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Elementary Ficlets

Chapter Text

One minute, Joan was in her room with her noise-canceling headphones in, because even though she didn’t begrudge Sherlock his parade of willing and wanton bed partners, she had no desire for their cries to form the soundtrack to her latest writing attempt; the next, she was kneeling on the floor with her hands behind her back tied to her ankles, and Mistress Felicia was looming over her.

Felicia’s hand was raised in a slap and Joan flinched back, body feeling strangely large and hypersensitive, but before her hand connected Felicia paused, examining Joan closely. “Color, Mr. Holmes?”

Joan opened her mouth, wondering how to explain this, when there was a crash and the sound of feet pounding down the stairs. The door burst open and Joan’s body was there, eyes wild. “Euglassia Watsonia! Euglassia Watsonia! Red light, Mistress, red light!”

Joan knew she should be freaking out, should be demanding to know what the hell happened — what the hell Sherlock must have done, because really, this sort of thing never happened to anyone but Sherlock — but her brain stalled out on one detail.

"You use my bees as a safeword?!?”

Chapter Text

Joan: I wish Sherlock had worked with *your* Lestrade instead of this one.

Me: What’s the tosser done now?

Joan: He’s just one more in the long line of people that have decided I’m Sherlock’s lackey.

Me: Course he did. Man never met a woman he didn’t think was there to get him coffee. What’d you do to him?

Joan: Stole his phone. Suspected him of being a bomber too, but we eventually cleared him.

Me: Ha!

Joan: He was hiding things! It was in no way vindictive!

Joan: He wasn’t the worst though.

Me: ?

Joan: *His* assistant. This girl named Truepenny. Perfect little Stepford doll, and absolutely determined to put me in my place.

Me: Ugh. One of those.

Joan: Yeah.

Me: So… what’d you do to her?

Joan:

Joan: Nothing…

Me:

Joan: Nothing… serious…

Me:

Me: Joan! Just tell me!

Joan: I… mayhaveslippedsomecatnipinherpurse.

Me:

Joan: The kitchen staff at her hotel leave leftovers out for the alley cats.

Joan: And she’s allergic.

Joan: And I also borrowed her handkerchief for a couple hours and took it over to my neighbor’s.

Joan: He has three cats.

Joan: One of which just had kittens.

Me: JOAN!

Joan: I was cranky! Sherlock brought home roosters!

Me: Sherlock brought home… no! You are trying to distract me!

Me: You’re not supposed to use your new detection powers for evil!

Joan: Her nose was so red though.

Me: Was it great?

Joan: Yeah.

Joan: I feel a little bad that we basically got her and Gareth fired though.

Me: What? Joan!

Joan: Doesn’t matter, that was because of the case.

Me: Right…

Joan: You think I should reach out to her? Feel out what she plans to do now, maybe see if I can get her in contact with someone who can give her a leg up?

Me: What? Why?

Joan: She’s pretty young. She can’t be *that* irredeemable yet. And it’s not completely her fault that she was taken in by Gareth’s Sherlock-imitation.

Me: Doesn’t seem worth it.

Joan: Well, no. But maybe she could be?

Me: Bollocks. I know you like taking in strays, but some people just have to take their lumps and learn from them on their own.

Joan: Yeah, I guess.

Joan: I kind of pity the women in her next workplace. She definitely still needs some proper socialization.

Me: Needs to be signed up for clicker training? Not ready to be let off lead?

Joan: Sally! I was very careful to never called her a bitch!

Me: I’m a detective too. I can read between the lines.

* * *

Three weeks later, Sally found a resume sitting on her desk in what would soon be the offices of the Donovan & Lestrade Consulting Detective Agency. (When the plea for naming the agency alphabetically fell flat, she arm wrestled for it. Greg was still whining.) There was a post-it note attached that read “A recommendation from my mediocre twin” in Greg’s handwriting.

She flipped the page and was confronted with a glamour shot of a beautiful though somewhat soulless looking blonde. “Classy, Gareth,” she muttered, then blinked and flipped back to the front page to check the name.

Truepenny. Of course. Sally pulled out her phone and opened up a text to Joan.

Me: This is your doing, isn’t it?

Joan: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Chapter Text

Carrie’s lips are warm, a little damp. She tastes of cheap beer and cigarettes, days-old cafeteria coffee, the mix common to medical residents everywhere. It’s heady nonetheless.

