Characters: Mrs Hudson, Sherlock Holmes, John Watson (BBC version)
Word count: 2600
Rating: G in the sense that it's gen. Discussion of drug use.
Summary: How innocently it all starts.
AN: First, a note to the creators of this latest, appallingly racist episode. Then fic. Spoilers for and commentary on "The Blind Banker."
To the creators of the new BBC series Sherlock:
If you didn't see the racism inherent in your latest episode, or if you didn't care about it, or if you thought it was a clever riff on the Orientalist tropes of the original stories, I can't help you. You're old enough and bright enough to browse the internet on your own and see what folks have to say. There are some rather perceptive people out there who can tell you what's gone wrong with these first episodes, if you care to listen.
Now, on to the fic.
At first, Mrs Hudson was only concerned about the state of her floors.
The noise upstairs was rarely bad enough to disturb her, but that afternoon all the thumping and scraping had Mrs Hudson worried. Just redone two months ago, they were, and already her tenants were wrecking havoc.
"Sherlock!" she called in a motherly, warning tone, one time, then again. The noise continued. "Sherlock?" she asked again, climbing the stairs, but no response came. She wouldn't have thought to intrude otherwise, really.
The words died in her throat as she eased the door open. Instead of sitting hunched in front his laptop, as he usually was, Sherlock was spinning around the sitting room, dressed in a queer-looking turban and flowing robes, branding a heavy sword above his head.
"Eeeeeeee yowwwwww!" he shouted, twisting violently and ducking behind the armchair, as if he was trying to avoid something. "Ooouf!" He jumped back into the center of the room again, swinging the sword around in a sinister arc, before falling down on the floor, out of breath.
The sword rolled out of his hand and clattered onto the floor.
Mrs Hudson shut the door quietly, though she didn't really think that Sherlock would hear. He could be sharp and observant sometimes, but he typically lived in his own world, sitting on the couch for days on end, never changing out of that hideous red t-shirt, his pale face blotchy in the light of his computer screen. He never ate, never watched telly, never talked about friends or girls, rarely went out of the flat except to "see about a case." She had never seen him dressed as an assassin out of a nineteenth-century melodrama, but she suspected that it wasn’t his most observant state.
She wasn't quite sure what to think about her tenant. His mum said he was a genius, except that all mums said that. Though, to be fair, Mrs Holmes' son had managed to hack into the late Mr Hudson's bank account when no one else could, and the police never caught the changes, and Mrs Hudson was still grateful for the timely intervention.
He was bright enough, certainly, but he was odd. So odd he seemed to need an explanation. For a while Mrs Hudson imagined that Sherlock was a junkie and that the "Detective Inspector Lestrade" who called round at all hours was his supplier. Was it heroin? No, cocaine seemed more like it. Posh boys like Sherlock always seemed to have problems with cocaine. And Sherlock was jumpy and pale and nervous. So cocaine sounded plausible, except that one day she'd rung Scotland Yard once to ask if Lestrade was the real thing, and he was.
So at least part of his story was true. Her latest theory was that Sherlock was addicted to computer games; her nephew Andy said that some people played games for days on end, without stopping, forgetting to turn off the stove or feed the baby in the meantime. It was a less exciting theory than the first, to be honest. But it comforted her that he had a flatmate, and a doctor, at that. It wasn't that she imagined Sherlock overdosing, or hurting himself, or hurting someone else--dear God, where had he found that sword?--but if something happened, John would be there. Mrs Hudson did not like facing emergencies alone.
If Sherlock overdosed, she'd have to find a new tenant. She really hoped he wouldn't; the current situation was quite agreeable. The flat hadn’t been cleaned since Sherlock moved in, but Mrs Holmes had given her three months upfront and some extra money to redo the floors, and she had agreed to the outrageous monthly sum Mrs Hudson had suggested. Plus she said that Sherlock wanted to contribute something himself once he got back on his feet, the dear.
Wasn't that sweet?
"No groceries?" Mrs Hudson asked kindly a few minutes later, looking out into the hallway as John let himself in the front door. Surely he hadn't forgotten what he went out for? John Watson did seem like a sad sack some days.
"Groceries?" he asked blankly. "Oh, no, right, the machine--" His voice trailed off as he spoke, and he looked distinctly guilty, if Mrs Hudson had to describe it. Not having talked at length with John's mother, she knew less about her second tenant. Was he Sherlock's supplier? He had access to medication, being a doctor and all. She watched him as he pounded upstairs. He always wore that ugly, bulky jacket, or one of those awful cardigans. Perhaps it was to hide the drugs he carried in his pockets?
"Some trouble with my card the first time through, I'll have to go back," John said when he returned, a few minutes later. Mrs Hudson nodded knowingly, as if she believed him.
