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For He Was Once A Soldier

...Random sad oneshot? I have no idea. I guess I'm just tired of reading stories where hiatus!John is a wreck. I think he'd be much more...comfortable than that

Contrary to popular belief, Sherlock was not John's whole world. Nor was he his other half, or his lover, or anything else his other friends ("I don't have friends. I've just got one.") seem to think. Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Molly, they all check in on him at least a couple days a week, like he's some kind of child who's lost his mother, or a dog who's master asked them to put out food for while he was away. It was humiliating. Mrs. Hudson talked about Sherlock all the time, needling at John to open up, to talk about his feelings, to grieve openly. Lestrade was casual, a breath of fresh air, until he realized the inspector was studying his face with a sort of pitying expression when he thought John wasn't looking, and then John just felt cold and exposed. Molly was the worst; she was jumpy and flustered and walked on eggshells around the topic of Sherlock, blushing bright red and stuttering weepily whenever someone, including herself, brought him up, by accident or design. He didn't need to talk to anyone about Sherlock. He'd saved all his old texts and still had all his blogs and case notes. If he needed to talk about Sherlock, he'd talk "to" the man himself. 

He didn't understand why people found it s surprisin whenever he did something normal. The looks he received when he went back to work...he almost asked for more time off out of disgust. Why was it such a shock ("Look, I've got a blanket!") to Mrs. Hudson's system to see John going for milk a day after the burial? They were out, weren't they? Why did Lestrade feel the need to ask how he was doing with that soft look in his eye when they ran into each other getting coffee in the morning? 

Brothers-in-arms die. Without casualties, war would be a giant tea party, with all the leaders of the world shouting and throwing biscuits at each other. A soldier didn't curl up and sulk when his bunkmates were killed. There was no point in it, not when there was so much more work to be done, not when there was still a battle to fight. John had said his farewells ("Goodbye, John.") and cried his tears, and he was done now. Soldiers didn't fall to pieces over a fallen brother, and John Watson was a soldier. 

Oh, he hurt. He hurt more than anyone could possibly imagine with all their suspicions and nosiness, and he didn't want to talk about it, with anyone, because they wouldn't understand. It felt like he'd been ripped in half, or set on fire, or buried alive. But it wasn't a tangible pain. He was the heart, the heart had lost its head ("What is it like in your funny little brains?"). How could he explain that to anyone? That it wasn't grief he was feeling, but sheer loss? He wasn't mourning a friend, he was mourning an appendage. He could function without Sherlock just as well as Sherlock could operate without him. But the ache was there, and always would be. Everything reminded him of Sherlock. He could hear the man's voice in his head, and he was glad of it, because it was the only thing that made him positive he hadn't actually lost his.He'd felt so lost and so alone for so long that it was the new fine, and he could work with that. 

He just wished people would treat him normally. Like he wasn't about to shatter. Because he was fine now. He was fine with the fact that he'd never be fine again. 

Null Post

So when I first discovered Sherlock, I mentioned how much my life would be MADE if I could get Benedict Cumberbatch's voice onto radio, and some wonderful person (no clue who and too sleep deprived to go back and look) told me about Cabin Pressure. Much to my dismay, I was unable to get a hold of any episodes until a couple of weeks ago, and BOY did I get into Cabin Pressure. My whole brain's been buzzing with snappy dialogue and airplane jokes and could someone please give Douglas a medal and Martin a hamburger and me a shock blanket!? and I'm as happy as Arthur Shappey with an apple. I've heard every episode, played through my favorite parts twice, ripped through a couple of good fanfictions, and signed up for emailed updates on the upcoming season (CAN'T WAIT) and I'm still hungry for more. And grinning like an idiot and laughing at nothing every time a line occurs to me again, which is often. So thank you, random person. Come fly the friendly skies!

Now, if I can just convert my brother and sister...

Hunting Game:

Ars Gratia Ars

...Long time no see? I've been splashing around in other fandoms, but here's something I've been working on for months. It's unpolished, crazy, and probably not very impressive, but enjoy nontheless.

SUMMARY: John knows things, things he shouldn't, because he once met a man who knew things beyond imagining. Perhaps there's something else to how he met Sherlock Holmes...

ARS GRATIA ARS

“Oh, there he is.”

John turned toward the sound of his orderly’s voice before the young man had the chance to call for him. He had to squint to see under the midday Afghanistan sun, but soon made out the forms of Matthew Murray and someone new trailing along behind Matt. He moved toward the unlikely pair, shaking Matt’s hand as they grew closer. “Thought I heard you.”

“Glad you did,” Matt said with his characteristic rakish grin. “Glad you did. I was just saying I ought to introduce you two, wasn’t I, Art?”

The man behind Matt nodded, a small smile forming. He would not look away from John’s face—barely even blinked.

“Art’s a doctor, too,” Matt explained. “Civilian, though. Some sor’ of volunteer civic thing. He’ll be down here for a while before shippin’ back to Scotland. Isn’ tha’ where you’re from, too? Oh…This is Art, by the way.” He pointed to the stranger, then to John. “Art, this is—“

“Doctor John Watson, yes, I know,” said Art with just a hint of a brogue, nodding a brusque yet somehow intimate hello. That little spot in the back of John’s mind that always told him when danger was near was tingling again. Chills down his back. He shook them away.

“I am John Watson, but how could you possibly know that?” John asked.

This strange doctor’s eyes flashed as he shrugged. “Matt mentioned he was the orderly of a Doctor John Watson. I just guessed you were him.”

Now Matt looked confused. He shielded his eyes and shifted so he could get a better look at his stray. “Did I mention John’s name? I can’ remember.”

That little smile grew. “You must have, else how could I know it?”

John shook his head. He crossed his arms and stood up straighter, trying his meager best to look down on someone a good four inches taller than himself. “So you’re some kind of civic, Red Cross type of doctor?”

“I am.”

“Then how come you went to the front lines? You’re needed much more at the refugee camps.”

The smile now stretched from ear to ear and the doctor’s lips twitched as if he were trying and failing to keep a straight face. “Oh, I think you’ll I’ll be very much needed here.” He reached out for a handshake, which John less than eagerly supplied. Art’s grip was firm, almost too firm, and completely devoid of the sweat that usually poured off those unused to the heat in buckets. Odd, John thought to himself as the orderly continued what was apparently a tour.

