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The Five Stages

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THE FIVE STAGES OF grief LOVE

 

 

       Sherlock Holmes was not stupid.

Quite the opposite, actually, but that's besides the point. He wouldn't deny the existence of love- or sentiment, as he called it- but he was proud to announce that “that particularly appalling parasite of frivolous emotional attachment” did not have its grip on him. He regarded sentiment as a waste of perfectly good minds, addling the brain of its hosts and hindering all that was good in the world. It was a plague, an animalistic desire tearing down humanity for the sheer purpose of- of nothing, really. It was just a disease.

  Lust- more specifically, romantic entanglement- was even lower, in his opinion. It was a primitive urge that only tangled the cords of logic and reason, causing even the best to fall into the eager, ever creeping snare of domestic hindrance. It was an abomination of emotions and pathetic desire, and he was quite firm he'd never succumb. He'd put up every defense, building up his walls and positioning archers at the gates. Try to approach and pew! Shot down with a few snaps of degrading dismissal. And over time, the fortress had only solidified.

            So then how the literal hell had she gotten in?

             

             

 

STAGE ONE

Denial

Noun /  De - ni - al  / English

:  refusal to admit the truth or reality of a statement or charge

:  a refusal to satisfy a request or desire

 

Damn it.

He was staring.

Again.

Sherlock quickly shot his gaze back to his work, his breathing slightly uneven as he tried to refocus on... damn. He couldn't even remember what he'd been doing.

Well, he did. He'd been watching Quinn.

It had been a habit he'd begun to indulge more and more as time stretched on, to the point where he was starting to consider the notion that she might be a bit of a problem. 

He wasn't quite sure why the longing was there. By all means, it didn't make sense. It wasn't like he hadn't seen her before or anything, or because he needed to deduce her. And it certainly wasn't because he enjoyed watching her- no, her presence annoyed him to no end, in more ways then one. He found her appearance (while perhaps appealing in a physical manner) quite tiring, not to mention a rather unfortunate distraction. He pretty much loathed her and everything she stood for, and yet there he was, staring.

He couldn't fathom why he was so transfixed. Perhaps the way she laughed at John, her voice ever so American and her teeth ever so white. Maybe it was way her brow would scrunch when she was deducing, creating tiny little creases in her wintry skin, soft, soft skin that just begged and ached to be touched. Maybe it was way her hair fell down her back, glinting as it reflected the cool light of the lab, overwhelming Sherlock with the inexplicable urge to run his fingers through her silky locks- for the sheer purpose of science, of course.

Obviously.

More likely, it way she smirked, her stupidly memorizing lips tugging up wickedly, a smirk that hid the secrets of the universe, secrets Sherlock ached and longed to know. Perhaps it was the way her hips dipped and rolled as she clipped across the room, her steps almost a strut, and Sherlock couldn't bring himself to tear his gaze away. Or maybe it was how she looked at him with her stupid, stupid, stupidly memorizing eyes, with a gaze that tightened as she rose a brow his direction, causing his throat to become rather dry as she-

“Are you trying to deduce me?”

Sherlock blinked, reality flooding back into his skull so hard it hurt.

Shit.

He reflexively pulled a scowl upon his face, ignoring the slight irregularity of his pulse as he glared at the woman smirking down at him. There was something about the way she was staring that bothered him more then he'd like to admit. It was almost like she was challenging him to say something- or do something- but Sherlock didn't know what. 

"Or do you just like what you see?” She settled her elbows upon the table, blowing a strand of hair out of her eyes as she wiggled her brow suggestively.

Sherlock rolled his eyes at her antics, huffing out a short breath. “Please. If you're implying that I am sexually intrigued by you, I am afraid you're not as bright as Mycroft gives you credit for.”

Quinn was unfazed, a lazy grin spend across her face. She leaned into her palm, her half-lidded eyes flickering over him lazily. “You don't have to fancy someone to appreciate their looks, Sherlock.” She winked at him, and Sherlock’s lungs tightened, as though someone had filled his lungs with helium. 

But then she turned, and it was gone.

“Isn't that right, Johnny?” She asked, nudging the blond man sleeping with his forehead pressed against the counter. John hazily lifted his head up from his nap, blinking away the distorted daze of sleep from his eyes. He swiped his mouth across his creamy jumper, wiping off any drool that had settled there before squinting up at Quinn in confusion.

“Muhm?” He mumbled, stifling a yawn with the back of his hand.

“Exactly."  

John stretched out his back, straightening before he surveyed the two detectives, bleary-eyed. “What time is it?” He asked, the musty tang of sleep still swirling on his tongue. He rested his head on his palm, still a little drowsy. 

 “Dunno. You've been asleep for about an hour.” Quinn replied absently, scrolling through the messages on her cellphone. She frowned at something she'd read, causing her dark lips to curl slightly.

“Well, I wouldn't have fallen asleep in the first place if it wasn't for my two assholes of flatmates keeping me up all night.” John said, running his hands through his cropped hair. “Honestly, you two, do you really need to stay up so bloody late? Unlike you guys, I've got an actual job. I need to wake up at six, and if I can't sleep till five, it's sort of a bitch.”


“Well, I've got insomnia. Dunno what's his excuse.” Quinn retorted, jerking her head towards Sherlock. Sherlock didn't even bother to roll his eyes as he adjusted the clarity on his microscope, although he couldn't help the annoyed twitch of his lips at her accusation. “Mrs. Hudson doesn't bother me at night.” The younger Holmes mumbled back absently as his eyes narrowed at the little crimson cells buzzing under his gaze.


“Well, now, no need to be rude,” Quinn mock chided, stepping over to Sherlock’s side with the familiar click of  her boots.

The curly haired detective was suddenly very aware of her presence, and the fact that she was ever so close to him. She was enough he could feel her breath against his shoulder, the faint, ever so familiar scent of roses and whisky fluttering through his lungs. Her hair tickled his shoulder blades, and everything suddenly became very bright, almost as if though he was on drugs. 


“So, have you found anything yet, Sherl?”


Sherlock snapped out of his stupor, blinking as he shook the fuzz from his head. He wasn't sure why, but it had suddenly become very hard to focus. It was probably just the lack of sleep finally catching up to him. After all, Sherlock was a human (much to his chagrin), and humans had certain needs that, if not accommodated to, would cause quite a few vital functions to shut down. The most primal of such needs consisted of nutrients by means of food, hydration, sleep, blood, and mental security (not necessarily in that order), and Sherlock was unfortunately a victim to the requirements of survival.

“Obviously. As suspected, the blood sample contains traces of simple Arsenic- a surprisingly effective poison, considering its discreet, potent nature- the poison heavily diluted, of course, but still effective enough to do the job. I believe our victim was slipped a few milliliters in her coffee that morning- a feat which really wouldn't be very difficult for the murder to do, depending on the attentiveness of the woman. She drinks the poison, goes back to her hotel, and then an hour later died of internal asphyxia.”

“Wait- Are you saying she was poisoned? I thought we all agreed she shot herself in the head!” John said.

“Weren't you listening? Her muscles were contracted, far too rigid for the estimated time of death. Not to mention the obvious lack of blood. She was shot post mortem, John.” Quinn said, plopping down on a spare stool next to Sherlock. He shot her a sideways glance at her positioning, but didn't comment any further.

“But they saw her walk into her room, right? No one else came in, and the door was locked from the inside!”

Quinn leaned forwards, tilting her head at John's questioning. “Who did they see walk into her room, exactly?”

“She did! Her own sister identified her.”

“And no one else came in?” Quinn asked, and Sherlock had to give her kudos for her patience with John's ignorance. She dealt with stupidity much better then Sherlock did, but then again, she was an incredibly strange creature.

“No one. The tapes didn't show anyone entering her room.”

“According to security.” Quinn said with a wink, swiveling rather childishly on her chair, her heels clicking against the bar.

“So... you're saying someone hacked into the security cameras?”

“No. The footage was definitely genuine. I’m saying that all people can be hacked, John.”

John blinked slowly, and Sherlock could almost imagine the pieces clicking together in his head. “So… the security lied?”

“More or less,” Quinn shrugged, snatching a half empty beer off the counter next to Sherlock. She took a quick swig of the liquor, exhaling with a puff of her cheeks as she swallowed it down.  

“What does the mean?” John asked, giving Quinn a very odd look.

“It means it's time to stop explaining and go to Prufrock.” Sherlock snapped, already impatient with the conversation. Dear lord, did he hate idle chatter. At least with Quinn he didn't have to explain everything three times. She always understood exactly what was happening. Almost a little too well. Sherlock was never one to be envious over petty accomplishments, but it did occasionally irk him when she solved a case before him. Showing off was one of Sherlock's favorite pastimes, and Quinn was rather difficult to impress.

Not that he wanted to impress her, or anything.

Obviously.

John made a face. “You want to get coffee ? We're in the middle of a murder!”

“Exactly.” Sherlock replied shortly, not bothering to elaborate.

John's gaze darted to Quinn, looking for some sort of explanation (or at least confusion, on her part), but she seemed to understand. In fact, she seemed rather cheerful.

“Ooh, should John bring his gun?” She asked, looking a little too eager.

Sherlock gave her a strange look as he narrowed his eyes. “Why would John need to bring his gun?”

Quinn furrowed her brows as though it was obvious. “Why wouldn't he? He's going to be there.”

“Who?” John asked.

Sherlock ignored him, his gaze still firmly fixed on Quinn. His stormy eyes flickered across her face, searching for something as his scowl deepened. “What makes you think that?”

“Wait, who are we talking about?” John desperately interjected, not like being in the dark. Which seemed to happen a lot, much to his chagrin. It wasn't that John was stupid, he was merely significantly less skilled (mentally, anyways) in comparison to the two detectives having eye sex in front of him.

“Sam Houston.”  Quinn finally responded, tearing her gaze away from Sherlock as she slipped off her stool. Sherlock watched her slid down, and his eyes flickered slightly as she popped her back.

“Who the hell is Sam Houston?” 

“The victim's favorite boy toy, of course!” Quinn exclaimed, grabbing her coat off the counter. She slipped it over her arms, exhaling as she sighed into the collar.

John shook his head, still trying to understand what the literal hell was happening.

“So he's the murderer, then?” John asked, a little desperate.

“Nope, he's going to be murdered!”

John's brow scrunched. "Pardon?"

"You're excused," Quinn replied, sipping the rest of her beer down in one solid gulp. That woman really needed to attain some self control.

John opened his mouth, then seemed to decide against it, shaking his head. Trying was useless, anyways.

The younger Holmes exhaled, adjusting his burgundy button up with a quick tug. “Yes, but why would John need to bring his gun? Yes, It might be a useful asset in some circumstances, but I am fairly sure the patrons of the coffee shop won't be too pleased to see a man carrying a pistol into their sights.” Sherlock countered, annoyance creeping into his baritone chords. As much as he loved the girl, she could be insanely vexing at times.

Wait.

What?

Love?

Sherlock wasn't sure he'd heard himself right. He didn't love Quinn Caunter. He didn't love anyone, or anything, for that matter. Well, besides maybe nicotine or murder, but those didn't really count. Love was a foreign word, a plague of emotional shit and instinctual foolishness. It led only to destruction and disease, clearing the mind of all reason and and logic, filling it with grotesque desire. It was the most horrendous curse Sherlock could imagine, one he was most certainly not suffering under.

It was the most primal of all emotions, and certainly the most repulsive. It reaped far more then it sowed, and possessed people to practise the most self destructive, idiotic behavior equivalent to a mental disorder. Sentiment was not only foolish, but left way for hurt and manipulation. Sherlock much preferred malice to sentiment. Malice had reasons, and explanations. It made sense, to him. Sentiment, on the other hand, was the most baffling notion Sherlock could imagine.

To suggest that Sherlock Holmes was afflicted with sentiment for Quinn Caunter?

Well, the very notion was laughable.

It wasn't to say that he loathed her. He was afraid he'd become far too accustomed to her presence to hold that level of dislike to her name. Since Sherlock saw her everyday, it would be foolish to allow himself to harbor a grudge against her. It would only give him a migraine. 

That didn't mean she didn't bother him, however. No, they got on each other's nerves rather often, to the point where John had described their arguments akin to an old married couple's. Quinn was possibly the most stubborn, annoying human Sherlock had ever met, which really was saying something. It didn't help that she was a far too clever for her own good, of course (cleverer than Sherlock himself, some would argue, but Sherlock regarded them as idiots). She was a brilliant human being, with a mind sharper than Excalibur and a grin brighter than the moon, and it bothered him to no extent. 

She was so confusing. Her mental caliber was just as high as the Holmes' brothers, and yet she acted far more normal then either of them. For those who didn't know better, they'd probably identify her as an average, if not slightly odd woman. Sherlock could barely understand her thought process half the time, although that was partly because she was so spontaneous. If there was one thing he could always rely on her to do, it was something stupid. She'd once tumbled out of cover and into open fire simply because she'd left her phone across the hall. 

Yes, perhaps she offered useful insight on occasions, and maybe she'd gotten Sherlock out of a few troublesome situations (read: saved his ungrateful ass from being shot), but she was also a reckless adrenaline junkie who slept with a pistol under her pillow. Sherlock's life had been considerably less complicated before she'd barged in, and he missed the days he could deduce without having unwanted thoughts of the woman swirl around his skull. 

She was ridiculous, dangerous, and obnoxious, and there was no way around it. She was a siren, a vixen who'd broken the hearts of oh so many men with just the smallest little smirk. A wink and she'd have them babbling nonsense, spouting limericks of praise for the woman who just didn't care.

But that didn't mean Sherlock personally found her attractive. Sexual urges were something Sherlock was very proud to proclaim did not affect him. From a pure, scientific standpoint, intercourse for the purpose of pleasure never really bothered him. Sex was merely a way for some to release their hormones and claim endorphins. He never cared to practice such behavior himself, however, merely because the thought had never intrested him.

Yes, he had to admit she was visually... appealing, but he certainly didn't think that appearance meant much. To him, her mind was the most attractive thing about her. She was a genius, and that took more than simple genetic structure and makeup. 

That wasn't to say he was drawn to her in... that manner. He simply appreciated wit when he noticed it, and Quinn Caunter  (Even if she was annoying) was a woman of particularly high IQ. Even John found Quinn attractive, and their relationship was firmly platonic. John regarded Quinn as a sister, and she thought of him like a brother.

...Right?

They did spend quite a bit of time together. They'd go off and watch television together rather frequently, and Quinn would laugh at something John had said, and she'd ruffle his hair, or sling him into a hug, and they'd often hang out in her bedroom, and sometimes John wouldn't come out till morning, and-

Sherlock didn't realize he'd been clenching his fists until he felt his skin beginning to rip. He relaxed his knuckles, pale white crescents embedded in his flesh where his nails had dug in. His gut was boiling, blistering with some sort of emotion he hadn't felt in quite a long time.

Was it-?

“Do I look like I care?” Quinn retorted, interrupting that train of thought as she placed her hands on her hips. Sherlock's eyes trailed after the movement before his gaze snapped back up to her face.

"If you had any sense, you would. Honestly, Caunter, you really are idiotic." Sherlock replied shortly, shaking his head slightly.

"Look who's talking, dorkbrain!"

There was a painful pause between the two detectives.

"Dork brain?" Sherlock finally said, giving her a look.

"Don't judge me."

Sherlock was, but he didn't say any more. He lifted up his jacket from the back of his chair and slid it over his shirt, while Quinn glanced at him. "You're being ridiculous, Caunter." Sherlock said, wrapping his scarf around his neck.

She huffed, leaning over the waste bin to plop her empty beer bottle into it's depths. It hit the bottom of the trash with a sharp thud, but Quinn paid it no mind. "I know, but still."

“But still what?”  Sherlock asked irritably, still a little miffed at the woman. He understood that she really wasn't doing much to warrant such a reaction, but Sherlock didn't exactly care about that. She was bothering him, and that was enough.

But still the second Amendment!”

“For Christ's sake, Quinn, we aren't in America!”

“Well, too fucking bad!”

She held the door open for him, still bickering violently as Sherlock stepped through, Quinn following close behind. Their voices echoed down the pristine halls of the morgue, rather inappropriately loud in such an environment.

The doctor stared after them, confusion only mounting.

And then he scoffed, shaking his head.

“Bloody lunatics.”

He tucked his pistol into his coat, and then followed them out the door.

Chapter Text

“So.”

Lestrade exhaled, kneading his brow with his knuckles warily. His silhouette was highlighted by the flickering lights of the police car, pasting his shadow across the cool, cracked cement.

 The blackened frame of what had once been a coffee shop groaned from behind them as a dark skinned officer- Donovan- propped her leg up upon what used to be a window, a rather worn expression plastered across her speckled face. The same look one might give a child who had misbehaved.

 The smokey smell of gunpowder and spilled lattes wafted through the darkness of the street, mingling with the eager chatter of reporters and frazzled witnesses. Swirling spires of silky smoke danced in the breeze, fading into the London night like the ever present fog. 

“Lemme get this straight,” Lestrade sighed, his brassy voice heavy as he paced upon the sidewalk, wiping his hands down his face. 

“You punched an employee in the face, assaulted the manager, bloody shot him in the leg, and then- Christ- you set off a fucking bomb ?”

 

There was a pause.

 

“Well, when you put it that way,” Sherlock started, causing John to elbow him in the ribs.

Hard.

The force jostled him into Quinn, his shoulder bumping against hers- not exactly gently. He toppled onto her, causing her to let out a little yelp. Her hands instinctively flew to his arm, gripping his shirt to steady them.

...However, it didn't exactly work. In fact, the extra force only brought them further down, feet jumping over feet as they stumbled a few steps backwards. Quinn's back hit the side of the van roughly, Sherlock smushing flush against her. He caught himself with his elbows as to not completely crush the woman, but he was still unbearably close. Or not close enough. He didn't know. What he did know was that he was close enough to feel her deep curves against his chest- which certainly meant she could feel his elevated pulse hammering against his rib cage. Though he would just blame it on adrenaline, and not the fact that her shirt had ridden up in the fall, her exposed waist was brushing against him as her face hovered a few painful centimeters away. 

It went quiet.

Quinn looked up at him from her place in between his arms with widened, thickly lashes eyes, her pupils dilated in surprise. And something else, too, but before Sherlock could properly examine it the shock faded, giving way for a wicked, wicked smirk to slowly wind its way into her face. 

His eyes narrowed.

Oh.

That smirk.

The smirk that perpetually haunted his thoughts, tormenting his dreams far more then any common nightmare. A smirk that made his fists curl and his head throb. The smirk that drove men insane, leaving them a mess of hormones and sentiment. The smirk that held the fate of the entire world upon curved lips and white, imperfect teeth. A smirk he was just burning to understand, to get out of his head once and for all.

She was close. Close enough he could feel her breath brushing against his jaw, hot and caffeinated against his own. He wasn't sure he'd ever been so close to a person before- well, a living one- and the proximity was doing odd things to his thoughts. And then-

"Well, Mr. Holmes. Rather forward today, aren't we?"

Shit.

In a perfect world, Sherlock would have crashed his lips against hers right then and there. He would have kissed her until she could barely breath, tangling a hand into her hair and using the other to hold her closer, tighter. But that wouldn't be enough. It would never be enough. He would have hauled her right back to Baker street, never letting go of her until they were securely in his room- or on the couch- or anywhere, actually- and- well. 

However, this was not a perfect world. 

Nor was Sherlock Holmes a perfect person.  

He did not understand romance, or affection in general. He most certainly was not possessed by lust or sexual desires, and sentiment was something so unfathomable it would be ridiculous to even suggest he harbored it, least of all for Quinn Caunter.

Therefore, he simply stood there, staring at her with the strangest look on his face as he shoved sort of ill-wanted emotion away and locking it all deep, deep away inside of him, before obviating the key into the depths of his mind.  Not only were those notions foolish and impertinent, but they were disgusting and pathetic, and had no affect on Sherlock what so ever. Or they shouldn't, anyways.

Because Sherlock Holmes was not stupid.

He was not going to fall prey to the ever lurking temptation of Quinn Caunter, no matter how difficult it might be. Sentiment- or worse, romantic companionship- did not have its place in Sherlock, nor did he long for it to. It did nothing but steal and rot, molding the mind into a useless object of confusion and addled pain. Pain. Sentiment was a deceiver, the high before the withdraw. And God, did Sherlock know about withdraw. It was a sharp knife in it's victim's skull, left them a shivering, pathetic mess of pulsating pain and suffering. Their brains would go numb until it was nothing but a useless clump of cells and neurons dulled with hurt and need. 

Of course, his conscious mind was not aware of any of these thoughts. Because to him, she wasn't even an option. Sentiment simply wasn't a possibility. His feelings were lost, detached, confused thoughts he'd find any sort of fathomable excuse for. He couldn't recognize the burning vat stewing inside of his chest, or the creature just growling to be let out. They were foreigners in a the valley of reason, speaking a language he couldn't understand. A language he couldn't remember. They were distorted, fuzzy shapes on the horizon, something couldn't comprehend.

 He scowled at her. Why? Because he was a stupid asshole, that's why. 

"Don't be stupid, Caunter." He said cooly, dropping his arms. He turned back to Lestrade, but if he hadn't, he might have seen the flicker in her eyes. 

Sherlock felt a pricking on the back of his neck as John gave him an odd glance, one that bothered the detective. The same look Sherlock gave John when the doctor rambled off about his girlfriend. But that didn't make sense. Unless John thought that-

A sharp sting in his side alerted Holmes to Quinn's presence as she poked him in the ribs, retaliation for the stumble. Well, for a lot of things, but mostly the fall. Sherlock shot her a look, while trying to ignore the pain in his side. She really was strong.

The scene would have been more awkard if not for Quinn's blantent disregard for anything remotely uncomfortable. She began to hum, ignoring the stares she was receiving as she pulled out her cell phone (the screen of which had cracked during the explosion) and began texting. 

And then the tension went away, and everything was normal.

Mostly. It also helped that Lestrade was fuming with indignation.

Are you bloody insane?” He finally managed. Well, shouted, really. Nonetheless.

  “Do you even realize what the hell you've done? You've literally exploded the busiest street in london!”

"Oh, you're exaggerating. It wasn't that bad."

As the words Quinn's mouth, a scream shot out from behind her. Paramedics shouted as they hustled towards the sound. Apparently,  fire had started (again), and the familar sounds of extinguishers blowing foam drowned out the cries of the standbyers.

Lestrade gave them (more specifically, Quinn) a look. Quinn was unfazed.

 "...Oops."

 "Oops? You blew up a buliding!"

And we caught a murderer!” Quinn interjected. 

“Who killed himself! That's really not much of an accomplishment, you know!”

“Or is it?”

Lestrade's mouth gaped slightly as he stared at the detectives in front of him, lips flopping as  though struggling to form words.

“No, it's effing not! I can't- how- Lestrade cut himself off with a groan, and he could almost feel the grey hairs growing on his scalp. He was getting too old for this.  “You do realize there are serious repercussions for this, right? People are hurt! Someone died!”

"Yes, but he was a murderer, soooo," Quinn replied lazily, causing Sherlock to shoor her a sideways glance and John to kick her in the shins.

"Ouch," Quinn glared at the short doctor, who shook his head as the her.

"Can you three just stop being children for two seconds?" Lestrade asked in exasperation, running his calloused hands through his short hair.

"Meh."

"Shut up, Quinn." John warned, giving her a scolding look.

Sherlock shot a deadly glare in John's direction, almost daring him to repeat his comment, even if it wasn't ill-meant. Quinn, however, didn't seem to care, sipping a steaming mug of something contentedly.

"I don't think you get it. This is bad. Very bad. Very, very bad. You could have died!" He ranted, placing furiously.

"Brillant.” 

Lestrade turned to her, and you could almost out feel the indignation seeping off him, waves of heat pulsing off him like a radiator. A vein bulged in his forehead, pressing against the creased skin as he sucked in a breath. “What the LITERAL HELL DO YOU MEAN, BRILLIANT?” The inspector asked, fists clenched firmly at his sides.

Quinn glanced up at him, looking absolutely indifferent to the situation.

“I was talking about the coffee.” she stated bluntly, taking another swig from the paper cup of liquid caffeine.

Sherlock’s eyes followed her movements, watching as she brought the drink back down, her pink tongue trailing over her lower lip as she swiped away any trace of the milky beverage.

His stormy eyes darkened slightly at the sight, his gut pulsing with something rather unfamiliar, and he was staring at her mouth, wasn't he? Yes, he was, because he was -

Nope. Now was not the time to think about… whatever the hell that was.

“How'd you even get-?” Lestrade gestured to her cup, starting. And then he seemed to give up, dropping his hand as he shook his head. “You know what? Never mind. Just-”

Lestrade made a noise of frustration. “God. You do realize this is serious, right? You're lucky there weren't any extra casualties.”

“Or are we?”

“YES-” Lestrade inhaled, trying to calm himself. “Yes. Yes, you are, Caunter."

“I think you're lucky he hasn't killed you yet, Quinn,” John muttered, using the neon shock blanket draped over Quinn’s shoulders to wipe the grime off her face, brow scrunched at her the same way a mother might examine her child.

 Quinn did look rather worse for wear, Sherlock noted as his gaze trailed over her slumped form. She was stained with ashes and dust from the explosion, her silky locks darkened from the smoke. Her face flickered with the night highlights, strokes of light against her crisp eyes. Her irises were molten gold, the color of crystallized stars in a backdrop of cool blizzards.

Scrapes and purpled bruised adorned her body, and there was a dart of blood dripping down her arm, a scarlet river amongst the snowy warmth of her flesh. Sherlock glared at the wound, mentally scolding the incompetence of the paramedics. She was quite a mess.

Although, Sherlock didn't really look much better. His raven curls were singed from the fire, his shirt charred and tearing from the bits of shrapnel that had flown their way. A few nicks graced his arms, and his cheekbone had begun to bleed a bit. His ankle, too, was throbbing, but it barely bothered him. Well, it did, but he ignored it.

John had fared far better then the others, having been the farthest away from the explosion. He barely had a scratch on his neatly shaven face. Though he was completely covered in dust. But then again, who wasn't? 

"Sherlock's got some cigarettes in his pocket if you need any, inspector," Quinn suddenly stated, causing Sherlock to blink. Quinn swatted John's hand away, using her thumb to swipe away the trickle of blood off her shoulder. She didn't seem at all fazed by her injuries, suggesting either a naturally high pain tolerance on her part or a previous experience with wounds far deeper. He hoped for the former, although he wasn't quite sure why. Logically, he shouldn't long for either. He should be indifferent. 

But than again, Sherlock wasn't exactly a logical person. Not truly, anyways.

Lestrade exhalded. "Oh, lord, please. This entire thing is a headache-" He suddenly stopped, furrowing his brow. "Wait, how did you know I..."

