Title: Courting is Over – part 1
Author: Ariane DeVere
Word count: 2317 (this section); 21,627 in total
Warnings: Major character deaths (offscreen) (allegedly), threat of violence in a later part, angst in a later part, discussion of injury and mutilation after an explosion in a later part
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to way more powerful and wealthy people than me.
With a million thanks to verityburns for the light-touch beta (and the heavy-pawed plotbunny). Any glaring errors are therefore all mine.
Sarah Sawyer’s life was never the same after she met John Watson and his crazy flatmate. When the crazy flatmate’s brother came on the scene, life got really weird.
Sarah sighed heavily and looked up at him. She genuinely did miss their occasional lunches and regretted the way that their tentative friendship had disintegrated over the past few months.
“I need to get this off my chest, Mycroft,” she told him sadly. “Let me say this to you, and then we can go our separate ways again.”
Mycroft didn’t turn towards her, continuing to look out of the window, but his body language indicated that he had relaxed a little. His chin dropped an inch or two, a conciliatory nod giving her permission to speak. Sarah drew in a slow breath, forcing herself not to tense up, and then fired the question at him.
“Where are John and Sherlock?”
It was fifteen weeks since Greg Lestrade had arrived at her flat to break the news that Sherlock and John were dead. Sarah had thought that her world couldn’t possibly spring any more shocks on her after her experiences since she had met John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, but Greg’s stricken expression was almost too much for her to take as he quietly explained how the boys had been killed in an explosion at an empty factory a few hours ago. The temptation simply to curl up whimpering on the sofa and rock herself to sleep would have been too much to resist if she hadn’t almost immediately been struck by a sense of absolute fury.
“Was it Moriarty?” she asked abruptly.
Greg hesitated for a long moment before answering. “It really is too soon to say,” he told her, “but let’s be honest: the chances are good. Sherlock had a lot of enemies but not many of them made a habit of using explosives.”
“Where was Mycroft?” she snapped.
Greg stared, surprised at her question.
“Where the hell was Mycroft?” she demanded again, then pushed past the inspector and ran out into the hall.
“Sarah!” Greg chased after her as she pulled open the entrance door and ran along the road to the nearest CCTV camera attached to one of the street lights. Glaring up into it she mouthed ‘Mycroft!’ clearly, then pointedly raised her hand to the side of her head, stretching out her thumb and little finger in the universal sign for ‘Call me’. Greg arrived beside her and looked at her in confusion.
“Why didn’t he get there in time?” she demanded, still glowering into the camera and holding her ‘Phone me’ position as she mouthed the name again. “He’s been watching the boys ever since the incident at the swimming pool – he should have known they were walking into danger. Why wasn’t he there? And where is he now?”
Greg sagged a little as shock and exhaustion began to claim him. She turned and started to reach for him, her professionalism wanting to take over from the anger, but he straightened up and looked into her eyes.
“He’s at the morgue,” he told her softly. “He’s helping to identify the bodies.”
Sarah froze for a moment, then her hands dropped to her sides. “What do you mean, ‘helping to identify’ them?” she asked, although she feared that she already knew the answer.
He sighed unhappily. “It was an explosion, Sarah,” he said quietly. “Identifying them isn’t going to be straightforward.”
Sarah’s head slumped forward as the impact of Greg’s words struck home, then she slowly looked up into the camera, grimaced apologetically and raised her right arm, mouthing ‘Never mind’ as she repeatedly drew her fingers across her throat to cancel her earlier demand. “Oh God,” she whispered as the tears finally came. Greg put his arm around her shoulders as she began to sob, and gently led her back to the flat.
She had first met Mycroft Holmes five weeks after the boys’ first encounter with Jim Moriarty. Of course, all Sarah knew at the time was that John hadn’t arrived at her flat like he was supposed to, and after a night of no response to her phone calls she went to Baker Street in the morning to find that neither John nor Sherlock were home. Their absence sent her into a panic and the local police were unhelpful and not prepared to file a Missing Persons report so soon. When John finally phoned her that evening her relief quickly turned to anger when he wouldn’t tell her where he and Sherlock had been or why he hadn’t called her before now, and she was still shouting angrily down the phone at him when he arrived at her front door pointedly holding his mobile away from his ear and wincing. Her fury instantly melted away and she broke down in tears as she pulled him inside the flat and hugged him tightly. He wrapped his arms around her and held her, murmuring, “I’m so sorry,” over and over as she wept.
Once she had cried herself out he walked her into the kitchen for the obligatory round of tea-making and he began to explain some of the events of the past few days. He had already had an enormous argument with Sherlock about whether he should tell her anything and, if so, how much. John had pointed out to him that within a couple of days of meeting them she had been kidnapped and almost killed, yet she had not only been willing to let John keep his job at the surgery but had still been willing to associate with him socially and – most importantly of all – she hadn’t told anybody about what had happened to her in the Tramway Tunnels that night. Sherlock had insisted to her that she shouldn’t talk about it to anyone but he had been surprised when she did as she was asked, and it had been the start of a begrudging respect that he developed for her. However, at this stage he was still reluctant for John to tell her about Moriarty or the string of puzzles he had set for Sherlock over the previous days and then his dramatic attempt to stop Sherlock from interfering in his work, but John insisted that she was trustworthy and would only keep fretting to know if he refused to tell her. Sherlock hadn’t been happy but had eventually agreed, and the only reason that John hadn’t said anything to her on the phone was because he wasn’t sure whether it was being monitored. But now John sat with her at the breakfast bar and told her – well, it definitely wasn’t everything, Sarah soon realised, but he told her enough to leave her shaking her head in stunned disbelief and remarking, “God, I never realised that I was living in an episode of Danger Mouse.” John laughed hysterically for the next five minutes as the tension of the previous days made the joke seem far funnier than it probably was, but it was such a relief to have him back and safe – and giggling adorably – that she smiled and let him laugh himself into a coughing fit, and half an hour later she took him to bed for the first time.
