Sherlock BBC (Sherlock/John, eventually)
In which John has to explain things.
Set after The Great Game. Britpicked by dani_the_girl, though I've made some changes and all mistakes that remain were definitely made without her permission. Thanks to tricksterquinn for beta duties, sentence structure, French advice, and staring accusingly at my crimes against grammar. You can totally blame any remaining mistakes on her.
part 1, part 2, part 3
To no one's surprise, the third woman is discovered to have been a patient as well; John doesn’t know how Sherlock acquired the report and the less asked, he suspects, the better for both their sanity. Or what's left of John's, in any case; that he's the less mentally stable of the residents of 221b isn't a position he ever aspired to, but he means to do his best to live up to it.
"I first became aware of the fact you were missing time by your reaction to my comments on sufficient sleep," Sherlock tells him with all the drama of a first year university student at a terribly melodramatic audition. It's rather comforting, all things considered; even a flatmate suspected of being a serial killer isn't enough to throw him off. "It had not escaped my attention that your absence corresponded with not only the murders, but also with the weather; a rather inept but workable way to underline the fact your return to the flat was hours later than your departure from Sarah's. The first time, of course, was not notable; the second, however, was telling, especially your reaction to the body."
John wishes profoundly that Harry was not such an excellent representative of what happens when one turns to drink to deal with the vagaries of life; he has never wished so profoundly for something both extremely strong and in large quantities. "My reaction--"
"While I'm sure the idiot who treated you might consider that 'triggering'," the verbal fingerquotes are nearly visible, "you have observed several corpses since your release from St. Bart's without reaction, one of which happened to fall on top of you when your imaginary limp led you to an unfortunate incident with a ladder," thank you, Sherlock, no wish to forget that bit of personal trivia, "and while finding one on our very doorstep at an early hour might be somewhat shocking, it wouldn't explain the intensity of your reaction. "
John drinks his third cup of tea before eight. "You think I--what, saw the body beforehand?"
"I think you were present at her death," Sherlock answers crisply. "While you do not have conscious memories of it, I believe--"
"That I watched as they were tortured to death."
Sherlock's head comes up sharply, having forgotten, apparently, that to some, this topic might be somewhat upsetting. "Yes."
Right. Setting down the cup, John leans his head into his hands; there is nothing about this conversation that is sane. "And you didn't think to talk to me about it?"
"Correlation does not always equal causation." Sherlock hesitates. "I also didn't believe Lestrade would find corroborating, if rather questionable, evidence in the hospital records that would lead him to confront you directly."
John's eyes narrow. "You wanted the opportunity to follow me from Sarah's last night." Sherlock looks his opinion of people who feel the need to state the obvious. "Right, then. Carry on."
"Really, John," Sherlock says disparagingly as he returns to the laptop, though his irritation seems aimed more at the misspellings in the report than John's continuing insistence on finding this entire thing utterly mad, "this situation is unfolding quite predictibly. If you are being framed for a crime, the murderer will, of course, attempt to make it as obvious as possible." Sherlock frowns, pushing away John's laptop in dissatisfaction. "Too obvious, really. Who collects taxi receipts? Might as well start shouting it from the rooftops; no subtlety at all."
Sherlock, of course, would notice the quality of the criminals he hunts.
"Of course, they have the bright minds of Scotland Yard to contend with," Sherlock continues thoughtfully. "So I suppose obvious was a wise choice, all things considered."
Looking at Sherlock, John wonders how he can possibly find this conversation comforting; the blithe, easy explanation and speculation on motive, opportunity, and method are ridiculously reassuring, like any case they've worked together. Part of it, admittedly, is probably his own desire to disassociate from the entire mess; on the other, Sherlock's reaction is so matter of fact and, well, normal--barring the entire episode of them being involved and all--that it's hard to keep up any sort of panicked reaction in the face of such pleased speculation, as if John had given him the most brilliant Christmas present in the history of mankind.
Which John supposes, being the focus of a convoluted and unlikely plot to frame him as a modern day Jack the Ripper, it very well is; all the joy of pursuing justice in a convenient package no more than a staircase away. Really, thinking about it, even if Sherlock had managed to keep any other flatmates, John might very well be his favorite on the basis of being so very useful in the pursuit of a life less boring.
"In any case," Sherlock says, with an air of intense satisfaction, "the next day that shows signs of rain, you'll need to schedule a date with Sarah--"
"Right, about that." Setting the empty cup down carefully, John wonders, not for the first time, if Sherlock was grown in some sort of MI6-sponsored petri dish. "Don't think that'll work."
