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Beautiful

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May 22, 1999

Sherlock’s not sure how long he’s been here staring at the amber liquid in front of him watching the bubbles break the surface. That’s a lie of course. He’s been sitting here for approximately an hour thirty-seven minutes and fifty-eight seconds. Only approximately because in the time it took to think that three more seconds had passed.

His father had taken him from his university interrupting a rather invigorating session where the professor threatened to throw him out of class for interrupting their teachings… again. Wasn’t his fault the bumbling moron didn’t know chemistry from biology. You’d think to teach forensics they’d need someone who was actually trained. In the time it’d taken the woman to give a lecture he’d already read the entirety of the textbook. To his dissatisfaction, yet again, it was a class where it wasn’t anything he didn’t know. He’d taken quite a fascination with forensics and police investigations. Which lead to a rather angry professor when he constantly fact checked her in the middle of class.

Beside the point he supposes. Father had dragged him to America on business . Now he was in the ever so glorious New York, New York which surprise surprise turned out to be yet another mindless tourist trap masking the pests that littered subways, restaurants, motels, et cetera.

“Rum and coke.” A voice clips through his thoughts dragging his head to his right side. The bar was pretty packed and the seats were all filled except for the one beside him, well it was at least. To his left was a not so pleasant smelling older gentleman ranting and raving about some American game on the television but he had the decency to keep his back turned to Sherlock. This new guest, however, appeared to be alone.

The woman appeared to be of Asian descent around his age. Her hair was tied up messily, tendrils falling from the hasty ponytail. His eyes flash down to her fingers cataloging every detail of her. May as well put his skills to test while he’s waiting on his father. “You’re a student?” He asks.

The woman startles, dark eyes flashing over to him. “Yeah how’d you know?”

“Paper cuts on your hands. Typical of a student studying for finals plus you’re here alone on a Saturday night. Not exactly common for people our age.”

“Our age?”

“No younger than twenty two yet no older than twenty five.” He guesses.

“Twenty four.” She smirks eyes sparking in the dim light of the bar. She’s wearing a minimal amount of makeup, just bare enough that he can spy her freckles beneath. By all means and conventions, she’s incredibly attractive. “Needed a break from studying.” She shrugs with a small smile teasing at her lips. He partly wonders what he could say to get her to smile fully. Just another of those moments he supposes. “My roommate isn’t exactly helpful. What about you? Transfer?”

“Not exactly.” He shrugs sipping at his drink. “My father has business in America.” He frowns in distaste at the whole scenario once again. “If you could consider it to be business.” She throws him a questioning look causing him to shrug. “Since my mother died he’s gotten involved in suspicious deals. I pretend not to notice but-”

“You noticed I was a student from the paper cuts on my hands.” The woman scoffs.

“Precisely.” He tips the rest of the drink back allowing the liquid to burn down his throat. “What does it matter if you can just block all of it out?” He gestures to the now empty glass. “Kind of hard to feel anything when you’re numb inside.” He chuckles. The woman’s lips twist into a frown as she tips back her own drink as soon as it’s set in front of her.

“Let me show you something. A little trick I have.” Sherlock raises an eyebrow curiously.

“I don’t even know your name.” He laughs bitterly.

“Joan.” She reveals with a small grin. She gestures to the bartender and the man brings over two bottles of whiskey. “Buddy of mine. Owes me for saving his ass from some vindictive chick set on ruining his life.” She shrugs.

“My name’s Sean.” He lies. He’s not even sure why he does.

“Do you want to get out of here?” She leans against the bar, the look in her eyes suggestive. He throws a look to his phone eyeing the screen for some interruption. He expects to be imagining this somehow. He eyes the alcohol wondering if he’d lost track of how many drinks he’d had. Statistically improbable… Suddenly Joan flushes, eyes flashing to the ground. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that. I’ll take care of your check.” She shuffles through her wallet, a deep red blush crawling up her pale neck.

He’s not sure what possesses him but he places his hand on top of hers. “Let’s go.” Her eyes stare at him wide, shocked. He smirks whipping out his wallet and paying for both of their drinks as well as the bottles before she can react. She gapes at the gesture stuttering to find the words. “I believe he deserves more than a little pay for the crowd he’s putting up with right now, favor or not.” He smirks. He leads them outside with her hot on his heels.

She seems to get her confidence back as soon as they step outside. She grabs his hand twisting him around to face her before pressing her lips to his. She’s soft everywhere that he’s hard. Her lips are smooth beneath his, fingers locked in a fist around his shirt. His hands settle on her hips pushing them backwards until she presses back against the brick wall of the bar. Her teeth nip at his bottom lip drawing a groan from his lips.

She pulls back first, a devilish smirk on her mouth as she slips from beneath his arms which had settled on either side of her head. She whistles signaling a cab to stop by and pick them up. She slides in the back seat gracefully, pale legs beckoning him to climb in after her. She murmurs an address to the driver before leaning back to him once more. Smooth, lean fingers loop in his tracing patterns into the back of his hand with her thumb. He categorizes the callouses on her fingertips contrasting against the otherwise soft skin. He closes his eyes listing off the reasons they would exist to distract himself from her white teeth nibbling on her swollen lips.

The cab screeches to a stop surprisingly quickly. He throws a look to Joan who’s already climbing out of the car. “Thanks.” She says tossing placing cash in the driver’s upturned hand. Sherlock stumbles out after her following her into the apartment. “My roommate is out of town visiting family.” She notes the weird look over her shoulder. He can tell by the tensing of posture as she climbs the stairs. “Her brother was in an accident and is in the hospital.” Her voice is rough with emotion. So she knew the brother… “God I don’t know why I’m telling you this.” She laughs bitterly.

It’s his turn to grip her hand now as she moves towards a door. A quick flash of keys confirms his suspicion that this is, indeed, her room. He presses her against the door kissing her quickly to ignore the tears building in her eyes. A complete stranger is confiding in him and here he is pinning her to the door. She doesn’t seem to complain though as she wraps her arms around his neck, the cool bottoms of both bottles pressing against his spine through his t-shirt. She pushes him back suddenly to turn and fidget with the lock. He takes the opportunity to push her long ponytail to the side peppering her neck in kisses. Freckles dust the back of her neck like constellations teasing him to piece them together with his tongue. The door finally gives sending them both stumbling inside.

He catches her quickly taking both bottles from her slim fingers and placing them on a nearby table before pushing her back against the door. His lips attach to her neck as his fingers slide up her spine and into her hair. Gently he tugs on the hair tie freeing her ebony locks. Long hair falls gracefully over sharp cheekbones framing her face beautifully. She grabs the front of his tee dragging him back up to her lips once more.

He slides his hand up the back of her leg teasing the edges of her skirt. A long moan draws from her lips as his fingers trace the edges of her panties. He wonders for a second what other noises he could pull from those lips. Again she’s the one to break contact, pushing him through the home. She tugs his shirt off discarding it somewhere in the hallway. Her fingers tug at his belt as she pushes him into a bedroom. His knees hit the edge of the bed as he notes how neat the place is.

Joan slides a slim leg over his lap straddling him. A manicured hand settles on his chest before pushing his back onto the bed. “Stop thinking.” She growls before pressing her lips to his again. His fingers slide up the back of her thighs drawing a whine from her throat only for it to muffle against his lips. Their shoes clatter on the floor loudly as they kick them off together. Deft fingers undo his belt attempting to push them down without interrupting contact. He lifts his hips to help her, ending up in his hard on to press against her center. A gasp leaves her throat at the unexpected contact, hips bucking into his.

His fingers slide up her abdomen slipping up her button up with them. Her muscles contract at his touch, rippling pleasantly. Her fingers lace in his hair pushing his head against her chest. He smirks kissing her breasts through the slim material of her shirt. Her hips grind against his as he continues his descent lower still. Her entire body shivers as his lips make contact with her skin. Her fingers grip his chin forcing his eyes up to hers. His fingers still on her hips as he’s floored by the look on her face.

