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Ariane DeVere
Sherlock fic: Take the Long Way Home 
28th-May-2013 05:22 pm
Sherlock - this isn't canon?
Title: Take the Long Way Home
Author: Ariane DeVere
Word count: 1534
Rating: PG
Beta: verityburns
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to way more powerful and wealthy people than me.

Warnings: Passing reference to drug use




Take the Long Way Home

Somewhat nervously, I took out my phone, checked that nobody was within earshot, and then dialled the number on the card I had been given some months ago.

“Mr. Holmes, it’s Mike Stamford,” I said. “I think it might be time.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s convenient that it was you to whom Sherlock spoke,” Mycroft Holmes said to me about half an hour later. “I’m almost inclined to see this as a good sign.”

I looked across to the man sitting beside me. I had last met him several months previously when he had joined me during a coffee break at a medical conference. Initially he had engaged me in idle conversation, but after several minutes he introduced himself and explained that he was Sherlock Holmes’ brother.

Many people who worked at Bart’s Hospital were familiar with Sherlock, and a few of us knew that he sometimes worked for the police on their more complicated cases. It wasn’t clear who had arranged for him to have unlimited access to the labs and to the morgue, but he would arrive on irregular occasions and make free use of the equipment, bossing the technicians around and making unreasonable demands of them. Somehow, despite his attitude, he almost always got what he wanted.

We had got used to seeing him at the hospital but then he suddenly stopped coming. He was missing for several months and when he finally returned he looked thinner and unwell, and although his physical appearance improved over the following weeks he was quieter and even less willing than usual to engage in conversation. Molly Hooper confided to me that he had been showing increasingly erratic behaviour prior to his disappearance which made her fearful that he had had some kind of drugs crisis, and I reluctantly had to agree with her diagnosis. She fretted to me that she desperately wanted to talk to him about it but didn’t dare. Nobody did. Sherlock wasn’t someone you could talk to in that way and I’m sure that if anyone had tried, they would have received short shrift from him.

But despite his reticence to talk with anyone, and his often sharp way of addressing us when he did speak, many of us at the hospital felt an inexplicable sense of affection towards the man and wanted to help if we could. Nevertheless, I felt rather nervous as I sat in the cafeteria after everyone else had returned to the conference. Mycroft Holmes had an imposing demeanour and I got the impression that he wasn’t exactly asking as he told me that he needed my assistance.

“Is this to do with his recent illness?” I asked.

Mr. Holmes gave me a stern look. “I have no intention of discussing my brother’s circumstances, Doctor Stamford,” he told me. “Are you willing to assist me without asking personal questions?”

“It depends what you want,” I said. He seemed to approve of this response because he nodded and went on to tell me that he hoped there might come a time when Sherlock would indicate that he was seeking someone with whom he could share a flat. If Sherlock should express such an interest to me, Mr. Holmes wished me to call him. He gave me a business card which had nothing on it but a telephone number, stressed the importance of me never telling Sherlock anything about this, then shook my hand and nonchalantly walked away as if he recruited people like this every day. He probably did. I somehow had the feeling that I wasn’t the only person keeping an eye on Sherlock on Mr. Holmes’ behalf.

And now we were sitting together again. A few minutes after I had made the phone call, I had received a text asking me to go to the front entrance of the hospital where a car would collect me. The car had brought me to where Mr. Holmes was waiting.

“Sherlock has lived alone for some time,” he told me after we shook hands and sat down, “and I feel that he might benefit from company. Several previous flatmates left after sharing with him for a while, and eventually he stopped trying to find anybody suitable and moved to a smaller residence. Now he has found somewhere larger into which he would like to move, but in order to do so he knows that he will need to share the rent with someone else. I am glad that he has already begun to seek such a person.”

“So are you saying you’ve got someone lined up to introduce to him?” I asked.

“Good grief, no,” he said, uttering a short laugh. “My brother and I have a ... difficult relationship, and if I sent him someone I know, Sherlock would realise it instantly – and he would equally instantly reject that man. No, in order for this to work the potential new flatmate must have no idea who he is about to meet, nor must he know anything about him. Their meeting must seem to be pure happenstance if there is to be any chance of Sherlock accepting him.”

“How can you possibly arrange something like that?” I asked incredulously.

