Original Story Title: Under the Skin
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/224984
Original Story Pairings: Greg Lestrade/John Watson
Original Story Rating: General Audiences
Original Story Warnings/Content Notes: Mindswap, Humor
Remix Author: bowl_of_glow
Remix Story Title: No Such Thing as Impossible
Remix Story Rating: General Audiences
Remix Story Pairings: Greg Lestrade/John Watson (implied)
Remix Story Rating: General Audiences
Remix Story Warnings/Content Notes: Mindswap, humor
Remix Story Beta: persiflager
Remix Story Britpicker: persiflager
Summary: Sherlock has tackled some very weird cases in the course of his career, but this one beats them all.
Later, John would insist the whole thing had been Sherlock’s fault.
“You’re always doing that,” John had said. “Sticking your nose where you shouldn’t.”
To which Sherlock had replied, somewhat mystified: “John. That’s our job.”
So yes, it was true that Lestrade had yet to see the artifact Sherlock was trying to put discreetly in his coat pocket. The only reason he’d tried to do that, though, was that Lestrade had made his position quite clear on the subject of “squirrelling away evidence”. Sherlock just wanted to examine the artifact at his leisure, possibly at home, of course he would return it to the police later. Could that really be considered stealing? (“Yes, Sherlock. Yes it would,” John insisted later when Sherlock tried to explain his reasoning.)
The artifact was in a corner of the room, half-hidden by a crumpled piece of paper. It was the twinkle of the gem that caught Sherlock’s eye – a flicker of light, gone as soon as he lowered the torch. He walked to the corner, snapped on a glove, knelt down and tossed the piece of paper aside, and there it was: a sort of pendant, only it didn’t have any hook or hole to be attached to a chain. It was a small golden disk covered with little hand-carved symbols that Sherlock at first didn’t recognize, with a small round green stone sat in the middle. It looked… fairly old. Antique, in fact. It would be difficult to confirm it without a close examination. And surely people who worked with the likes of Anderson couldn’t be trusted to do a proper job.
“Found anything?” John asked, suddenly behind his back, just as Sherlock was attempting to slip the pendant in his right pocket.
“Nothing interesting,” Sherlock lied, hand closed protectively around the artifact. He didn’t know why he even bothered trying, it wasn’t like he actually thought he might fool John – slow as he might sometimes be, he wasn’t an idiot.
John gave him a look. One of his looks, one of the several he had perfected after almost a year of sharing a flat with Sherlock Holmes. This one said, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that, you may give it another try. John had quite an expressive face, really. It was fascinating.
“What have you got?” Lestrade asked, joining them, and Sherlock got to his feet.
“I thought your team had examined the crime scene,” Sherlock scoffed, annoyed. “Do they let just anyone on the force these days?”
Lestrade ignored him, as he was wont to do. He had been working with Sherlock for quite a few years after all, he was bound to find the most effective way of dealing with him eventually.
“All right, give it here,” he said, holding out a plastic evidence bag with a nod to Sherlock’s still closed fist.
Sherlock opened his mouth to reply, but before he could utter a word, John had pried his fingers open.
Things went a bit fuzzy. There was a green flash, like the light of a fluorescent bulb; an electric jolt seemed to go straight from Sherlock’s fingers right to his core when John’s hand touched his, followed by… a blackout, quite literally – he didn’t lose consciousness, at least he didn’t think, but he was momentarily robbed of hearing and sight. Then the darkness lifted, his vision came back and his ears started to work again – though there was a weird buzz, like radio static, and he couldn’t figure out whether the noise came from around him or was just inside his head. “Jesus, are you all right?” Lestrade was saying, and Sherlock blinked and blinked, and bit by bit the fog faded away. He found himself staring into John’s face, and John looked just as stunned as Sherlock felt. He became aware of Lestrade’s hand on his shoulder, and of his own arms hanging limply beside his body. When he looked down, the pendant was on the floor, lying at his feet.
“Yeah, don’t even think about that,” Lestrade said as Sherlock stared down. As if Sherlock had enough motor coordination to crouch at the moment.
Lestrade produced a pair of tongs out of somewhere and, after a worried glance at John, who was still blinking owlishly at Sherlock, bent down to pick up the artifact they had dropped and put it into the plastic bag.
“Right. This is going straight to the lab, I think. John? You okay?”
