Author: Ariane DeVere
Word count: 2339
Warnings: Blatant potential corruption of your memories of childhood poetry; sweary John; sex ahoy.
Summary: When a valuable diamond needs retrieving from the riverside, John is the only man for the job. At least, in Sherlock’s opinion.
Inspired by A. A. Milne’s poem Happiness.
(As illustrated by E. H. Shepard. [and used as even more inspiration for, quite frankly, a totally inappropriate fanfic by A. DeVere])
“Are you absolutely sure that it ended up here?” John demanded as he stomped around the patch of riverbank which Sherlock had indicated.
“Obviously,” came Sherlock’s reply. “Henry Dumpluff dropped the diamond into the street drain on Montague Gardens. It can only have come out here.” He pointed to the nearby outfall pipe and the water pouring from it. “Based on the size of the stone and the speed at which it must have exited the pipe, it’s likely to be no further than five feet from the end of the pipe. Its weight means that it won’t have sunk far into the mud. Keep looking, John.”
John directed his best ‘I’m your flatmate, not your servant’ look towards Sherlock’s rather smug expression. “And how, may I ask,” he enquired, “did it turn out that the only wellington boots currently available just happen to be too small for your feet? And this despite the fact that they were in our flat, and they don’t belong to me?”
Sherlock turned his head away with a nonchalant shrug.
“Oh, right,” John deduced. “Of course you’d never wear anything as common as wellies. So I’ve got to clump around searching on my own because you insist on wearing shoes so expensive that Greece could resolve its entire national debt in one go by pinching them and selling them to the nearest multi-billionaire.”
Sherlock frowned slightly. John didn’t bother to explain – it was obvious that the detective didn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about. Instead, he turned his attention back to the shore and hid his slight smile, not wanting to admit to Sherlock that he hadn’t worn wellingtons for years and was rather enjoying the feeling of the mud squidging under his feet as he splashed along the river bank. If it wasn’t for the importance of finding the Kepler Diamond before it was washed away or buried so deep in the mud that it could never be traced, he would be having a rather wonderful time.
John had a
“No. Absolutely not,” John said, folding his arms stubbornly.
“But it can’t be anywhere else!” Sherlock protested, still holding the item towards the grumpy doctor.
“So now you think the diamond must have not rolled away when it dropped out of the outfall pipe, and that it’s right there under the water flow,” John clarified. “And so you want me to stick my head under the flow and see if I can see it underneath.”
“Hence the hat,” Sherlock said in his I’m-only-being-patient-for-an-idiot-beca
“Why can’t you do it?” John demanded.
Sherlock sighed, gesturing with his free hand to his own coat.
“Oh for God’s sake,” John snapped. “It’s water resistant! You wear it in all weathers, and you’re never usually bothered about getting rained on. If you put just your head under the water you won’t get splashed much.”
“But your jacket is fully waterproof,” Sherlock said in a voice which – on anybody else – would have been described as a ‘whine’ but – on him – could only be described as a ‘whine,’ “and your jeans are thicker than my trousers, and you’re already wearing the boots ...”
“I hate you,” John told him, snatching the hat from him and plonking it onto his own head. For a moment he automatically reached for the ties to fasten it under his chin but then reminded himself that he wasn’t a child any more and was probably capable of keeping the hat on his head without assistance. He’d had a similar rain hat in his childhood and had secretly adored wearing it, although he would always protest aloud to his mother that he was too old to wear a hat just because it was raining. She would patiently agree that – at the age of five or six – he was indeed a big boy now, while she continued to fasten the ties firmly under his chin. Chewing back his smile at the memory, he started towards the outfall pipe but then turned back and looked warily at Sherlock.
“You are sure it’s only a water pipe and not a sewer outlet, aren’t you?” he asked.
“Of course,” Sherlock said with an eye-roll and an impatient sigh. “It’s just rain water. Get on with it.”
John directed his best hard stare at his friend, who remained apparently oblivious. Grumbling to himself, John tilted his hat onto the back of his head, stomped over to the side of the outfall pipe, bent down and slowly leaned forward into the flow of water.
John had a
“I can see it!” John exclaimed as he pulled his head back from the water and shook the worst of the liquid from his hat. “You were right – it’s directly underneath the drop. It’s sunk into the mud a bit, but the water’s keeping it from being completely buried. But it’s right in the middle of the flow and someone’s going to have to ...”
