The Study of the Four 10

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By nightmares06
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John returned to the flat alone hours later.

In spite of Lestrade's lackeys, Sergeant Sally Donovan and Anderson in Forensics, not-so-subtly sniggering at the state of Sherlock's shoes, the detective effortlessly worked out the meaning behind the empty coat. A quick chat with the presumed dead man's widow revealed that he was a businessman who, despite being heir to a massive inheritance, started his own company separate from his family. It was quite successful until six months ago when business suddenly took a nosedive and he lost all of his money. As his wife and his suicide note explained, he knew that his business failures did nothing to affect his inheritance, so he concluded that he was worth more to his family dead. The wife and four kids never heard from him again, and for all intents and purposes he had disappeared.

Sherlock quickly debunked the idea of suicide, one glance at the note he left behind was more than enough for him. The handwriting was clear and steady, exhibiting none of the stress and anguish someone on the cusp of taking their own life would have. His hand didn't shake once. At the same time, his conclusion was sound and the only solution for a man who wanted to die and live on was to fake his death. All it would take was the secrecy of one member of his wealthy family and a decent plastic surgeon, and he could benefit his progeny and carry on in an obscure existence.

After being shown a picture of the not-dead man, Sherlock claimed to know exactly who it was. Without another word, he made a beeline for the nearest street and hopped in a cab, leaving John behind. This wasn't exactly uncommon for Sherlock, but it never ceased to irk John when he did this. After promising Lestrade that they'd be in touch, John hailed a cab of his own back to Baker Street.

The doctor was bewildered all over again walking into the flat. It was still in shambles as a result of Sherlock's earlier tantrum. All because a couple of people shorter than a pencil decided to be a little mischievous and run off with Sherlock’s shoelaces. Shaking his head at the ridiculousness of it all, John stooped to at least begin to straighten out the papers that nearly covered the floor of the entire main room.

As it so happened, the troublemakers who stood shorter than a pencil weren’t too far from where John was standing, peeking out at him from their hiding spot by the couch. Sam and Dean were on their fourth supply run that day, their bags overflowing with spoils. They hadn’t had time to run for cover when John came in, but at least it was looking like their slip up wasn’t going to bite them in the ass.

“Told you this was a bad idea,” Sam hissed at Dean, watching John lift a pile of paper into the air that weighed more than the pair of them together.

Dean rolled his eyes. “Him? He’s harmless,” he said. “Sherlock is the one we have to worry about.”

“But--” Sam’s protest cut off in shock when Dean pushed himself away from the side of the couch and went to stroll out into the open. It was too late for Sam to dive forward and grab his arm, and all he could do was watch Dean greet what was, to them, a giant.

“What’s the lowdown, doc? Sherlock find a good case this time?”

"Jesus Chr--! "

John Watson watch your step by nightmares06

It was all John could do to not jump to his feet in surprise at the sight of Dean sauntering across the floor. Not only was his appearance unexpected, but something about seeing the tiny man from the floor rather than a higher surface made John's heart race all the faster.

"It, ah. Case, yes, the um." Clearing his throat, John lowered himself to sit carefully on the floor, distancing himself a bit from Dean. It didn't help him feel any less dangerous to the smaller man, but at least he knew he wouldn't fall over. "Seemed pretty promising, but, didn't take too long at all once, er, all the information… Sorry, um, I just. Wasn't expecting you on-on the floor…"

Dean arched an eyebrow at John’s flummoxed appearance, and put his hands on his hips, refusing to let on to how unsettled he was, standing down on the ground. He held onto his determination that showing fear was the biggest weakness in a world that outsized them almost twenty times.

“What were you expecting?” Dean queried John, wondering. “We had to be down on the floor to get the shoelaces last night in the first place, and it’s not easy to find supplies on counters and shelves. People pay attention to what’s up there, but couldn’t care less about down here.” He held out his arms and rotated in place for effect.

Sam stuck his head out from where he was standing by the couch. “Which, by the way, was all his idea!” he called out.

“Dude!” Dean said, looking offended at the betrayal.

John blinked as the younger of the tiny brothers made his presence known as well. While John's worry for their safety didn't lessen, something about knowing that they were out there together made him feel a little better about the whole affair, and it was good to see Sam was doing better than earlier in the week.

"Well, at least no one was out and about last night. I-I don't… If I hadn't seen you…" Rather than follow that particularly grisly train of thought, John redirected. "Anyway, er, what are you two doing out here and… down there in the middle of the day?" he asked, more curious than accusatory.