“Yeah,” John replied, sounding just as confused as he looked. “I’m okay.”
“Hmm,” Lestrade hummed dubiously. “Maybe I’d better call you guys a taxi.”
“What the hell was that?” John asked after they’d climbed into the taxi, as they were heading to Baker Street.
“I’m… not sure,” Sherlock said. John looked at him strangely, as if surprised by the statement, but didn’t comment on it.
They were feeling like themselves again by the time they got home. John put on the kettle and ordered takeaway from Sherlock’s current favorite place, and they ate Chinese in front of the telly.
“Well, I’m going to bed,” John said at some point, not even bothering to hide his third yawn.
“It’s not even ten,” Sherlock said, but John just shrugged.
“Some of us have to go to work tomorrow. I’m knackered, anyway.”
“Hmm. Getting old,” Sherlock muttered under his breath, and John cried “I heard that!” over his shoulder as he walked to his bedroom.
Sherlock grabbed his laptop and retired to his bedroom as well. He meant to write an entry about the identification of natural fibres on his blog, and maybe do a bit of research about the pendant he had found on the crime scene and the symbols that were carved on it – Anatolian hieroglyphs? Cretan, maybe? He hadn’t had time to take more than a quick glance, if only John hadn’t interrupted! – but he must’ve been more tired than he thought, and fell asleep without meaning to.
It was the light filtering in through the window that woke Sherlock up.
He batted his eyes, still feeling groggy with sleep. How strange. He never slept that long in the morning. He didn't even remember getting undressed the previous night. Had he really been that exhausted?
He stretched, yawning, and rolled his shoulder, trying to work out a knot in his muscles. When he turned onto his right side he found himself facing a nightstand. A nightstand, on the right side of the bed.
The wrong side of the bed.
He frowned and sat up, blinking around. Well, he certainly didn't remember getting into John's room the previous night. Had John taken him there? But why would he? And why couldn’t Sherlock remember?
He threw the blanket aside and swung his legs off the side of the bed. They were… shorter. He looked down, stared at his unusually muscular thighs. Slowly, he raised his arms, bringing his hands in front of his face. Not his hands. John's hands.
"Well," Sherlock said.
He heard water running in the bathroom downstairs. John had woken up as well. Had he noticed yet? Surely he must have.
Sherlock got to his feet, opened the door and stuck his head out. "Bloody hell, John," he said. "You are old."
"Fuck off," he heard John answer good-naturedly in what sounded definitely like Sherlock’s voice.
Sherlock walked down the stairs and entered the kitchen, where John was going about making tea. Well, he said John… It was quite strange to watch himself make tea, especially when the body language was decidedly not his own. Sherlock supposed he should be grateful, in a sense – there were worse people he could’ve swapped bodies with. At least John was taking the whole affair remarkably well.
It was reasonable to think the body swap had been caused by the artifact, so of course the first thing to do was go to the Yard and demand they let them take it. (“Ask, Sherlock,” John corrected. “Ask is the word you’re looking for.”)
“And it’s Saturday anyway,” John added as an afterthought, and when Sherlock just stared at him: “Lestrade’s day off. Do you think he'll answer his mobile?”
Sherlock shrugged. “So we’ll go and see him. He’ll be home.”
Sherlock had failed to take into account the possibility of Lestrade being somewhat sceptical about the event that had put them in their current predicament. Lestrade took one look at them both, said “Get out,” and tried to slam the door in their faces.
Sherlock put a foot in the door, and he and John tried to explain the situation, but Sherlock admitted it sounded slightly less reasonable said aloud like that than it was in his head.
“It's Saturday, can't I have one day to myself?” groaned Lestrade, who apparently thought Sherlock was just trying to trick him to take the evidence back. It might have been a little insulting, if Sherlock hadn’t tried to do just that a few times before this case. Why Lestrade would think John might go along with Sherlock’s plan was harder to explain, but John could be quite gullible when one tried to appeal to his sense of justice (Sherlock knew it well, he might have exploited that particular trait a few times) so that was probably it.
“Well,” Sherlock said, after Lestrade had managed to slam and lock the door, telling them to leave him alone. “That could’ve gone better.”
“Greg,” John whined, leaning against the door. “Please.”
Sherlock took John by the arm, tugging him away. “Come along, John. No sense in staying.”