He trailed off as he turned and saw Sherlock already extending a large plastic mac towards him.
“... go underneath the water flow and if you think that’s going to be me you can fuck right off,” John finished.
Sherlock didn’t bother replying, simply tilting one foot to indicate again the expensive shoes he was wearing, and shrugging his shoulders inside his equally expensive coat. John glowered at him and snatched the mackintosh from his hand.
“If I didn’t love you so much,” he told him, “I would seriously want to punch you in the face right now.”
He put on the coat and looked down at himself, sighing. The mac reached down past his knees, and the sleeves were far too long. The coat was clearly designed for someone much taller than himself and ... wait a minute. This coat would clearly fit a six foot tall detective ...
He raised his head to comment upon his deduction but stopped at the sight of Sherlock looking him up and down and biting back a smile.
“If you even think about laughing ...” John warned.
“I’m not laughing,” Sherlock said. “It’s just that ...”
Sherlock looked almost shy. “You look rather adorable,” he told him softly.
John held his arms out to either side to show how the sleeves of the coat extended beyond his hands. “I look like a six year old,” he grumbled.
Sherlock smiled. “Like I said – adorable,” he asserted.
John tried not to let his face show how much his heart was melting just now. He was still trying to be cross at Sherlock, but it was so rare to hear affectionate compliments from his boyfriend that it was impossible to stay angry.
Forcing himself to concentrate on the case, he shoved the sleeves of the mac up his arms. “Gloves?” he asked.
“You can’t wear any,” Sherlock told him. “You’ll need to dig the stone out of the ground with your fingers – gloves will just slip in the mud.”
“Remind me to murder you later,” John said casually.
“If it’ll get you moving now, certainly,” Sherlock replied, grimacing as it began to rain and rapidly turned into a downpour. “And hurry up,” he added. “I’m getting soaked.”
With that, he moved under the relative protection of the nearby disused wooden pier. The worn and broken slats didn’t stop all the rain but at least there was a little shelter. Hunching his shoulders against the dripping water, he looked expectantly at John, who gave him another dark glare and then turned his back on him. A group of ducks was splashing about near the shore, unperturbed by the rain and apparently having a bloody good time. John slumped inside the mackintosh.
“Why me?” he glumly demanded of his new acquaintances. “Why do I let him do this to me?”
One of the ducks rose up and flapped its wings while quacking far too cheerfully, in John’s view. Another chose to express its thoughts on the situation by turning upside down, its head down in the water and its backside sticking up in the air.
“Thanks for your opinions,” John told them mournfully. The first duck settled back down in the water, and moments later the second duck resurfaced, looked at John and then spat out a mouthful of water in his direction. John got the message.
It wasn’t as if he was going to get much wetter than he already was, he realised, and at least he had the protection of his boots, hat and mac. Still complaining under his breath, but secretly excited at the thought of retrieving the valuable diamond and gaining – hopefully – the approval of his boyfriend, not to mention the gratitude of the stone’s owner Mr Mallets, he turned and plodded towards the outfall pipe.
John had made several vain attempts to get hold of the diamond and each time it had slipped from his grasp, stuck firmly in the mud surrounding it. Now finally he managed to clench his fingers tightly around the stone and hauled upwards and eventually it broke free with a loud squelching sound. John grinned and straightened up, triumphantly holding the diamond aloft as he turned towards Sherlock, only belatedly realising that he must look like a total idiot.
Sherlock didn’t look as if he thought John looked like a total idiot. Sherlock’s eyes were wide and his jaw had dropped. While John stood with his arm aloft like a demented Statue of Liberty with water from the outfall pipe pouring onto his rain hat and spraying around him in all directions, Sherlock was staring at him as if he was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. Finding it hard to cope with the intensity of such a gaze, John awkwardly lowered his arm, sloshed out of the stream and walked towards him. Sherlock hurried out from under the pier to meet him and John held out the diamond.
“Job done,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant.
Sherlock ignored the stone, seized the lapels of John’s great big waterproof mackintosh, pulled him close and began to snog him half-senseless.
‘Oh, this’ll do as a reward,’ John thought wildly, managing to keep just enough sense in his brain to close his hand around the diamond and not drop it into the mud. He wrapped his other hand around Sherlock’s neck and fervently returned the kiss.
It was a while before Sherlock pulled back just a little, breathing heavily. “I can’t wait until we get home,” he murmured against John’s lips. “Take me now. Right here.”
