Title: Have a Sense of Humor
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Prompt: Someone pulls an April's fools on Sherlock... involving sneezing powder.



Have a Sense of Humor


When the waiter came with their food, Sherlock was momentarily cast into shadow. It was John who typically sat in that seat when they ate there. It was the most logical of arrangements, allowing Sherlock, the taller of the two, to sit with his back to the window and therefore blocking the early afternoon sun. But today, apparently, Sherlock had welcomed occasional spots of sun blindness and had insisted on the switched seating.


A creature of habit, John had found it disconcerting at first. The restaurant was equidistant from the flat and the hospital and only a block and a half from the police precinct. Quite convenient, not to mention that they served the best soup and sandwiches in the area.


“The game is afoot!”


John Watson looked up from his ham and cheese on rye. “No, Sherlock. It’s just lunch. Can’t we just have lunch without something crazy going on?” And for as certain as John was that nothing was amiss, he still glanced around the restaurant as if James Moriarty were about to jump out from behind the dessert tray.


“We could, of course, but we won’t this time.” He leaned over the table, carefully dipping his spoon in the soup and extracting it. He stared at it for a moment then he sniffed hard. He waited a moment, then put the spoon back down. “Excuse me.”


John expected him to get up and retire to the loo, but Sherlock didn’t move. Or, at least, he didn’t get up. He did reach into his breast pocket and extract a pocket square. Having no idea where this was going, John realized he couldn’t look away now. Was he planning on picking up evidence with it? Or perhaps handling something distasteful? John watched as a completely composed Sherlock pressed the square to his nose. Seconds passed and all that happened was Sherlock’s eyes slowly closing.


“Sher—?” His words were cut short as Sherlock held up a finger, silencing him.


A full minute had nearly ticked away before it finally happened. A deep breath filled his lungs completely and his head snapped forward with an abrupt sneeze. “H’pttt!” Four more followed immediately, punctuated by a sixth. “Ihptsh!” This one sounded wetter and, perhaps, felt likewise, for Sherlock withdrew the handkerchief and pressed the other side to his nose. “ihhFsh! H’ktch!


John looked on helplessly, watching the man snap forward and sway backward with each and every single rapid-fire sneeze. Sherlock looked equally helpless.


“Goodness. Bless you! Are you ill?”


“Ha! Degree!” was all Sherlock could manage before sneezing again.


John stared at him blankly, confident that it had made sense in Sherlock’s mind palace, because it certainly made no sense to him. Confusion began to set in, along with worry. Whatever was happening did not seem to be ending. On the contrary, the sneezes were growing faster and stronger. Or, perhaps, Sherlock was doing a worse job fighting them.


ihptsh! H’ptshh!” And a dozen more tumbled out. Sherlock somehow managed to refold his hanky, finding a somewhat dry spot and utilizing it at once. His nose dripped and his nostrils quivered against the cloth. But still he sneezed. And sneezed. And sneezed some more.


And somewhere in there, John’s worry grew into concern. “Are you ill?” Pretty soon, he would run out of handkerchief entirely. John searched his pockets in vein.


The handkerchief now hung at his nose, limp, damp. He could barely manage to draw a breath in-between sneezes they were so quick. “ehptsh! Eyitch! eePtsh!


And people were beginning to stare. Everyone in the restaurant—patrons, servers, even the hostess had paused to watch.


John grew uncomfortable. “Honestly, Sherlock. Can’t you… I don’t know… stop?”


Two eyes shot open, glaring over the folds of the hanky for one split second before closing tight for another sneeze, immediately followed by two more.


Realizing he had to do something to save the man, John got up, depositing his napkin on his seat. And then it occurred to him: the napkin. “Hold on. I’ll help.” He reached into Sherlock’s lap and retrieved the napkin.


But Sherlock shook his head violently, even as John forced Sherlock’s hands down and replaced it with the giant cloth. Perhaps it wasn’t too proper, but neither was sneezing one’s head off during lunch due to sudden allergies or a head cold. Whatever this was, it had come on quite strong and fast. Not at all like a cold. And not particularly like allergies either, come to that. And, if John was honest, his own nose was actually beginning to tickle a little.


But Sherlock’s was wildly out of control now. His nose buried deep in the folds of the peach colored cloth, he sneezed unrestrainedly, harshly. “eh-Hehshhh! HehKtschhhh! EehptShuhhh! KahChishhhh!


Everyone was watching now—not just the people inside but passersby as well, peering into the windows to see the commotion within and the man making a spectacle of himself.


ehGihshuh! Heptchhh! Ehhhpfshhh! Erschhhhh!” Sherlock raised a hand and, still unable to speak, only just managed to push the napkin away.


The tip of his nose was red and there was a distinct flush around his nostrils anyone would have easily noticed. His eyes were streaming, as was his nose, but he preferred pressing his shirtsleeve there to using the napkin. “heh-Ihktchh! Ehptshhh! Bedical… ehhh-HIHshhh!  Degree!”


John shook his head incomprehensibly. “You said that before. And, yes, I do have a medical degree.”


“Thed you should ehIhpshh! dow I’b dot IHPtshhh! Dot ill.”


“Then what are you?”


Several little puffs into his soggy handkerchief was all the blowing his nose needed to allow him the full use of consonants once again. “A victim of a prank.” Sherlock scrubbed the back of his hand at his nose rather unceremoniously.


Bewildered was not an especially good look on John, especially as he was still filled with concern. “Come again?”


“I… h’Fihshhhh! Ehkshhh! Heptshhhh!” Sherlock snapped forward so violently with these sneezes that he winced at the movement. And he sniffled quite pathetically.


John lifted the napkin, ready to intervene regardless of Sherlock’s wishes. But then he felt suddenly strange. His own nose began to burn and tickle lightly about the nostrils. Out of nowhere came a sneeze, directed into his shoulder.


Sherlock took advantage of his moment of weakness to grab hold of the napkin and throw it down to the floor. Then he muffled two sneezes into the crook of his arm while pointing forward, straight out the window.


The people there were bent in half with laughter. And though John had at first taken them to be innocent passersby, he now realized he knew nearly all of them. They were the local police force. Anderson, at the forefront, was laughing so hard he was practically in tears. John sat back down.


“Don’t look so… ih-Hiptushh! so bewildered. It was rather obvious.”


“The prank?”


“Of course. A napkin laced with snee… sn… sneeepshhhh! Sneezing powder.”


But that didn’t make any sense. If it were so obvious, why hadn’t he been able to avoid it?


John probably would have gotten there on his own, given enough time. But Sherlock was starting to lose patience. Luckily, the sneezes seemed to be backing down. “It was meant for you.”


“But why…” And then John recalled Sherlock’s insistence that they switch seats. He’d known then something was about to transpire. And he’d done this to save John.


“I expect they think you must h-have a… a… aptshhh! A better sense of humor.” He sniffed and cleared his throat. “Do you find this to be humourous?”


“Not especially.”


 “Hmm. I thought not. Not a spectacular first of April. Ih-ihPtshhh!” But he turned in his seat and smiled back at John. “Yet.” He slipped a few bills out of his wallet and left them on the table. “Would you care to follow me outside? I think there might be something of interest worth watching.”


Slowly, John smiled back.