“God you’re beautiful.” She breathes.

“Not me, you.” He protests.

“You say you’re numb…” She drones off, long nails stroking down the hair on his chest. Her eyes fall to his tattoos, biting her bottom lip. “I beg to differ.” She chuckles. His eyes fall to his pants as buzzing echoes in the empty room.

“I’m sorry. That’s father.” His chin sets as he moves to get up from underneath her. She’s quicker though snagging the phone from the pockets of his discarded jeans. She turns the thing off throwing it aside with a frown. “Life sucks. So what?” He flinches at the sudden change in attitude. She marches over to a drawer digging through the contents. When she finds what she’s been looking for she saunters back over to him, eyes dark as they roam over his form. “Here…” She emphasizes straddling his lap and pressing the condom she’d found onto his chest. “Now… we forget.” She commands rolling her hips against his.

“Joan…” He moans tipping his head back.

“Just for tonight. We don’t think.” Those sinful nails are back again, more rough this time as she scratches down his back. She guides his fingers up her thighs until they stroke her through her underwear. She’s unbelievably wet, he notes as he pushes them aside. He slides a finger inside her catching her off guard. Her hips buck against his hand as a gasp leaves swollen lips. “No thinking.” She purrs, lips dragging up his shoulder and the side of his throat.

“No thinking.” He agrees inserting another finger inside of her. Her own fingers push his boxers down just enough for his cock to spring out freely. She wraps her hand around him stroking him. She finds the condom tearing open the wrapping before her hand is on him again, sliding the damned thing onto him. His head tips back allowing her to take advantage of the newly exposed skin.

He removes his fingers from inside her and in a daring moment he licks them clean. Something dark flashes in her eyes as she grips his chin pressing her lips to his harshly. Shuffling between them she somehow manages to rid of her skirt and panties as well as his boxers. She takes him in her free hand lining him up. She pulls away from him watching him intently as she sinks onto him. A smirk slips onto her lips as she begins rocking against them. It doesn’t take her long before they’re bucking against each other quickly.

Her fingers tug his from their bruising grip on her hips sliding up the front of her blouse. He looks up at her pleadingly almost asking for permission. She nods slightly and he rips the thing down the middle, buttons scattering across the otherwise silent room. His mouth attacks the tops of her breasts allowing him to hit a new spot inside of her. Her walls ripple around his cock drawing another moan from his lips. He snaps open her bra easily discarding both items of clothing. His lips attach to her newly exposed nipples.

“Good boy.” She purrs combing her fingers through his hair. He runs his tongue around the hardened peak before sucking it between his lips once more. “Spank me.” She growls. He can’t help but obey, the smack resonating through the empty room. She moans tossing her head back and he can’t help himself from spanking her once more. He wants to know all the noises he can coax from her lips, reddened from their rough kissing. “Pull my hair.” The strands of her long locks tangle between his fingers. A long whine leaves her throat as he tugs her head back. He takes advantage of her exposed skin sucking on the silky spot at the edge of her jaw. He knows it’ll leave a mark but he doesn’t give a damn.

“Tell me what you want me to do.” He pleads against her skin.

“Touch me.” His free hand slides between them flicking at her clit. Her hips stutter as she’s suddenly slammed with her orgasm. She doesn’t stop rocking though. “Sean…” She groans raking her nails down his back roughly. He hisses through the pain and like a switch flicking he follows her close behind. He sobs her name into her skin at his release, arms wrapped around her as if she’ll disappear if he lets go.

The aftershocks are long subsided when she finally rolls to the side and off of him. “Wow.” He mutters staring at the ceiling. She takes the condom off of him and ties it up before tossing it into a wastebasket not far from her bedside. She hops up snagging his t-shirt onto her body before rushing off to the living room. She comes back in seconds both bottles in hand.

“It’s going to be a long night.” She smirks passing him one. She tips her own back taking a long swig of the contents. He does the same enjoying the fire of the whiskey as it burns down to his stomach.

They alternate between orgasms and drinks of whiskey. They don’t collapse until the sun is beginning to rise. Her long ebony hair drapes over her chest as she breathes evenly. She’s drunk a whole lot more of her bottle than him, her’s half full and his three quarters. He knows he needs to get up. She likely won’t remember this in the morning with how much she drank. Yet he feels his eyes getting heavily, lulled by the steady thrumming of her heart against his chest. He lets his eyes fall shut with a sigh as she burrows closer to him.
Just a few minutes...

Chapter Text

September 27, 2012

Sherlock hadn’t stopped pacing since the end of the excursions. He’d checked his email on the progress of a cold case he was looking into on the matter of longitude and latitude correlating with the placement of bodies from a serial killer. Of course he’d stumbled past an email from his father regarding a sober companion coming to pick him up from the rehabilitation center. Underneath was the provided information on the woman who would now be living in the same house with him for the next six weeks.

What his father had failed to know that approximately thirteen years ago he’d met a woman of the same first name and coming occupation in the bar and proceeded to sleep with her that same night. He’d escaped in the morning without rousing her scribbling a quick hangover remedy on a post it before making off with all of his possessions.

He doesn’t remember the full evening as he got regrettably wasted. He still remembers vivid details though. The feeling of her dark hair running over the back of his hand, the freckles dusted like constellations across her skin, her moaning his pseudonym.

Surely there were other Joans studying to become a surgeon in New York. He runs the possibilities through his brain. Records showed that this Joan had lived in the state since birth so moving from far away wasn’t an option. Chances still could be likely though.

Briefly he hears shuffling from the other room. His previous partner must’ve awaken. He should probably warn her that he’d left the curtains open… He checks the clock observing it to be about 11:56 a.m. Well whatever poor sap was home sick or running late would get quite the show.

He thinks quickly flipping on the multiple televisions scattered through the room. If it was her he could test her with a movie playing on one channel. From the stupor of the night he did remember Joan laying her head on his shoulder while some sappy love story droned on in the background. She didn’t fall asleep long after that. The subconscious memory would spark in her eyes revealing if she remembered him or not. If it wasn’t her or perhaps if she didn’t remember then he would appear as a loon who just left rehab without his escort.

“Excuse me Mr-” Of course the voice is familiar. His luck is that his father hires the one ex-surgeon turned sober companion that he’d slept with 13 years ago. He shushes her and pauses all of the screens with one button allowing the woman to continue. “My name is Joan Watson.” Yes he is very very aware and familiar with the name. The woman in front of him is no doubt the one he slept with all those years ago. She doesn’t look like she changed a bit. “Your father hired me to be your sober companion. He told me he was going to email you about me.” He did. “I’m here to make the transition from your rehab experience to your everyday routine as smooth as possible so I’ll be living with you for the next six weeks,” Lovely. “Which means I’ll be available to you 24/7.” Even better.

“Do you believe in love at first sight?” Her mouth shuts and her eyebrows raise in surprise. “I know what you’re thinking. The world is a cynical place and I must be a cynical man thinking a woman like you could fall for a line like that. Thing is,” He takes a step closer taking away the space she’d so humbly put between the two of them. “It isn’t a line.” He does not stop moving studying her  face for any flashing cues that may give away stimulated memory. “I have never loved anyone as I do you right now in this moment.” Something dark flashes in her eyes.

She’s just about to say something as he unpauses the movie. The actor on the screen repeats the dialogue word for word. She looks between the screen himself before her cheeks flush a lovely shade of red. Embarrassment and shame fill her wonderful features. Ah, so she doesn’t remember. Lovely.