A cheer goes up around them, hoarse male voices catcalling, heavy hands pounding Joan’s shoulders even as she and Carrie pull apart. Carrie is smiling wickedly.

“All right, you’ve had your show. I believe you gentlemen owe us another round.”

They pay up with grace; Carrie throws back the shot with a laugh. Joan saves her laughter for later, as she’s undressing Carrie in their moonlit apartment, clumsy and fumbling and so happy.

Chapter Text

Marcus’s baby cousin Tish calls it his “purple shirt of sex” with the giggle that means she’s making a joke he doesn’t understand. Marcus has two eyes and a full-length mirror so he knows he looks good in it, but he looks good in most of his clothes, so he’s never really understood why this particular shirt is the one Tish singles out.

It does become something of a good luck charm though. He’s wearing it when he gets assigned to Major Crimes; he’s wearing it when a car horn causes him to turn out of the path of a sucker punch from the guy he’s trying to tail; he’s wearing it when Joan kisses him for the first time at the end of one of their late night post-case dinners.

But it’s still just a purple shirt to him until early one October morning. He’s standing in his kitchen making coffee, squinting against the light pouring in through the blinds he forgot to close, and hears a scuff behind him. He turns and sees—

Joan. She’s rubbing her eyes blearily, hair falling down around her face in silky disarray, and he catches a glimpse of the edge of the mark he sucked into the tender skin on the inside of her wrist. Her bare feet are striped by the shadows from the blinds, and her legs look miles long.

She’s wearing nothing but his purple shirt, mostly unbuttoned, the swell of her breasts just peeking out of the open placket.

"Is that coffee?" Her voice is muzzy, soft.

There’s too much distance between them. Marcus sets down his mug and takes the three long steps into her space, grabbing her around her waist and lifting. She smiles as she wraps her legs and arms around him, her hair tickling his cheek, and he has to kiss her.

He makes her keep the shirt on when he takes her back to bed, watches the collar slip up around her throat, feels the tickle of the hem along his thighs as he pushes into her. The cleaners have gotten worse stains out of it.

Chapter Text

Marcus had snagged them a small table at the back of the pub, tucked in an awkward corner out of the way of traffic to the bathroom. He had ordered too, while Joan was finishing up her conversation with Sherlock, so the table was already laden with their usual: a pitcher of the house Amber, a basket of sticky garlic chicken wings and a basket of parmesan fries, and two shots of bourbon.

The case had gone as well as a homicide case could go — a speedy arrest backed with both hard evidence and a confession, and the murderer was the sort of person Joan felt good about helping put away. So unlike some nights, they were chatting and laughing from the start, recapping the parts of the case they had worked apart then moving on to more general topics.

As the pub filled and grew louder it only made sense to scoot their chairs closer, to lean towards each other so they didn’t have to shout.

Joan felt warm all over — alcohol sending blood to redden her cheeks, Marcus a solid presence all along one side — and she knew she was past tipsy at this point. Her eyes kept catching on Marcus’s mouth, soft full lips so often pressed grimly tight now turned up at the corners in a smile.

There was an illicit thrill in desiring someone a decade and a half younger. But as Marcus turned further into her space to pour her a refill with a steady hand, as their fingers brushed in the basket of fries, Joan had to admit that there wasn’t anything actually wrong with that desire. And Marcus’s eyes were warm too, soft and heated as he held eye contact just a beat too long.

He waved lazily in the air over the table, demonstrating some point Joan had lost track of, and Joan pressed a quick kiss just off-center on his open mouth. She pulled back immediately, watching.

His eyes widened in momentary surprise, then Marcus closed the little distance remaining between them, pulling her bottom lip between his, burying one hand in her hair even as he wound their fingers together with the other. They both tasted of beer and salt and garlic, and Joan felt very young making out with someone in public; but the tease of his tongue was heady, and she let her free hand sneak into his jacket, brushing lightly along his side and coming to rest high on his ribs.

They were both grinning when they finally pulled apart. Marcus cleared his throat as they disentangled. “So, should I get the check?”

Joan licked her lips, chasing the ghost of his mouth on hers. “Yeah. I’ll get us a cab, you can come back to mine.”

