John relaxed in a wing-back chair, a book in his hands. He liked this room. It was one of the more ordinary in the Holmes family house. Well, one says "ordinary". More accurate would be "less extraordinary." He could almost describe it as "homely", if one's home was, well, stately.
In one corner stood an immaculate baby grand piano. So immaculate, in fact, that not even a fingerprint marred its polished surface or a single one of its ivory keys. At present, Toby was splayed out beneath it, belly up and sound asleep. Ford had led the dog, and John, a merry chase during that morning's "walk."
Ford sat on the piano bench, his ghostly fingers moving silently over the keyboard.
John watched Ford and set aside his book, wondering what the young ghost was playing. He looked so very intent upon whatever it was. "Sherlock?"
"Hmm?" was Sherlock's disinterested reply. He did not look up from the newspaper he was reading. "Of course he's guilty! His watch is on the wrong wrist. Idiots."
"Who plays that piano?"
Ford stopped, turned, and pointed emphatically to himself. "I do!"
"No one," said Sherlock.
"No one?" John echoed, watching Ford, who gave an eye-roll that involved his entire body.
"Mycroft studied as a child until he stopped."
"Why'd he stop? No time? No interest?"
The brothers spoke as one: "No talent."
John chuckled and Ford grinned before turning back to the keyboard and resuming his silent playing. John rose from his seat and sat down beside the ghostly child.
"What's the story with this piano, then?"
"It's a piano," Sherlock answered curtly.
"It must have a story. Otherwise, why keep it if no one plays?"
"I suppose because it's habit."
"Habit?" John laid his right hand on the keys over Ford's ethereal one.
The boy nodded encouragement. "Can you follow me?" he asked.
"I can try."
"I'll play slow."
"Habit is a powerful force in this household," Sherlock continued, oblivious to the quiet conversation at the piano. "In case you hadn't noticed." He rattled the newspaper, turning a page impatiently. John accepted the unspoken dismissal.
"Sure." John laid his other hand over Ford's left. As promised, the boy played slowly and John followed where his fingers led.
"This piano was made from a single tree," said Ford.
"Was it?" John kept his voice low, hoping that Sherlock's distraction would work in his favour for a change.
"Yeah." The tune they waded through was distantly familiar, but John was too focused on following Ford and striking the correct keys, artless as John was at it, to spare thought for its identification. Beneath the piano, Toby wuffled and rolled over in his sleep.
"How'd you know?"
"Dunno. I just know."
They continued stumbling their way through the piece. Or rather, John stumbled; Ford led the way with perfect fluidity as far as John could tell.
"That's not terrible at all."
"Thanks for...the endorsement." John's attempt at sarcasm was hampered by his concentration.
"Where did you learn that?" Sherlock's voice, sharply demanding and much closer than expected, caused John to jump and lose all sense of fingering. Ford continued undisturbed.
"What? Nowhere. I was just fiddling about. Why? Was it something?" Stupid, stupid! John roundly and silently cursed himself.
"It was Bach. His Fugue in G Minor, to be precise, as you ought to know as you were the one playing it. Although I use the term 'playing' only in its most general sense."
"He's better that Mycroft ever was," Ford snapped as if Sherlock would hear him. He dropped his hands from the keys and glared.
"Nothing," said John, and watched Ford roll his eyes dramatically once again and sigh as if in great despair.
"He's such a naff git!" the ghost bemoaned.
"You haven't answered my question." Sherlock loomed over John and John stood up, not liking the feeling of being even shorter than usual.
Ford snorted impatiently. "Tell him it was divine inspiration."
"Yeah. He'll buy that," muttered John.
Sherlock frowned. "You're behaving very oddly, John. It's been going on since the moment we arrived."
John bucked up. He could handle this. He offered a cheeky grin worthy of Sherrinford. "Well, I did say I was likely to be absurd all weekend, and I hate to disappoint."
"I wasn't going to hold you to it."
"No? That is disappointing." Again, he grinned and this time added a wiggle of his eyebrows.
"You're ridiculous." But Sherlock was cracking. John could see it in the tiny curl at the corner of his lips, the even tinier crinkles in the corners of his eyes.
"Oh. My. God." Yet another eye-roll from Ford, this time accompanied by a groan of childish impatience. "Will you two get a room, already?"