"Well, it's obvious, isn't it? You've been smoking for a while. Wife figured it out, huh? Yup. So you're trying to quit? You've been at it for what, two weeks? Cold turkey. Huh. Brave of you. Or stupid. Same thing, really. Also accounts for the frankly alarming temper. Withdraws are shit, aren't they? Not that I'd know. Although hangovers aren't exactly a walk in the park. Those nicotine patches really just don't cut it, do they? Nicotine? Obvioisly. Your arm is rather stiff, and your pupils are dilated. You've subconsciously reached into your coat pocket three times in the past ten minutes, so I'd assume it's your brain looking for some relief. Old habits die hard, huh? You aren't exactly very set on quitting, though. Oh, it's obvious. You've even kept a lighter. I don't usually condone smoking, Greg, but I do believe you've earned it. Now Sherlock, be a dear and pass our favorite inspector a pack, eh?" Quinn finished, not even bothering to look up from her phone as she held out an expectant hand towards Sherlock.

There was a moment of silence. 

Then Sherlock rolled his eyes, tucking his hand into his pocket to draw out a single cigarette.

John turned on Sherlock. "Wait, what? I thought you said you were done with that shit. Holmes!"

Sherlock made a face. "Well, I lied."

John made a move as though to punch him. He quickly controlled himself, face slightly red. "You son of a bitch." He shook his head, and Quinn shot him a sympathetic look. Sherlock scowled.

Lestrade let out a sigh as he lifted the cigarette to his lips, a puft of grey whisping out of his lungs. It seemed to have softened his temper considerably as he turned back to them, voice slightly less... Lestrady then normal. “I'm going to need you to explain exactly what happened here,” he said, the musty scent of his smoke wafting through the darknesss.

"The long version or the short version? Because the long version's probably going to take another chapter." Quinn said absently, frowning at the now lukewarm dredges of her coffee.

"What?"

Quinn looked up. "What what?"

"What about what?"

"What about what what?"

"What?"

"What!"

"What...? Nevermind. Just tell me all the details." Lestrade said, having learned never to question the woman's inexplicable behavior a long time ago.

Quinn exhalded.

"Long version it is, then."

Chapter Text

 

“You British and your tea fetish.”

Quinn said, shaking her head in exasperation as they stepped into the coffee shop, shaking the bitter cold off as the fragrant, chocolatey scent of the cozy room flushed over them. Quinn cracked a smile. Her cheeks glowing a soft rose from the biting chill, contrasting with her pale skin drastically. Her shoulders relaxed as she surveyed the familiar turf of the coffee shop, who's low chatter and warm light made a lullaby of comfort in a street of foggy grey.

“You do realize you live in England now, right?” John asked, glancing at the woman in amusement as he shrugged his cold hands into his pockets.

“You sure about that?” She replied, giving him a sideways look from her place next to him. Her dark lips were beginning to pull into an ever so familiar smirk, a smirk which was usually reserved for Sherlock.

“You live with us. I'm pretty sure.”

“ARE YOU?”

“Shhh!”

Sherlock rolled his eyes at the woman's antics. He inhaled softly, trying to filter out the exasperation in his lungs. “You're a British citizen now, Caunter. Get over it.”

“Legally, that may be so, but when has the law ever dictated me?”

There was a pause, in which Quinn smirked triumphantly.

“Exactly.”

Someone coughed. The trio turned around to see a lanky, plaid cladded man waiting patiently behind them. He had thin, wire rimmed glasses and stubble, and he was hoisting an Apple brand laptop under his left arm. "Um, are you in line?”

“No.” “Yes.”

The air suddenly chilled. Sherlock shot a look of disbelief at the shorter woman, but she was unaffected. She merely gave him that little smile, a smile that really, really bothered Sherlock. 

"We aren't here for coffee, Caunter." Sherlock began cooly. His voice was calm, but there was an underlying warning in his tone that did not go unnoticed by the woman. It was the voice that could coerce John into doing most anything, but Quinn didn't even seem to be fazed.

“Well, if we’re already here, why waste the opportunity?”

“Because someone is being murdered as we speak." Sherlock snapped, a little harsher then he'd intended. "Please don't be idiotic, Caunter, it really doesn't suit you."

Quinn straightened, holding her ground despite the towering height of the detective. Apparently Quinn didn't appreciate being called stupid. “Well, look who's talking." She responded, an icy edge to her tone.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously, trying to keep himself from gritting his teeth. "What, exactly, are you implying?"

Quinn shrugged. "Oh, nothing. Just that you're a prick who doesn't ever know when to play nice," She responded, and although her words her light, She was giving Sherlock a look that was anything but friendly.

Sherlock felt a rush of blood flood his head at her accusation, and his temper began to incline steeply. "Nice is objective, and pointless in every form of the sense. Being nice is irrational. So yes, I am not nice. Because I don't find filtering my observations useful.  You, on the other hand, are an acholic who uses sex as a pastime and would rather sadate her caffine withdraw then save a man's life." Sherlock said, watching as Quinn's face flushed darkly with indignation.

"Okay, first of all, I do not sleep around," Quinn started heatedly, cocking her hip to the right as she ticked her points off her fingers. The arguement was escalating faster and faster, and soon, they'd snap. It was hard to believe that the storm of strife had stemmed from a simple inquiry on whether they were in line or not, but with the two detectives, it had been inevitable.

 "Second, you're a junkie and an asshole who can't possibly comprehend the idea of not being a complete dickhead for five seconds-!"

John groaned, resisting the overwhelming urge to roll his eyes as he turned to the man and offered a worn smile. More often then less he felt as though he was a single parent trying to keep his children from killing each other. "We’re fine, thanks. You can go on ahead.”

The man nodded, looking a little disturbed at the scene the two detectives were causing. Luckily, the shop was loud enough not to raise too much attention to the bickering adults- well, more like children, really- as they engaged in a particularly brutal verbal battle.

Sherlock lost.

Had John not cut the dispute short, he probably would not have. However, Quinn had gotten in the last words, and therefore proclaimed that she had won. In fact, she seemed to be the victor of quite a few of her and Sherlock's arguements. Even when she lost, she won. It didn't matter how high her IQ was- it was just as massive as Sherlock's ego- if she wanted something, by God, she’d get it. No matter how ridiculous it was.

“He's not even going to be here for another seven minutes, anyways,” She said as Sherlock scowled, still sore from losing. The detective merely grunted in reply. She was smirking at him, a stupid, smug little smirk Sherlock was itching to wipe off her face. Either with a punch or... something else, he didn't really know. Or care. Either. Both? No. None. Nevermind. God, he was distracted.

And it was all her fucking fault.

“Excuse me, are you ready to order?”

A round faced, pleasant looking woman asked, her vocal chords pitched rather brightly. Her hair was a bright purple, which reminded Sherlock of the unicorn socks Quinn owned.

Sherlock scowled as he became aware of the mental association, and he scolded himself. Why would his obseravations relate to such an unimportant item owned by Caunter? Furthermore, why could he remember what pattern was on Quinn's socks? It wasn't even like she was wearing them now. He had simply memorized something as trivial and utterly pointless as her clothing, and it bothered him.

Quinn didn't seem to hear the woman, her eyes glued onto her phone as her fingers tapped madly across the screen. Sherlock scowled, nudging Quinn with his boot.

“What?” She asked, glancing up at him. He rolled his eyes in reply, before jerking his head towards the counter. “I don’t… Oh, yeah. Sorry. So, let's see. Can I have a… lemme see… oh, shit, you’ve got  pumpkin spice lattes! I didn't realize you still sold them!”

The woman nodded. "Well, it is our most popular flavour."

“Well, then, I'll have one of those. Extra large, please, with a mountain of whipped cream. Oh, and sprinkles, if you got 'em. Hey, John, what do you want? Nevermind. I know. He’ll have a blonde roast, please. No cream or sugar. And Sherlock…”

She glanced at the lanky detective as he sulked a few feet away. His eyes were flicking across the room without much interest, and he glared daggers at anyone who dared to make eye contact. It was uncomfortably obvious he didn't want to be there, and Quinn had to stifle the urge to smile at his expense.

“...He’ll have a water.”

The woman nodded knowingly, eyes twinkling.

“Sure. That'll be nine pounds, please.”

Quinn dug out a wrinkle bill from her coat, handing it to the lavender haired unapologetically.

“And what name would you like on your drinks?” the female cashier asked the taller woman, folding away the cash into the register with a satisfying click.

Sherlock Holmes.” Quinn replied, not missing a beat. He would certainly be bothered by his name being called, and Quinn certainly enjoyed bothering him.

“Sherlock? What a lovely name.”

“Not as lovely as his looks, dearie.” Quinn replied, winking as she turned to the two men.

Five minutes later, the trio were sitting besides the window, Quinn and John on one end and Sherlock on the other.  The curly haired detectives untouched water had begun to perspire cold pearls on the frosted glass as his brows creased together slightly. Quinn had seen that look often enough to identify it as Sherlock's thinking face, and she suddenly wondered what he was thinking about.

Quinn sipped her steamy mug, the warmth spreading through her toes and hearing her very core. Her eyes were fixed on Sherlock as he drummed his spindle fingers against the tabletop absently. His stormy eyes were glued to the window as he stared out onto the foggy street of london. The pale light illuminated his face, making him look almost angelic.

Almost.

Her stomach tightened, contracting her lungs and making her brain a bit dizzy. Not necessarily in a bad way, though. She wondered why. Perhaps she was allergic to coffee. If that was the case, she'd probably shoot herself in the foot.

“Quinn.” 

Quinn blinked, attention slowly pulsing its way back into her bloodstream. “Hmm?”

“You’re spilling your coffee.” John said, giving her an odd look. Apparently had noticed her staring at Sherlock.

She glanced down at the table, where a small puddle of tannish beverage had accumulated.

“Well, would you look at that.” She noted offhandedly.

She swallowed another sip of liquid caffeine, eying it with a shadow of a frown. It just wasn't the same as whisky, no matter how hard she urged it to be. Well, she supposed coffee was a slightly better addiction. It wouldn't send her to rehab, at least.

“He's here,” Sherlock suddenly said, gaze fixed on something- well, someone- trotting down the street.

“Wonderful,” Quinn replied monotonously.

A chill of a draft breezed over the trio as the door swung open, the hinges squeaking slightly at the motion.

Standing in the doorway was a model of a man with chestnut, playfully ruffled hair and a smile that could stop traffic in times square. He shifted his backpack higher up onto his broad shoulders, creasing his burgundy button up and bringing out the light in his chocolatey irises.

Quinn’s eyes trailed over him with heightened interest, drinking in his solid frame and scruffed, chiseled jaw before letting out the softest of appreciative whistles.

“Sweet Jesus. Get me a piece of that eye candy,” She remarked dryly, lips tugging into a rather dirty grin.

Sherlock glanced at her, eyes narrowed dangerously.

Something dark had begun stirring in his gut, a boiling, feral creature prowling, resentment bubbling red hot in his stomach and thickly clawing its way up his throat.

Stupid.

Sam Houston walked up to the counter, catching almost as many glances as Quinn's entrance. He ordered a iced coffee, thanking the barista before sliding down at a stool.

Quinn abruptly stood, and John's gaze snapped to her. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” was all she replied. Her hips swayed ever so slightly as she stepped over to Sam, and her boots clipped against the chocolate floorboards loudly.

“What should we do?” John asked Sherlock. The short doctors brows were knit as he watched Quinn leave.

Sherlock didn't respond.

John glanced over at his uncharacteristic silence, eyes widening at the detectives expression. There was a dark shadow over his face, like he was ready to snap the neck of the first person who smiled at him. John shrunk back, taking a nervous sip of coffee as he watched the scene unfold.

Quinn leaned over onto the bar, her glistening locks tumbling over her shoulder like spun gold. Her lashed orbs twinkled as she rested her jaw on her palm, scanning the brunet sitting next to her wryly.

“Why iced?”

His eyes shot up from his drink, blinking as they settled on the smirking woman staring down at him. His eyes widened ever so slightly as his gaze flickered over her face, although he quickly turned it into an easy smile.

“Why not?” He replied, twirling the straw in between his fingers.

Quinn's lips twitched. “Touchè.”

She slid just into the seat next to him, head tilted to the right. “And what's a pretty boy like you doing here all by himself?” She asked, taking another sip of her drink.

The corner of his mouth tugged upwards. “I like coffee.”

“Not as much as beer, though.”

Sam rose a brow. “How'd you know I like beer?”

“Oh, it's obvious. You like alcohol, but you're obviously not a very heavy drinker. You also frequent quite a few bars, judging by the creases in your shirt. Not to mention the stain on your right sleeve. It's a dead giveaway. You’re also proudly a- well, a man, and men drink beer. Well, most men. Beer’s fine, I suppose, but I personally prefer something stronger.”

Sam seemed impressed, a dimple beginning to form in his cheek. “Well, aren't you a clever one?”

“Sherlock?” John asked. Sherlock ignored him, his eyes fixed firmly on the conversation in front of him. His fingers had begun to lose feeling with how tight he was clenching his fists, but he barely noticed. His head had begun throbbing, painful, scarlet pulses of- something- blurring his sight.

“So I've been told.” Quinn winked.

Sherlock had the sudden urge to sock Sam in the eye.

Sam leaned forward slightly, propping up his elbow upon the table. “What's your name?”

Quinn drew a sly smirk across her face, the one same one she used ever so often on Sherlock.  “I suppose I could tell you. But that's really not much fun, is it?”

His eyes twinkled. “Mysterious, huh? I like that.”

Sherlock's teeth were gritted together so hard it hurt. His mouth tasted metallic, bitter with bile, and his fists were just itching to deck Sam in the throat. But why?

Because he was jealous.

Sherlock Holmes, jealous?

Ha.

Of course he wasn't jealous. Why would he be? It was just Quinn. His Quinn. No, not his. Just Quinn. His colleague. Roommate. Platonic companion. That was all. This wasn't new. She flirted with anyone with a pulse. That was all this was. Quinn, flirting with another idiot. Smirking at him. Laughing with him. Probably going to go sleep with him-

“Sherlock!” John snapped him out of his daze with a painful elbow to the ribs. “You're spilling all over!”

Sherlock glanced down at his fists, where the plastic cup had become completely crushed by his trembling fists, spilling ice water across the table. He completely ignored the spill, adrenaline still raging in his eardrums as tugged out his phone, texting furiously. A cheerful little ping came from Quinn's direction as she checked her messages.

 

Stop being an idiot, Caunter. Get to the point.

SH

 

Quinn was unfazed, lazily typing in a response.

 

Nah.

Q.

 

Sherlock growled, his brow twitching. John seemed mildly concerned for his friend, glancing to him with a knit brow. “You alright, Sherlock?”

“She's being stupid,” He retorted, tucking his phone back into his coat.

“So, what should I call you, then?” Sam continued, the stubble on his jaw rather distracting as Quinn swirled her cup of coffee.

“My friends like to call me asshole, but you can take your pick.”

He laughed. “By who, your boyfriend over there?” He didn't blink, gesturing over toward Sherlock and John's table.

Shit.

Quinn was unfazed.

“Looks like you're pretty clever yourself.” She said dryly.

"Nah. But I know when a guy likes a girl. Besides, the good ones are always taken."

Quinn grinned, shaking her head lightly. “That's sweet. But no, he's not my boyfriend. I work with them, though. Well, when they aren't being complete shits.”

He chuckled. “And what, mystery girl, do you do for work?”

“Detective.”

“Detective, eh? So, then, I'm assuming you didn't come over just for a chat.”

“Not just for a chat." Quinn corrected, leaning on her elbows. "Though this is rather lovely. Do you know a woman by the name of Christina DeMarco?”

Sam looked a bit off guard. “Who-? Oh. The barista. Sort of. We went out once or twice. But- well, she sort of went out with everybody. Why? Oh God. Did something happen?”

“No.” Quinn assured easily.

There was a pause. “Well, yeah, actually. She's dead.”

Sam swallowed, looking a little disturbed. “Oh my God. What- how did this happen?”

“Someone poisoned her.”

“Thats… oh, shit. Thats…” he shook his head. “God. I barely knew her. I mean, yeah, we hooked up once, but…” he bit his cheek, pushing the shock away. It wouldn't be helpful, anyways. “So, you haven't found the culprit yet, I'm assuming?”

“Not yet. Well, sort of. We found his next victim, at least.”

“Who is it?”

Quinn smiled. “Why, you, sweetheart!”

 

….

 

He blinked.

“Me?”

“Yup.”

“Well… shit.” He said, glancing down at his coffee. Or lack of one. His gaze flickered back over to Quinn, who'd somehow managed to sneak his latte into her hand. She noticed his confusion, her heels clicking against the stool. “Oh, yeah. You probably shouldn't drink this. You know, just in case."

“Yeah, probably."

Another pause.

"You know, you're taking this alot better then I thought you would."

Sam shrugged. "Well, I figure panicking won't really help, right? Wait, why would anyone want to kill me? I mean, maybe Gary, but how was I supposed to know Sarah was his sister? But- hold on- does this have something to do with Christina?”

Quinn swayed, her head bobbing a yes.

“Why? I mean, we were barely friends. Yeah, we sometimes… but she did that with everyone. Why would anyone want to kill me?”

“Well, remember all those ‘suicides’? They were in the papers a while back.”

“I prefer electronic news.”

“Well, anyways. A few men, from twenty five to thirty two- all suddenly decided to kill themselves. None of them had any relation or connecting factor, besides the fact they were all male and all killed themselves with a bullet to the brain. But it didnt make sense. Most of them were doing pretty well for themselves. Rich-ish, attractive, pretty stable jobs. Their families were shocked. So- well, the police thought they'd just all offed themselves, but we- me and curls over there, anyways- we were thinking serial killer. Makes more sense, you know? I mean, you don't just wake up one day and decide to blow your brains out. So serial killer it was."

She continued. "But then Christina turns up dead- well, murdered- with all the dead men in her contact list. And a bottle of birth control in her purse. She's sort of what you'd call a- well, I'd wouldn't her a slut, but she kind of was. Nonetheless. She had sent quite a few emails to her best friend- Apparently someone was stalking her. Had been for a while. And then every guy she'd ever slept turned up dead and- well, she started freaking outShe never knew who was her stalker, besides his gender.  Considering how many men she had in her life, that narrows it down to half of london. So that was sort of a dead end. Luckily, we know where the killer's going to be today!”

“Where?”

“Well, he's going down the list. The last guy was Carlos, and he was murdered at his favorite club's bathroom. So the killer knew his schedule. And it just so happens that his next victim has been going to the same coffee shop at five fifteen every day for the past two years.”

There was a pause, in which Sam took a moment to process this new information.

And then it hit him.

“Oh, shit.”

Quinn's grin broadened as she took another sip of her coffee, swishing the drink between her teeth lazily. "Yup."

Sam inhalded, glancing around the room for potential suspects. "Should I call the police?" He asked anxiously, his eyes slightly wide.

“Nah. You'll be fine. Don't worry. It's not like the killer’s going to just walk into here and start shooting.”

BANG.

A hole piercing the wall just barely above Quinn's skull, a bullet wedged firmly in the plaster.

Another shot fired, barley missing Sam. Screams filled the air, terror ricocheting across the shop like steam. Bodies clamored for cover, scattering like ants at a picnic.

Quinn sighed, setting her coffee down at the bar in exasperation.

“Well, nevermind, then.”

Chapter Text

“Well, nevermind, then.”

Quinn sighed, rolling her eyes in exasperation.

And then she leaned forward, grabbed Sam by the collar and literally flipped him - and his one hundred eighty pounds of muscle- over the counter. His body crashed to the floor with a muffled thump, barely audible amongst the screams.

Her eyes scanned the room quickly, her gaze scattered as it darted across the room. They flickered over the patrons of the shop, most of whom were scrambling under tables or bolting for the door. Quinn'exclaimed eyes snagged on Sherlock and John's empty table, but she quickly shook her concern from her head. Worrying would do nothing but distract her.

At this point, most people would be at least a little worried at the appearance of a deranged shooter pumping lead at them, but Quinn was entirely impassive. She'd had to deal with situations far worse then this before, and the intensity of such events had unfortunately become mundane. However, she was usually the one doing the shooting, and she wasn't certain she was gone of the role switch.

Nonetheless, there was a shooter, and Quinn needed to do something. 

First: Was anyone in danger?

Yes. Everyone.

But was there anyone she could help?

Yes. Everyone.

Anyone you can help without getting yourself shot?

A woman, standing a few feet away, screaming.

Then get moving.

Quinn didn't hesitate in ducking behind a booth as she grabbed the arm of a cowering customer and her son. She tugged both of them down next to her with strength most people would be suprised she possessed. The woman was frazzled and her eyes wide in terror as she heaved heavy breaths from her place under cover. She trembled slightly, her fingers clenching the arms of her son as she held him tightly.

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, I'M GOING TO DIE. THERE'S A SHOOTER. WE'RE GOING TO DIE!” The woman screeched hysterically, looking rather like a fish cornered by a shark. She was blubbering, and swimming in fruitless circles as she awaited death with grating cries of panic. Quinn had to admit that the woman's reaction was the average response to danger, but it still pestered her. She needed to get a grip.

Quinn grimaced, her gaze shifting to the child.

The boy appeared to be about eight or so, with shaggy blond locks and chocolate eyes. He stared up at Quinn- not in fear, or panic, or hysteria- but in surprise. Not like WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING  kind of surprise, the you just pushed me kind of surprise. The I'm mildly confused kind of surprised.

Quinn liked him.

“Hey, Kiddo,” the female detective said, leaning into the child. Her voice was dull over the shouts, but the kid seemed to be able to hear her. “It's gonna be okay. Alright? Stay here for a sec. Don't move until I get back. Lady-” Quinn glanced at the woman, and her features twitched in distaste.

“Get it together. Kid, watch your mom. Don't die. Kay?”

The boy nodded.

She flashed him a smile in response, causing her teeth flash in the light. “Coolio.”

And then she was gone. She tumbled out of cover and danced back to the bar, although her trip was slowed with her occasional shove of a customer into cover. Seriously, didn't those people know that freezing up with a shooter on the loose was sort of the stupidest thing they could do? Well, that wasn't true. She supposed the stupidest thing they could do would be to assume they could do any better.  

She slid herself over the counter with a thumpassion. Her boots scraped as she hit the floor, and her elbow hit the floor with a painful pop. She rolled to absorb the rest of the fall, the flush of exertion a rosy glow on her cheeks as she pulled Sam further under the counter.

More shots fired, followed by ear shattering screams and the sound of glass splintering.

From besides her, Sam gulped, panic clogging his throat with bile. He blinked, trying to force it down as he gripped the carpet tightly, his nails hitching. “Oh my god. Holy shit. Oh my- there's a shooter. That's- that's not good. Oh my God. Jesus . Oh, fuck, oh my-”

The sound of a pistol cocking drew him out of his delusion, as he turned his head towards the sound.

Quinn’s back was pressed firmly against the bar as flipped the safety off her gun, veins flushed with the rush of battle. And caffeine, she supposed. But nonetheless.

“What are you- you-” he sputtered, eyes wide as they fixed upon the weapon in her palms.

“And this , love, is why Americans carry guns,” She said, ignoring his words as more shouts ricocheted through the room. Stupid British. If this was Texas, that'd bastard would be dead already. “Look, you stay here. I'm gonna go shoot what's his face. Okay?”

“W-What?”

“Don't move.”

“But-”

Shut up and do as I say.”

He swallowed, ignoring every instinct to defend the woman besides him. It would probably be useless, anyways. She obviously had some training in this sort of situation, and Sam was sorry to say that even though he was a brave bastard, he wasn't exactly a very helpful one.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good boy.”

Quinn inhaled.

And ran out of cover.

Step one

Access the situation.

Her eyes darted across the room, drinking in every snippet of informations she could.

First, the room. Was anyone dead? Injured?

… no. Although one employee had been shot in the leg, apparently. It was chaos. Some people were hiding, a few others fleeing, and most all of them screaming.

Cowards.

Second, and more  importantly : where the hell was Sherlock?

I swear, if he gets himself shot, I'm going to kill him.

Her eyes scanned the room, searching for a familiar head of curls. She couldn't see him, or John. Shit. She shook them from her head. They could take care of themselves. Now wasn't the time to worry. Focus.

She turned her attention to the shooter.

Male, Caucasian, six feet three. Lanky. Roughly one hundred fifty pounds. Weapon? Handgun, Taurus Model 709 .371 semiautomatic. Nice. No, not nice. Dangerous.

Bags under eyes. Doesn't get much sleep. Insomnia? Most likely. He's got stubble, but not purposefully. A few nicks. Cheap razor. No shaving cream. Poor, or unhygienic? His clothing. Jeans, jacket, Polo shirt. Decent, if not a bit wrinkled. Clean. Jeans short. Shoes half a size small. He's poor. Creases in his shirt. Means he folds his clothes instead of hanging. Why? Not enough space. Lives in the city. Obviously a small apartment, he wouldn't be able to afford anything otherwise. Lives alone. He smokes. Not a drinker, though. Interesting. Doesn't see the sun much. Frequently on the computer. Walks to work. Work, where? At coffee shop. Wait… here? Yes. Odd.

Doesn't know how to handle a gun very well. His hands are shaking. Look at his form! Stupid. You see, if he was American, he'd be- no, now isn't the time for national pride.

Wait a second.

What’s on his chest?

Oh.

Oh, fuck.

He’s got a bomb.

She slid behind a wall, her chest heaving. “Shit.”

“Sam Houston!”

A hoarse, dry voice called out, words sharp and trembling.

“Come out!”

“You probably shouldn’t, Sammy!” Quinn shouted back.

“Who said that?” The man roared, swooping the room with his pistol, ready to shoot. A few more wails.

“A very attractive, very armed American,” She called back, still behind the wall. Stupid man couldn’t even use perception.

“Shut the hell up, Caunter!” A familiar voice hissed.

Sherlock.

She let out a very soft breath. So he was alright. John must be with him, too. So at least she didn’t have to worry about Watson trying to shoot and hitting the bomb.

“Don’t try to shoot! I’ve… I’ve got a bomb!” The shooter shouted back.

Quinn resisted the urge to roll her eyes as several more cries echoed through the room.

“Oh, really? I didn’t notice.” She muttered. Then she raised her voice again. “Listen, man. What do you want?”

“The bastard hiding from me!”

There was a pause.

“Everyone's sort of hiding from you.”

“Sam Houston.” He clarified, stuttering slightly. He seemed a bit thrown off, although most people tended to be when meeting Quinn. He’d stopped shooting, at least.

“Okay. Why are you looking for Sam Houston?” She questioned casually, as though she was talking to an old friend and not an armed shooter.

Keeping him distracted.

She quietly pulled out her phone, soundlessly texting a few lines to Sherlock and John.

 

Clear the building.

Q.

 

“Why should I tell you?” The shooter responded harshly.

“Because you strapped yourself to a bomb. You wanted to die, right? Might as well tell us why. Otherwise, what's the point?”

There was a pause, in which the man seemed to be struggling to find fault in her logic.

“He didn’t deserve her.” he finally stated.

“Didn’t deserve whom?”

 HE DIDN'THE DESERVE CHRISTINA !” He suddenly screamed, his eyes wild, almost animal. A few muted whimpers came from the patrons, but he didn’t seem to notice them. “None of them did! Those stupid, disgusting, pervets. Pigs.”