Chapter Text

The dish was square, maybe six by six and four inches deep, white with a blue floral design in the center. There was a chip on one corner, and the clear glass lid’s knob handle was broken off.

Marcus was staring down at it after washing, completely blanking on whether it was his, some thrift store find or hand-me-down from an aunt, or if belonged to Joan.

Joan had definitely given him another batch of ziti in it a couple days ago; Marcus had just finished the last of it for dinner. But he was pretty sure that this was the dish he had given her a shepherd’s pie in last week, so maybe it was his and Joan had just returned it to him filled with delicious, stick-to-your-ribs food.

But then again — and here his memory was getting a little hazy — it might have been the same dish that Joan had given him a batch of fried rice in a couple weeks ago, after they closed that ugly arson case. That would make sense; he had taken some time off after that case to decompress, and one of the ways he did that was by cooking, so he would have had the time and inclination to give Joan her dish back filled.

But if it was the dish that Joan had given him the fried rice in, then it was definitely also the dish he had given Joan bread pudding in, because when she brought the fried rice over they had a long conversation about the relative merits of raisins versus caramelized nuts as a bread pudding accent. And he had made the bread pudding because he had Joan’s casserole dish sitting on his counter, waiting to be returned, and a bunch of bread loaf ends in the freezer.

So it was Joan’s dish.

Probably.

Well, clearly the safest thing to do was cook up a batch of apple cinnamon dumplings, and give her the dish filled with something new. If it was her dish, then he would have successfully returned it; if his memory was wrong and it was his dish, well, then he was just cooking her something nice, and she would return it to him sometime later on.

A week later, the dish was sitting on his counter again. Joan had returned it, filled with eggplant parmesan. Leaving Marcus to wonder yet again — had Joan brought it over because she was returning his dish, or had she just wanted to cook him something and then she put it in a dish she didn’t mind loaning out?

Marcus sighed, then pulled out his one cookbook. At least he was using up that rack of spices before they all expired.

Chapter Text

Joan had expensive tastes.

They weren’t poor when she was growing up, but their budget was a struggle: clipping coupons and haggling over prices and shopping the clearance sections first.

Joan hated it. It seemed like so much energy for so little result, and she decided very young that she wanted better for herself one day.

So she set her sights on medicine, aimed herself at the Ivies and graduated summa cum laude to ensure admission at the best medical schools, then picked a specialization that would guarantee immediate employability and a very generous salary.

Giving all that up was one of the most terrifying decisions Joan had ever made -- because it was a result of her first catastrophic failure, but also because she loved her life, her Midtown condo, her designer clothes, her membership at an all-organic, locally-sourced co-op market.

Still, she built a new life for herself, and if it had more clearance tags and clipped coupons than she had wanted, well, it had other perks.

There was nothing common about Marthe Hudson. She wore cashmere and silk to dust the brownstone and Hermès perfume lingered in the air behind her. She had spent more of her life in towncars than on the subway. She even stocked her kitchen with cheeses from the same artisanal shop Joan used to love.

The first time Joan walked into a restaurant with Marthe on her arm, elegant and statuesque and so classy, she knew she had made the right call.

Chapter Text

Joan burst through the apartment door already crowing.

“Ninety-six! Beat that, sucker!”

Carrie looked up from the couch. “About time you got home. Pad see ew’s in the fridge if you want it.”

Joan narrowed her eyes, dropping her bag in the entryway to march over and wave her exam in Carrie’s face.

“Didn’t you hear me? Ninety-six! I must have set the curve with that score. Now lemme see yours, so we know how many days you owe me.”

Carrie rolled her eyes, reaching down to finger the edge of the blue book sticking out of her backpack on the floor. “Really Joanie, I think we’re getting too old to bet on our test results. . .”

Joan let her triumphant grin grow. “That’s what losers say, Carrie. Now give. What’d you get?”

Sighing deeply, Carrie pulled out her exam to display the cover, score in bright red.

“Ninety-nine.” Her voice dripped satisfaction.

Joan grabbed the book and flipped through it quickly, double-checking that Carrie hadn’t altered it. Then she fell onto the couch next to her with a groan. “You suck. How the hell did you beat me? I thought I nailed you!”

Now Carrie grinned. “Nope. I nailed you, and tonight I’ll be nailing you, if you know what I mean.”