John didn’t think he’d see much of the civilian doctor, but fate had different ideas. Wherever Captain Watson went, Art was never far behind. The man managed to cling to John without being the least bit clingy. John had never imagined what being stalked felt like before; now he knew.

He didn’t mind so much. Art rarely passed within four feet of him, never mind talking to him. He mostly stayed out of the way. After a few weeks, John began watching him as much as he was being watched. Art was a first rate doctor, and highly perceptive. Frighteningly so. Sometimes he seemed to know where the wounded would fall before they were shot down.

He saved Matt Murray’s life six months after his arrival. The gunfire had died down and the orderly had risen into a crouch to check on a wounded man nearby. Art had grabbed his arm and yanked him down again, just in time for a sniper bullet to go whizzing over the young soldier’s head. Matt had declared his eternal gratefulness. John simply asked how he’d known. He’d expected a simple answer like “I saw the light flash on the rifle barrel” or “heard the gun, just in time.” Art had only smiled and tapped the side of his nose. “I just did,” he said, as if the whole thing were a great secret.

Only once in Afghanistan did John have any extended conversation with the volunteer. He’d walked up to him with a long, papered box in his hands. “I’m off,” he said, and John had had to look around to make sure he was the one Art was talking to.

“…Really? You’re leaving?” he said politely, not sure whether to be relieved or sorry.

Art nodded. “I’ve got what I came for. Now I’ve got somewhere else to be.” He pushed the long box into John’s hand. “A parting gift.”

John frowned and hesitantly unwrapped the box. Inside was a sturdy, slightly-better-than-military-issue silver cane with a comfortable grip. His frown deepened as he drew out the cane. “…Thanks, I guess, Art,” he said. “But…I don’t need it?”

Art had smiled that secret smile. “Maybe,” he said, and walked away.

Three days later, John’s foot got stuck in a hole. He twisted as he fell, his knee dislocating at the same instant a bullet ripped through his shoulder. Stunned by the fall, he never felt the shoulder—but his leg hurt and hurt and hurt and it was…wrong, with patella on the side. Matt saved his life and his limb, pulling him from the battle and fixing the leg after he passed out. The knee snapped back into place with relative ease and very minor amount of ligament damage easily repaired, but remained swollen for a week, and the sight had carved itself into his mind and no near-fatal shooting could clear it. His surgeons were exasperated at his inability to walk during his first day back on his feet, and Art’s cane, forgotten but never discarded, became a permanent fixture of his wardrobe.

He went to London to get lost.

Instead, he found Art.

He had just finished an appointment with his psychiatrist, an necessity that he couldn’t stand. The visits left him feeling out of sorts and angry and a little patronized, and the only thing he had to look forward to were blank walls and crap telly and an uncomfortable bed. He needed to go somewhere, anywhere—

“Lots on your mind?” came the familiar-but-not voice from behind him.

He whipped around as fast as he was able and stared, his jaw dropping. “…Art?”

The doctor chuckled and stepped forward, glancing at John’s leg. “Looks like you needed that cane after all,” he said.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, thanks for that. Lifesaver. But how’d you know? What are you doing here?”

The infuriating secret smile materialized. “I’m sorry, John. Nice to see you, but I don’t have time to talk. You know, it’s about lunch time. If you’re not interested in eating anything, and pardon my saying, but it doesn’t look like you are, there’s a park nearby. Good for a walk, to clear you head, stretch some muscles.” He tilted his head. “And you never know who you’ll run into at lunchtime.”

John blinked and shook his head. “Uh…sure, but…”

Art swept his boater onto his head, ignoring the looks the hat was getting from everyone around. “Good day, John,” he called, walking away.

The bizarre exchange let him even more out-of-sorts, but as eccentric as Art was—and as disturbing it was to see him in London; maybe he was being stalked?—he had a decent point. Maybe he did just need to go for a walk.

He ran into Mike Stamford.

He walked back to his rooms late that evening, the events of the day tumbling in his mind. Sherlock Holmes…perhaps he was a favorite student of Art’s, down on his luck? How else could Art have steered him there? But then there was the cane… It was haunting, that’s what it was. Maybe the man had ESP. John never believed in that sort of rubbish before, but what else could it be? He’d been searching for a reasonable explanation ever since his injury and he still had none.

“So you met your Sherlock Holmes, did you?”

John shouted and nearly jumped out of his skin as both the voice and its owner loomed out of the shadows ten feet in front of him. Had Art been any closer, John very well may have killed him out of instincts not quite dead yet. “Art!” he said, all the anger of the previous conversations returning. “What the—“

“You did meet your Sherlock Holmes, didn’t you?” the doctor repeated again, his hands in his pockets, speaking as though remarking on the weather or asking for the time.

John stared, an ounce of fear fluttering around in his stomach for the first time since his discharge. “…Who are you?”

“No one,” Art said with a shrug. “Not here, anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you meet your Sherlock Holmes?”

John closed his eyes a second. “Yes, I did. How did you know about that?”

“Good,” Art said, taking a step forward. “I’d hate to leave without that settled, and it is time for me to go.”

The doctor tightened his grip on the cane as Art’s unblinking eyes came into focus. “How did you do it? Who are you? What do you want with me?”

The other man sighed. “…All I want you to do is write, John,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. I know you used to when you were a boy—all the Watsons did. It’s a shared trait. All you have to do is write and I’ll take care of the rest.”

“…Write what?”

“About your adventures with Mr. Holmes, of course.” His lips curled in glee. “And what adventures you will have!”

Just breathe, John. Just breathe. He was on the verge of panic. “How do you know about me?

Art took another step forward. “I usually don’t tell, but you’re special. I can see it in your eyes. So like the original, all full of fire and gunpowder and lightning. Don’t lose that. You’ll need it.” He drew a deep breath. “I collect stories, doctor. I collect them and cast them to different worlds, and among the stars. Yours in particular. I dreaded it at first, but I accepted my fate long ago. I am bound to you, just as surely as you are bound to Sherlock Holmes.”