Regardless if she did remember she would’ve known him as Sean rather than Sherlock. The only clue to give away that it was him were some of his tattoos he’d actually had at that age. Joan shuffles to gather the things from her bag that had scattered across the floor in her shock. The woman still appears to be rather shaken even as the monologue ends clutching her bag tight to her chest. Confusion laces her expression. For the better too.

“Spot on.” He says with confidence in his tone. “Sherlock Holmes.” She takes his extended hand shaking it yet her expression remains shocked and a bit apprehensive. He looks her up and down once more for good measure. She’s cleanly dress, well styled too. She’s definitely done well for herself if the designer shoes would say anything. “Please don’t get comfortable. We won’t be long.” He shrugs past her to go gather his shoes and shirt which had been scattered throughout the Brownstone during his earlier… activities.

“Mr. Holmes did your father tell you about me or not?” Frustration laces through her tone. Maybe if he keeps it up she’ll drop the manner and leave.

“Uh…” Ah yes there’s one shoe he’d been looking for. “He emailed. Said to expect some sort of addict sitter.” Distaste spills off his tongue. His father likes to pretend he knows what’s best for him even after all these years.

“Then he explained his conditions with respect to your sobriety.”

“Then you mean his threats to evict me from this; the shoddiest and least renovated of the five, count them, five properties he owns in New York. Then yeah he made his conditions quite clear.” He grabs the other shoe slipping it on. “I use, I wind up on the streets. I refuse your help, I wind up on the street. It’s my understanding that most sober companions are recovering addicts as well.” He studies. “But you’ve never had a problem with drugs or alcohol.” With a quick bounce he;s back on his feet once more.

“Your father told you.” She excuses.

“Of course he didn’t.”

“Well do you care to explain why you broke out of rehab the same day you were being released?”

“Bored.” He answers plainly.

“Your were bored.” She questions half annoyed and half inquisitorial. Maybe she’d make a good test subject. She does ask a lot of questions.

“No I am bored right now.” He corrects. Where the hell did he sling that shirt? “It happens often you’ll get used to it.” He notes as he digs through a hamper to find another shirt. “Regarding your friends at Hemingdale I believe they should be thanking be for exposing flaws in their rubbish security system, wouldn’t you?” He grabs a shirt from the dirty hamper giving it a quick sniff to make sure it is sufficient enough to pass in public without causing a distraction. “Excellent.”

“There was a woman leaving just as I got here.” She says slowly. “Did she get you high?”

“About six feet.” He says rather smugly obtaining his belt from where it hung loosely on the ladder in between a pair of handcuffs. “I actually find sex repellent.” He says. “All those fluids and odd sounds.” For a brief second her head tilts and there is a sparkle in her eyes. He wonders if she’s caught the lie. Well it’s not precisely a lie. Sex in itself is disgusting but the ability to turn off is a rare and exquisite experience when you find someone distracting enough. It was something she’d taught him that night. Something he’d only managed to duplicate with Irene. He shakes his head quickly at the thought abandoning that dangerous path. “My brain and body require them to function at optimum levels so I feed those as needed. You’re a doctor you understand.”

“Uh, I’m not a doctor.” She corrects politely. Ah so something bad happened then.

“Well you were a doctor. Surgeon judging by your hands.” He studies. Though again he’d known this long ago. “Is your car parked near by?”

“Uh, yes it’s just outsi-” She stops in her tracks. He reaches over grabbing his vest off a rack. “Wait how did you know I have a car?”

“Parking ticket.” He says simply. “I saw it in your purse when you dropped it. Can’t have one without the other can you?” He glances at the clock with a frown. Lovely, Gregson wouldn’t be too happy with him. “We’re late. We need to get going.”

“Late for what?” There she goes with those questions again.

He checks his phone without answering her question. “Actually scratch the car. Manhattan bridge is down to single lane. We’ll take the tube instead.” Good it’ll give him a little practice to hone in on profiling before they reach the scene. “Look at this place.” He frowns with disgust. “Yuck. I’ll wait for you to tidy it.”

She glances at him in disbelief anger filling her dark eyes. Good. It shouldn’t take as long as he initially accounted for to rid of her then. He just needs to play his cards right and she’ll be gone. The sooner the better and that goes for the both of them. But she doesn’t leave. He had left and she’d moved out but they both came back. To the Brownstone, to each other. They’d housed Kitty and a pet turtle named Clyde. She’s stayed by his side unknowing of the truth all this time.

July 25, 2014

The first time Sherlock truly sees a crack in Watson’s hard formed walls isn’t until years after their first meeting. It’d been a particularly rainy summer in New York. Odd for the times but it ended up pertaining to a case. For the past 3 years children were disappearing from public places, ranging from ages 5 to 12. They were lured away from parents and drowned a few days after their disappearance. The man would leave the body on the side of the highway with a folded swan on top of their chest. It did not take the media too long after that to oh so cleverly nickname the perpetrator The Origami Killer.

He and Watson had only been on the case for six months when the eleventh child went missing. An eight year old by the name of Bobbie Hilton had gone missing after his father Malcolm Hilton took the child to the mall. The father claimed only to look away for a moment before the boy had gone missing. They’d also lost another child Ethan Hilton in an accident only a year prior. The little boy had wandered into the streets and Malcolm had been a few seconds too late trying to throw them both out of the way. Malcolm absorbed a good portion of the blow but it was not enough to save seven year old Ethan. The boy died after being in a coma for three months.

It was through this information that Watson managed to make a theory that the killer was kidnapping children of parents that they deemed unfit to be parents. From the Hiltons who experienced a tragic accident, to a family of previous drug addicts, to a woman who’d grown up with bipolar disorder neglecting to get her next dosage of medication. She’d seemed to hit the nail on the head.

From there they managed to track down a social service worker who’d made contact with at least three of the parents before the children went missing, the Hiltons included. They had no substantial evidence to work off of so they conducted an unofficial stake out following a man by the name of Stafford Hunt using an array of cars that Alfredo had loaned to the two of them. Hunt apparently spent an unusual amount of time at a warehouse not far from the Brownstone.

“We have to go in.” Watson insists already beginning to climb out the sleek black car. She’d been acting strange ever since this investigation begun. He’d just shrugged it off as the involvement of many small children. Their lives ended much too soon wracking onto her subconscious. They very rarely dealt with cases involving children as their victims.

“We wait here for Marcus that was our deal for the stakeout remember?” He reminds her.

“It’s been sixteen days Sherlock. You and I both know that it’s the longest Hunt has kept a child. If Hunt is our man we need to go now.”

“You really believe he’s our man don’t you.” Her eyes have lit up with passion since they’d found Mr. Hunt a week ago.

“A connection to three out of the eleven families is the best we’ve found. The best that anyone has found in three years.” She insists. He shifts uncomfortably weighing the options. Rain beats heavily on the room of the car in the silence.

“Very well. However we wait until he comes out.” Joan rolls her eyes but she doesn’t protest in any other fashion. They sit in silence until a man runs out of the building and into his car. Once he rolls out of sight he hastily texts Marcus their location before following Watson into the building.

Watson whips out her flashlight surveying the area. Once they determine that they’re the only two there they freely wander. The place is relatively empty. Abandoned crates left creaking open on opposing sides of the large building, pieces of the ceiling deteriorating allowing the rain to pour into the wooden building.

They split off as Sherlock goes off to investigate the several crates spread throughout the place. He’d managed to make it through two before a shout broke through the empty room.

“Sherlock!” Watson’s voice echoes spurring him into a run. She’s near the center of the room flashlight abandoned on the ground. She’s tugging furiously at something but she’s only able to make it budge slightly. “Help!”

He skids across the floor rushing to help her. Together they lift the grate fixed into the ground to expose a man made hole. Rain water pours down from the hole in the ceiling onto their backs. They reach shoulders deep into the water pulling the body of Bobbie Hilton from the depths. They settle him carefully and Watson checks for a pulse. She quickly goes into the procedure of CPR pressing into the small boy’s chest.