Sam rubbed at the back of his neck as he stepped fully out from behind the couch. There was no use staying hidden and pretending that John didn’t know where they were, but the tingle on his neck was as unsettling as ever, knowing that someone big enough to snatch them both up off the ground together was within arm’s reach.

“We figured we’d take advantage and grab some new supplies,” Sam told John truthfully.

“Sam!” Dean elbowed Sam in the arm, trying to make him shut up.

“Watch it, jerk!” Sam twisted out of the way, sending Dean off balance.

“You’re not supposed to tell him everything, bitch!” Dean complained, glancing nervously over his shoulder at John. He might talk big, but letting a human in on their secrets was dangerous, even with a friendly human.

"Guys, guys," John interrupted, opening one hand in a calming gesture. He at least knew better than to reach for them. His brow quirked at the smaller men's bickering. The shoving, the name-calling… They really are brothers, he mused with a grin.

"Take it easy, I didn't mean anything by it," the doctor assured. Obviously this was information that John was never meant to know, but he hoped they were aware that he would never use any of it against them. "Erm, find anything good? Or am I not allowed to know that either?"

Dean was about to tell John off to mind his own business, his back stiff from seeing the huge hand open up and knowing he could end up inside, but he caught Sam’s hopeful look from the corner of his eye. This was the first human that had treated them as people since their curse. He sighed. “Fine, you can tell him. But none of this goes to Sherlock.” He eyed Sam and John up equally, his stern demeanor unflinching.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Whatever, dude. Like I’m looking to talk to him anytime soon.” He shifted his satchel so it was hanging in front, and opened it up. “We don’t take anything important,” he assured John, his eyes wide with the hopes that the human wouldn’t mind. “Just stuff that comes in handy for us, like tinfoil for cups or plates.”

Nudging some paper clips aside, Sam showed the leftover fabric from a part of the couch that was out of sight, and the sheafs of tinfoil he had tucked underneath. The bag was an eclectic mix, and their storage area on the right side of the fireplace was just as bad. Along with Sherlock’s shoelaces, they snuck away with any blocks of wood they could find, as much fabric as possible, any possible containers, paper clips that could be twisted into any useful shape, along with everything else that they hadn’t found a use for. They couldn’t just run out to the store like John and Sherlock.

Sam looked up at John when he had displayed what was in his bag. “That’s why we wait until night or this,” he said with a gesture at the mess around them. “It’s dangerous if anyone knows what we take, since they could set traps where it’s kept, and it’s not easy to get out of a trap at this size.”

John hummed thoughtfully as he peered into Sam's tiny satchel, trying his best to only lean his head forward. After clearly putting off Dean, which was proving to be the least difficult of tasks, John was paying attention to his every breath. He nearly forgot how intimidating his smallest motion could be to the brothers, and he made a note to be more mindful of that.

"That's resourceful of you," he commented, glancing around. Even now, knowing Sam and Dean had probably had a field day scavenging through the mess, John could hardly tell that anything had been disturbed. "Well, I guess cleaning up would sort of ruin the endeavor then, eh?"

He smiled at the brothers, wondering if he should just head upstairs and let them carry on. Then again, perhaps it would be better if he remained in the flat, just in case Sherlock came home unexpectedly. He supposed it wouldn't hurt to ask.

"Should I, ah, leave you to it?"

“Do whatever you want, we’re done here.” Dean waved a hand over his head as he turned on his heel, dismissing their talk with the human as quickly as it had begun. He hadn’t planned on letting John know so much about what they did during the day, but John wasn’t so bad. It felt like they had someone to confide in.

Sam was swiftly left behind, and he stuffed his supplies back in his satchel as quickly as he could. “Thanks!” he called up to John, rubbing at the back of his neck distractedly. He had to run to catch up to Dean, only reaching him as he passed under the couch, getting out of sight so they could get back into the walls without John knowing where their entrances were.

“He’s not so bad,” Sam said, unconsciously echoing Dean's thoughts from before as he thought back to when John had checked his chest for injuries.

“Too bad his roommate leaves much to be desired,” Dean said gruffly. “I'm sorry. Flatmate. Otherwise we might not have to stay out of sight all the time.”

To the brothers, it didn’t feel quite natural, staying in the walls and in the dark. It was a necessity, one they’d learned the truth of long before coming to live at Baker Street, but they’d rather be on the road. Helping their dad fight monsters, or going off to college to get a degree. Not this limbo of survival.

“C’mon, we can sort everything we’ve got stored now. Plenty of new supplies to go through.”

John waited a few extra minutes after he watched Sam and Dean leave, until he was sure they were gone and slowly rose to his feet. He still shuddered at the thought of viewing the brothers from such a steep angle. John would feel incredibly imposing and terrifying, and then Sam would really have reason to rub his neck.

