampered and served. His John, seemed to offer a whole lifetime of affection and he accepted his worship with the utmost dignity. Sherlock put up with the other being who served as a minor annoyance to his kitty eccentricities. He would have been perfectly happy to have driven her away, but so long as he kept her clumsy feet off his tail and didn't use too much force when she knocked him off the counter, and disappeared for large parts of the day, he was content to allow her to stay.

He had John. John belonged to him. If John wanted to waste his time attempting to train her how to behave around a consulting mouser, then it was not worth arguing about. She feared him, and cringed away when he would burst into her space. He would look her in the eyes and swish his tail to show that he could chase her away if he wanted to. But for now, because she humbled herself with appropriate yield, he saw no reason to show his sharp teeth. The thing about underlings and lesser beings is that it is necessary only to use the amount of discipline required for consent.

He felt better as the days went by and he was attended to quite satisfactorily. He beckoned John away from the noisy warm-to-sleep-on-top-of box and commanded him to entertain him with strings and catnip mice. When humans made their jittery inconceivable sounds, Sherlock ignored them all. He always had ignored humans; they were useless for the most part. John was different.

John soothed him and part of him was aware that he would have stopped being him and become an easy meal for some slobbering dog if this one human had not scooped him up in his arms and welcomed him into his heart. For John, he would stay. John needed him. John is something of a lost thing. Sherlock had no idea where he'd lost his cat, but if ever there was a human suited for duty to a cat, it was John.

There was a certain sound that John made. It took a while for him to realize this special sound with a different hollow tone was John's cry for help. Sometimes he needed his ice-cream bowl licked, or to share his dinner with his friend. "Sherlock?" When John made that sound, he always went to him without question. Sometimes he lay in his lap for hours as his fur was stroked and he knew that he was meant to be there as his friend stared at nothing and his eyes ran as if he had sickness.

On these days, when the house was silent except for the shuddering loud breaths of the man, and the cat's soft music he played in his throat to sooth John, he wondered how his eyes could make so much liquid. Curious what it meant, Sherlock had stood up on back legs and gently tasted the liquid. It was salty and it deliciously told Sherlock of all kinds of things he understood.

Sherlock tasted his friends sorrow. There was something sad and broken. Sherlock had known bad things too. He had lost his mother while young and been taken among other young humans. They had chased him and played and sat on him a few times, but he was just grown when they left him. He escaped the empty place that no longer held any of his humans. He had spent a long time searching for them. He was hungry and afraid. There were other cats in the world that had no humans to serve them. Not all of them were nice. But he was a clever cat and he survived.

He eventually forgot those humans and he won females and he grew lean and knew that he would live until he became food. He liked his solitary life and fought great battles and reveled in the cold of winter that his fur was thick and his eyes keen. He'd made a mistake by taking on the captain of the next street, but oh the fish guts were tempting and the bins were full of wonders.

He'd never wanted territory so badly. He lost. The other warlord took his land. He escaped and hid from his many followers. That was how he'd come to rely on this human. He ate the crunchy offerings, though they turned his stomach a bit and augmented the feeble diet with the odd bird and mouse. But the warlord, fat on his rich diet and much larger, older and sly had found him. He fought hard but the wounds were too great to ignore. He crawled back to the place of the man who seemed to like him and he laid waiting for the stiffness to take him away from the pain.

The man had appeared. He made the pain lessen and fed him new wonders from his fingers. He was warm and growing strong again and he never wanted to leave this place.

So, he set about making himself useful. There were always sneaky little mice running amuck, leaving their pee-trails and singing their earsplitting tunes to the drums of their little delicious hearts. John's human noticed the little line of tails he left her in the kitchen and she had drug John in to see how clever he was. Sometimes he left the whole mouse for them to enjoy. After all, it was only fair to trade food sources in equal share.

So when John cried for his help, he always came. John became his and somehow he became John's. Life was as close to perfect as could exist. He never ate the crunchy bits now, he dined with John. Some of the flavors were very odd, but he knew his John did the best he could to please him. The other never shared her food and on occasion she tried to fool him by copying the sound John made when he needed assistance, but he ignored her. She was not worthy of his help, except of course with the mice.

He began exploring his new world, standing by the door and plainly saying he was bored, John and the other were soon trained to open it and let him find entertainment befitting a disgraced war-cat. He made the occasional foray into his old neighborhood, met with the new war lord, who had in fact defeated his own nemesis. He was offered the position of second cat, but he needed to get back to John.

cat 1 photo catonfirech1_zps0381071c.jpg

Chapter Text

I Think The Cat is On fire - We Both Know What is Going On Here

He settled into his new life, keeping up with the doings on the street and occasionally lending his hand to the scourging of undesirables who dared to challenge his replacement.

There was a tension in the air at home as summer grew long of tooth and the trees began to shed. His coat had returned to a more healthy sheen and he swished his tail with swagger and eyed his world with pride. He waited longer than usual for the door to be opened and John didn't pick him up in his usual greeting. Sherlock hopped up on the counter and pranced about until he found a bowl of something delicious. Not wanting to bother anyone, he helped himself.

The back of his neck was suddenly supporting his weight as he relaxed into the nerves being squeezed like when he was so young. There were loud noises as 'the other' opened the door and flung him outside. He caught himself gracefully, and then turned to see the door slam. This would not do. He went around back and let himself in the window. He was just relaxing on the couch when another storm of human noises erupted. John scooped him up and stroked him. Sherlock glared at her with satisfaction. John didn't fling him out the door, but it did hurt him that he set him on the step when it was plainly obvious that this was not the location he desired at this moment in time.

It was harder to get in from the second story terrace, but he managed. He was again dosing comfortably on the couch when he was disturbed, accosted, and flung out the door. Well, he could only take so much. He stalked off toward the old neighborhood. Let them see how fast the mice returned without his constant vigilance on their behalf.

It had been seven months, two days, three hours, and six minutes, since Sherlock had come into their lives. John adored the cat and Mary thought he was hideous. He sported a terrible scar that still grew no hair from his left ear down across his eye and ending at his mouth. John knew he was lucky he hadn't lost the eye. His throat had been gashed open terribly and there were a few patches of hair now beginning to grow in, but he wasn't sure these scars would ever be hidden. He was all black with bits of brindle here and there. He had untidy fur and a terrible attitude. He made messes, knocked over cups of tea by sticking his nose in them, chased bugs about the room leaving destruction in his wake and yet John was pretty sure that he could not exist without Sherlock.

Mary has to take medication for allergies because his hair gets on everything no matter how often John brushes him. He's a smart little cat, took right to his litterbox, and once he was allowed outside again, he rarely used that unless the weather was especially terrible.

He and John had passed the winter's end together. The little fellow made him cheerful. Mary noticed it right away and it swayed her heartily towards letting him stay. John had been dreading the day he would have to give him up. It helped that he was some kind of genius mouser. Rarely did a day pass that he didn't leave evidence of his kills. At first Mary was thrilled, she hated mice, and she'd drug him into the kitchen to see the five trophies lined up on the floor. Of course it was John's job to dispose of the tails.

The charm of Sherlock's frequent offerings had worn out a bit, but she did like getting into the cupboard and finding it mouse-dropping free. She absolutely didn't approve of John sneaking the cat food off his plate, but John turned his best pleading expression to her and she relented with a roll of her eyes. Even she could see how good for John a new Sherlock appeared to be. This ugly little cat seemed to fill up a hole in him that she could not, so Sherlock stayed.

John hid his grief better now. While Mary is off at work, he plays with Sherlock. John talks to him just like he was the real one, and even read the paper to him if there is an especially interesting case. Life is going on without the real Sherlock, who faded a bit each day. This fading memory sometimes troubled him to the point it would all swoop back on him and he would sit down and there was no stopping the tears. Sherlock would take his place in his lap and John would stroke the cat and let the memories of the man, eat him alive.

It is on one of these days that John has the profound idea that the cat just might be the real Sherlock. They were so alike it was uncanny. He is in the middle of one of his black weeping tirades about how he never got to tell Sherlock he loved him and never thought he was a machine, when the cat did the most amazing thing. He very gently began to lick his face, as if wiping away his tears, as if trying to comfort him. He let the licking go on for a few minutes until it actually began to hurt then he pulled the little cat close to him and buried his face in his fur. When he let him go, Sherlock just looked up at him with eyes of greyish-green and seemed to say, "We both know what is going on here, John."

