“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.”
That quote had been printed and framed in the office of his first therapist. After coming back from the war. It had been in her office, a small frame next to the ones that held pictures of her husband, her four year old and her five month old. John didn’t know if it was a good quote to have or not, in a therapist’s office, but it stuck with him. Later, he remembered, a bloke he had met from America had had that quote written in the front cover of a dog-eared book. He had been shot two weeks later, had died under John’s hands, and John remembered thinking, “In war, there are no delusions, right? Only truth”. He didn’t tell his therapist about this, but he had remembered it in her office. A month later, she moved to Wales -she was pregnant again and wanted to be closer to her husband’s family, and John never saw her again.
“Sherlock, I was in the middle of something-.”
“Of course, John, but you’re always ‘in the middle of something’ and that ‘something’ always tends to be of little importance.”
John Watson, ex-soldier and military doctor, grunted, shooting his flatmate an incredulous look. As always, he was dragged into one of Sherlock’s cases -he didn’t particularly mind it and had gotten used to it since the beginning of their friendship so long ago -but complaining felt like a necessity for John, just so he would feel like he lacked control over the situation instead of him being in agreement with the way of things. “What is the case this time? I assume it’s a homicide?”
“Is that question really necessary? I wouldn’t waste your time on anything less.”
“Of course not…” he said, choosing not to point out that, just the other day, Sherlock had dragged him to nothing but a simple home invasion. Granted, the house belonged to one of London’s most influential people -not Mycroft -which was why the police had called Sherlock to begin with.
Getting out of the cab, Sherlock leaving John to pay, of course, but joke was on him because John had swiped the git’s wallet before they left the flat, the military man found himself outside of Ravenscourt Park, jogging to keep up with the long legged stride of his flatmate. “This better be a good one…” John muttered, thinking about how expensive the cab fare was; he chose to ignore the smirk Sherlock sent in his direction, purposefully slowing down so that they could walk side by side.
“I know the feeling, John, Lestrade has had no cases of interest as of late.”
“Dr. Watson. Freak.”
“Donovan, as charming as always I see,” Sherlock greeted dryly, ducking under the police tape and moving to the body, not waiting to hear Sally’s response, “Bad night, again?”
She flushed bright red, glaring at his back and refusing to look at John as he ducked under the tape and began to follow Sherlock. “Put him on a leash, would you?”
“And, what, get you a muzzle?” John retorted, getting a glare of his own as he continued following Sherlock.
“You know, you don’t have to keep doing that, John,” the consulting detective said once John had finally caught up, having the decency -for once -to lower his voice.
“Acting on my behalf like that. I know you enjoy Donovan’s company otherwise.”
“We’ve had this conversation before,” John said, finally catching view of Anderson and the rest of the technicians, “She has no right to speak to you like that. Now, that’s an end to the matter -it’s time for you to use that brain of yours to do the jobs of trained professionals.”
Tentatively, Sherlock smiled, before his face relaxed as Anderson, Lestrade and the body came into view. “Lestrade, what do you have for me today?”
“Vincent Redford, twenty-two, found by two joggers,” he said, offering both men a pair of latex gloves, “Other than that, we have nothing so far. No visible evidence yet.”
“Thank you, we’ll take it from here,” John said quickly, eyeing Sherlock. Even without a mind as brilliant as Sherlock’s, John could see the fatigue on Lestrade’s face, the stress in his shoulders, the wrinkles in his clothes; he had been forced from his bed last night -either moved to the couch or to a motel so that his wife could continue to cheat on the poor bloke.
Sherlock just shot the doctor ‘a look’ before going over to investigate the dead body, Lestrade grunting in what John took as gratitude.
Vincent Redford had once been a handsome twenty-two year old man with blonde hair -although he wasn’t naturally a blonde -and a built frame. Now, he was just a corpse. He laid in between two rather large trees and surrounded by shrubbery, his clothes torn and stained in blood, his face bashed in. His wrists and ankles were tied behind his back and bruises, cuts and burns covered his body.
“John, what can you tell me about the body?”
“Well…” John knelt on the ground, examining the corpse’s eyes with a small torch and looking at the fingernails, “I’d say a majority of these wounds are fresh -he was beaten soon before his death. The state of his hands say that he was tied up long enough that the rope was beginning to restrict blood flow and the marks around the rope on his wrists suggest that he was struggling to free himself quite desperately. Despite how badly he was beaten, he was strangled to death. All in all, it seems to me that he was tortured before his death.”
“What about the old wounds, John?” Sherlock asked, sounding absolutely giddy.
“They suggest that he’s underwent similar torture methods before. Although, clearly, not as extreme.”
“Oh, John! You’re learning so wonderfully!” the consulting detective said, clapping his hands together, “You didn’t get half of the information -but much more than last time!”
“Sherlock, would you please?” Lestrade said with an irritated sigh.
Scowling, Sherlock quickly gave his deductions. “He was gay but clearly in the closet. His parents disapproved of his sexuality. Whoever did this was homophobic and knew the victim intimately -most likely whoever killed him also tortured him in the past. Look into anyone who would have an ability to torture him for long periods of time without drawing suspicions. Question the boyfriend and his parents, see if they have any idea who would have the opportunity. Let’s go, John.”
