Title & Link: A Friend In Need
Pairings & Rating: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, John Watson/Mary Morstan, Teen
Warnings/Content Notes: none
Title: Keep Them Closer
Pairings & Rating: John Watson/Mary Morstan, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Teen
Warnings/Content Notes: none
Summary: Sally quite likes John Watson, which is unfortunate. She doesn’t need somebody else to worry about, and she doesn’t need another reason to be angry at Sherlock Holmes.
Sally squatted down on the riverbank, studying an indented patch of sand. “Sir,” she called out to DI Lestrade, “I think you’ll want to take a look at this.”
Lestrade was across the beach, talking to a uniformed PC, but at Sally’s call he clapped the man on the arm and came over.
“What’ve you got?” he asked.
“Take a look at this,” she said, pointing to the center of the indent. “It’s not just sand, there’s a bit of mud ground in. But there’s no mud between here and the pier. I think our murderer must have—”
“He killed her in the park, and moved her here afterward,” came a deep voice, rolling right over Sally’s. “Any idiot should be able to see that.”
Lestrade turned toward Sherlock Holmes, watching as he strode across the beach with John Watson a few steps behind him. So did every tech and uniform cop on the scene. Sally stood and crossed her arms.
“How d’you figure?” asked Lestrade, when Sherlock drew up in front of the lot of them. Sally suppressed a scoff. Lestrade did have some ideas: he had been paying attention to her, she knew it, and maybe he had some ideas of his own. But Lestrade enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes show, more than almost anyone else.
Not more than John Watson, though. John came to stand next to Lestrade and Sally as Sherlock paced up and down the crime scene, careening through one of his deduction routines, and John’s whole face was bright, like this was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
She had never liked Sherlock… well, that was putting it mildly. But she had gotten angrier, ever since Sherlock had started bringing John along, to parade around in front of him and to push around like everyone else. John was clearly a good sort—he wasn’t naïve, but he hadn’t gone sour, either—and that seemed harder and harder to find, the longer she worked this job. It was bad enough that she had to put up with Sherlock; at least she was getting paid for her trouble.
She knew John didn’t think very much of her. He probably never would, until she stopped calling the Freak out for what he was. That wasn’t going to happen, was it. But even that made her think well of John, the strange part of her that couldn’t help but be fair, that voice in her head that always pointed out to her when she was being unreasonable, or trying to ignore the facts she didn’t like. John was a loyal friend; of course he disliked her for what she said about Sherlock. Even if she was right. Maybe because she was right. You didn’t have to be a detective to see that John was pretty well gone on Sherlock. He probably didn’t like to think too hard about what Sherlock really was.
Sherlock had reached the end of his performance, finally. “We’ll be at Barts,” he announced, walking off before anyone else could get a word in, the way he always did. “Lestrade, text me when you know the provenance of that ring in her pocket.”
“Will do,” called Lestrade. Beside him, John sighed in a deflated sort of way and made to follow Sherlock, who hadn’t looked at him once since they had arrived at the scene.
“Hey,” said Lestrade quietly, catching John by the arm.
“Yeah, what is it?” John asked brusquely.
“Nothing, just—hang in there, okay? He appreciates you, I know he does.”
John gave a small nod and stumped off after Sherlock. Sally watched him go.
“You shouldn’t do that,” she told Lestrade.
“They’re here in an unofficial capacity,” he answered. “As you like to remind me. So don’t go telling me that it’s unprofessional to give the man a bit of a pep talk.”
“I don’t care that it’s unprofessional, I—”
“Yeah, you do,” he said mildly.
All right, she did, but that wasn’t the point. “I don’t think you’re doing John any favours, encouraging him like that.”
Lestrade grinned at her knowingly. “So that’s it. Fancy him yourself, do you?”
“Of course not,” she snapped. Sally didn’t make a habit of shagging short white blokes with eye bags, and she wasn’t interested in starting now. But she might have liked John for a friend, if things had been different.
They weren’t different, though. Sherlock Holmes was going to keep at it like a bloody tornado, tearing up everyone and everything around him. And if there was anything that could convince John Watson to get out of the way, Sally didn’t know what it was.
Sally was alone in the office, finishing the final report on the Benston murders, when she heard the door squeak, and a moment later Lestrade shuffled in.