“I have had someone in mind for a while,” he replied. “Sherlock needs a flatmate with a very specific disposition, and I have found the ideal person – a man who has rather lost his way in life and needs a purpose again. I am fairly convinced that he and Sherlock would make ideal companions, and this is where you come in.”

He straightened up on the seat. “The man is someone you already know. You have not seen him for many years, but I am about to bring the two of you together. He will think that it is a chance meeting, and you must maintain that assumption.”

“I’m not a very good actor ...” I began.

“You are not required to act, Doctor Stamford,” he told me. “Simply greet your old friend just as you would if you really had bumped into him. Talk about old times, what he is doing now, and whatever else friends talk about when they meet. Then, some time during the conversation introduce the topic of where he is living. I am confident that he will indicate that his current living conditions are less than ideal and then you can tell him that you know someone in a similar situation. If all goes as I have planned, Sherlock will be working at the hospital all afternoon, so you should offer to introduce them and take your friend to meet him.”

I looked at him anxiously. “I’m not sure I’m willing to manipulate a friend like this,” I told him.

He gave me a smile which was presumably meant to be reassuring. It really wasn’t. “Doctor Stamford, if my brother doesn’t find an ideal flatmate on the first attempt, he may give up looking,” he told me. “Believe me when I say that I would not have chosen this particular person if I didn’t feel that Sherlock will suit him just as much as he will suit Sherlock – otherwise your friend will simply move out again and all this effort will have been for naught.”

“But if this friend of mine doesn’t know anything about this, how are we going to ‘bump into’ each other?” I asked.

“He has been provided with regular physiotherapy as part of his invalidity retirement,” Mr. Holmes said. “At my request, his physiotherapist has called him in for an additional session, claiming to have had a late cancellation. The offices are very near here. After his treatment, the physiotherapist will recommend that he walks home to work off the effects of the manipulation. If he follows his instructions to take the long way home rather than getting on a bus, his route will bring him here. You merely have to wait until he arrives.

“Help me to make this happen, Doctor Stamford,” he told me with a stern look. “Take your friend to St Bartholomew’s and introduce him to Sherlock, then step aside and take no further action. If you try to encourage them in any way, my brother may become suspicious. I do not like leaving matters in the hands of fate, but only Sherlock can decide if he likes your friend or not.”

He smiled very briefly. “If he starts to flaunt... I mean, to demonstrate his deductive skills to your friend, that will be a good start. The rest will be up to them.”

He glanced to my right and his expression sharpened. He stood up from the park bench and looked down at me. “But for goodness’ sake, Doctor Stamford, if it does look like things are going well, try not to give the game away by looking smug.”

Nodding politely to me, he turned and walked away, twirling his umbrella as he went. I watched him go for a moment, then turned and stared ahead of myself, trying not to feel nervous as, to my right, footsteps and the sound of a metal cane began to draw closer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking back, I don’t think I was very successful at not looking smug. Thankfully, neither of them seemed to notice.






Author’s Note: This has been sitting in my head for a while. It inspired me enough to actually jot some thoughts in my notebook, but it wouldn’t come out onto the screen for ages. Some time after I’d had the idea, I watched the park scene in A Study in Pink and nearly fell off the sofa with excitement as I looked at the way that Mike behaved, because it really did seem to tie in with the story idea that he was leading the conversation towards getting John to talk about where he was living. And I had always been aware of how smug Mike looks all through the scene in the lab after he has introduced the boys. But still the story wouldn’t write itself, which was getting increasingly irritating.

Thankfully, I just spent a long weekend with verityburns, and thrashed out the storyline with her. Her enthusiasm got the plotbunny inspired – after the bunny had been too busy flirting with one of my teddy bears (I think there might be a wedding soon, but I have left strict instructions that I have no wish to be a grandmother any time soon) – and while Verity was out for the day, the bunny and I managed to put the story together and presented it to her on her return. Despite being busy with her own work, she did a beta run on it before she even went home, bless her.