“Hey!” A voice calls out from the doorway. Stafford Hunt stands at the entrance pointing a gun at the two of them. “Step away from the boy!” His gun is pointing at Watson and Sherlock’s heart thuds much too quick. He needs to think of a solution. He can hear Watson muttering fragmented sentences but she makes no move to stop what she’s doing.

“Easy.” Sherlock puts up both of his hands standing. “Nobody needs to get hurt Mr. Hunt.”

“Step away!” He shouts seeming to ignore him. Sirens break through the silence as cops rush onto the scene. Hunt points the gun back at the door giving Sherlock time to occupy the space between Watson and Stafford. Finally he hears the sputter from behind him. He looks back as Watson turns Bobbie on his side rubbing his back as he coughs up the water from his lungs. She wraps him protectively in her arms as his little body racks with violent shivers.

Briefly he can hear Gregson insisting that Hunt put his weapon down. From the sound of it he’s not cooperating. Sherlock turns back to the scene just in time to see Hunt turn back towards them ready to fire.

Two gunshots and the scream of a child blast through the empty space. Stafford Hunt collapses onto the floor two wounds in his back. Paramedics rush in once the sign is clear taking Bobbie from Watson’s arms. Her expression is blank, unreadable. No relief flooded her face now that this one was finally over.

Once they were both checked out they were allowed to go home.

Watson hadn’t moved from her spot on the couch since she’d showered and changed. Her favorite red cardigan is wrapped around her like her own personal armor. She finally stopped shivering so there was that.

He places a cup of tea in front of her but she doesn’t move to grab it off the table. He sits next to her silently offering his support in whatever demons she was battling within her mind. Without him.

“How do you do it?” Finally her voice croaks.

“Do what?” He studies her face but her expression continues to give away nothing. Watson is one of very few mysteries he does not believe he will ever solve. He doesn’t want to either. Since that one night he’d faired off the thought of sleeping together. Not that he didn’t want to. Watson is a very attractive woman. Her face is nearly perfectly symmetrical aside from the dusting of her freckles. She’s incredibly attractive yes but he does not wish to risk their relationship. One that’s so carefully put together.

She takes a shuddering breath before she continues. “How do you face society knowing all the terrible things we do to each other?” As if watching glass slowly crumble as does her facade. A tear slowly runs down her cheek and her body folds into itself. Her knees tuck into her chest and she places her head on them to hide her fears from him.

Carefully he pushes closer wrapping an arm around her to test boundaries. When she doesn’t flinch or shrug him off he pulls her closer. Her face buries into his shoulder as soft sobs shake her body. His heart breaks as she weeps for the lost children, for the parents that had to suffer. He places his lips on the crown of her head as the tears soak into his t-shirt. It’s remarkable that even her sobs are silent. The only things giving away her breakdown being the feeling of her tears and the shaking frame crumpled against his.

This was the first and only time Watson broke down in front of him. Sure she’d been angry and shouted at him. Regardless she never cried. Her eyes watered but she turned away before they fell.

Now however seeing her like this; broken and vulnerable… human. It somehow made her seem all the more beautiful.

Chapter Text

February 5, 2015 - February 19, 2015

Joan Watson is the epitome of secrecy. Not to say that she has a lot of secrets to keep but rather she keeps to herself. She’d quicker comfort others than allow others to comfort her much less even know anything is wrong at all. She talks to others in the precinct, sure, she even goes out of her way to talk to Not Marcus and Not Gregson. Joan has been lecturing Sherlock for weeks to at least learn the names of the other officers but he just can’t see the purpose when they seem to have a revolving door of them. The blonde with green eyes that’d joined just a month ago was transferred to the ninety-ninth precinct and his partner left shortly after finding out she was pregnant with her first child. Really there are a lot more things that deserve his attention. That’s not to say he doesn’t notice when Watson doesn’t throw her normal smile towards Glasses or when she denies the raspberry muffin Pink Tie offers her when they’d got his order wrong. Strange in itself because that is her favorite flavor.

He’s carefully studying a case when he hears the shattering of a glass echo through the nearly quiet Brownstone. The only other sound being Clyde’s quiet munching on lettuce. Watson had gone to bed nearly an hour ago. Judging by recent patterns she should be sleeping by now. It can’t hurt to check though. He softly pads up the stairs pushing open her door softly. The window is open, curtains billowing in the cool wind of the night.

In the gleam of the hallway light he spies Watson sitting up in her bed, one hand curled up in the sheets the other clutching her chest. She doesn’t look towards him but rather towards an invisible entity. It takes mere seconds to recognize that her body is trembling and she isn’t breathing. A glass lies shattered, likely knocked off her table in a fit.

He springs into action placing himself in front of her. Sherlock flicks on the lamp beside her bed showering the room in a yellow light. Her eyes are glassy and she still doesn’t seem to see him. He goes through a list in his mind of all the people who’d want to hurt her, hurt him… Memories of Watson coming home after Andrew had been killed flood through his mind.

He places a hand on her throat taking her heart rate without potentially startling her or hurting her more. Curiously her heart rate is rapid against his fingertips. At this stage her heartbeat would be slow and weak if it was Hemlock. Now he recognizes the panic reflecting  in her eyes. Woken by night terrors Watson is having an anxiety attack.

He switches his tactics rushing downstairs to fetch a bottle of water. He’s back up in seconds, his mind rushing to calculate the longest amount of time a woman of Watson’s physique could hold her breath before passing out. When he reaches her once more she’s taking shuddering breaths but she’s no more aware of her surroundings than she was before. He takes her hand gently placing the water in her fingers and guiding it to her lips.

She drinks greedily as if she’s been parched for days. Her body settles from uncontrollable trembling to the occasional jerk of limbs in shock. He holds her settling for talking about a case until she stops shaking. She’s not cognizant throughout the ordeal but she seems to be soothed by his voice. The jerking would start up once more as soon as he fell silent. Steadily into the night her body relaxes and she falls into a fitless sleep once more. Carefully he extracts himself from her bed and cleans up the glass. By morning she’s her old self once more and shows no signs of remembering any of the incident.

It becomes a habit now. He leaves something on her nightstand that she could easily knock over without damaging in order to alert him of another fit. He finds new methods to calm her every once in awhile. Once he takes Clyde with him and intertwines her fingers in his in order to trace the patterns of the tough shell. Another time he plays the violin for her. Those two are the more effective of methods. He tries incense, sensory isolation, calming sounds but nothing compares to her relaxation at the sound of his voice. She falls back asleep within fifteen minutes of listening to him ramble on about cases, Clyde’s antics, the whereabouts of Alfredo and Mrs. Hudson. It doesn’t matter what he speaks of as long as he speaks.

When her scream tears through the walls of the Brownstone he’s pretty sure his heart stops. It’s the kind of fear that has his heart sinking to his stomach as he scales the stairs two steps at a time abandoning the evidence lying in his lap. He forces the door open and surely enough Watson is sitting in the middle of her bed, eyes shut tightly screaming as loudly as she can. He leaps in settling his hands next to her in fear of startling her further. That’s the last thing he wants right now.

“No!” Her voice breaks as she sobs, shoulders wracking with pain. He assesses her body for injury and is relieved to find no obvious signs of worry. Of course other than the normally calm and collected woman to be curled so tightly into a ball he’s sure she’ll leave marks on her own legs.

“Easy Watson. It’s me.”

“Please.” She cries. He’s careful to have her meet his eyes. He takes her chin softly into his fingers coaxing her head up to look at him. “Make it stop.” She pleads. He winds his free hand into her hair pulling her close. She goes willingly clutching to the back of his t-shirt wrinkling the material in her fists. He pulls her until she’s practically settled into his lap, pressing a kiss to her hair he lays them both down.

