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Out of the strong came forth sweetness

Sherlock BBC

Rating 15: slash, crack

Summary: last week Irisbleufic tweeted about getting honey on her laptop. A few tweets from myself, Gayalondiel and Morelindo later, we had a plot bunny about Sherlock solving a case through licking a laptop and John getting distracted by this. Someone obviously had to write that...

Special thanks to Gayalondiel for betaing.

 

The text came on September 3rd:

Lestrade said you liked the strange cases. Can you please come to 89, The Avenue, Surbiton? Dimmock.

***

The house was detached, but looked a bit run down, in contrast to the manicured neatness of some of its neighbours. Dimmock was standing by the wheelie bin, caught between belligerence and relief at seeing them.

"Why did Lestrade pass the case onto you, and why have you already made such a mess of it?" Sherlock demanded. Not a good start, thought John. Fortunately, Dimmock had obviously resigned himself to Sherlock.

"Mister Holmes," he said, "I'd appreciate your help, but we can we keep this civilised, please? The initial assessment, yesterday,  was that this was a burglary gone wrong. The owner, Mr Edwin Ledbetter, was found at his desk with his head bashed in, and the place looked like it had been turned over. So the local cops reckoned they were looking for a local thug, probably young, strong."

"So what changed their mind?"

"When they had the autopsy done last night, they found there was something wrong with Ledbetter's skull, it was abnormally thin. And...someone pointed out that if he'd been killed in a burglary, why had the TV been taken, but not Ledbetter's laptop? And why had the glass in the door been broken from the inside, not the outside?"

"Obviously, that counts as brilliant police work  in Surbiton. So, the body's been moved, the crime scene's been completely misidentified, and Lestrade's running away from the case. Can't say I blame him, really. Shall we go in?"

***

 "It really is a mess," John couldn't help saying as they went in and saw the chaos in the living room, books, newspaper cuttings, CDs, strewn across the furniture and piled on the stained carpet. It had probably been a nice room once, he thought, tasteful.

"Yes, but it's a slowly-accumulated mess," Sherlock retorted, and then added, "For what he did to that penguin, breaking its spine like that, I'd say Ledbetter deserved to die."

"What?" John gasped.

"Look at the pile of stuff nearest the brown chair, John, about half-way down. Penguin classic edition, been left open at the page Ledbetter had got to, then had heavier books piled on top of it. Why they're isn't a Royal Society for the Protection of Books, I'll never know."

"Right, erm...so you're saying the mess was made by Ledbetter , not his assailant, are you?"

"Of course, and the TV hasn't been stolen, there wasn't one in the first place, no space for it, and I doubt Ledbetter had time for watching it. Too busy reading Beowulf, and ah, the works of David Irving. Well that explains why you got the case passed onto you, Inspector."

"I'm not a racist," Dimmock replied stiffly.

"No, but I'm guessing Ledbetter was, and I can't see his associates taking kindly to an investigation run by a half-French inspector and his mixed-race second in command. So was he BNP or EDL or what?"

"He had his own little organisation. Allegedly not racist, of course, but concerned with preserving English culture. It's called...it's got some weird name, I can't remember it. Here, this is its magazine," Dimmock said, picking up something from one of the heaps. "It's the Engla-Lond Folkbond Monthly."

"I see," said Sherlock. "He believed, presumably, that the English language had itself been corrupted by foreign imports."

"He reckoned everything foreign was wrong. He had this campaign he was running: 'Ban the Banana'. Telling people they should just eat English fruit."

"Well, 'banana', of course, is from the Portuguese," Sherlock replied, "but I suppose 'Ban the Long  Yellow Fruit' would have been  a little non-specific. Can you show me where he was killed now?"

The mess in the kitchen was so great, it made 221B look tidy. Amid all the books and files, and half-eaten sandwiches, there was a table with a laptop nestling between several more tons of paper.

"Killed while working on his laptop," Dimmock said, "so yes, they should have worked out that the murderer must have been someone he knew, trusted. Cracked on the head from behind, with some kind of smooth, blunt implement . Haven't found it, could be anything. Maybe even a mug, his skull was so weak. Killer was right-handed. Do you want to see the photos?"

"In a minute," said Sherlock, rapidly scanning the desk, hands gliding over surfaces. After a few moments, he added:  "He ate at his laptop, didn't he? Messy. And that stain just by the touchpad, sticky, but not blood, I think. Let's have a test."

Suddenly he was bending down, and ...he was licking the laptop, thought John incredulously. Sherlock's long pink tongue, swiping across the dark patch of liquid and...you should definitely not get erections at crime scenes, should you? Really not good, what he was feeling right now.

"Honey," Sherlock said in a resonant voice, which did not help at all. "But what kind? Ah, now that is...interesting."

John decided he needed to concentrate on something else very quickly. He stared down towards the floor, trying to think about white supremacists and IT and other non-sexy topics. Beneath the desk there was a heavy-duty printer..and one of the paper trays was very slightly open.