“You’re up late,” he remarked. His voice was gravelly with exhaustion.
“That’s two of us,” said Sally. “What’s happening? Did you find him?”
“We’ve got him. He’s fine.” Sally took a moment to breathe through her relief as Lestrade settled himself at DS Copeland’s desk, in the cubicle across from hers. “Pretty well beat up, but fine.”
“Glad to hear it,” said Sally. “Good work.”
Lestrade leaned back in the chair, watching her. “You were worried, weren’t you?”
She gave him a disgusted look. “Of course I was. We all were.”
Lestrade shrugged. “His friends were.”
Sally turned her eyes back to her paperwork. “Well, I was too.”
Fortunately it was just copying addresses from the previous page, because her attention was on the feeling of Lestrade’s eyes boring into her back.
“Sherlock was worried.”
“Was he? Nice of him.” She set down her pen, tired of the pretense, and spun her chair back around. “Seeing as how it was his fault they took John in the first place.”
Lestrade’s gaze was level. “How d’you figure?”
“What do you mean? It was bad enough, him swanning in and messing with our cases, and making us all look like fools without a scrap of evidence we can actually use. But now he’s got this, what, this friend with him, tagging along and cleaning up the Freak’s messes for him, and what’s he got for his troubles? The man’s nearly died, what, four times in the past year?”
“Nearly died in Afghanistan, before that,” Lestrade remarked. He leaned on the desk, chin in hand. “What’ve you got against Sherlock, anyhow? Did he drown your cat, or something?”
It was just a joke, but Sally had to suppress a shiver at the thought. “Good thing I haven’t got a cat, or he probably would.”
“Has he got some kind of dirt on you, then?”
Lestrade’s grin fell away when he saw her face. “Relax, I was just teasing,” he said. She stared at him, stony-faced. “Look, I’m sorry. You can tell me to sod off, if you want.”
Sally was not going to tell her boss to sod off. She would argue him down to the ground about a case. But she wasn’t going to get into it with him for anything that wasn’t about an investigation, just like she wasn’t going to call him by his first name, even if Copeland and Dimmock did. Some chief inspectors were stern and distant, but Lestrade liked to play it chummy. It wasn’t how she would run a department, if she ever made Chief Inspector. Still, that was Greg, and she didn’t fault him for it. But there was no point in pretending that Blokes’ Night at the station could ever include her.
“It’s fine, all right,” was all she said.
It must have sounded like a concession, because Lestrade started pressing, again. “I just wish you could have seen him,” he said. “With John, tonight. He was pretty shaken.”
“I’m sure he put on a good show.”
“C’mon, Donovan, that’s a bit harsh, even for you. Why would he….”
“Because he’s a bloody psychopath,” she shot back. “He’s a murderer in the making, but we give him exactly what he wants. We let him into our crime scenes so he can see how it’s done, see how we work. And he gets—”
“All right.” Lestrade threw up his hands, but Sally was good and riled now. “And he gets away with it,” she continued loudly, “because somehow, he’s managed to convince good people that he’s their friend.”
Lestrade said nothing for a long time. Then he yawned.
“I’m sorry, Donovan,” he said. “I think I’m too tired to talk about this now. We’ll take it up later, yeah?”
“Sure thing, sir,” she said, though she was pretty sure they wouldn’t. “Goodnight.”
And they didn’t talk about it, not the next day or the day after. Sally almost brought it up herself, the following week: Sherlock and John showed up at the scene of a robbery-homicide, and Sherlock peacocked around like nothing had happened while John, his bruises still fading, watched him mournfully. But Lestrade shot her a warning glance before she could open her mouth. “Let’s focus on the case for now,” he said sternly. Sally tucked in her frustration and went to work cataloguing all of the objects that were missing from the flat.
So it wasn’t that day, and it wasn’t that Friday, when they tied a bow on the case and went out for drinks after. It wasn’t the next week, either even though Sally spent the whole week nerving herself to bring it up when the right moment came. Eventually, Sally gave up waiting for a day when Lestrade didn’t look too tired for hard conversations, and tried not to give into the feeling that she was working alone.
And five weeks later it did get better, but not for the reason Sally had expected.