He begins his rambling once more eventually landing on the tale of the one time he’d been with his father on a business trip to America. He’d met a woman with the hair the color of a raven’s wing and skin that was painted with stars dotting her skin. He brushes it off but at one point he swears he feels her spine shake a bit and a chuckle bubble against the skin of his chest where her face lies. He continues because she’s never remembered any of these talks anyways. He’s told her stories once more when she was more aware of her surroundings and no recognition flashed in her eyes. He tells her about the odd habits the woman had regarding the programs she watched. Eating habits that were certainly that of an American college student. He still shivers a little at the idea of kool aid and pickles combined like some Frankenstein concoction.

Suddenly she picks her head up and he swears for a moment he sees clarity flash in her eyes. “Sean?” She asks. His heart skips several beats as his eyes search his. He runs his options through his mind: take a gamble and confess, pretend he never knew her name, soothe her back to sleep and hope she doesn’t remember any of this in the morning like always.

“Sh go back to sleep now Watson.” He whispers pressing a soft kiss to the top of her hair. She doesn’t even protest her hair tickling his chest as she burrows deeper. Funny, he’d never taken Watson for the cuddling type. His eyes feel heavier as he tracks her breathing. So long that it’s even she will be fine he will be able to slip out safely.

In, two three four. Out, two three four. The pattern lulls him pulling him tighter into the sweet serenity. To the smell of lavender and sandalwood that is Watson. The light scrape of nails as she clutches to him as he shifts to make sure he doesn’t fall asleep.

He can’t help it as his eyes fall shut.

When he wakes Watson is sitting up clutching the blanket to her chest. Her hair is disheveled and her clothes likewise. She can feel his eyes on her back. “How long?” Her voice breaks the silence. The question holds so many implications in it only furthered by the silence. There is a lump in his throat and he wonders how much she’s remembered.

“How long?” He questions.

“How long have I been having anxiety attacks?” She clarifies looking back at him now. Her eyes are red rimmed and her face a tad puffy. She’d been crying. “Answer me honestly.”

“Two weeks.” He confesses.

“Two weeks?” She spins around glaring at him accusingly. “Why didn’t you tell me? You mean to say that you’ve spent two weeks in my bed without my knowledge?” She snaps.

“No.” He rubs his face trying to gain some of the clarity that was just dangling right in front of his face but at the same time just out of reach. “I’ve come in here every night since the first incident. You couldn’t breathe. I’d assumed…”

“March.” She sighs.

“You never know with her minions. Dead or not.” He frowns. “I got you a water and stayed with you until you settled then left. Last night was the first time the screaming started. I stayed with you until you fell back asleep like normal but it took longer than the others. I suppose I fell asleep in the meantime. I apologize.”

“Don’t.” Joan’s eyes fall to the bed sheets picking at a tear. “About seventeen years ago I got into a car crash with my roommate’s brother. He’d been asking me out for months and insisted. He was in and out of the hospital for a really long time. One day they just found him collapsed in the living room. He died hours later of an aneurysm. Sixteen years ago today. They said it was directly caused by the crash.” She lets out a long sigh and tips her head back to ward off the tears. “I was supposed to drive that night but he insisted. I walked out of it with nothing more than a few bruises and a broken toe. Michael had lasting brain damaged and died because I didn’t take the damn keys.” She turns from him now. He understands that she doesn’t want him to see her cry.

“I’m so sorry Watson.” He whispers placing his hand on top of hers. The tender moment is gone as soon as her phone rings. She picks it up quickly trying to expel herself from the conversation.

“Gregson needs us at a crime scene. Says it’s urgent.”

With a nod they separate once more from each other.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

December 2, 2015

“Truly you’re making a bad habit of lingering in doorways almost saying what you wish to say.” Sherlock turns over his newest project to find Watson standing in the door frame unbothered by the fact that he’d just caught her in the act of spectating him. He leans over his tattoo gun inspecting it thoroughly. They are currently working on a case that involved poison being laced in the ink.

The victim, Lily Morgan was a twenty one year old female who’d just desired getting a tattoo of her fiance’s name across the base of her spine. Of course that didn’t end well for Miss Morgan. Suspicions bounce between several suspects and they’ve no clue who to pin it on just yet.

“Are you going to say what’s on your mind or am I going to guess.”

“You know I always thought of getting a tattoo.” The statement nearly made him drop his pen in shock. “I never found something with enough meaning I guess.” She shrugs.

“Do you trust me?” The question slips past his lips before his filter even has time to process it much less stop the words from spilling out. Her eyes flash between her own stage of shock then to playfulness. In the look he can see the younger Joan once more. Heat flashes across his body and before he can register she’s shrugging off that red cardigan she holds so dear along with the tank top. She remains standing in nothing but a sports bra and shorts. It’s a challenge, he registers.

“For my eyes only. I don’t want anyone else to be able to see it.” She says with a pointed look and a smirk. It’s as if she’s teasing him. Trying to see if he’ll go through with it. He lays a towel down on the sofa with a small smile.

“Very well.” He gestures to the couch. “Lie down on your left side won’t you?” She does as he says. He knows she commonly sleeps on her left side in order to turn herself away from the door when he suddenly barges in without question. “You didn’t answer my question. Do you trust me?” He pulls on a pair of gloves fiddling with the machine.

“With my life.” His hands stall for a second but he nods it off.

“Good. Now try to relax as best as you can.” He brushes his thumb over a pattern of freckles he could use as inspiration. Yes this will do quite nicely. He grabs a razor just to be safe carefully going over the area of question. He gets to work making sure at all times he isn’t causing her too much pain. Watson isn’t the first person he’s tattooed other than himself but he’s not willing to purposely cause her any sort of harm.

She’s grabbed a pillow hiding her face in it to muffle the quiet whimpers she can’t help from escaping her lips. He smiles softly once he finishes pulling away to gaze at his handiwork. She moves slightly in a move that he believes she intends to look at what he’s tattooed into her skin. He places a hand on her shoulder stilling her. Rather than having her move and cause potential discomfort to herself he snaps a picture of it using his phone and passes it to her.

“Sagittarius?” She questions. He’d used a pattern of her freckles to create a constellation of her zodiac sign just below her breast and on her side. “I thought you didn’t believe in horoscopes?” She teases with a small smirk.

“I don’t believe in them I believe in coincidences. A sagittarius is naturally curious, a clear thinker and tends to look at the bigger picture. Playful by nature they wish to experience life to the absolute fullest whether that be in learning to hone into a new skill or learning the truth. They are optimistic and inspiring in every single way.” Her eyes have not left his and suddenly he realizes the affection of which he was speaking.

“Sherlock…” A sharp knock cuts off what Watson was going to say next breaking the tense moment between the two of them.

“Ah that must be Marcus with the materials I need. I just can’t seem to synthesize the ink that was used in the parlor on Ms. Morgan. Stay put I’ll bandage you up once I get the things I need.”

“Wait are you saying that you used experimental ink on me?” She moves to sit up but the pain shooting through her side keeps her down.

“Of course not. Don’t you trust me?” He asks with a teasing grin before prancing off to answer the door.

“Sherlock!”

Chapter Text

August 2, 2016-August 6, 2016

The sounds of a steady clicking fills the practically empty hallway as Sherlock leans against the wall keeping watch. The only other person was the strung out junkie slumped against a door occasionally filling the tense silence with the begs to his girlfriend to let him back in. Watson kneels on the floor picking the lock to the apartment of their newest suspect.

Women from Pratt-Institute had been going missing periodically over the past 3 years. Most of the cases were the same where the woman was last reported seen at a frat party drunk off her socks. The cases now added up to 16 missing women. All were freshmen or juniors in college at the time that they went missing and none were reported to be seen since.