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John began to test his theory. He found he could be anywhere in the house and call out to him, and he would come running. "Sherlock?" he would call into the evening breeze and the cat would come around the corner at full tilt and rush to the couch, meowing as if telling John that he's here, get to the point quickly. John showed this wonder to his friends and all expressed that they thought the cat was very charming.

Sherlock could open doors too. If someone was in the bathroom, Sherlock made it his mission to work at the handle until the vanity lock gave up and let the door snick open. Mary found this less charming, as it was usually her just getting in or out of the bath and being mortified if there were guests. Detective Inspector Lestrade had been treated to the vision, no less than six times in six months. John suspected he came round so much now simply in hope that the cat would share his brilliant trick at another opportune moment.

It was Lestrade who first voiced a comparison of cat Sherlock and the late Sherlock, outloud that is. When Mycroft came over later, the cat arched his back and hissed at the poor man. John and Lestrade had nearly wet themselves trying to compare that reaction with what the real Sherlock might have done.

Mycroft wore a look of patient annoyance. He didn't have time for this sort of jocularity, but he was so relieved to see John succumb to unguarded mirth that he politely sipped the tea Mary made him and didn't contribute derisive comments to damper the indecorous display.

Somewhere in his mind, John began to believe, or perhaps just have some sort of deep faith that if anyone could send him a message from the beyond, it would be Sherlock. This small creature gave him comfort and whatever it meant or didn't mean was not important. For so long he had hoped that Sherlock had somehow, somehow lived. He prayed every night for his return, and it was his first thought of the day for so long.

If this was just his own mind, wanting to see a resemblance, so what. He truly had passed a milestone thanks to this little inquisitive being. If this was some reincarnation or message from his friend, then he had to accept that he was dead. So, foolish as the hope was, and as insane as it sounded even to him, John poured his heart into the little cat and the cat seemed to bring him back from a place of near death. It made him free to really love Mary the way he wanted to. Each step was a battle, but John knew that one day, he would be ok. He would never forget real Sherlock, but so long as he could have this little furry version, he could have a secret place within himself that hoped maybe one day he'd see his friend again. He smiled as he imagined the conversation.

"You have questions?"

"What is it you do here?"

"I'm a consulting angel. The only one in the Eons. I invented the job."

"I thought God didn't hire amateurs."

"He doesn't. I did send you the cat."

"Are you saying you made the cat?"


"So where are we going? Never saw a golden cab before."

"Have to get you fitted for your wings. Well you could take the tube if you prefer, but it arrives in a different location. You look surprised?"

"Well, I did kill the cabby. And a few others."

"Ah, well. Got you a special deal. The wingfitter's husband was sentenced to the 8th ring."

"You saved him out of Hell?"

"Oh no, I insured his accommodations would be eternal."

John found these little silly mind conversations both ridiculous and consoling. Sherlock, like his predecessor, saved John.

He did understand when Mary caught the cat eating the chicken salad she'd prepared for her dinner party that Sherlock had done a bad thing. But from Sherlock's perspective, if she hadn't wanted him to eat the salad, she should have wrapped it up and tucked it in the fridge. John made the unforgivable error of pointing out this obvious fact to her. Mary did not see it that way and informed John that the 'damned cat' had worn out his welcome with her.

He rushed off to replace her dinner party items, setting them carefully on the counter, hoping it made up for Sherlock's little mistake a bit. He then got a dish, scooped out a huge helping of the cat slobber contaminated first batch and began eating it. Mary stood there looking at him with disgust.

"My God, John. What are you doing? He licked that. You are a doctor. Do you have an idea what you could be eating?"

"It's just Sherlock. He's perfectly clean. No use letting it go to waste. Delicious by the way. I'm not suggesting you feed it to guests, but I'm chuffed to bits that I have a whole bowl to myself."

Mary rolled her eyes and then glared into the sitting room. "Did you let that thing back in here?"

"What? No?" He followed her glare and pointed finger. Sherlock is curled up, eyes narrowed in a familiar triumphant smirk, on a decorative pillow he'd been repeatedly chastised away from. John sighs, drops his fork and says quietly, "I'll take care of it. Make your salad."

He scoops Sherlock up and whispers kindly, "You are in trouble. Best lay low for a bit until she gets over the fact you were very rude to her. If I didn't know better I would say you are trying to drive her away. Got me in trouble, to boot. Kind of like old times I suppose. Now, off with you." John closes the door and sighs. He grins, thinking how much Sherlock would have liked the cat.

Mary is still angry. John sits and finishes his food. He rinses his bowl and is just leaving the kitchen when Mary addresses him again. "That cat is a nuisance."

"I know. He means well, but he …" John stops, realizing he was about to say that he didn't have the ability to understand emotions like a normal person. "…is just a cat."

"It's fine." She sighs. "Just keep him away from my party. I haven't done this for so long and I just want it to be…nice."

"Do my best. Going to pop in the shower."

He didn't hear the first guests arrive, and he didn't hear Mary as she banished poor Sherlock with rather a lot of force straight out the front door for the third time. The party was dull and John smiled and was the perfect host. He and Mary arm in arm, waved goodbye to the last guest. John looked about for Sherlock. He called and called, but the cat refused to acknowledge him.

Mary insists he come inside. "He's just in a snit. Let him stay out."

Chapter Text

Things that go bump in the night

John was not pleased, but he didn't want to argue. He quietly opened the terrace door, knowing Sherlock would let himself in. The next morning, John was worried. By that evening, Mary was a little worried too. She didn't really care about the cat, but John's despair and seeming desperation unnerved her.

She tried to comfort him the next day and he actually shouted at her. "Don't you See? I can't lose him again!"

"Lose who? It's just a stray cat, John. He was never ours. Not really, he's probably just run off or gone back where he came from?" She is confused. John never shouted and he was acting like the cat was a person missing.

"Anything could have happened to him. And it's your fault he was out there in the first place," John said putting on his coat and lacing up his shoes.

"Where are you going?"

"I am going to look for him. Obviously," he said in such a tone that it shocked her.

"John? Cats roam. You can't find him," she says softly, realizing that he was a little round the twist about the cat.

"Really? Watch me." John says as he slams the door.

John stomped around the neighborhood for four days, looking more frantic and unhinged each day. He knew he looked like a mad man wandering about shouting for his long-dead best friend, and the first day he would explain that he was seeking a cat named Sherlock, not a ghost. The second day, he barked it at those who made a show of staring. The last two days, he didn't say a damned thing to any of them. Let them talk. They do little else.

He is certain that Sherlock has met with disaster. He couldn't go home. He couldn't face Mary and her apologetic steady eyes. He couldn't stand the flat without Sherlock. He is exhausted, and he felt more alone than ever. He's more than tired, he just can't even get up off the bench.

Sherlock is gone again. He is gone and John would never see him again. There is nobody about, it is nearly three in the morning. Even the drunks have given up. It began to rain and John just sat there on the bench staring straight ahead.

John played the conversation from the roof again in his mind. 'Goodbye, John,' whoosh-beat-beat, the sound of his own heart functioning, 'whoosh-beat-beat. The rain grew heavy and he could feel his skin turning to ice, but he doesn't care that his clothes have wrinkled to him like a wet plaster cast. What would they do if I just decided not to ever get up again? He will just sit here, waiting for him, until he comes back.

He cried for a bit, unsure for which Sherlock. Mycroft's car drove slowly by three times. John didn't move a muscle. He got his game face on and didn't take a step toward the black Jaguar. It is four a.m. and he is shivering, but he still sat.

He hears a cat-fight across the street and down the mews. "Sherlock?" He shouts and is on his feet sprinting across the road and down the narrow brick corridor. He locates the feline row and sighs with disgust. There are cats all over this mews. "Sherlock, where are you?" He waits, but no cats claim him.

"Sherlock?" he bellows into the night.

He spun around and bumped straight into a person. He had not even been aware someone was following him. He knows he's probably in danger. Anyone out in this weather, at this time of night, is probably up to no good. John is cold, tired and lost and he really hopes this trashy little mews isn't where his wife has to come identify him.

"Looking for me, by any chance?" The familiar voice boomed and John took a step back.

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Chapter Text

Look what followed me home.

"Looking for me, by any chance?" a familiar voice booms.