"Make sure to get him some pimple cream," Mrs Hudson whispered as John headed back outside. "You saw how he's getting spotty."
John looked like he was about to protest, but Mrs Hudson fished a few pounds out of her pocket and slipped them into his. "That should help," she said, and John smiled gratefully.
She closed the door behind him. No drugs in that pocket. Though if he had just passed them along to Sherlock, the pocket would be empty, now, wouldn't it?
Poor John. The man was injured, unemployed, shell shocked, and a possibly a repressed homosexual. Now he was living with Sherlock Holmes. No wonder he'd been driven to a life of crime.
Mrs Hudson shook her head.
Detective Inspector Lestrade should talk to her. No one ever learned anything by sitting in front of a computer.
Sherlock rarely talked to Mrs Hudson except when he "solved cases." He stared at his computer at all hours, sent text messages compulsively on his mobile when the computer wasn't around, and sat morose and silent, poking at two slices of cold toast and a coffee on the odd weekend morning. But when he solved a case, he was alive. He'd wander downstairs, alert and smiling, to find her sitting in the front room, reading or knitting, unable to sleep.
"I've got it, Mrs Hudson," he would say, eyes shining. "I've got it."
"Got what, dear?" Mrs Hudson would ask, patting the armchair next to her, and then Sherlock would perch on the edge of the chair and begin to talk. It was always about algorithms and patterns, ciphers and codes, bullet trajectories, or chemical tests. He had a disarming way of talking, very quick, never quite meeting her eye, and sometimes when he got the heart of the story he just trailed off and sat there for a few minutes, thinking. Sometimes his stories began somewhere in the real world, in a place she recognized, with a murder victim in a mews or a suicide note in a flat or something of that sort, but they would inevitably veer off into technological or scientific territory she didn't understand.
A few weeks ago it had been the statistical analysis of the daily logs of several hundred cabbies whose routes had taken them near the sites where four murder victims had been discovered. This week it was the finances of a City banker with ties to Hong Kong and a journalist who was trying to expose the conditions at factories owned by British firms in China. He had correlated both of their trips with the sale of Chinese antiquities and then linked the sales to deposits in two Swiss bank accounts that had known ties to an international smuggling ring.
Mrs Hudson was never quite sure how much of these stories were true. "Isn't the whole point of Swiss bank accounts their anonymity, dear?" Mrs Hudson asked, as gently as she could. Sherlock seemed too bright to make that sort of mistake.
"Sorry?" he asked blankly, twitching at the interruption.
"Swiss bank accounts?" she prompted. "I thought they were the most secure in the world."
Sherlock shrugged and ran a hand through his hair. He really ought to take a shower and change out of that t-shirt, the poor thing. He seemed to forget other people had to live with him.
"They went electronic a while back," he said, as if that explained everything.
His mobile beeped. "Lestrade's coming round," he said, checking the message. "Let him in, if he arrives? I'm going to download the data for him."
And with a flash he was gone, up the stairs two at a time. Two minutes later, DI Lestrade was at the front door, and Mrs Hudson watched him retreat upstairs with a sense of vague disapproval.
DI Lestrade should pay him, if Sherlock was actually providing a valuable service to the police department and not just arranging surreptitious meetings in the wee hours. Perhaps he would take Sherlock more seriously if the boy didn't wear that t-shirt and those shabby jeans all the time? Or if he got a haircut and a proper suit and showed up at Scotland Yard during business hours? It was fine that he was almost thirty and his mother was still paying his rent, some boys took a long time to grow into their responsibilities, but Mrs Hudson had the distinct impression that Sherlock was slipping further and further away from reality, rather than "getting back on his feet," or whatever phrase his mother had used.
Then again, it was none of her business, was it? And if Sherlock did get back on his feet, who knew what would happen? His mother might expect him to pay for his own flat, and then she'd have to find a new tenant. Best not to meddle, perhaps. Heaven knows, Sherlock was probably just having her on with all his talk of murders and mysteries. Mrs Hudson sat back in her chair and closed her eyes. Smuggling rings, homocidal cabbies, drug dealing, all here in Baker Street. It was either exciting or terrifying, she didn’t know which.
Two days later a new policeman came around, someone claiming to be Inspector Dimmock, a mousy little man who aroused Mrs Hudson’s suspicions all over again. What kind of self-respecting policeman called on spotty, overgrown adolescents with a drug habit (or a computer game addiction, or possibly both)? What could Sherlock possibly do that the combined resources of the Metropolitan Police Force couldn’t? It just didn’t make sense. Mrs Hudson frowned at the Inspector and, rather than telling him to continue on up the stairs to the flat, asked him to wait in the hall while she spoke to Sherlock herself.
