"Congratulations on molting, old boy," I said the other day, whilst pouring Sherlock his morning spot of tea.
But he only looked at me as if I'd just given him a migraine headache.
"Praise for having molted from one who never has nor never will molt, is hollow praise, indeed," he murmured, pausing to groom the tiny hooked claw of his left middle foot.
"I sense this is one of those occasions when molt is code for something else, like having brains," I said, a trifle shrill.
He snickered mirthlessly.
"Well, I do exfoliate on occasion, so there is that!" Forget trifle. I was half a semitone away from channeling a fishmonger's wife!
"What is this really about, Sherlock? Why the perpetual cold shoulder, thorax, and abdomen?"
He did not reply.
"Is it because Izzy plays the violin better than you?"
"That is a matter of opinion," he sputtered, "And let the record reflect she also CANNOT MOLT!"
"Oh, for heaven's sakes, fine. You are the only creature in this house who can break out of an exoskeleton. Now can we be friends?"
"There's one other thing...," he said, trailing off. He looked, for the first time, somehow different. Did I detect a hint of vulnerability in those piercing, bulbous eyes?
"What is it, man? Let's get this out on the table once and for all!"
"What?? Ruby?! You're threatened by that silly little soft, fluffy, adorable, sweet, precious ball of fur??!"
"Well, when you put it that way, I don't know how I possibly could have been worried in the first place!"
"Sherlock, darling. Ruby is Ruby. You are you. One is warm and cuddly, the other methodical and exacting."
"Precisely. I should think the choice would be obvious."
"Or elementary, as they say..."
He swivelled his neck to fix me with a searching gaze, as only a mantis can. When he'd perceived the extent of my thoughts and determined them to be lacking (though sincere), he proceeded to ignore me again, as usual.
But this time, the silence was congenial.