“I’m not bound to anyone!” John snapped, his voice raising. “I’m not even sure if I’ll even be Sherlock’s roommate! The man is completely insane.”

“—and utterly brilliant,” Art said, the secret smile that John so wanted to punch off of the other doctor’s face reappearing. “You don’t have to room with him if you don’t want to, but you won’t have much of a life if you don’t. And neither will he,” he added, almost as an afterthought. “I don’t trust this one alone.”

John gritted his teeth. “What are you talking about?”

The smile grew. “You feel alone, don’t you? Alone in all the universe. People talk about being unique like it’s a blessing, but the truth is, it’s horrifically lonely.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m not unique.”

“But you are. You’re Captain John Watson, M.D. Then again, you’re not the only one.”

He bit back a curse—if he had his pistol on him, he couldn’t guarantee the other man’s safety. “Just…explain yourself. Please.”

“Explain myself?” Art laughed. “That would take more years than you’ll ever be alive, and I haven’t brought visual aids. Not even Sherlock could fathom me out, I’m afraid. But you…You’re simply not alone.”

He took another step forward, in arm’s reach now. “There are thousands of worlds out there, hundreds of thousands, and all desperate to be filled. Not just with bodies, but with words. The worlds deserve those words. My words. Your words. So many John Watsons and so many Sherlock Holmes, and still not enough to go around.”

You’re crazier than Sherlock was,” John said, eyes widening.

“You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, but it’s the truth. You have a story to live, a wonderful, glorious story. Not all of them get started. Holmes overdoses. Watson dies at war. Not all of them end well, either. Killer’s aim is true. The professor doesn’t fall alone…” He frowned, then smiled again. “I have high hopes for the two of you, though. I do hope you’re not afraid of bees…”

He was too good. Art was just too smooth. Either he belonged in an asylum or he was telling the truth. John closed his eyes a moment. He had always prided himself on his open-mindedness…”…So you’re saying this isn’t the only earth out there?” he said slowly. “If I’m to believe you…there’s more than one earth, and there’s more than one of me…”

“ ‘There are more things, Horatio,’“ Art said with a gentle laugh, checking his watch. “And you really should believe me. Think of the desert, all that you saw me do and say. ‘When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth…’” This time he laughed again, for real. “And when Sherlock says that, do try to look surprised. I think I should have written him a shorter catchphrase, in the beginning…”

The fight when out of John; he sagged against his cane, not sure what to believe and too tired to think of any further explanations. “What do you do with...with my story?”

“I told you, I tell it again. I go to worlds that have no John Watson and no Sherlock Holmes, and I publish the stories, in all kinds of forms and fashions. I’ve got so many names even I can’t keep them straight.”

“And how do you find us?”

Art shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure. I seem to gravitate to you—the John Watsons—and usually wherever you can find him, Sherlock Holmes isn’t so far away. It took a lot of getting used to, especially as…well…” he blushed. “In the beginning, I wasn’t fond of Mr. Holmes at all. I apologize to you for that, as you’ll be the one to pay for it. If ever you make something and find you don’t like it, stay away from all things occult, as you may find yourself stuck in an…uncomfortable position.” He blushed.

“…And what am I supposed to do?”

Art snorted softly. “It’s very simple, really. You must make a choice. You must follow Sherlock Holmes, in whatever he does and wherever he goes, or go on alone. If you go alone, you’ll have a dull, humdrum, probably short life with nothing to recommend you and no one to mourn you. If you follow Sherlock Holmes, you will be a legend in your own time, beloved, welcomed, and treasured for centuries. You’ll have a friendship that defies definition. Though John—I feel as though I must tell you—follow him and there’s no turning back. Follow him and you’ll lose everything.”

John released a breathy, hopeless chuckle. “I haven’t got anything to lose.”

“Not yet. But you will.” Art looked at John, sympathy and pity shining in his eyes.

Why, thought John, would any ‘John Watson’ follow any ‘Sherlock Holmes’ if they were given that warning? Why take that risk, knowing you had that as a reward? “Is it worth it?” he asked out loud.

A smile crept over the other doctor’s lips. He tilted his head to the side, watching John without blinking, mulling everything over. “…Yes,” he said at last, giving a small nod. “Yes, it is. Though it may not always seem that way.” He checked his watch for what seemed like the hundredth time. “I really must be going now, but I’ll be watching.”

“Wait, wait!” John cried. “Don’t go yet. You’re just going to send me into the world like that, without knowing anything?”

Art paused and turned back around. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything you can possibly tell me!” The doctor thumped his cane against the ground. “You can’t just say ‘you’ll lose everything’ and then not tell me about what’s coming!”

The other doctor nodded, a slow, hesitant movement. “You are right, of course. I can’t tell you much. It would ruin the balance of the world. But…” He nods again, more sure of himself this time. “I can tell you the three things you’ll need to remember most.”

“Just three?”

“Do you want to hear them or not?” Art steps toward John again, sweeping his gaze over the wounded doctor as he speaks. “One. When everything is at its most calm—when even Sherlock is relaxing, or bored, or just at peace and not on a case—that is when you need to be the most alert, the most on guard. Two. Never trust anyone you meet if it is a man and the last name starts with M or S, or if it’s a woman and the last name starts with A. Three.”

He stopped speaking at once, and pain seemed to flash across his features for a moment. “I shouldn’t…but…Just…Never, ever, believe that Sherlock is dead unless you put his cold body in the ground with your own two hands, and even then be doubtful, especially if you’re not alone. Never trust a closed casket. But for heaven’s sake, don’t let anyone else think you think he is alive. They’d call you crazy.”

“They already do.” John ran his hands nervously across his face. “Is that really it? That’s all you can tell me?”

Art smiled, but it did not feel like a happy smile. “I’ve said too much already. My time’s running short.” He started to back and around the corner. “You just remember to write everything down, else I’ll have to follow you and get the story myself. That blog of yours—I want to see it filled.” John nodded and Art held out his hand. “Godspeed and luck go with you, Watson,” he said with a grim smile and an almost Victorian air of formality.