John looked up startled. "Oh, God." He didn't ask questions or feel anger just yet. He reached out and looked up into a face sporting a scar from his left ear, down his cheek, across his eye and ending at the corner of his lip, but there was no mistaking who this was. "Sherlock?"

"Obviously. What are you doing? Mycroft is scared to death that you have…become unwell?"

"How are you here? Oh," John says face looking at his friend in wonder. "You have been here all along haven't you?"

"Relatively, yes. You have been doing so well. Is it Mary?"

"You know about Mary? Of course you do. Well, here you are. Shall we go home?" John smiled up at him as if friends come back from the dead every day.

"I have no intent of walking in this. You're half-way to Baker Street, for God's sake. We'll take the car." He stepped to the curb and raised his arm. Seconds later the Jaguar pulled up. Sherlock opened the door and John stepped in without blinking.

"That was you watching? Thought it was Mycroft."

"Look, John, I probably need to explain…"

"No. You don't. Not just yet. I am glad you're here. Just so glad. That's all I want to know right this second. I don't care. I will. I know I will, but right this minute. Oh dear God, Sherlock. Thank you for coming back."

Sherlock couldn't help but smile a little. He had no idea what John had been up to, wandering through London on a cold rainy night calling to him like a loony drunk, but he seemed fine now, so he'd play it by ear. "I have been terribly distressed about how to accomplish this…return. I was afraid you would be very angry with me."

"What? No. Hell no. Wait, I'm not crazy, right? You're really here."

"No and yes. I have missed you."

John got out of the car and bounced up the steps, a huge grin on his face. He opened the door and shouted for Mary.

She peeked around the corner and relief flooded her face. "You must have found him!"

"Sort of. In a manner of speaking. Mary, I would like to introduce you to Sherlock Holmes, my friend. I found him."

Mary looked at the man with an appalling lack of courtesy. "You can't be. That's absolutely impossible."

"Delighted to meet you, Mary. I assure you, it is possible." Sherlock said with his best formal manners and a slight bow. Mycroft would have even been proud.

"John?" she questioned fearfully shaking her head.

"I promise. I would know him anywhere. Anywhere."

Mary felt a flare of anger, "Have you any idea what you did to him?"

Sherlock brushes past her tossing his gloves and coat over the back of the first chair he comes too. "Yes."he says narrowing his eyes at her, taking her in.

"Mary?" John warns.

Sherlock stands in the middle of the room regally. He sweeps the room with his eyes and his lips purse in obvious disapproval as John and Mary have a moment of facial calisthenics. "Tea would be delightful, thank you. John is chilled to the bone," he says as if she had asked.

Chapter Text

House Training

Mary discovers she likes real Sherlock about as much as she liked the cat. In fact, she misses the cat. John has not mentioned his absence since the dead Sherlock showed up. She watches the two of them, heads bent together, such easy banter and she's never seen John smile so often. He looks ridiculous with that worshipful-buffoon look on his face and his body posture so attentive. She is trying to be as understanding as possible. But the man doesn't live up to John's description of him. He's rude, the worst kind of aristocratic snob, belittling to everyone, and keeps looking at her like she's an intruder.

There is also the matter of that scar. It gives her the creeps. He's lucky whatever produced it didn't cause him to lose an eye. He resembles the other Sherlock to such a degree that it is honestly heart-stopping when she thinks about it. She has decided she's just as allergic to this Sherlock as she was to the other one. After six days of gritting her teeth, she begins to assert her place. She is John's wife and frankly if his friend plops his feet on her furniture again, she's going to treat him with the same ruthless discipline she reserved for the four-legged Sherlock.

She demands he not sit on the back of her furniture, and he keep his skinny arse off her counters and that he learn to like coasters. She refuses to eat one more night of take-away and watches in fury as he picks through his food, as if she's poisoned it.

She can't help the noticeable bristling posture of disapproval she displays as Sherlock randomly helps himself from John's plate without so much as a 'do you mind?' John never bats an eye; in fact, he turns his plate to make it easier for Sherlock to reach whatever particular bits it is Sherlock craves. Her mouth drops in horror as John's fork darts to Sherlock's plate in a precisely choreographed return ritual of gastronomic intimacy. A shiver of jealousy slithers down her spine. John has never, ever eaten off her plate and she would never presume to be welcome to steal from his without verbal invitation to sample something he wishes her to taste.

She carefully places her fork on her plate, dabs her mouth with her napkin and fixes the two of them with an amused aloof glare that would have made Mycroft proud. "You were served exactly the same food. What in the name of a mad box of frogs are the two of you doing?"

They look up from their conversation, both confused and stunned by her outburst. "What are you going on about, then?" John asks casually, peeking at Sherlock to see if he can offer a quick deduction as to what has caused her eruption. Sherlock shrugs and gives a minute headshake as if John's wife going barmy is strictly outside his area of expertise.

"You are eating off each other's plate, like it is your little men's club secret handshake. It is…odd," she says looking back and forth between them.

They look at each other is if she has committed some social indiscretion by pointing this out. John clears his throat. "Well, we just have always done it that way. And…"

"John and I share everything. It is quite alright, Mary, nothing for you to be upset about. It is just a little game we play."

"Well, do stop it. I find it distracting and, well, just strange."

Sherlock curls his lips into one of his cruel expressions of superior bearing and his eyes, narrow. "Well, I don't care how you find it, if you knew him, you would know he detests asparagus but it happens to be one of my favorites. He prefers mushrooms and I always allow him to have mine. He knows I detest potatoes, so he was attempting to remove them from my plate to spare your feelings and save me from insulting you, because I tend to be more overt with my preferences –"

"Didn't want him setting up experimental ballistic potato devices this early into the relationship," They both snicker guiltily as if she is left out of some very amusing anecdote.

Sherlock looks at her as if explaining something to an emotionally unstable person. "He wants me to make a good impression, so you will be fond of me. I have been attempting to abide by his extensive list of rules most carefully in order not to offend you."

"Where are we at with that?" John asks thinking hard.

"Three-hundred and seven, you added the one about the lavatory tissue remaining in its designated location at all times," Sherlock volunteers at once.

John's eyes go wide and he makes a gesture for Sherlock to refrain from going into more detail, "Oh, Yes. Quite, right. But this, thing is fine. It is only he and I and he knows not to eat off anyone else's plate, I promise you, so, we should really …"

"Save the rules for important things." Sherlock finishes.

"Yes. That. Good. Perfectly sound, way to put it." John adds as if the discussion is finished.

Mary looks at them and her eyes drop to Sherlock's plate and she impulsively reaches over and stabs a carrot and a bit of meat off his plate and pops it in her mouth.

Sherlock leans back in horror and looks at John as if she just sneezed on him. He gathers his silverware and crosses it properly. He delicately wipes his mouth and folds his napkin, placing it to the side and with a bland look on his face says, "Please excuse me, if you don't mind. A most enjoyable repast. John, I am going out to indulge in a bit of tobacco to aid my digestion. Join me?"

"I'll be there in a moment, Sherlock. You go ahead," John says with mild polite casualness.

Chapter Text

Introducing new pets in the household

Mary eyes Sherlock with cool dislike. Once the door closes, John leans forward and angrily whispers, "Why. Did. You. Have to do that? He is grossly underweight and you insist on denying him things he will actually eat and then interfere with me attempting to encourage him to eat. He has very few gestures of affection and that…that there, I missed more than anything." John stands and sighs. "It was going so well, and now he will be self-conscious."

"Oh, it's fine for you guys, but I contaminated his plate? And you are mad at me?"

"You didn't contaminate his plate. You made fun of him. He's trying so hard. Is it just the name Sherlock, you don't like? Neither one of them can do anything that pleases you?" He sets his napkin down and says, "God, Mary, I didn't think I would have to make you a list of rules too."

She crosses her arms and says sarcastically, "Rule number one, all Sherlocks may eat off John's plate. And you think I need a list of rules? You really don't see how he looks at me and speaks to me. When you told me all those stories about the two of you being mistaken for a couple, they were hilarious. I am not laughing so much now."

"Oh Good Lord. Really?" John shifts his weight and is shaking his head in amused disbelief. "You are making a funny joke right now, aren't you? Because, I would very much hate to think you weren't. You know me, right? We have met and the last time I looked, I was married to someone who…yes, I do remember…looked uncannily similar…to You!"

John grabs his coat and steps outside, before he loses his temper.