There was somebody new at the morning briefing, a small blond woman with a pleasant, smiling face. She winked at Sally across the briefing room.
After the briefing was over, Sally stood and watched as Lestrade led the woman over to her.
“Inspector Donovan, this is Detective Sergeant Morstan. She’s transferred down from Luton.”
“Mary,” said the woman, reaching over to shake Sally’s hand.
“Nice to meet you,” Sally said, then turned to Lestrade. “What about Lowery? Is he not coming back?” They’d brought on a new DS just over a month ago, after Mukherjee re-injured his leg and switched to desk work full time. Lowery wasn’t exactly promising, but she had tried to help him get up to speed.
Lestrade grinned. “Couldn’t take the heat. He transferred back to major crimes. But we got lucky—Sergeant Morstan had just put in for a transfer. D’you mind showing her around the building a bit?”
“Sure thing,” said Sally. “I’ll just take you around the floor for now, and then we can pop into some of the other offices so you can meet people.” Detective Sergeant Morstan smiled at her warmly, and there was a conspiratorial sparkle in her eyes. Sally smiled back.
“Have you been to London before?” Sally asked, as they strolled down the central corridor, weaving between knots of officers standing and talking. “That’s the break room through that door, by the way.”
“Cheers,” said DS Morstan. “And I used to live here, so don’t worry, I know my way ‘round the city. Best place in the world, if you ask me.”
“What made you leave?” asked Sally, because she really wanted to know.
“Oh, I was here and there,” Mary said. “Then it was up to Houghton Regis, because my mum was ill. So that was a change. But mum passed a few months ago, and there wasn’t much for me there.”
“I’m sorry,” Sally said.
“Don’t be,” said Mary. “That’s life, is all. People die all the time.” She smiled brightly. “I’m glad I’m here now, is all.”
They were back in the homicide department bullpen, all the glassed-in cubicles, men sitting at every single desk. Every desk but two: Sally’s, and the empty one down the row.
“Me too,” said Sally. “Really glad.”
Not a lot of people were killing each other in London that week, so DS Morstan tagged along for the rest of Sally’s current investigation, which was mostly routine mop-up. And an extra detective made the paperwork go faster, so Sally had been sitting on her arse for nearly a day and a half, chatting with Mary, when Lestrade called All Hands to a scene in Elephant and Castle: five dead bodies in a dumpster, three of which were at least a month old and half-mummified.
Sally had come to dread the really interesting cases, because she knew that Sherlock Holmes would likely be there, sooner or later. But homicide was back at full strength now, for the first time in awhile (Lowery hadn’t really counted) and Sally doubted that DS Mary Morstan was the type to be impressed by Sherlock’s deductive pyrotechnics.
All the same.
“Just to warn you,” she said, as she pulled the car onto the A3212, “speaking of things you’ll only see in London. There’s this guy who likes to show up at crime scenes and explain to you that you’ve got it all wrong.”
“Not even close.”
“Hmm,” Mary frowned. “Isn’t there anything you can do about him?”
Sally scoffed. “Not inviting him would be the first step.”
Mary blew out a breath. “You’re joking.”
“Take it up with Lestrade,” said Sally. “God knows I haven’t had any luck.”
Traffic was at a standstill at Lambeth and Kennington. Sally yelled at the rubberneckers from inside the car while Mary texted Lestrade (who had left a few minutes before them, and probably just missed the accident) to let him know they would be late.
The scene was crawling with techs by the time they arrived. Amid all the figures in blue plastic suits, John’s rust-colored plaid shirt stood out almost as much as Sherlock in his great bloody coat. Lestrade was deep in sympathetic conversation with a shaken-looking man in a suit, who had obviously been the one to report the bodies. Sherlock was bent nearly double inspecting the ground next to the dumpster and shouting instructions to a nearby tech while John stood to the side, leaning against the alley wall and watching him wistfully.
The first thing was to check in with Lestrade, so Sally and Mary drew to one side to wait until he was done talking to the witness.
“I take it the posh one is Sherlock Holmes,” murmured Mary.
“Got it in one,” said Sally. “It’s like you can smell the arrogance, isn’t it?”
“Mmm,” said Mary, though she was smiling. “But there’s somebody else I don’t know. Who’s that in the plaid shirt? I’ve never seen him at the station.”