I’m chuffed that the story has finally worked its way out of my dusty head, because I had got really excited a couple of weeks ago while listening to a Supertramp album and getting to the track Take the Long Way Home, which had me bouncing on my chair and yelping, “Title! That’s the title!” but it still didn’t get the story going. With two weeks’ holiday just starting, I was determined to try and get some writing done, but didn’t expect to be inspired quite so quickly. Thanks, Verity x

Now, where’s that Cabin Pressure story that’s also been rattling around in my brain ...?
Comments 
28th-May-2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
No way! Did we just both post Mike Stamford/The first meeting fics today??? *hahaha*
28th-May-2013 05:03 pm (UTC)
Well that. is. weird.

Or we can just fall back on the standard "Great minds think alike"!
28th-May-2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you managed to get this story out of your head, my dear - it's far too good not to share!

This is a total 'headcanon' story - it slots into 'ASIP' absolutely seamlessly. After re-watching those particular scenes with Stamford in the park and then in the lab, I will never be able to 'unsee' the smug! The smug is totally there - thank you for explaining it so brilliantly :D

xxx
28th-May-2013 06:42 pm (UTC)
The smug is totally there
Let me prove your point. :D
titre ou description
28th-May-2013 06:44 pm (UTC)
Yep...

*attempts 'ABC' impression*

'It's the look, it's the look...
The look of smug'
28th-May-2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm more of a Burt Bacharach fan myself.

*takes up her best impresion of Diana Krall*

The look of smug
Is in his eyes
The look Stamford
Can't disguise
The look of smug
Is saying so much more
Than Sherlock could ever say
And what John has heard
Well it takes his breath away...


Ariane, you don't mind if your Journal turns into a karaoke, do you?
28th-May-2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
*collapses on floor in fit of hysterical giggles*
29th-May-2013 10:43 am (UTC)
Good grief, woman, is there no end to your talent?! Fic writer, songwriter ... God help us if you start doing artwork.
29th-May-2013 12:56 pm (UTC)
Never fear. I have the artistic skills of a toy poodle.
29th-May-2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, God help us all. If you're as bad at art as you said you were at writing ...
29th-May-2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
Nope. I'm really bad at drawing. I mean, my pupils are seven years old and some are better than me. I'm that bad. (I mean, better at drawing, not at everything. It would be awkward, for a teacher.)
THE PUPIL (with an ominous voice): I am... better.
ME: At what?
THE PUPIL: Everything.
ME: Go and stand in the corner.
29th-May-2013 11:22 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you helped me get it out of my head! Just speaking it aloud to an understanding friend helped me so much, plus you guided me on the bits I couldn't get right. Thank you, as always! x
28th-May-2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
I'm so, so glad this made its way out of your dusty head. I've never read any other story from this persepctive - it's a wonderful, wonderful idea.

And not just for Sherlock's wellbeing ~

"...a man who has rather lost his way in life and needs a purpose again."

See, Mycroft does care.

Thank you so much for sharing this - it's delightful.
29th-May-2013 10:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! I was excited by the idea because I'd not seen anyone else do it, and it's a relief to have finally got it to work.
28th-May-2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
Somewhat nervously, I took out my phone, checked that nobody was within earshot, and then dialled the number on the card I had been given some months ago.
“Mr. Holmes, it’s Mike Stamford,” I said. “I think it might be time.”

If this is not an intriguing beginning I don't know what an intriguing beginning is.

Somehow, despite his attitude, he almost always got what he wanted.
It's because he makes all women crazy about him and all men gay. It's canon. More or less.

We had got used to seeing him at the hospital but then he suddenly stopped coming.
Ah. No porn, then? *is not even sorry*

Sherlock wasn’t someone you could talk to in that way and I’m sure that if anyone had tried, they would have received short shrift from him.
Wait. This whole paragraph is quite puzzling. When are we? AND OH MY GOD WHERE IS JOHN?

He seemed to approve of this response because he nodded and went on to tell me that he hoped there might come a time when Sherlock would indicate that he was seeking someone with whom he could share a flat.
Okay. It's, er, pre-pre-slash.

“How can you possibly arrange something like that?” I asked incredulously.
He's Mycroft. He can do everything.

“Sherlock needs a flatmate with a very specific disposition, and I have found the ideal person – a man who has rather lost his way in life and needs a purpose again.
JOHN! *remembers who wrote the story* Er... John, perhaps?

