“Just in. Sixty-seven, natural causes. Used to work here. I knew him. He was nice.”
“Fine. We’ll start with the riding crop.”
Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant, brilliant man. Mark Hooper knows this almost as well as he knows his own (carefully chosen, recently implemented) name; Sherlock Holmes is destined for greatness. So Mark does him favors, when he asks, allows him some leeway, because what Sherlock does is so important—and secretly, a little, because right before Mark agrees when he asks for a favor, Sherlock’s eyes and his attention are focused wholly on Mark, and Mark cannot quite pass that up.
Not that he’s in love with Sherlock, of course. That would open up all sorts of questionable ethics and motivations, what with Sherlock being (Mark is pretty sure) gay and Mark being, well.
But that doesn’t mean Mark can’t watch while Sherlock brings a riding crop down over and over, a twist of motion, and slip into the room with a smile as soon as he’s finished.
“So—bad day, was it?” Mark’s voice squeaks a little and he adjusts it down. Sherlock, frowning, doesn’t look up, just fiddles with his phone, clever and intense.
“I need to know what bruises form in the next twenty minutes; a man’s alibi depends on it. Text me.”
Mark nods, a little too quickly, then before he can manage to talk himself out of it again (hoping that his read on Sherlock is right) he asks, “Listen, I was wondering, maybe later, when you’re finished—”
“Did you take off your lipstick? You always wear lipstick.”
This is not going well.
“I, ah. I don’t wear lipstick anymore.” Not for months. “Because I’m a man, Sherlock.” We have been over this. Twice. This week.
“Hm. Sorry, you were saying?”
Well. Plunge ahead anyway. “I was wondering if you’d like to have coffee.”
“Black, two sugars please, I’ll be upstairs.” And Sherlock turns and leaves without another word, leaving Mark next to a dead coworker with bruises blooming on his chest.
“...okay,” he says, mostly to himself, and goes to make coffee. Again.
Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant, brilliant man. And sometimes, he is a complete tit.
When Mark slips back into the room, cup in hand, there are two more men with Sherlock—one he half-recognizes, a doctor, faintly flushed in the way of the mildly overweight, Matt maybe? Michael? and the other smaller, stocky, leaning on a cane. Lovely.
“Ah... Mark. Coffee, thank you.” Sherlock always gets the name right—there’s a pause, each time, as though he’s carefully choosing what to use, but he always gets it right. Mark wants to be pleased but instead he is baffled. How does he use the right name and the wrong pronouns, every time?
“You’re sure about the lipstick?” Sherlock asks, with that faint dismissive tone that has become familiar over the past week, and the stocky man glances between them, clearly confused. Mark grits his teeth.
“It wasn’t working for me.” He tries for nonchalance, but this is Sherlock.
“Really? I thought it was a big improvement. Mouth’s too small, now.” Mark teeters between hurt and mortified. Not that he’s ashamed, of course, there is nothing for him to be ashamed of, but—he’s never even met these men. There are things he doesn’t need them to know. And—too small? Was that a thing men worried about? It couldn’t possibly be a thing. For Mark, a small (though not insignificant) source of relief upon coming out was the sudden lack of pressure to make his face up into some ideal. It was just his face now, and no one expected him to do anything other than keep it clean—and shaved, though that wasn’t a problem. Not yet.
He makes his escape before Sherlock can say anything else: the better part of valor. In the hall, he pauses for a moment, breathing, waiting for the panic— they know, every one knows, if anyone doesn’t know then Sherlock Bloody Holmes is going to tell them —to ebb, before he turns back to his office and the paperwork that is waiting for him.