Mary has had it, and when she finally closes the door and sequesters her husband in the bedroom, she lets him have it in the cool calm way she has always dealt with John. John assures her that she is indeed his wife and he adores her. He holds her and speaks to her of what he's learned. He explains how Sherlock saved his life and that of Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson. She is horrified when he tells her that until two weeks ago, Mycroft thought that even she was in grave danger. It took many coordinated efforts to keep them safe and she feels a little guilt at how much she doesn't like this man who basically handed her a living husband to cherish. If he were really as selfish and horrible as she imagined, he would have just let John die and she would have never known the difference. Sherlock is planning to return to Baker Street as soon as Mycroft can make the necessary arrangements. Mary is mollified for the moment.

Then she stiffens and looks up at her husband, and whispers, "And what are your plans? Will you go with him?"

"Only if you don't want me here?" he replies in mock fear.

"Please don't tease me. I see how you feel about him."

"Good. That's good. Only, if you did, really. You wouldn't have needed to ask that stupid question. Because you would also see exactly how I feel about this frightfully jealous woman I have in my arms right now. She isn't nearly as smart as the woman I married, but I have faith that she will return any time now and realize that I am about as happy as I have ever been in my entire life."

"But he made you that happy. Not me. You have doled out your smiles to me like painkillers to a frequent flier. I didn't ever rate as high as he does. I mean he saved your life, gave up his whole life running around to bring them to justice? How do I compete with that John?"

John sighs and looks at her shaking his head. "Don't be an idiot. I'm not gay in the first place and as far as my pathetic excuse for a life? Mary, where do you honestly think I would be if I hadn't met you?"

She looks at him and shakes her head, "Living in that little dump on Baker Street? With the skulls and the funny smells and a lot fewer complications than I bring into the party?"

His jaw works in anger and he stares up to the ceiling for a long time before replying. "Doubtful. I am pretty sure I would be somewhere a bit darker and more final. I am sorry you feel like you haven't become the most important person in my life. Even he sees that. He likes you actually. Believe me, if he didn't you would not be able to push him like you do. You have no idea what he can be like when he isn't trying so hard. You do not want to find out. I'm sorry you can't see past his façade and realize how fragile he is. You have no concept of how hard this all was on him. Of the things he's had to do? Of the price he's paid, just to come back…to me. I owe you both everything. But I can't choose between you. I can't do it. Losing either of you would…absolutely destroy me. Please, I just got him back. It is only for a while. Just let me enjoy it a little? I want him to like you, so much."

Mary is quiet at first. She thinks it all through and hopes she isn't being just played by John's little sociopath. "Ok then. I will try to make sure that never happens. I will try to see him like you do."

John lets out a huge breath and a tear escapes the corner of his eye. He swallows several times and finally chokes out, "Thank you."

"I'm sorry about your cat too. But have you by any chance noticed, well, how well you named him? Did Sherlock always have that scar?"

"No. It's new. Uncanny, I have to say. And that he disappears, and just a week later…"

"Yes. Wait, what are you trying to say?" she says with a hedging glance away from him.

"I am only saying it was a very unusual coincidence. Both the facial laceration and the neck wound."

"Is that why he wears that bloody scarf all the time? He has a scar on his neck too? Like the cat?"

"His throat was slit somewhere in Slovakia. It was a good thing they have such advanced care. If they had caught him in Nicaragua three days earlier, I would have never known. My best friend would have been nothing more than an anonymous corpse left to rot in a jungle."

"When did it happen?"

John turns his head to her. He bites his lips as if he doesn't want to say it. "About seven months ago."

"I know what you're thinking, John. And it's crazy?"

"I know. The thing is I have known, just how crazy, ever since I began to wonder. But I still do wonder. Going to section me? Have every right to, I suppose."

"Would it do any good?" she says giggling a bit and poking him in the ribs.

"Realistically? He would have me broken out before you got back to the flat. Or Mycroft would step in. I'd hate to owe him."

"Yes, that would be most disagreeable. Honestly John, at least Mycroft is pleasant. Should have known, you'd have to be best friends with the difficult one."

"By that way of thinking, I assume I should call your sister and tell her she's the good witch, and see about a life insurance policy for you? Hope it doesn't have any falling house exclusions." he grins with mischief.

"Shut up, little man behind the curtain. Maybe if we are quiet, we won't attract the attention of the great OZ?" she says making eyes toward the sitting room, where Sherlock could be heard prowling.

"If I go back to work for him, will you let him run you off?"

"No. You may have to adjust my allergy meds. I'm thinking Tramadol might show promise."

"Done." He teases, having no actual intention of prescribing that to his wife. He kisses her soundly and they are careful to remain soundless for the remaining activities.

Thank you  - yes, The Sherlocks are about to meet in the next chapter and battle lines will take on new fun - Let us all sigh and feel sorry for John in a whole new way.  Please leave comments or Kudos if your having as much fun as I am!

Chapter Text

The Language of Cats in Combat Boots

The next afternoon would always remain in John's memory as D-day. Nothing major happened that had not been building, but that's the day when all the polite newness wore off both guest and host just as a new kink in the dynamics made an unexpected appearance.

It began with Sherlock acting stroppy and refusing any sort of breakfast. Mary brought him tea and he folded his hands and closed his eyes as if she were bothering him.

"Look, I know we have gotten off on the wrong foot here. I want to apologize for –"

"Don't bother."

"Pardon me?"

"Don't bother, now go away. I need to think."

John was in the middle of whispering excuses for his friend when he though he heard a familiar cry. He threw open the front door and shouted in great exuberance. "Sherlock! Where have you been? Oh, Sherlock! I thought you were dead, you naughty boy!"

Sherlock pops off the couch like he's going to a crime scene. "John, what are you talking about? I have been here an entire week and—"his annoyed but fearful tirade is cut off and he stands there, arms crossed watching John, wallow about with a rather disgusting feline. He's speechless.

John, down on his knees in pure joy and laughing like a maniac notices the two Sherlocks glaring at each other. "Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective meet Sherlock Tobermory, Consulting Mouser."

"Ah, you named a cat after me and your favorite booze? Charming."

John cleared his throat, "Be nice, he's been lost for two weeks. Named after you and my favorite cat from a story, actually. A genius cat who could talk, by the way."

"Can this one talk?"

John held the cat protectively, "Practically, sometimes. To me."

"In other words, no. Not only no, but he's a stray. An ugly, half-starved stray and you named…oh. Obvious. I mean I would have thought a child, perhaps, certainly. To be expected under the circumstances, but no. A cat. A worthless tom-cat."

The worthless tomcat growls like he understands. John pets him and holds him possessively, looking from Sherlock to Mary.

Sherlock does a double take and stops. Tears stream down John Watson's face. "Oh for God's sake? Tears. I didn't get tears. Two weeks missing? And the cat gets tears. She gets you... and I get compared to the most gruesome stray ever known to – What! Why are you crying? I was dead and I didn't get a snivel."

"You got tears, you idiot. Rivers of them. How many did you spill for… Sorry. Look, everything I love is alive and in my house right now. Safe; it is just such a weight off of me. I haven't had that for a while. A few lifetimes I believe." John shakes his head and stands there, watching Sherlock and Sherlock, glaring at each other as if they could actually set each other on fire. "Perfect. Of course. This is… Bloody Perfect."

"You weren't even looking for me, were you? Sitting on that bench, in the middle of the night, shivering in the rain? I thought your mind had failed. I blamed myself. But, no. You were calling out like a barmy lunatic… for a cat!"

John set the cat down and headed to the kitchen without saying more. Mary and Sherlock seemed to be having a silent conversation. It resembled two five-year-olds being told to share a plate of biscuits. John flips the switch on the kettle and lines up three cups on the counter. He digs through the fridge searching for left overs that the cat might eat. He gets out a dish and scoops eggs and a banger from the breakfast nobody ate and warms it up in the microwave.

He sits down at the table with it and mashes it around with his fork to make sure it's all slightly warm, but not too hot. "Sherlock?"

The cat appears at once and hops up to balance on his knee. John lifts the fork and the cat begins eating without his normally picky sniff test and coaxing. "Hungry are you? Well, that is what you get for taking off. You frightened me. I have come to rely on you, you know? You can't just disappear and let me think you're dead? Friends don't do that to each other. Come home with injured ears and fleas, not thinking of those you left behind." John stops feeding the cat when he seems satisfied and pulls him close, closing his eyes and burying his face in the fur.