She never intended to eavesdrop, but the door at the top of the stairs was left ajar, and the first thing she heard was her name.
“--some combination of my intellect, Mrs Hudson’s nosiness, and...”
There was a pause. Mrs Hudson peeked through the gap. Sherlock and John were sitting on the couch, shoulder to shoulder, staring at Sherlock’s laptop.
“And a comic book hero’s superpowers, I suppose.” It was Sherlock speaking. He sounded bemused. “Here you have them trying to choke me, but I seem to...”
He paused and squinted at the screen. “Do I know a martial art?”
“Baritsu. I invented it. Isn’t it brilliant?” John said, nodding with considerable enthusiasm. “You throw the assassin off balance and escape. I’m waiting for you downstairs, and I don’t even know you’ve been attacked!”
Mrs Hudson took a very dim view of Sherlock's chances during an encounter with an assassin, but the fact that John could imagine differently was rather touching. John Watson was less of a sad sack when Sherlock was around.
Sherlock frowned and scratched at a spot on his chin. “But the actual research behind the case is interesting. It took me two days to piece together van Coon’s itinerary in Dalian through credit card charges.”
John looked at him affectionately and patted him on the knee. “Sherlock,” John said. “Don't think credit cards. Think ninjas.”
“Ninjas are Japanese,” Sherlock said. “As is origami, by the way. It’s possible to research these things, you know, rather than embarrassing yourself and insulting your audience.”
John huffed a sigh. “We can work on it. But imagine: assassins who can scale buildings. Murders that take place in locked rooms. Ciphers! Poisoned darts. A showdown with General Shan in a mysterious tunnel below London! With ninjas waiting to attack us!”
“No ninjas. No General Shan. We were dealing with a multi-national group of white collar criminals," Sherlock said. "The only reason we caught them was that they were inexperienced in violent crime.” Sherlock blinked. “I don’t know. This is what I thought my website would do, explain my working methods to the public. Scientifically.”
John stood up. “It’s just a script, after all. We’ll send it around, see if there’s any interest. Harry has a friend who might be willing to help. Who knows, it might be the making of both of us,” he said.
Sherlock frowned. “I'm not looking for fame.”
“And it would get you out of the house every once in a while,” John added gently.
At that, Mrs Hudson cleared her throat and pushed open the door.
“Inspector here to see you, Sherlock,” she said, and Sherlock glared at her suspiciously. Nosy, indeed! He didn’t know half of what she knew about him. If anyone ought to be the hero of a crime show, it was Mrs Hudson, not Sherlock, poor thing.
Still, if Sherlock went on telly, would they want to tape her, too? Mrs Hudson had always wanted to be on television.
Later that day, a letter that Mrs Hudson had been expecting finally arrived. She recognized the familiar suburban postmark immediately.
A thousand apologies, Mrs Hudson, I'm afraid this month's cheque sat on my desk for over a week before I remembered to post it. I’m happy to hear Sherlock is doing well. I do worry about him, but no son wants to hear that, of course!
On any other day, Mrs Hudson would have simply taken the cheque and thrown the accompanying note in the rubbish bin after a quick read. But today it gave her pause. “Let us know if he needs anything,” Mrs Holmes had told her in a low voice. “His grandfather in Singapore died last year and...right. Well. We just want to see him making a go of it.”
Sherlock was lucky to have Mrs Holmes as a mother, Mrs Hudson thought. If he was half as clever as she said he was, and if was actually helping the police solve crimes, he ought to get a job as a police detective and pay his own rent. Or he could set himself up and take cases himself. He certainly shouldn’t be staying up through the night playing computer games or taking drugs or whatever he was doing in that room for hours on end. He needed a purpose in life. A goal. A rival. A nemesis.
Mrs Hudson rather liked that word, nemesis.
Perhaps it was up to Mrs Hudson to give him a nudge. His mum wanted her to keep an eye on him, right? Perhaps the situation called for a more active approach. She glanced at the letter, and then took up a pen herself.
To Sherlock Holmes, she wrote before she remembered that Sherlock had seen her handwriting before. Better to type; he was always on that laptop anyway. Surely he knew how to tell which computers sent which e-mails, though. She could send a message from her nephew Andy’s computer later that evening. Something simple, at first.
I am watching you, perhaps? Melodramatic, but it was a place to start. Nothing gets the blood going like the thought that someone might be watching you. As little joke, she’d sign it M. Perhaps she could buy a mobile, and Andy could teach her how to text.
As she passed the mirror by the stairs she practiced giving herself a sinister and yet mysterious smile. M. She liked that. No point in letting the boys have all the fun.
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