“Is that why you killed them?” Quinn asked, the same way someone might ask if someone had bought milk. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw John ushering a couple outside. She let herself wonder if Sherlock was safe, just for a second. She almost laughed at herself. No, of course he wasn’t. That asshole wouldn’t dare leave such a show at halftime.

They needed to die.”

“Did she?”

There was a silence.

“T-that was a- I didn’t mean to- the poison wasn’t for her. It was for him. Sam. It’s his fault she’s d-dead! I’m going to kill him. I’m going to kill him.

“Are you going to kill me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Because I want to.”

Quinn sucked in a breath.

Stall.

“Would Christina have wanted that?”

SHE’S DEAD.”

His voice was more startling than any of his bullets, sharp and ringing. Quinn winced.

“She’s dead because of him.” The man continued, words trembling. He was far more unstable than Quinn had realized, going from insane serial killer to timid victim in two seconds.

Quinn swallowed.

“Did you love her?”

He let out a soft laugh. “ Love her? She was my whole fucking world. She was perfect, and beautiful, and perfect, and she made me happy, and smiley, and normal, and bright, and when people touched her I just wanted to snap their necks in half.”

“That’s very… sweet of you.” Quinn lied, feeling a bit nauseous.

“She didn’t think so. She didn’t even know. She would always tell me that someone was following her, giving her gifts, stealing her stuff, and she didn’t even realize it was me.” He giggled.

And then he changed, morphed, his eyes darkening. “And now she’s dead. Because of him. And I’m going to shoot him in the eyes. Then I’m going to blow him up. I’m going to kill him, and then you, and then me, and then everything will be perfect!”

“But-”

“SHUT UP!”

She could feel his patience wearing thin, and she knew she didn’t have much time.

Quinn took a moment, mulling over her options in her head.

1: shoot him

He had a bomb. Like hell she was going to risk it while Sherlock- while people - were still in the building.

2: talk him out of it

Who, this insane bastard of a man? No, that wouldn’t work. Perhaps hinder him, buy them some time, but he was far too unstable to work any agreement out with.

3: Do something incredibly, undoubtedly, stupid.

...Yeah, okay.

 

And so stupid she did.

 

 

 

 

 

…………………….

 

 

 

 

“And then we all died.”

 

Lestrade blinked, shaking his head slightly.

“What- Excuse me?”

Quinn didn’t waver, her gaze unyielding as she fixed it upon the officer, her face an emotionless mask. Her eyes flickered in the pale light of the moon, the gold of her iries a streetlamp in the dark.

We all died .” She said, frighteningly serious.

John slapped his face into his hand.

Sherlock, on the other hand, didn’t seem to find her behavior odd- or at the very least, unexpected- unblinking. “No, we didn’t.”

Quinn immediately snapped up, suddenly smiling brighter than the sun.

“No, we didn’t! We survived!” She exclaimed, dimples creasing as she grinned.

John let out a soft little chuckle despite himself, shaking his head slightly. No matter how ridiculous she was, she was still one of his best friends. And he loved every bit of her oddness.

Lestrade paused, wondering if he should say anything. He decided against it. Who knows what went on in the disturbed, pretty little head of hers? Who wanted to know? Not that he didn't like her. No, everyone liked her. Not that they understood her, but they liked her.

“Oh, really? What a pity.” Donovan interrupted from the sidelines, arms crossed across her chest haughtily as she made a rather dramatic show of rolling her eyes.

Well, mostly everyone, anyways.

Sherlock sent her a glare that would make a grown man piss himself. Donovan’s eyes widened slightly as she shrunk back, and though she kept a sneer on her face, she shut up.

“Oh, I dunno, Sally,” Quinn replied cheerfully, obvious to Sherlock. “We sort of save England a lot. Six times, so far, I think. I feel like our demise would lead to chaos in the crime department. I mean, it's not exactly like Scotland yard can handle it. I mean, no offense, but you guys are sort of the most incompetent human beings I've ever met.

John let out a snicker, quickly turning it into a coughing fit.

Sherlock glanced at Quinn, a little surprised- and perhaps just a tad proud- at her statement. She seemed to notice his attention, her grin broadening ever so slightly.

Lestrade shook his head, sighing. “Sherlock’s rubbing off on you, love.”

Quinn’s lip twitched, eyes twinkling. “I’m afraid so.”

Sherlock glanced at her.

“But- wait a second- how did you survive?” A paramedic asked, rapt with attention. He’d been listening to the tale the whole time, and was now waiting wide eyed for her to continue her story. She had, after all, ended it on a cliff hanger. To him, it felt like a week had passed since her last words.

Quinn waved her hand. “Oh, it’s not important. John had gotten everyone out to safety- even Sam- and then I used the magic of being a total kickass to take what's-his-face down. I shot a few people, got out of the room, and then he blew up. Oh, and Sherlock helped too, I guess.”

Sherlock scowled. Quinn laughed lightly at his response, hooking her arm into his and giving it a firm squeeze. “Aww, no need to pout. You helped tons, Sherl.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

Although John could have sworn his cheeks were pinker then they had been a moment before. Then again, it might have just been the lighting.

“May we go now, Inspector?” Sherlock asked, trying to sound bored and not dwell on Quinn, who’s hand was still lingering on his arm. “It’s getting rather dark out. And I do believe Caunter is in need of a shower.”

“So are you, idiot.” She replied, grip dropping to Sherlock’s slight relief. Or disappointment. Perhaps a mixture of both.

“Wh- no, you can’t go! You're-!”

"Look, mummy! It’s that lady!” A high pitched, excited little voice called out, interrupting Lestrade's words.

A familiar little boy with shaggy hair ducked under a few officers, running over to Quinn staring up at her with flushed cheeks and a bucktoothed grin.

“Hullo,” The boy said.

Quinn’s face brightened. “Hey, buddy! How you doing?”

The boy’s smile widened just as his mother, a flustered woman with frizzy blond hair and stress lines hurried after her son.

Jackson! What are you-” The woman glanced up at Quinn, her eyes widening. She quickly straightened herself, slapping a smile across her face. “Oh! Hello! I didn’t recognize you!” she said, a little too preppy to be causal.

Quinn shrugged. “Don’t sweat it.”  She said easily.

“Can you sign my shirt?” The boy- Jackson- suddenly asked, eyes still glued on Quinn.

Quinn looked a bit surprised. “Uh, sure! Do you-?”

Jackson stuffed a sharpie into her palm, apparently very prepared for this encounter.

Quinn ignored the glances boring into her neck as she quickly scrawled out her name upon the fabric. Jackson’s face lit up at the signature, a grin spread from ear to ear. “Thanks, Miss!”

“Quinn.”

“Quinn!” He beamed at her a second longer before bouncing off, his mother looking rather worn as she plowed after him.

John rose a brow. “Looks like somebody's got a fan.”

“Look who's talking, Mr. Blogger.” Quinn retorted, sticking out her tongue childishly.

Lestrade coughed, interrupting the friends. “Listen, you guys- girl- people, I'm going to need to to stay a little longer. ”

“No, you don't,”  Sherlock replied dully.

“Yes, I do! You three are key witnesses-”

“-And so are fifteen other perfectly functional human beings. Go bother them.” Sherlock said, re-adjusting his scarf around his neck.  

“But-”

Sherlock was already walking away.

Lestrade groaned. “ Sonofabitch.” He muttered, wiping a hand over his face.

Quinn had the decency to look apologetic before jogging after the taller detective, ducking under the yellow police tape to stride besides him, leaving John with the police.

John coughed, fidgeting uncomfortably. “Um- yeah. I’m gonna go follow them. Sorry, Greg.”

John hurried away, not daring to look back.

Sherlock snuck a glance down at Quinn out of the corner of his eye, observing her steps without really noticing.

When Sherlock had first heard the gunshot, all he could think about was her. Whether she was alright. His mind went scattered, stretching and straining and sweating over her and the fact that she was out of his sight. And he'd acted stupidly, irrationally, almost gotten his head blown off before John pulled him under cover. He was a mess, struggling to contain the panic clogging his neurons. And then she'd gone and almost gotten herself killed, and he had been quite sure he was going to vomit. Because if she died- he wasn't sure what he'd do.

He wasn't sure who he'd be without her. If he'd lost her.

But here she was. Safe.

For now.

She began whistling, a soft, sweet melody- one ever so familiar to the detective. And then he realized it was the song he'd been playing that morning.

She really was something.

And as he watched her, his mouth tugged a little. Pulling upwards ever so slightly, forming into almost a smile.

Not quite.

But Almost.

 

 

 

……

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Hudson hummed happily, sweeping the dust off the counter with her goose feather duster. She carefully set back down the book she'd lifted off the shelf, sighing as she stood back to examine her work.

A loud thump came from downstairs, followed by a groan and a snicker. Steps clipped up the stairs of 221 B, words clattering like cymbals.

Mrs. Hudson’s face brightened as she quickly set down her cleaning supplied, bustling to the door and swinging it open. “Oh, are you three finally back? Lovely. I've been wondering where you’ve been. There's a-”

The woman froze, her gaze traveling over the trio as her mouth slowly fell open. She didn't miss an inch, motherly eyes finding the bruises and smoke and scratches.

For a long while there was silence.

Then, finally-

“What on earth have you been doing?”





Chapter Text

“No.”

Sherlock stated bluntly.

John Watson growled, eyes narrowing as he glared at the child of a detective curled on the couch, huddled in his pajamas with a pout.

It was a bright day out, with a yellow sun and a grinning breeze, but Sherlock was having none of it. The blinds had all been shoved closed, cloaking 221b in a morbid shadow, leaving only the barest little sliver of light to stretch hopefully against the floor.

John groaned, swiping his hand down his face.

“You've been sulking for hours, Holmes! HOURS!”

“I haven't been sulking, I've been brooding.” Sherlock mumbled, his retort muffled by the black leather of the couch.

John rolled his eyes. “Stop brooding, then.”

“No.”

John ran his tongue over his teeth, and you could almost feel the frustration seeping from his pores. He shook his head, tired of trying to convince the younger Holmes into being reasonable. John stalked over to his armchair, exasperated as he plopped down into the soft cushions. Sherlock didn't seem to notice- or care- about the sudden lack of effort, the only movement on his part the steady rising and falling of his chest.

John sighed, propping up his chin upon his palm, looking almost defeated.

Almost.

Not entirely, though. The doctor pulled up his laptop to his lap, opening up his blog and beginning to type. He glanced at Sherlock, who was still seemingly indifferent to the situation. John turned back to his screen, fingers tapping absently at the keys. And then, as nonchalantly as he could, he spoke. “Is this about Quinn?”

Sherlock shot up, his dark curls a ruffled mess as he stared at the shorter doctor, the latter of whom was doing his best to stifle the smile on his face.

“Caunter? Of course not. Why would this be about her? She's entirely irrelevant to the situation at hand, and thinking of her would be entirely illogical. Therefore, I'm not thinking about her. Obviously. That would be ridiculous. It's unnecessary, a waste of storage and time. Don't be stupid. Shut up.” Sherlock huffed, very conscious he'd been rambling. He looked away, crossing his arms over his chest grumpily. And it was too dark to tell, but John was certain Sherlock's cheeks were redder than normal.

John’s mouth twitched, looking back at his computer as the urge to snicker became overwhelming. “Okay, then.” He said, unable to hide the amusement in his tone.

Sherlock’s eyes narrowed slightly, his suspension mounting. “Why are you smiling like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like… stop laughing!” Sherlock's voice grew slightly louder, brows furrowed.

John swallowed it down a few chuckles, although his simper refused to fade.. “Sorry. It's just- nevermind. Forget it.”

Sherlock scowled, still looking rather bothered. John payed him no further attention, eyes glued to the screen. Sherlock slowly leaned himself back on the couch, exhaling as his back his the seat. It was quiet again, besides the muted city ambience and the gently click of typing. Perhaps now he could finally concentrate without the unwelcome image of Quinn etched under his eyelids. She had been invading his thoughts and his focus, infiltrating his mind with stupid, stupid things that meant nothing for the past hour, and it had been driving him to the point where he was quite irritable.

Trival observations about the woman had suddenly popped up in Sherlock's mind palace uninvited, and it bothered him to no end. It was stupid things, things like her smile, and her laugh, and her voice, and her hair, and her eyes, and her smirk, and her banter, and her wit, and her cunning, and her everything.

Oh, wonderful, now he was thinking of her again. 

No. Don't dwell on that. On her. Think of murder. Arsenic. Serial killers. Cocaine. Tea. Beheadings. Anything. Just not her.

Oh, who was he kidding. That wasn't going to work.

It never did.

He supposed he had two options. Or three, really. One would be to indulge himself. To be kind, and try to figure out what it all meant. He could stop struggling and just let whatever happened happen, like a healthy human being would. He'd accept whatever came his way and deal with it like a responsible adult.

Ha.

Sherlock, responsible? Never.

Second option would be to continue to deny it. To push her out, wait for her to go away. To continue torturing himself like this for all of eternity- or until these… whatever it was, went away. Which, of now was any indication, it never would.

Shit.

The last option, one he found himself leaning towards, would be to kill himself.

He couldn't find any fault in his last plan. It seemed to be the least painful, and one with the most pleasent outcome. It was perfect, aside the fact that he'd be- well -  dead. His thoughts began to drift as he began absesntly pondering all the methods of ending his life. There was pills, of course, but John could just find Sherlock and take him to the hospital. He could slit his wrists, but that was painful, and John would surely be tramatized for life. He could hang himself, but that didn't really appeal, either. Shooting was always a wonderful method, but he'd prefer his brains intact with his skull when he was dead.

With his new thoughts, Quinn began fading. Sherlock wasn't actually considering ending his own life, of course, but it was enough of a thought to distract him from- well, from his previous distraction.

His eyelids fluttered close.

Finally.

Peace.

“You fancy her.”

Sherlock choked.

He jerked upwards, eyes flickering as they settled on John. His brain was suddenly on red alert, screaming sirens in his skull, and his throat had become very dry.

“W-What?”

John was grinning now, his teeth flashing as his face lit up. Apparently, Sherlock's reaction had confirmed something. “You like her! Oh my god. Sherlock Holmes has a crush on Quinn, everybody!”

Sherlock swallowed, trying to force down the… something, clogging his lungs . Although  he wasn't entirely sure why. It's not like he had anything to be wary of. John was just being an idiot. Sherlock? Fancy Quinn? Why, that was the stupidest… he didn't like her like- like that. He hardly liked her at all. In fact, he could say that he detested her. She was obnoxious, and reckless, and stubborn, and he'd been so much more content with his life before he'd met her.

Perhaps- yes, maybe he occasionally found her insight worthwhile. Occasionally. In a strictly professional manner, of course. Yes, maybe he did live with her, but it was always work first for the consultant detective. Well, yes, he supposed her company wasn't as repulsive as the rest of society, but- well, that didn't mean he liked her. Much less that he... sought after her. Fancied her. That would be the most… why, Sherlock… Quinn … that's… that would be…. That was...

A very probable notion.

No. No, it wasn't. He didn't like her. Not at all!.Well, maybe he held a… slight fondness for the girl, but sexually- romantically- he didn't- he couldn't-

The look John was giving him made Sherlock realize he'd just spoken half his thought process out loud. The taller detective felt his face grow warm as he swallowed it down with a scowl, ignoring the squirm in his gut. “Out of all the ridiculous notions you have ever suggested, John, this surely is the most stupid.” Sherlock said, loathing the slight irregularity of his tone.

Watson rose a brow. “Oh, because I'm sure it's platonic to install a tracking device on a friend's phone, hate every single one of their male friends, talk about them constantly, keep tabs on them twenty four seven, flirt with them endlessly, let them sleep on you, and hire people to stalk them. Totally platonic. Sherlock, I’m not blind. I see the way you look at her.”

“Look at who?”

John jumped, spinning around to see Quinn leaning in the doorframe, smirking lazily at the disgruntled detective. Sherlock's eyes flickered over her, his pulse spiking. Eyes quickly took in the dust on her boots, the flip in her hair, and the jacket draped over her form, quickly coming to the conclusion she hadn't been standing there for long, luckily.

She  rose a brow. “Are we gossiping? That's a sin, luv.”

“What are you doing here?” Sherlock asked coolly, ignoring her words. His eyes stayed fixed firmly on the woman as she peeled off her coat, tossing her silky locks out of her face.

“Well, if you don't remember, I sort of live here.” She retorted wryly, prompting snicker on John's part. He quickly turned it into a cough, hiding his smirk in his fist as the younger Holmes sent him a withering glare.

“I meant why aren't you with Mycroft? Aren't you two supposed to be visiting the Queen or something?”

Quinn eyes widened as though remembering something that had been hovering on the tip of her tongue. “Ah! Right. Mycroft. Yeah. I ditched him.”

“Ditched him?” John echoed, raising a brow.

“Yup,” She confirmed, popping the P. Sherlock's eyes trailed after her as she tugged off her boots, her jeans clinging to her toned legs. He quickly blinked, glancing away and making a very firm decision to keep his gaze upon her eyes.

“Won't you be fired?” John enquired, eyes slightly wide.

Quinn scoffed. “Fired? To him to fire me, I'd have to work for him. Perhaps Mycroft’s legally my supervisor, but he’s anything but my boss. Hell, he couldn't get rid of me if he wanted to! Well, I suppose he could, but would he? Now that's the question. Now why the hell is it so dark in here?” she suddenly asked, brows furrowing. “It's like a freaking cave.” She said, striding over to the window nearest to Sherlock.

She propped herself up on her tippy toes, stretching to grip the curtains. Her shirt rode up ever so slightly as she did so, exposing a few inches of wintery skin just above her waistband, and it pulled away a little of Sherlock's focus.

Sherlock wasn't distracted for very long, however, as she quickly flung open the heavy curtains.

The once dark room disappeared as a spurt of squealing sunlight danced across 221b, illuminating Quinn with a heavenly glow.

The light, a drastic contrast to the dusty darkness Sherlock had grown accustomed to, was nearly blinding to the detective. He blinked, eyes flickering in confusion as he squinted away the brightness.

“What the hell, Caunter?” He finally managed, filtering out the sunlight with his hand.

Quinn seemed amused. “What? I could barely see anything. I wouldn't even be able to tell if I was having a conversation with you or a wall!” She bounced over to another window, ‘fixing’ the curtains on it. This time, the light fell on John, who had been snorting at Sherlock’s reaction. Now Watson was frowning, shifting his laptop over his face to block out the sun.

“Your eyes would adjust. If I wanted sunlight, I'd go outside. Besides, sight is not necessary for communication.” Sherlock retorted, rolling his eyes.

“Yeah, maybe, but-” She ripped open another curtain, words nonchalant. “-I like looking at you.”

Sherlock twitched.

Quinn didn't seem to notice as she pried open the last window. She turned, hands on her hips as she examined her work with triumph.

“That’s better.”

She skipped over to Sherlock, unicorn socks patting against the wooden floor. And then she turned, plopping down next to him with a muted foompf, leather puckering around her form. She let out a deep sigh, a blissful, slightly suspicious smile sliding its way across her features as she leaned against the arm of the couch.

Sherlock ignored the pricking in his side, trying not to focus on the woman lounging next to him. She was just a person. A person who made his gut coil and his heartbeat accelerate and his brain go fuzzy and drove him insane- nope. Just a person. Associate. Partner. Flatmate. Companion. Friend. Not… that.

He exhaled softly, keeping his gaze fixed firmly in front of him. This was fine. As long as she wasn’t touching him, he should be able to keep his composer.

… and then he remembered who he was dealing with.

Quinn stretched her legs out across the couch- or what would have been the coach, had Sherlock not been sitting on it.

Instead, her legs pushed over the top of Sherlock's lap, knees straightening and toes wiggling. She didn't bother to remove them, settling further into the plush cushions- and Sherlock- her calves resting on the detective’s lap.

Fuck.

Sherlock went stiff. His eyes flickered, throat clogged with- with a lot of things, really, muscles taunt under the weight of her legs. He bit back a growl, shoving it down into his gut and locking the door.

Quinn was watching him, and though Sherlock didn't dare to look, he could almost feel her expression. One eyebrow cocked, lips quirking into a heart thumping smirk. Eyes sparking with a challenge, daring him to make the next move.

And fuck, was he tempted.

He swallowed.

And forced himself to pick up his phone, keeping his face impassive as he scrolled through the messages.

The moment passed.

Quinn sighed ever so softly, looking a little- disappointed?- at the lack of revenge. But she didn't move her legs.

Sherlock scowled, more pissed at himself then anything. Half of his head kept smacking him, yelling at his stupidity for not fixing himself on her while the other assured him he'd done the right thing. Honestly, he wasn't sure he believed either of them.

“Got a new case, yet?” Quinn implored lazily, toes wriggling under her fluffy socks.

Sherlock didn't look at her. He wasn't sure he’d be able to contain himself if he did. “Does it look like I’ve got a new case?” He snapped.

“Yes, it does. You're just too scared to solve it.”

She wasn't talking about murder.

He glanced at her despite all his better instincts, brow knit. “What are you suggesting?”

Her eyes were piercing, two yellow stars boring into his own. “Nothing at all, Mr. Holmes.”

His gut growled.

Stop.

He couldn't tear his gaze away.

What are you doing?

She was still staring.

Damn it. No.

Was she closer than before? He thought so- not that it mattered. His head wasn't functioning properly, and his gaze snagged at her lips for a fraction of a second- causing her to moisten them instinctively- he swallowed, air suddenly becoming very hard, and then-

Ping.

Sherlock jumped back, coughing violently as he picked up his phone, avoiding her gaze as he typed a reply to the person who had interrupted… whatever… that… was.

From his chair, John let out a breath of exasperation. Those stupid, stupid geniuses.

They could identify a man by his pinkie toe and find a murderer without a corpse and yet when it came to love, they were more oblivious than a penguin in the desert.

John had often found himself witnessing scenes such as this, grinding his teeth as they ignored the signs. John felt as though he was back in sixth grade, trying to force two hopelessly ignorant classmates to see each other. He'd want nothing more than to grab their heads and smash them together, to scream just how stupid they were. They were perfect- absolutely perfect for each other. John wasn't sure there would ever be two people more perfect for each other then Sherlock Holmes and Quinn Caunter.

And when John said perfect, he meant they'd probably end up killing each other daily. Their personalities clashed horribly, and John really was the only one keeping them from clawing out each other's eyes every hour. They were simply devastating together, like C-4 and an igniter, and whenever they met it was a catastrophe.

And yet, apart, they were useless. Objects uncomplete, purposeless without the other. Yes, perhaps they could be used to prop open a door or as a bookmark, but it was obviously missing something. Like a piano without a player, or a book without ink.

And they just made each other so happy.

Sherlock could deny it all he wanted, but John could see it. The way he smiled more around her. The way he would forget his demons. The way her presence could light up his day like a candle. The way he spoke with her, easy and with so much care. The way he looked at her when he thought no one was looking. He loved her, the blind bastard. Behind all Sherlock's scowls and huffs, he loved her. Loved her more then John had ever seen anyone love another human.

John watched them banter back and forth a while, Quinn's legs still draped over Sherlock's lap. Sherlock was looking at her odd again, the same way he looked at a crime scene. Deducing.

Deducing what?

Her. Trying to figure out what made her so different from the rest, and always coming up with an impossible conclusion.

John set his jaw. He was sick of this. Of them. They just needed a little shove in the right direction. He quickly opened a new entry on his blog, typing in a few eloquent paragraphs. It took him a while, but when he hit the last letter, it was so worth it. He quickly glanced over the words, eyes flickering quickly across the screen in satisfaction.

He smiled, ever so slightly, glancing to the two detectives- his best friends- sitting on the couch, trying their best to ignore the ever growing sexual tension in the air.

And then he hit submit.

Chapter Text

“People are staring. Why are they staring?”

Quinn asked, shoulder brushing against Sherlock's as they walked down the street.

Sun filtered through the cluttered, bustling streets, warming the cracked pavement with a soft blanket of light. The city reeked of fresh autumn and crisp wind, tickling Quinn's pink nose and causing her to hug her coat a little tighter to her skin. She instantly drifted a few inches closer to Sherlock, stealing a bit of his heat as she strode besides him, her skin occasionally bumping against his own and leaving little trails of goosebumps spreading across the taller detectives arms. She didn't seem to be conscious of her actions, and Sherlock wasn't entirely sure he was, either. It just felt far too natural to be questioned- in fact, it felt uncomfortabl e to be without her. And he knew that perhaps he was being to sentimental, but he couldn't exactly find it in him to care.

“People always stare, Caunter.” He brushed off her words, hands shoved in his coat pockets. What with Quinn's looks and extravagant behavior, Sherlock's stiff stature and their ever growing publicity, they tended to attract quite a lot of attention their way. Oh, and he supposed John was there, too.

“Yeah, but… I dunno. They're being weird.”

“All humans are weird. ” Sherlock replied, although he had noticed the crowd had been leering at them just a little more than usual, eyes greedy as they scanned the couple- no, not couple- duo with secret smiles slipping onto their faces, as though they were privy to some private information they were just bursting to spill.

“Besides, when does attention ever bother you?” He asked, continuing their walk.

“It doesn't. Nevermind. Forget I said anything.” She said, shaking her head, and Sherlock's gaze flickered to her suspiciously. She was being rather uncharacteristically submissive, and it was enough to our make Sherlock raise a brow. He didn't mention anything, though, eyes narrowed slightly as he scanned her for any cues. There were none. Which bothered him. Quinn wasn't necessarily the best at masking her emotions, being quite blunt with all of her motives. She'd walk up to someone and tell them she liked or hated them without batting an eyelash, preferring to stay an open book.

...most of the time.

When they'd first met, Sherlock had been completely and utterly baffled. By her. She made absolutely no sense whatsoever, and yet somehow all the sense in the universe. He couldn't figure out a single fragment about her, his brain filled with fuzz as she smirked wickedly down at him. Blank spaces filled the places he should have been able to see, static in its place like a badly tuned television.

Of course, he had known some things about her. Just the simple things, like how she held her guns, and how she had a distinctly American accent, and how she was most definitely the most attractive woman he had ever seen, but none of those things really meant anything. They were just common little quirks, but they didn't have any application or reasoning behind them. They didn't tell him anything about her- besides the fact that she was obviously the most incredible human being he had ever met. Still was.

Not that she was exactly good. No, Quinn Caunter was definitely not good. But that didn't mean she was any less marvelous.

The people were really starting, now. All attempts at being discreet had vanished, replaced with blatant looks and wondering gaze. Their eyes followed Quinn and Sherlocks path tightly, their sight unwavering as they flickered little giggles and smirks at each other. His brow twitched, eyes narrowed as he followed their gaze… right to where Quinn and Sherlock's shoulders brushed together.

“Sherlock?”

He blinked, shaking the thoughts from his skull. “What?”

You're staring, now.” She sounded amused, and she had that stupid, stupid smirk on her face again. The brisk breeze bit frost at her wintery skin, flushing her cheeks with a rosy glow, highlighting the few freckles speckled across her nose bridge.