Sherlock frowns, eyebrows drawn together in irritation that any plan of his could possibly have a flaw. "I don't see why not."
John can and does blame Sherlock for deliberately ignoring the basics of social interaction, as John is perfectly aware Sherlock does in fact know what they are; this honest bewilderment, however, can only be laid at the door of whoever raised him (provided the petri dish theory is incorrect). "Sherlock," John says carefully, "less than two hours ago, you claimed we were involved."
Sherlock looks his incomprehension of how this could possibly be relevant.
"Sarah and I are," John says carefully, wondering why he even bothers with the present tense, "for lack of a better word, in an exclusive relationship." Sherlock's expression doesn't change. "Sherlock, I can state with relative certainty that at this time, she will not be interested in continuing a relationship with me when she thinks I'm involved with my flatmate."
Sherlock hesitates, eyes narrowing in thought. John can almost see him struggling to work out the confusing internal logic of relationships.
"Perhaps you could discuss an open relationship with her," he says after a moment of thought, looking at John with something very like hope; John is almost sorry to have to kill it dead before it can blossom, because, well, no. Taking a deep breath, John braces himself, because it's one thing to explain normal human relationships to Sherlock; it's another thing entirely to realize that he may very well have to explain Sherlock to himself.
"Even if Sarah were to agree--retroactively, I might add--that our relationship is--open," John says, very slowly and very carefully, "do you remember when you wandered off to pretend to examine the alley so you could have a fag and Lestrade asked you for one?" John waits for Sherlock to nod, still distressingly unenlightened. "And your completely unsurprising negative reaction? Do you think anyone, anywhere, would believe you would share? Anything? Ever?"
There's an appalling moment where John thinks he might actually have to go into detail, then Sherlock frowns, eyes widening. Enlightenment at last.
"And if you think this isn't the talk of the entirety of Scotland Yard," John continues ruthlessly, "not to mention that they were to interview Sarah today and I'll be shockingly unsurprised if this doesn't come up, oh, immediately, then I will get you another patch this minute, because--do I have to explain this further?"
"I think I understand." Sherlock slumps back, eyes unfocused, then he looks at John; for a moment, there's something else there entirely, vast and unreadable and unbearably focused on John alone, before it vanishes like it was never there at all. "Quite right." Then, "There's no help for it, then. We'll have to explain this to Sarah."
And here John thought it couldn't possibly get worse.
Sherlock's unfamiliarity with relationships is not precisely a surprise.
There was a time in university (according to Mycroft) that Sherlock would interact with various people in ways that could be interpreted as social, though Mycroft admits, with heavy regret, that surveillance at that time had been sketchy at best and he cannot confirm whether interaction ever turned sexual.
("Technology was not as it should have been, my dear Watson," Mycroft had said regretfully, gazing into the depths of Darjeeling Supreme with a wistful expression. "And he is quite good at creating controlled fires when vexed. Lost many hours of footage to that."
John's heartwarming teas with Sherlock's brother really have to go already.)
There had been a brief infatuation with an Indian national at university who apparently now worked for Indian intelligence and contracted with British intelligence on occasion ("I did like Adler," Mycroft had told him, this time over oolong and toast points, which even John found unsettling, though he isn't quite sure if it's the inappropriate tea combination or Mycroft reminding Anthea by telephone to verify Adler's current whereabouts in voice that in another universe might be considered nervous). Ms. Hudson had informed John, for no reason at all, of three rather disreputable individuals who Sherlock had been known to associate with, though John suspects the word dealers might be a more appropriate descriptor, and makes John want to conduct a drugs bust of the flat just on principle.
(Why he's the recipient of gossip on Sherlock's personal life is a question John has tried very hard not to consider overmuch.)
Given the available evidence and any and all conversations with Sherlock since, John is perfectly capable of making simple deductions, and one doesn’t have to be a consulting detective to come up with the obvious answer as to why Sherlock would think a cozy *tête–à–tête** between the three of them in their tiny living room is a brilliant idea.
"But John is not a serial killer," Sherlock concludes, settling back on the sofa with a distinct air of personal satisfaction, rather like when he solves a case when he has the benefit of a live audience.
On the armchair across from them, Sarah holds a cold cup of tea and stares between them as if suddenly, she understands why John is so very attached to her sofa. To compound the horror, Sherlock seems to abruptly remembers that they are now allegedly involved and stretches an arm across the back of the sofa, smacking John in the head.