"He was just about to print something out," he said, "going to put in more paper."

"Well spotted, John," Sherlock said. "And that's why he was at the laptop even though he had a visitor. He was going to print something out for her. But I don't think we need to worry about that yet. First of all, we need to find the honey jar."

"Why?" Dimmock asked.

"I'll tell you later, just get on with it now. The fate of England hangs in the balance.  Well, the fate of Engla Lond, at least."

***

"It must be here," Sherlock insisted, after half an hour's fruitless – and honeyless - search. "She wouldn't have taken it with her, she wouldn't have dared."

"Her? Who are we talking about?" John asked.

"The sub-editor, of course. She's the murderer, at least I presume it's a woman. Look at this rough draft of an article for the last magazine." He handed some printed-out pages to John. "Compare that to the final version in the magazine Dimmock's got."

John and Dimmock stared hard at the two versions. The man had been completely barking, hadn't he, thought John. It was barely English he was writing at all, what with all the words he wouldn't use. The draft started off:  Write too your lith in the speakhouse (MP) now: tell him our woahs.

"Even you two should be able to spot it," Sherlock said, rolling his eyes. "The original is full of errors, the final version isn't. Which means..."

"That someone was correcting his mistakes," John said.

"A lot of corrections. And I'm pretty sure he couldn't afford to pay anyone for that kind of editing, so it must have been a fellow fanatic. He was printing something out for her to correct, probably a woman, they tend to be better editors. Does it say who the sub-editor is?"

"It doesn't have a sub-editor," John said, scanning rapidly through the magazine. "It has an 'under-word-maker' ."

"So who is she?"

"Mrs Mildred White."

"She almost certainly did it," said Sherlock, "but we need the proof. Where can that jar be?"

He was murmuring slightly to himself. John tried not to look at him, because seeing Sherlock's lips move like that would probably just bring back thoughts of Sherlock licking...things, and he'd almost calmed down by now.

"Where do you hide a leaf?" Sherlock announced, eventually. "In a forest. Where do you hide a used leaf. In a recycled forest!"

"What?" demanded Dimmock.

"She expected it to be taken away," Sherlock said, "clever move. But there was a crate of newspapers outside as we came in. August bank holiday this week, recycling collections all got put back a day. It's probably still there. Quick, let's see if the honey jar's outside."

***

"Here it is," Sherlock announced, after a few minutes careful inspection of the recycling box, holding up a jar in one gloved hand. "And this, Inspector, is why Edwin Ledbetter was murdered. I knew it was Greek the moment I licked it: the persistent, savoury taste of thyme honey.  Don't touch the jar. It's been washed carefully, but there'll probably still be traces of Ledbetter's brain on it."

"Ledbetter was killed for eating Greek honey?" Dimmock demanded incredulously.

"Mildred White saw it as a betrayal of all they stood for. I suspect she just meant to smash the jar over his head, not kill him. If you get over to her right now, she might crack almost as easily as Ledbetter's skull."

"Thank you very much, Mr Holmes," said Dimmock. "I'll get an evidence bag if you hang on, and then, yes, I'll get right onto it."

"And make sure if the case does come to court, that you brief the Guardian particularly thoroughly," Sherlock added. "I think they'd enjoy writing about Engla-Lond Folkbond."

***

"I know I've said it before, Sherlock, but you are amazing. Extraordinary," John said, once Dimmock had left.

"Don't you mean that was amazing and extraordinary," said Sherlock, smiling.

"No," said John, after a moment, "Actually, I think I meant exactly what I said. You are amazing, and extraordinary, and brilliant...and sexy."

Sherlock's smile didn't waver, but it somehow took on a slightly more predatory look.

"You know I try and memorise every street in central London," he said.

"That's amazing too," said John, wondering if Sherlock was just going to ignore what he'd said.

"I'm a bit weaker on some of the suburbs," said Sherlock, pulling out his phone. "So I need to have a quick check to see if there's a grotty and undesirable backstreet somewhere nearby for us to have a knee-trembler in. Given I presume that's what you're hoping for?"

"Um...yes, definitely yes," said John. It was because his mouth had suddenly gone dry that he was licking his lips. He was almost sure of that. But from the way Sherlock was frowning at his phone, Surbiton's prospects for alfresco sex were proving disappointing. John looked round: there had to be somewhere, and he'd prefer it to be soon, because he suddenly wasn't sure how easy he'd find walking. Then he spotted something, through the hedge next door.

"There's a building over there," he said, "Some kind of shed, doesn't look like it's currently in use."

"An abandoned cowshed," said Sherlock, heading towards it, "Strange, but good, very good. Right, well, I think it's time that we had another experiment. It's always useful knowing the exact taste of all kinds of things." And he turned, and stuck out his tongue at John.

 


NOTE: The title is from Judges 14:14 (a riddle told by Samson).