“I was thinking.” Sherlock responded shortly.

“About what?”

“I don't really suppose that's your concern, is it?”

Quinn seemed as though she was about to retort when a cry from behind her and a “COMING THROUGH!” interrupted her thoughts. Before she could even blink, Sherlock had grabbed her by the shoulders and tugged her towards him, causing her yelp. Her hands wrapped around his torso tightly, halting her fall as her face smashed right into the center of his chest. His arm wove around her own, keeping her from knocking him over as he stumbled a step back.

“What the-?” Quinn's words were muffled by his coat, brain still registering the situation. Before she could even really realize where she was- or who she was holding onto- Sherlock had already peeled her off, eyes wide as they quickly examined her for any scrapes or bruises. The bike that had nearly flattened the woman was already darting out of sight, the oblivious rider shouting warnings at the pedestrians she flew down the street.

“-she could have bloody died- stupid kid- Or worse- hurt you- hurt someone -”

Quinn hadn't even realized Sherlock was talking until she felt his grip on her tighten.

“Are you alright?”

“No, I'm dying.”

Sherlock blinked.

Quinn glowered back, poker faced. “I really am. I'd best, I've got barely... sixty more years.”

Sherlock twitched.

“Don't be stupid, Caunter.”

“Don't be stupid, Caunter,” She mocked, pegging his accent down to the vowel as she raised a brow. She quickly reverted back to her own vocal patterns, making a face. “It's not my fault humans live such short, miserable lives.”

“But it is your fault you weren't paying attention.”

“And it's your fault for making us late.”

“Well, why aren't you walking, then?”

“Because you're still holding me.”

Sherlock's brow scrunched, gaze falling upon his hands as they clenched her shoulders tightly. His eyes widened slightly, hands flying off her as though he'd just touched molten lava. He quickly coughed, face tinted a dusty pink as he attempted to steady himself. Quinn was smirking at him, he could feel it as he shoved his fists into his pocket. A cocky, devilish dare of a smirk, lips teasing and testing and- and, well, driving his self control to the brink of insanity.

He allowed himself to wonder, just for a moment, what would happen if he screwed it all. If he forgot all the people watching and all the protocols he was breaking and the stupidity of his actions and the logic and just kissed her.

The world would still spin. The stars would still come out at night. The Queen would still rule England. Society would continue on its merry way.

So what the fuck was stopping him?

He nearly laughed. What was stopping him?

Everything.

He'd promised himself he'd never fall to the prison of domestic sentiment. Much less this…sappy… foolishl… whatever this was . Succumbing to her would only lead to pain, and ignorance, and folly, and hurt, and pleasure, and smiles, and happiness, and- shit, he was doing it again. No, she wouldn't give him any of that. Well, any of the good things. Quinn was dangerous, a reckless, impulsive, smirking devil of a woman whose favorite pastime was flirting with death and mocking the reaper. Mix that with Sherlock's pessimistic behavior, bad habits, bleak prospects, and his inexplicable capability of drawing disaster wherever he went and- well, you'd got yourself a full on catastrophe. Chances were, she'd end up getting herself murdered within ten minutes.

 

And if Quinn died, Sherlock would fucking lose it.

 

Quinn suddenly gasped, grabbing onto Sherlock’s arm, her grip unyielding as she pointed across the street.

“Oh my God,” She inhaled, stars dancing in her wide eyes as she violently shook the younger Holmes arm, bouncing up and down in a way that was quite reminiscent of a child. A jittery, caffeine-hyped child who had just seen an ice cream truck.

...Which she had.

Sherlock furrowed his brow at the overpriced, frozen sugar vendor across the street, shooting a skeptical glance down at the ecstatic woman.

“...You want ice cream?” He asked, looking doubtful. “It's November.”

She didn’t reply, too busy dragging him towards the stand. He stumbled after her, looking rather exasperated as she shoved a few pedestrians aside.  “Oh my God, Sherlock. I haven't seen one of these since New York! They’ve even got cookie dough! I’m gonna cry,” She exclaimed, squeezing the detective’s forearm so tight it hurt.

Sherlock rolled his eyes, trying to wiggle his arm out of her iron grip- to no avail. The girl was stronger then she let on. Although, considering her profession, it was sort of expected.

And the next thing he knew they were at the front of the line, Quinn looking almost as exuberant as the time John had bought her a snowglobe of the statue of liberty.

It had been the fourth of July- or friday, as the British called it- but to Quinn, it was the most important day in the entire year ( “Besides Christmas, of course. I mean, c’mon. It’s freaking Christmas.”) She’d basically rebelled against all of britain, and wore a giant American flag around her neck like a cape all day. Even in public. Any traces of british influence in her accent disappeared, and when Sherlock tried to drink the tea Mrs. Hudson had brought up for them she’d grabbed the cup from his grip and smashed it out the window.

Let’s just say that wasn’t exactly Quinn and Sherlock’s best day together.

John, being the thoughtful bastard he was, decided to stop by the nearest tourist stand and buy an incredibly overpriced, slightly tacky, very, very American snowglobe. When Quinn had opened it up, She’d nearly cried, thrown her arms around the blond’s neck and given him a kiss.

Sherlock had suddenly developed the very odd urge to chuck the snow globe at the wall.

He didn't, though.

And Quinn had continued to ignore him.

Sherlock faded back into reality with a scowl, the pressure on his arm being relieved as Quinn removed her grasp on him.

The smiley vendor waved off the last customer, stuffing the cash they’d handed him into a register on his left. “Hi,” he began cheerfully, closing the drawer. “What can I do-”

He finally glanced up, and came face to face with Quinn, a cheshire grin spread across her features. She pressed right up against the truck, standing on her tippy toes to stay eyelevel. Sherlock stood next to her, looking rather bored with the turn of events. Quinn, on the other hand...

“Hiya, Phil!” She exclaimed happily, teeth flashing.

The man looked a little disoriented, brows knitting in confusion. “Um, my name is David.”

“Great! Do you got waffle cones?” She asked, not missing a beat.

He nodded, giving a quick smile as he regained his composer. “Yeah, we do.”

“Fantastic. What about the waffle cones dipped in chocolate?”

“Uh, we only have that in a large.”

“That's what I wanted, anyways. With one scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough and one scoop of oreo, please! Ooh, and lots of whipped cream. Also, sprinkles. ALL the sprinkles. Like, a whole bucket full.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

“Oh, and Sherlock wants a popsicle.”

The vendor blinked.

Quinn sighed. “An ice lolly.”

“Oh.”

And so that's how they ended up eating ice cream in the middle of autumn.

Quinn sat next to Sherlock on the park bench, licking her (expensive) desert contently. Her legs swung, a rather drastic comparison to Sherlock’s stiff demeanor.

Quinn's tongue caught an escaping droplet of cream, chasing it into her mouth with a happy little hum. Sherlock, on the other hand, wasn't exactly very enthusiastic about food in general, and was very slowly working away at his lemon pop, much preferring to watch Quinn wolf down her own treat than finish his.

They didn't really talk, for a while. Just sort of watched. A child across the street was whining at his mother, a group of teenagers laughed, and two girls held hands and talked about college. Crisp autumn leaves fluttered from the trees, their vibrant hues of dappled orange and red a stark contrast to the greyed, bustling, city. A chill of a wind brushed by them, stirring the branches of the trees and sweeping away a few more of its colors.

“Weren't we supposed to be meeting John?”

“Yes.”

Silence.

“Whoops.”

Sherlock resisted the urge to snicker, continuing to survey the scene. Quinn nibbled at the edge of her cone, running her tongue over her teeth to sweep away any last traces of sugar. She supposed it was good enough, although nothing really could compare to whisky. She didn't know how long she'd gone without a drink. Since she met Sherlock, the absence of alcohol in her system had never been quite as pressing as before. Two years ago, she would have had a flask on her at all times. Now, it was just her gun. Although she supposed she could give some credit to John; the doctor was very firm on his stance of drunkenness.

Quinn still drank too much, though. Far too much. Luckily, her incredibly high alcohol tolerance usually kept her decently sober. Although there was that time when she and Lestrade went out and then have a drinking competition- that didn't really end so well for either parties, especially Lestrade. The man had grumbled into work the next day, hair askew, bags under his bloodshot eyes and mumbling something about the sanity of the younger woman. Quinn had apparently lasted seven more glasses after Lestrade had blacked out, and Lestrade had one of the highest tolerances in London.

Although Quinn still had a hangover. Which meant flopping down on Sherlock's bed all day ( “Your room is downstairs, Caunter.” “Fuck off.”) and binge watching an entire season of Parks and Recreation or Doctor Who. Sometimes both.

Sherlock couldn't possibly fathom why she'd fill herself with that mind dulling liquid so often, although he supposed he couldn't really be one to judge. After all, he was an addict himself.

Quinn suddenly froze, eyes fixed on her ice cream cone.

“Oh my God.”

Sherlock couldn't seem to help himself, glancing at her with hesitant curiosity. The woman was staring down at her ice cream cone, staring at the slip of paper that had been hidden in between the layers of calories. Before Sherlock could read what it said, however, she'd already stuffed the note away, sighing.

“It really isn't polite to spy, Mycroft,” She called to the air, standing up with a huff.

Sherlock glared at nothing, rolling his eyes for the twelfth time that day as Quinn adjusted her coat, sighing as she re-buttoned the ornate clips. Sherlock watched her, reminding himself to have a word with his brother about custody of Quinn when he had the chance. And when he said have a word, he meant pouting and glaring and pestering him until he left Quinn alone.

“Sorry, love, but I gotta go, apparently,” She told Sherlock reluctantly, wiping a streak of ice cream off her chin. Sherlock scowled harder, brows wrinkling deeply.

Right on cue a slick black car drove up in front of them, tinted windows reflecting the light as Quinn stepped into the shining vehicle.

“Tell Johnny I said hi, ‘kay?”

Before the detective could even open his mouth the car had already sped off, leaving Sherlock alone with nothing but an ice lolly and a rather large hole in his heart.

He took another lick of the pop.

It was sour.

 

……

 

“So.”

Mycroft Holmes surveyed Quinn warily, hands tucked behind his back. His finely pressed suit creased as he adjusted his footing, jaw shifting as he decided how to phase his next statement.

“Please don't tell me you kidnapped me just to say so, Mike.”

Mycroft's brow twitched. “As I seem to recall, Miss Caunter, you came willingly.”

Quinn gave him a look, spread leisurely across his plush, velvet armchair. Her nails tapped against a spare copy of some old timey British book, the flames dancing in the fireplace behind her. The room smelled of oak, lavender and crackling fire, mingling with the faintest traces of cigarettes as the scent bleed into hethe creamy sweater. It sort of reminded Quinn of Sherlock, only less rough and more flowery. “You were gonna make me come either way. Just because I have dignity doesn't mean you aren't a control freak with a stupid power complex.” She said, eying the little tray of pastries across the table with heightened interest.

Mycroft scowled. “I do not have a-” he cut himself off, sighing as he attempted to calm himself. “Miss Caunter, I do not have time for this.” He said heavily, beginning to pace.

“I assume you know why you’re here?”

“Because you wanted to hang out?”

Mycroft sent her a glance, causing her to roll her eyes and let out a groan. “Because you wanted a report or favor or some shit. Although I already gave you all of that last week. We aren’t even supposed to meet til next month.”

“Yes, well, things have changed. An issue has arisen, one that I’m sure you’re aware of?” Mycroft suggested, brushing his fingers against his spotless desk as he glanced up at her.

“Unless you’re referring to the coffee shop incident, then no. It was an accident, I swear. It’s not my fault the dude was carrying a bomb! Besides, I got everyone out of there in time before he blew himself up. Even Sherl! So I really don’t-”

Mycroft interrupted her ramblings with a raised hand. “That’s not what I was speaking of, Miss. Caunter-”

“For God's sake, Mycroft, my name is Quinn . Seriously, what's up with you Holmes and your formality?” Quinn stretched her arm over to the tray, legs bobbing over the armrest as she popped a sugar cookie into her mouth. The fine sugar clung to her mouth, dusting her dark lips with delicate little crystals.

Mycroft watched her scarf down the flakey treat warily, as though debating his words.  “I do not see the problem with referring to you by your surname.”

Quinn groaned, rolling her eyes. “It’s weird for friends to call each other miss and mister,  Mycroft.”

Mycroft scowled. “And what makes you think we're… friends?” He said the word like it was a curse, disgust rolling off the syllables like bile.

If Mycroft's skepticism bothered Quinn, she didn’t show it. “Well, we've known each other for, like, forever. I'm the only non-enemy you have who you don't consider a complete idiot. At the very least, I’m the best friend you have. And I'm pretty sure that warrants being called by my first name.”

Mycroft pursed his lips, eyeing her with a very deliberated, very careful gaze. “Intermingling work life and domestic life is strictly forbidden, Miss Caunter. I am your supervisor, thus, it would be incredibly unprecedented and highly unethical for me to have any sort of personal relationship with you beyond the necessary measures required for your… occupation.”

Quinn scoffed. “Since when do you care about ethics?”

Mycroft bristled. “Since always.”

Quinn gave him a look as though he'd just cracked the joke of the century. “Then why the hell did you hire me?”

Mycroft didn't seem as though he knew how to answer that question, and when he couldn't come up with a responsible response, huffed deeply. “I didn't bring you here to argue, Miss Caunter. Although, staying on the subject of ethics…” He said, something creeping behind his vocal chords as he found a seat across from her, folding his spindle fingers against his lap. His gaze followed her as she scarfed down the rest of the cookie, tongue lapping the rest of the crumbs off her hand.

“There is actually something I've been meaning to discuss with you. Which I just did, although I’m fairly certain you were not listening. Recently, It has been brought to my attention that your relationship with my brother has been…” he struggled to find the right words. “... quite friendly.”

Quinn made a face. “Well, I still think he hates me, but I try.”

Mycroft nearly laughed. “ Hates you? My dear, my brother does anything but hate you. Actually, it's the fact he doesn't loathe you that bothers me.”

Quinn's eyes narrowed. “Why?”

He took a moment to respond, spreading his fingers out across his knees. And when he finally spoke, he didn't exactly answer her question. “Miss. Caunter, are you fond of Sherlock Holmes?”

“Well, duh. That bastards probably the only reason I haven't ditched this place yet.”

Mycroft seemed dissatisfied with her answer. “There have been… rumors. Sources tell me you and Sherlock have gotten quite close, correct?”

Quinn pretended to think about it. “Well, close is a rather ambiguous term, isn't it?”

“Besides being work… buddies, is what I meant. How would you describe your relationship? Flatemates, Partners, friends… ” Mycroft glanced up at her. “Friends with benefits?” He suggested delicately.

“Is this Mycroft for asking if I'm fucking Sherlock?” Quinn asked blatantly, glancing up at Mycroft in amusement.

Mycroft pinkened slightly at her unabashed words. “My sources are highly informative, Miss Caunter.”

Quinn propped herself up on her elbows, raising a brow at the older Holmes with a smug smirk, not at all bothered with the conversation at hand or the notions Mycroft was suggesting.

“Tell me, Mycroft, is it really proper for you to be using your government power to stalk your little brother? It's certainly sweet, but I'm pretty sure someone told me that ‘intermingling work life and domestic life is strictly forbidden.’” Quinn said innocently, twirling a silky lock of hair around her index finger.

Mycroft scowled at the usage of his previous statement. “It is . However, this is not a family affair. As you remember, Quin- Miss Caunter, I am your supervisor. Being so, it is my duty to recognize all areas of your life relevant to your work.”

Quinn groaned. “And how is Sherlock relevant to my work, Mom? ” Quinn glowered right back, eyes fixated on the man lecturing her.

“Why don't you tell me?”

“I'm not fucking Sherlock, okay? God, Mycroft.” Quinn ran her hands through her locks, looking a little upset and possibly- flustered ?

Pshhth. Quinn Caunter, flustered? Never.

Mycroft paused.

“Miss Caunter, my sources are highly credible.”

Quinn wrinkled her nose. “What, did you wiretap 221b again? I told you, that’s creepy. Besides, It’s not like I-” Her eyes suddenly narrowed, something flickering under the glassy surface. “Wait- did Sherlock- did he say something?” Quinn asked, her tone changing entirely.

Mycroft shook his head. “No. Actually, my source is far more reliable than a quote from my brother.”

“What did you do this time? Put cameras in, you pervert?”

“Language.” He scolded. “And no, there was not any invasion of privacy involved in this testimony, Miss Caunter.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything.” she muttered under her breath.

Mycroft sent her a disapproving look. “If you really must know, my information was posted on the internet.”

“And that’s reliable to you?”

“From a blog.”

“Bloggers are weirdos. Have you ever read their fanfictions?”

“From a very specific blogger.”

“Who?”

“Doctor John Watson.”

 

…………………….

 

Quinn went still.

Very still. Very, very still.

At first, Mycroft thought she might have died. It was certainly the longest amount of time the elder Holmes had seen her silent. Perhaps he’d given her a heart attack. Or maybe it was the giant mass of sweets she’d just consumed finally taking its toll. Either way, Mycroft was going to hate himself.

But then she blinked.

Once.

Twice.

Then-

“John.”

The word felt eerie, not quite a question and not quite a statement, disturbingly calm against the womans lips.

“Yes.”

“John Watson.”

“Yes.”

“John Watson posted shit about me and Sherlock.”

“Yes.”

“And now everyone thinks we’re shagging.”

“Yes.”

She went quiet.

And then-

“Does Sherlock know?”

“Apparently not.”

The room fell once again into silence, not a sound besides the even breath of the woman in front of Mycroft and the soft crackling of the fire behind him.

And then Quinn stood suddenly, back straightening. Her expression was clouded, dark with shadows and something Mycroft couldn’t recognize.

“Please excuse me, Mr. Holmes.” She said, her voice lacking any sort of anything. It was blank, dull, empty.

“But I’ve got a doctor to kill.”

Chapter Text

“... Yup, that's definitely sprained.”

 

The sun yawned upon 221 B Baker street, the brisk breeze sweeping by its sleepy rays and cooling the city into a coat inducing chill. The yellowing leaves were just beginning to turn, morphing into warm oranges and reds and peppering the grayed buildings of britain with the brilliant hues of fall. Sunlight filtered through the opened window, sending a soft chill through the cluttered apartment.

 

John was leaning down, prodding Quinn's foot lightly. She winced, biting her lip stiffly as the doctor examined her ankle. Sherlock stood behind him, hands shoved in his pockets as he studied her carefully. He appeared almost- concerned ? It was probably just the light, though.

 

“It isn't anything too serious, luckily,” John continued, leaning back as he glanced up at her.
Sherlock let out a soft breath of relief, a sound that probably would have drawn attention from Quinn had her foot not been throbbing so very terribly.
"It isn't too serious ? I just twisted my ankle, damn it, I sort of want some pity." Quinn puffed out her rosy cheeks, glaring at her ankle with absolute loathing.

John paused. “Um, Okay, then. It's pretty bad.”

“Well, gee, thanks for comforting me,” Quinn turned her scowl to him, crossing her arms and sinking back into Sherlock’s armchair with a huff.

John seemed as though he wanted to say something, but finally settled on just shaking his head, deciding it best not to argue with his questionably sane friend.

“Ow-! Watch where you're poking, John,” Quinn yelped as the doctor proceed a particularly tender portion of her foot. Quinn's fingers dug into the armrest, something that Sherlock noticed with a frown.

Gripping the chair that tightly meant she was in quite a lot of pain, despite the fact that Quinn had a very high pain tolerance. He'd know, he'd experimented on her to figure out just how much pain she could bare before giving up. He'd told (ordered, really) her to stick her hand into a bucket of ice water, carefully examining her expressions and the length of time she could contain herself. The average female of her age and weight tended to last roughly one hundred seconds, while men (such as John) tend to last eighty. Quinn had gone two hundred thirty two seconds without so much as a flinch. Sherlock had been forced to pry her hand out of frigid water for safety reasons, since she'd lost control off nearly all the nerves in her right hand. Since her reflexes were still sharp as a whip, he'd known it couldn't have been damaged receptors. More likely, it was just a genetic mutation she'd acquired at conception. Then again, tolerances can be built up by exposure. So if she'd gone through enough pain in her past-

“Sorry,” John interrupted Sherlock's thoughts, easing the pressure on Quinn’s ankle.

“I'll never forgive you.” She deadpanned back, causing John to smile tightly. Apparently he was still bothered by something. If Quinn noticed, she didn't say anything.

John gingerly turned over her swollen foot, squinting at it as he softly pressed his thumb into her arch.

“It’s pretty bruised. How'd you even sprain it in the first place?”

Quinn's eyes widened slightly as she spared a glance at Sherlock, who suddenly refused to meet her eyes. The prior events of the night- or day, they'd been out since 2:00 AM- was still a little too fresh in his mind.

 

~ five hours previously~

 

Sherlock wasn't sure what was happening.

But something certainly had, because he was currently pinning Quinn Caunter to the closet wall.

They'd been on a case. A sort of personal one. One that may or may not had involved less than legal trespassing.

Quinn had finally confided in a painfully oblivious Sherlock that Lestrade thought… well, Lestrade and the entire station basically thought Quinn and Sherlock were… romantically entangled. He'd nearly choked on his tea, quickly inquiring how'd they'd ever conceived such a notion. Quinn had waved him off, assuring him she'd taken care of it. John didn't seem to know, either, although he seemed a bit tense when he spoke.

Basically, Lestrade had been teasing them all month, and Quinn had decided it was time for a little payback. And Sherlock… well, Sherlock was trying to keep her from killing herself.

It was dark, the sky twinkling with stardust, the pale light of the moon illuminating Quinn’s shimmery hair. Her eyes glimmered like molten gold, brighter and bolder than any star Sherlock had ever seen. Her boots clicked against the dull pavement, jeans pulled tight against her toned, long legs, hips swaying to a silent beat. She wore a tight cream colored shirt, the cotton of which clung to her curves as though it had been made for her. The soft sleeves went halfway up her forearms, stripes melting into waves as her shirt creased with her steps. She'd pulled her hair up into a messy ponytail, a few stray locks bouncing around her flushed cheeks as she strode. She walked with her back straightened, oozing a certain sort of confident ease Sherlock had never quite been able to place.

She was something… different. Special. There was just something about her, something he couldn't understand, something that drove him to the brink of insanity. Sherlock strode silently next to her, hands shoved in his pockets as he studied her carefully. He wasn't exactly sure why, but he suddenly felt the urge to reach out and touch her.

He didn't, though.

They'd arrived at the gates of the building, the towering iron bars dwarfing the detectives as they halted. Sherlock eyed it warily, figuring out how to hack into the system, when a clatter from next to him alerted the detective that Quinn had just jumped the fence. She scaled it with ease, sliding down the slick bars and hitting the floor with a soft thud. Which didn't exactly make sense. The gate had been roughly fifteen feet tall, with no footholds or anything to cling onto. Quinn had just jumped it like it was hopscotch, smirking lazily at Holmes from the other side.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes.

How the hell had she-?

She interrupted him by punching in a code, shutting off the power to the gates before shoving them open for the taller detective.

Ladies first,” she'd smirked, holding out an arm for Sherlock.

He'd given her a look. “I could have entered the code from out here, Caunter .”

“Yeah, but you didn't. Also, this was way more badass.” She said, leaning into his face to give him a smirk before skipping off towards the door.

Sherlock scowled .

They'd snuck into the building without a hitch ( “Shit, Caunter, you're going to set off an alarm!” “I know what I'm fucking doing, Sherl!” “Oww !”), gotten up to the top floor, ( “Wrong floor.” “No, it isn't!” “Yes, it is, Caunter. Look.” “...Shut up .”) and successfully found the office ( “I’m pretty sure this is is.” “How many times must I assure you this is not?” “Says you!” “Yes, says I! We’ve been here before, this isn’t his office!” “Obviously! Why’d you say it was in the first place!” “Caunter, you are the most insufferable, stupid human I’ve ever had the displeasure of being stuck with.” “Ditto.”)

Quinn bit her tongue as she picked the lock, grabbing Sherlock's hand as she pulled him into the room. He didn't comment about how long she held onto his fingers, but he sure as hell noticed. He also noticed just how soft her hand felt in his own, and how perfectly it fit in his palm… not that he liked it, or anything. It was just an observation.

She quickly stepped towards the desk,  sliding her navy duffle bag off her shoulder and shoving her hand into it, rifling through the contents. Sherlock watched her warily as she slid out a few rolls of toilet paper, along with several plastic containers of lewdly shaped confetti and shaving cream.

“This is stupid, Caunter,” Sherlock stated, crossing his arms as he observed her.

Quinn was smirking widely, ripping open the flimsy packaging of the paper and beginning to unravel it. “Then why the hell did you come?”

“Because if you got in trouble, Mycroft would be pissed, and he'd take it out on me.” Which was mostly true. Although it hadn't been the only reason he'd tagged along.

“Oh, just admit that you actually like to have fun,” She chuckled, tossing the paper along the room and essentially creating a janitor's nightmare.

She tossed a roll at Sherlock. The detective caught it, looking disgruntled as he pulled the thin sheets off his shoulder. “And how does vandalizing count as fun?”

“Are you kidding? Nothing's more fun than petty revenge! Well, besides maybe rum. Or sex. But nevermind. I used to do this all the time when I was a kid.”

There was a beat.

“The pranking, not the sex. I mean, yeah, I messed around, but- nevermind. Just- Actually, just forget I said anything. Anyways,” She coughed, sloppily setting up a bucket of confetti near the door. “Are you going to help me or not?”

Sherlock thought about it.

“No.”

“Okay, but you're still an accomplice.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

Quinn hadn't been lying when she said she was good at this. Fifteen minutes later and the room was more chaotic than a daycare on a weekend. Mountains of shaving cream filled out the forest of toilet paper she'd created, and glitter was spilled all over the room. Quinn stepped back, hands on her hips as she surveyed her work with triumph.

“It's beautiful.”

“You do realize we could be arrested for this, right?”

“Yeah, but I've got Mycroft to bail me out. That man is literally the British Government. You should see all the crap he’s been able to get me out off. Go diplomatic immunity!” She exclaimed loudly, pumping an arm into the air with mock cheer.

Sherlock hissed at her to keep her voice down, and when she failed to comply, he was forced to clamp a hand over her mouth to shut her up.

Her lips were against his palm, so soft and so warm and so… wet?

Had she just- had she just licked him???

Sherlock quickly withdrew his hand, staring at her in a mixture of shock and disgust. She merely shrugged in return, wiping her mouth on her sleeve and zipping up the duffle bag. “Try that again, Holmes, and I swear to God I will bite you.” She said absently, grabbing her bag and slinging it back over her shoulder.

They'd got all the way down the hall, steps lighter than air as they snuck away. For breaking into a government office in the middle of the night, things had done surprisingly well.

… which, of course, meant he had just jinxed it.

Light streamed through the hall, a familiar shadow casting it's frame along the hall. Quinn's eyes went wide as Lestrade’s footsteps approached, the heavy, rhythmic thumping of his boots on the cold tile the sound of true panic.