Joan couldn’t believe she was dating someone who would say that. She couldn’t believe she lost to someone who would say that.

Oh well. It wasn't like letting Carrie top for three days was a hardship.

Chapter Text

“Please, don’t leave.”

Marcus was backed up against the door, every muscle tensed in preparation for flight. “Look, Joan, it’s nothing personal; I just can’t be here right now.”

“I promise, it’s perfectly safe…”

“Have you lost your damn mind? That’s the most poisonous snake in the world, and you think I’m going to sleep in the same building with it? I don’t even want to sleep in the same city with the thing!”

“Technically, snakes are venomous, not poisonous…”

Marcus just glared at her. Joan felt a grin tugging at the corner of her mouth. “And if you’re afraid of being bitten by it, don’t you think you should stay near the only source of antivenom on the continent?”

“I think I’ll take my chances in my own apartment.” Marcus’s voice was very dry. “You and Holmes can take the snake-guarding duty.”

Joan decided to play a little dirty. She sauntered over, right into Marcus’s space but not quite touching him, and looked up at him coyly. “Are you sure there’s nothing I can do to change your mind?”

Marcus gave her a wry grin. “Tempting as that is, I’m gonna have to pass. Rain check? Just until after the guy from the Adelaide Zoo gets here and takes the snake away?”

Joan sighed, dropping the seductive pose. “All right. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Marcus kissed her lightly, part apology, part promise. Then he kissed her again, catching her bottom lip between his, one hand sneaking around her waist and slipping up the back of her shirt. It was several seconds before he pulled back. “Or… you could leave Holmes to the snake guarding duty and come back to my place?”

Joan considered it. She didn’t really want to leave Sherlock alone with the snake – the cage was secure, but if somehow the snake did escape the antivenom would do little good without someone unaffected to administer it – but she could call that herpetologist they had spoken to earlier in the case, Nan, and see if she wanted the chance to study an Inland Taipan up (relatively) close.

“Yeah, okay. Give me an hour or two to find Sherlock some backup. You’ll make dinner?”

Marcus grinned, slow and triumphant. “Of course. Nana Bell’s chicken and biscuits will be ready and waiting for you.”

Chapter Text

“The paint’s supposed to go where?

Marthe’s eyebrow was raised inquiringly, but her eyes were soft, no hint of mocking or judgment in them.

Joan was judging herself plenty. She didn’t quite know how to navigate this relationship they were tentatively exploring. The last time she had been with a woman was med school, and everything had always been so easy with Carrie. They had probably spent more time giggling than making out.

Joan had just been trying to recapture a little of that fun when she pulled out the battered pair of sex dice. She remembered them being ridiculous, but in Carrie’s hands that ridiculousness had been charming.

Apparently Joan didn’t have that knack.

Marthe’s eyes had grown softer at Joan’s awkward silence, and her lips quirked with a suppressed smile.

She carefully twisted the cap back on the bottle of chocolate paint that Joan had picked up at the nearest novelty shop. Then she slid her hands into Joan’s hair, cupping her face and kissing her gently. “I have another idea. Why don’t we forget the dice and just do what feels good?”

Chapter Text

There was a pile of socks in Joan’s bottom dresser drawer.

Joan wandered out of her bedroom to track down Sherlock. He was up on the roof, watching the apiary.

“There’s a pile of socks in my bottom dresser drawer.”

Sherlock didn’t bother to look up. “Really, Watson, I do not see how the content of your dresser drawers has anything to do with me.”

Joan crossed her arms. “Well, since they’re your socks, I thought I’d give you a head’s up before throwing them out.”

That got his attention. He stood abruptly, head jerking in sharp negation. “That won’t be necessary, Watson. I shall move them immediately.”

And then he strode away.

* * *

That did not at all go the way Joan expected.

* * *

The socks next appeared in the cheese drawer in the refrigerator. Joan was sure they were the same socks; there was a very distinctive blacklight-reactive mushroom patterned pair a third of the way down the stack that she remembered from the day Sherlock got into a mud-wrestling match. When she again brought the socks to Sherlock’s attention he huffed something about both of them being lactose intolerant anyway, but they disappeared shortly after.

