(Set right after "Details" (1x16), in which Watson accepts the partnership.)
"This Old House"
It was better than porn, Joan thought, sinking back against her pillows, the glossy pages of Architectural Digest slipping under her fingers. Then she remembered the uses her innocent apartment had been put to and mentally rephrased.
This winter had been crazy – they kept predicting snow and then it was fifty degrees outside, or they claimed warm fronts were moving in and then there was icy rain for eight days straight. The fact that her bedroom windows faced north meant that she got only cold light in the mornings, which might have been fine had it been summer, or if Sherlock had given her thicker blankets. Well, she was living here for the foreseeable future, wasn't she? Sherlock had said she could take her time finding somewhere to set down roots, and there was no point putting down first, last, and a deposit unless she fell in love with a new place.
Maybe some curtains would do the trick, that and some warmer bedding. She pulled the magazine off her bedside table and flipped through until she found the spread she wanted. Okay, so she wasn't going to find a place in the city with a fireplace like that, but she didn't need a roaring fire or an Alaskan malamute to stay warm. A little bit of shopping and she'd be all set.
"Where are we going?" Sherlock wanted to know the moment she came down the stairs. God, he looked extra-twitchy today, and she still had no idea what set him off when he got like that.
"Out." She bit back a promise that she'd be back in two hours; they weren't client and companion any longer, and while she wasn't going to just abandon him, she also had to show she trusted him. Sherlock needed someone to believe in him, to build on the faith he'd shown in himself in the face of Rhys's temptation.
"Excellent," he said. "You can choose . . . new furnishings for your room" – she rolled her eyes and he smirked victoriously – "and I will do the same on Clyde's behalf."
"Fine." She pulled on more layers – the best trick for dealing with New York's weather – and headed for the door, Sherlock dogging her steps.
She'd seen Sherlock hit every variation between justifiably pleased and monstrously smug before, but none of it compared to the grin he was wearing now. "What?" she bit out, wondering why all of the duvet covers felt so cheap when they had triple-digit prices.
She knew he'd heard her, if only because he tilted his head at that inquisitive angle that always made her think of a baby bird; he was just as voracious, if only for data instead of worms. He took one look at her face and said, "Remind me, Watson, to pick up some worms as a treat for Clyde."
"Why don't we just go?" she said, pulling her gloves out of her pockets.
"Mmm, yes," he said, and she could feel his eyes drilling into the back of her head as they walked the length of the store.
Sherlock got Clyde situated within his new terrarium, which he'd decorated with all the excitement of a second-grader hopped up on paste. It was like Sherlock was nesting, which was one of the more unsettling thoughts that had ever passed through her brain. Bright, shiny locks carefully arranged one day, a lush terrarium the day after, and who knew what he'd decide to do next?
It wasn't her problem, at least not for the next few hours. She was going to get into a pair of the flannel pajamas Oren bought her every Christmas, climb under her inadequate covers with a thermos of green tea and her tablet, and search apartment listings.
Goddammit. Sherlock was just lucky that she hadn't yet gotten out her tablet – when the first crash broke the silence of the brownstone so dramatically, she ended up pouring her tea down her pajama top instead of into the thermos cap. "What. The. Hell?!" she shouted as she stormed downstairs, only to find Sherlock holding a sledgehammer and the wall between the living room and dining room sporting a fresh hole. He had safety goggles on but hadn't even pulled the hangings off the wall.
"'If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly,'" Sherlock said brightly.
"Seriously, that's all you have to say for yourself?" she hissed, peeling her clammy pajama top away from her skin.
"It's Shakespeare. Usually when an Englishman quotes the Bard, American women misplace any semblance they might have had of rationality. I'm glad to see you're made of sterner stuff, Watson." He nodded approvingly and lined up to take another swing.
"First of all, no one should ever have let you have a sledgehammer. Second of all, what on earth are you doing?"
"You've been wanting to make changes to our home. I wholeheartedly approve. Never mind increasing the value of the property – that only benefits my father, though not if he predeceases us. We have the opportunity here to make this place into a space where we can do our work without outside interference." He barreled on before she could protest. "Yes, yes, I know you were planning to live elsewhere, but why settle for a place that already exists when you could make exactly what you want right here?"
She thought about it, and just like that she was lost, because there was no arguing with the mad light in Sherlock's eye, not when it was illuminating what she'd been wanting all along. It wasn't like she really needed wainscoting or textured paint. What she needed was space for all the stuff she'd put into storage over the years, rooms that were filled with her books and music and mugs, a place where it made sense that she'd gone from surgeon to sober companion to detective.
"Give me that," she demanded, pleased when he hopped to it obediently and handed over the sledgehammer without a murmur of protest. "You don't get to touch this again until we've laid out a plan for what this place is going to look like."
"Always so rational," he said, a small smile playing on his lips.
"That's what you like about me," she countered. "Now, we are going to make a list."
"What for? We could discover some untapped well of creativity if we just started doing -"
"What about your bees?" she asked imperturbably, and he cut himself off mid-rant to consider her again. "You know, you never told me why you have them."
"Deduce it, Watson," he invited. She knew that he was too hopped up on excitement to be patient, so she used the time to find a pad and pen. "Actually, tell me something. What would you have wanted most in your house when you were a child?"
So he'd wanted bees since he was little and had finally gotten them to spite his dad. "Sherlock," she said softly, looking at the way his wide eyes twitched as he caught on to what he'd let slip.
"Come on, Watson," he said, trying to brazen it out. "We gave Clyde his dream-home. We can do the same for ourselves."
"A roller rink," she said, surprising both of them.
That grin nearly split his face. "We can do that," he said.
"Whether we should is another matter," she pointed out, but that smile didn't diminish even a little bit. She grinned back, sat down, and set the pad on her knee. "Though I bet I know which way Clyde would vote."
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.