Before Sherlock even had time to register what was happening, Quinn suddenly grabbed his arm, feet squeaking as she tugged him tightly into her. They tumbled backward, a tangle of limbs and clothes as they fell into a… closet? As they fell into a narrow, cramped cupboard that barely fit one person, let alone two adults.

There was a little crack, one that sounded suspiciously of bone, but Sherlock didn't have much time to linger on it. His mind immediately went blank as he realized exactly what was happening.

He was pressed up against her, her back hitting the wall violently at their momentum. They were a mess of pressure and heat and awareness, Sherlock’s stiff body pressing her hard against the plaster. Sherlock's head slipped against hers, his face flush against her jaw and sending Sherlock's heart up into his esophagus. She let out a tiny, stifled little yelp as his leg hiked up in between her own, jean clad thighs, her whimper eliciting Sherlock’s breath to hitch in his throat as his grip on her tightened. Her hands fisted his burgundy shirt tightly, twisting the fabric as her ample chest heaved against his. Her shirt had somehow ridden up in the stumble, leaving a bare strip of wintery, oh-so-sweet flesh just above the waistband of her dark jeans. Sherlock couldn't seem to make coherent thought, the scent of her hair and the feeling of her tangled up under him causing dark notions to swirl around his soul. Her foot shifted and she bit her lip, pain flashing across her features as she stifled a cry.

Shit.

Oh, shit.

Sherlock Holmes did not believe in God, but if he did, Sherlock figured He'd be laughing. Although this really, really wasn't funny. Torturous would probably be a better word for it. He’d supposed this was punishment for all the times he’d been rude or whatever the hell he’d screwed up in his life. She’d just twisted her ankle, for Christs sake, and Sherlock was thinking about her like- like that . He really was a bastard, wasn't he? Although, it wasn't completely his fault. She was everywhere, the scent of her skin and her shampoo filling his lungs. Her curves pressed against him were far more distracting than any drug he'd ever taken, and it really, really wasn't helping that she was- that she was- holy shit -

 

………

 

“I was drunk and tripped.”

Quinn fibbed easily, not missing a beat.

Sherlock shook himself from his mind palace, blinking rapidly at Quinn as he stared at her very, very sincere lie.

She showed absolutely no signs of deception, completely and utterly honest as she nodded at John. Had Sherlock not been a witness to the actual… er, stumble, he would have testified on his life that she was telling the truth. Sherlock could always, always tell when someone was lying- except perhaps when Jim Moriarty lied, but Jim Moriarty was a psychopath who'd had quite a lot of experience in manipulation. And Quinn was just a- well, she wasn’t a psychopath, that much was sure.

Probably.

Sherlock's musing were interrupted by John.

“Drunk?” John echoed, looking apprehensive.

“No, I was abducted by aliens. Yes, I was drunk. Use your ears, John,” She retorted, her words not reaching her eyes as she shot Sherlock a wink. The curly haired detective scowled, ignoring the slight acceleration of his heartbeat.

Dear God, what had this woman done to him? It was just a wink . It was literally just the rapid blinking of one eye, and he was somehow... flustered. Christ, was he pathetic.

“I thought you were quitting drinking, Quinn,” John asked, his tone wavering with accusation.

John’s disposition on alcohol was pretty clear. Although the doctor himself would drink occasionally, he'd had to deal with his sister and the repercussions of her addictions far too many times for him to condone any excess intake of the drink. And Quinn- well, excess intake was her middle name. She'd never been too drunk around John, of course, since Mycroft normally had someone pick her up when she was heavily intoxicated. But there had been a few times she'd shown up at 221 B, her breath smelling of whisky as Sherlock dragged her inside.

“Yeah, well, whoops.”

John gave her a look.

“This is serious.”

“I'm sorry, okay? But in my defense, I really wanted to drink.”

“That isn't an excuse!”

“Well… whoops?”

John sighed, pointedly ignored her words as he finishing up Quinn’s splint with a careful pin. He leaned back on his haunches.

“Well, you should be okay. Maybe take a few pain killers. Just make sure you ice it and stay off your feet for a week or so.”

Quinn groaned, pulling up her throbbing ankle to her lap and wrapping her hands around the burning skin. “But it's so cold out, I don't want to ice-”

She froze.

“Wait a second, did you say a week?”

John furrowed. “Give or take, yeah. Why?”

Quinn's eyes widened. “Wh-what? No, no, no. John, I can't stay inside for a week! We've got cases! We're on a case!” She scrambled, pressing herself up away from him. She attempted to stand, wincing painfully as she teetered onto her feet. She gripped the couch tightly. Even with the support, she was struggling to keep in a yelp. She steadied herself, forcing a very artificial smile onto her face as she leaned against the chair dependently.

“See? Look, I'm p-perfectly fine.”

John stood up, worry watched throughout his features as he tried to stop Quinn. “No, you really aren't- you're gonna hurt yourself, Quinn-”

Before John could even touch her, he was suddenly shoved out of the way by Sherlock as the detective strode towards the surprised woman.

And then, quite suddenly, he was holding her.

Quinn yelped as she was abruptly lifted, arms quickly finding Sherlock's shoulders and gripping them tightly as her brows scrunched in confusion.

She landed on the leather couch with a muffled whoompf, the chocolatey cushions puckering up around her form. She was sprawled over the furniture, and her feet were gently propped up by the armrest. Her hair fanned out around her flushed face as she stared up at the taller detective.

“The hell was that?” she asked in bewilderment, trying to sit up. Sherlock grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back down, stone faced.

“You are not to get up until John says you're better.” He ordered her firmly, causing her mouth to fall open.

“What- I'm fine!” She protested, trying to sit up. Sherlock pushed her down again.

“No, you are not.”

“Uh, yeah, I am!”

“John, tell her she's not okay.”

Quinn hurtled his gaze towards John. “John, tell him I'm okay.”

John glanced between them.

“Quinn, as much as I would like to side with you, you really aren't alright.” John began reluctantly, not wanting to get on Quinn’s bad side yet again. “And if you go out like this, you’ll do nothing but make your sprain worse.”

“And how the hell would you know?”

There was a pause.

“He’s a doctor, Caunter.”

“Oh, and I’m a virgin.” Quinn grumbled under her breath, rolling her eyes.

Sherlock stiffened.

It was pretty well known Quinn… well, she definitely wasn’t a virgin. It wasn’t that she was a- as she would say, a slut- but she had quite a decent amount of sex in her life. To her credit, most of it happened when she was drunk, but still. Flirting was just in her nature. And it did help that she looked like a bloody model, of course.

Quinn tried to sit back up. Sherlock, yet again, pushed her down.

“You’re going to hurt yourself if you try to walk,” John told her.

“I’ve been hurt worse. I’m fine.”

Just because you have been injured comparatively worse in the past does not- stop hitting me, Caunte r- does not mean this wound is not severe.”

Sherlock frowned down at her. “Do not make me handcuff you.”

“Wha- you’re kidnapping me, now?” She asked in bewilderment.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Please. You live here. It’s barely even house arrest.”

“Oh, well, then, that makes it okay.” Quinn replied under her breath. “I’d get Mrs. Hudson to break me out, you know this.”

“Obviously. But you're a decently bright human, so I assume you will stay put as to not further injure yourself.”

Quinn cocked a brow at him. “And since when do you care about me getting hurt?

Sherlock twitched. “Since Mycroft will be pissed if you become crippled. You’re already enough of a bother, and I for one, do not want to deal with a liability .” Sherlock responded cooly.

He didn’t tell her it was because he couldn’t bare the thought of her hurt. He didn’t tell her she would be on his mind for the rest of the day, or that he’d not be able to sleep because he was worried about her. He didn’t tell her he cared about her so much that even a nick on her could make his blood boil.

Why? Because he was a stupid prick, that was why.

Quinn faltered.

Which was odd, because she never faltered. Nothing could ever get to her. Sherlock knew this by experience. He’d been ever so rude to her, and she never missed a beat.

But the smile had slid off her face, replaced by something Sherlock couldn’t quite understand. He furrowed his brow.

And then, as soon as it had fallen, a smirk found it’s way back onto her face.

“Oh, like I’m the liability. As I seem to recall, I was the one who got the Westsonville killer arrested, Sherlock.”

“And in the process, nearly got John and I shot in the head.” He responded, looking exasperated.

She waved him off. “Oh, details, details. Whatever. Look, I’m fine! I’ve gotten around a broken leg before, a twisted ankle is fine. See, I can still move- OH, FUCK ME.”

John jumped at her outburst, his eyes wide as she clutched her swollen foot desperately. Sherlock hadn’t flinched, but was now staring at the woman with narrowed eyes as she inhaled deeply. She whimpered softly, biting her lip as she gingerly nursed her tender ankle.

“I did you to stop moving, Caunter.”

She winced. “Yeah, you did, and I didn't listen, and I'm fine.

Sherlock sent John a look, as though ordering him to reason with the woman. Quinn did tend to be more cooperative with the blond doctor, although Sherlock never knew quite why. John caught the expression, nodding slightly as he turned to the frustrated female.

“Quinn, as your friend, I'd advise you to listen to Sherlock. Just rest yourself for a little. Staining yourself will only worsen your condition. It won't be long, I promise. Just stay home for a bit, and you'll be good as new in no time at all. Besides, you can work on the case here.”

Quinn's expression softened, just a little. She smiled gently at the shorter man, lips quirking slightly.

“Screw you.”

Okay, perhaps Quinn wasn't always cooperative with John. But hey, he'd gotten closer than Sherlock had. At least she hadn't yelled or threatened to punch him in the throat.

“You know, if you guys try to leave me here, I'll just follow you. So you might as well just accept your fate.”

Sherlock glared at her, eyes narrowed and dark.

And then he suddenly spun around, hands shoved into his pockets as he stalked into the kitchen, grabbing his coat off the hanger and throwing it on before heading down the stairs. His familiar tread faded away as he stormed off, leaving John and Quinn to stare after him.

“A-ha!” Quinn called down the stairs with a wicked smirk of triumph. “Finally giving in, Sherlock? I have to be honest, I didn't think it was going to be that easy. I guess I'm wearing you down… af...ter… all...”

Quinn’s voice faded out as she stared down at her wrists, features going blank. The sound of metal clanking and the rough scrape of handcuffs against creamy skin brought disbelief to the woman's gold eyes, even as she touched the binds herself.

 

“HOLMES!”

 

Chapter Text

“John.”

John .”

JOHN .”

“JAWWWWWN!

“WHAT?” John asked (read: yelled) in exasperation, slamming down his mug onto the table and turning his head towards the couch. Lukewarm tea sloshed over the lip of the cup and dribbled onto John's sweater, much to his annoyance.

A very familiar female was lying upside down on the dark leather, her head dancing off the seat. Metal clacked against wood as her handcuffs dangled off her wrists, the restrains connected by a chain to the leg of the couch. Her hair pooled onto the floor, surely picking up all sort of dust, but she didn't seem to mind. Her face was flushed as gravity rushed blood into her head.

“What time is it?” She inquired nonchalantly.

John inhaled, roughly half a nanometer away from snapping.

Breath. Just breath. Jesus, and I thought Holmes was bad.

“There- there's a clock right in front of you, Quinn.” He managed, forcing a very, very artificial smile onto his face and trying to ignore the urge to punch the wall.

“I'm not stupid, I know that. And you didn't answer my question.”

“Well, it hasn't been very long since the last eighteen times you asked.”

“Seventeen.” She corrected, examining her chipped nails with little interest.

John twitched. “You know, I can't help but feel you're trying to be annoying.”

Quinn gasped in mock horror, holding up her hands to her heart as though she was having a stroke. “What? Now why would I do that? Do you really think so lowly of me, Johnny?” she simpered innocently, batting her thick lashes at the doctor.

John blinked, unamused. “Yes.”

Quinn sighed, rolling her eyes before flipping back into an upright position. Her hair fanned out around her shoulders, the locks slightly tangled as the pink slowly drained from her face. “Actually, now that you mention it, I'd probably stop annoying you if you'd unlock these stupid handcuffs,” She mentioned offhandedly, settling her chin on her palm as she toyed with the metal. “You know, I'd hoped the next time I was handcuffed would be more kinky then this. Honestly, how didn't I notice Sherlock putting these damn things on? Did he drug me? Actually, I did just have like, eight aspirins (John gave her a horrified look at this statement, but she waved him off dismissively). Anyway-” Quinn glanced up at the blond doctor.

“Hurry up, please.” She said, shaking her shackles lightly. “My wrists hurt.”

John’s gaze followed her own to the restrains, his mouth creasing into a frown.

“I told you, Sherlock took the key. And to be honest, even if I could find it, Sherlock would probably kill me if I unlocked you. He told me specifically to ignore any requests you make, which I'm starting to think is a good idea.”

Quinn scoffed, deliberately waving off John's last sentence. “Oh, he wouldn't kill you.”

“He’d definitely do something. Especially if you got hurt. I mean, I definitely don’t agree with his… methods, John gestured to her cuffed wrists. “But you really do just need to stay at home. It’s only for a few days. And then you’ll be as good as new!”

Quinn huffed, crossing her arms over her chest as she looked away from the doctor. There was a fixed scowl on her face, one all too familiar to John. “How many times do I have to tell you guys I’m fine? I’m not a damsel in distress.”

“I never said-”

“Besides, why do you give a shit, anyways? Well, you care because you're John Watson, and John Watson is a saint, but Sherlock just wants me out of way.” Quinn rolled her eyes, and although her scowl was hard, she wouldn’t look John in the eyes.

John’s expression softened, a small frown on his face.

“Okay, we both know that isn’t true. Sherlock cares about you, it’s just… he just doesn’t show it the same way we do.” He replied.

Quinn snapped her head to him, throwing a very skeptic look John's way. “Oh, sure. Which is why he ditched us here, right?”

John shifted in his chair uncomfortably. “He didn't ditch us, he just-”

“Chained me to the couch, and made you babysit? C’mon, John, you're smarter then that. He's a dirty cheater. Now give me your phone.” She continued, stretching out her hand- well, hands, since they were connected together- to him expectantly.

John blinked at the sudden turn of conversation. “Wait, why?”

Quinn made a show of rolling her eyes, puffing out her cheeks roughly. “Because Sherlock won't answer my damn texts, that's why. Stupid bastard.”

John hesitated. “What are you going to send him?”

“Nothing bad, I can promise you.” She assured, and had John not been her closest friend, he probably would have have believed her. However, he'd had far too much experience with the woman to trust a word she uttered, so he simply shook his head.

“Oh my God, John.” She groaned. “ You don't get it! I need to get out of these, like, now! Besides, Mrs. Hudson’s got crutches in her house, I can just nick those and I'll be fine! Look, I promise I won’t bother Sherlock.  But I’ve got a meeting and I really need to be there, or he’ll be pissed as hell.”

John furrowed his brow, looking at her curiously. “Meeting? Didn’t you already see Mycroft this week?”

Something that looked suspiciously like panic flashed across her eyes for a fraction of a second, and had Sherlock been there, he would have most definitely been apprehensive. However, Sherlock was not there, and John didn’t seem to notice. The doctor had always been a bit thick headed, anyways.

She quickly waved him off, rolling her eyes to cover for her previous falter. “Oh, it’s just a date. There’s this guy at Mulligans- you know, the bar- and I was supposed to meet him for coffee. He’s been asking for, like, forever, and I’d hate to be the jerk to stand him up.”

“Wait, who are you going out with?” John asked, suspicion creeping into his voice. Now there was the the brotherly concern Quinn knew so well.

“You don't know him. It’s not important. Uh, also, maybe don't tell Sherlock this. He likes to stalk me on dates. Hey, you know what? Why don't you give me your phone, and I can reschedule?”

John nodded, pulling his phone out of his pocket. “Oh, yeah, here you g… wait, why do you need my phone? You've got your own!  For the love of- for the last time, I'm not giving you my phone!”

Quinn sighed, wiping her hand down her face. “I hate you so much, John.”

John nodded.

There were a few minutes of beautiful silence, in which John was very content to type out the occurrences of the last few cases they'd been on, pointedly leaving out the more… suggestive banter between Sherlock and Quinn.

Honestly, the readers of his blog had suspected it far before John had even posted anything regarding them. They'd even made their own ‘ship’ name for the pair.

John, for one, was happy they'd found a new relationship to obsess over, as the comments regarding ‘Johnlock” had become a bit… intense, to put it lightly. When John had first heard the name, he'd been slightly confused, and decided to search the Internet for its meaning.

That was a mistake.

He'd quickly come across a link for Johnlock lemon- and John, being the woefully innocent human he was, had clicked it.

What John Watson had seen that day would probably haunt him till the day he died. He'd stared at the screen in abject horror, quickly deleting all traces of the search from his history, least Sherlock- or God forbid, Quinn- come across it.

He shivered.

Anyways.

What John had written hadn't even been damning at all. It wasn't like he'd made anything up or suggested romance between the two. He'd merely typed out a few incidences he'd witnessed between the detectives.

… and yes, maybe some of them happened to include sexual tension and some particularly suggestive remarks from Quinn, but what else did they expect? Quinn had never really had much of a filter in the first place. It wasn't like John had wanted to be an ass or anything. He'd simply hoped that the approval of society would help bring them together... or something.

Thinking back on it, John never really had very many good ideas.

Quinn had been pissed, obviously. In fact, John wasn't sure he'd seen anything quite as scary as Quinn fully enraged, and he'd been in the army. Hell, he'd watched men get their limbs blown off, and that was child's play to the amount of fear Quinn Caunter had struck into his heart when she'd found out what he'd posted.

Honestly, John had thought Sherlock would be the one who'd be upset. But when Sherlock had finally read what John had written, he merely rolled his eyes and then proceeded to play a somber concerto on his violin.

Quinn, on the other hand, was livid. Which John couldn't exactly understand. Quinn normally didn’t give a shit about anyones speculations regarding her personal life. Unless they brought up America, then she'd make an entire speech about the wonders of her great country.

John had meekly asked if she wanted him to take down the post, but she'd only scowled and snapped that removing the post would only bring more attention to it.

Luckily, John had (mostly) gotten back onto Quinn's good side. Which was great, because he was getting a little tired of living in constant fear of being stabbed in the neck by his vengeful roommate.

“Are you really not going to let me out?” Quinn asked, uncharacteristically quiet.

“I'm sorry, Quinn, but you know that I can't.”

Quinn sighed.

“Well, then, I suppose I should apologize for what I'm about to do.”

“And what's that?”

“Well, you can either unlock this shit let me go on my merry way, or I hurt you so bad you have no choice but to unlock this shit and let me go on my merry way.”

John gave her a look. “You're handcuffed, I'm sitting across the room, and you're going to hurt me?” John asked skeptically. “You can't even get off the couch.”

“There's more than one way to hurt someone, Johnny.”

She cracked her knuckles the best she could in her cuffs, before turning to grin wickedly at the poor, unaware doctor on the couch.

“Prepare to be annoyed.”

 

……………

 

Sherlock’s phone was ringing.

He scowled at the familiar buzz, brows scrunching as he resisted the urge to check it. It was probably just Quinn, after all, trying to convince him to go back to her. She'd already texted him thirteen times. Sherlock had read all her messages, much to his own disappointment. He wasn't supposed to let himself give into temptation, but he had.

It was almost frightening how persuasive Quinn could be. He'd had to physically stop himself from walking right back to 221 B and handing her the key multiple times, much to his own mortification. She'd made quite the compelling argument, and played on all Sherlock's whims, a tactic which he had (begrudgingly) given her credit for. She really was good at manipulation, although the knowlage of such skill wasn't exactly very comforting. So, he'd resolved just to ignore her completely.

...which was a feat easier said than done.

Every little ping was torment, a terrible distraction that really wasn't keen on leaving him alone. He couldn't help but wonder what she was doing, even though he knew it didn't matter. She didn't matter. Well, she wasn't supposed to, at any rate.

She was probably pissed at him, anyways. No, not probably. Definitely. Which he supposed was partly his fault.

If he had morals, he probably would have felt guilty for handcuffing her. However, morals were never really Sherlock's forte, so he was currently guilt free. It was for her her own good, anyways. And although John had run after him, pissed off out of his mind, it hadn't been even close to enough to make Sherlock regret his choice.

… What was making him regret his decision, however, was that he missed her.

Which made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Quinn Caunter was the most obnoxious, reckless, stubborn human being he'd ever met, one who seemed to enjoy harassing him. She did nothing but babble and pester, and Sherlock was sure he should hate her. No, he did hate her. But he should hate her considerably more then he did. 

It wasn't like he was actually fond of her, of course,

The very notion of such a suggestion made him squirm with discomfort. He'd already caught himself speaking to the space she'd normally occupy, drawing curious looks from the officers standing by. Sherlock would just roll his eyes and turn back to the corpse, trying to clear her from his skull. Luckily, Lestrade wasn't there to witness Sherlock's stumbles. The exasperated inspector was currently busy trying to locate the perpetrator who'd trashed his office (he'd asked Sherlock for help first, of course, and Sherlock had simply snapped at him he was busy, but not before briefly suggesting it had probably just been a playful coworker. After all, who else would be stupid enough to break into Scotland Yard in the middle of the night just to dump shaving cream into the file cabinets?).

He supposed it was the competition that drew him to her. He enjoyed the high of a mental exercise, especially ones more difficult then the average human would even fathom being possible. With her there, it brought another set of hardships. Yes, that was it. It was the only plausible reason, anyways. It wasn't as though he missed her companionship, or anything. He simply longed for the challenge that she brought to him.

The phone rang again.

He ignored it.

 

…..

 

“Hey, John, why are actors IN movies but ON television?”

“John, can you cry underwater?”

“John, if I was a cake, what kind of cake would I be?”

“John, if time is an illusion then how can you waste it?”

“Johnny, How come Goofy can talk but Pluto can't, even though they're both dogs?”

“John, if your shirt isn't tucked into your pants, doesn't that mean your pants are tucked into your shirt?”

“Hey, John, if nothing is the absence of anything, doesn't the make nothing something?”

“John, what if we’re actually just characters on a tv show and every choice we make is dictated by an insane writer who toys with our emotions and kills off everyone we love for the viewers entertainment?”

“John-?”

“Quinn. Please, just- please, just stop.”

There was pause.

Then-

“John, if you fucked a clone of yourself, would it be incest? Or maturbation?”

John looked at the ceiling, wondering what he'd done to deserve this level of torment.

“What about a threeway with your clones?”

Dear God.

 

…...

 

Sherlock's phone was ringing.

Again.

The cheery ring tone was enough to make him growl as he threw down his gloves, nearly knocking over the dirt sample he'd just been studying. He yet again scolded himself for not simply confansicating her phone when he'd had the chance.

Molly Hooper jumped slightly at Sherlock's outburst, her dirty blond ponytail swishing as she fumbled with her vial, catching it just before it hit the floor.

“Is- um, someone's calling you, Sherlock,” Molly said, setting down the vial onto the counter before anxiously smoothing down the wrinkles in her ivory lab coat. She glanced over at the younger Holmes’ cellphone from over Sherlock's shoulder.

“Yes,” Sherlock replied shortly, eyes fixed upon his microscope.

Molly paused, apparently debating her next words. “Are you going to pick it up?”

Sherlock resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the woman. If he did, Quinn would most certainly kick him and scold his manners. She'd get that stupid look on her face she got when she was pissed, which would normally annoy him enough he'd just apologize to get her to stop.

And then he remembered Quinn wasn't there, which only deepened his scowl.

Even when she was absent, she was still occupying his thoughts. He supposed he'd become so accustomed to her presence (although it might not have been pleasant company) his brain had found it... irregular to find himself alone. That was all.

Dear God, how he hated her.

“Molly, I'm well aware of the disturbance. It's just Caunter.” Sherlock snapped.

And she was probably pissed. No, not probably. Sherlock knew she was pissed. Although he couldn't fathom why. It wasn't like Sherlock had done anything wrong. Well, okay, maybe he had handcuffed her to his couch without her consent and then forced John to watch her, but it wasn't like that was anything to be upset about. She had been being unreasonable. Honestly, for such a clever woman, she could be woefully stupid at times.

And… and yes, maybe Sherlock had taken some pleasure in frustrating her, but that was entirely irrelevant. It wasn't his fault she had failed to comply with his requests (orders).  

Molly faltered slightly at Sherlock's mention of the female detective, but she quickly covered it with a tight smile.

“Oh. Actually, um, it's John.”

Sherlock's brow furrowed at that.

John? Why would John be calling? Besides, that was Quinn's ringtone.

… which, Sherlock supposed, was also John's ringtone. He hadn't bothered to personalize any of his contacts ringtones, and Quinn was no exception. Why would she be?

Sherlock accepted the call, pulling his phone to his ear impatiently.

“John, how many times must I-”

“Sherlock, I can't take it anymore.” John cut him off before Sherlock could say another word. The doctor's voice was breaking, and it sounded like he was on the verge of screaming- or maybe sobbing- or maybe both.

“I'm-I'm sorry, but I just can't- I can't, okay? I tried, but- NO, STOP THAT- sorry, I'm sorry- I'm- I'm going insane, Sherlock, and it's all your fucking fault. So if you don't get back here in ten minutes and deal with your girlfriend, I swear to God I'm going to shoot her in the head. Or I'll shoot myself. I don't know. Oh, Christ, she won’t shut up- fuck, Sherlock, get your sorry ass down here right now or I'll- QUINN, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, PLEASE, PLEASE , SHUT THE FUCK UP OR I'M GONNA-”

The line went dead.

There was silence.

Sherlock slowly turned off his phone, quietly pushing it into his pockets. The sound of the air conditioning and the steady hum of the blinding lights buzzed off the walls, the ambience almost deafening in the tension.

“Um, I can handle things here if you want to…?” Molly suggested meekly, having obviously heard every word John had bellowed across the line.

“They'll be fine.” Sherlock replied shortly.

Molly paused.

“Sherlock, I'm pretty sure that's not… you should probably, um, help them.”

“John can handle her.”

There was a beat.

“Nevermind, they're both going to die.”

Chapter Text

Mrs. Hudson was used to weird.

How could she not be?

She was the landlady of the most childish, brilliant detective in all of England.

To the public, he was known as the consultant detective with the funny hat, the oddball who had solved so many cases. He was cold, calculating, and armed more wit then he knew what to do with. He was a genius junkie,  who liked beheadings and homicide far more then any human being should. He was rude, arrogant, and at times flat out mean, and there weren't many people who could stand to be around him for extended periods of time.

But to Mrs. Hudson, he was known at the essentric, childish, moody man who liked storing eyeballs in her fridge and shooting up Mrs. Hudson’s walls when he was bored. He was a jaded, unorthodox hero who tended to insult people out of habit, although Sherlock would assure her that he wasn't insulting them, he was merely describing them.

That wasn't too say that she didn't love the odd man. He was almost like her son, had she actually had a son. Sure, he might be socially incompetent at times, or stab her mantle when he was pissed, but under all his morally questionable habits, he really was a sweetheart. Well, maybe not sweet, exactly, but good all the same.