He took the offered hand in a nervous handshake. “And to you, Doyle,” he answered. With one last pointed look, the strange doctor turned around and walked down the darkened street and around a corner. A curious blue light shone once. John limped ahead and peered around the bend. Art was gone.


In their sitting room six months after the Pool Incident and following a case involving a false ghost, Sherlock tears into the idea of a world beyond his ken. John stays silent throughout the rant and it is clear he is only half paying attention. When Sherlock snaps his fingers in his friend’s face and scoffingly asks if John believes in supernatural forces, his thoughts immediately leap to the days of Afghanistan’s sun and one Dr. Arthur C. Doyle prepping for surgery that isn’t yet needed and warning men of introductions that will change their lives. John’s answer is uncharacteristic and surprises Sherlock to no end—a deep, doubtless, resounding yes. To the detective’s infinite annoyance and curiosity, he does not offer an explanation.

Perhaps he never will.

MicroFics—Stories Under 75 Words

Five Things John Taught Sherlock How To Do

1. Feel Guilt

He has no idea what he’s said to make the Yarders look at him with such sudden disgust. He turns to the doctor, whose expression holds only mild surprise and a biting disappointment. The disappointment makes something small twist in his stomach. “Not good?” he asks with a slight flinch.

“Bit not good, yeah,” John said, more than a little confused.

2. Apologize

“I just want to say…I wanted you to know that I…what I said was inexcusable…” He cleared his throat a few times and gazed mournfully at his reflection in the mirror. “This is impossible…”

“The least painful way is a nice, sincere ‘I’m sorry,” John said from behind him, making him jump a mile in the air. The doctor grinned. “And you’re forgiven, by the way.”

3. Clean House

“You missed a spot.”

Sherlock looked up from the floor and shot John his second best death glare. John beamed in return and jerked his head in the direction of the chemical spill under the table, gloved hands full of glass shards. “It’s easier if you hold the mop with both hands instead of trying to text at the same time. And scrub, for goodness’ sake. Only ten minutes until Mrs. Hudson gets back.”

4. Compromise

“…John, don’t, don’t do this to me…John, focus. Listen! How about a deal? I promise I’ll learn the location, orbital speed, moon names, surface temperature, mass, makeup, and size of every stupid planet in the galaxy if you’ll please just keep breathing…”

5. Cry

The doctor came to with a pained gasp. He squinted at the hospital ceiling like it had personally wronged him, then saw Sherlock beside the bed, staring at him with swollen red eyes. John smiled. “It’s all right, Sherlock,” he whispered. “I won’t tell.”

The detective blinked once and tears flowed as though a dam had burst.

Yarr, Matey

...No, there really isn't any call for the pirate talk. I'm just bored.

So for any of you wonderful people out in the world who actually, you know, take the time to keep up with this little stream of words (yeah, right—like I ever say anything!) I just wanted to say that the reason I've been so absent since...whenever I posted last is because I lost all internet access about a week before Christmas. And when I say "lost" I mean "lightning struck my HughesNet Satelliete." Yes, yes, it does stink to high heaven. Especially as I wanted to do a Christmas fic. Add that to one of many lost causes lists. I do have limited access—about two to three hours a day—on days that I have school and after work. I'm at college now, which is how I'm spreading the word, and such stuff.

I'm currently (half-heartedly) working on the Iron Ring "what came after" situations, although it's going slow because I have no way to see season two yet and I hear they hacked Irene Adler's character to death, which is really sad because my motto for Adler has always been "It's pronounced EYE-REE-NEE and do try not to make her to be more than what she was." (I was going to turn her into an ex-con woman that Mycroft had coerced into being some sort of spy after the Scandal, but I guess that's not going to happen now). Also continuing work on the Gypsy Curses drabble series, although that's even slower going than Iron Ring. Also working (like molasses uphill in January) on another Changeling!Watson, Siren!Holmes story, possibly the one where Watson reveals all. And finally, something new, tentatively called Ars Gratia Ars, which, in genre, would be something like Sherlock Plus One, as there's no real magic and it isn't exactly AU and it's not really a crossover...and it would be a sort of ridiculous explanation of why, in ASIP, John's therapist said he had trust issues and John was killing for a perfect stranger twenty-four hours later. Something happened in those twenty-four hours...hopefully Ars will be both a fun story have a challenge for other fanfic writers.

Anyway, as a reward for reading about that boring stuff up there, here's some non-fanfiction reading for you. Something not at all related to Sherlock and something hopefully legitimately funny.

BACKORDER

When Rome conquered Greece, Olympus had an earthquake. The great columns shook and even Zeus looked nervous. The Olympians gathered together for a brief talk, and after another small tremor, jumped on their chariots and galloped away.

“Eumonia!” Zeus called, seeing the smaller goddess mount her own steed. “Stay here and keep an eye on the place, all right? We’ll be back soon.”

And when the king of the gods gives an order to the goddess of good lawful conduct, what choice does she have but to obey?

They came back—one and two at a time, to fetch this thunderbolt, put away that potion, change dresses, get a pair of non-exhausted winged sandals. The Romans were harder to expel than they thought. They consulted Athena who, after much deep thought, gave this wise advice: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” The Olympians turned Roman.

“Stay here, Eumonia, and make sure Mount Olympus stays in good order,” Zeus called as they packed their bags and started for their new capitol. “We’ll be back again soon.”

And when the king of the gods says that to the goddess of good order, what choice does she have but to stay?

But they weren’t back again soon. Rome expanded, then weakened, and it was time for a new home. They moved to Britain, of all lands, and turned Celtic. They still floated into Olympus every once in a while—a chat about the good old days, a jug of nectar with friends, to fetch this cup, to put away this thunderbolt and that trident, change dresses, to retire the winged shoes and bemoan barefootedness.

Then Britain got crowded with religion and they moved across the sea to the unnamed west—those natives were in need of a deity or hundred. “These new people are much more primitive,” Zeus said as the Olympians returned to pack again. “They have no need for laws. Stay here and watch over our home and belongings, Eumonia. We’ll need them when Greece rises again.”