"Right," she says.
"But you understand we will have to continue the ruse until the real killer is found," Sherlock says, and though John would bet his last quid Sherlock has never watched enough television or been to the cinema often enough to absorb the trope, he's doing a flawless performance of the plot of at least five major romantic comedies in the last three years. "I understand this might be inconvenient for you, but I assure you, it is only a means to an end."
Reaching back, John pats Sherlock's arm for his efforts and says, "Thank you, Sherlock. Now please go away."
Sherlock frowns at him in confusion, then seems to realize that the threesome part of the evening should now come to an end. "Right." Standing up, he looks at John speculatively before going the door and getting his coat. "I'll be out for a bit," he announces, obviously not sure if the entire production is clear enough to Sarah and John to escape commentary. "Lestrade called regarding an unrelated extortion case and left to his own devices, the victim will be paying for the next ten years unless I clear things up." Life is hard for the genius consulting detective, from his tone; so many people wrong in the world and so little time to correct them all.
John nods stiffly as Sarah begins to belatedly consume her tea, possibly as a prelude to a quick escape. John really can't blame her. As the door closes, John laces his hands together and struggles for something to add; nothing relevant comes to mind.
"I don't think you're responsible for the murders, John."
John doesn't look up at the sound of the cup being set down and Sarah rising; abruptly, however, she's sitting beside him, warm and kind, one slim hand covering his. "John."
"I do." Pressing her shoulder against his, her fingers tighten. "So does Sherlock. So does anyone with sense, for that matter."
John looks at her, unable to help the smiling at the sympathetic quirk of her lips; slumping back into the sofa, he takes a deep breath, running his hands through his hair. "I don't know what to do," he admits. "Sherlock's--plan is insane. I knew no good could come of his new addiction to terrible late night telly."
"To be fair," she answers, resting her chin on his shoulder, "you couldn't anticipate this turn of events."
"Feels like I should have, though."
She buries a giggle against his jumper before she straightens. "So am I to be the shattered girlfriend?" she asks, eyes dancing. "I always wished in university I'd had the time to take a turn on stage."
John gives her a betrayed look, which only makes her giggle harder. "Sarah, I can't ask--"
"Of course you can." Her expression sobers. "Whoever is doing this, they're very good. You don't remember seeing any of those women?"
He still doesn't. "It's possible I forgot," he says slowly. His schedule is busy (though not unbearably so), and while the women were attractive, unless they'd come with a very unusual complaint, he might not have remembered them in the blur of names and faces that made a typical day at the hospital.
"And it's also possible that the records were altered," she answers flatly, eyes narrowed. "From what little I've gleaned from the paper, an amateur could hardly have accomplished what was done to those women. The murderer has had surgical training at the very least and is most likely still in practice." She hesitates. "It could be that one of the other doctors is responsible."
"A coroner also has the necessary training." He can almost see her making mental lists, going through their colleagues, discarding and adding names, asterisks and footnotes filling that clever mind.
"I wonder," she murmurs, almost to herself, "why you are their target." Her quick glance is speculative, curious, but John has no answer to that, only suspicions. He's circled the question more than once and as yet the answer eludes him. All the possibilities seem either too ridiculously far-fetched or unbearably convoluted. Moriarty is a suspect, if not for the murders themselves, then of encouraging, perhaps even assisting the murderer in his actions. It seems rather unlikely, however, if for no other reason than the lack of potential for mass deaths, though the gift of an interesting case for Sherlock is a point in its favor. On the other hand, a casual perusal of Wikipedia will inform anyone that doctors are among the most successful of serial killers; their knowledge, their position, and the training they receive to be objective in the face of human suffering makes them ideal candidates if they decide to go quite mad altogether. "And for that matter, how are they doing it?"
Yes, that is the question, isn't it?
"We'll find out," Sarah tells him confidently. "Takeaway? We can discuss the details of how this will work over dinner." Her eyes gleam, not unlike Sherlock's when he's engrossed in a particularly challenging case. "What would a woman order when her boyfriend is cheating on her with his flatmate?"
"You're having fun with this, aren't you?" John accuses, feeling a bit sullen that everyone seems to be enjoying the farce that is currently his life.
"Oh yes," she responds with unsettling relish. "Hurry up now; I've always thought curry was the best compliment for a good row, don't you agree?"
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