John Watson was definitely a contributing factor to Sherlock's improved attitude, of course. The doctor was like a ray of sunshine, dripping polite smiles and courtesy around 221 B. He was pretty much the polar opposite of Sherlock Holmes, and Mrs. Hudson couldn't think of one person in the entire universe with a better heart than the blond doctor.

The boys were like family to her. Albeit a very dysfunctional, strange family, but a family nonetheless.

And then there was the matter of Quinn Caunter.

She was… quite something, to be put frankly.

She was brilliant (arguably smarter than Sherlock, in some fields), but unlike the younger Holmes, she didn't shove her wit into people's faces. From the outside, she appeared to be a normal, sane human, but Mrs. Hudson had soon learned that was not true.

Not true at all.

She was... intresting, to put it delicately. She was spontaneous, reckless, and far too clever for her own good. She was friendly and polite when she wanted to be, but anything but professional.

Although, Mrs. Hudson hadn't really expected anything less from a roommate of Sherlock's. She had hoped she'd finally have a sane tennant, but her wishes had, unfortunately, been wasted.

 When Quinn had first moved in, Mrs. Hudson had been dreadfully excited.

“Oh, finally, a lady in the house!” she'd exclaimed happily, clasping her hands together as John helped Quinn haul her suitcase into the flat, while Sherlock ‘supervised’ with little interest. “And she's a pretty one, too. Does she know how to cook? You know, I've always said you boys need a woman in your life. The voice of reason, you know? Oh, she's lovely. Is she single?” Mrs. Hudson babbled on eagerly, sizing up the laughing woman as Quinn grabbed the hefty suitcase from John's arm with ease.

Sherlock's eyes stayed firmly fixed on Quinn as she headed into her room, John following close behind to help stow away her belongings.

“I should hope not,” Sherlock replied shortly.

Mrs. Hudson took a moment to register his words, and when she did, she gasped, looking up at Sherlock with stars in her eyes. “Oh! Do you fancy her, dear?”

Sherlock made a fac of disgust, snapping his gaze away from the woman and turning to Mrs. Hudson.

“Mrs. Hudson, have I not made my position on romantic entanglement quite clear?" Sherlock replied, scowling. "All attachment, escpeially sentiment, is a waste of space and a slander onto the mind of our already flawed society. I merely do not long for any associate of mine to fill their heads with domestic nonsense that might hinder their thoughts or consume their efforts."

“Well, you've  got my permission, anyways.” Mrs. Hudson responded, not at all put off by Sherlock's speech.

 “I don't need your permission.”

“Well, you've got it, nonetheless.”

 

Although Mrs. Hudson did love Quinn, she had to admit the woman could get herself into awful messes, mostly by using the same self destructive behavior she'd been constantly warned against.

Quinn reminded Mrs. Hudson of herself when she was young, except Quinn was probably ten times as odd as Mrs. Hudson had ever been. She got along with everyone famously, although no one was quite sure why. She was just one of those people. There was just something special about her, an indescribable  aura that sent people doing double takes besides themselves.

But she really was an awful influence on the boys.

Or a good one, depending on how she viewed it.

Yes, Mrs. Hudson knew weird.

She'd seen Sherlock trudge into her flat covered head to toe in glitter and what she hoped wasn't blood, and watched Quinn use a katana to pop open a beer because “ (She'd) lost the bottle opener in a corpse at the morgue." 

But nothing was quite as werid as the tension between Sherlock Holmes and Quinn Caunter.

Mrs. Hudson would walk into their flat, holding a tray of tea (and coffee for Quinn), only to find the most unbearably thick blanket of an unspoken... something in the air as Sherlock and Quinn engaged in a very intense battle of eye sex.

"Oh, sorry, I'm inturupting something again, aren't I?" She began apologeticly, her voice seemingly to snap Sherlock out of whatever trance he'd been in. The detective tore his gaze away from Quinn with difficulty, the latter who merely smirked at Mrs. Hudson with a nod.

"Oh, don't mind me, I'll be going, now. Carry on!" The landlady said, setting down the tray and retreating downstairs before Sherlock could even say a word.

At the moment, Mrs. Hudson was occupied with cleaning. The familar buzz of her old vacuum drowned out the shouts echoing from upstairs, keeping her blissfully unaware of the happenings in Sherlock's flat. Mrs. Hudson hummed an old showtune as she stepped with the vacuum, picking up the dust Sherlock had tracked in when he'd rushed upstairs. 

There was a loud thump from the flat above her, and then-

Silence.

Mrs. Hudson furrowed her brow, having finally noticed the suspicious lack of noises from 221B now that it was quiet. The last notes of her hum fell flat against her red lips as she shut off her vacuum, her heels clipping as she walked to the stairway.

"Are you alright, dears?" She called, concerned.

There was a beat.

Then-

Familar footsteps thundered down the stairs, the pace slightly off, almost as if the person was limping. Mrs, Hudson stepped back, watching as a very familiar head of hair stumbled down the stairs.

Quinn Caunter entered the room, her glossy locks a tangled mess and her cheeks flushed despite herself. There was a wicked smirk playing across her lips, and she appeared to be very satisfied with something as she leaned against the wall,

The elderly woman gave Quinn Caunter a bright smile. “Oh, hello, dear!” Mrs. Hudson greeted fondly, snapping the female detective out of whatever triumphant haze she'd been swimming in.

Quinn's eyes widened as her gaze found Mrs. Hudson, her grin faltering for a moment before returning even wider then before. “Hey, Mrs. Hudson! Sorry, I didn't even notice you were there. Actually, that's convenient. Um, do you still have your crutches downstairs?”

Mrs. Hudson seemed slightly surprised. “Why? Are you hurt?” Her eyes began to scan the woman with motherly precision, her brow furrowing.

“Oh- well, my foot’s just a little wonky, but I'm fine,” Quinn assured, although the way she was leaned up against the wall for support was entirely contradictory.

“Are you sure? I think John's upstairs, I can ask him to check it out-”

“No, no, it's alright. He, uh, already did. Did a splint and everything. Actually, him and Sherlock are busy right now, so you probably don't want to go up there. Sherlock's a bitch when he's disturbed.”

Mrs. Hudson nodded, her creased lips stretching into a smile. “Oh, of course. I'll just go grab the crutches, sweetheart. You stay right there. Actually, why don't you sit?”

“Thanks,” Quinn replied, flopping down onto Mrs. Hudson’s sofa barely a second after the landlady had finished speaking. Apparently, her foot was hurting more then she let on.

Mrs. Hudson grabbed the old crutches from her closet, quickly hustling back to Quinn.

“Ah, thank you so very much, Mrs. Hudson.” Quinn beamed, taking the crutches from her carefully. “Um, so, I've actually got go out, now. You know- I've got a date, so-”

“A date? Oh, with who? Does Sherlock know?” Mrs. Hudson asked, her brow scrunching worriedly.

“Why would that matter?” Quinn replied, just a little too quickly. She seemed to notice her falter, and quickly covered for it with another smile.

“Well- he's Sherlock, isn't he?”

“So?”

“And you're you.”

I'm not sure what you're implying, Mrs. Hudson.” Quinn said cheerily, but there was an uneasy edge to her voice that didn't go unnoticed by the landlady.

“Oh, it's not important. Nevermind. Just be careful on your foot, okay?”

“Sure.” Quinn said, heading out the door. She paused just before her hand touched the door handle, turning back to Mrs. Hudson after a brief pause.

“Oh, and, Mrs. Hudson?”

“Yes, dear?”

“When you get the chance, tell John I'm sorry, okay?”

“For what?”

Quinn shrugged, opening the door and letting a stream of light filter  through the entryway. The smell of the city whisked through the flat, mingling with the crisp autumn breeze and ruffling up Quinn's hair behind her.

“Oh, he’ll know.”

 

…….

 

“...So.”

John began, staring straight ahead at the wall. His jaw was set tightly, and his entire body was stiff and rigid.

“So,” Sherlock replied tightly, his gaze steely and unwavering as he deadpanned at the windows opposite John. His wrists were beginning to feel sore, and his back was stiff from sitting so stoic for so long.

“Quinn’s gone.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed shortly, his expression blanker than one might expect. Then again, he was most likely still in shock from being bested.

There was a strained pause, in which John began to reevaluate his life choices for the sixth time that day.

He had to admit, although the silence was uncomfortable, it was ecstasy compared to the torment of words Quinn Caunter had inflicted upon his poor mind. Unfortunately, the silence only magnified the wounded pride of the two men, who, at the moment, were handcuffed back to back on the couch Quinn Caunter had been residing on not moments before.

It had all been a bit of a blur, to be honest. Sherlock had walked into the flat with ruffled curls, looking mildly annoyed (which had thoroughly pissed John off. How dare Sherlock even pretend to be bothered when he was lacking even the faintest semblance of the horrific annoyance John had been subjected to). John had inhaled, about to spill out all the pent up emotions filling his lungs, when, quite suddenly, Quinn wasn’t on the couch anymore.

Apparently, she had taken off the cuffs long before Sherlock had entered (using the hairpin she’d found under the couch) and had merely been pestering John into getting the younger Holmes back to 221 B to show off.

Something must have happened after that, because the next thing John knew, he was being cuffed to Sherlock and shoved onto the couch.

It was actually a good thing Quinn had handcuffed them, because John wasn’t sure he would have been able to stop himself from strangling her had he been free.

Quinn’s face had been flushed a soft cherry from exertion as she gave them the most sickeningly victorious grin John had ever seen, and he was fairly sure the sight (however glorious it might have been) would haunt him till the day he died. She’d slipped Sherlock’s phone out of his coat pocket, while the younger Holmes watched her with an unreadable expression on her face.

“Karma’s a bitch, sweetheart,” She had simpered, ruffling Sherlock’s raven curls with her free hand has she pocketed his phone. The detective stiffened at her ministrations, something that did not go unnoticed by Quinn as she headed to the door, blowing the boys a kiss before turning away.

Sherlock was still watching the window with the same look on his face from before, and you could almost hear the gears whizzing around his head.

John didn't really care, honestly. He was too tired, and his head was still throbbing with the existential crisis Quinn had brought upon his skull. He was too worn to even yell at Sherlock, because what would be the point, anyways? John just wanted to crawl under his sheets and try not to think anymore.

God, Quinn was a monster.

“Mrs. Hudson is downstairs,” John found himself saying, his vocal chords strained from yelling at Quinn.

“I'm well aware,” was Sherlock's clipped response.

There was a pregnant pause.

“We could ask her to help us.”

“That would be a very reasonable option,” Sherlock said, not making any moment to initiate John's suggestion.

Although, John could understand why. He himself wasn't exactly keen to tell anyone that he, a former army doctor, had ended up being overpowered by a twenty-something year old female with a twisted ankle.

“How did she overpower us, anyways?” John voiced his thoughts, his brow furrowing.

Sherlock was silent.

“Sherlock?”

“It doesn't make sense, by all means. She doesn't have the training for such vigorous disarming, especially not while wounded."  Sherlock mumbled, although it didn’t seem like he was talking to John. "...Although, with proper timing and careful deliberation, I supposed she could have... no, but that doesn't negate the fact that she simply should not know how to administer that method of disarming. It's simply implausible for a woman of her profession, with only median martial arts training, would be able to pull off what she had done.” 

Implausible? Oh, come on, Sherlock, don't be an idiot," John said, too tired to filter his words.

Pardon?” Sherlock responded, offense creeping into his baritone chords. Sherlock really detested being called an imbecile. 

“She's Quinn fucking Caunter! Did you really expect any less?”

"That's not an answer to my previous statement, John-"

"Yeah, it is. She's crazy (Sherlock's nose wrinkled at the accusation against the woman, but found that he couldn't disagree), and you pissed her off. She'll do whatever the fuck she wants when she's pissed."

“I wasn’t trying to upset-” Sherlock began indignantly, but John cut him off.

“You know, I’m really beginning to question your taste in women, Sherlock.”

Sherlock stiffened. 

 “I don’t have a taste in any sort of human, at any times, much less in a romantic manner. Least of all Quinn Caunter. But she’s decently clever, and occasionally, she's proved to be a useful asset. Therefore, I keep her at hand.” Sherlock said, as though he’d recited it all before.

“Oh, and a real helpful asset, too, huh?” John rolled his eyes, shaking his wrists and rattling his handcuffs.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes, a suspicious scowl shifting onto his face. “What are you implying?”

“I’m implying that you’re not fooling anyone. You wouldn’t keep her around if she was only helping you out on cases. You hate sharing the spotlight.”

“I do not-”

“You keep her around because you bloody like, her, Sherlock.” John continued, as though Sherlock hadn’t spoken.

“I don’t-”

“Oh, shut up! Okay?” John started, his voice steadily increasing in volume. “Do you know how many people would be dying to be in your position? Sure, she’s crazy, but she’s probably the only human being in the world who can actually stand to be around you for more than ten minutes. You like her, and she bloody well likes you, so why the hell don’t you just-?”

“I don’t see how this is pertinent to the situation-”

“Stop trying to evade the question!”

“I’m not evading the question! There’s nothing to discuss!”

“I really, really feel like there is!" John laughed humorouslessly. "You know, I’m sick of getting stuck in the middle of you two and your shit! And don’t even try to pretend like there isn’t anything to discuss. We both know that isn’t true, you bloody moron. Just-!”

“Can we please talk about something else? Literally, anything else. Or not talk at all?”

“No! This is important, Sherlock!”

“Dear God, this is pointless,” Sherlock exhalded, raising his eyes to the ceiling.

He quickly weighed his options, wondering if he should just let John speak and face his problems like a man or shove away his pride and call up Mrs. Hudson to interrupt. Well, neither option was very pleasant to the detective, but when put back to back, there was a clear winner.

“MRS. HUDSON!”

 

………

 

Quinn leaned back against the seat of the obsidian taxi, her ankle pulsing terribly. Her body bumped a few millimeters off the worn, slightly plush chair as the car hit a particularly rough spot of asphalt. Her hair bounced around her shoulders, and there was a little clunk as the crutches she’d propped up in the trunk bumped against each other.

She ignored it, however, her fingers firmly typing away at her phone as the taxi dragged on. Her fingers flew across the keys, rapidly assaulting the letters with a barrage of words before her thumb hit send. She glanced down at her phone, her lips curving downwards slightly at the message she’d just sent.

 She sighed, pocketing her phone before turning her gaze to the window.

The hazy streets of london greeted her, and she watched as people clad in warm coats and thick boots rushed past, melding with the autumn breeze and melting into the scenery as the taxi whizzed by. 

She pressed her forehead against the glass, letting the cool frost numb the boil of her constant turmoil into submission. The glass fogged under her lips at the heat of her breath, but she didn’t mind.

She wasn’t smiling.

She rarely did, when she was alone.

Not that anyone knew that, of course. How could they?

She was an excellent actress.

Although, she’d never really wanted to be. No. When she was young, she’d actually wanted to be a singer. She was still pretty damn good at singing, too.

John had been the first to know, of course. She’d forgotten about her flatmates and started to sing in the shower, her words growing in volume and power as the water drowned out the guilt etched into her skin.

She’d stepped out of the shower, slipping on her Doctor Who pajamas and toweling off her damp hair, before opening the door. Steam had poured out off the bathroom, momentarily obscuring her vision only to reveal an awestruck John Watson standing there, holding up his phone with stars in his eyes. He'd promptly demanded to know why the hell she wasn't some sort of singer, and Quinn had simply shrugged.

Life had held other plans for her, she supposed.

Life was also a massive bitch.

It was probably Quinn's worst enemy. Well, second worst enemy, if she was being honest. Although, honesty had never really been her forte in the first place.

Oh, well.

Her foot throbbed, but she was used to worse. This was nothing, compared to some of the things she'd been forced to endure.

And not just physically.

Her head hurt.

All the time. She knew too much, too many things no one was supposed to know. Which was probably why she drank so much. Drinking was pretty much the only thing that kept the Hurt down.

The Hurt was vicious. It was constantly there, gnawing at the back of her head, keeping her awake at night and well into the morning hours. There was no use trying to get rid of it. She was in too deep, and no ladder in the world could possibly hope to rescue her. Liquor was the only real remedy. It numbed the Hurt. It didn't make it go away, of course, but it dulled it considerably. It made it easier to pretend like it wasn't there.

She really was a wonderful liar.

Not even Sherlock had figured it out. Or Mycroft. Or John. Or anyone who'd ever met her. Hell, sometimes she could even fool herself. Not often, of course, but she could distract herself to the point where it curled up and went to sleep for a while.

But it was getting harder and harder.

And she was pretty sure Sherlock had something to do with it.

Her phone pinged, alerting her that she had received a response. She lifted it into her sight and pulled stared down at it blankly, reading the response with muted thoughts swirling around her head.

She set her phone aside, closing her eyes and letting the dappled shadows of the bulidings wash over her face. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was so tired of pretending.

 

 

Chapter Text

He was bored.

His fingers traced absently along the countertop of the dimly lit coffee table, his dark eyes half lidded as they rolled around the room with little interest. His dark chocolate hair was untidy from the windy streets of london, although little flecks of stubborn gel assured that the tousled nature of his locks was not the norm.

The air smelled of roasted coffee beans and chocolate chip cookie, both of which were not nearly strong enough for his tastes. He prefered something dark and strong, with spice or heat to complement it. But he was waiting, so he'd gotten a cup of coffee, anyways.

His gaze skimmed over the few occupants of the chattering storefront, his mouth creasing into a frown of indifference at their smiles and casual banter. They were just like ants, living out their mundane little lives with blinders limiting their sight to what was barely in front of them, their one goal in life to keep their eyes trained on the path ahead as to not trip.

But they were happy.

And so, so very boring.

Boring.

Just like everything else in the miserable world he was trapped in. He was getting tired of it, honestly. There was only so much he could do to distract himself, and it was all pointless, anyways.

He was the king. He could do anything he wanted, and the mere bat of his eye could provide any sin he'd care to indulge. He sat on his throne, high above the rest, graced with the knowledge his little, stupid subjects couldn't possibly pretend to possess. He had his army under his sleeve and an ocean of followers he could bend and mold into his will, if the whim arose. He was powerful, and there was nothing that could stop him.

Which was the problem.

No one could compete with him. It was as if he was playing a game of chess by himself. Although he was guaranteed to win, there was no pleasure in it. Sure, he had the occasional laugh at picking off pawns or bishops, or tossing rooks off their horses, but nothing was a challenge. He just won, and won, and won, and he was starting to wonder why he was even trying.

Although, there had always been a few decent competitors to keep his mind off of things. There was Jack, the little boy all the way back in elementary school. Jack had put up decent fight after his Jill vanished, but ultimately left him high and dry with nothing but two corpses and nothing left to show for it.

Then there was that red head- the police officer, Grace. She’d had so much potential, and he'd been surprised with how much he’d enjoyed playing with her. She'd even thwarted one of his bombs. But she'd been too late to stop the others, and she couldn't live with the guilt. So she’d swallowed down some pills and then she was gone, too.

There were more, of course. Most of them were idiots, and he'd finished them off with little interest, if any at all. He didn't mourn any of them. They were just toys, little distractions to keep him away from nothingness. When he got bored of them, or they broke, he’d just replace them with newer, shinier editions, and then continue the cycle all over again.

Although, he'd found quite a few worthy opponents, lately.

Well, worthy might be understating it.

Sherlock Holmes was really, really a fantastic foe.

A young doll of a girl with buttercream curls and cocoa eyes was sitting on the table opposite him, the child munching on a cookie contently as her blond father sipped a coffee, rubbing the dark bags under his eyes. His gaze was resting on his daughter fondly, and it was clear that they had a very tight relationship.

He wondered how the child would react if her father was to suddenly drop dead in front of her. Would she scream? Or cry? Would the shock itself kill her? Or would she just curl up into a ball and sob until he couldn’t breath?

He wanted to know.

Badly.

“Sir?”

He slowly tore his eyes away from his thoughts, glancing at the woman patiently standing above him. His gaze drifted over her vacantly, taking in her glossy locks and ripped jeans with slight disappointment.

Just another human.

“Can I take this chair?” she asked, smiling politely.

He took a moment before nodding, and she thanked him before pulling the chair away to her group of friends. He watched her go, a frown spreading across his face.

The lady had reminded him of her , a little. They looked similar enough. But that woman was normal.   Ordinary.

And his woman was anything but ordinary.

He sighed, glancing at his phone absently.

She was late.

Which was a little upsetting, but understandable all the same. But it was still enough of a bother to make him want to watch someone be strangled.

He settled for sipping his coffee.

It was still warm, the liquid dark and rich as it slid down his throat. Coffee reminded him of sin, dark and potent, and strong enough that even a drop would pollute the whitest of cream.

He took another sip.

It didn’t taste like sin, though.

Nothing really did. It was one of those things that couldn't be substituted for the real thing, no matter how hard one tried to twist it. Sin was simply sin, and nothing else ould ever replace it.

Which was a bit of a let down, but he supposed it would have to do. For now, at least.

He heard the door swing open from behind him, and he didn’t need to turn his head to know who had entered.

His lips pulled into a small smile as familiar steps approached him, his eyes drifting close.

The familiar scent of blood red roses and aged whisky brushed by him as the person entered, and he inhaled deeply, the smell fluttering through his lungs like a drug. He heard a soft thump as someone sat in the seat opposite him, but he didn’t open his eyes. Not yet.

He smiled, just a little wider.

“How's your foot, princess?” he drawled lazily, his shoulders relaxing as he exhaled a warm, coffee stained breath.

“I'm not a princess.” was her only reply, and although her words were conversational, there was a little tinge of tightness to her voice that he picked up on with ease.

“Oh, well, yeah. Of course you aren't,” He responded carelessly, his dark eyes opening slowly to rest on the object of his latest endeavors.

Oh, he'd missed her face.

“Princesses don't show up late , do they?”

“To be fair, Princesses are also spoiled pricks who wait around in towers to be saved by singing men in tights,” She deadpanned back, not at all put off.

“Mmmn. Feeling feisty today, aren't we?” He grinned, leaning forward slightly before resting his face on his palm. His gaze ran over her unabashedly, but she didn’t even flinch.

He didn't like that, very much. He wanted her to squirm.

“Maybe. I mean, I don’t exactly appreciate surprise dates, you know? ” She said, her words conversational to the point of suspicion. She knew who she was speaking to, and was well aware of the horrors he could inflict upon her. And yet, she was talking as though he was just another person. Even Sherlock couldn’t be so nonchalant.

Strange.

He liked strange.

“So this is a date?” He asked, tilting his head at her with interest. His dark eyes swirled, like there was something swimming right underneath the surface.

“I don't think I'd be very proper for me to go out on a date with my boss.” Was her only reply. She was staring at him with an unreadable expression, and he felt his stomach flutter with excitement. He could always read people, and the fact that she was different was enough to make him grin.

She really was a wonderful opponent.

It was a shame she was his already. He'd have so much fun destroying her, if she hadn't been. But he supposed corrupting her had been enough of a pleasure in itself. Although, he wasn't sure if it had been corrupting , per say. She'd already been a lovely little sinner when he'd taken her.

Proper ? I think Mycroft's getting to your head, sweetheart.”

The woman rose a brow at the use of the pet name, but didn't mention it as she spoke next. “Do you really think I'd cave in so easily? Honestly, I’m offended. This isn't some TV drama. I'm not stupid enough to fall in love with a hero.” She replied just a little tartly, easing back into her seat.

“That isn't what I've heard~” He sang, his eyes trained on her expressions as he smiled good naturedly.

She was unaffected. Ooh, she really would be wonderful at poker.

“Oh? And what have you heard?”

He swirled his coffee in his hands, watching the now lukewarm beverage churn like a miniature whirlpool. He absently wondered how much faster a human would die in a coffee whirlpool then a fresh water whirlpool, but quickly shook away the thought. There were more pressing matters at hand then fantasies.

“Oh, nothing. Just your average stuff, I suppose. Which is why I'm starting to question your commitment.” He said, his eyes darkening at his last words. He gave her an easy grin to cover for it, proceeding to lounge back in his chair as though it was a throne.

She was still unfazed. “Which is why he hasn't. Frankly, I find it rather rude you'd doubt my intentions. I'm not one to falter into attachment easily, you know, and definitely not with the likes of them.”

“That’s good. You know, for a minute, I was actually worried I'd have to punish you. But like you said, you'd never betray me, sooo...” He laughed cheerily, although the bright sound didn't match his words.

The threat of his words did not slip by her, but she didn't seem to be worried. It was almost unsettling how impassive she was to his actions.

He wanted her to be afraid. He wanted her eyes to widen, and her pulse to quicken as her fingers tightened on the edge of the table. He wanted to push her, slowly, slowly, slowly over the edge. He wanted to watch her break, and shatter into glass shards he'd glue back together just to destroy it again and again and again until she was unfixable.

He couldn't decide if he should kill her or not, when he was done. He really, really wanted to see how far she could make it before she snapped. But then again, he’d miss her when she was gone. She was the best distraction in a long time- aside from Sherlock, of course. And she really was a wonderful asset.

But she was such a disobedient little pet.

He could smell the defiance on her. Yes, she listened to his orders, and complied with his wishes, but that was only because he had her trapped. He had the power to destroy her everything, if she stepped out of line, and she knew it. But she wasn't a puppet. She was a fighter, and he could see it in her eyes.

He was happy for it, though. What would be the fun in breaking a puppet?

Now,  a fighter … well, they made the snap so much sweeter.

And she was the sweetest of them all.

"Do you want anything, love?" He asked her, tilting his head to the right. He gestured to his coffee cup as he spoke, and her eyes followed the movement. 

"I'm fine, thanks."

"You've subconsciously angled your shoulders towards the waitress, and your pupils are dilated from lack of sleep. You've glanced at my drink twice in the past three minutes, and your fingers are twitching, probably from the caffeine withdraw. You haven't had a cup all day, dear, and you're dying for some stimulation. Which is understandable, you know. Now please, get a cup."

She gave him a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "I don't want coffee."

"Oh, you want it, alright. You just don't want to give in to the temptation. C'mon, love. Indulge a little."

He gave her a lazy wink, his lips curling into a grin. "On me."

She stared at him a moment longer, and he could almost see her pretty little brain working in her skull.

And then she looked away to flag down the waitress.

A few minutes later, she was holding a steaming vat of espresso. Her chipped nails tapped against the mug idly, and she'd barley even sipped off the scalding foam. She made a face as he inquired on the temperature of her drink, merely shaking her head at his ask.

He watched her as she tentatively stirred the foam on the top of her beverage. "You know, I've never been one much for those fancy drinks. They'e just too sweet. Don't you think?"

She shrugged. "I dunno. I like the sugar. It makes it easier to drink."

 "I suppose, if you like things to be easy."

There was a pause. Then-

“You know, Quinn-”

“I'm not Quinn,” she said quietly, her voice suddenly very different then it had been a moment before.

He stared at her, his smile dropping. She seemed to realize she had interrupted him, and stiffened slightly. He was silent, but his eyes were boring into her own with unspoken words that she clearly understood. There was a tension in the air that could be cut with  knife, although she was fairly sure that the air wouldn't be the one getting cut.