Their investigation lead them to a one Grant Matthews, quarterback on the football team and probably the only one on it that actually had the minimal amount of talent to make a good player. Matthews has been showing signs of aggression the past 3 years. After 2 long weeks of unburying Watson had discovered that Grant’s criminal record had been generously covered by his father and their bank account. Of course there had only been minor accounts on there: vandalism, destruction of property, trespassing. Nothing out of order for rebellious teenage years.

Except for the fact that a roommate of one of the missing girls, Elizabeth Ward, reported that her roommate had been frequently talking with Matthews before her disappearance. Her roommate had been one of the most recent of reports only going missing a month prior to the investigation.

Finally Watson exhales as the handle turns and she pushes the door open. She stands with a proud sort of grin on her face that she gets whenever she accomplishes even a minor task. “That’s a new record.” She says before slipping inside. He chuckles before following her into the dimly lit apartment.

The first thing that hits him is the utter stench of the place. Foul cologne covers a pungent body odor exuding from an ever growing pile of laundry in the corner or the room. He wrinkles his nose in distaste before pulling on his gloves and beginning his investigation. They work in a comfortable silence as Watson cards through books and he studies the photos on the walls.

“Sherlock?” Watson’s voice calls from the bathroom after twenty minutes of searching. As he steps inside he sees her holding two different pill bottles.

“Are we going to play a guessing game or I meant to know what those are?” He quips.

“Prozac and celexa.” She notes passing the bottles over. “Normally they’re prescribed for anxiety and depression but in the case of Matthews I’d say he’s been experiencing anger issues.”

“That’s quite an assumption to make.”

“Not when he’s also taking steroids.” She shrugs. “Look at the label. They’re prescribed from 2 different doctors. If I had to take a guess, they don’t know about the steroids.” She slips the medicine back into the cabinet. “If I had to take a guess daddy dearest wasn’t too happy with his son going to a fine arts college and has him taking steroids to assure he’s the best on the football team. It’s easy to make an impression in the league when you’re the only person scoring.”

“Good work Watson.” She tries to hide her smile by looking at the ground but he sees it nonetheless. He makes mental note to compliment her more often.

An hour passes again before a loud bang resonates from the other room Watson is in. She’d found a particularly high end lock that she’d been working at for about twenty minutes to pick. He guesses she’d finally gotten it open by the sound. He makes his way towards her.

“Watson we’re meant to be-” His speech stops as he spots her. Her face is a sickly pale in the light of her torch. Even from across the room he can see that she’s trembling all over. He hadn’t seen her this panic-stricken since her last anxiety attack nearly a year ago now and it has his heart sinking in his chest. Gloved hands cover her lips muffling the cross between whimpers and horrified screams trying to escape her throat.

Lying abandoned on the floor is a red binder thickly filled with waterproof covers. He rushes to her first pulling her away from whatever was inside that she saw. She almost instantly calms in his presence. She’s still trembling but at least the noises cease. He goes to the binder next investigating what had her so shaken.

Inside are developed photos of the missing women but something’s not right about them. Their eyes are vacant but cheeks still colored. He’d drugged them, tied them up, and then took photos of them. He flips several pages later except in these they’re dressed up and posing. Their hair is different as well as their outfits.

His heart falls to his stomach when he sees the stitches across the necks. He’d killed them… Dressed them up and posed them…

“Hey!” Grant Matthews stands in the doorway pointing a gun at the pair. “Those are mine! Give them back!”

He drops the folder quickly raising his hands into the air. “Grant you don’t want to do that.”

“I’m not going to jail.” He growls. However Watson doesn’t seem moderately fazed by the gun as she approaches him, both hands raised above her head.

“I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Well I am. Step the fuck back.” He threatens.

“Grant it’s okay.” She soothes. “We’re here to help you okay?”

“Like hell you are.” Yet she doesn’t stop. She comes closer and closer until the loud bang of a gunshot echoes through the tiny apartment.

“Watson!” He screams rushing to her. However, instead of her it is Matthews who collapses rocking back and forth on the ground.

“I didn’t mean to kill her.” The boy whimpers. “I was just doing what he told me to do. He said it’d make her sleep. I didn’t want to hurt her. He said he’d get Mellie next if I don’t help.” He pushes his hands into his eyes rubbing the tears away. The gun skitters across the floor allowing Sherlock the chance to examine it. All it was loaded with were blanks…

Watson kneels next to the man who all of the sudden looks very similar to a scared child. “It’s going to be alright Grant. Okay?” She comforts placing a hand on his arm. It’s nothing like the woman he saw not ten minutes before. Her voice was strong and her movements sure. “My name is Joan Watson and this is my partner Sherlock Holmes.”

“I can’t let him hurt Mellie.”

“Who’s Mellie? Is she your sister?” A sharp nod comes from the boy as a more violent sob shakes his form. “Melinda Grant?” He shakes his head.

“Melinda Tyler. She goes to Brooklyn High School. She’s a senior.”

“We’ll get protection for your family okay? Does that sound okay?” He nods jerkily once more. “Now I need you to explain to me what’s in the binder.” A whimper comes from his throat once more. “Hey we’re going to help you so I need you to help us okay?”

“It was just supposed to be pictures. I didn’t do nothing to them.” He cries.

“Sherlock get him some water.” Watson commands. He wonders when she became so good at compartmentalizing her feelings. He can see the storm in her eyes. The regrets filling them as she helps this man who’d drugged the girls in the photos. Yet she’s so sure in helping him. She grabs his arm pulling him towards the bed.

Sherlock goes to the kitchen grabbing a solo cup and filling it with tap water before returning. He passes the man the cup trying not to let his posture give away his distrust.

“Thank you.” He whispers. “My dealer, Daniel, he was the one that started giving me the drugs. Swear I didn’t do nothing to those girls except take their photos. Until one day he gave me a big dose. Said it’d keep her out for a while. I’d be able to get more pictures that way. He said he could help me…” He shakes his head. “It killed her. I killed Veronica.” Watson tenses but she nods for him to continue. “Danny… He became crazy after that. He wanted more. He took Ronnie’s body… He got the damn thing stuffed and he… He took more pictures and sent them to me… He asks me if I like his doll.” He laughs harshly. “I tell him I’m done. No more. But he comes back with a girl… Bella… She put up a fight. She tried to get out and he cut her throat. Said if I told anyone about him or his dolls that Mellie would be next.”

“She won’t.”

“He sends me pictures of Mellie when she’s out with her friends. He’s always got eyes on her I don’t know how.”

“What’s your dealer’s name?” Sherlock speaks now.

“Daniel… Daniel Thompson.”

“You need to turn yourself into the New York precinct. Ask for Marcus Bell. He’ll get us back to you. Alright? We’ll discuss terms of getting your family protection. Bring the binder. Does that work for you?” He asks

“You’ll protect her?”

“You have my word.” He nods. “Shall we Watson?” She gives a final squeeze to the boy’s arm before following him out of the door. They don’t speak until they’re in the cab on their way to the Brownstone once more to await the call from Marcus. “How did you know the gun wasn’t loaded?”

“I didn’t.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

He has to admit the smell is at least better than that of Grant’s bedroom but not much more so. Sherlock peers out at the large crowd mingling in the middle of the dining room turned ballroom. The place reeks of expensiveness: from jewelry, to hairspray, to perfume and cologne. Money in the end that could’ve been used for much better uses but rather had a dress to be purchased and tailored for this one evening only to stick it into the back of the closet.