Then they appeared in what would in a normal house be the linen closet but in their house was the storage for the closed case files spanning the years 2011-2013 (August). Joan was looking for the notes from one of the first cases she worked, and opened the box to discover that the files had been replaced by a very familiar stack of socks.

But it wasn’t until she was prepping the spare bedroom for her cousin Henry’s visit and discovered the socks in the bedside table that she actually looked at what she kept finding.

All the socks, mushroom patterned pair included, were worn and full of holes, fraying at the tops and the spot on the knobby outside of Sherlock’s ankles. Several of them looked like they had been darned repeatedly, to the point where the knit around the darn was splitting too.

She knew how Sherlock hated throwing anything that might still have use away. But this seemed to be taking things a little too far.

Sherlock found her as she was running her fingers over one particularly threadbare pair and immediately bristled.

“Watson, this room is put to use less than three times per year. Surely turning it to storage for some of my more intimate wear is not too much an imposition on our residency together.”

Joan regarded Sherlock solemnly, alert to any of his tells. “Why not throw them out?”

There, there was the twitch, the sharp little flinch that meant Sherlock was in the grip of a stronger emotion than he would ever admit to.

He saw her catch it and he sighed, running his thumb along his fingertips in a fidget. Eventually he answered softly.

“They have served the cause of justice just as valiantly as Angus has, as any inanimate object might. They deserve a more honorable retirement than decomposition in a landfill.”

Joan nodded, and placed the socks carefully back in their pile. “All right. I’ll keep them in my room while Henry’s here, and put them back when he’s gone.”

And she did, along with a spool of white commercial machine-knitting yarn in the weight of his preferred sock brand for future darning efforts, and a pattern she found online for a hexagonal patchwork quilt made out of old socks.

Chapter Text

“We are in the middle of a thunderstorm and you wish to stop and feel the rain?”

Even shouting over the pouring rain Sherlock managed to sound dispassionate, no more than mildly curious at her timing and choice of venue. Joan would have laughed, if she hadn’t been afraid it would come out in a sob.

She took a few stumbling steps away from Sherlock, just to the edge of the park. Then she stopped and closed her eyes, tilting her head back until she felt her neck crack. If a few blood-hot tears leaked out and mingled with the rain, Sherlock didn’t have to know.

He was surprisingly patient, quivering silently at her side for longer than Joan would have predicted he was capable of. Eventually, however, he did speak again.

“May I–?”

And then his hands were on her face. Joan opened her eyes, startled, to see his long fingers fluttering over her forehead and temples, gingerly brushing the wet strands of hair that had stuck to her skin back and off.

He stepped back as soon as her face was clear, eyes averted. “Carry on then.”

Joan ached. She didn’t want to carry this anymore.

“Sherlock—“ He turned back to her, every muscle vibrating with his eagerness to be of assistance. “Whatever you need, Watson.”

Slowly, giving him plenty of time to back away, she reached out to take his hand. When they met, skin to skin, he jerked. Joan expected him to pull back, but instead he pulled her in, tugging her close enough that she could smell the faintest traces of his aftershave, even under the downpour.

She took the last step forward to touch her head to his chest. Then they stood, hand in hand, head on chest, until the streetlights came on around them.

Chapter Text

“You’re pre-law, right?”

Joan blinked. “Pre-med, actually…”

The other girl narrowed her eyes assessingly. “But you’re the one who’s obsessed with mobsters, right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say obsessed…”

She waved a hand dismissively. “Whatever. Come with me, I’m sure you’ll still be useful.”

Joan generally didn’t blindly follow strange, peremptory girls’ orders. But she had been ghosting on the edge of a frat party that she wasn’t technically supposed to be at (because she was a prospect instead of an actual student and thus had a curfew), and she was willing to take any excuse to leave.

The other girl (maybe her name was Annalise? Joan thought she remembered her introducing herself at the ice breakers) led Joan quickly down the poorly lit paths of the quad. Joan hesitated when they reached the edge of campus – technically she wasn’t supposed to leave campus except on supervised activities – but Annalise waved her forward impatiently.

About a block away from campus, they came upon a white girl Joan definitely hadn’t seen before sitting protectively next to a little boy on a bench.

Annalise stopped in front of them and turned back to Joan. “This is Eve, she’s pre-law and my host for the weekend.” Then she turned to the little boy and laid a hand on his head that Joan couldn’t quite read as either protective or possessive.