So she stayed and waited. As she waited, she did what she was told—she kept everything in good order.  As the years marched on, it became harder and harder. She understood why she had to stay—hundreds and hundreds of gods, gods for everything from the stars to the dirt, yet the only thing even remotely close to a god of organization or structure was a never-seen, barely-heard, overshadowed goddess of law and legislature.

The Olympians returned every once in a while, mostly to put things away, but they talked to her. They told her remarkable things of the changing world, but in hurried tones as they dumped their bags of stuff and told her to keep order while they were away. They weren’t really gods anymore, they told her as they unpacked and checked the time. There were no worshippers left. They kept all their powers, but they lived normal lives now, and most of them liked it that way.

“But don’t worry, Eumonia,” said Zeus, picking his teeth with a thunderbolt. “Stay here and wait for us. We’ll be gods again soon.”

She waited. And waited. And waited. And grew frustrated. Then angry. The livid. Then positively homicidal. Because somewhere over the course of two thousand years she had stopped being the goddess of lawful conduct and good order and started being the goddess of minding the storage shed of the gods.

“No, no, no!” she screeched as another pillar toppled to the floor. The cloud-ceiling sagged. She stamped her foot and clenched her fists, but could do nothing to fix it. What does a law goddess know of architecture? A rumbling in the back told her a stack of boxes had fallen over. The burning smell told her it had fallen into Hephaestus’ ever-lit forge. She ran back inside to pull as many things out of the fire as she possibly could.

And then the neighing started—a monster was in the stables. She groaned and sprinted back outside. “Enough!” she shouted at the minotaur as it smashed its horns against a stall door. She corralled the bullman back into his own enclosure and sprinted inside again as another column fell.

There was really only so much a law goddess could do to keep house, especially when the house was a ethereal palace. Mount Olympus was a mess.

Eumonia tripped over Artemis’ bow on the way inside and landed on Asclepius’ caduceus. The bow went flying into an overstuffed shelf full of overstuffed boxes, all of which tumbled to the floor before she could stand. She stumbled her way to the wall through the mess, numb with anger, buried her face in the Nemean lion pelt that hung like a tapestry, and screamed.

“That’s IT!” she yelled as she turned away, kicking Dionysus’ chalice and Artemis’ hunting horn as she did. “I’ve had it! I’m done! No more! I’m through. You hear me Zeus?” she screamed even louder, picking up the first thing she could get her hands on. “I’m THROUGH!”

And with that, she hurled the object out the window. There was a glint of gold as it flew, then nothing.

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Jake Mason was walking home from school, hands in his pockets, whistling a Taylor Swift song, when something flew out of the sky and hit him on the head.

He fell forward onto the sidewalk with a loud grunt. Dazed, he sat up and looked around, wondering what in tarnation had hit him.


“Jake!” called a familiar voice. “Omigosh, Jake, are you all right?”

“Did you see that? What was it, a meteor?” came another voice, growing closer.

Four hands helped him to his feet while he rubbed his aching head. “Uh, ow,” was all he could really think to say. “What the heck just happened?”

“Not sure,” said the first voice. The faces were coming back into focus now—Mary Shirley and Will Slade. Both juniors like him, though he didn’t know them all that well. It was Mary speaking now. “You’re okay, right? No double vision or anything? ‘Cause Will’s grounded and my phone died, so we can’t really call 911...”

“I think I’m fine,” he answered. “But ow.

Will had gone hunting around in the bushes where the whatever-it-was had rolled. “Check it out,” he said now, emerging from the undergrowth. In his hands he held a solid gold apple. “Dude, how are you not dead?”

Jake turned a little green. “Thanks, I think my head hurts even more now.”

“Where did it come from?” Mary asked, biting her lip and looking up. “I couldn’t have been thrown from a roof. There’s not any buildings in town tall enough to make it fall like that.”

“Is this real gold?” Will said, peering closer at the apple.

Ow,” Jake moaned, nearly bending over double, cradling his head in his arms.

Will and Mary exchanged glances. “He needs help,” Mary said. “Mr. Suez lives just across the street.”

Will nodded—as crazy as their science teacher was, he would be able to at least call for help. They hauled Jake up right again and helped him across the street. Will supported the injured boy while Mary knocked on the door.

“One moment!” There was a sound like a small explosion, and the teens could smell burning rubber as their teacher opened the door. “Well…what on earth are you three doing here? What’s wrong with Jake?”

“I think he needs an ambulance, Mr. Suez,” Will said, folding the poor boy into the porch swing. “He kind of got conked on the head.”

Mr. Suez had dialed before he’d finished speaking. “Yes, I have a boy here with a head injury. I’m not sure how serious…Yes, he’s conscious—“

Jake moaned again and slumped against the back of the swing.

“—for the most part,” Mr. Suez finished. “I’m not sure. Something hit him, apparently…” he took the phone away from his mouth. “The ambulance is on the way, but what exactly happened?”

“An apple fell out of the sky,” Mary said, blushing at the statement. “It sounds crazy, but it’s totally true.”

“We think it’s real gold,” Will said, handing over his prize.

Mr. Suez stared at the apple in his hand for a moment, then went white. “Good grief, Eumonia!” he cried, dropping the phone. There was a loud crack and a white flash. When the teens opened their eyes again, the teacher was nowhere to be seen.

Mary and Will stared, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Jake was quiet now, blinking in a rather dull-witted manner. The three turned to face each other. No one said anything.

Will swallowed when the ambulance siren drifted toward them. “If anyone asks,” he said, voice shaking, “He got struck by lightning. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” Mary said, sounding as if she were going to throw up.

Jake just fainted.

Writer's Block: Hello, World!

My first memory is of darkness, thick and flickering around the rings of fire just in front of me. Two tigers walk through the rings, growling when the reach the end of the light before turning to walk back through. I was around eighteen months old, maybe a bit younger. My parents took me to my first circus, but the fire and the tigers and the darkness were the only impression it made. Yes, I still like clowns.

Hunting Game:

Iron Ring: the End

This is the end of the first part, The Iron Ring. There will be several smaller, shorter parts to come regarding the people also drawn into the marriage, but I only have one written right now, and with this story I'm at 6638, which qualifies for MiniWriMo, so expect some more Married!Sherlock shorts soon. Hope you've enjoyed this.

