character study: sherlock

glue (ficlet)

It’s not an addiction as long as you can manage without it.

Sherlock is always able to go without, careful as he is not to fall into the pitfall of actual addiction.

John might consider Sherlock to be careless with his own health, but there are aspects of himself that Sherlock is constantly monitoring, watchful for signs that any of his little vices are getting out of hand.

That’s what it comes down to, after all. Control. It can hardly be called ‘vices’, and it’s most certainly not addiction; no, it’s simply carefully taken measures he uses in order to maintain control.

These days, Sherlock isn’t prone to unintentional emotional outbursts of any kind. It’s a weakness, and so he’s learnt how to prevent anything as pointless and human as moods to get the best of him.

This hasn’t always been the case. There had used to be…quite a temper. ‘Emotional lability’, Mycroft had once called it. For Sherlock, it had felt more like having his own brain overtaken by some malignant force of nature; clouds gathering up at the horizon, and before he knew it, the storm would break out and desolate everything in its vicinity.

Since then, Sherlock’s recreated himself, and now there’s a carefully constructed balance keeping all elements that are too volatile and too illogical from surfacing. It’s nothing but the simple truth; nothing has made him. He’s created a new self, a self that is devoid of such weakness, and he has no intention of letting all that work go to waste.

It’s a plate armor, and it’s heavy to carry around at times.

And so he allows himself a bit of leeway. A few small vices, just a safety measure in order to keep the plates from drifting apart.

Caffeine. Nicotine. Adrenaline. Masturbation. Pain. Sleeping pills.

There had used to be more on that list, but then there was that thing about… addiction. It had proven to be the opposite of helpful in terms of keeping the storms contained. After some unfortunate events, a few things on the initial list had had to go.

He can’t afford such foibles.

Therefore, the remaining… vices are under strict control. Too much of anything, and he’ll have to decrease it, instead allowing himself more of something else for the time being.

The sum of your vices is still constant.

A cigarette when you start to feel something trickling in your throat. A wank in order to distract from the tension that is slowly creeping up his spine. Coffee to make it possible to stay awake. Sleeping pills to enable him to finally collapse into bed when his own thoughts have turned into shapes that casts shadows on the walls. More coffee to wake himself up after the haze from the pills. Pain to ground himself when everything threatens to fall apart. And finally there’s what makes it all worthwhile: adrenaline.

Perhaps the most apt way of looking at it is to see it for what it is: it’s what’s holding the edges together. The frayed edges that want nothing more than to come apart.

It’s not addiction.

It’s glue.

glue - ao3

In “THE SIGN OF FOUR”, Sherlock Holmes demostrates his power of deduction onto John Watson’s watch that he inherited by his brother. The watch is first mentioned in “A STUDY IN SCARLET”; the importance of personal items and how they link to the owner’s identity is highlighted in “THE YELLOW FACE”; Sherlock Holmes’ back story - similiar to here - is mentioned in “THE GREEK INTERPRETER”

John Watson (brother):

  • Alcohol
  • Gambling habit
  • money issues
  • Carless with his personal items
  • Tendency to hide
  • Emotional outburst when deduced bad character
  • etc.

Vs. Sherlock Holmes (brother)

  • country squire;
  • French artist Vernet;
  • Mycroft Holmes as an influential man + Diogenes Club
  • etc.

When we discussed #YELL ACD and #GREEK ACD, I could see posts on my dash speculating why Holmes reveals so little and “late” in their partnership. I think it was @artemisastarte who formulate the hypothesis that Holmes’ might have introduced Mycroft so late to keep Watson to himself and because Sherlock might look not as “impressive” in comparision to Mycroft.

I am in no way rejecting the hypothesis; however, IMO, Watson’s back story in #SIGN ACD might be give another reading a chance: That Holmes did not mention much about his back story because he did/does not want to embarrass Watson. Or, even more, to look too “impressive” in comparision to him.

Holmes’ ancestry is more “posh”; his brother is clearly far more influential than Watson’s; money seems not to be an issue (and/or, Holmes does not care). The only person struggeling with addiction and mental health is Sherlock Holmes himself - which puts him even with John Watson.

To sum it up: Maybe Sherlock Holmes is a good friend; and not only because he did what John Watson asked him to do. But although what he did with what he deduced from it.

anonymous asked:

Hi Steph! I'm new to the fandom, could you please share with me the best Johnlock fanfics (in your opinion)? There is so much of them I'm lost... and I don't know which are the 'legendary' and 'must read' ones. Thank you so much! <3

Hi Nonny!

First of all, WELCOME!! I hope you are enjoying your time here!! OH GOSH, okay so funny thing, I’m actually currently making a list of ALL of my favourite fics ever, because someone else asked me ages ago, and now I have 5 other people asking me LOL.

As I explained in this post here, many people have already made great lists of “the best fanfics” in the fandom… But of course I’m stupidly picky about my fics.