Grimacing with frustration, John considered the ASBO which was still in force after the last time they’d been arrested for having sex in public. Frantically he looked around and spotted a potential solution. Kissing Sherlock forcefully for a moment, he reluctantly let him go.
“Hold that thought,” he told him, “for just three minutes.
“Don’t go anywhere!” he added over his shoulder as he hurried away.
Two and a half minutes later, John looked round his hastily-assembled love nest. He had spotted an archway at the bottom of the wall under the pier and it had indeed revealed a low recess under the wall, about ten feet wide and deep enough to shelter them from the weather. It was far enough away from the river that the tide didn’t often reach it and so the earth was firm and reasonably dry. John had crawled inside and quickly kicked out most of the flotsam which had accumulated there over the years, then shrugged off the mackintosh and laid it wet side down on the ground. The lining would serve as a blanket on which they could lie.
John pulled off his wellington boots and laid them across the neck of the mac. Finding a large piece of old sacking at the back of the arch, he shook out the worst of the dust and laid it over the wellies. The result was a passable – if rather lumpy – pillow which would suffice for a while.
Knowing that Sherlock would fret if the diamond was out of his sight for too long, John put it down on the ground next to the wellingtons. He squinted briefly towards the river, narrowing his eyes. Although it was still raining, the downpour was definitely easing and sunshine was already appearing through the clouds. It was late afternoon and the sun would be shining into the archway’s opening fairly soon; if it caught the diamond at the correct angle, the stone could send all kinds of sparkles and rainbows out across the river and draw attention both to itself and the activities going on nearby.
Well, that was simple enough to solve. John pulled off his great big waterproof hat and plonked it down over the top of the diamond.
Having hopefully solved all potential problems and made a nice little ‘shag pile’ (John sniggered at the thought) in record time, he turned and looked out to see where Sherlock had got to.
Sherlock hadn’t got to anywhere. Sherlock was exactly where John had left him. He was standing in the pouring rain, half turned away from the wall, still facing the outfall like he had been when he had kissed John. He was sopping wet and hadn’t even considered moving back under the pier. The water was dripping from his hair, from his nose and fingers and from the coat which he had been so reluctant to get wet earlier. John had instructed him, “Don’t go anywhere,” and Sherlock Holmes was obeying his order to the letter.
“Oh, you utterly adorable man,” John murmured, then crawled out from under the wall and paddled back into the rain.
as he happily led his dripping wet, heavy-breathing, pupil-blown and quite frankly randy-as-hell boyfriend towards the hastily-created bower,
Poor A. A. Milne. When he put a batch of his poems – written for children under the age of six – into an anthology called When We Were Very Young, he can’t ever have imagined that 90 years later one of those poems would be corrupted quite as badly as this. I apologise, Alan. Please stop rolling in your grave – it’s keeping the squirrels awake.
Dedicated to my lovely friend Mirith Griffin, with whom I met up last week and who may be the inspiration for certain words within this story (you’ll never guess what ‘Mallets’ is an anagram of, Mirith!). She and I sat in the bar of the Montague on the Gardens Hotel (on Montague Street. Where better for two Sherlockians to stay in London?!), all ready to talk about ideas of what story I could write around the poem which I had recently re-discovered, and to come up with reasons why John would be wearing the various items, but instead Mirith had to patiently keep quiet when I had an “Ooh!” moment as soon as we started talking. Still, while I was rambling on with my thoughts, at least she was able to keep herself busy trying to dig the strawberry out of the bottom of her glass of Pimm’s. I think she managed it in the end, which is more than I did with my strawberry. ’Tis a very difficult thing to do through all the ice cubes when you have a very tall narrow glass and only a bendy straw as a utensil. Sherlock would probably have worked out how to do it, but sadly he wasn’t available. Despite this shocking absence, we had a marvellous evening.
Amongst other things, we went to see the film Mr. Holmes starring Ian McKellen. It’s a lovely gentle film, humorous, clever, poignant and occasionally sad, and I heartily recommend it. The only thing that annoyed me was a twisting of Doyle canon which was so bloody clever that I really wish I’d thought of it myself to include in a story!
Thanks for a lovely time, Mirith. And thanks for the tissues as I snivelled at the end of the film. xx
If anyone fancies (re)visiting more of Milne’s poems, here is a good place to start. (Other websites with even more of his poetry are available.)