“And this is Christophe. You’re going to help us figure out what happened to his mother.”

Chapter Text

Oh fuck no.

That was Gina’s first thought when she saw it. Her papa always said she got her ability from her mom’s side of the family, that her Irish grandmother had had the Sight. Her mom’s response, muttered under her breath, was always that Gina’s abuela was a bruja if she ever had seen one. But wherever Gina got it from, ever since she was a little girl she had been able to see the bonds between people, the strands of fatedness that tied lives together.

It wasn’t a very useful skill. Knowing that two people would at some point be lovers didn’t tell her that the one hadn’t killed the other; love was a very powerful motivator for both good and evil. Gina put her trust in people’s actions, not their feelings.

So when she saw the link between herself and that interloping ‘consultant,’ Gina cursed, long and loud, and then resolved to ignore it.

But that Watson woman — Joan — was making it damn difficult, getting right back in Gina’s face when she pushed her, challenging her to a boxing match and winning. Gina felt that last punch, the one that floored her, for weeks after, probing the bruise and flexing her jaw enough that she was no doubt actively preventing it from healing.

Then Joan refused her olive branch, said “Race you to the bottom” like a dare, and Gina felt her blood sing. She wanted to ruin the woman, drag her down into the dirt and the muck she thought she was so far above.

Some people, Gina knew, were made better by their soul mates; their bonds elevated their characters, accentuating their virtues and minimizing their vices. Gina’s parents were like that.

But damn if she wasn’t a little excited to find that hers was shaping up to be the exact opposite.

Chapter Text

There is nothing in this life that Joan recognizes.

A decade, she has lost; a career, her friends, her mother. And replaced them with… an eccentric platonic life mate, a barren bedroom, and a rooftop beehive, apparently. She can’t believe it was a fair trade.

Holmes wears his every thought and feeling on the outside, all basset hound eyes and nervous flinching twitches. Joan feels herself grow more reserved in reaction. He hovers as she explores his — their — brownstone, whisking away moldy dishes and bondage gear as if they are the things she is judging.

He turns to her, opens his mouth on another hopeful “Watson—“ and Joan can’t stand it any longer.

“I’m going out.”

She walks for hours, letting the rhythm of New York sink into her bones. The details have changed — buildings have risen and fallen, the advancing tide of gentrification has swallowed neighborhoods whole — but the soul of the city is still the same. When her feet ache too much to walk further Joan goes underground, rides the subway up and down Manhattan watching the people come and go.

It grows late. The crowd thins, and Joan finally turns to face her shadow.

Holmes is waiting patiently at the other end of the car. He won’t meet her eyes, so with a sigh Joan pushes herself to her feet and closes the distance between them, sitting down on the bench next to him. Their shoulders just brush.

“It isn’t that I don’t trust you to take care of yourself—“ Holmes begins hotly.

Joan shuts him up with a small shake of her head. Eccentric he undoubtedly is, but he has followed her for miles, keeping his distance to avoid intruding but ready to jump in if she needed help.

Joan couldn’t remember ever having backup before.

If in this new life Joan has managed to inspire that kind of loyalty, well, maybe the trade was worth it after all.

Chapter Text

If I were going to write fic about this time, I think I’d approach Joan this way.

Joan is eminently practical, and she was a sober companion. She knows that relapse is a thing that happens, that an addict is always in recovery, and a single lapse should never be given more weight than all the months or years of sobriety that came before it, that will come after it.

Oh she definitely has an emotional response. But it’s not the time, and it’s not her place, and so she immediately buries her emotional response in the minutiae of helping Sherlock make sure that it is just a single lapse. She reaches out to Alfredo, definitely, making sure that he gets whatever help he needs; mostly the help she is able to provide is navigation through NYPD bureaucracy as he makes his statements and signs his testimony, because the first thing Alfredo asked for after she got him free was a cell phone to call his sponsor and that’s the person Alfredo is most comfortable leaning on (emotionally) in this situation. She reaches out to Randy, too, because even though it had become clear early on that Sherlock wasn’t ready to be a sponsor and Randy was now sponsored by a charming Dominican woman (court translator by day, drag king by night) that Ms. Hudson had introduced him to, he is still enough a part of their lives that she wants to make sure Sherlock’s relapse has no rippling effect on him.