Anyway, since I’m already working on an entire list of my biggest most fave fics ever in every place everywhere, how about for now, since I’m due for it, I give you my last bookmarked fics since I last did a list last month? I hope these will tide you over Lovely! In the meantime, you can also check out my ‘my fic recs’ blog tag, and I’ve a tonne of lists, some of which you can see here

I-J’s Last Bookmarked Fics (July 2017)

Upon Reflection, Tenable Frippery by emmagrant01 (T, 1,299 w. || John’s Beard, First Kiss, Fluff) – John was, inexplicably, growing a beard.

Gigantic by BubbleGumLizard (E, 2,135 w. || Size Kink, PWP) – John seems to avoid Sherlock seeing him naked. Sherlock wants to fix that.This is porn. Part 19 of Mystrade NaNoWriMo 2015

What He’s Like by magikspell (E, 2,919 w. || Love Confessions, Fluff, First Time, Inexperienced Sherlock) – Realistic first time. They love each other so much.

Straight Shooter by nefariosity (E, 3,249 w. || Est. Rel., Light Dom/Sub, Military Kink, PWP, Bottomlock) – Sherlock has a military kink. John indulges him.

The Prize We Sought Is Won by deathfrisbees (E, 4,610 w. || First Time, Mild D/S, Oral, Military Kink, Bottomlock) – Sherlock’s in love, or in lust, or both–unfortunately, the object of his affections is not only his completely oblivious flatmate, but said flatmate would probably run screaming into the hills should he find out. John’s been invited to a wedding–unfortunately, the groom used to serve under him back in Afghanistan, and requests that John wear a uniform he’s honestly not sure he fits into. Unfortunately for both flatmates, Sherlock’s got a military kink the size of Kandahar and John wants to know if he actually can fit into this uniform or if his eyes are deceiving him. It goes from there.

Facade by distantstarlight (M, 4,715 w. || Fluff, John’s Beard, No-Shave November, Grumpy Sherlock, Clueless Sherlock) – Sherlock is highly irritated with a challenge John has agreed to undertake. Why does he need to grow a beard anyway?

Telling the Bees by siennna (G, 5,174 w. || Fluff, Beekeeping, POV Sherlock, Love Confessions) – It took a beat of silence for the words to settle in, before both of them realized what John said. “You—” Sherlock started. “I—” John said at the same time. “Love me? You love me?” Sherlock asked faintly. Part 3 of sienna’s favorites

The Death of Doubt by Gingerhermit (E, 6,584 w. || Alternate Canon, BAMF John, POV Sherlock, Sherlock’s Mind Palace, Hurt/Comfort, Angst/Drama, Meddling Mycroft) – Mycroft asks for John’s help in rescuing Sherlock from his Serbian captors.

Illogical, even. by magikspell (E, 9,119 w. || Grey-Ace Sherlock, Character Study, Growing Up, Victor Trevor, Romance, First Time/Kiss, Sherlock-centric) – Five reasons Sherlock never believed in love and one reason he does now.

With This Ring by Quesarasara (E, 9,121 w. || Est. Rel., Marriage Proposal, Angst and Fluff and Smut, Idiots in Love, Embarrassing Hospital Visits) – Sometimes even the best of plans go wrong. And sometimes wrong turns out to be exactly right.

The Painted Man by jinglebell (E, 9,894 w. || Tattoos, Scent / Tattoo Kink, Rough & Tender Sex, Fluff and Smut, Obsessive / Jealous Sherlock, Touch Starvation) – Here stood John Watson – middle name, Hamish, ex-RAMC captain and field medic, favourite brand of jam: Duerr’s, preferred toothpaste: Mentadent. Loyal, steadfast, interesting John had just done the most unpredictable thing merely by being.John’s body was covered, neck-to-waistband, shoulder-to-elbow, in tattoos.

Confidential by sussexbound (M, 10,654 w. || Epistolary, John’s Journal, First Kiss / Time, Fluff, Self-Acceptance/Discovery, John’s Sexuality) – When John accidentally stumbles upon the Confidential file Sherlock’s been keeping on him he is both angry and curious. What he learns about himself, though–well, that changes everything.

At the Edge of Desire by philalethia (E, 16,375 w. || Post S3, Pining, Arse Worship, Humour, First Kiss / TIme, Sexual Fantasy, Awkwardness) – While helping John move back in to the flat, Sherlock discovers a strap-on among John’s things. He finds the discovery considerably difficult to move past.

Tomorrow’s Song by agirlsname (M, 24,645 w. || Post-TRF, POV Sherlock, Angst with a Happy Ending, Virgin / Repressed Sherlock, Love Confessions, Slow Burn, Pining) – How can he think a relationship with me would be a good idea? I am the sort of person to take a break from my life and when I come back after two years, I expect to find it exactly as I left it. In reality I find it shattered to pieces. (I actually equate you with my life. When did I start doing that?)