Their relationship didn’t develop into a ‘normal’ one – John spent far too much of his time running around after Sherlock for him and Sarah to have a standard boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and sometimes she wouldn’t see him socially for days. They always kept in contact even if he didn’t have shifts at the surgery, and when he was free they would go to a restaurant or to the cinema or go dancing, or would simply have a quiet meal and then watch a movie or the TV at her flat. The evenings didn’t always end with sex – sometimes John was too exhausted after days of helping Sherlock with a case and sometimes they just weren’t in the mood but the occasional evenings that did end in bed were nice and while Sarah was reluctant to apply the term ‘friends with benefits’ to their relationship, it did seem to be going in that direction.
On other evenings John would be reluctant to leave Sherlock alone in their flat for fear that he would find a vital clue in an ongoing case and would rush off into danger on his own. The first evening that he invited Sarah to Baker Street to keep him company while Sherlock was engrossed in casework, Sherlock completely ignored her the whole time that she was there and didn’t speak a word to either of them; the second time she visited, he reluctantly grunted a greeting as she arrived and Sarah had the distinct impression that John had had a few words with him about common courtesy. On her third visit Sherlock was sitting at the table in the living room and looking through the police photographs of a crime scene while John was in the kitchen cooking a meal for them. John had a habit of forgetting that anyone else was in the room while he was concentrating on his cooking and after several minutes of being ignored Sarah wandered out into the living room and stood looking at all the paperwork stuck to the walls. She hadn’t the faintest idea what any of it meant but when she turned towards Sherlock and opened her mouth, she remembered how irritated he had been with her the last time she had interrupted him, even though she had eventually provided him with a vital clue.
Instead, she pointedly sat down at the table and simply watched what he was doing, forcing herself not to ask the many questions that came into her mind as he moved the pictures around the table. He must have been impressed by her silence because after fifteen minutes of her sitting quietly and just observing him as he worked, he began to explain what he was seeing and even handed her one of the photos and asked her opinion of the wounds on the body. Sarah hid her proud smile but later that evening when she and John were washing up she said that she felt like going home and writing in the diary that she didn’t keep: “Today I finally arrived!” John hugged her and said that he had been nervous when he had looked in from the kitchen and had seen her sitting across the table from Sherlock, who had initially been fizzing with indignation at the intrusion; but he had diplomatically withdrawn and left the two of them alone and had almost exploded with delight when he heard Sherlock finally start to talk to her.
“I don’t even know who I was more proud of,” he continued. “You for facing up to him in the first place, or him for letting you in. I just want to strut around bragging to anyone who might listen that I did this!”
He pulled her closer and buried his mouth in her hair. “It also makes me bloody horny,” he growled in her ear.
Sarah didn’t go home that night.
It was over a week before she went to Baker Street again, but as she and John giggled their way into the flat laden down with bags of food from the Chinese takeaway, Sherlock looked up from the police report he was reading and remarked, “At this rate Mycroft will be kidnapping her for interrogation.”
John had just put his bags onto the kitchen table but now he turned and stared at him. “He wouldn’t,” he said in a voice full of dread.
Sherlock shrugged. “She’s becoming a regular visitor,” he said. “I’m surprised that he’s waited this long – he abducted you after you’d been in the flat for less than four minutes.”
John dramatically buried his face in his hands. “Oh God, he would, wouldn’t he?” he groaned before lifting his head and glaring at Sherlock. “You have to stop him.”
“Stop him from what?” Sarah asked. John had mentioned Mycroft and his fractious relationship with his brother but she had no idea what they were talking about here.
Sherlock smirked at her. “My brother tried to bribe John into reporting my activities to him shortly after we first met,” he told her, “and even though John turned him down he still pulls him in occasionally just to see if he can bully any information out of him. Now that you’re apparently becoming part of this happy band, he’ll probably try and charm you into telling him what I’m up to.”
He looked at John. “And why you think that I can talk him out of it is beyond me. If I tell him to leave Sarah alone, he’ll only make a move more quickly.”
“Jesus,” John moaned. “Well then, I’m telling him to lay off. He’s got no right.”
“He’s Mycroft,” Sherlock told him. “He doesn’t need to have a right.”
The pleasant meal that Sarah had been hoping for was somewhat spoiled by John spending the entire time venomously explaining what had happened during Mycroft’s first abduction of him. By then he had got up a real head of steam and went on to detail each of the following occasions, breaking off occasionally to rant to Sherlock about how annoying both he and his brother were. Sherlock seemed to find the whole conversation highly amusing but by the end of the conversation John had wound himself up so much that he left the room to phone Mycroft to demand that he leave Sarah alone. When he came back he was even more grumpy but refused to talk about the content of the phone call. He seemed fairly confident, however, that he had managed to persuade Mycroft that Sarah wasn’t sufficiently part of the Baker Street life to be able to impart any gossip about Sherlock’s activities even if she wanted to.
The invitation for Sarah to join Mycroft for lunch was waiting for her on her desk at the surgery the next morning.