The consulting detective didn’t turn back to Lestrade; John was only able to shoot an apologetic look in the detective’s direction, hurrying to catch up with Sherlock so he wouldn’t be forced to take a second cab and spend more of their very limited money. “How many times do I have to ask that you wait for me Sherlock? We can’t afford-.”
“Time is of the essence, John!” Sherlock said excitedly, sliding into the cab, the blogger following suit.
“ … So what didn’t you tell the police this time?”
This earned John one of Sherlock’s lopsided, proud smirks that lit up his pale eyes. In the very beginning, it used to make John feel hot under the collar and his breath do strange things; but, John was a soldier and a doctor, now, he just felt how that familiar warmth seeped within his chest cavity. While it elluded to feelings he would not admit to, it was easy enough for John to brush off to the side. “You know me so well,” he chuckled in that rich baritone voice of his, and John hoped he was the only one who got to hear Sherlock laugh so honestly, so richly, “In Redford’s wallet was this card” -Sherlock showed him the business card he had stolen- “according to the website, it’s essentially a conversion therapy program with a headquarters in America.”
“Conversion therapy? I’ve never-.”
“They’re people who consider homosexuality a disease and seek to treat it. Faulty psychology. They even have a program for couples…”
“ … Sherlock… I swear, if you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking…”
“This is the perfect opportunity to investigate this organization further.”
“We don’t even know if Vincent was in the program for couples…”
“Of course he was. Where do you think he met his boyfriend? They met at this program and, having developed a relationship and underwent a crisis of guilt and faith, the two of them agreed to go into the program for couples.”
“There was no way more than one person could have done this -think about it. Redford was a twenty-two year old, healthy young man -it would have been nearly impossible for a solitary man to do that much damage. There were no drag marks, so his body wasn’t dragged to the scene -he was carried -and that would have taken multiple people.”
John felt his stomach roll as an image of the body replayed in his head. He was just a kid… “I… fine. Fine, Sherlock, fine. I’ll do it, you twat.”
Again, Sherlock smiled smugly, but it still made the doctor’s chest warm because, more than anything, it was genuine. “I knew you would see it my way, John.”
“And also don’t forget, the reason opportunity is often missed is that it usually comes disguised as hard work.”
John wondered what was up with therapists and quotes. In the waiting room, which was painted a creamy beige, the quote was painted in turquoise on the wall. He could tell that the room was meant to be comforting, with comfortable brown sofas and chairs, fluffy pillows and shelves upon shelves of books and magazines. The secretary was a blonde woman that seemed to be right off the pages of Homes and Gardens and, when she greeted them and announced “The doctor is ready to see you now”, her voice was almost painfully sweet.
“We are so happy to have you two join us, um, Mr…?”
“Jack Hamish,” Sherlock said, motioning to John, “and Casper Nightwater.”
“Mr. Hamish, Mr. Nightwater, I’m so glad you decided to give us a call,” the therapist, a man in his fifties with a receding hairline that went by the name Dr. Patrick Heresay, said with an overly friendly smile, “what made you two consider Singing Angels Rehabilitation Center?”
“We heard from a friend of ours that it did wonders,” Sherlock said, placing his hand affectionately on John’s elbow, “and… well… we want to work on our illness together.”
“That’s excellent. You know, we are one of the few facilities that offer programs to couples,” Dr. Heresay said, fixing his tie, “Couples tend to be the most difficult to cure but we believe, with a little hard work, anyone can be cured of their mental illness. Sometimes, it’s even good for patients to have someone close to them throughout the rehabilitation experience.”
“Are you sure this works?” John cut in, pitching his voice into a high, worried tone, tugging at the fabric of his slacks. Sherlock had made it clear what his role was; Jack Hamish, lover of Casper Nightwater, willing and wanting to go through the rehabilitation process but doubting and hesitant -mainly doing it for the sake of his lover. “We’ve heard, uh, that these things don’t really work.”
“It doesn’t work one hundred percent of the time, I’ll admit, but, if you send an alcoholic to rehab, it’s not guaranteed they’ll be cured either. It all has to do with the commitment of the patient. Now -we have had a high success rate -even with couples. Men go on to marry wonderful women and women go on to marry capable men -most couples even stay in contact to support the other if the thought of relapsing comes up. Overall, we’ve found that there are healthy results.”
“Does insurance pay for any of this?”
“I’m afraid the British government has yet to acknowledge the benefits of our type of therapy.”
“It’s really expensive-.”
“Jack, please,” Sherlock said, grabbing onto John’s elbow tightly with both hands this time, leaning in until most of his body was pressed against the doctor’s sitting form. Their close proximity brought goosebumps to the back of John’s neck and he gulped. “It -I need this. I know it costs a lot but…”
“I promise you won’t regret this, Mr. Hamish,” Dr. Heresay said, sliding a groupings of papers in their direction, “I’ll just need you to sign these and I’ll show you to your rooms.”