Where Else Would I Be? by cwb (E, 34,910 w. || Retirementlock, Domestic Fluff, Falling in Love, Parentlock, Fluff and Smut, Reminiscing) – John and Sherlock’s five-year-old granddaughter spends the weekend with them in Sussex. Sherlock happily indulges her whims, and John takes care of them while quietly revisiting the past thirty years of their lives together.

Left by lifeonmars (M, 45,153 w. || Magical Realism) – John Watson is left-handed. He’s tried not to let it affect his life, but as any Lefty knows, that’s almost impossible. {{for some reason this wasn’t bookmarked??? I’ve loved this story for years and apparently I didn’t bookmark it??? News to me.}}}

Bridging the Ravine by SilentAuror (E, 58,883 w. || Post S4, Couple For a Case, Bed-Sharing, First Times, Confessions, Awkwardness, Sex Trafficking) – Sherlock and John go undercover at Ravine Valley, a therapy centre for same-sex male couples in an investigation into a possible human trafficking ring. As they pose as a couple and fake their way through the therapy sessions for the sake of the case, it quickly becomes difficult to avoid discussing their very real issues. Set roughly six nine months after series 4.


don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. i am KIND to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, WEAK is not what you are going to remember about me.


Just doing some character study sketches of my favorite smoll

plus a bonus John:

top 5, bottom 5

Tagged by @discordantwords

Rules:  Tag the person who tagged you, always post the rules, answer the questions, and add the date!

What are your five most popular works? (starting with the most kudos)

1. The Horse and his Doctor, BBC Sherlock, T, Sherlock/John, 129k words

Invalided after a run in with a poacher in Siberia, veterinary surgeon John Watson finds it difficult to acclimatise to the mundanity of London life. Things change when a friend invites him along to a local animal shelter and he meets their latest acquisition, a trouble-making Frisian with the strangest eyes and even stranger quirks John has ever encountered in a horse.

Horselock and VetJohn. It started out as a cracky idea and turned into a case-fic with an unusual friendship. I had lots of fun writing this, and am still blown away by the reception it got.

2. Enigma, BBC Sherlock, M, Sherlock/John, 194k, WIP

It’s the autumn of 1941, war is raging in Europe, German U-boats are raiding Allied convoys in the Atlantic, the Luftwaffe is bombing English cities, and the cryptographers at Bletchley Park are working feverishly to decode their enemies’ encrypted communications. One should consider this challenge and distraction enough for capricious codebreaker Sherlock Holmes. But the true enigmas are yet waiting to be deciphered: an unbreakable code, a strange murder, and the appearance of Surgeon Captain John H. Watson of the Royal Navy.

My most ambitious fic so far because of the historical setting and because it features real life figures such as Alan Turing. I’m learning a lot about wartime Britain while working on this story.

3. The Summer Boy, BBC Sherlock, T, Sherlock/John, 94k

About half a year after the fateful events at Appledore, Sherlock and John embark on a private case in Sussex. For Sherlock, it’s a journey into his past, bringing up memories both happy and sad that he has locked away for almost thirty years. For John, it means coming to terms with the present – and a potential future with Sherlock.

Set mostly on the South Downs in Sussex, this story is an homage to Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books and is partly set during Sherlock’s childhood. He has no strange sister in this verse.

4. Over Earth and Under Earth, BBC Sherlock, M, Sherlock/John, 196k

Three months after finally acknowledging their mutual feelings, John and Sherlock are not much closer to sorting out their relationship, hindered by cases, work, family issues, everyday matters and by being themselves. Will a strange case out in the Suffolk countryside bring a solution or further complicate things?

The fifth installment in my Over/Under series, this fic deals with the developing relationship of the two. Since the series was begun before S3 aired, Sherlock’s return after the Fall and his family background are different from canon. This fic contains the only sexy-times I’ve written so far ;).

5. Over Hill and Under Hill, BBC Sherlock, T, Sherlock/John, 75k

John and Sherlock travel to France to tackle the Col du Galibier (of Tour de France fame) by bicycle, and the confused state of their relationship after Sherlock’s return from the dead at the same time. A long journey, and a long climb …

The one where they go cycling, and my first long(ish) fic in the Sherlock fandom. Fourth in my Over/Under series, but written before all the others.

What are your five least popular works?

1. The Passage, BBC Sherlock, T, Sherlock & John, 12k, (WIP)

The personal Journal of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, recording his journey from Portsmouth, England to Mangalore, India, aboard HMS Charybdis under the command of Capt. G. Lestrade, commencing in the spring of the year 1803.

My very first foray into Sherlock fic, still unfinished, mostly because of the amount of research required to get the historical facts right. I still hope to finish it one day, but at the moment other stories have precedence.

2. Underground Rescue, BBC Sherlock, M, Sherlock/John, 24k, WIP

All kinds of danger lurk in the disused stations of the London Underground. When Sherlock goes missing, John has to play detective to find him, while Sherlock faces demons both present and past.

My most recent fic, and the sequel to The Summer Boy. It blends my love for Sherlock with that for London and its less well-known locations.