“...No, you're not.” He finally replied, his gaze flickering across her face.

She released a soft breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. He was letting her off the hook.

“You remind me of her, though.” He continued, as though nothing had happened. “But she's got more bite to her, you know? Then again, I suppose she's got less to lose.”

Her face was lax, but her hands were shaking under the table.

“Did you call me here just to chat? Because as much as I'm enjoying this, I'm a busy women. And he’ll get suspicious if I'm gone too long.” She said.

“Can't a guy just hang out with his favorite pet?” He asked in reply, mock pouting at her.

Her mouth curled at the word pet, but she stayed silent. His grin, on the other hand, only broadened.

“But no, you're right. This isn't just a social call. I called you here to give you a… well, a suggestion.” He continued, his fingers tapping on the table idly.

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “A suggestion?”

“Think of it as a bit of advice, from friend to another.”

He set aside the last sip of his lukewarm coffee dredges, while his fingers still drummed away on surface.

“I know you don't care about yourself. Death doesn't scare you, and neither does torture, so I'm not even going to waste my breath. But even though those things don't scare you , well-"

He suddenly leaned forward, his face close enough she could feel his breath against her face. It smelled of coffee and insanity, which was oddly enough a very familiar combination to the woman.

“If you even think about abandoning me, I won't hurt you. I'll hurt them. I’ll take a knife, and they’ll all go away, forever and ever and ever. And I'll make you do it. I'll make you kill everything you'd ever cared about, and leave you to live in the world you made. If you disobey me, I swear that you'll regret it until you die, and for eternity after that. I'll take away Quinn, and Mycroft, and Sherlock, and everyone after that, too. I'll hurt them. I'll hurt them until they aren't themselves, or until their screams break their eardrums or they drown in their own blood. So no, I won't hurt you, sweetheart.”

Jim Moriarty smiled at her, his hand cradling her jaw as he ever-so-softly pressed his lips to her cheek.

“I'll break you.”

Chapter Text



Quinn Caunter did not live in 221b Baker street.

Although, most people tended to believe otherwise.

She was, in fact, the sole resident of 221c Baker street, which was the smaller, three roomed apartment in the basement under Sherlock and John's flat. However, the time she spent in the boy’s flat far surpassed her time in her own. Half the time, she wouldn't even make it back to her room, instead crashing on the couch (or occasionally John's bed, when she dozed off during a movie marathon) wrapped up in a blanket Mrs. Hudson brought up for her.

 Sherlock had politely inquired why she hung around so often  (“ Why the hell are you still here? Don't you have to fix your hair, or whatever it is you do all day?”),   Quinn had simply shrugged, and said that she didn't get good Internet from her apartment.

Which Sherlock knew was a lie, of course, but he didn't bring it up.

Her main residence hadn't been an overnight change, of course. Originally, she would only come over for the occasional case, or to hang out with John. And then the cases had gotten harder, and she'd ended up pulling several all nighters at their flat. Slowly but surely, she'd started to stay longer and longer until she had a permanent place in their fridge and a toothbrush in the bathroom (much to Sherlock's constant chagrin).

Even when Quinn was in her own flat, it was hardly a flight of stairs away. It wasn't so much as a separate apartment as it was a basement. Sherlock assumed Mycroft supplied her rent, since the woman didn't seem to have any sort of actual income, aside from the money they'd make on international cases, but even then she usually gave most of her share to John. She didn't tell him, of course, because what self respecting man wants to be given pity money from a twenty-something year old woman? John had rose his brow a few times when counting his share, but Quinn had been quick to assure him he was fine. John, who was not exceptionally brilliant, never really caught on, and Sherlock didn't care enough to inform him of his female flatmates actions.

Half her mail was forwarded to 221b, and John had resorted to calling her his flatmate. Sherlock would call her so too, occasionally, but only because he lacked a better term for the woman. It wasn't like he was going to call her his friend , because- well, simply because that would imply sentimental importance, and sentiment wasn't something Sherlock wasn't exactly fond of. Partner gave people the wrong idea, and so did companion, so flatmate or colleague tended to be his title for her.

Of course, she was much more than either of those things, but it wasn't like he was going to tell anyone that. Hell, he wouldn't even admit it to himself.

Since Quinn spent so much time in Sherlock and John's flat, Sherlock had never really had any reason to go down to her room. John, on the other hand, had visited her apartment many times, mostly to watch movies with her. Sherlock would occasionally hear her screaming from through the floorboards as she berated the idiots on screen for making a mistake.

Why the shit would you split up? Turn on the generator and get the hell out of there! God, he's right behind you! He's got an axe, but you've got a gun! Just shoot him! Stop screaming! Oh my God, she's such an idiot. DAMN IT, HALEY, WHY AREN'T YOU RUNNING?”

Needless to say, Sherlock never really enjoyed it when Quinn was in her own flat. If he couldn't see her, his mind started to wander into distraction. When she was around, he could ignore her just fine, but her absence only made him wonder what she was doing. But when she was around, she enjoyed pestering him and inhibiting him from making any logical deductions, which in itself was enough of a trifle to make him groan.

It was a rather unhealthy cycle, and Sherlock didn't know to get out of it.

Her presence- or lack of it- was actually what was making Sherlock so uncomfortable at the moment, although he wasn't fully aware of the source of his unsettlement. What he did know, however, was that he hadn't seen Quinn in seventeen hours, which was probably the longest amount of time she'd been absent in months. Well, aside from the time she'd gone on an unannounced vacation for two weeks in America and then returned with a fractured wrist and three broken ribs . Sherlock had been very curious as to how she'd received such injuries, but she'd simply shrugged with a noncommittal “ Work”. It had annoyed the hell out of Sherlock that he couldn’t figure out why she’d been wounded, and he'd pestered her relentlessly for information. She didn't provide any.

He'd texted her quite a few times, but she hadn't responded to any of his messages, or even viewed them.

Mrs. Hudson had informed Sherlock that Quinn was in her room, which had made Sherlock roll his eyes. Of course she was lazing about when they were in the middle of a case. It wasn't that he required her assistance (although he had to admit, she did offer quite valuable insights at times), he merely found her notions of entertainment and relaxation quite vexing.

Sherlock had been waiting to go to Barts for half an hour, now, and had texted Quinn fourteen times to hurry up. There'd been a particularly brutal homicide Lestrade had given him, and Sherlock was practically dying for a good thought provoker. They hadn’t had a decent case in forever, besides that beheading from a while back. But even that had been relatively simple, once Sherlock had gotten the phone of the victim.

He had half the mind just to leave her, but John hadn't quite gotten over the whole handcuffing debacle from a few weeks prior, and had firmly insisted that Sherlock play kindly with Quinn for a while.

Actually, both Quinn and Sherlock owed John quite a few favors for the shit they'd put him through. Quinn had apologized for her actions (to John, of course. She would apologize to Sherlock when hell froze over), but she still felt as though John deserved something for being such an obnoxiously good person all the time.  Sherlock had been pretty adamant against the idea of being in debt to the short doctor, but Quinn had somehow managed to convince him to swallow his pride. Sherlock paused for a second, comprehending just how much he was letting that woman affect him. If she was capable of getting through his dignity, Sherlock must be faltering.

Nonetheless, John had told Sherlock to get Quinn himself. So, after a flurry of groaning and grumbles, the younger Holmes had finally resorted to physically retrieving the woman.

Yes, he was that desperate.

His slightly scuffed shoes thumped down the wooden stairs to the basement as he scowled. His hazel/grey eyes scanned the hall leading to her room, and his frown deepened.

he hadn’t been down here in months. Not since he had first showed Quinn her room, when it had stilled smelled like mildew and dust, and there had been broken glass scattered across the floor. Quinn, of course, hadn't seemed to care, and a wild grin had spread across her face as she had examined the room. Her eyes had twinkled, and she'd simply told him that it's perfect.

John had given her an odd look at her statement, as though wondering how she could consider such a dump even close to perfection, but Sherlock had simply replied with a quick nod.

He let out a quick huff of a breath as he stood in front of her door. His gaze fixed upon the gold, slightly chipped 221c on the front of it, and his glare deepened. He quickly straightened his burgundy button up, although he wasn't quite sure why.

He didn’t bother knocking, because- well, because he didn’t want to. The door wasn't locked, anyways, so she was pretty much granting him permission to enter. At least, that's how Sherlock rationed it.

His hand tilted the doorknob, and he entered quietly.

The first thing that hit him was that she'd changed the place.

And not just a little.

The last time Sherlock had been in her room, the faded wallpaper had been peeling and rotting with dirt, and the corners had been cluttered with cobwebs and mold. It had seemed like the kind of basement you'd find someone bound and gagged, and not in a sexual way. Well, unless you were into dirt and mildew.

She had cleaned it up, for starters. The wood had been fixed and the carpet had been replaced, and she'd repainted the walls a pale, marshmallowy blue. There was a large canvas painting of Starry Night on Sherlock's left side, and a flat-screen TV above her fireplace. On the mantle stood an speaker and the statue of liberty snow globe John had given her, as well as a gun that was- wait, was that his gun? So that's where it had gone. There was a slightly wrinkled, giant American flag throw across her unmade daybed, and Sherlock resisted the urge to raise his brow at her national pride. She was a mess, however, and there were clothes scattered across the floor and piled onto her chair.

A box of sugary, artificially colored cereal was lying on her floor, spilling some of its rainbow innards across the wood. A black bra had been flung half hazardly across her bed, along with stocking  printed with cartoon kittens. Her trash bin was in desperate need to be emptied, but it looked as though she'd been too lazy to dump her garbage.

Of course, her flat wasn’t half of a catastrophe as 221b, but it was enough to be noted.

The room was stained with Quinn, in every form of the sense. Not only was the decor and clutter tailored exactly to her whims, but the overlying, floral scent of roses and something Sherlock couldn’t quite identify had began to seep into the room’s roots.

It bothered him, quite a lot.

Sherlock could faintly hear her shower running from the door across from him, and the static flush of water through the pipes in the wall informed him that the shower had been on for quite a decent chunk of time. So that's who had been eating up all the hot water.

He rolled his eyes, softly huffing in exasperation. He supposed he could call for her now, but he was nearly never down here, and it was such an opportune chance for uninterrupted observation into her thought process he simply couldn’t pass it up.

His eyes roamed around her room as he shut the mint colored door behind him silently. His mouth creasing into a frown at the glass of blood red wine on her desk, right next to an empty beer bottle. There were a few sticky notes across her mirror, and Sherlock could easily identify her scrawled, slightly curled letters as their ink scratched against the paper. Upon further inspection, the notes seemed to contain fairly average memos, which was a bit of a disappointment for Sherlock. He’d been hopefully they’d reveal something a little more… well, drastic about the woman, but besides the knowledge that she needed to pay John for brunch , they weren’t exactly insightful.

A few photographs were mingled with the sticky notes, which caused Sherlock to narrow his eyes slightly.

There was a selfie of Quinn, winking she stuck her tongue out at the camera. She was wearing pajama pants with blue telephone boxes splattered across the cotton, and a simple grey tank top. She was leaning against John’s shoulders, the latter of the pair unaware of her camera on him as he laughed at something off screen.

There was another of Lestrade yelling at a crime scene, with Quinn giving the camera a thumbs up. It would have been a nice photo, although it seemed a little out of place with the bloodied corpse on the floor.

Sherlock’s lips twitched in amusement despite himself, although his humor disappeared as his eyes hit the next photo.

Quinn was flushed and appeared to be at a club of some soft, and her hair was little ruffled as she grinned madly. Next to her, holding up a peace sign and looking like she hadn’t slept in a very long time was a lanky woman with a bob cut the color of dark chocolate and a wealthy smattering of freckles across her nose bridge. A curvy woman with bubblegum pink hair was peeking in from the corner of the photograph, but Sherlock wasn't looking at her.

His attention was fixed firmly on Quinn’s left side, where a blond man with stubble and a smile that could stop traffic in the middle of London had his arm snaked flush around Quinn’s waist.

Sherlock's eyes narrowed as something searing and hot suddenly flared in his gut. His gaze darted over the photo, lingering on Quinn's smile and the faint lipstick stain on the man's cheek. Sherlock had developed the sudden urge to throw something, although his outward appearance was unfazed.

He could only assume his reaction was because of his viewpoint on romantic entanglement. It was only logical he'd be apprehensive of his colleague’s taste in partners. He merely didn't want Quinn- who really was the only decently reasonable person he knew who wasn't a serial killer- to fall into the ever growing temptation of romance. It would only distract her from her obligations as his illegitimate flatmate.

He shook his head. Why did it bother him so much? She'd never mentioned the man before, nor had Sherlock ever seen him. Since this photograph had been taken a few months ago  (Quinn had since lost the bracelet dangling off her wrist in the photo) Sherlock reasoned that Quinn was still very much single. Then again, Quinn never did disclose much of her personal life with Sherlock or John. Or anyone, really  now that he thought about it.

He supposed it was for the better. Sherlock found private affairs tiresome and boring, and the discussion of something so mundane and trivial was something that bothered Sherlock greatly. Sherlock didn't care who was sleeping with who or if what's her name was gossiping about her husband, which were unfortunately topics that most of society ate up. That was just another reason he liked Quinn so much, because she didn't care about-

No.

He'd almost forgotten that he didn't like her. So what if she had a few redeeming factors? That didn't dispute the fact she was reckless, idiotic, and difficult. She fought him on anything she possibly could, and refused to see reason when it didn't align with her wishes. He just needed to remember why he despised her, and he'd be fine.

Now all he needed to do was to convince himself to do so.

He shook his thoughts from his head, trying to focus on the task at hand. Right. Just get Quinn and leave. He could hop into a cab and head over to Barts as soon as he was done, and chances were Quinn would be too lazy to follow.

The sounds of water clicking against tile grew louder as he approached her white bathroom door, and he could practically smell her shampoo. Sherlock lifted his fist, readying to knock on the bathroom door, when suddenly-

 

“I wear this crown of thorns

Upon my liar's chair

Full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair.”

 

She was singing.

Sherlock's hand fell.

He'd heard her sing before, of course.

It wasn't like her vocal skills were a surprise to the younger Holmes, or anything. No, he'd listened to her humming many times, but that was nothing like how she was singing now.  Normally, she’d sing some pop song while doing the dishes, or hum a show tune when she was bored. She'd sometimes accompany her words with a slightly distracting sway of her hips or a twirl, all while keeping eye contact with the curly haired detective. She'd laugh, a sound that wasn't exactly very feminine or elegant, but Sherlock somehow found it more interesting then if it was proper.

But this was so very, very, different.

Whereas everything Sherlock had heard her sing previously was light and more for smiles than anything else, this was raw, and real.

This was emotion, pure, unadulterated emotion that made his breath hitch in his throat and his face go blank.

 

What have I become?

My sweetest friend

Everyone I know

Goes away

In the end.”

 

Her voice was beautiful, no doubt about it. It was technically flawless, and every note hit was perfect, but there was something behind it. It was painfully strained, as though she was keeping herself from breaking. Sherlock felt chills wash down his spine, and he found himself unconsciously taking a step closer to the door.

Her voice cracked.

Sherlock had never really been one to care about privacy, because- well, first of all, it was incredibly difficult to hide things from him in the first place. Secondly, he had no respect for anyone's secrets, because when people hid something, it tended to be bad, or at the very least insightful onto their thought processes. His years as a detective had trained him to invade people's personal space, and he felt absolutely no guilt doing so whatsoever.

But something about the way Quinn was singing was making Sherlock very, very uncomfortable. It was like he was intruding on something he definitely should not be intruding upon. Her words pierced his moral numbness unsettlingly fast, and every syllable uttered from her lips was making the lump in his throat grow.

This was wrong. Wrong, wrong, so wrong. He shouldn’t be here. This was private, this was her, and this was... intimate. He should leave. He needed to leave.

He didn't move.

 

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt.

I will let you down

I will make you hurt.”

 

She went quiet, and all Sherlock could hear was the muted rush of water from opposite the door.

And then the shower suddenly shut off, followed by a thump as she slipped out of the shower. The curly haired detective suddenly blinked, seeming to realize what he was doing. He quickly took a step back, swallowing, as the sound of her feet neared.

Quinn opened the door, and Sherlock was pretty sure he'd stopped breathing.

Her creamy skin was glistening with a thin sheen of water, which reflected the white light and made her appear almost ethereal. Beads of moisture clung to her neck and slid down her curves, and her hair was darkened from the shower. Her cheeks were flushed from the heat, and she looked a little breathless. Her eyes were red and a little puffy, a sure sign she’d been crying. Sherlock had never seen her cry before- actually, he’d never even seen her get upset. Maybe pissed, but not at all distraught. The sight was so odd, and so unfamiliar, Sherlock suddenly couldn’t find words.

Then again, that might have been because she was naked.

As in no clothes.

Or a towel.

Or anything.

Quinn's eyes fell upon Sherlock, and she went stiff. Not as tense as Sherlock, of course, but Sherlock was also probably the most uncomfortable he'd ever been in his entire life.

It wasn't like he hadn't seen a naked woman before. He spent half his time at a morgue, and had seen his fair share of bare corpses. He'd seen living humans, too, but he'd disregarded them completely. It was simply flesh, and he found no reason as to why he should find it private. The only person who'd ever stirred his interest had been The Woman, a particularly clever dominatrix who'd greeted him utterly nude and then proceeded to toy with him for months, until she manipulated him into selling out the British government and Sherlock, not exactly happy with the outcome of said events, broke her down and destroyed the only thing saving her from being beheaded.

So his relationship with nudity had not exactly been a pleasant one, to be put lightly. Of course, he wasn't affected by seeing such states of undress, and his fixation on Irene Adler had been one of a more mental standpoint. Irene Adler had used her lack of clothes and a particularly provoking challenge to distract Holmes, but Sherlock hadn't been affected sexually. Well, not that much. Yes, Sherlock Holmes was a man, and he could appreciate a woman, but it had never been anything that significantly hindered him in any form of the word.

However, there was something about Quinn Caunter, soaking wet and utterly bare in front of him that was doing strange things to his sanity.

There was a painfully long silence between them, in which neither party spoke nor moved. Sherlock's eyes were glued firmly on hers, because don't look down she'll kill you if you look down Sherlock why would you want to look down stop just move why the hell aren’t you going doesn’t she have a towel why is she looking at  me like that she’s not even going to close the door why isn’t she leaving dear God I really need to start knocking.

The tension was unbearable.

“Sherlock.” She finally uttered, her expression unreadable. She didn’t break eye contact, and Sherlock felt a lump grow in his throat.

“Caunter,” was his only clipped reply.

Pause.

The strain between them was growing tighter. Sherlock felt unfamiliar stir in his chest, but he pushed it down. He swallowed thickly, trying to regain some control over his traitorous thoughts.

“Would you care to explain why you’re in my bedroom?” She deadpanned delicately, still unflinching.

Her words took a moment to register with Sherlock, and for some reason, he couldn’t seem to quite remember the response. Which was odd, because Sherlock never forgot anything. Well, anything of value, that is. When he could finally collected enough coherent thought to remember his reasoning, he found that she’d probably be pissed as hell if he told her that he’d been listening to her singing.

“Would you like to explain why you haven’t answered any of my texts?” Was his evasive, slightly strained reply.

Quinn’s eyes narrowed as she crossed her arms over her chest, successfully concealing the majority of her upper assets. Sherlock relaxed just slightly, before scolding himself for being affected in the first place.

It was just anatomy .

“Cause I was showering, asshole.” She said, cocking a brow at the taller man. “Also, if you haven't noticed, I'm sort of naked.”

“So I've observed.”

The tension between them was beginning to climax, slowly bending and bending and bending and sooner or later it was going to snap.

And if Caunter kept looking at him like that, he was sure it was going to be sooner.

The silence stretched.

Neither of them moved, because one stray word could shatter the delicate impasse between them. It was the cultivation of months and months of unrelieved pressure, and the dam keeping it back was swiftly weakening. And if it broke, Sherlock wasn't sure what would happen. Their relationship was fragile as it was, consisting of mutual loathing, curiosity, and unyielding fondness. They both held each other in high regards, although for different reasons entirely. They fought more than half the time, and Sherlock certainly was calloused towards the woman. And yet, they had both gone to incredible lengths to insure the safety of the other, despite their clashing personalities.

No one, not even John, knew what to label their partnership as, aside from incredibly dysfunctional. There certainly was something between them, but Sherlock couldn't quite tell what.

And he hated not knowing.

Quinn’s thickly lashed eyelids suddenly drooped, and her golden gaze grew heavy upon the curly haired detective. Sherlock’s stomach suddenly tightened, and his breathing had grown slightly erratic. Quinn leaned her head to the right just slightly, letting her damp, darkens hair tumble over her shoulder as she regarded Sherlock with a look that made his adrenaline pump and the creature in his chest growl.

“Are you going to do anything about that, Mr. Holmes?”

 

 




Checkmate.

Chapter Text

Checkmate.



Now, Sherlock Holmes had never been a man of particularly notable self control.

He knew society's boundaries on what was considered morally acceptable, of course, he merely couldn’t quite help himself. He was an addict, after all, and once something took a hold of him, it was extremely difficult for him to shake the urges to indulge. When Sherlock wanted something, he'd most certainly find a way to acquire it. Whether it be mental stimulus or a criminal case, Sherlock had never quite been able to resist the temptation of such sins.

Unfortunately, Quinn Caunter was the most sinful of all the sins, and undoubtedly the most dangerous.

And Sherlock certainly had an affliction for danger.

Now , in this particularly fierce struggle of a battle, Quinn Caunter had certainly won. That much was obvious, and Sherlock Holmes was currently completely and entirely destroyed. He was lost, and the only way back was her.  He was falling, falling hard, and he was going to hit the floor any second.

And when he made impact, he was afraid he wouldn't be able to stop himself from doing something spectacularly stupid.

Such as close the space between them.

Or fuck her until she couldn't even function properly.

Yes, Sherlock had lost this round.

And it very well might just be the final one. He’d done quite well, however, and lasted months longer than had been expected. Even the most unattached man would have

succumbed far earlier in the situation, but Sherlock had somehow managed to retain enough self control to keep himself in check. He’d survived the thickest heat of the battle, and saved himself by the skin of his neck more times then he could count. He’d escaped her relentless attacks and his inner temptations, and outlasted his desires far longer than one could possibly fathom feasible.

But Sherlock Holmes was , in fact, a human.

And there's only so much resistance a human could possess.

Sherlock swallowed thickly, squeezing his eyes shut as hard as he could as he grit his teeth. He was slipping, he could feel it. Had it always been so warm in her room? Or perhaps it was just the steam from her shower. Or maybe it was the unyielding urge to shove her onto her bed and utterly devastate her stubborn little body. He could almost feel it, the sensation of her, pliant skin under his hands, and hear her soft whimpers and muted pants as she squirmed. She’d moan and clench the sheets in her fists as she attempted to contain herself, but she’d succumb before she even had a chance to register what was happening. She’d be vulnerable, covered in dark marks so everyone would know she was entirely his, and he’d be the only person to ever touch her, and no one would ever dare lay a fucking finger on her again because she belonged to him, and not… not…

His breathing was erratic and his throat was clogged as his heart threatened to break out of his ribcage. He couldn’t stand it. Not touching her was slowly killing him, and he was fairly certain one more moment of this unresolved tension would literally kill him.

His adrenaline was pumping. It coursed through his veins and across his system, granting him life and health. But now there was a virus inside. This was life, but it had been infected. It was now poison; potent, lethal temptation. It was slowly making it’s way through his bloodstream, and it wouldn’t be long till Sherlock was entirely afflicted. The remedy was tainted, too, and he’d never felt quite so aware of this fact in his entire life.

He wasn’t sure what this was. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do, or when he was supposed to do it. He didn’t know what was right or wrong, anymore, because the lines just kept getting thinner and thinner and thinner and soon they’d disappear entirely.

All he knew was that he couldn't take it anymore, and fuck, he wanted to- no, he needed to do something.

More specifically, he needed her .

Sexually? Perhaps. The air was static with months and months of unresolved tension, and it was slowly but surely driving Sherlock to the brink. After all, he was a man, no matter how emotionally detached he was. He only had so much self control, after all, and Quinn was really, really running him dry. Weeks of flirtatious banter, coy smiles and relentless teasing had been chipping away at his once impenetrable resolve. But she’d weakened him- no, she’d ruined him, leaving the detective with no option but to give in entirely. He needed to touch her, to feel her, to taste her, because he just couldn’t live without it any longer.

But it was far more than simple desire. Sherlock Holmes was not susceptible to faltering for mere physical intimacy, and certainly had never given idiotic beauties a second glance. Actually, he found those kind of humans quite boring, and at times even repulsive. They were stupid, shallow creatures who were pathetically desperate and pretty much everything that Sherlock found wrong with society.

However, Quinn was not like them. No, not at all. Perhaps one might mistake her for them at first, as all outwardly appearances suggested in favor of such a notion, but Sherlock knew better.

She was brilliant. She was clever, and witty, and so incredibly hard to read. She was a living, breathing enigma that Sherlock was just dying to break, and to understand. Her code was so unprecedented and erratic it was nearly impossible to find any sense in her actions at all, and it was slowly tearing away at Sherlock's sanity.

He supposed she had become something of an obsession, in some ways. She occupied his thoughts when she didn't need to, and he found himself constantly attempting to deduce her. Yes, that must be it. She was an obsession, and nothing more.

Of course, Sherlock was lying to himself, but it was easier to do then admit the truth. Perhaps it wasn’t healthy to constantly neglect the already weakened, tiny little portion of his brain that still had morals, but Sherlock didn’t really care. His lack of concern would probably astound or worry others, but that was their problem and not his.

Whatever Sherlock's attachment to Quinn may be, it didn't sway the fact that Quinn Caunter was currently naked and flirting with him.

And unfortunately for Sherlock, he wasn't exactly in control right now.

 

So yes, Sherlock Holmes was going to do something.


...That is, he would have, had John Watson not walked in.


……


John stood in the doorway, his hand slipping off the doorknob as he stared quietly at the scene in front of him. He seemed to have trouble comprehending exactly what was happening, which was slow, even for him. Perhaps it was merely the trauma of seeing such a sight that had certainly not been meant to ever be seen, or maybe it was because John Watson’s head could simply not accept that he had just walked in on a very, very, very intimate moment between his two best friends.

Quinn and Sherlock were both frozen, rooted in place as their eyes glued on the blond intruder. Which was unfortunate for John, as Quinn was still currently towel-less, and therefore naked. Quinn was also a very attractive woman, and John was a very hetrosexual male, so that was also a bit of a conflict. She was undoubtedly alluring, and it would take quite the decency to tear one’s eyes away from her form. John, although a very decent person, was simply not quite prepared for such a state of undress, and his eyes were currently roaming over the detectives in front of him as his mind attempted to make sense of the situation.

Several sudden realizations rapidly entered Sherlock's conscious in the span of mere milliseconds as the strain stretched, and he stiffened.