Also, despite the decent friends comment, you probably will not see Joan Yancey again. Throw away convience character.


“…That’s pretty much all that happened, Sally,” John said. He had told the story from all the memories he could conjure, with a little help from Lestrade and Sherlock himself when the haze of alcohol grew too strong. He had wisely excluded the reference to Sherlock’s full name, and by what Sherlock had sworn. He had also excluded the fact that Joan was by way of email contact a fairly good friend of Sherlock’s and John’s and was Sherlock’s newest contact in the world of semi-corrupt businessmen with sloppy mistresses. And Molly missed the whole thing—still hadn’t come back with coffee, not like anyone expected her to. “The reception was the point when I got so laggered I nearly missed my flight, and Sherlock and I spent the next two weeks on an international crime solving spree, as Sherlock put it.”

“But how did you get him to go with you?” Sally asked. “I get that Sherlock’s married to his work now, which is creepy, and his creepier brother drew up the proper papers, and the iron ring is all kinds of symbolic… but how did you get Sherlock to go on holiday with you?”

Sherlock shrugged. “Apparently, being a good husband means seeking out crime to solve instead of shooting at the walls. And apparently, only bad husbands refuse to go on a honeymoon, so…”

“I promised him we would ‘bring justice’ and all that,” John finished. “Tell you the truth, I’d have been completely bored otherwise. I only took the stupid holiday to begin with because Harry bullied me and promised to pay for the whole thing. She’d only drink the lottery winnings otherwise.”

“Okay. Makes sense.” Sally shook her head. “It is still the most disturbing and… and sociopathic relationship I have ever heard of, but…”

“You’d best get used to it,” Sherlock said. “Apparently that silly ‘be a good husband’ clause also involves me taking my wife out to dinner and actually eating something. And since to go anywhere with my wife I need a significantly criminal-related stand in, I’ll be wining and dining the whole of Scotland Yard…”

Her eyebrows shot up and she held up her hand, backing up very quickly. “No. Oh, no. You are not taking me out on a date, Sherlock Holmes! Not in a million years!”

“It isn’t a date,” John said, a little defensively, having been on several such outings while on the “honeymoon.”

“We’ll see about that,” Sherlock said at the same time, a truly frightening grin on his face. “We’ll just see about that.

Iron Ring Part Eight: The Wedding

“That’s disgusting,” Joan said, as Sherlock lowered his hand. “Do you even know where that’s been?”
 
“With my brother, I assume, so you’re probably right to fear some kind of contamination.” Sherlock didn’t look too particularly concerned, though.  “An iron ring. Well, Mycroft always was much more poetic than I.” He started to toss it in the gutter.
 
“Don’t!” John said, grabbing his friend’s wrist. “Don’t throw it away.”
 
“I am not using a ring my brother gave me. I’m not using anything my brother gives me.”
 
“Yet you have no compunctions about spending his money?” John said with an eyebrow raised. “Use this ring, Sherlock. Mycroft’s right, it is terribly poetic.”
 
The detective sniffed, pouting without pouting once more. “Oh… fine. Mycroft’s iron ring, it is. Come one, then. To the alley.”
 
It was, John realized, the type of place that Sherlock usually loved to gather information. Bright, but very damp, with lots of room to pace or run if something unfavorable occurred. It was also empty for the most part, with an odd pair of what were probably drug dealers on the opposite length of the alley being the only other occupants currently.
 
Lestrade moved in front of Sherlock, going about fifty short paces and standing. “Sherlock, come down here with me. John, will you walk Joan down the aisle?”
 
“Gladly,” John said, offering Miss Yancey his arm. She took it with a nervous giggle that made Sherlock roll his eyes before jogging to stand before Lestrade. John and Joan began to walk at an easy pace. Their wedding march, however, was more like an army march, as John was leading and he’d never walked a bride down the aisle before. He supposed it didn’t matter since there was no music—maybe he should just be glad he wasn’t completely snockered. Yet. There was, of course, still the reception.
 
They turned toward each other, Joan looking a bit expectant. John blushed a little and kissed her cheek before handing her over to Sherlock. Sherlock took her hand as if he didn’t quite know what to do with her. She rolled her eyes a bit and caught his other hand in hers. “Just…stand there, big boy,” she said. “And calm down. I’m not going to bite.”
 
He blanched. “Put your teeth or tongue anywhere near my mouth—“
 
“DEARLY beloved,” Lestrade called right in Sherlock’s ear. The consulting detective quieted, glaring softly at the woman before him. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the official union of this man and... his… work.” He once more glanced at John, who nodded as if to say go on, and turned his attention back to the squirming Sherlock. Better get this over with quickly. “Uh…since we are already quite familiar with Sherlock and his bride, we will proceed with the vows. Sherlock, please repeat after me. ‘I, Sherlock…Holmes, take you, um…the criminal element…”
 
“What’s with the pause?” Sherlock asked, breaking off his staring match with Joan.
 
“Just say your full name there.”
 
He was just drunk enough to ask, and Sherlock was just drunk enough to say it. “I, Sherlock Galen Antony Caleb Holmes, take you, the criminal element…what? What are you staring at me for?”
 
“Uh…sorry. Where was I? Uh, to be my lawfully wedded wife.”
 
“To be my lawfully wedded wife.”
 
“In sickness or in health.”
 
“In sickness or in health.”
 
“…Although in sickness I vow to take it easy when hunting you down.”
 
Sherlock’s head whipped around to glare between Lestrade, who was looking innocent, and John, who’s finger was suspiciously close to Lestrade’s rib cage. His eyes narrowed and for the first time he suspected some kind of trap. Never the less, he had made it this far. He couldn’t turn back now.
“Although in sickness I vow to take it easy when hunting you down.”
 
“For richer or poorer.”
 
“For richer or poorer,” he repeated, turning back to Joan.
 
“For better or for worse.”
 
“For better or for worse.”
 
“I vow to remain ever loyal to you.”
 
“I vow to remain ever loyal to you.”
 
“Even when…ennui strikes, I shall not commit fornication through recreational substances.”
 
“Even when… what?”
 