3. Fortunately the Milk, BBC Sherlock / Neil Gaiman fandom, G, Sherlock & John, 8k

Sherlock sets out to buy milk. It turns out to be a real adventure.

My crackiest fic to date, inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk, written on a whim after attending an event where he read from his book.

4. Over Ground and Under Ground, BBC Sherlock, T, Sherlock & John / Sherlock & London, 5k

After nine months of dismantling Jim Moriarty’s criminal empire, Sherlock finally takes the Eurostar to return to his first great love: London. The train can’t seem to move fast enough …

The second story in the Over/Under series: a brief character study of Sherlock returning to London after the Fall (not S3 compliant).

5. Over Cloud and Under Cloud, BBC Sherlock / Cabin Pressure, T, Sherlock & John, 16k

After his Fall, Sherlock travels the world to destroy what remains of James Moriarty’s criminal empire. When things don’t go according to plan and he finds himself in desperate need of a discreet means of travel, cue MJN Air …

First in the Over/Under series, crossover with Cabin Pressure. Not quite as cracky as it may sound, although I had great fun writing it, particularly Arthur’s parts.

Can we all just talk about Mike Stamford for a brief minute?

Who in the hell is this guy? I mean how does he think of a person like John and a person like Sherlock and think, ‘Oh yeah, I need to bring these two together.’


Luckily he did or we wouldn’t have this show but still, he clearly hadn’t seen John in YEARS. Yet within a few minutes, he established that John and Sherlock would get on.

Also, Mike Stamford actually seems to be… Sherlock’s friend in a way. Sherlock seems substantially familiar with him, asking to use his mobile as soon as he enters the room and being on a first-name basis with the guy. And Mike definitely seems to like Sherlock. Practically everyone hates Sherlock, but not Mike. I mean, you don’t try to hook up a person you dislike with a flatmate with whom you know would they would get on. When Sherlock casually drops knowledge of John when they first meet, Mike just hangs out there with a little smile. AND when Sherlock leaves the lab in the scene, Mike just says, “Yeah, he’s always like that,” but not at all in that exasperated, annoyed manner with which everyone speaks of Sherlock.

This guy seems like he should be a more prominent character in the show, if only for the reason that he is one of the few characters that doesn’t loathe Sherlock, he even seems to like him. That makes him pretty damn interesting to me. And without him, Sherlock and John would have never even met!

Like why the hell doesn’t this guy show up more often?!

The Final Problem is a character study of Mycroft Holmes.

He may seem oc at first, but everything fits.

  • He can’t stomach the blood and doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. 
  • But he doesn’t have any problem with ordering others to do it from behind a desk. 
  • Why did he seem to be able to pull out his umbrella sword gun?
  • He was defending himself from a freaking clown! 
  • Not about to shoot someone in the back of the head with no resistance.
  • Sherlock has always been his weakness. 
  • He has even said this himself. 
  • He baited Sherlock to try and save him the pain of choosing who to shoot. 
  • As for calling out to his brother for help in the opening scene; he once said that it would take Sherlock to fool him. 
  • Even though Mycroft is smarter, Sherlock is the only other person he trusts; either to fool him or to save him.
Making Friends with Sherlock Holmes

In honor of the filming of Season 3 I’ve done a bit of character analysis for A Study in Pink. Character analysis is a favorite hobby you see, and I cannot handle Holmes and Watson. I can not. Admittedly I have watched all 8 episodes of Sherlock way more times than is considered healthy, but I’ve probably watched A Study in Pink more times than all the others combined. This is because I am absolutely fascinated by the way Sherlock and John come together, the way they start their relationship. After all, Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have friends, he just has the one. So how did that one make it through the gate? 

My theory is that the Holmes brothers approach all things scientifically, people included. We know that Mycroft picked John up and intentionally stressed him out just to see how he’d react, so why wouldn’t Sherlock?

Sherlock does specific social experiments to test his hypotheses about other people and I think nearly all of his remarks to John in the first episode are calculated, except for the ones that betray his surprise at John’s unpredictable behavior. The following is a rundown of what I think is happening at the beginning of this relationship. 

Sherlock Holmes needs a flatmate, but more than that, he needs an assistant. He states it explicitly, and my opening argument for this entire episode is that pretty much everything Sherlock does or says in ASIP is a test to see if John can fill the position.

From the minute they meet in the lab, Sherlock instantly knows why Mike has brought John in; John will be a potential flatmate. Okay. So what does that mean? John is someone that Sherlock will have to share his space with, so it’s going to be important that he’s someone Sherlock can be civil to.