Sherlock was not going to the clinic. Not today, not ever. John was very clear about that.
Apparently John didn’t think Sherlock could restrain himself from calling patients awful names or terrorizing little old ladies. Really, the man had no faith in Sherlock’s array of skills – if John could do it, surely it couldn’t be that much of an effort. And Sherlock was a fantastic actor, anyway.
“I think your energies will be far better spent on researching this -- whatever it is,” John said, and Sherlock had to admit he had a point, after all. He settled into his chair with his laptop. He had to admit it was way easier to curl up in it in John’s body. Much less legs to deal with.
“Maybe make some tea,” he said to John, offhandedly.
John rolled his eyes but went to the kitchen without further complaints, and Sherlock started researching.
An hour later, Sherlock still didn’t have a clue what he should be looking for. John insisted in hovering around Sherlock and in being of no real use, if not a downright hindrance – he occasionally peeked over Sherlock’s shoulder, paced around the flat, swept the floors, washed the dishes, made cup after cup of tea. Sherlock wasn’t sure how much of that frenzy was due to John’s nervousness and how much to his own body’s fidgetiness. He knew he was feeling different, as if everything was slightly off. He might’ve felt a bit better after a smoke but John stopped him every time he tried to light a cigarette, and wouldn’t even let him put on a nicotine patch or two.
“It’s my body,” John said. “It doesn’t need any nicotine.”
“Well, I do,” Sherlock snapped.
“No, you don’t,” John said, having clearly decided Sherlock was not going to win this stubbornness contest.
Sherlock groaned. “God, John, you’re slowing me down!”
“I’m not doing anything!” John replied in an outraged tone, shaking a feather duster at him.
“Your body. Your body is slowing me down.”
John huffed. “So very sorry about that.”
“Is it always like this?” Sherlock asked.
John crossed his arms. “You know, I’m not exactly having fun either, but at least I’m not sitting there complaining.”
Sherlock sniffed and regarded John. “Not sure what you’d want to complain about. Some might say this has been an improvement for you.”
John pursed his lips. “Right,” he said, and walked back into the kitchen, where he started banging around with pots and pans, sounding for all world as if he was trying to be as annoying as possible.
With a sigh, Sherlock turned back to his laptop and the dozens of pictures he had opened in different tabs, then shut the lid of his computer, closed his eyes and withdrew into the safety of his mind palace. It felt comforting, if slightly altered, as if someone had moved around a few books in a bookshelf, or rearranged the furniture of a room, but everything was there, which was a relief. When Sherlock opened his eyes he found himself staring at his own face. John, sitting in his chair with a cup of tea, looked expectantly at him.
“Linear A,” Sherlock said.
“Linear what?” asked John.
“It’s what archaeologists have called an ancient, hitherto undeciphered Minoan written system,” Sherlock explained. He lifted the lid of his laptop and turned the screen towards John, who leaned forward in his seat. “I’d say this looks very similar to the symbols carved on the artifact.”
“I wouldn’t know,” John admitted. He hadn’t even got a proper look at it, after all.
Sherlock steepled his fingers.
"Minos," he said, musingly. "Of course, it'd be a civilization whose language we barely comprehend."
Oh, but this could be interesting.
"Maybe I'll try Lestrade again," John said, sounding a bit more apprehensive than before.
Sherlock nodded. It was likely Lestrade wouldn’t listen to John, but it would do him good to get out for a bit. In fact, it would do both of them good, since Sherlock really needed to think.
“Blackwell's playing tonight,” Sherlock said. “You'll have to get there before he goes out to the pub.”
He got up, was struck by a sudden idea. "Wait. He might listen if you give him--" He walked to his desk, rummaged in his drawers and shuffled some papers around until he found what he was looking for. He put a photograph in an envelope, closed it, eyed it for a second, than took something else out.
“Sealing wax,” John said.
“Hmm,” Sherlock answered, melting the wax stick with a match.
“Must come in handy for urgent dispatches to Her Majesty,” John observed, as the wax dripped on the paper. Sherlock ignored him and pressed a cufflink he had taken out of the same drawer on the warm wax. He took out a pen with his right hand, frowned, took the pen with his left hand and signed the sealed envelope.
“I want you to pick up a few books for me at the library,” Sherlock said. “I’ll write you a list.”