“Hey,” Watson calls out for him snatching him from his mindspace. Watson isn’t exactly out of place either when it comes to expensive clothing but he can at least say from photos he’d seen that she’s worn the garment in question on more than one occasion. It’s a floral blue dress that hugs her torso and flares out at her hips. Her hair settles in loose waves down her shoulders but only after 2 hours of convincing her that waves would suffice more than the complicated updo she’d chosen earlier in the day. “Cover, remember?”

“Ah, yes. Apologies Watson.” He smiles softly squeezing the arm that’s linked in his. Daniel Thompson, Matthew’s dealer, turned out to be Jared Yates upon further investigation. The discovery led them to this beneficiary ball where Yates would be attending with his wife who likely has no idea of her husband’s second life. Quite sad really. She likely has no idea where their money is actually coming from. Just benefitting from the losses of lives, disappearances of young girls...

Now they’re here posing as patrons for the charity looking to snag a few drinks and maybe exchange contacts with other higher ups. Rather they’re looking for Yates to snap a photo of the man and confirm that he is indeed the man they expect him to be with Grant. Once they do that they’re free to make their leave.

“Names?” The man at the desk asks.

“Tobias Bryan and this is my wife Camille.” After a few tense seconds of clicking the man gestures for them to entire allowing Watson to release the breath she’d been holding. At least Everyone kept up their end of the deal. He can only imagine what sort of spectacle they’ll have imagined up for him when he returns to the Brownstone. However it is the price that must be paid.

Watson takes the lead guiding them into the center of the crowd of dancers. This way they’ll both have an equal vantage in their dance to gaze upon the room and find their man in question.

He comes to regret his choice as soon as her body is pressed against his. His mind almost immediately short circuits, instead focusing on everything that is Watson. The smell of her hair, her perfume, the texture of the dress on her hip where his hand rests, the feeling of her soft hand in his, the warmth of her pressed against him. She only gives his hand a small squeeze reminding him once more of where they are.

“There are guards everywhere.” She notes nearly halfway through the first song. He had marked the same as well. They blend pretty well into the crowd if it is the decent eye that is watching but they’ve both had far too much practice. They wear black suits with varying colors of ties but the earpieces are what marks them as they are.

“Well it’s a good thing we aren’t stealing anything.” He jokes lightly earning a small laugh from his partner. His heart swells at the sound wishing he could ignite it more often. Under the scrutiny of his gaze or the heat of the crowd a deep red blush spreads from underneath the breast of her gown rising to her cheeks.

Absolutely breathtaking…

“Shall I go get us drinks?” Watson gives a disapproving gaze before he interjects her protest. “Worry not Watson. I spied sparkling water on our way in. Try not to get swept away by too many suitors.” He teases earning another small smile from her. He quietly notes to make these teasing jokes more often.

When he returns she’s gone from the spot he’d left her. His heart drops for a few seconds before he spies the sweeping dress within the dozens. She spins just in time to reveal the face of the man she’d swept up. However it does not raise his confidence any more when he recognizes the face of Jared Yates, the man they’d been looking for.

He approaches quickly taking care to twist and turn to avoid the bumping bodies from spilling their glasses. Watson quickly halts upon spying him steadily coming through the crowd. A smile spreads across her face as she guides Yates to him.

“Honey look I found.” She grins in exaggerated excitement very unakin to the Watson he knows.

“Uhm.”

“Seriously?” Her grin falls to exasperation. “This is Jared Yates. We were talking about his book just last night! I’m so sorry Mr. Yates he just has the worst memory.”

“Quite sorry.” He sighs sticking out his hand for him to shake. “I’m Tobias Bryan. I take it you’ve had the pleasure of meeting my wife.”

“Camille is lovely.” Watson bows her head in feigned embarrassment at Yate’s compliment. “She was just telling me about your business. I’ve got contacts if you need any help legally.” He winks earning a playful laugh from Watson.

“Would it be too much to ask for a photo? My sister would just be incredibly jealous.”

“Not at all.” Watson passes the phone to Sherlock who’d in the midst of the conversation abandoned their drinks on a passing waiter's tray. He snaps the photo quickly stashing the thing safely into his pocket. “Thank you so much. It was wonderful meeting you.”

“Any time.” Yates grins as Sherlock guides her away with a hand on the small of her back.

“What were you thinking?” Sherlock whispers in a hushed tone as he directs them to the back of the dining room. “That was not a part of the plan.”

“He approached me and asked me to dance while you were away. I saw an opportunity and I took it.” Her hand slides down his arm that was leading her instead lacing her fingers in his. They were unconscious behaviors that they’d practiced long before they even considered taking undercover cases.

“And if he’d taken you?”

“Marcus and Gregson have cops on every exit of this place. I knew what I was doing Sherlock.” He halts suddenly but she keeps moving. He pulls her back by the link in her hands pressing their bodies together once more. His heartbeat drowns out everything he hears as he cups Watson’s cheek with his free hand brushing back the stray curls that fell forwards in the movement. “Sherlock?” She breathes. The blush has returned once more. Her eyes flash all across his face studying him. She’s so good at that.

“Yates is still watching. I believe he recognized me.” He whispers.

“What do we do?”

“Do you trust me?” A beat passes, heart in his throat knowing what’s to come next.

“With my life.” He swoops down with her words capturing her lips with his. It’s just for their cover he tells himself as his other hand moves to the small of her back pulling her closer. It’s just to fool Yates as her bottom lip slots between his. It’s just for the case as her arms wrap around his neck and she falls into his embrace. Though there’s no denying that he stays there a little longer than necessary.

Her lips on his is so familiar. He’s suddenly overwhelmed with memories of that night all those years ago. The sounds she made, the way her hair looked spilled over his hand onto the pillow, her legs wrapped around his. He pulls away brushing her hair back once more. Her cheeks are flushed and he swears for half a second he sees the memories flash in her eyes. They’re gone as soon as they appeared however.

“Is it clear?” She whispers.

“Yes. We should go.” Watson only nods settling into cover once more merrily leading him out of the building. She drops his hand as soon as they exit taking the phone from his extended hand. She pulls up the photo to check the quality when a drunken man pushes past them rather roughly sending her cell phone tumbling to the concrete.

“The hell!” He exclaims ready to have words with the drunk.

“It’s fine Sherlock.” Watson sighs picking up the phone. He turns back to help when he spies a fast approaching figure. He’s too late to warn her as Yates slips from behind Watson pressing a knife to her throat.

“You really think I wouldn’t recognize you huh?” Yates laughs. “Really?”

“Let her go.” He says softly.

“Why? Seems like she means a lot to you. Your little stunt could’ve fooled anyone else.” He chuckles. “Maybe I should take her with me for security.” Watson winces as the knife digs into the skin dripping red down her skin.

“Where are they buried.” Sherlock demands.

“You’re kidding.” He tips his head back letting out a fake belly laugh.

“Where are the girls buried.” He repeats. “You cared for them did you not? So why did you kill them?”

“I will kill her!” He threatens. Watson’s whimper and gasp breaks his heart but it must be done.

“Rachel, Chloe, Anya… You loved them didn’t you Mr. Yates? But they wouldn’t listen. They wanted to leave you. They were going to tell your wife.”

“The hell do you know!” Yates yells now pointing the knife towards him. Watson moves quicker than he can even react slinging the arm that holds the weapon over her shoulder forcing it to point to the ground. She struggles valiantly trying to pry it from his grip. A cry and the ripping of fabric breaks through the otherwise silent streets. She stomps on his toe finally sending the metal clattering to the ground. Yates slaps her across the face sending her sprawling to the ground. He takes off into the night leaving her collapsed on the ground.

Sherlock crouches next to Watson inspecting her for injury. Blood drips from a tear on her thigh spilling onto his hands. He passes her his cell phone with shaking hands. Marcus had already been dialed but he found no words other than his distress for her safety.