He sobs silently before noticing that the cat is squirming to get away and his little display has been observed by the other Sherlock. John quickly lets go of the cat and he hops to the floor. The consulting mouser flounces past Sherlock as if he doesn't exist.

John brushes his eyes with his hand and quickly stands and crosses to the sink, splashing water on his face and scrubbing his hands. "Damned fur." He mutters, brushing off his jumper with the same tea cloth he's used to dry his tears.

He barely glances at Sherlock as he takes his place at the kitchen table again. He sighs deeply, waiting for his resurrected friend to make fun of him for speaking to the cat and making such a foolish emotional display.

Sherlock quietly slides the opposite chair out and hesitantly takes the seat across the table. "The name wasn't meant to insult me. It was something else wasn't it?"

John picked at his sleeve and nodded.

"It was a sentimental response? Perhaps if you explained to me?" His voice is careful and measured as if he were speaking to Mary instead of John.

John met his eyes and then looked away again laughing at himself. "Sure. No problem. You may as well know… that I'm insane now? You did it to me and I am pretty sure you were capable of deducing its likelihood, so why not?" John leans forward and smiles as if telling a naughty joke. "I thought, You, were dead. I thought he was you. I thought you came back to me. There, now you know. That was my life without you. I went mad and Mary took me in and I named the cat to cover how often I talked to you, just like you were still bloody here. So she wouldn't catch on. There. Happy?"

Sherlock frowns, searching his mind palace for any reference to religion based belief in reincarnation relating to cats. "There are three possible faiths that encompass this sort of myth. I doubt you have any ties to ancient Egypt and I know you have never been to India so I assume you have been led to some form of new age witchcraft, though I see no evidence of recent religious conversion, it doesn't mean…"

"I have been to India, actually. It wasn't any kind of religious nonsense. Not that there are not debates about the insanity of religion, but it wasn't that. Call it psychosis, mental disorder, or functionally different personality neuropathy; fluff it with candy-floss and pass out lollys to stay with the politically correct league of label bandits. But, insanity, madness and crazy works just fine for me. Shell Shocked, they called it in my Dad's day. None of this namby-pamby Post Traumatic Stress Disorder nonsense. Shell shocked was a manly term and meant even the bravest hero could be changed by getting a bit too close to unspeakable horror. But it was too honest for some people I guess, because it needed a new name that protected people from understanding that even heroes can shatter into pieces. Even men who were willing to give everything, only had so much to give. I watched you die and I failed you and I had to live with that, so you will have to forgive me, that it was more than my mind, or my heart, could stand. "

"John, I am so very sorry to have injured your mind. Is there a collection of mental disorders in your family history? Mycroft was most vague on this matter, it seems. I can't fathom how you could ever imagine that you failed me. It was obvious you were no longer...quite sound. I had no idea you were suffering from delusions."

"He isn't a delusion. He's just a cat. I honestly thought you would like him. If I suffer from delusions, it is the false hope that anything could possibly be easy, around you."

"Then, I will try to meet your expectations. John, were you under the impression, that that creature and I shared some spiritual link?"

John sighs and smiles, "I was doing the best I could Sherlock. The world was a pretty dark place, when I thought you weren't…in it anymore. Tell myself a little lie… or maybe you would have preferred to visit me during art therapy and get your stop-John-from-eating-the-crayons certification."

"I would not have preferred that at all," Sherlock says, face carefully blank but eyes wide. After all this time John can still read Sherlock's infinitesimal facial movements and he sees that Sherlock is barely holding himself together because he is honestly afraid John has cracked.

John takes pity on his friend, and finally says with all sincerity, "He is so intelligent."

"Excuse me?"

"I named him after you because he is brilliant, like you."

Sherlock's eyes search John's face and he slowly turns his head as if he has deduced something he does not like. "You compare my intellectual prowess to that of a mammal of limited intelligence and think I will find that complimentary? I find the compliment bit, rather oblique."

John drops his eyes and is annoyed again. "Compared to other humans, you are far above average. Compared to cats, he is. He can unlock doors, he responds to his name far more consistently than you do, I saved his life, he drives Mary round the twist wallowing on her couch, he is the best man for the job of keeping the criminal mastermind rodents out of the cupboards, he assumes everyone on planet earth should worship him, he goes off like a stupid git and gets himself injured as if he is unaware anyone might care about him, he wears his great black coat with a swishy tail, nothing is safe from his nosy paws and most of all, I love him, even when he's an aloof bloody tosser…so yes, he reminded me of you a bit, in nice ways and truthful ones. Maybe I have lost my mind and it is sentimental and stupid, but my best friend just walked out of a grave I have visited more than my own mother's. So perhaps you don't understand why, but …well, just too bad for you." John stands up and leaves the kitchen.

Sherlock watches John plop down in his chair in the sitting room. His feet have just found their favored spot on the ottoman when the cat springs up to John's lap and peeks at Sherlock and squints his eyes at him. Sherlock may not speak cat but the gesture is universally obvious, especially when combined with that rakish tail making a swanky twitch.

"Show off," Sherlock grumbled, low and dangerous. They glared at each other for ten solid minutes as John stroked and spoke to the cat in the same tone he used to reserve for his best friend.

 The crime-solving detective watches John pet the cat and has never felt so betrayed in his entire life. John should know that Sherlock could never replace his blogger. Sherlock just never quite imagined that his blogeer could so easily replace him. Yes, insanity could be the only explanation.  He would have to keep John very close in order to fix him.  Sherlock immediatly texted Mycroft and explained what would be required. 

 Sherlock and Sherlock have just met their new arch-enemies and both of them are covertly gathering battle intelligence while pretending to embark on diplomatic relations.

Neither Sherlock considers himself to be hindered by tedious rules of warfare. All is fair in love and war and these two consider themselves experts on tactical logistics.

Well, there you are. Finally THE meeting of the Sherlocks. If you like it, please comment or slap some Kudo Juju on me.

Chapter Text

Advancing in Another Direction

We are not retreating - we are advancing in another direction. -Douglas MacArthur

All is well. Sherlock and Mary are being painfully, hideously, preposterously polite to each other. Other than that, they exchange no words.

All is fine. Mary does not mention the fact that Sherlock the cat may or may not have left a dead mouse in her favorite pair of shoes.

Everything is under control. Sherlock intelligently does not eat food offered by Sherlock.

Please keep your appendages within the cabin until the ride comes to a full stop. Sherlock does not leave his plate unattended anymore and he intelligently didn't accuse Mary of putting a dead mouse in his tea. He certianly did not put mouse droppings in any side-dishes nor did he sprinkle cat hair in Mary's cosmetics.   

Please remain calm. Sherlock the cat knows how to intimidate things. He appears in high locations, mysteriously looking down upon prey. He certianly didn't mark any expensive bespoke suits with his own brand of territorial perfume nor did he knock any toothbrushes into the toilet.

Weapons are prohibited in this area.  Mary served potatos at every meal, if she cooked at all. She purchased discount cat food.  The sweet girl John married transformed into words much less kind.  When all else failed, tears were her secret atom bomb. 

There is no need for panic.  If John pretends, maybe things will sort out. He pusheed his patient bedside humor to limits he didn't know he could.  He hoped for a miracle as foolishly as he had that Sherlock had survived.  It worked once.  Maybe he will wake up and his wife, his best friend and his pet will stop the torture of John Hamish Watson. Maybe he should ask Mycroft for advice?

It is just for a while.  The date for Sherlock's move to Baker Street keeps flexing in the wrong direction due to supposed necessary repairs.

Mary does not mention how she found the cat's little trick of opening the door to the bath much more charming when she and three friends were treated to the vision of Sherlock tranquilly toweling his hair and unaware he had just become the future subject of conversation for Mary's coffee klatch Friday. In years to come, the ladies in attendance and even Mary will begin exaggerating Sherlock's charms a bit, but on this day, she has no further questions about his parent's religious notions.

Margaret Whipplemere sets her cup down, leaning forward for the punch line of her gossipy story, "And do you know what that child told her mother? She…" Her eyes go curious and then wide. Her attention is riveted and suddenly her expression curls into an appreciative smile.

Katherine Cornfoot opened her eyes so wide they actually protrude forward slightly and she covers her mouth in pretend offence. She did not cover her eyes nor avert them.

Gwendolyn Hesscock follows the direction of the speaker's glance and may have given them away as her breath catches noisily. Her face flushes and she fans herself with her porcelain saucer.