Once John had left, Sherlock got back to work. He dig out a few online articles, a couple of books about cryptography, printed out some pictures he had found on the internet and pinned them all to the wall.
John had suggested calling Mycroft, and while Sherlock had to admit that was probably the sensible thing to do, he decided he was not going to just yet. Given the surveillance his brother kept them under, it was likely he had already noticed something wasn’t quite right anyway, so Sherlock might as well go ahead and take some time to investigate on his own before Mycroft took it upon himself to come and stick his nose into their business. A Minoan artifact with supernatural powers and an ancient code that had yet to be deciphered. That was a nine, at least. He couldn’t afford to let Mycroft try to persuade him to leave this case alone.
He curled up in his chair, burying himself in one of his books.
He was still there, surrounded by three mugs and a couple of teacups – he wasn’t sure if he was feeling John’s absence, or if making tea was a habit deeply ingrained in John’s body – when he heard Mrs Hudson’s steps coming up the stairs.
“Everything all right, dear?” she asked, tapping on the door and poking her head in.
“Yes, fine,” Sherlock replied, not looking up from the page he was reading.
Mrs Hudson tutted at him (or possibly at the dirty mugs on the floor).
“Must you boys always leave such a mess?” she asked, though she didn’t sound as if she expected a reply. She walked inside, placing a plate covered by a dome lid on the coffee table. “I brought you a piece of that cake I made last night, dear.”
“Oh.” Sherlock peeked under the lid, and only then did he remember he was supposed to act like John. “Thank you, Mrs Hudson,” he said “It smells… delicious.”
He looked at her with what he hoped was a pleasant and sufficiently grateful smile. Mrs Hudson’s eyes narrowed.
“Are you sure you’re feeling quite all right?” she asked.
God. He hadn’t overdone it, had he? “Yes,” he assured her. “Of course I am, I’m just… a bit tired. You know how Sherlock can be.”
Mrs Hudson looked, if possible, even more doubtful. She glanced at the mugs and the books on the floor, the papers scattered on the coffee table, the pictures on the wall, then looked back at Sherlock with a small frown. Sherlock tried to look as normal and John-like as possible.
“Oh, dear,” Mrs Hudson gasped, putting her hand over mouth. “You boys are going to be okay, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said, aiming for a reassuring tone. “Of course, nothing bad happened, Mrs Huson, it’s just. This case we’re working on.”
Mrs Hudson nodded. “Oh, well,” she sighed. She patted Sherlock’s arm and sniffed. “Whatever it is, I’m sure you’re going to solve it.”
Sherlock forced a smile.
Mrs Hudson turned to leave and then, almost as an afterthought, she added: “But perhaps you’d better call your brother, dear.”
Sherlock just stared at her as she walked out.
John came back with the books Sherlock had requested, some photographs of the artifact and, judging by the look on his face, a few questions of his own.
“So, what was that?” John asked, after sitting in his chair.
“That photograph. The one you put in the envelope.”
“You saw it.” That was kind of the point, Sherlock didn’t add. He was sure John had looked genuinely surprised by the photograph, and Lestrade had to realize even Sherlock wasn’t that good an actor.
“I did,” John confirmed. “I’m not quite sure why you kept it, though.”
“Oh,” Sherlock said. “I took it the first time I lifted his wallet. I thought it might come in useful someday, and it did. Am I wrong?”
John rolled his eyes. Sherlock wondered if he really looked that annoying when he did it.
“I also stole one of his cufflinks,” he added. “Though I’m not sure Lestrade ever noticed. Probably just thought he’d lost it somewhere.”
John looked at the plate on the table. “Mrs Hudson came by?” he asked.
“Oh, yes,” Sherlock said. “Left us a piece of cake.”
“Hmm.” John lifted the lid and made a face at the cake. “All yours. I hate lemon cake.”
Oh. There was always something.
“You’re not going to ask, then?” he asked John.
“It was his boyfriend, yes. In case you were wondering.”
John’s gaze shifted from Sherlock’s eyes to a point on his forehead. “Thank you, but I gathered that much.”
“Did you?” Sherlock asked.
John’s gaze shifted to a point over Sherlock’s shoulder. “Not that there’s anything… they were both very….” he paused, apparently searching his mind for an appropriate word. “Young,” he concluded.
