Sherlock Holmes was completely lost. Lost, and cold, and absolutely miserable. One night without a phone, in the middle of the woods in some godforsaken countryside. It’ll be simple, Mycroft said. How could Sherlock resist?
God, he wish he had.
It took him fifty-seven minutes of trudging in the darkness with John in tow to realise that he had absolutely no idea how he was going to get them out of that mess. He had no phone to look up nearby cities, no torch or other source of light. He had the clothes on his back and his doctor, whose incessant calls of, “Sherlock, just ask for some help already,” were becoming nothing but white noise.
Fifty-eight minutes into the test, Sherlock turned around, loomed almost threateningly over John in the darkness, and mumbled a weak, “I need help,” while staring intently at something he believed to be a blackberry bush.
“Finally,” John sighed. He turned a quarter to the right and pointed. “That way’s north,” he said immediately, gazing skyward. “There’s a town nearby.” His heels spun him another half-turn and he pointed at the ground. “Grab up those sticks with moss on them and a few other twigs, if you’re cold. I’ll make a fire, then we can head into town.”
“Hold on,” Sherlock grunted, hitting the brakes on John’s seamless talking. “How is that north? And what good will a few sticks do to make a fire?” He felt as though John was the detective and he was the good doctor, a role which made him feel uneasy.
Even through the darkness, Sherlock could see John’s eyes roll. “Sit tight, Sherlock,” he stated. “I’m going to give you an astronomy lesson.”
And thus, while learning how to build a fire with nothing more than mossy sticks and a few matches, Sherlock discovered how to find the north star and differentiate between chimney smoke and evening clouds. (He still wondered why the star had so many names, why its constellation was named after a tiny bear, how John even spotted the moss in the first place, and what he would have done had he not bargained to have John with him.)
As they headed into town after putting the fire out, the doctor reached into his pocket and fumbled around. “Have you learned your lesson?” he asked.
“What lesson was that?” Sherlock mumbled, giving John his answer.
“A little extra knowledge on basic survival goes a long way,” he stated.
Sherlock sighed and relented. “Yes,” he grumbled stubbornly. That, and he learned how knowledgeable and irreplaceable his doctor was. He kept it to himself, naturally.
“Good.” John’s hand finally found what it searched for and pulled it out to show off to the detective. “Next time, think before you accept a challenge.” In his hand was his phone, which he waved back and forth, displaying the instructions on star-gazing and fire-building for the stunned Sherlock to see. John grinned wryly and continued trudging on.
Sherlock followed after, quietly feeling like a great prat and reminding himself to punch Mycroft sometime.