Absently, John hoped that particular quirk of Sam's wasn't in response to any kind of pain that he was keeping to himself. He worried that his continued involvement in their lives might be the cause of stiffness or ache, and Sam was simply too polite to point it out.

There was no point in dwelling on the little details now that the brothers were gone. John sighed and continued straightening up the room. This time, as he stacked the papers back up and moved furniture and knick-knacks back to their spots, he noticed things lying about on the floor that could easily be of use to someone four inches tall or less. Loose carpet threads, broken-off pencil tips, discarded twist ties… John briefly thought of gathering these things for Sam and Dean since it seemed he'd accidentally discouraged them from continuing their raid.

He shot that idea down right away, knowing it wouldn't work for multiple reasons. For one, he had no idea where he would leave such things where the brothers could easily find them. For another, it would certainly arouse suspicion in Sherlock, who so far didn't seem to suspect that their tiny flatmates secretly visited the doctor quite often nowadays. Plus, they had shown trepidation in telling him what exactly they scavenged, for fear that he, or at least someone would take advantage and trap them. John decided he'd best not even put on the appearance of ill will.

The main room was clean by the time Sherlock made his way back to the flat. He carried a small, mostly empty plastic bag, along with a miffed expression that hadn't left his eyes since that morning.

"Find the dead man?" John queried, finally settling into his chair to relax a bit.

"Obviously," scoffed Sherlock, tossing the bag onto the coffee table and throwing off his coat. "Child's play. He's a part of my homeless network."

"Of course he is." It still baffled John how Sherlock had managed to get seemingly all of London's homeless under his employ. He understood the reasoning well enough; they were people who went ignored more often than not, and ignored people were underestimated.

By everyone but Sherlock, it seemed. They would report things they'd heard to him, or he would have them band together to find something or someone. Whatever job Sherlock set them on, it would be done in no time at all.

"Even through all the plastic surgery, which is evident by his subtle scarring patterns, he's got a very distinctive hair color. Can't exactly dye it regularly in his current position. I explained to him what happened this morning and that his family was now aware of his status. I left him to decide how he'd like to proceed."

"And you stopped by the drugstore?" John inferred.

Sherlock's scowl deepened and he dropped onto the couch, tearing at the twine keeping his shoes together. “Shoelaces,” he seethed.

John's brow shot up and he let out a dry chuckle. "Y’know, that's probably not going to help."

Sherlock grunted in response, and that was the most John got out of him for the rest of the day.

For Sam and Dean, things started to settle back into a routine. They continued to venture out for food and supplies, but their storage room had more than ever, practically overflowing. Dean had to break down and keep some of the extra paperclips in their main room where he worked, and busied himself straightening them out from the coiled position they came in.

Of course, the game wasn't over with Sherlock, and Dean wasn't one to easily forgive or forget the sight of Sam curled into a forlorn ball, though Sam certainly seemed willing to. He was far more easygoing than Dean when it came to things like that.

Dean spent the rest of the afternoon organizing their overflow, while Sam slipped off to the kitchen to see if he could get something more filling than a tea biscuit for their dinner that night. There was still a full biscuit left, but the taste had grown old a few days into eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sam's trip was less than fruitful, with both humans around, so they ended up sharing a bit of biscuit sliced off, a serving the size of their hand each. Scarce pickings meant they couldn't eat their fill, but they tried to keep their energy up morning and night as much as possible, knowing those times were usually the busiest as they were more likely to find the humans asleep or out of the flat.

Most times.

Dean waited until Sherlock was fast asleep in his room for his second night gathering up all the shoelaces. The pile in the storage room doubled in size, and Sam shook his head, wondering what they were going to do with any more laces Dean came home with.

He was far from done with the human, after all.

It honestly shouldn't have been a surprise that all of Sherlock's newly purchased shoelaces not-so-mysteriously vanished overnight, but the detective was just as enraged. He gave up on purchasing more laces after that, resorting to Mrs. Hudson's roll of twine which he decided to keep since she was out of town visiting family for a few days.

That is not to say that his torment ended. Sherlock tried everything to keep his makeshift fasteners, from removing the twine laces and hiding them to keeping his shoes up on a high shelf at night. Every time, they would be gone by morning, the laces missing from each and every pair of shoes Sherlock owned-- even an old pair of trainers he never wore!

Finally, he convinced John to lend him the laces from his boots as an experiment. John's shoelaces remained untouched the entire time, and by then Sherlock had begun to suspect that it wasn't about the shoelaces themselves.

This was proven when John woke up the next morning to find his laces neatly bundled on his nightstand.