“That’s John Watson. He’s an, um…” Sally had never had to explain this before. “He’s an associate of Sherlock’s. Helps him out.”
“I see.” Mary nodded, eyes intent. “Is he attached?” Her eyes flickered briefly to Sally as she smiled mischievously.
Now that was interesting, wasn’t it. Sally looked at Mary, sizing her up in a different sort of way than before. She was fit enough, and she was likeable, and just about the smartest person Sally had crossed paths with in a long time. Maybe as smart as Sherlock Holmes.
“You mean John?” she said casually. “He’s not, actually.”
“Oho.” Mary chuckled. “Good-looking bloke like that? Something wrong with him, then?”
“He was, but, uh.” Sally nodded to herself. “But it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I think he’s realized that, now.”
“Ah,” said Mary, face creasing in sympathy.
“I think he could use some cheering up, come to think of it,” said Sally. “And he’s clever enough. Why don’t you get him to catch you up on the scene? I’ll check in with DCI Lestrade.”
“An excellent suggestion,” said Mary, and she sauntered over to the edge of the alley where John was standing. John had been avoiding looking their way, because he always avoided Sally. But he offered Mary a brief glancing smile as she came over, then turned and looked at her again. She gave him a hundred-watt smile, and he picked himself up off the alley wall and turned toward her, smiling properly. Sally couldn’t help grinning to herself as she watched them.
“Who’s meddling now?”
Sally hadn’t noticed Lestrade come up beside her. The businessman witness was talking to one of the techs now, and Sally’s boss stood next to her, frowning as he watched John laugh at some joke Mary made.
“Not the Freak, anyhow.” Sally answered, nodding across the way toward Sherlock, who was fully absorbed in the task of dressing down Anderson. “Look at him, he doesn’t give a rat’s arse.”
Lestrade’s jaw tightened, but he said nothing.
It was a small wedding. John didn’t get out much, it seemed, and nobody came down from Luton. That was a bit sad, Sally reflected, since it seemed like Mary had spent the better part of ten years there. Sally wasn’t really sure it had been that long, though—Mary was pretty evasive about her past, and the one time Sally had gone snooping (she was ashamed, but cop instincts were hard to break) she hadn’t been able to track down Mary’s paperwork. But it was an unfussy sort of wedding—which was the sort Sally herself preferred—so maybe Mary had told them not to bother. In any case, she seemed radiantly happy, and John along with her. He had even hugged Sally, which was a first. Maybe now that Sherlock was less in the picture, it could all be water under the bridge.
Sherlock sat impassive through the wedding, He had read out correctly, if tonelessly, from Ephesians during the service, and it looked like he hadn’t spoken a word since. He hadn’t given a toast. They had asked him, Mary had told her a few weeks ago, but Sherlock had declined, which impressed Sally in spite of herself: not much of a friend, but at least he knew his limits, and wasn’t going to ruin this day for John.
Watching John and Mary take the floor for their first dance, Sally felt her heart swell with happiness: happiness for her friend, and happiness for a good man she thought might be her friend, one day. John deserved some real friends, the way he deserved someone who could love him back.
She glanced over at Sherlock, then glanced back again in alarm. Sherlock’s face was twisted in raw emotion: pain, grief, longing. The force of it hit her like a stab to the nerves. She had seen him look disdainful, or smug, but that was it. For most of the four years she had known him, he hadn’t shown any emotion at all. But this, now, this was like something inside of him had been cut open: his heart bloody, exposed.
The next second, Sherlock’s eyes met hers, and quick as anything his face was composed again, smooth and even. He gave her a haughty stare before turning again to watch John and Mary as they danced, looking for all the world like a bored aristocrat at the races.
Sally felt her insides roiling. Seeing things was her job. Getting to the bottom of the story was what she did. How had she missed this?
It was only because her nerves were peeled back that she sensed it, five minutes later, when Sherlock rose from his shadowed seat at an empty table and slipped toward the door. There were a dozen couples on the dance floor by then, and John—sharing a laugh with Mike Stamford—didn’t notice. But Mary did, her eyes keen as they followed Sherlock out the door. Sally clasped her hands together to keep them from shaking, and wondered what else she had missed.
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