“Hmm. Well, Lestrade’s still quite bisexual,” Sherlock offered.
John looked a bit flustered. “I didn’t ask,” he pointed out, and got to his feet. Sherlock shook his head as he walked to the kitchen, and got back to his research.
He explained his theory to John over breakfast the next morning, after he’d finished complaining about having to sleep in a bed that was too small and in a body that was all angles. Sherlock didn’t say anything about his night, since that would have been embarrassing for him and John both – he didn’t remember details anyway, all that remained were hazy memories and a vague general impression, but he had woken up confused and aroused in the middle of the night, and he knew whose hands and voice he’d been dreaming about. Or had he rather say John?
“Non-conventional weapons?” John repeated when Sherlock exposed his theory, sounding doubtful. "Like, a staff that could switch people's minds? What good would that do?"
Sherlock grinned. “Oh, it’s very clever, actually. Pax Minoica – ever heard of it?”
John shook his head. “I don’t think I have.”
“The Minoan Peace,” Sherlock explained. “A term coined by some archaeologist for this supposedly peaceful era at the time of Minoan civilization. Little evidence of weapons or fortifications in Minoan Crete, and it was after all a people that flourished by trade… One might say diplomacy was the key.”
“Well, as I’m sure my brother could attest, to think of diplomacy as a completely harmless tool it’s quite foolish indeed. Imagine – you're a Theban ambassador, visiting the island for negotiations. Someone hands you their staff as part of the welcoming ceremony— ”
"And you're stunned, briefly, but fine," John went on, starting to see where Sherlock was going.
“And then, the next morning…”
“The next morning,” John said slowly, putting his mug on the table, “you're back on your ship, safe at home, but you're not, are you? You're in the wrong body, and some other bloke from Minos is telling your subordinates that no, you don't think battle's necessary. They're armed and dangerous, and wouldn't it be better to sign a nice trade treaty, anyway?"
Sherlock grinned. “Exactly.”
If Sherlock’s theory was correct, the effect of the artifact was bound to wear off eventually.
Surely a mind swap would become too obvious after a few days, and who would want to spend the rest of their life in the wrong body, even to preserve the peace of their island and people?
Still, telling John they just had to wait and see didn’t seem to appease him much. If Sherlock had to be honest, he wasn’t feeling that comforted, either. The fact that he had remained at home while John went out with Lestrade for fish and chips did not help.
“You’re not coming. What if Sarah sees you? You have a rotovirus,” John reminded Sherlock – looking more pleased than was strictly necessarily, Sherlock thought.
Well, if he couldn’t leave the flat he was going to make good use of his time in John’s body. John had strictly forbidden him from experimenting on his body, though he had failed to clarify what “experimenting” entailed, exactly. Surely he would not be upset by anything that wouldn’t leave any marks or permanent damage. And well, it wasn’t like he had to know about it, anyway.
Sherlock’s phone rang while he was in the middle of a violin sonata, occasionally pausing to write down observations on muscle memory and fine motor skills in a notebook (John’s thicker and shorter fingers were hard to control – he found that he could still play but he had to concentrate more and it felt strange, as if he was playing with gloves that were too thick and too small and, unsurprisingly, he could write a lot better with his left hand than with his right, though neither of them felt quite right.) He was so focused on his playing that he accepted the call without even glancing at the screen, and only remembered why that might not be a terribly good idea when he was already holding the phone against his ear.
“Hello?” he said tentatively. There was a short silence on the other end of the line.
“Well,” Mycroft drawled. “This is interesting.”
Sherlock sighed. “What do you want, Mycroft?”
“And if the reports hadn’t been enough, that answer alone would have been enough to convince me.”
“Do you have a point, or did you call me just to gloat?”
“On the contrary, brother mine. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve got people working on this case as we speak.”
“I don’t need your help,” Sherlock said.
“Of course you don’t,” Mycroft assured Sherlock in an affable tone. “I’ll leave you to it, then. Say hello to John.”
Sherlock ended the call and threw his phone on the sofa.
The novelty of inhabiting John’s body wore off quicker than Sherlock imagined it would, if he had to be honest. He examined the photographs Lestrade had given them, texted Lestrade (who ignored him), texted John, who replied shortly after, saying he was coming home.
Good. There were still a few things left to try.