We never learn much about Stamford, but I sortof wonder if he doesn’t regularly keep his phone in his coat because, if he does, Sherlock may have asked him if he could borrow it solely to see if John would offer his, especially considering that Sherlock never has problems with phone reception in the lab at any point after this. After all, a person’s attitude toward sharing their stuff is going to be the one of the first concerns for being flatmates. It could just be a coincidence that moves the plot along, but I’m just not sure when you’re dealing with Sherlock. He’s a brilliantly written character and he will often do and say things that turn out to have secondary motivations. It’s what makes the show so much fun to watch over and over. Okay, anyway…

When John meets him at 221B, Sherlock is very polite. He shakes his hand, requests a first name basis, waits for him at the top of the stairs, offers tea, doesn’t get rude or launch into a belittling run-down to prove him wrong when John doubts the claims on his webpage, and tells John to make himself at home. All of these are formalities that Sherlock is infamous for not participating in, and I don’t buy that he’s being nice just because there’s something special about John. I think he just needs a flatmate and knows that everything about his normal behavior drives people away, so instead of doing what comes natural to him he’s acting, putting up a “normal” front. He displays full competence of social etiquette in order to set up a standard, uninvolved, non-antagonistic flatshare relationship, and plans to leave John behind when Lestrade calls him. But then Sherlock hears John yelling about his leg.

I’m sure he already knows that John isn’t prone to random emotional outbursts, so if he’s shouting about his leg it must be because it’s preventing him, currently, from doing something he wants to do. It’s not stopping him from “making himself at home,” leaving, or doing any normal activity, so the only time-relevant factor left is Sherlock’s leaving. He’s not attached to Sherlock at this point, so why would he care if he left? Unless, of course, he wishes he were able to do something equally productive or…join him. 

Okay then. If John is interested in coming along, and as Sherlock had just told Lestrade—he needs an assistant, why not try out John? But if John is going to be of any use at all, he’ll have to know how Sherlock works. He’ll have to explain his techniques to John and remember, Sherlock seemed to be avoiding doing this at the apartment. When John asked him how he knew the stuff that he did, Sherlock just smiled and stayed quiet because he knows how quickly it sucks the civility out of his relationships. But an assistant would be way more valuable than a flatmate and another flatmate will be easy to find, so given a choice between the two, of course he’s going to give it a shot. So from this point forward in the episode I don’t think he really stops testing John, except for when his attention is focused elsewhere.

First test, easiest test; can John endure being analyzed? (Just as a side note, my favorite line is, “The man sitting next to me wouldn’t treat his one luxury item like this,” because somehow, from a once-over glance, Sherlock inferred that John was someone who takes care of things that he values, and I think that’s adorable. Okay, anyway—) Once finished he has a kind of flippant, uncomfortable expression on his face because he’s already predicted that the response will be negative and is preemptively trying to suppress his reaction to the rejection that, obviously, doesn’t come. When he hears “amazing,” his expression quickly shifts to reflect confusion. Apparently no one’s ever passed the first test.

On to phase two then.

After they get out of the cab Sherlock asks, “Did I get anything wrong?” and, if you look closely, he’s fidgeting with his glove and shaking his hand. He’s got a lot of nervous energy. I think after John didn’t have the normal reaction of, “Piss off,” Sherlock wasn’t immediately sure how to proceed. With the notable exceptions of Ms. Hudson and Lestrade, the people Sherlock knows seem to fall into two categories; one type meets him with insecurity and hostility, and the other type meets him with idealization, a blind ‘he’s brilliant’ blanketing, the kind we see with Angelo who chooses to gloss over the fact that Sherlock sent him to jail. I think Sherlock is curious to see if he’s gotten anything wrong, but I think he’s more curious about how John might go about telling him if he was. John obviously hasn’t volunteered any information but, because Sherlock is nervous, he must be anticipating something worse than he gets. Probably one of those two responses. Instead John focuses on the points he was right about and omits the one he missed.

Because of this Sherlock then remarks, “I didn’t expect to be right about everything.” For the first two seasons Sherlock never admits fault to anyone else, and tells John not to admit it (on his blog) either. It’s is an admission of potential weakness. An admission of weakness. That in itself is a test. “If I admit that I don’t know everything, will you still be impressed?”

What he discovers though is that he already was wrong, John just didn’t think it was a big deal and, more importantly, he doesn’t think a mistake negates the brilliance of the rest of his observations. He doesn’t attack him, doesn’t question him, doesn’t lower his opinion of him, or reassess him. He’s just…fine. 

Sherlock takes it in stride, but he’s probably surprised that John didn’t bother telling him that he’d made a mistake. I would expect that he’s used to people leaping at the chance to prove him wrong. It’s normal, polite behavior not to, of course, but no one treats Sherlock like he’s normal until John.

A friend, at least a good one, will usually not point out another friend’s mistakes if they aren’t important. Degrading a friend isn’t something people generally find pleasant, and it has a negative impact on the relationship. So even if they barely know each other, the implication that Sherlock probably gleans from John’s response is that John is interested in forming an amiable relationship, one where power dynamics are not the focus. And that is probably a very rare thing for Sherlock. When people quickly recognize how much power he potentially has over them, they either turn defensive or submissive, so a relationship where his mental strength isn’t the focal point is probably largely foreign to him. 