First, Quinn was unclothed and flushed, and had very recently been regarding Sherlock with a very suggestive expression.

Secondly, Sherlock was standing in her bedroom, not a yard away from said bare woman and had mere moments before contemplating doing something entirely indecent.

Lastly, John was not an idiot.

John's eyes slowly flicked between Quinn, to Sherlock, and then back to Quinn. He frowned, before shaking his head softly, as though trying to wake himself up from sleep. When he opened his eyes again and saw the same sight, the gravity of the situation seemed to finally sink in on him.

He blinked, before his face rapidly flushed a violent pink. His ears tinged red in mortification as his hand flew up to his mouth, as though he was having an invisible coughing fit. A rather odd noise found it’s way through his tightly clenched teeth, and Quinn probably would have laughed at him had the situation not been quite so dire.

The silence in the wake of the blond doctor’s realization was one of the most uncomfortable in the history of silences. The mere mention of such an indescribably uncomfortable experience was enough to make even the most stoic squirm, and John was anything but stoic. Sure, he could handle gore and violence, but there was just something so taboo about walking in on tension so thick that John just couldn’t stomach.

Of course, nothing could compare to the tension that had previously been residing between Sherlock and Quinn, but this was an entirely different genre of strain.

After what seemed like hours but was probably less than a minute, John swallowed thickly. He lifted his chin just the smallest fraction of an inch in a nod of approval as he very slowly began backing out of the room.

“Well, carry on, then.”

The voice of his vertically challenged friend seemed to stir something in Sherlock back to life. The curly haired detective snapped back into reality, blinking his stormy eyes rapidly as the implications of the situation finally settled on him.

A blind stroke of unexpected panic suddenly swallowed Sherlock’s already scattered nerves, and breathing was suddenly difficult. Which was odd, because Sherlock was hardly ever panicked. He found such a reaction trivial and unproductive, and therefore detached himself from such an emotion. However, this time the stakes were rather high, and if Sherlock didn’t move soon, they’d crumble.

John couldn’t leave. The blond doctor was pretty much the only thing keeping Sherlock grounded, at the moment. If he left now, Sherlock was fairly sure he’d succumb to something indecent and incredibly regrettable.  

And Christ, where the hell was Quinn’s towel?

But before Sherlock could even open his mouth, Quinn had begun.

“Oh, please don’t let me spoil whatever you wanted to say, Johnny. You came all this way, anyways.” Quinn said lazily, her damp hair tumbling over her shoulder as she regarded the fleeing doctor unabashedly.

John paused, halfway out the door. His cerulean eyes were firmly averted from Quinn and Sherlock, and his face was flushed uncomfortably pink. After all, John was a very decent man, and he was not going to stare at his very attractive, very naked female flatmate, even if it killed him.

Quinn was like a little sister to him. Granted, a very self destructive, very attractive sister  who liked watching crap telly with John, playing drinking games, and occasionally kissed him when she was happy or pissed-

Well, okay, so maybe sister wasn't the best term for the reckless woman.

But she certainly was something, and John would rather die than to have something bad happen to her. He cared for her as much as Sherlock, and that's saying something. Although, Sherlock’s relationship with Quinn was of an entirely different nature than the blond doctor’s. Besides, even if John were to ever consider a romantic relationship with the woman (which he most definitely wasn’t), Sherlock would most likely toss the blond doctor out the window.

Alright, perhaps the taller detective wouldn’t act quite so rashly. But the younger Holmes had made it quite clear that John Watson was not to lay a hand on the younger woman. Despite that, however, there certainly was a surplus of affection John contained for the woman. His sentiment for her had gotten to the point where he’d rather cut off his own good leg then have something bad happen to her. Which was unfortunate, considering Quinn pretty much consisted of bad.

Oh, well. He supposed there was nothing he could exactly do about that.

“Well, looks like you two are pretty busy, so I’ll just be-” John coughed, his face pinkening a shade darker then before (a feat in which some would have thought impossible. “-Ahem- I’ll probably just be on my way.”

Sherlock appeared unfazed, although his thoughts were running rampant. Fix this. God, Holmes, what were you thinking? Were you actually considering-?

Sherlock shook himself from his scoldings, covering for his falter with an eyeroll that drifted into a deadpan. Breath. Just breath. Goddamn it, Holmes, how hard is it to breath ? “Don't be an idiot, John. Caunter was merely fooling around. Now-”

“Fooling around? ” Quinn interrupted Sherlock’s sentence, raising a skeptical brow towards the taller detective (who was still currently refusing to maintain eye contact with her). “Yeah, because it’s certainly my fault you broke into my flat when I was naked, huh?”

Sherlock glared at the wall. “Perhaps if you hadn’t decided to ignore my texts, I wouldn’t of had to. Besides, your door was unlocked.”

“So that justifies you snooping around when I’m in the shower?” Quinn shot back, her temper steadily rising with Sherlock’s blatant accusations.

“You left your door unlocked, and I was not snooping. Besides, you permit John to enter your room at all times.”

“That's cause John is John. He isn't going to try and screw around with my stuff- Jesus, Sherlock, you’re such a little prick .”

“Says the woman who threw a fit because I wouldn't let her poison Watson,” Sherlock replied, huffing out a breath of exasperation. He still would look at her, because he couldn't trust himself not to ruin it all if he did. It was a good thing she was pissed at him, because arguing was an excellent distraction to tear his mind away from the fact that Quinn was, in fact, undressed. Arguing was normal. It kept him in control, and distracted him from the urge to slam her soft, slick form against the wall and- no, don’t imagine it.

“Hang on, what?” John asked, suddenly very interested in the conversation.

They ignored him.

Quinn flushed violently at the memory as she inhaled a deep breath, entirely riled up at this point. “How many times do I have to tell you, I was drunk. Besides, it wasn’t lethal or anything.”

“What was that part about the poison?” John pressed. His flatmates continued to pretend he didn’t exist.

“Does that grant you permission to overdose a human into hospitalization?”

“Oh, don’t act like you haven’t drugged John before, Sherlock.”

“Drugged?” John echoed, looking entirely ill at this point.

“It was for an experiment, not petty revenge.”

“It’s the same thing!”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake-” Sherlock began, but John cut him off.

“Do you think you two could maybe argue after Quinn has some clothes on?” John interrupted suddenly. His words finally hit Sherlock and Quinn, who both fallen disturbingly silent after his burst of words.

Quinn blinked blankly at him, and for a second it was almost as though she had forgotten she was undressed. Sherlock, on the other hand, could seem to think of nothing else.  

Sherlock had to admit, the woman sure was comfortable in her own skin. Perhaps a little too comfortable. Even the most confident of woman would have ducked behind the door by now, to save any dignity they owned. Then again, dignity had never really been Quinn’s forte.

Sherlock couldn't really bring it in him to care. Every fiber in his being was currently dedicated to keeping his gaze away from the woman, and he didn't care if he was being obvious she was affecting him. His pride could take a few hits if it meant keeping down the traitorous creature in his chest.

That being said, it had come to Sherlock's attention just how blatantly the sight of his female flatmate undressed could destroy him. It was a fact that was beginning to concern the curly haired detective, on a number of grounds.

But now was not the time for reflection. With a stormy eye roll Sherlock stalked over to Quinn’s bed, where a pale white towel had been haphazardly strewn. It was unnerving soft and positively reeked of Quinn, and Sherlock had the inexplicable urge to stuff it away into his coat pocket.

He shook the sudden notion away, however, before proceeding to toss the towel at the naked woman to his left. He still wouldn't look at her.

Quinn caught the cloth easily and narrowly avoided it smashing her in the face.. “Hey, no need to be rude.” She said, giving Sherlock a half hearted scowl at his violent handling of the fabric.

Sherlock pointedly ignored her as he stubbornly shoved his hands into his pockets. God, what was wrong with him?

Quinn lifted the fluffy towel and quickly secured it over her assets. She tucked the corner of the towel under her arm, and Sherlock let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. That was better. Of course, the towel still clung to her curves and dipped at her hips, and yes, it was rather short, but at least Sherlock could form coherent thoughts now. As long as he kept his gaze averted, of course.

“Anyways, do you boys need anything?” Quinn asked after becoming (relatively) decent. “Or do you just like snooping?”

Sherlock twitched. “I wasn't snooping-"

I'm not in the mood to argue right now, Sherlock, so please shut up and let John talk.” Quinn interrupted cheerily, entirely evading the taller detective’s words.

Sherlock glared at her. He was incredibly miffed at being told to be silent, and had he not been caught quite so off guard he would have snapped at her. However, John had already begun to speak.

“Well,” he began, still looking a little uncomfortable. “Sherlock was supposed to get you, but he was taking so long I thought he might have just left without you. So I just- um, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay.”

Quinn nodded absently as she slid past Sherlock to her dresser. Sherlock eyed her with a scowl as she began ripping through the drawers of her clothes.

“So how long were you waiting?” Quinn asked John offhandedly as she pulled out a floral short dress and black tights.

“I dunno, like- fifteen minutes, maybe?” John replied. He seemed to be less tense now that she was covered, although his gaze was still fixed on the wall. He was still rooted firmly in the door, and Quinn rolled her eyes.

“Please don’t loiter, Watson. Either get your ass in here or leave.”

John took a second after she finished her words, pausing as though debating whether to flee or continue to observe the tension.

He seemed to decide on the latter as he finally stepped into her room. He closed the door behind him quietly before rocking awkwardly on his heels. His gaze caught Sherlock’s for a moment, and the shorter doctor quickly snapped it away with a strained smile.

Quinn didn’t seem to notice the doctor’s discomfort as she pushed past Sherlock again to pluck her black bra off her bed. Sherlock found his gaze unconsciously trailing after her as she added the support to the bundle of fabric in her arms, although he wasn’t entirely sure as to why. The detective’s stormy eyes continued to follow her as she entered the bathroom with her heap of clothes, although as he realized what she was doing he quickly averted his eyes.

Something had caught his attention peaking out on the small sliver of skin exposed on her shoulder blades as she swiftly bounced into the bathroom. He hadn’t gotten a good enough look to identify the mark, but it appeared to be an abrasion of some sort. Perhaps a scar?  

“You guys have a case, then?” Quinn questioned offhandedly. She’d pushed the door mostly close, although she left it open a crack as to further converse with her flatmates. “I mean, that’s why you two are here, right? You needed my help?”

Sherlock huffed. “I certainly don’t need anyone’s aid, let alone-”

The sound of Quinn’s towel dropping to the floor momentarily cut off Sherlock’s train of thought, and it took him a few seconds to regain his bearings.

“...Let alone yours, Caunter.” Sherlock finished with a slight waver in his baritone chords. John seemed to notice the falter, and sent Sherlock a quick, questioning glance. The taller detective ignored him. “John had merely felt it would not be… fair to leave you.”

“Well, John’s a sweetheart,” was Quinn’s only reply.

Sherlock made a face.

Sweetheart?

“He didn’t want to get you himself,” Sherlock responded, although he wasn’t quite sure why he’d admitted such a pointless notion. Perhaps he was attempting to imply John wasn’t- but no, that didn’t make sense. John Watson was a saint, and a wholly better person than Sherlock Holmes could ever even pretend to be. Sherlock had no problem with this fact, and would never deny that the blond doctor’s morals and kindness reached far past Sherlock’s perception.

So then why did he feel so defensive?

“Yeah, but it’s not like you would’ve come down here if he hadn’t told you to. Don’t be stupid. ” She continued. Her voice was muffled for a moment as she struggled with her dress, and Sherlock could almost envision her fumbling to get the soft fabric over her still damp, pliant skin as the dress became tangled in her arms. She’d be stuck, her arms pinned above her head as her chest heaved painfully, causing the swell of her breasts to rise and fall  entirely exposed as she-

Sherlock blinked back into reality with a start. He shook the abrupt, vivid vision from his head violently as he tried to quell the satisfied purr in his chest at the notion. His breath was slightly ragged as he clecnched his hands into fists at his side.

What the hell was  that?

“...Sherlock?” John was saying, giving him an odd look. “You okay?”

Sherlock swallowed.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” He responded tightly, gritting his teeth. Focus, focus.

His head wouldn’t listen to him. His thoughts were tratious fragments of entirely irrelevant observations and possibilities, ones that concerned Sherlock far more than he’d like to admit. He couldn’t think properly, the memory of her slick curves and supple hips eternally burned into the back of his eyelids. She was so warm and so flushed,  and he couldn’t help but to wonder if she tasted as sweet as she- Christ, stop, stop that right now, don’t think about it. Stop. Damn it, I said to stop. She’s poison, Sherlock, don’t you dare. You’re going to ruin her, Holmes. She doesn’t need your shit in her life, leave her the fuck alone, she’s a terrible person and stop thinking literally think about anything else why is that so hard stop no I said no has she changed yet Holmes you’re a disgusting excuse of a human stop that right fucking now you can’t she smells like flowers why does she smell like flowers dear God why is this so damned difficult.

“So, where’re we going?” Quinn questioned nonchalantly, still entirely oblivious to Sherlock's inner torment. The bathroom light cast a hazy shadow across the room and wafted the scent of  her shampoo out the door, engulfing Sherlock in its fragrant claws. It smelled of spiced peaches and some unidentifiable floral scent, mingled with the underlying soft sweetness that was purely Quinn.  

He swallowed painfully as she continued, blissfully unaware of her affect on the detective. “I’ve gotta be somewhere at six, so I can’t stay too long.”

“It’s Saturday, Caunter. You don’t have anything scheduled.”

“Well, I do now.”

Sherlock frowned.

It seemed as though lately Quinn had hardly ever been around. Ever since the whole handcuffing incident, she’d always been busy. With what, Sherlock had never really had much interest. What the woman did in her free time was none of Sherlock’s concern, and he’d never really cared for as long as he could remember.

However, recently he’d found himself… wary of Quinn’ s more and more frequent absences. Sure, he still saw her quite a good number of hours daily, but nothing compared to the endless days in the fall that had been filled with unsolvable cases and inseparable companionship. Back then, they were nearly never found apart.

But Quinn was drifting, and Sherlock wasn't sure why.

Quinn emerged from the bathroom a few moments later, still adjusting her tights across her thighs. She was wearing a short, simple dress, one that cut off just above her knees and flared as it hit her waist, successfully accentuating her curves. Her tights and a familiar leather jacket adorned the look, and if Sherlock wasn't mistaken, she was wearing lip gloss.

Not that he was looking at her lips.

Obviously.
Her attire was far too nice for a visit to the coffee shop, and certainly too preppy to wear to a murder scene. She’d wear jeans if she was going to the bar, and the jacket was too casual for an unscheduled trip to Mycroft.

No, if anything, this was a...
"You’re going on a date? " The word rolled off Sherlock's tongue like bile, sour to the taste as it left a bitter residue on his teeth.

That’s none of your business, I think,” Quinn said snidely, before slipping on her converse shoes.

Sherlock scowled as she went, his gaze glued to her back. “As your flatmate and associate, I'm fairly certain it is.”

“Mmn, still not telling.”

Sherlock glared at her. Something white-hot and painful had begun blistering into his gut, and it was becoming hard to keep it down.

Quinn hardly ever went on dates. Sure, there'd  be the occasional one night stand, but she hardly ever attended romantic gatherings. She’d called it a waste of time, and had always claimed she'd prefer spending it solving crime with Sherlock. She wasn’t particularly interested in relationships- Sherlock believed it was a commitment issue, on her part- and had turned down many an eager man. Of course, this didn’t negate the fact that she was flirty as hell, and was in a profession that often dominated by males. So yes, she did receive quite a few offers.

Sherlock was quite content with his female flatmate’s view on romance. Sure, she was a sap for the occasional love story, and sex was not a field in which she lacked, but Sherlock certainly appreciated the fact she wasn’t actively searching for a partner.  

After all, why would she need one? She had Sherlock and John. That was all the companionship she needed, in Sherlock’s mind.

Of course, Sherlock didn’t need her or anything, but he’d begrudging keep her company if he had to.

Now, Quinn was most certainly going out on a date. Normally, it wouldn’t bother Sherlock that much. Most of the time she’d just end up friendzoning the guy at the end of the first date, and Sherlock had only ever witnessed her go out on a second date with one guy before. They never meant anything, anyways, which was perfectly fine with Sherlock. Of course, he'd appreciate it a lot more if she just ignore society in general, but compromises needed to be made. So he’d clench his teeth and let her be, as long as she made it back before one in the morning.

But something was different, about this date. Normally, she’d hardly make an effort at all. She’d show up to the coffee shop in her usual ripped jeans and a leather jacket, and she’d never bother with any sort of primping. And if there was a case, she’d cancel immediately. Sherlock could nearly always count on her to ditch whatever she was doing to help him, although she certainly wasn’t a pushover.  Quinn never bothered to prepare for dates, because she didn’t need to impress anyone. She didn’t want to.

But she looked… nice, today.

Not that she didn’t look nice before. No, Quinn Caunter was beautiful without lifting a finger. Even when she hadn’t brushed her hair, and was in a wrinkled set of day old pajamas, she still somehow was transfixing. Not because she was gorgeous in the cosmetic sense- because let’s be honest, no one wakes up and looks ready for a photo shoot- she simply had an air about her that made you forget her flaws.

But she had dressed up, today, and she never dressed up.

Which meant she was actively trying to look nice.

Which meant she wanted to impress someone.

Which meant she cared about the outcome of this date.

Which meant she cared about the guy.

Sherlock suddenly felt the need to punch something.

“Wait- hold on, you’re going on a date?” John asked, a little late to catch on (as always). “With who?”

Quinn finished lacing up one of her shoes before moving to the other. Her hair tumbled down her shoulder in glossy, tousled waves. A stray curl clung to her flushed cheek, from what Sherlock assumed was because of the stubborn moisture in her locks. She glanced up at John as she spoke, while her fingers fumbled with the laces of her converse. “Well, remember that guy from the coffee shop debacle a few months ago?”

John furrowed his brow. “The killer?”

“Don’t be stupid, he’s dead.” Quinn responded before lifting herself back to her feet. She straightened out her back before arching it, causing her vertebrae to crack and pop satisfyingly. “ No, Sam Houston.”

Sherlock’s stomach dropped.

“Sam Houston?” John echoed, not having yet noticed that Sherlock had gone quite stiff. “You mean the guy you saved?”

“Yeah. I got his number after I saved his ass, and he wanted to go out.” Quinn confirmed nonchalantly. “Did you know he used to live in America?”

“Really?”

“Yeah, in Pennsylvania. I mean, I’m a New York gal, but close enough.’

With every word she uttered Sherlock felt the flame flitting in his gut growing hotter and hotter.

So they’d been speaking together for a while, then. Sherlock wondered if he was the reason why his woman- no, not his- the woman had been on her phone so often lately.

The green-eyed beast that resided in his chest had begun to growl, and claw it’s way up his esophagus. It crawled into his throat and began filling his head with idle, bitter static and uncertain chatter. He’d experience this feeling before, of course, but it had rarely ever struck this strong.

“Why the hell would you want to go out on a date right now, Caunter? We have a case.” Sherlock suddenly intruppted, not even bothering to hide the deadly glare across his face. His voice was tight and strained, and his hands were clenched into tight fists at his sides.

“Well, there’s always cases. Besides, didn’t you say you didn’t need my help?” Quinn responded.

Sherlock twitched.

“Just because I do not require assistance does not mean your input is occasionally... insightful . And murder is a thought stimuli, far more helpful and productive then a date.” Sherlock said cooly. He was having a hard time keeping his head clear, and it must have shown in his voice as Quinn rose a brow at him skeptically.

“Do my ears deceive me or is someone jealous?” She asked innocently. Her dark lips tugged in the corners and pulled into a familiar, sly smirk, which was a stark contrast to her delicately oblivious words.

Sherlock tensed.

“Oh, don’t be idiotic, Caunter.” Sherlock said with a forced eyeroll. “I merely find romantic entanglement pointless, and unfulfilling. Sentiment is weakness- the chink in the armor. It’s futile and utterly nonsense, as well as a waste of time and effort. It distracts and dulls the mind, and is a fate far worse than death. I had hoped you’d be reasonable in matters such as this, but I suppose I shouldn’t expect you to know better.”

Quinn’s smile darkened. “And what would you know, Sherlock?”

Sherlock didn’t respond.

John cleared his throat to cut through the sudden wave of cold that had invaded the room.

“Uh, okay, um, are you guys ready to go?” He asked with a small, slightly strained smile. “Lestrade’s probably starting to wonder why we’re taking so long.”

“Well, if Caunter’s done primping, then yes.”

“Why are you such an asshole, Sherlock?” Quinn suddenly asked, every trace of her normal charm sucked dry from her voice.

She wasn’t cold, and she wasn’t mad. She was just… empty, and it took both Sherlock and John by surprise. “What did I ever do to you to make you act like such a jerk to me?”

Sherlock blinked at her.

She thought…?

Quinn abruptly squeezed her eyes shut, and shook her head before Sherlock even had a chance to register what she had said. She inhaled before letting out a soft, slightly bitter laugh.

“You know what? Nevermind. Just- forget I said anything, okay?”

Sherlock felt a lump rise in his throat. “Caunter-”

“It doesn’t matter,” She interrupted with a smile that didn’t fool anyone as she stepped towards the door. “Let’s go, alright? There’s murders to solve. Excuse me, John.”

She swiftly step sided the doctor and pushed open the door into the hall. Her hair bounced as she retreated up the stairs and out of sight,  not once turning back to the two men.

John’s head darted back and forth between Sherlock and Quinn with a defeated expression on his face. How had the atmosphere turned so sharply so fast?

Sherlock, on the other hand, was standing still. His eyes were glued on the doorway in which Quinn head just fled with a very odd expression pasted across his face.

He…

He might have fucked this up.

 

 

 

It was time for some damage control.

Chapter Text

Jim Moriarty had never been a very patient man.

That wasn't to say he didn't have any self control. No, he had quite the sufficient amount of restraint. He’d waited for quite a long time for certain commodities in his life, and was certainly wise enough to not blow his plans with a reckless, spur-of-the-moment impulse. There was nothing more satisfying to him then the anticipation of victory. It was a ride or conflict and tact, and the higher the roller coaster climbed all the more exhilarating was the drop.

But he’d been waiting for so long, and he was starting to grow tired of it.

The payoff would be splendid, of course. He could already see the pieces falling into place, but it was just taking so very, very long.

And he had a feeling she was stalling.

She was growing… sentimental. Despite her constant reassurance she was not, Jim knew it was merely a matter of time until her resolve crumbled. Which was a shame, but also incredibly entertaining to watch.

After all, she was a human, no matter how warped and twisted she was. She was a human, and all humans had at least some semblance of morals. Well, aside from Jim, but he wasn’t entirely sure he’d count himself as a human.

And morals were unfortunately incredibly difficult to override. No, not difficult. Impossible. Once morals were implemented, no one could possibly ever hope to destroy them. Yes, they could become faded and blurry in neglect, but they never went away. Not truly. They were just a little muddled and ignored, but certainly not gone.

So what does one do when destruction is mandatory?

Jim shifted in his plush, leather swivel seat and propped his elbow up on the dark ebony of his expensive desk.

He leaned his head on his palm as he pulled up a recent text conversation between Caunter and this month's venture- a male named Sam, or something like that. He honestly couldn’t care less about the man. He was just another faceless distraction, although Moriarty’s interest had been aroused that the female detective would take such a liking to a man as… average as Sam.

Then again, he supposed Caunter rather enjoyed the average. It helped her pretend she was normal. And although Jim had never quite enjoyed normalcy, he could see the appeal it might possess on someone such as her.

Jim's dark eyes were half lidded as his gaze absently glossed through their texts. They’d been texting fairly frequently in the past few months, but mostly just light hearted banter and the occasional flirting.

Jim's gaze flickered over a few texts they'd exchanged with muted interest.

 

Sam

-Hey, you busy?

 

Quinn

-nah, just napping.

 

Moriarty made a face at that.

Sleep?

Oh, Quinn never slept. It took quite a few pills to actually bring her to REM, and she usually ended up overdosing herself when she gave into the meds. Sleeping pills, combined with her anti-anxiety meds and the liquor permanently swirling through her veins really screwed her over, so when she did finally sleep, it was interrupted and certainly not for more than a few hours at a time. Her insomnia had kept her away from the bliss of rest for far too long, and the carefully concealed rings of darkness under her lower lashes were proof enough of her plight.

 

Sam

-shit, did I wake you up?

 

Quinn

-nah, you’re good. Whatsup?

 

Sam

-The sky

 

Quinn

-ayy nice

 

Sam

-ha, actually I was going to watch the new Spider-man at 6

 

He paused.

 

Sam

-want 2 come?

 

Sam

-in a slightly probably not platonic way?

 

Quinn had taken seven minutes to answer his last text, which was a stark contrast to her previous rapid fire replies.

And in texting, that usually was a bad thing.

 

Quinn

-oh my god, that sounds fun. You do know how much I love Marvel movies. But I was kind of going to hang out with Sherl and John today.

 

Sam

-Ah.

 

Sam

-... well, if you get any free time, my offer still stands. :) It’d be cool to see you when I’m not being, you know, shot at by my exe’s stalker.

 

Quinn

-yeah, that does put a bit of a damper on our relationship. ;p

 

Quinn

-anyways, I’m going to shower now.

 

Sam

-have fun!

 

Sam

-wait no that sounds weird

 

Sam

-that’s not what i meant

 

Sam

-you know what just pretend i didn’t say anything

 

Quinn

-my lips are sealed.

 

There was an hour break in the conversation, in which Jim assumed Quinn was taking her shower.

Sherlock had texted her quite a few times in the first half hour, mostly demanding her to respond to his texts or informing her that she was being an idiot.

Jim’s lips twitched in amusement. Oh, this was lovely.

Sherlock’s texts had abruptly come to a halt after he’d apparently mustered up enough determination to physically retrieve Caunter from her room.

Her inbox had gotten eerily quiet after the younger Holmes’ last text, especially for a woman who was constantly on her phone. And Jim seriously doubted it took her an hour to shower.

 

Ping!

 

Moriarty glanced down at his phone, where Quinn had just sent Sam a text.

 

Quinn

- You still looking for a plus one?

 

Moriarty’s finger paused momentarily over her inquiry as his gaze glued onto her words.

... Oh, she was getting attached.

Excellent.

Moriarty let out a breath and exited the chat, before flicking over to the current feed.  He had a meeting at five, but that could wait.

This was going to be fun.

 

………

 

Quinn was pissed.

Which wasn’t exactly surprising, considering Sherlock’s recent treatment of the woman. He’d been particularly demeaning to his flatmate, lately, and he might have been just a little too curt when addressing her after his previous falter. He’d been trying to distract himself, However, Sherlock nearly always treated her terribly, and she’d never gotten quite so upset.

Yes, perhaps she’d’ yell at him, but she was also just generally a very loud person. She had absolutely no problem with arguing with the curly haired detective, and they had quite a few livid arguments daily. They could hardly stand each other half the time, and they had very contrasting views on life and behavior.  Of course, their disagreements were mostly short lived and merely bursts of frustration with no lasting consequences. