Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Notes/Warnings/Spoilers: Takes place between The Blind Banker and The Great Game. Spoilers for the first series. Thanks to lefaym for Full Metal Beta.
You can also read this story at A03: http://archiveofourown.org/works/334843
Summary: John learns another disturbing fact about Sherlock.
Not even the Marmite itself, but rather the missing space in the victim’s pantry where the Marmite should have been. That was all it took for Sherlock to unravel the murder, and bring down a particularly nasty crew of loansharking thugs operating out of an off-license in the East End.
John was watching the chaos from a safe distance. He couldn’t help feeling a bit of pride about his own small part in the affair, which had require him to play the part of a down-on-his-luck war vet in dire need of quick cash. He was no Kenneth Branagh, but he’d got the job done. Furthermore, Sergeant Donovan had been exceptionally useless through the whole case, completely convinced that the killing had to do with a bunch of street performers who found the body, and who turned out to be completely innocent.
He wasn’t proud of the Schadenfreude he felt at her humiliation, but he generally tried to be honest with himself and the smugness couldn’t be denied. Or hidden apparently, since she saw the need to come over and shoot a few poison darts in Sherlock’s direction, using John as an intermediary.
“He’s not a hero, you know,” she said, as Lestrade was escorting the ring-leader into a police car.
“From the looks of it, I say he is,” John shot back. He knew full well all of Sherlock’s foibles, including utter insensitivity to anyone else’s needs or feelings, but that was private and certainly none of Donovan’s business.
She shrugged, obviously unable to refute Sherlock’s success in solving this murder, along with every other case he’d been involved in, at least as far as John knew. Naturally Donovan couldn’t just let it be, so she immediately tried another tack.
“You fancy him then, do you?”
John sighed. He was getting so tired of this. What on earth was wrong with people? Yes, he thought Sherlock Holmes was an amazing man. He enjoyed being on hand to see his crime-solving skills in action. He’d come to like the time they spent alone together, even if a significant portion of that time was spent being ignored while Sherlock wrestled with his own demons, criminal and otherwise. What about any of that immediately drove people to the conclusion that something was going on?
He’d have to compare notes on that with Harry. She had the opposite problem. It was nearly impossible to convince anybody she was a lesbian. Maybe it was the long hair and taste for impractical high heels, or perhaps people just weren’t observant, as Sherlock was always inclined to point out. Anytime she was out with Clara, men had a tendency to swarm in her direction, never believing for a minute that she wasn’t interested.
Bloody annoying from either side of the spectrum, but he didn’t feel like giving Sergeant Donovan the benefit of showing his frustration. He turned to give her his best look of contempt only to find she’d beaten him to it and added a victorious smirk.
“What?” he asked, taken aback. Where did she get off grinning like she’d won the pools?
Donovan shook her head slowly, before whispering something that left John feeling vaguely ill.
“I’ve had him.”
Sherlock could tell something was wrong with John when they got back to Baker Street that evening. For one thing, he didn’t immediately log on to his computer to check email or the BBC news site. He didn’t put on the telly to watch one of those ridiculous programmes, and to bring the point home he didn’t suggest calling out for take-a-way at exactly 7:15PM. Instead he paced a bit, sat down again and re-commenced pacing. Quite perplexing and the teensiest bit aggravating, even though Sherlock recognised a mild echo of his own habits when trying to engage with a case.
If he were the one doing the pacing, he’d wish only to be left alone until he’d solved the problem at hand. This was John, however, a normal person, as it were, with a normal mind. There was every chance he actually wanted to talk about something, specifically with Sherlock. Sherlock had never quite seen the need for prolonged dissection of every aspect of human emotion, but he’d come to rely on having his flatmate’s calming presence as a counterpoint to his own.
“Well, what is it?” he demanded.
“What’s what?” John replied.
Sherlock merely folded his arms and raised his eyebrows in response
“Fine, then,” John said. “Look I’m sure it’s utter bollocks, but I need to hear it from you.”
“Yes, what exactly am I being accused of now?”
“It’s that…it’s Sergeant Donovan.”
“Ah, yes, the redoubtable Sally. Does she think I’ve forged the Mona Lisa, or perhaps that I’m responsible for the state of the world economy.”
Not even a hint of a smile. This must be serious.
“She says you shagged her.” That was certainly unexpected. “It’s not true, is it, Sherlock? You wouldn’t. She wouldn’t. You’re not even…”
Sherlock was reminded of John’s absolute conviction that there was nothing plausible about Lestrade’s “drugs bust” the last time he wanted to rattle Sherlock’s cage. He remembered the shock and disappointment on John’s face when Sherlock’s history as a narcotics abuser had been revealed. He was probably going to like this even less, although the reaction itself was worth noting.
Sherlock was briefly tempted to tell John what he wanted to hear, but he eventually decided on a shrug that would convey the truth.
He could tell that John was thinking of the sort of word he couldn’t bring himself to use in “polite” society, which spoke volumes about the uselessness of both politeness and society.
“Yes, with that.”
“But why on earth…I thought you didn’t…you told me you were only interested in your work. Make me understand.”
“It was for my work.” This time it was John’s turn for raised eyebrows, with an expression mixing disgust and disbelief. “The whole phrase, crime of passion. So many murders are committed for lust, by fools left at the mercy of their sexual desires. It’s all a bit alien to me. I wanted to have a better sense of what drives them.”
“For god’s sake, Sherlock.”
“I’d been considering the matter for quite some time, but it was actually you who inspired me to take action.”
John seemed genuinely alarmed by this statement.
“You were so very eager to, as you put it, ‘have it off’ with Sarah. So much so that you were completely distracted from the case at hand, even though you should have understood the gravity of the situation. I felt the need to have a better understanding of such a dangerous impulse. Hands on experience, as it were.”
“By why those hands? Why not a friend, someone who cares about you.”
Sherlock found himself knitting his eyebrows together, perplexed both by the very idea of using a friend for such a purpose, assuming he even had one. “I needed a neutral party, someone I could count on for honest feedback.”
“Why not a prostitute then?”
“I said honest feedback. Not the paid response of a professional.”
John shook his head again.
“I don’t understand you Sherlock. How is Sergeant Donovan a neutral party? She thinks you’re either evil, or mad, or some combination of both.”
“And yet she agreed to participate in the experiment,” Sherlock pointed out.
“It’s not an experiment.” John insisted, a ragged edge obvious in his voice.
“In this case it was. Honestly John, I thought you were a man of the world, not to mention a doctor. I find it hard to believe you’re being so sentimental about a physical process. Do you mourn each and every bowel movement?”
John had settled into his chair and was currently avoiding Sherlock’s gaze, but rather focusing on his leg, massaging his thigh as though the pain had returned. Perhaps it was just a habit.
“She was your first?” John asked, while continuing his pointless kneading.
“If you want to phrase it that way, I suppose so.” He’d honestly never given it much thought, since the act itself was of no importance, it really made no difference to him. Sally Donovan had been convenient and suitable to his purposes.
John was silent, as if there nothing left to say, although clearly there was. Sherlock made his way around the room fiddling piles of paper and peering into various beakers.
Finally John muttered something, mostly under his breath, but Sherlock understood him to say, “You deserve better.”
Sherlock smiled, hoping the entire ridiculous conversation was over. He was gratified to see John open a paper, and appear to be to be deeply engrossed in some item. Trying to encourage John’s interest in a different topic, he casually asked John if there was anything terribly scandalous to be found in the Mail.
Within seconds, the paper was abruptly closed and John’s attention was once again focused on Sherlock.
“So how did the experiment go? Any unusual findings?”
There was still an acid tone to John’s voice.
The details were completely mundane, but perhaps it would help John to hear how very boring they were.
“I discovered that I’m capable of normal function, that I do experience a release consistent with literature on the matter. According to Sergeant Donovan, my refraction time between erections is much lower than average, as is my endurance during the act itself. She called me a monster.”
John’s face had taken on a flush of red.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine. Enough of the details, then. Forget I asked. Forget we ever had this conversation. I know I’m going to try to.”
“All right,” Sherlock agreed, hoping to move on to another topic, even something as trivial as the latest foolishness out of Parliament.
“Just one more thing,” John said, while Sherlock attempted to suppress a sigh. “Why would she do it?”
“I suppose she feels it would give her some advantage over me. For instance, why do you think she chose to tell you?”
“She wants to drive a wedge between us. It’s not the first time she’s tried to do that. Conniving wench.”
Sherlock nodded, amused by John’s use of such an archaic sounding colloquialism.
“Quite. And did she succeed? Will you be able to continue assisting me in my investigations, or have I become fatally compromised, in your estimation?”
John looked up, taking a deep breath. “No, of course not. It’s your personal life. Absolutely none of my business. It was just the one time though, right?”
Sherlock narrowed his eyes, to cut off any more interrogation. Given John’s reaction to what he’d already revealed, he found himself strangely unwilling to answer that last question.
“Yes, right, none of my business. Pizza for dinner then? I could go for a mushroom and sausage myself. Olives, maybe? Just, please Sherlock, next time you need to do an experiment, try to find a test subject who actually gives a damn about you.”
Sherlock had his mobile open, as he nodded his agreement.
Sally was putting the finishing touches on the last report from the arrests, when the text came in on her mobile. Nice numbers for the station, a good week in the press for Lestrade. Too bad they’d all been forced to kow-tow to the creeper once again.
Oh, speak of the devil. That little bug she put in Watson’s ear must have burrowed its way into his brain, until he couldn’t stand it anymore. And Sherlock, being who he was naturally told him everything. Well, maybe not everything.
Look who’s talking?
She wasn’t sure why Sherlock wanted his new side-kick to know that he wasn’t all that lily white, but since he’d given her the go-ahead, she’d figured why not? Maybe, just maybe Watson would buy a clue, and run for the hills, like a sane person. He wasn’t sane though. Nobody was when it came to Sherlock Holmes. He cast some spell and half the bloody department had fallen under it, especially Lestrade. It was sickening to see him standing there like some kind of groupie while Sherlock rattled off his so-called ‘deductions’.
Why was she the only one who could see the bastard for what he was? A lunatic. A pervert. A dope fiend. A disaster waiting to happen.
Who happened to be able to go all night and didn’t expect breakfast in the morning.
He was definitely going to bring them all down in the end, but in the meantime…
My place. 10PM