It might not have been Sherlock’s most brilliant idea, that much he was willing to admit. But he was incredibly bored, and there was very little that was science-based in ancient mind swap techniques as far as Sherlock was concerned, and yes, maybe he was grasping at straws, just a bit. But it was worth a try, at least.
“You took forever," Sherlock said, as soon as John walked through the door.
“We had to finish lunch,” John replied. “So, what’s your idea?”
"What about it?"
"Might be a trigger,” Sherlock explained. “Adrenal glands, you're a physician, you know how they function. We were both startled when the device went off, it might take a shock or another intense stimulation of the adrenal system to return us to our normal states."
"What kind of— ” John started to ask, but Sherlock punched him before he could finish the question.
It turned out to be a fairly poor attempt at a punch in the face, since Sherlock hadn’t really taken into account the fact that his usual skills didn’t adapted to John’s body as well as he thought. He barely grazed John’s chin, who moved out of the way quicker than he expected, and reacted instinctively by slamming his fist into Sherlock’s left shoulder. Sherlock yelped in pain, and threw himself head-first at John’s chest. They fell to the floor, John on his back with a groan, Sherlock on top, clutching his left shoulder with a hand. John bucked and hit blindly at Sherlock, who kicked at his ankles in retaliation. They kept scuffling for a bit without either of them gaining the upper hand – John’s was now quicker and more agile, but even with a bad shoulder Sherlock was heavier and stronger and as stubborn as ever.
John seemed to recollect himself after a punch to the stomach that left him momentarily breathless. He pushed Sherlock off him, doubled in two, and after wheezing for a bit he asked, “Enough?”
“Should be,” Sherlock replied, touching his nose gingerly.
They wobbled to the sofa and sat down, John wincing and Sherlock grimacing in pain.
“What now?” John asked.
“Now we wait,” Sherlock replied.
“Oh. Sounds brilliant.”
“It took hours to affect us the first time,” Sherlock reasoned. “And it may require a specific brain activity, such as REM sleep. In fact, it might be a requirement…”
He leaped from the sofa. “Yes, that’s it! We need to sleep.”
“Now?” John asked.
“Well, obviously now.”
John looked at him – the first proper look since he had stepped into the flat.
“How much tea did you have?” he asked.
Sherlock opened his mouth, hesitated, closed it again. He found he had lost count at some point of the day.
“I suppose we should let the adrenalin wear off,” Sherlock conceded.
“That would be best, yes.”
When Sherlock woke up the next morning he was surprised his body felt much less sore than it did last night after that short-lived brawl with John on the floor.
He rolled onto his back. His shoulder didn’t hurt that much anymore. In fact it felt… fine. He put his hands to his face, feeling the familiar line of his mouth and the bridge of his nose, and he smiled. He reached blindly for his phone, fished it out from under his pillow and sent a few quick texts to both Lestrade and John.
When Sherlock walked out of his room in his pants and a dressing gown John was still asleep, and Sherlock was not surprised to see a familiar figure sitting in his chair in the living room.
“Dr Watson,” Mycroft greeted from behind the pages of The Financial Times.
Oh. This could be fun, after all.
“Mycroft,” Sherlock said in a neutral tone, nodding at him. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”
“I have a couple of things to discuss with my brother, and he’s been ignoring my calls,” Mycroft said. He folded the newspaper neatly and put it on the coffee table. “I wouldn’t have bothered to come in person, but I’m sure you’d like to know that this… situation is nothing you should concern yourself over.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Sherlock replied, trying to inject enough sarcasm into his voice. He walked into the kitchen, and Mycroft got to his feet and followed.
“Tea?” Sherlock asked.
“Please,” Mycroft said, sitting at the table as if he owned the place. Sherlock put on the kettle.
“I see Sherlock has been trying a different approach?” Mycroft asked politely, sounding ever so slightly amused, and Sherlock didn’t understand what he was referring to until he turned and saw Mycroft look at his bruised cheek.
“Wasn’t quite successful,” Sherlock replied, gingerly touching the sore spot.
“Yes,” Mycroft said. “So I gathered.”
Sherlock started to reply, when he heard John approaching. “Ah, Sherlock," Sherlock greeted John when he appeared at the kitchen door. "Good morning. Mycroft has come to inform us that we're overreacting."
John took a look at Sherlock, then at Mycroft. If Sherlock’s text hadn’t been sufficiently clear the greeting was, and Sherlock saw the realization dawn.