Once inside Sherlock does his thing and John gets to see how much cooler it is when it’s not happening to you. John shows that he’s okay with not being as bright as Sherlock when he openly admits, “It’s not obvious to me,” so he’s not going to try and compete with him like, for example, Anderson. That’s good. But I think the real gem of this entire scene is the fact that John’s not afraid to praise Sherlock in public.

 I think it would have been very different if John had waited to pull Sherlock aside later and say, “you’re brilliant.” When Sherlock is deducing Jennifer Wilson and John says, “That’s fantastic!” Sherlock asks him, “Do you know you do that out loud?” I think he is happy that John is okay acknowledging his brilliance, but I think he’s far more surprised, and markedly impressed, that John’s willing to do it in front of other people. Because everyone there has already made it crystal clear that the accepted behavior is to hold Sherlock in contempt and ostracize him whenever possible.

 John is blatantly disregarding the social cues of the people around him and is acting on his own opinions. At the same time though, he won’t examine Jennifer Wilson without Lestrade’s permission, even though Sherlock obviously feels fine bullying him. This means that he’s making separate and conscious decisions, and it’s not just as part of a blanket “fuck the rules/other opinions” philosophy, which could be problematic.

 John is someone who does not bow to popular opinion, which implies a rational and impartial ability to look at a situation for what it is, rather than what other people think it is, before drawing conclusions. That in itself is going to be indispensably valuable to someone like Sherlock, who already has all the information and just needs a different view point occasionally.


 Naturally, he then abandons John at the crime scene.

 At this point Sherlock wants to move quickly. He can’t be bothered to oblige John’s unnecessary limp and he’s used to doing things by himself. But this aside, even if John will work as an assistant, he’s going to get left behind a lot. I think this situation doubles nicely as a display of what comes naturally to Sherlock and an opportunity to gauge John’s reaction to being ditched, which will inevitably happen.  After all, when he’s finished finding the case Sherlock calls John back. Yes he ditched him, but he wasn’t done with him.

So the conversation in the taxi was about determining John’s character, and the ones at the crime scene were about how he would work around others. From these interactions, Sherlock has learned that John is someone who can both tolerate him and whose opinions won’t be swayed by the general atmosphere of discord that follows Sherlock. So now it’s time for the third round of tests; will he be able to meet the mental and physical requirements for a good assistant and is he someone who can stand to be around Sherlock (and someone Sherlock can stand to be around) for an extended period of time?

Obviously he started this at the crime scene. While John is looking over Jennifer, Sherlock is watching him very intensely. He’s assessing John’s skill level and he seems to conclude that while he’s not a genius by any stretch, he’s not incompetent. He’s intelligent enough to hold his own and have a legitimate reason for being there (other than to simply stroke Sherlock’s ego, which would probably get tiresome really quick, even for Sherlock). He also voluntarily provided an alternative theory, “Maybe she checked into a hotel and left her case there.” This means that he’s 1) mentally participating even if it’s not terribly helpful, and 2) he’s not so intimidated by Sherlock that he’s afraid to toss out ideas that have probably already been considered, and will be quickly dismissed as wrong.

When John arrives back at 221B, Sherlock’s laying on his couch. He starts out ignoring John and, while Sherlock does get lost in thought and non-responsive, when he does talk he states that he called him for the menial purpose of using his mobile.

He’s intentionally goading John, trying to assess how far he can put him out before he genuinely starts to get pissed off. John offers Sherlock his phone and Sherlock doesn’t take it, he puts out his hand and waits. How much can Doctor Watson stand? That’s what he’s asking there, not “Will you pass me your phone?” Especially considering he doesn’t even want the phone, he hands it right back to him to make him send the text. He just wanted to see if he’d give it to him when he was intentionally being an ass. And the answer was yes. All through this scene he is pushy and rude, all of it testing how far he can push him. Can he insult him outright? Yep. John’s irritation is obvious, but what matters is that he passes the most important test of all;

Will he do what I tell him, if I don’t tell him why?

This is huge for Sherlock because he literally cannot always take the time to explain himself. He has to move fast and he has to do so frequently. Is John someone that he can trust to trust him? He already knows that John is impressed by his skill and is willing to publically acknowledge it. But does he have enough faith in him to assume that he’s doing the right thing? Because that’s going to be a vital trait of a useful assistant for Sherlock. In the casebook, in the post-its concerning the text, Sherlock says, “[it] shows how much I like you, I wouldn’t have let just anyone do it.” It does show how much he liked him. More accurately though, it showed that Sherlock had high expectations of John, and had deemed him reliable enough to give a shot.

When he pulls out the case John stares at him for a moment and he sighs, “I didn’t kill her.” When John says, “I never said you did,” he asks, “Why not?” It’s the logical assumption, it’s what everyone else but possibly Lestrade would assume. John doesn’t actually give him an answer, but Sherlock doesn’t need one. The point is that he didn’t make that assumption, no matter what his reasoning was. Sherlock gets kindof excited at this. He grins and hops up onto the back of his seat. But it’s not so much a celebration of, ‘he trusts me,’ as ‘yes! He didn’t jump at the obvious answer, he’s using his brain! Excellent!’ 

