Domestic Attempts and Tesco Biscuits

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"Do you know why?"

The answer was a hopeless one, and it irritated him to say it. But without looking into the questioner's face and swallowing the clot in his throat, he uttered the word in a husky tone.

"No."

The clouds had grown dark around London after Sherlock had arrived home that night, and rain was beating against the windows. Irene was sitting across from him with a cup and saucer resting in her lap.

"I will admit that I'm quite interesting, but I won't pretend I don't wonder. What does she want to see me for? Surely you've...some idea?" she asked, putting the cup to her lips. He looked discomforted.

"Something along the lines of Moriarty. She says she's seen him. I don't know how that's possible, and I doubt it is, but she says she has. He's told her something...he's said something to her that's made her interested in you. How else could she have known about you in the first place?"

"You were wearing a wedding ring. That's hardly a difficult leap."

"Your name isn't exactly on it," he instantly replied, blowing her theory into a million pieces. She grinned.

"Of course."

He looked at his phone to check for any new updates from anyone, but not a single message satisfied his inquiry.

"What time did John leave earlier?" he asked.

"A few minutes after you left; Rosie started fussing, and I'm afraid he finds me too much of a formidable partner to pass time with. I hardly spoke to the man."

"Rather inhospitable of you."

"That isn't my fault. Last I checked, I thought you told him to keep me out of trouble. That makes him the host, not me; even if it is our flat."

Sherlock returned to the case file, and Irene returned to her tea. The fire was crackling in the hearth, the rain was tapping politely on the window, and the silent, repetitive, restful breathing of two people filled the flat with unequaled serenity.

Sherlock wondered just what exactly had happened to him over the course of the last month. Someone had managed to secure his attentions, he was finding himself bound to another's soul in marriage, and he couldn't account for the compulsive way he lent his arm to a woman whenever they walked side by side.

And then there were the quiet nights at Baker Street. John was absent most nights, and before the woman had returned, his usual evenings were spent in quiet solitude. Melancholic thoughts and deductions floated through his head, and there was no one to hear them. There was no one to impress with his genius, which made things quite boring. He usually called John on most dreadful nights, but sometimes (and most times) he was willing, but Rosie would already be fast asleep.

But things had changed so dramatically.

He wasn't alone anymore.

Every night there was a woman in the armchair opposite him, reading a book and drinking a cuppa with her legs crossed. She listened, she argued, she teased, she flirted.

Deductions were fascinating to her, and displaying them as though they were simple observations on his part (which was true half the time) sparked in her an intrigue, and her eyes would narrow while her lips parted. He could tell he impressed her, and while he never let her see it, he nearly always felt a burner gently warming his stomach.

He glanced up to find her looking at him with steady, unblinking admiration. He said nothing and resumed reading. She smiled to herself and girlishly bit her lip.

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