In quiet moments, which she tries her hardest not to have, Joan hurts. But again, not the time, not her place, so she ignores that ache in her chest, never examines it, never catalogues how much is empathy, hurting because Sherlock is hurting; how much is anxiety, unsure of how they move forward from here; how much is guilt, because she should have been faster. Sherlock would have been faster.

And slowly, things get better. Sherlock is reassuringly optimistic; he has accepted the program, has internalized it, and is eager to get back to their usual routines. The relapse becomes a thing they don’t talk about, like Joan’s kidnapping, like Moriarty, like Andrew.

If Joan’s metaphorical heart was ever made manifest, it would be pockmarked and leathery with just these sorts of scars. But her heart is safely hidden behind her rib cage, behind the face that so few people have ever bothered to learn to read. It’s for the best, really. No good ever came of dwelling on these things.

Tl;dr: The writers have given me a Joan who never reacts, who lets terrible, traumatic things roll off her back, who might as well be the image example of the Inscrutable Asian trope; fine. I know they did it because they just don’t care to explore her, but I have made it the cornerstone of her characterization in my head. She doesn’t react and she doesn’t react and she doesn’t react until she cannot bear it any longer, then she does something drastic to escape, much like a fox gnawing off its leg to loose itself from a trap. (See: leaving her profession, probably also leaving the brownstone, returning to the brownstone, and so on.) Sherlock’s relapse wouldn’t be enough for those extreme measures, so I think she would just outwardly carry on with business as usual strongly enough to eventually convince herself that it was.

Chapter Text

Improbably, Sherlock is shy in bed.

Not during the sex itself – there he is athletic and demanding and eager to show off, comfortable and expansive in his body like Joan has rarely seen before (thrust and parry with the singlestick, the easy lope of that half marathon they jokingly raced each other) – but in the moment of climax he tucks his face into the crook of Joan’s neck, breath hot and wild against her skin.

And after, even more than during, he seems to want to burrow into her, arms wrapped so tightly around her waist they nearly double back on themselves, legs tangled impossibly between hers, forehead pressed tight against the top of her spine. She thinks at first he his pressing kisses against her shoulder blades, but eventually the shape of his mouth coalesces into–

Joan. Joan. Joan. Her name, so unfamiliar on his lips, not even a breath behind it, just the pressure of his awed desire against her flesh. His amazement at them finding each other at last.

Joan squeezes her eyes shut against the overwhelmingness of her response. She hides her face in turn, pressing hot eyes against the curve of Sherlock’s shoulder around her own, breathing suddenly unsteady. She fumbles blindly for his hands, wrapping her arms around herself to reach them, desperate to keep the swell of emotion in her chest. Just between and within their bodies, safe from the rest of the world.

Eventually, they fall asleep. And when Joan wakes again it’s to Sherlock’s bright eyes cataloging the traces of her dreams on her face, a tiny, private twist of a smile that spreads into a grin when she smiles back helplessly.

“Good morning, Joan.”

Chapter Text

There is a sense of held breath, a tender and tentative anticipation, until Joan finally relaxes enough in the brownstone to fall asleep over the case files again.

When Sherlock looks up to find her nodding off next to him over some questionably-acquired financial statements, he feels his mouth quirk, lightning-quick, into a grin. He ducks his head to hide it, though she is no longer awake to see.

His eyes keep darting over to watch her,entirely incapable of staying focused on the numbers in his hands.

Still, he misses the moment when she begins to tip, nearly jumps out of his skin when he feels her head fall into his lap. Only his iron self-control allows him to preserve her sleep. His heart pounds in his chest but he keeps every limb completely still, slows and shallows his breathing so that his ribcage does not quite brush against her hair.

For a moment Sherlock thinks she will wake anyway. Her eyelids twitch and her nose scrunches; but then she rubs her nose on the outside seam of his pants and digs her fist into the meat of his thigh, letting out a small, contented sigh when she is settled exactly as she wants to be.

Sherlock’s hand flutters over her shoulder for a moment, but he cannot quite bring himself to touch. Eventually, he settles it behind her back, tucked out of the way under the couch cushion behind them. He tosses the papers in his other hand onto the coffee table and tips his own head back against the top of the couch. A few moments of sleep would likely serve him well too.