He then gets the follow-up to the ‘will you do what I say without knowing why?’ test; the ‘how will you react when you learn I’ve had you text a murderer?’ test. John’s answer is ‘nervously but still even-tempered.’ There’s no hysterics and he becomes even more impressed when the plan works out.

Sherlock leaps out of his chair. He’s just brimming with excitement. He was right about the murderer calling back, of course he was, but now everything is going his way. He’s excited about his success and he’s excited about John. He wants him to come along now, in-the-field so to speak. Before, when he went looking for her case, he left John behind. Now he wants to see him in action.

When they get into Angelo’s, Billy pulls a reserved sign off the table. Sherlock called ahead. That’s not really analysis I just think it’s hysterical. “Angelo, I need the window seat for a case.” “Anything for you.”

Sherlock notices everything everyone says about everything. When Ms. Hudson asks if they need two rooms, Sherlock has the briefest flash of confusion on his face, but when Angelo assumes John’s his date, he says nothing. He doesn’t even flinch, he just asks if John wants to eat. I think he realizes that this is an assumption that people are going to make about them and, since he’s used to people assuming wrongly, he’s not concerned. John is ruffled but not rude, so Sherlock drops it. But John keeps harping on it. He hasn’t pinned John for being gay, and obviously he thinks he can tell (Jim from IT), and Sherlock looks more annoyed the longer he he keeps pressing it. I don’t think it’s John’s possible come-on that bothers him. He doesn’t want romance, he doesn’t want that kind of messy relationship, but I think his concern isn’t about John’s potentially being attracted to him as much as the implications of the broader conversation topic; “People don’t have your kind of relationships in real life.”

In other words, “If you’re not into women, and you’re not into men, are really you into anything? Or are you weird?

He probably doesn’t want John to think he’s weird. He likes John because he doesn’t treat him like he’s weird. John’s probably the best chance he’s had at a friend in a long time (if ever) and suddenly John’s going to throw it all in the gutter because he doesn’t do normal relationships? Sherlock looks annoyed but he also looks a little anxious. Of course, John is just making small talk and trying to figure Sherlock out in the way normal humans do, by asking questions. When John says, “It’s all fine,” Sherlock visibly relaxes.

“Good…” he says. “…thank you.”

John gives him an odd look for the thank you, like maybe he thinks he’s being indirectly insulted, but Sherlock is probably just genuinely grateful that John’s not looking down on him for not “being normal.”

Now, as for the car chase scene, again I think it doubles as work and a test for Sherlock. Can John ditch the ridiculous limp? Yes. Can he keep up? Yes. What about when he’s asking him to do things that make him nervous, like leaping from building to building? Yes? Excellent! He needs some polishing as he doesn’t always listen to orders the first time, but he’s quick to make up for it and, as a bonus, he’s apologizing to everyone that Sherlock shoves out of the way. That’s good. Less angry people with John there to smooth it out. In the end of it he’s even willing to play along as one of the police without Sherlock asking him to. “Any problems just let us know.”

THEN, amazingly, he doesn’t even harp on Sherlock’s mistake. Sherlock makes mistakes sometimes and it’s not a big deal to John. And, best of all, he laughs at Sherlock’s sense of humor. Sherlock looks so nervous when John starts laughing. Maybe he’s afraid that it will be followed up with a nasty remark about Sherlock’s pickpocketing or his mistake, but it’s just that John happened to think Sherlock was funny. Nothing more vicious to it.

In their hallway, away from the police, Sherlock looks so genuinely happy. It’s the first time you see him really happy, really laughing and not just sniggering. He’s just…he’s thrilled that this man has appeared. He’s not afraid of Sherlock, not intimidated or threatened, doesn’t care that he makes mistakes, doesn’t take Sherlock’s irritability and snippiness personally, doesn’t care that he’s not normal, has a similar appreciation for action and adventure, shares his dissatisfaction with everyday tedium, and has a similar sense of humor. There’s just one more thing.

“Ms. Hudson, Doctor Watson will take the room upstairs.” “Says who?” “Says the man at the door.”

When Angelo knocks on the door and John goes to answer it, there’s a shot of Sherlock breathing deeply and looking down at the floor. It’s very brief, but he looks like he’s stealing himself, as if he’s about to be punched in the face. I think this is his final test for John as an ally.

If there’s one thing in the world someone is going to get pissed off about, it’s having their deep-rooted psychological issues being dismissed as being all in their head and, moreover, having that fact handed to them by a total stranger.

Angelo is literally laughing at John. “He said you forgot this.”