“Ennui. Means boredo—“
 
I know what it means.
 
“I like these vows, Sherlock,” John chirped from behind him. “Maybe you ought to go ahead and finish the phrase.”
 
Sherlock gave a wordless growl. “Even when ennui strikes, I shall not commit fornication throughrecreationalsubstances,” he said in a rush. “One of you will pay for this.”
 
Lestrade cleared his throat over the sound of the woman’s nervous giggle. “I vow to bring justice to those who have wronged others.”
 
“I vow to bring justice to those who have wronged others.”
 
“And to protect those who have been wronged.”
 
“And to protect those who have been wronged.” He relaxed as he realized Lestrade wasn’t going to make him swear to uphold the law or any such nonsense.
 
“I vow to be a good husband,” Lestrade said suddenly, as if struck with inspiration or—more likely—jabbed in the side again. “And accept from others aid in being a good husband.”
 
“What?” Sherlock said, almost jumping. “What does that even mean?
 
“Just say it.”
 
“I vow to be a good husband and accept from others aid in being a good husband.”
 
“Good. Now swear it on something that means something to you.”
 
Sherlock closed his eyes. “I swear it… On John’s life and Mummy’s approval, I vow all these things to you.”
 
Lestrade raised an eyebrow at that and glanced at John, who grinned and shrugged. “All right. Now, Miss Yancey. Put the ring on his finger and say “I, the, er… criminal element, hold you to your vows.”
 
“I get to be criminal,” Joan said with a smile, taking the ring Sherlock offered. She slipped it onto his left ring finger. “I, the criminal element, hold you to your vows.”
 
“I, in turn, vow to occupy your mind and never leave you wanting, unless you do not uphold your vows to me.”
 
Her smile grew. “I, in turn, vow to occupy  your mind and never leave you wanting, unless you do not uphold your vows to me. Can I have your email address after this? I’d like to keep up with you and your criminal wife.”
 
“I’ll show you my blog,” John muttered as Sherlock released a noise of disgust. “I write up all his cases.”
 
“Oh, good.”
 
“Excuse me,” Lestrade grumbled. They all looked at him, and he blushed. “Actually I think I’m done. By the power vested in me by the commissioner of New Scotland Yard, I now pronounce you man and… wife. You may now kiss… uh… the substitute for the bride.”
 
Sherlock cringed and leaned forward. Joan laughed and gave him a chaste peck on the lips. “That wasn’t so bad, not, was it?” she asked as she backed off.
 
He frowned. “No, not as bad as I’d feared. Thank you for making that experience less uncomfortable than I anticipated, Miss Yancey.”
 
“Please, call me Joan. I’m invited to the reception, yes?”
 
“Of course,” said Lestrade. “We’d be glad to have you. Back to the pub!”
 
“Oh, and Joan—since you’re pretty well out of danger now, can I have my Browning back?”
 
And they walked back to the pub in a not quite single file line, much the same way they had walked into the alley, save the street light catching the dark glint of metal winking on Sherlock’s finger.

Iron Ring Part Seven: Mycroft Holmes

Sherlock managed to pout without actually pouting as he scanned the pub for women. Pretend it’s a case, he told himself. They’re witnesses, they’re all witnesses. Which one is most likely to answer your questions…

A woman standing near the door caught his eye. Medium blond hair, not drunk although she’d been there quite a while, recently broke up with a boyfriend, owned one cat and two dogs, worked in either public relations or human resources, lived on the nice side of London but came to this bar not because she wanted to get drunk or be “picked up,” but because she wanted a little adventure every now and then. John would find her attractive, he told himself as an afterthought, but wouldn’t make a move. She wouldn’t misinterpret a request, either. He nudged John and pointed at her. “That one, please, if we must.”

Sure enough, John’s cheeks flushed just the tiniest bit when he saw where Sherlock was pointing. “That one? You sure?”

“For not being interested in romantics of any kind, Sherlock, you’ve got good tastes,” Lestrade said, making Sherlock roll his eyes.

“Just go and ask, John? We’ve still got to think of a way to get a ring…” He glanced at the detective inspector while John moved toward the young woman. “Could we send Dimmock to the jeweler, or is he too far gone?”

Lestrade spared a glance for the police table, then shook his head. “We’ll figure something out. All right, she’s looking this way… Now she’s laughing… What on earth is John saying to her?”

Sherlock shrugged. “He’s very good with women when he’s not being pathetic or shy. Which is mostly all the time. Now he’s got alcohol in him, even I can’t guess what he’d say…they’re heading this way…”

John had the woman by the hand, leading her toward the two detectives. “All right. This is Sherlock Holmes, who you’ll be kissing,” he told her, pointing to his flatmate, “and this is DI Gregory Lestrade, who will be performing the ceremony. Gentleman…and Sherlock…this is Miss Joan Yancey.

Lestrade smiled at her and opened his mouth to say hello, but Sherlock beat him to it. “Good job, breaking up with Matthew Donnel yesterday,” he said, scanning her at close range now and adding that much more data. “He was a con man. I had him arrested once. Within three days he’d probably either started hitting you or stolen your jewelry.”

Miss Joan Yancey’s eyebrows went up. John cleared this throat and gave a nervous little laugh. “Yeah, probably should have warned you about him…he’s…uh…”

“A prat,” Lestrade offered, elbowing the younger man in the back.

“Observant,” John said. “Okay, Sherlock wants to have the wedding in an alley about a block from here—“

“Wait,” said the woman. “Coming over here to meet your friends is one thing, but following three men down a dark alley is another thing entirely. Can’t he have the wedding right outside the pub or something?”

“No,” Sherlock said, “but if you honestly think you’ll be in danger from a disgustingly chivalric doctor, a police officer, and an asexual…”

“Sherlock,” John said, glancing at him sternly. Sherlock fell silent at once. “How about this, Miss Yancey. Don’t get nervous, and Lestrade, don’t say a word. I’ve got a gun in my back pocket—don’t get nervous,” he repeated as she turned pale. “I am going to give it to you, all right? You can come with us, and if any of us behave badly, feel free to shoot them. All right?”