Sherlock stands like the Statue of David with his head ensconced in a fluffy bath sheet and his right foot kicked to the side and braced on the side of the tub. He doesn't immediately become aware of his predicament and thoroughly is enjoying a vigorous scalp massage as naked as a piece of marble art. Mary turns and blinks, as the cat sits in the doorway, licking his paw as if taking a bow, then exits stage left, his tail curling into a casual umbrella handle as he struts away.

Sherlock, suddenly stops moving and tenses in curiosity. He drops his foot to the lino and freezes in place for five heartbeats. Slowly, he twists as he seeks a peek-hole through terry-cloth and curls. Sherlock looks at the ladies. The ladies look back without a trace of his annoyed horror.

"Oh, for God's sake," Sherlock exclaims, whipping the cloth from his chocolate-brown curls to a region speckled with ginger-brown curls. Then his eyes narrow as he takes in the scene and his lips curl into a cruel smile. "Afternoon, ladies. I'm the other Sherlock," he broadens his vowels into a theatrical public school purr and winks as he closes the door.

Sherlock-the-cat basks in the praise and giggling treats the ladies offer but makes a quick exit when he hears the door open again.

Sherlock emerges less than twenty minutes later, perfectly groomed and to some people in the room's obvious disappointment, perfectly appointed in exquisite lilac cotton Budd shirt and Huntsman bespoke suit in a PP1 midnight herringbone. It has sharp shoulders, a long-cut single button closure and the double-pockets on the right hand side are cut on the angle with elegantly stitched corners.

It had been pointed out to Mary that Sherlock may always wear a black suit, but if she pays attention, he isn't wearing one black suit repeatedly, but a multitude, each having some minuscule difference only noticeable to such an obsessive boffin prat. Since that time she has paid more attention to his garments that John reports costing an insane five thousand pounds per suit. She has counted twelve. Since he has been staying with them, he has been in a dressing gown or a suit, never dungarees or sporty polo shirts, and so far she has discerned twelve distinct garments, all in black.

From the reaction of her guests, Mary suddenly notes, he is indeed a genius. She has never felt much draw to his looks, she usually must like someone before she notices if they are markedly attractive or not, but she does admit, even with his scar, he is a striking man.

John had described him many times to her, long before Sherlock returned, blushing slightly as he spoke of his dead friend's great beauty. John said he was the most beautiful, otherworldly man he'd ever met. She thought he looked peculiar in the few pictures John had.  She never said this to John.  She had smiled and quietly said hopeful kind things because she didn't want to hurt John's feelings about his late flatmate. She had always considered it to be the memory of a lost heart in beatification of the dead. She was sure of it, once she met him. He is odd and intense and annoying, but no ode to perfection. She may be married, but she has eyes and John was right all along; in the buff he is marble come to life.

Her appreciation was not of a sexual nature; he simply didn't affect her that way at all. It was partially because she detested him and thought anyone with a single year of public school would have better manners and anyone who tortured her husband with such sorrow for whatever reason, wasn't very beautiful at all. But seeing his structure with its angles and lines, and how he used his clothing to accent that archaic sloped-shoulder contour rather than the modern power-broad shoulder, she suddenly realized, his beauty is hidden, but defiantly something mystical, after all.

Sherlock smiled, a friendly, pleasant smile, which Mary found more shocking and frankly terrifying than she did his normal disdain and cool, hate-filled expression.

Sherlock's baritone takes the tone of formality, humbled by great desire to make amends, "My deepest and most sincere apologies for, without doubt, spoiling your delicate appetites with my unseemly spectacle. I can assure you, the problem with the lock shall be remedied, at once, and only hope you hold, dear Mary, above reproach in all matters of responsibility. It was a misfortune I hope each of you have the fortitude and grace to overlook."

Mary cringes with expectation that Sherlock's apparent kindness will bear his usual devious motives, rather than accepting any possible chance that he is trying to provide any actual polite gesture to her guests. She is concerned even more when Sherlock's words are met with coos of enchantment and invitations to join them for coffee and biscuits. He glances at her, and ignores her obvious wish he refrain.

Sherlock feigns both mild relief and apparent gratitude at this supposed honor. Mary doesn't trust him as far as she would a snake in the cupboard. He spends the next two hours charming her friends into near worship. Having spent the last four Fridays regaling them with his many ill tempers, he has made her look foolish and petty, by acting in precise opposition of her description. She has never seen his face so animated when not in John's presence, and she grows angry as he brags of her patience with him and her remarkable culinary skills.

After they have left, he immediately looks smug and superior.

"What was all that about?" she demands.

He looks at her, eyebrows lowering and head swinging toward her. "What do you mean? I was the epitome of social gentility, was I not?"

"Oh you were perfect. It was all fake as a bloody tofu haggis, but you were great at it. My question is, why did you do it? You do nothing without a pay-off."

He looks her up and down in that way he likes to assess people before making them feel like idiots. She braces herself for his ire.

"This is why I do not waste my time with the rules." He tosses his paper on the floor and stands up. "The rules don't ever apply to me. You and your friends had a great laugh at my expense, and I apologized. Me! I did it for your husband. To please him. I won't again make such an error." Sherlock grabs his coat and slams the door as he leaves her standing there both filled with guilt and then berating herself for even wondering if she hurt his feelings.

It is possible he was being sincere and he did seem to exude more than a reasonable amount of fondness for her husband. She did feel guilty when she found herself fantasizing about the wonderful days when she and John had first met and they spent many afternoons visiting Sherlock Holmes, at the cemetery.

Chapter Text

Opposable Thumbs

John returned from the market and listened to the story. He didn't yell at her, but she could see how Sherlock somehow had put her in the position of bad person in John's eyes again. Mary seethes quietly as John paces and worries about his adult friend off on a pouting walk in broad daylight. She went to bed early, but hears him softly leave the flat, no doubt to go searching for Sherlock.

The two of them return, laughing and speaking in animated whispers before she drifts to sleep. She is awakened by crashing sounds.

John walks into the sitting room at two in the morning, because Mary insisted sleepily that if she had to separate the two Sherlocks at this hour, to make them stop wrecking their flat, that he better plan on calling Lestrade. There would be bodies.

John enters to find Sherlock, the human, standing with one foot on the arm of the sofa and the other on the now collapsed end table. He is holding their house-hold broom like a javelin and he has somehow sharpened the end of the wood handle into a vicious looking spike. Sherlock, the cat, scrambles up the back of John's leather chair and licks his paw innocently.

Sherlock held out his arm, displaying four slight claw marks on his flesh as if they were gunshot wounds. "He drew first blood, John. I am the innocent party," he says lowering the broom as if he'd only planned to use it to sweep up the remains of the side table.

John sees more claw marks on his chair. Mary would go on about that. The cat hisses at his namesake and Sherlock hisses back.

"He tried to suffocate me. He is evil, I tell you," Sherlock says.

"Right. Was that while you were sharpening the jousting spear?" John asks.

"He tried to run me off the couch."

"Well, it is his couch, and you might consider using the guest room. Where you could close the door, and if you are bored, there is furniture to glue back together."

Sherlock's eyes widened. "It is Yellow in there. I hate yellow. It gives me a headache."

"Not if the lights are out. It's night, and if you shutter your eyes by closing them, you will not catch a headache from the color. Not just us now, you know. My wife works. It is not too much to expect that she might be allowed one night's rest."

"I will still know it's a yellow room and…"

"But it has a door, which will keep the cat and you in separate locations. Which is my primary goal."

Sherlock just stood there leaning on his makeshift harpoon and looked betrayed and miserable. John sighed, and picked up the cat without another word and carried him to the yellow room, closed the door and yanked down the covers. He shuts out the light and crawls in the bed.

Both Sherlocks thought they won. The stupid one got the sofa and the annoying one spent the night purring in John's ear, in perfect acceptance of the new improved arrangements.

John's plate became the next battle ground. Both Sherlocks vied constantly to mark sharing food with John as their territory. Between that and Mary's constant disapproving glare, John didn't have much appetite.

One morning the smoke alarms sounded, John rushed to get up, stubbed his toe on a chair in panic, stood up only to suck in a lung full of reek that smelled significantly like burning hair. By the time he recovers and limps into the sitting room, he stops short when he finds Sherlock sitting in his pajamas and dressing gown reading the paper. He is not alarmed by the earsplitting shriek of the smoke detector, nor concerned with the billows of choking grey smoke floating thickly just above his head.