Looking back, I don’t think I was very successful at not looking smug. Thankfully, neither of them seemed to notice.
Which is very surprising, because Sherlock notices everything. The only explanation is they were too busy falling madly in love with each other to notice anything. Ariane, you genius! It was slash after all! My head-canon is pleased. :D

Very credible and clever. As usual! :-)
29th-May-2013 10:50 am (UTC)
Well, I have to admit that I was tempted to say "Thankfully, their attention was so focussed on each other that neither of them seemed to notice," but then I decided to annoy the heck out of the slashers to keep it more general. But then it didn't need pointing out anyway - obviously they were busy falling madly in love with each other.

(Pssst! Verity! She didn't comment on the line that I was convinced she would comment on!)
29th-May-2013 11:18 am (UTC)
(Poor old Mycroft... perhaps it's just us who feels sympathy for his friendlessness!)
29th-May-2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
Wh... Which line? DON'T TELL ME I MISSED AN INNUENDO?
*rereads the fic*
Er... Don't tell me that I watched him go for a moment was a slashy thing? Because you know, even my slash goggles have limits. I mean, everybody is entitled to love but... Well, some things are better left to the imagination. :D
29th-May-2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
You, miss innuendo?! Pfft, like that would ever happen.

No, it's OK - there was a line which I thought you would spot, and which I was chuffed when Verity spotted and commented on it while she was betaing the story. It's just a throwaway line which isn't important to the story itself. No biggie.
29th-May-2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
Right. Now you really must tell me which line it is. Stop teasing me, woman. I demand to know. (Yes, I'm like Sherlock. I boss you around and make unreasonable demands of you.)
28th-May-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Veeery clever! and it fits in totally. Do you remember that slight chuckle Mike makes when he hears John say "Who'd want to share a flat with me?" - I've always found the chuckle-giggle-thing soooo put up - like he was waiting for a line to reply, following a script. Now, you've made the script!
29th-May-2013 10:52 am (UTC)
Thanks! And yes, that whole scene in the park really does work following on from this, especially the chuckle. Mike is obviously thrilled that he has successfully led the conversation in the right direction without giving the game away. *pets the clever Stamford*
28th-May-2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
I love it! What fabulous head canon: because Mike did look far too smug, now you come to mention it. And I like the voice you've given Mike as well, it fits him perfectly.
29th-May-2013 10:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! I like writing the minor characters, and Mike deserves a bit of attention occasionally because, without him, our boys would never have met.
29th-May-2013 07:07 am (UTC)
Ooooh! *Squeals*
I love where this is going!!!

And it makes SO much sense that Mycroft would have been behind putting Sherlock and John together... he's brilliant like that...
29th-May-2013 10:55 am (UTC)
It made sense to me that Mycroft would ensure that Sherlock found the right flatmate first time, especially someone like John who needs to be needed both as a soldier and as a doctor. The tricky bit was how to get Mike involved, but I'm glad that it seems to have worked.
30th-May-2013 06:41 am (UTC)
This is just perfect--the first-person voice works so well for Mike, and it all fits quite delightfully, and now I have that Supertramp song stuck in my head.

Author's Note almost as good as the story itself.
30th-May-2013 09:59 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, I've been singing "Take the Long Way Home" for weeks now! It hasn't been a chore, though, cos I love that song.

I'm glad the story worked for you.

One of these days I'm going to give up writing fic and just write Author's Notes instead. Sometimes they seem to go down better than the story itself!
30th-May-2013 10:00 am (UTC)
One more reason to say that it's all verityburns's fault? I can live with that, especially if the results are brilliant fics like this one!

Perfect voice, perfect tie-in, perfect story. I'll join the chorus and accept this as my head canon!
31st-May-2013 12:58 pm (UTC)
When in doubt, always blame Verity - especially when you go down with a cold and a hacking cough as soon as she leaves your house ...

Glad you liked the story, and I'm happy to have set another piece of head canon.
7th-Sep-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Good grief... the only word I can come up with for this is "genius!!" :-) Wow, this should totally be canon... seriously. :-) Now, the next time I see this episode, I'm gonna be thinking of this as having happened in the background. X-) But ya know what? That just makes it more awesome. :-)
7th-Sep-2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's definitely canon - it's the only explanation for Mike's expressions both in the park and in the lab! ;-)
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