If John was going to be touchy about any of his issues, it’s that one. In his early blog entries he repeatedly complains that no one says anything about his limp. John’s identity had become very focused on being a wounded soldier and you’d better believe John could have interpreted this as Sherlock saying, “the fact that you’re still dwelling on your traumatic, life-threatening injury is totally ridiculous.” It was a real possibility that John would’ve taken that badly. He might have easily gotten embarrassed and defensive and have made up some line about how it was just adrenaline and Sherlock does NOT know everything about him and he’s WRONG. I mean…this is a psychological condition to John and what Sherlock is doing is basically equivalent to telling someone with chronic depression that they could have solved everything all along by smiling more. It could have gone very differently.

John smiles though. He doesn’t do any of those things and when he looks back in Sherlock is absolutely beaming. He’s thrilled. If John’s not going to get angry about having that thrown in his face then there’s probably nothing that Sherlock’s unique abilities—the part of him that he knows drives people away—can do that will ruin things. He finally has his shot at a normal friendship. A real one.

Once upstairs things are pretty self-explanatory. John has decided that Sherlock is awesome and readily defends him even though he has no information about his drug use history. I think John feels that the detectives were wrong in their other assessments of him and therefore are probably wrong about all of them. He goes ahead and defends Sherlock even if he doesn’t know if he’s right or not and Sherlock, in turn, bounces ideas off of John and asks specifically for John’s assistance.

 When he realizes he’s said something socially inappropriate he runs it by John in a peculiarly childlike way. “Bit not good?” “Bit not good, yeah.” It’s an odd question really, but it’s interesting that John responds in kind. He uses the exact same language back with him, which reflects a willingness to meet Sherlock on whatever level he’s at.

As for the next part with the taxi driver, this is about the only part of the episode I don’t think was part of his test. I think at this point Sherlock already has a solid opinion of John formed, and he probably isn’t worried about testing him further. I think, instead, that old habits die hard. Even though I’m sure John would have helped him, Sherlock runs off on his own, doesn’t attempt to involve him, and doesn’t spare him another thought once his attention is elsewhere.

In the final scene when Sherlock confronts John, he doesn’t say much about his opinions on the fact that John saved him. I think Sherlock is surprised, not only that John was the one who saved him, but by the fact that, without any formality or a hinted request, John was already acting as his assistant. It was a job that he was going to do naturally. John was perfectly on-the-ball, got there in time, and acted acceptably (for Sherlock) without any instruction at all. He’d persisted where the police had left off, and I don’t think John shooting the cabbie was an act of friendship or loyalty, and I don’t think Sherlock thought this either. John was just acting in accordance with his moral compass, and this is probably what finalized it for Sherlock. John was someone who could be trusted to act intelligently with or without Sherlock’s instructions.

 He’s not going to be Sherlock’s assistant. He’s going to be his (business) partner.

This last conversation is my favorite in the whole series. It’s so easy to see what makes John and Sherlock different, but what makes the friendship so delightful is what they have in common.

When discussing it John says, “He wasn’t a very nice man,” and Sherlock’s micro-expression is a smirk. John killed someone and he didn’t feel bad because the person wasn’t very nice. This is right on the same level with Sherlock’s, “not good,” —a childish but widely understandable description of the situation. Moreover, John follows it up with a joke. John just killed someone and then he makes a joke about it. Let’s just flash back to one of the first things Sherlock said to John. “You stopped her husband being executed?” “Oh no, I ensured it.” He tells John that he ensured a man’s death and as he says it…he smiles. Proudly. This is not something that most people would consider normal or “good,” but, “He wasn’t a very nice man,” is something Sherlock can hear, understand and appreciate. Really, it’s indicative of the fact that they are actually very similar people, despite the numerous and obvious differences. They view life and death and morality from a relatively similar position, and can appreciate that there is an awful lot of grey area that can’t be dealt with by always following rules.

Sherlock then makes a follow up joke and John gets nervous. “We can’t giggle, it’s a crime scene.” Sherlock’s reply? “You’re the one who shot him, don’t blame me.” You’re the one that made it a crime scene, he teases. And that’s Sherlock’s sense of humor. It’s very dark. But John doesn’t care. John’s not judging him for it. It’s all fine. The exchanges of, “You risk your life to prove you’re clever.” “Why would I do that?” “Because you’re an idiot,” and “I never guess,” “Yes you do,” are perfect summaries of the fact that John views Sherlock as an equal. He knows that Sherlock is smarter than he is, but he doesn’t feel devalued because of it, and that’s obviously something very comforting to Sherlock. In a world stuffed full of people who are frightened or intimidated by him, he’s never been able to find someone who would treat him like a perfectly normal bloke. He would never want to be normal, of course, but it’s hard to stand alone in the world forever.

 Anyway, you can always tell a friendship is real when you can tell your friend, “you’re so full of shit,” and have them know that it’s true and it’s okay. It doesn’t change anything.

 At the very end of the episode John asks him, “What are you so happy about?” His answer is, “Moriarty,” and I’m sure that’s true. He’ll be a fun new mystery and an enjoyable new distraction. But Sherlock is not just smiling about Moriarty. He’s smiling because Sherlock Holmes has finally found himself a friend.


The most accurate John character study yet.