She looked at John as if she was very much holding back the urge to laugh in his face. “Sure, I’m game. I’ll have quite the story to tell at the water cooler tomorrow, won’t I?”

John grinned and reached into his back pocket, pulling out his Browning. As he passed it to Joan, Lestrade’s face darkened. “Wait a minute, John, that’s—did you smuggle—“

“I think John asked you not to say a word,” said Sherlock. “You can pretend it’s a hallucination brought on by copious amounts of beer, if you like. Shall we go?”

Joan tucked the gun into her jacket—Sherlock added familiar with guns to his list of things he knew about her—and nodded. “I suppose I’m ready if you three are.”

“Great. Let’s get this over with.” He led the way out of the pub and down the down the darkening street.

They had barely gone more than a few steps when a suited man stepped out in front of them. “Delivery for Sherlock Holmes,” he said, handing Sherlock an envelope and crossing the street before anyone else could say a word.

Sherlock was sniffing the envelope when John made his way to his side. “What do you suppose that is?” he asked as his friend shook the envelope and held it up to a street lamp.

Lestrade glanced at the envelope over Sherlock’s shoulder. “Do I need to call the bomb squad?”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Lestrade, it’s only my brother,” the detective said, tearing open the envelope.

“What’sh Mycroft got to do with anything?” John asked.

“Mycroft?” said Joan. “You poor dears. I certainly hope those are family names and not just your parents being exceptionally cruel…”

Sherlock pulled a greeting card out of the envelope. “Designer, heavy parchment. Spare no expense, that’s brother mine,” he said, looking with distaste at the image of wedding bells on the front of the card. He opened it. “ ‘Congratulations on your impending marriage, little brother. Tell John I said good show for coming up with it. So sorry I can’t make it, but you know how it goes. Sent you something I think might help.’ How patronizing.

“Uh, John?” Lestrade asked, catching the card as Sherlock threw it over his shoulder. “How did this Mycroft Holmes find out about the wedding?”

John shook his head. “Ever read 1984?

The DI paused, blinked, and then shuddered. “Don’t tell me. Sherlock’s big brother is Big Brother?”

“You say that like it’s original,” Sherlock said, his voice dripping with disgust. “Look, he’s sent something else, too.” He shook the envelope and a ring dropped onto his palm. Not just any ring, but a black wedding band, smooth, unmarked.

“Black?” asked Joan, fingering it. “I mean, it’s pretty and all. But black?”

Sherlock raised the ring to his face and snaked his tongue out of his mouth, licking the side. “Iron,” he said. “It's not gold. It's iron.”

Iron Ring Part Six: Not Kissing Sally

Lestrade had been drinking when Sherlock “popped the question.” Beer sprayed over Sherlock and John both as he coughed and spluttered, face white.

John’s face went into his hands, the picture of saint like patience and sheer exasperation.

“What, was that not good?” Sherlock said, glancing backward. Only when he saw John’s defeated posture did he realize what he had said. “Oh, no, no, I didn’t mean it like that. I thought you knew me better than that, Detective Inspector. I mean I need someone to perform a ceremony. The ceremony.”

The coughing did not subside right away. John felt it was his duty as doctor to administer a few light pats on the back to help him clear his throat—light pats, none of that stupid pounding that only hurt and annoyed, but something that was actually helpful. Lestrade felt his respect for the man rise ever so slightly. “Pardon again?” he said, voice hoarse. He set his drink on the table beside him and decided if Sherlock Freaking Holmes was going to start proposing to people, it was time to stop drinking all together.

“Sherlock is officially getting married to his work,” John explained, wearing a painstaking “it’s a good idea; go along with it” expression. “Can’t exactly have a priest make arrange those sort of vows, see?” He looked back to Sherlock. “Great idea, by the way, a police officer instead of a priest.”

Sherlock scoffed. “Of course it’s a great idea. It’s my idea. So, Lestrade? John’s going to be my best man—“

“I am?”

“Well you’re arranging the whole thing, it only makes sense. So if you agree to perform the ceremony that only leaves the girl and the ring.” His nose wrinkled again. “Although I do think we can do away with all kissing of any sort in this particular wedding, don’t you?”

“Peck her on the cheek if you like, then, I don’t care,” John said, rolling his eyes. “What happened to the location?”

“There’s a rather nice brightly lit and semi-friendly alley about a block from here,” the detective said, waving a hand. “It’ll do perfectly for the sort of atmosphere we’re trying to set up. Lestrade? Have you made up your mind yet?”

The detective was staring from John to Sherlock with his mouth open a bit, wondering if he’d fallen asleep at some point and dreaming this whole bizarre episode. Then he closed his mouth and stood up a little straighter. Maybe the doctor’s “just go with it” face was right. At the very least he may be able to turn this to his advantage later…and Sherlock had helped close enough cases that, if he wanted Lestrade to marry him—ugh, no—to perform a strange, slightly psychotic marriage ceremony, it was probably the least he could do. “Yeah, sure, I’ll do it,” he said. “So, a girl and a ring, huh? Are you marrying the girl for real, or…?”

“Just a stand in,” Sherlock said. His eyes narrowed. “And just so you know, I am not kissing Sally.”

The three men glanced over to the “police” table, were Sally was now snoring just as loudly as Anderson. “Probably a good call,” Lestrade admitted, allowing a small grin to slip over his features. “So, pick out a different girl and…” he thought very carefully about the next sentence before saying “…and have John ask her for this… favor.”

Sherlock looked a bit put out—even if he hated the whole idea of courtship, he liked to think he could charm women. Sally had called him “gorgeoush,” after all. “I think I’m capable of asking a girl to stand in as a bride, thank you very much.”

John’s eyes suddenly widened a bit as he realized just what sort of disasters Sherlock could cause with such a request. “…Lestrade’s right, sorry. Better let me do the asking.”

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Hope you enjoy your stay at the Barking Beast Inn, located just outside the Greenwood. If you're looking for game nearby, the Greenwood itself is home to a variety of fascinating creatures—plot bunnies, vampiric bandersnoots, rogue muses, rabid marshlings, and the wish-granting Barking Beast, of course,and a wide variety of monstrous things. Have fun, and best of luck.

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