"What's burning?" John asked, shouting over the cacophony, opening the door and banging the smoke alarms down with the pointy broom-handle. He shuts the noisy contraptions off and narrows his eyes at his friend. "Sherlock! What is burning?"

Sherlock looks up from his paper and mildly replies, "Don't know. May be the cat."

"Sherlock! Did you..." John shouts in horror then his eyes go wide as his voice cracks and falls silent in shock.

At hearing his name, the feline stalked into the room and cried to John. 'I have been disfigured' and collapsed in misery. His head and paws look fine as does his tail. The rest of him appeared to have been shaved.

John lifts him into his arms surveying the damage. "You shaved my cat? Why? Why would you do such a thing? This is completely unacceptable, do you hear me? I can't believe you would do this to an innocent little cat. My cat. Who I love and who is now naked."

"Well I couldn't experiment with it on him, could I? I didn't want to upset you as it seems you set such cop in his opinion. I knew you would find something to be cross about. You like him better than me."

"At this exact moment in time, that would not be inaccurate. If he shaves you, then I will be angry with him."

"No opposable thumbs. Can't hold a razor," Sherlock says smugly.

"Ah, but he can open a door. His fur will be back long before you live that down," John reminds him.

John continues to sleep in the guest room and have his ear purred in rather than chewed off by Mary. Mary is on his not-happy-with list these days, especially after she had laughed. She yelled at John for the burnt cat-hair smell in the flat and turned around and laughed at his poor cat.

The flat on Baker is nearly finished with Mycroft's refurbishment. It will soon be ready for Sherlock to again occupy and honestly everyone is counting the days.

Chapter Text

Author: Howlynn Realm: Sherlock Story Title: I think the cat is on fire, Baker Street Blues

Summary: An evening out will change lives forever.

Character/Relationships: John/Mary, Sherlock H, Sherlock the cat

I Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

I think the cat is on fire – Baker Street Blues

John looked around the tiny room he'd once occupied on Baker Street. It was more crowded than ever but he shuffled several boxes and managed to make room enough for himself on the bed. He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling wondering what he was supposed to do now.

It had been a rather difficult week.

The time for Sherlock to move out of John and Mary's flat had neared and seemed to accentuate the personality differences evident in the once peaceful flat. John was on edge and Mary was silently angry, never once questioning John's self-imposed exile to the guest room. Sherlock the cat spent most of his time seeking a warm spot on John and Sherlock the two-legged had become a restless basket case. He seemed to delight in getting John in trouble with Mary. His innocent look of confusion when his antics paid off had quickly lost the shine involved in the first days of his miraculous resurrection.

No matter his level of frustration though, John could not bring himself to yell at Sherlock. He'd spent far too many hours suffering the regret of calling him a machine in what he'd thought was their last face to face conversation. John could not allow himself to make a mistake like that again no matter if Sherlock did effectively end the honeymoon portion of his marriage.

When John announced to everyone that he was taking an evening to be alone with his wife and gave very specific instructions that there would be no interruptions, Sherlock-the-resurrected had narrowed his eyes and innocently shrugged. "Have a nice time. I'll be just fine."

John knew better, but the look of hope in Mary's eyes had settled his resolution that he was doing the right thing. He and Mary needed some time because his wife had never been so peculiar in her determination to be hopelessly childish and John did not like this side of her any more than he liked playing the constant role of mediator. He felt like a scrap of meat to be gnawed at and fought over by all the other residents of the flat and he knew he had to set his foot down and restore some semblance of control.

"Yeah? Just don't experiment on my cat or burn the place down. Be gone three or four hours, tops." John had teased as he walked out the door.

Sherlock had rolled his eyes and waved the happy couple out the door as if they were disturbing his intensive study of the plaster pattern on the ceiling. John recognized it as Sherlock's bored-with-lowly-humans gesture and mentioned, "There is a documentary on the telly tonight. It's about Forensic toxicology."

Sherlock glared, and then asked in his most patient tone, "What would I possibly learn from a ridiculous documentary meant to introduce the subject to the rabble of humanity? Criminals receive their educations by studying those, which is why I catch them."

John tried to keep a straight face as he replied, "I didn't think you would learn anything. Just thought you'd have fun correcting them on all their mistakes."

Sherlock sighed and weighed the suggestion. "Oh. Yes. Might be fun." He rolled his eyes.

"Okay. See you later." John said. Sherlock pretended not to hear him.

John and Mary had a lovely evening in Soho. Dinner and dancing had loosened
the constrictions of a Sherlock safe conversation and by the time they returned that evening there was no question that John wouldn't be spending the night in the guest room. Mary had made a dozen jokes about her Sherlock-problem and it was mostly a good-natured but truthful bash of the two Sherlocks. John had taken them in the spirit they were offered and laughed along.

They were giggling about how to have uninterrupted sex by faking crime scenes for one and making a stop at a pet store to purchase mice for the other to chase as they turned the corner on their street. From three blocks away they could see there was chaos near their flat. There were flashing lights, fire trucks, police tape and arcs of water still being pumped toward the general vicinity of their flat.

John paused and looked on the scene for a split second in horror then groaned. "Oh no. Sherlock." He said before breaking into a run and leaving Mary standing there shaking her head and beginning to sniffle.

By the time she arrived, black mascara tears beginning to dry, John was franticly going from person to person in triage mode as ambulances came and went. There had been several life threatening injuries and at least two fatalities. John's face was a mask of emotionless determination.  Mary had never witnessed this side of John, only heard tales of who he'd once been.  She found watching him as amazing as the reason was horrible. It was apparent that Sherlock was not standing safely to the side or haranguing the firefighters not to destroy evidence.

Lestrade wasn't there and John didn't know a single officer on duty. They wouldn't let him pass until he explained he was a doctor. He was demanding an ambulance attendant use a certain gel on a tearful older woman as she was helped into the last of the ambulances. Two bodies covered in tarps were being lifted for transport to the morgue.

Mary waited outside the police barrier staring up at the empty blackened hull where her home had been for the last ten years. Once no more victims needed his attention, John strolled over to her and put his arm around her. "Four dead," he said softly.

Mary looked up at him surety on her face and said, "Sherlock?"

John's chin trembled and he swallowed, "I don't know yet."

She looked at him with hurt and anger, "Yes. You do. Did he do this? Is this his…"

His face was so readable and yet Mary almost missed the look of pure betrayal as he spat, "They won't know until much later. I meant that he's not here. I don't know if he got out alive. They had already transported two bodies I didn't see and he wasn't among those I treated. I don't know if he did it and frankly I don't care until I find out if he's…you know what…Take a cab and go to your parents. I have to go…I have to find…"

"John, I'm sorry…I didn't mean…"

"Didn't mean to blame him before you even worried if he's alive? I don't know if either of them got out but at least you can be pleased your Sherlock problems are over…one way or another." He delivered the statement with a cold hollow voice but his eyes burned as he held out his hand. "I need my phone."

Mary quickly dug in her purse and handed it to him apologizing the whole time.

"I'll call you when…I know," he said quietly spinning and lifting the phone to his ear.

"Greg, I need your help. Please tell me he's with you…" Mary saw John's shoulders slump and she turned before she could hear more and went to find a cab. 

She paused and took one last glance at the man walking away.  She thought she knew him and yet even in this horrible moment, he surprised her.  His posture, his gate and even the way his head bobbed around scanning for danger was outside her knowledge of him. Here they were in disaster and she wanted to fall apart and he seemed absolutely alive.

John let the tears flow for just a few breaths thinking of that terrible night. He thought of his desperation as he'd gone from hospital to hospital searching. The return call from Greg had nearly dropped him in his tracks.

John had answered the phone in battle-mode mindset. "Hey, I have covered UCLH and so far so good. Just now leaving St. Thomas. Have you found him? I tried his mobile, but it's just going to voice mail and I am on my way to—"

"John. I need you to come to the morgue at The London Clinic." Greg interrupted.

"Oh God…no. Greg…"

"Listen to me. I don't know. I'm sorry but I honest to God don't. The first two bodies were taken here. I need you to keep it together and just…I don't know and I'm sorry and…"

"On my way," John said shakily snapping the phone shut. Inside he chanted the words 'I can't' over and over. He zoned out during the cab ride and the huge hospital loomed over him as he stepped out leaving the driver an enormous tip, not caring to take a second for change.