Sherlock was absolutely fuming at this development, now fully assured that this was a personal jab at him. He spent nearly the entire day going back and forth between ranting and raving about it and silently stewing.

"What have I ever done to them?! ” he exploded that evening after nearly two hours of silence. He was curled into an angry ball in his armchair.

John shot him a look, tilting down his laptop screen. "It may have something to do with you trapping them in jars, Sherlock."

"I meant LATELY!" With a growl, Sherlock jumped to his feet and stormed down the hall to his bedroom, thoroughly done for the day it would seem.

John sighed, massaging his temple as he squinted at his computer. This entire situation was quite funny in the beginning, until it started driving Sherlock mad and he started grating on John's nerves.

Well, more than usual.

The doctor hadn't had much interaction with Sam or Dean through all this, but at this point he was almost desperate for another talk with them. Not quite desperate enough to actively seek them out, but enough to hope he'd run into them soon. Preferably before Sherlock started sleeping with his shoes clutched to his chest.

Unfortunately, John was not going to get his wish. At least, not the way he wanted to.
CHAPTER 10: Trouble Brews

Things are starting to grow heated between Dean and Sherlock, but John continues talking to the brothers amicably enough.

{com} Watch your step, Watson by MogaDeer 

Artwork by MogaDeer!

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anonymous's avatar
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Phoenix-FireMage's avatar
Phoenix-FireMageHobbyist General Artist
This is fabulous.
Poor John, getting spooked by the brothers so much. And the shoelaces! Dean won't stop. But John gets to keep his laces. Even the ones he lent to Sherlock. But Sherlock doesn't get any laces. Nope nope. No shoelaces for you, detective.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
I love that. Sherlock gets no laces, but they'll even go to the effort of delivering John's shoelaces back to his bedside table!
kimstaticchild's avatar
kimstaticchildHobbyist Writer
Ohhh, Sherlock's so offended XD It worries me how he'll behave once he sees the bros again ;>.>
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
So, so offended! Curled into an angry ball! It's great XD Dean really knows how to get under his skin when he tries.

Guess Dean should probably avoid Sherlock for a bit!
TorchMLP's avatar
I feel bad for John, having to put up with Sherlock going insane from these pranks. 
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
XD There's just no hiding his shoelaces from Dean
TorchMLP's avatar
XD there is no escape, only missing shoelaces and despair
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
So much despair. And cold feet
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
Poor John was caught by surprise haha. Needed to sit because standing is dangerous! XD Sherlock is going into full blown tantrum mode. I can't believe it took him this long to realize that it was all about him- he's usually self-centered enough to assume that haha.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
^^; Dean knows just how to get under his skin. And there is absolutely no hiding the shoelaces from Dean. None. He has an unfair advantage there.
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
XD No matter where you put them, he will get them. (Though honestly I was thinking Sherlock should have hid them under his pillowcase if he wanted real results haha.)
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
XD That may have stumped Dean. Pissy lil Dean, pouting while he waits hopefully for Sherlock to roll over
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
XD It would be a magic trick for sure.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Out from under Sherlock's nose if he managed it! The detective might begin wondering what they really are XD
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
XD Fairies. Definitely fairies. (John would be so bemused.)
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
( XD And Dean so offended D< )
kopelowitz's avatar
kopelowitzHobbyist Digital Artist
This is hilarious! Messing with Winchesters has proven a mistake.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
XD Don't mess! They will get their revenge
Weeglyfeesh's avatar
WeeglyfeeshHobbyist Writer
Welp, back to feeling sorry for Sherlock. :D (Big Grin)

Dean is getting especially cocky. Wonder if that's gonna backfire on him.

And really, guys? Do you have to keep scaring the crap out of John whenever you wanna talk? Giggle
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Oh man. Poor Sherlock. He really had no idea what he was signing up for with Dean.

The little dork could use someone taking the wind from his sails. Getting a little puffed up on his successful pranks.

^^; John is just forever startled with them around.
RandomArtHQ's avatar
RandomArtHQHobbyist Writer
Nice one Dean XD Smol pranks are the best pranks! I can't wait for the next chapter (here's to hoping Sherlock doesn't take things to far when and if he gets his revenge though!)
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
XD Sherlock will certainly have his say... and soon. Very, very soon.

I love smol pranks XD It's so fun when they really get into it
RandomArtHQ's avatar
RandomArtHQHobbyist Writer
Yasss! A part of me kinda wants Sherlock to get back on the prank, like pour water into the walls or something to really tick Dean off! XD
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
XD Dean would be so pissed, but then Sherlock would get lectures and lectures from Mrs Hudson about her poor walls
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