“Marcus he’s heading your direction.” She reports. “We’re at the east exit. He got my leg with a knife.” Sherlock shucks off his jacket pressing it against Watson’s leg. “Yes. We got the photo.” She nods. “Alright. Goodbye.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It isn’t until late into the night that Sherlock finds himself alone with Watson once more. Doctors had been in and out all night inspecting her, assuring him that she is in fact alright. The air is tense between them, almost electric.

“Are you going to say what you want to say or are you just going to stare at the wall?” Watson murmurs tiredly. She’s at least comfortable in her pajamas instead of the ball gown. Mrs. Hudson was kind enough to bring some when he called reporting that they were on the way to the hospital. Her red cardigan stands out in the room filled with whites and pale blues.

She ended up with thirteen stitches in her thigh and a mild concussion from hitting the sidewalk when she fell. She’s lucky it’s not worse… He’s lucky it’s not worse.

“Sherlock?”

“Why did you fight him?” He asks finally.

“Are you serious?” Her eyebrow furrows.

“Quite.” He nods feeling the blood boil beneath his skin as his anger rose. “You’ve been acting reckless with this entire case.” He accuses pacing the length of the room. “First with Grant and the gun, then talking to Yates on your own, then fighting him!”

“What was I supposed to do? Stay in his grasp?” She snaps.

“Marcus was on his way! I signalled him as soon as we stepped out! I was stalling Yates until he got there.” Sherlock pinches his nose in frustration trying to calm down. “What if he’d recognized you in there? What’s to stop him from stabbing you then disappearing into the crowd? Did you think of that?”

“And like you haven’t taken a risk before?” She shouts. “I did what needed to be done for that case!”

“To hell with the case!” He approaches her now grabbing her by the shoulders. “You could’ve been shot. You could’ve-” His throat cuts off his speech as his hand slides up her throat tracing the small bandage where he’d cut into her neck.

“I’m here Sherlock.” She whispers placing her hand on top of his.

“Please don’t do this again.” He murmurs pressing his lips to the top of her head. It’s unusual for him to initiate this sort of closeness but right now he just needed to hold her. To know she’s alive and with him. Her forehead rests against his chest.

“Only if you promise the same.”

“I will never intentionally hurt you Watson.” His fingers trace her spine counting each vertebrae as a calming technique. “I can’t lose you.” He confesses. The silence in the air is thick and he swears for a second he feels his shirt getting wet where her face rests.

“You won’t.”

March 23, 2017

A deep sigh falls from Sherlock’s lips as he settles into a chair near by him. It;s yet another obnoxiously long case finally settled and under the belt. They’d been getting string after string of long cases since late last year. Most of the time they’d take two weeks tops to tie up a case but this most recent one had taken a month and a half to finish up. He’s beginning to believe that they’re slipping up. Each case is followed by another with increasingly more attention needing to be called. It’s exhausting to say the least. As far as he can recall neither of them had taken a break in months.

He nearly jumps out of his skin when Watson’s voice cuts through his deepest thoughts. “Maybe you should get some sleep.” He throws her a startled look. He hadn’t heard her come in. “Shinwell was working so I came home instead.” She shrugs setting her bag down next to her. “Seriously though you look strung out. When was the last time you slept?” She asks calmly. He looks to her and he sees the same signs she likely sees on him. Her eyes are sunken and cheeks hollow.

“32 hours ago.” He mutters quietly. It’s not even close to the days he’d gone without sleep but the dissatisfaction is evident in her worn out features. Comfortable silence falls between the two of them. Only the creaks of the Brownstone can be heard in the quiet of the night.

“When was the last time you’ve had one of your… appointments?” The odd question in itself is enough to wake him from whatever exhausted state he lingers in. It is a very forwards question, shocking coming from anyone. Watson, however, is something extraordinary in herself. The question coming from her who’s always been so… prudish in the cases of these scenarios.

“Months. Why do you ask?”

“I think we’re both able to register that we’ve been off our game recently. Cases that should take us a week take two or more. We’re both a bit distracted.” He opens his mouth to interject but she cuts him off quickly. “Don’t you dare deny it either.”

“I wasn’t going to. In fact I was going to propose you take tomorrow off.” He suggests. “Go see Emily or whatever her name is.”

“Seriously? You remember everything don’t even begin to pretend you don’t remember her name.” She plops down beside him with a heavy thump. “I’d be shocked if you didn’t know her entire life story already.”

“It’s not my fault you’re incredibly loud on the telephone.” The small comment earns him a smack with the pillow lying in close enough for Watson to reach. He chuckles tiredly smiling at her. “I’m kidding.”

She rolls her eyes lying her head back against the couch to stare at the ceiling above her. The silence spreads through the Brownstone for a few minutes longer before she chirps up yet again. “When did you learn that sex was so… helpful to you?”

“Why are you so inquisitive today?” He prods back.

“I asked first.” Sherlock shifts trying to gauge her emotions without looking at her. It could just be innocent curiosity. The lessening of boundaries could simply be the exhaustion in the air. It wouldn’t be the first time that the lack of sleep brought forth such questions.

“Shortly after I got addicted I-”

“You’re lying.” Her accusation makes him jump. She’d been studying his expressions as he was staring into the smouldering fire. “Your cheek twitches when you lie to me. Come on.” He looks at her now. There’s no familiarity in her eyes that wasn’t already present before. She does look worn though. Her hair is rumpled from the windy day, makeup nearly worn away from the constant activity.

He sighs, “I was 22. Just nearing the end of University.”

She hums for a second. “Who taught you?”

Sherlock clicks his tongue shaking his head. “I answered the question. It’s your turn now.”

“My roommate in college did the same thing. She’d hook up with at least one guy per week. They’d always rush out of her room half dressed trying to tug on their pants to get to class.” She shrugs absentmindedly. Exhaustion seems to finally be settling into her as her eyes keep drifting shut. She forces them back open seconds later determined to keep up the conversation.

“Did you ever…”

“A few times. Nearing finals when things got too intense.” She ducks her head as her cheeks begin to flush into the same shade as her cardigan. “Always when I was drunk.”

“It was a woman.”

“What?” Her head lifts once more as if confused by the question.

“A woman taught me my methods.” He sighs. “My father was on a business trip in America and forced me to come with him.”

“Business…” The inquisition is punctuated with a yawn. He’s half tempted to cut the conversation off here and persuade her to go up to the room instead.

“As you’d expect.” He confirms with a solemn nod. “I met a woman in a bar and she took me back to her place. She rid of my cell phone and I spent the night. Of course I think you can guess what happened from her.”

“Did you ever see her again?” This question is mumbled almost unintelligible.

“No…” If she detects the lie this time, she doesn’t give it away. He waits for her next question, surely she has more. Rather he stills when he feels a light pressure on his shoulder.

Watson’s head has slipped now so it’s pillowed against his arm rather than the couch. Raven tresses have slipped out of the half ponytail holding them up tickling his arm. He doesn’t dare move as he watches her breathe deeply. He quietly wonders when the last time she got sleep was. It’s different to see her asleep this close rather than when he’s pondering waking her or simply watching from afar. Her features are unguarded, face serene.

The last time he’d been this close was after she’d fallen asleep on his chest after an anxiety attack. His stomach flips at the memories of her screams, the tears streaking down her reddened cheeks that will never escape his mind. He cradles her arm lightly ready to move her when she burrows deeper.

“Stay… Sleep.” She mumbles into his sleeve. All he can do is nod as he lets his head drop onto hers. She smells of sandalwood, honey, and something that’s so uniquely Watson. His heart thumps in his chest for a few seconds incredibly loud in the otherwise quiet room. Letting his eyes drift closed he focuses on his senses; the crackling of the dying fire, the smell of Watson, the rise and fall of her chest against his arm. Syncing his breath with hers he finally lets himself slip into the peacefulness.