It was easy to see why Greg was so upset. The remains were gruesome and John had to find his soldier side again to even approach. He was not here to identify Sherlock Holmes. He was here to eliminate the possibility that these two were Sherlock. Once the two were excluded, John was going to probably kill Sherlock himself for making him go through this again. He'd seen his share of crispy critters, but the smell was quite distinctive.

John eliminated the first one with little more than a glance. The second one was much tougher. He convinced himself twice that it could be his friend before finally seeing the one mind-saving feature. It would have had to be done with DNA and John knew he couldn't wait long enough to let the tests come back. Sherlock had a scar on his left hip. John had stitched it up himself and because so much muscle tissue had been involved, it would have left signs. This man had died of some sort of explosion then had burned, but he'd fallen on his left side and the damage there was not consistent with John's knowledge of his flat-mates past injuries.

John closed his eyes in relief. He was sorry for whoever this was and their family, but he couldn't help thanking all the stars, that Sherlock didn't know the name of, that there was still hope. "Not him. It's not him, Greg."

"Then where in Sam's holy creation is he?" Lestrade grumbled, and then his face went white. "You don't suppose he…I mean everybody's out…right?"

John was just turning to Greg when his mobile went off. "Are you missing something, John?"

"Your brother, my house and my cat. Other than that…I think I lost my marbles," John said back without thinking.

"Well, I can help you with two of the above. The first and the third have just been deposited at Baker Street which may suggest a temporary domicile solution. As far as the last item, I shall see what I can do to proffer replacement," Mycroft said in his slightly amused snobby way.

"Sherlock's okay?" He questioned and stated for Lestrade's benefit.

"Well, other than smoke inhalation, a concussion, a broken ankle and some very painful burns, he is quite stroppy at having lost his mobile phone. The other is doing quite well. Just been checked over by a veterinarian and pronounced traumatized but sound."

John sighed and slouched back against the cabinets in relief. "God, Mycroft. Thank you. Where has he been?"

There was a pause before Mycroft replied,"It is my understanding that they tried to take the cat from him for an ambulance ride and he refused to relinquish it. He probably won't remember, but it seems he ran away rather than let go of his feline namesake. He was disoriented, but luckily your wife thought to call me whilst still on scene and we tracked him down. She's here if you would like to speak with her?"

"That…"John's heart melted for his brilliant wife all over again. "That would be lovely."

He spoke to Mary as she fussed over Sherlock and ordered Mycroft to send a minion for soup, yogurt and a whole list of things John would never have thought of. "We will be staying at Baker street until this is all settled. We were invited and I said yes."

John smiled and asked, "What about the Sherlock problem?"

"John, all we lost were things. Some were not so lucky. If things hadn't turned out…like this. All I would have ever thought about was how I had ruined my chance to see you at your very best. I was so proud of you tonight. Sherlock and Sherlock may be the most annoying creatures in existence. But you without them is a much bigger problem than either one of them will ever be," Mary explained as if she's suddenly fond of them both.

"Well while they are on your good side, I might mention that it is possible that one of them is responsible for this entire mess. It is possible, if I had taken a second to consider. And what you saw at our flat, was his best behavior. He will probably poison us within a week and I should warn you to never tell him where you keep the custard or the sugar and no…you don't want to know why that is a bad idea. Are you sure …about this?"

"He is mumbling something about door knobs…I am supposed to tell you?" Mary said confused.

"Oh. Well. Tell him I will bring him Chinese. You want anything?" John asked, exhausted from the evening.

"Mycroft bought us pajamas and toothbrushes.  Soon as you get here, I think I will have all I need," Mary said sweetly.

By the time the fire was out 12 buildings had been damaged and six would have to be torn down and rebuilt. Sadly, there were four deaths. Had John and Mary been home, there may have been more. The couple in the flat on the other side of the explosion were killed and Sherlock nearly was.

It turned out that neither Sherlock had burned down the house. The two eliminated burn victims at the London Clinic were trying to make illegal fireworks, or at least that is what the media had reported. Sherlock insisted they were a terrorist cell. Sherlock had, in fact, only been guilty of falling asleep.

The explosion had not awakened him because debris, a wall or something had given him a nasty concussion. The choking noxious fumes had not awakened him. What did awaken him was a certain enemy-cat licking his face raw. By the time Sherlock had roused and realized what had happened, the hallway was an inferno and his escape involved jumping off the second floor balcony, with a cat tucked in his shirt and his violin cradled in his arms.

He did remember arguing with someone about the cat but he thought it was a bus driver. He remembered trying to make it to St. Bart's so Molly could look at him and the cat, but he had such a headache he needed to sit down for a short rest. Sherlock should have left Sherlock at that moment, but when Mycroft found Sherlock unconscious a few hours later, Sherlock was guarding John's second stupid human as he napped on the bench.

Well, maybe he just had no hair and unconscious-Sherlock was warm, but then again since the fire the two of them had gotten on famously. That could be called a whole new kind of miracle.

Mary found John on the tiny bed of his old room and sat down softly. "John? What are you doing in here?"

"This used to be my room," John answered.

"Yes. Did you know? That he was doing all this hoping we would move in?" Mary asked.

"I had no idea. I thought he was doing it so he wouldn't have to move out. I didn't even know the rest of these rooms were up here. I thought it was just storage."

"Well, it seems he had better motives than I gave him credit for.  He's very protective of you.  I hope you will forgive me for misinterpreting what it all meant."

John smiled and sighed then whispered lazily, "It's fine.  It's all fine."

" I'm just glad the explosion didn't originate in our flat. Sorry I jumped to conclusions about either of them. This is all quite lovely of him don't you think? Our room is quite posh if you asked me." Mary kissed him on the forehead.

"Yeah. Who knew? I saved a cat in an alley and he stayed with my dead friend and kept him from dying again and then my friend carried the cat out of the fire. We were told once that someone would burn our hearts right out of us. He's dead because Sherlock saved me. Then you did. Then Sherlock the cat saved Sherlock the detective and who knows how many people he will save. And now we are all living in the new improved Baker Street. I feel like I'm finally home. I don't know how to thank you for agreeing to this, Mary," John said in a dreamy voice.

"Well, maybe we could start by sorting out all this junk so that when the baby comes, Sherlock won't want to keep him or her in his room."

"What?" John leaps out of the bed and grins. Mary returns his expression.

They go downstairs to find Sherlock curled up on Sherlock's chest purring. Sherlock glances at them and states imperiously, "Oh, finally told him about the baby, did you? Sherlock, we are going to be Uncles. Won't that be fun?"

Mary and John looked at each other and beamed.

"Mycroft sent these. Said you'd understand. You'll have to get rid of them, of course. Choaking hazard."

John opened the gift bag and pulled out a blue jar of colorful marbles. The card said, 'A small congratulations on the happy event. Though I have yet to do so, a trust fund for university will be established once you pick a name. In the meantime, I am sure you will be in need of all of these you can acquire. ~ Mycroft'

"I suppose you both put it together by some formula of physical changes. I'm a bloody doctor and I just found out," John said.

"Noo." Sherlock smiled. "I observed, John. In this case, a pregnancy test in the bin. Obviously a positive result with all the hormonal indicators and emotional outbursts. I knew two weeks ago. I didn't tell. Not even Mycroft. He probably found out the old fashioned way, using his spy toys."

John threw his head back and laughed.

Sherlock swished his tale and looked over at John and Mary. John was acquiring entirely too many pets in his opinion, but what is a Consulting Mouser to do? This one he'd hated to begin with had grown on him, so maybe he'd keep his mind open on the soon to arrive. He could hear more than one heartbeat coming from the one John seemed so attached to, despite her obvious lack of cat apptitude, and Sherlock knew John would expect him to train his young one on the proper habits of cat service.

He rubbed his head on his second-John and he was obliged by being stroked gently. Yes, humans were simple to train and Sherlock was on fire with feline brilliance!

And they lived happily for a long time. The end.

Ok, we have come to the end of my fluffyball story. I hope you enjoyed it. No Sherlocks were injured in the making of this tale. Please review – my family thinks it's hilarious when you make me do the happy-dance.  If you would like to read the story that inspired this one, you can find it here >>>   I recommend her stories very highly because they were some of the first I read in this realm long before I saw the show.