"Well," John said in a supercilious tone that didn’t sound like him at all, raising an eyebrow and straightening himself a little. "That was terribly thoughtful of you, to take time from your busy schedule to condescend to us."
Sherlock had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep himself from grinning.
Sherlock could see Mycroft tilt his head ever so slightly – a shift in his posture that would probably be unperceivable to someone who didn’t know him as well as Sherlock.
“It's always lovely to see you—” Mycroft said, and then paused. "Doctor Watson."
"Likewise, I'm sure," John said, simultaneously dropping the act and his shoulders, and threw an amused glance at Sherlock.
"Still, you were very close,” Mycroft admitted. “I'm sure most people would never have realized."
"Don't you have somewhere to go?" Sherlock asked, addressing his brother in the usual way. "A small nation-state to conquer, perhaps?"
"I'll be on my way then," Mycroft said. He stood up and took his umbrella. "I'm glad the situation has resolved itself, at any rate."
"As always, your belated and unnecessary advice brightens our day," Sherlock snapped.
He saw John roll his eyes and exit the kitchen, anxious to avoid the imminent fight. It was testament to how much time John had spent in the company of both Sherlock and Mycroft that he chose just the perfect time to leave.
When John came back, fully dressed and freshly showered, Mycroft had gone and Sherlock was cracking eggs into a frying pan.
"How's your shoulder?" Sherlock asked.
“Terrible,” John answered, and they both grinned.
“Hmm. Try not to punch it so hard next time.”
“There’s not going to be a next time. One time was more than enough for me, thank you very much.”
“I told Lestrade,” Sherlock said.
“Did he text you back?” John asked.
Sherlock made an affirmative noise. “Are you going to finally shag him?” he asked.
John’s eartips reddened a bit. “Is this when I remind you that asking other people about their intimate lives is rude?”
“Is this when I remind you that I had to tolerate your body's maddening reaction to the man for the past few days?” Sherlock shot back. “It's like Pavlov's bloody dog.”
They sat down to eat, and though evidently relieved that they both of them were in the body they belonged to, John kept mostly quiet.
“You know,” John said conversationally as they were finishing their breakfast, after listening to Sherlock’s tirade against Mycroft, "normally when one wants to have sex, two people have to be interested. Not one. Two.”
Was that really what John had been mulling over? Could he be that oblivious?
“I'm aware, John.”
“You're not suggesting— ” John started, then stopped when he took a look at Sherlock exasperated face. “You're not suggesting. You're telling me.”
Really, hopeless. The lot of them. “I'm not responsible for your sex life, John.”
John left straight after breakfast. He didn’t tell Sherlock where he was going, and Sherlock didn’t ask – Sherlock knew anyway and John knew that he knew, but they didn’t speak of it, almost as if by tacit and mutual understanding.
Later that day John came back to Baker Street in a lighter mood, and also sporting an interesting bite on his neck that he’d tried to hide, quite unsuccessfully, by lifting the collar of his shirt.
“I trust your day went well,” Sherlock remarked from the chair he was sprawled on.
“I’m in a fantastic mood,” John said, as he took off his jacket, “and I’m not letting you ruin it.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Sherlock said.
John dropped on the other chair, wearing an idiotic smile, and Sherlock doubted John even realized he was doing it.
“Though I would appreciate it if you could wipe that smile off your face. It’s unnerving.”
John grinned wider.
“Well, it wasn’t all bad after all, was it? This mind-swap thing,” John said.
“John. It was awful.”
“I thought you would be glad of a chance to experiment on my body at your leisure. Oh, please,” John said, when Sherlock gave him a surprised look, “I know you. As if you could miss the opportunity.”
“I thought you would be more upset.”
“Well, I checked and everything seems to be in order, so. And I’m feeling rather well-disposed towards you at the moment.”
Sherlock made a face. “You seem rather well-disposed towards everything at the moment.”
“I’ll try not to be too obnoxious,” John laughed, before getting to his feet.
Sherlock’s phone pinged just as John was walking up the stairs. He glanced at the screen, already annoyed at the thought it might be his brother, but it was a text from Lestrade. Which read, inexplicably: thanks.
Sherlock slid a thumb on the screen and smiled. Oh, well. Maybe not all bad, after all.
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