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
irisbleufic
Apr. 7th, 2011 09:30 am (UTC)
...you even preserved the fact that what I got on my laptop was Greek thyme honey. It was from a label called Bevelini, if you're keen to track it down, although I have the feeling that Attiki is probably much better, given it recently won some kind of award for its taste.

Silly and charming. I'm amazed somebody actually wrote this after the spate of silliness broke loose over my tweet. I was very annoyed at myself, but you three made me laugh at the situation, and my laptop wasn't damaged, thank goodness :)
marysutherland
Apr. 8th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the laptop is OK, because even getting a casefic out of it wouldn't be worth the irritation to you otherwise. I'm not really a connoisseur of honey myself, but I find it interesting reading some of your descriptions of the different tastes.
fengirl88
Apr. 7th, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
loved the Chesterton twist in this one, and the motive made me laugh out loud (which is probably Very Wrong). "Ban the Long Yellow Fruit" would not be a good slogan, but it is very funny. glad that they found somewhere to make up for Surbiton's apparent lack of prospects for alfresco sex.
marysutherland
Apr. 8th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
I spent a considerable chunk of my youth reading golden age crime fic, and odd bits of it tend to end up lurking in mine (it's recycling, rather than plagiarism). As for Edwin Ledbetter, his peculiar form of racism was inspired by a very vague memory of reading about the composer Percy Grainger's reluctance to use 'non-English' words. (I hadn't realised till after finishing the fic that that wasn't the most peculiar thing about Grainger's behaviour).
shouldboverthis
Apr. 7th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Delightful little mystery. Are you a member of the Protection of Books Society? One of the first fights I ever had with my now husband was when I broke the spine of a book he leant me. I am an unapologetic sensualist with my books. I believe they are to be thoroughly manhandled. :)
marysutherland
Apr. 8th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
I have decided, on reflection, not to unfriend you following this revelation, but it was a close-run thing ;-). I'm not just a librarian (and thus concerned that books are kept safe for other readers), but a historian (and thus concerned that books are kept safe for posterity). When you've had classes in which you are told in all seriousness that there has been a decline in standards of book production ever since 1200 AD (and you've read manuscripts written more than 1000 years ago),you start taking the need to look after books properly more seriously.
shouldboverthis
Apr. 8th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
LOL--he nearly broke up with me.

I actually worked in my college library after graduation putting very old books into archival boxes and would come up from the lowest floor everyday covered in a powder of decayed leather.

I do try to respectful of an aged book, or a rare one, but a Penguin? Pft. That deserves to have it's pages torn out and passed around. I also...*gasp* annotate for myself in the margins! Bwa-ha!

I think it might stem from the fact that when I was a child my father owned a bookstore and I was given the remainders after the covers had been torn off. It's hard to respect a book that's slowly falling apart in your hands like some sort of art exhibit.

So thank you for taking my slovenly habits in stride!
beansidhe_baby
Apr. 7th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Oh lordy, how can something be so silly and yet could fit almost seamlessly into canon? Brilliant!
marysutherland
Apr. 8th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it. I think a lot of ACD!Sherlock stories are pretty cracky to start with, and the TV series and fanfic have just added a bit more crack to the mix.
flawedamythyst
Apr. 8th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
BRILLIANT. And now I'm craving honey. Damnit.
uwsannajane
Apr. 12th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Love this! A terrific (and v. funny) case, complete and satisfying in spite of the fact that the story's relatively short, AND you got in the hotness that is the Sherlock & John pairing.

(May I please friend you?)
marysutherland
Apr. 14th, 2011 12:11 pm (UTC)
Very happy to be friended, glad you enjoyed the story. I like writing case fic, but it tends to get rather long, so I was pleased this one came in at under 1500 words. Lots of other stuff to post once I've back from holiday.
leyozeta
Apr. 14th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

maxine_mirkwood
Apr. 18th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
Tee hee, very cute. I like the mental visual of Sherlock licking the laptop and John's reaction. Also extra bonus points for the sneaky Good Life reference! Likely not the first time the Good's cowshed was shagged in...
marysutherland
Apr. 29th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
Probably not, though you hope that Tom and Barbara turned the cow out into the garden first. And I do worry that many of Edwin Ledbetter's peculiarities came from being adopted by Margo when orphans were fashionable and then her losing interest in him...
maggie_conagher
Jun. 25th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
I like that there is a Biblical reference, lol.

Trying to remember if i have seen either of them licking anything. If fingers and toes are any sort of corollary, they must have long... tongues.

Great breakfast fic and now I am hungry for baklava. without a fork.
marysutherland
Jun. 30th, 2011 05:11 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed that, sorry if I've made you too hungry now. I'm not sure about Sherlock, but John in the TV series is notorious for licking his lips a lot - such as in the 'do you have a girlfriend' conversation. And Martin Freeman also seems to do this quite a bit in other roles. I think there are entire posts on some sites dedicated to screen capping his tongue movements.
zevbaldwin
Aug. 7th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
That`s funny!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )