Original Story Title: Pomodoro
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/248033
Original Story Pairings: Sherlock/Angelo
Original Story Rating: Gen
Original Story Warnings: none (spoilers for season 2)
Remix Story Title: The Donatella Effect
Remix Author: missilemuse
Remix Beta: thesmallhobbit
Remix Britpicker: thesmallhobbit
Remix Story Pairings: Sherlock/John; Angelo/OC
Remix Story Rating: Gen
Remix Story Warnings:none
"The Donatella Effect"
(3 August, 2004.)
“Angelo Russo, you are under arrest for the murder of Richard and Roberta Burton and their housekeeper Teresa Gonzales. You have the right to remain silent, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be used in evidence. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence…”
Angelo meant to focus on the policeman’s words as the handcuffs were slapped on his wrists but all he could see in his head were his wife’s dark eyes filled with confusion and pain when she came home to find the house trashed. They were making a thorough job of it. Even the couch cushions had been slashed open. His daughter’s toys were spilled across the floor. He fought to keep his breathing steady as one of the policemen trampled over Tinky Winky, leaving a brown shoe-print across the stuffed face.
He had promised Dona that she would never have to visit him in jail again.
“Look, there’s been a mistake” he pleaded, stumbling towards the detective inspector in charge. “Please… I never killed anybody. You have to listen to me.”
He was restrained by a firm hand on his handcuffs. The female police officer was saying something again but it was white noise over the ringing in his ears.
“Mr. Russo, do you want to call a lawyer?” the Sergeant finally yelled, drawing Angelo’s attention back to him
“I…” he hadn’t murdered anyone. But he knew he was in deep trouble, and Dona would be back tomorrow morning and he would be in jail. Dona, who was five months pregnant with their second; who he had promised that he would give up his old ways. Yesterday had been a terrible mistake. The air in the room seemed to grow thinner as he imagined his wife’s face.
“Mr Russo, are you even listening to me?”
“Do you want to call your lawyer?”
“No, he doesn’t. As his lawyer’s already here,” came a deep voice from right behind Angelo. Angelo had to crane his neck upwards as the man came and stood right next to him. At least six feet tall, wearing a posh coat which failed to hide the fact that he was pale as a fish and scrawnier than a scarecrow, with deep hollows below prominent cheekbones and the sharpest gaze Angelo had ever laid eyes on.
Then there was the small matter that Angelo had never seen the man before.
“And you are?” the detective sergeant scowled at the newcomer.
The man smoothly extended a hand, “Mycroft Holmes, Mr. Russo’s lawyer… Now if I could have a moment with my client?"
“Five minutes,” the Sergeant bit out before turning away.
Angelo was barely aware as two hands held his shoulders and guided him to a corner of his living room. “Mr. Russo, I know that you’re in shock at present but we really do not have the time for that.”
Away from the coppers, Angelo seemed to recover a bit and shoved at the man with his handcuffed hands, “Who the hell are you? Who asked you to come here?”
The bastard had the gall to roll his eyes. “Alright, if you wish to waste our precious five minutes with pointless chitchat. My name is unimportant. What’s important is that I’m here to help you. Now I suppose you’ll say you have no reason to trust me so I need you to understand that right now I’m the only man in this room who believes you. I know that you did not commit the triple murder, because I’m fairly sure who did. But now I am faced with the pointless task of proving your innocence before his guilt. So, without wasting any more of my time, if you could kindly tell me where you were at midnight yesterday…”
Angelo’s face grew steadily redder at this speech and had his hands been free the man would have an impressive shiner for his trouble. “Fuck off!”
Holmes had a strange look on his face. On anyone else, it would be called confusion. Apparently the stranger was not familiar with the emotion. “I don’t understand. I’m your best bet right now. Why are you refusing to co-operate?”
Before Angelo could formulate a reply, the Police Sergeant walked in, holding a plastic evidence bag. “Sir, we found this in the kid’s room.” Clearly visible through the transparent plastic was a curved oxbow knife with an ivory handle.
The blade glinted red.
Angelo couldn’t help the involuntary whimper that escaped his lips.
Holmes, if that was his real name, made a sudden movement towards the Sergeant and then stopped just as suddenly as if holding himself back. But the jerky movement drew Angelo’s eyes to the pale face only to see it creased up momentarily in the most brilliant grin. In the next instant, like a switch flicked off, the man’s face returned to normal. He turned to Angelo to find that his incongruous reaction hadn’t gone un-noticed.
“You answered your own question,” Angelo said as the Sergeant proceeded to take him into custody. “I simply don’t trust you!”
(The day before)
“Absolutely not, Ivan.”
“Just hear me out brother, I know that you stopped ages ago, and with another kid on the way it’s a huge risk; but it’s just a one-off. For someone who’s as good as you were there’s no risk at all. There’s no one in the house except my old father-in-law. The wedding ring belonged to Gemma and the arsehole won’t give it back. Took out a restraining order so I can’t even get near the place.”
“He is her father…”
“She was my wife; we had our problems but we were working it out. And now I will never have the chance to know if she would have forgiven me. He says I killed her…as good as drove the car into the truck. It was an accident, but maybe you too think like the old man-” His brother couldn’t continue; couldn’t hold back the involuntary sob and Angelo had the decency to look away.
His voice was suddenly hard. “You owe me brother, for the Surrey job six years back. All I want is my dead wife’s ring. I even know where he keeps it. It’s rightfully mine and I would have done it in spite of the restraining order, but” he creaked the wheelchair uselessly to demonstrate. “Please…”
He did owe Ivan and that clinched the matter. Dona was leaving this afternoon for a day with her parents. He could do it today. He ignored the spike of adrenaline at the familiar rush. This wasn’t about him. He was doing it for Ivan.
“Alright,” he said, “Tell me everything about the house.”
(The holding cells, NSY, Day 1)
Angelo had given up trying to sleep after 4 am. He dreaded the visiting hours coming morning, and at the same time he cringed at the thought that she might not be there. After all the prison was no place for a pregnant woman. He hoped she would come, that she would give him a chance to explain.
He was escorted to a booth and froze at the sight of two people on the other side. She hadn’t come alone. He snarled at the stranger from the day before, “What the fuck are you doing here?”
His wife’s voice was like a whip, “You talk to me, Angelo Russo.”
Dona’s eyes flashed with anger, and he found that he was rendered almost speechless by the force of that gaze. “I’m sorry, cara. But you shouldn’t have come. This is no place for…for you.”
“What exactly are you sorry for?” She didn’t miss a beat. He felt the force of her gaze, as she demanded answers. “Where were you Angelo? You weren’t answering your phone yesterday.”
His restraint crumbled as he held his wife’s hands across the table. “I didn’t do it. I could never kill anyone. You know that, right? Please tell me you believe me.”
Her face softened. “I never believed that. I know the man I married and he couldn’t hurt a fly. But you are in trouble and you need to be strong. I think this man can help you. And we need all the help we can get.”
“I don’t trust him.”
“Do you trust me?”
That was unfair. But Dona had always been the pragmatic partner in their relationship and she was right about needing help.
He nodded wordlessly and the wraith-like man, Holmes, took a seat at the table, fixing him with that piercing gaze. “I need to know exactly what you were doing the day before yesterday. Leave nothing out.”
Angelo took a deep breath and squeezed Dona’s hand before he began to speak.
Angelo studied Holmes across the table. The man looked absolutely wretched. His cheeks had sunk in even more if possible and the dark hollows under his eyes made him look positively skeletal. Strangely, at the same time, he looked more alive than ever, his eyes shining with suppressed excitement as he could barely hold himself still.
“You were really good,” he began, before Angelo could even take a seat.
At his puzzled frown Holmes smiled. “At what you did. You haven’t left a single clue that you were there. It was a brilliant theft.”
It was a stupid thing to be proud of but he knew how good he had been. Now he wished he had been sloppier. “But the ring is missing. Surely the old man must have noticed?”
Holmes rolled his eyes, “He kicked up a fuss. But the man he’s pointing the finger at is in a wheelchair, so no one’s taking him seriously. Besides the ring wasn’t that valuable and nothing else is missing. So no-one believes that it was a theft in the first place.”
He studied Angelo intently as if trying to understand something. “Why did you give it up? Robbery…you’re really good at it. You could have ensured a comfortable existence for your family. Your choices don’t make sense.”
Angelo huffed out a laugh. “You are the first person I’ve met who would have preferred me to be a thief. Strange detective you are.”
“I solve mysteries as I’m the best one in the world at it. I cannot imagine giving up the work. The boredom would kill me.” His eyes had a haunted look at that statement as an involuntary shudder rocked his body.
Angelo studied the tremor with a practiced eye and groaned. “And my best hope for getting off a murder charge is a junkie. Jesus…”
“I don’t indulge when my mind is occupied, Mr. Russo,” he snapped back. I abhor distractions. The work is all I need. I need you to describe the events of that day again. We have limited time.”
“But I already did!”
“I’m assuming that your wife’s presence would have affected the narration.” He pressed his long fingers to the table to stop them from trembling.
Until he had finished telling Holmes about the theft all over again, the man…no, boy really, sat still as stone, hands steepled under his chin, occasional tremors shaking his pale form. With the distracting eyes closed, Angelo found his gaze pausing on the nearly translucent skin, the chapped lips and the too visible collar-bones jutting out through the pale shirt. The boy looked oddly fragile; too human. His eyes snapped open when Angelo was done. “That was the most illuminating narrative.”
He stood up in one fluid motion and began pulling on his gloves. “Your trial starts in a couple of days. I’m confident I’ll have the right man pinned down before then.”
But as he turned towards the door, the detective staggered and Angelo shot out of his own chair to steady him. The boy’s wrists were hot to touch. “You have a fever.”
Holmes shrugged annoyed at the comment. “It’s nothing I can’t handle.”
“You need to rest. When did you last eat? You need to…”
The boy was studying Angelo’s face with the same puzzled expression he had at the house. “I’m fine.” He stood up steadying himself. “Plenty of time to rest later.”
He was gone with a whirl of his coat before Angelo could protest any further.
Today it was only Dona.
“You don’t have to come here.”
“I miss you. Irina misses you. It’s hell waiting for you.”
Angelo decided not to point out that the waiting might extend to years. But he chose to say, “With Holmes on the case is there any need to worry?”
But his wife knew him too well to ignore the bitter edge of sarcasm to his tone. Her frown deepened as her voice became harder.
“His name’s Sherlock, and give him some credit if only for being one of two people who believes you. The poor boy is working himself to death. He barged in yesterday afternoon and demanded to see all your shoes. He then proceeded to scrape the soles. I didn’t understand a word of his chattering.”
“You allowed him in the house with Irina. He’s a junkie, Dona. He hadn’t even given me his real name. And he isn’t doing this for anyone, but himself.”
“So what?” his wife shot back. “What does it matter what his reasons are? At least he’s doing something to make this right, as opposed to your fair weather friends who have yet to show their faces, now that you’re in jail.”
“What did you expect, Dona?” The old crowd had dropped him when he had given up his old ways and the new crowd had not been aware of his past. He sighed.
“If you’re allowing him in the house anyway, try and get some food into him. He looks like he needs it.”
His wife’s eyes softened at these words. “You’re a good man, Angelo. Just come back home soon.”
It was way before visiting hours and he had been taken from the prison to NSY. To his immense surprise he was met by the same silver-haired Inspector who had been in charge of his arrest. He felt numb as he was told that the murder charges against him were being dropped as the Yard now had proof that at the time of the murder Angelo had been busy house-breaking across town. Someone was apologising to him. Then he was asked to sign some paperwork and complete some formalities. Within a few hours he was out on bail; a development as unexpected as his arrest for a triple murder had been. When he got home, he hugged his wife and daughter, thanking the God he had never believed in for a third chance at life.
Though he did eventually have to endure a few months in prison due to his past record, it was over-shadowed by the knowledge that things could have been far worse. After all, the only person whose forgiveness really mattered had already forgiven him. And like Sherlock said the rest of the world was mostly comprised of idiots.
He realised that he had missed the Detective at his release. He couldn’t forget that he hadn’t even thanked Sherlock. Not that the git would have cared.
He didn’t know that he would not see Sherlock Holmes again for the next two years.
It was his son’s second birthday and the house had been filled with little monsters since early afternoon. Angelo was busy trying to get the neighbour’s dog to back off of one of the kids when his wife’ phone on the mantelpiece rang loudly. He absentmindedly reached for it while taking the dog outside, just as a crashing sound was heard from the direction of the living room. Dona was a saint to put up with this madness.
He balanced the phone under one ear as he answered it. “Hello”
The voice at the other end was cool, professional. “May I speak to… Mrs. Donatella Russo?”
“She’s a bit busy. This is her husband. I can take a message.”
“She’s listed as the emergency medical contact for Mr. Sherlock Holmes. He’s been admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital and is insisting on being discharged immediately. But we need someone here to take…”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” Angelo interrupted firmly.
He hadn’t changed one bit. But the hollows of his cheeks had filled out a little and his eyes looked clearer. His right hand was in a splint, there was a bandage wrapped around his head, and, as expected, he was driving the nursing staff up the wall with his histrionics. But there was an air about Dona that made the Detective lapse into a sullen silence as they completed the discharge formalities.
He got into their car without protest but when Dona didn’t even ask him where he lived, he couldn’t help himself. “Where are we going?”
“My apartment is at Montague Street.”
God! For a genius the man was a complete idiot at recognising Dona’s murderous mode. Her lips thinned till they were nearly invisible. The poor sod was done for.
“You are the stupidest, most reckless, idiotic child I have had the misfortune to meet, Sherlock Holmes. And if I hear a peep out of you till tomorrow morning, I swear I’ll lose it.” Angelo could see in the rear view mirror the self professed genius gulp at the threat. But he didn’t say a word.
The children were already asleep, completely exhausted by the party. Dona made Sherlock down cake, sandwiches and a glass of milk before making a bed for him on the sofa. Sherlock wasn’t supposed to sleep as the doctor had suspected concussion. She pulled a put-you-up into the living room for Angelo to kip on. After their customary good-night kiss, she dropped a quick peck on Sherlock’s forehead before retiring to the bedroom. Angelo smirked as the Detective’s saucer-shaped eyes followed her out of the room.
“Yeah, she’s always like that,” he added before Sherlock could say a word. “Mind you, you got away with a lot more lip only coz you’re hurt. She’s a lot tougher than she looks.”
Sherlock proceeded to ignore him. But Angelo was not having any of it. “You listed my wife as your emergency medical contact? Didn’t it occur to you that she might have liked a heads-up?”
Sherlock avoided his eyes as he answered grumpily, “She was kinder to me during the investigation of your case than I had any reason to expect. She also has a compulsive desire to be good. If I did need someone to bail me out of a tiresome situation as I did today, I calculated that she was the safest bet. I hadn’t factored in her over-protectiveness. It seems I have to re-evaluate my choice.”
Angelo sighed at the compliment veiled within the insult. “Alright genius, we are seeing you after two years. What if Dona had changed her number or we had moved or something? What if it was something serious and the Hospital had been unable to reach her? Isn’t there someone else that they could have called?”
Sherlock sneered, “I apologise for inconveniencing you. Being a sous chef is such an important job. I really shouldn’t have bothered you.”
Angelo could see the avoidance technique for what it was. With the experience of raising two kids in his pocket, Sherlock Holmes was a walk in the park. “So how did you figure that out?”
Sherlock struggled with the answer before admitting defeat, “There’s a La Tasca uniform in the fresh laundry piled in the corner.”
Angelo huffed out a laugh, “It’s good to know you are still the same.”
“Most people don’t think that’s a good thing.”
“A very smart man once told me that most people are idiots.”
Sherlock couldn’t suppress the half grin that broke out on his face. “Touché”
“So, isn’t there anyone else you could have called?” Angelo persisted “-family, friend, a girlfriend?”
Sherlock snorted audibly as he reclined on the sofa. “If you think Donatella is over-protective, you should meet my brother. On second thoughts, if you value your privacy and sanity and wish to avoid meeting him, you should get as far away from me as you can.”
“Your brother is Mafia?”Angelo couldn’t keep the incredulity out of his voice.
“Much worse,” Sherlock muttered darkly.
“Don’t tell me that a posh boy like you can’t find a girlfriend to look after you?”
Sherlock took a deep breath. “Angelo, there is a higher chance of me not sleeping if you desist from boring me with inane chatter.”
Oh, Angelo thought, girls were boring. “Boyfriend then?”
“You know me fairly well, right? What was your first impulse when you met me? Don’t answer that. That was a rhetorical question. I’m. Not. Normal. Can you ever see me forming a normal, boring relationship, much less sustaining it?”
“And yet you listed Dona as your emergency medical contact after meeting her all of three times and she still decided on her own to abandon our two year old’s birthday party and show up when you needed her. She considers you family. That isn’t normal at all, Sherlock. That’s extra-ordinary.”
“Your wife is an exception. She…seemed to see right through me. I have never had anyone in my life that was able to do that.”
Angelo smiled at the bewildered tone of Sherlock’s voice. “I call it ‘The Donatella Effect’ to her face. You had once asked me how I could possibly have given up stealing. She made all the difference in the world. Before Dona, I never stopped to ask ‘why’. There was only ‘what’ and more specifically ‘what next?” Every job was a high that made me feel invincible. But then she got a hook into my soul…Oh you can laugh, but that’s the only way I know how to put it. After Dona, I simply couldn’t continue. What I felt for her outweighed anything I had ever felt before. I could face anything the world could throw at me except her disappointment of who I was. After her, doing the right thing was easy. I wanted her to be happy, to be proud of me. You won’t understand what I’m talking about until you meet that person.”
“No, thank you.” Sherlock’s voice was bitter in the semi-darkness. “Attachment is a pointless endeavour undertaken voluntarily by sentimental fools. I’m neither sentimental nor am I a fool. So it’s unlikely that my freedom, my work and my way of life will be suddenly dictated by an interloper. All I need is the WORK.”
As long as the ‘work’ kept the boy off drugs, Angelo could see no problem with the obsession. He allowed Sherlock to doze off after midnight. Next morning, he was greeted by the sight of neatly folded sheets on an empty sofa, to which a hastily scribbled note had been tacked.
WILL TRY AND KEEP IN TOUCH THIS TIME AROUND- SH
He was short, fair-haired and walked with a cane. He limped into the restaurant, unperturbed by Sherlock’s customary swanning entrance. Sherlock didn’t think it necessary to introduce him to Angelo. The stranger was embarrassed when Angelo deliberately hinted at them being a couple and brought a candle to the table. He smiled when Angelo described how Sherlock had saved him. In other words, when Angelo saw Dr. John Watson for the first time; all he saw was a perfectly normal, ordinary bloke.
What kept bringing his eyes back to the table by the window was Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes, who was talking, gesturing, paying attention… in other words behaving completely normally.
It was the most abnormal thing Angelo had ever seen.
Of course the interlude was too good to last for long. No sooner had Angelo decided to take their order, he saw Sherlock get up and leave abruptly, like a bloodhound on a trail. He did a double take when he saw the other man follow the Detective without missing a beat. Before he could be truly shocked, his mobile phone chimed with an incoming text alert.
GET JOHN’S CANE TO BAKER STREET- SH
When he got to 221B, it was ‘John’ who answered the door and when he saw the forgotten cane in Angelo’s hand his face creased up in an incredulous smile. When he turned to look at Sherlock, his expression was hard to describe. It was as if he couldn’t believe that someone as incredible as Sherlock was for real. The brilliant grin creasing Sherlock’s face was a mirror image of that feeling.
The next time they came to the restaurant, Sherlock introduced John Watson as his flat-mate and friend.
Sherlock Holmes had saved him a long time back. And Angelo always paid his debts. When Sherlock had outlined his plan to ‘die’ and then proceeded to implement it, that’s what Angelo had thought he was doing- saving the Detective’s life.
Now he wasn’t so sure.
He had picked Sherlock up as previously agreed from the morgue with the cover of a borrowed hearse collecting another corpse. He had driven straight to his house where Dona had yanked a shivering Sherlock from the coffin and pushed him into the bathroom for a hot bath to wash off the fake blood. When the detective did not emerge for over an hour, Angelo decided to check on him.
The image would haunt him for the rest of his days.
Sherlock was still fully clothed and sitting in the stone cold water which had turned a mottled brick red. The clotted blood still matted his hair and face. His eyes were wide open and their stillness sent a shiver down Angelo's spine. Of all the times he had seen Sherlock, he had never seen that gaze be so still, so inanimate...so lifeless. If it hadn’t been for the water surface shivering with each breath, Angelo could well have been looking at a corpse.
“What the hell..are you insane?” He yanked the freezing man out of the water and proceeded to drain the bath tub. Sherlock sagged against the outside of the bath.
Angelo hadn’t been able to check on Sherlock before transporting him. “Are you hurt?”
“H…he said I know you f..for real,” Sherlock’s eyes were unfocussed as his voice shook. “A hundred percent, he said.”
Somehow Angelo had no need to ask who ‘he’ was.
“He… c…couldn’t have. He s..said he was my f..friend. If he had known I was ca..capable of something like this, he would never have. If I hadn’t done it, he wo…would never have believed that I was dead. I tried t…telling him that I was a fraud. He didn’t believe me. H..he was… I did that to him…I c..consciously and deliberately destroyed us. A..and now it’s too late.”
“THAT’S A LOAD OF CRAP!” Angelo yelled startling Sherlock out of his stupor. “You have no right to go to pieces like this. You did something because it had to be done. So you are going to be a man, pull yourself together and go and take care of the things that need to be taken care of for you are the only one who can. Then you’re going to come back and beg for his forgiveness. He will forgive you. And you’ll live happily ever after.”
Sherlock looked surprised for an instant before he cracked a weak smile.
“You really believe so?”
“No, it’s YOU who believes that. Or you would never have done what you did; what you will put him through in the future. Don’t you dare give up on yourself, Sherlock! I haven’t and he certainly won’t. You are going to do whatever it takes to make things right.”
Angelo would not see Sherlock again for the next three years. But neither man knew that as they clasped hands in a firm hand-shake on the threshold of his back-door.
There was an implacable look in Sherlock’s eyes now that held no pain, no fear and no mercy- especially for himself. Dona kissed him goodbye tearfully and escaped to the bedroom to cry her eyes out. Sherlock stood straight and looked Angelo in the eye. “If you ever thought that you owed me anything, you don’t anymore. Look after…everyone. I will see you again”
Angelo stood and watched till Sherlock turned a corner and disappeared. He didn’t wonder whether he would see the Detective again. He now knew for certain that Sherlock had a hook buried in his soul too. One day, it would reel him right back where he belonged.
He knew that he wouldn’t want to miss that day for the world.
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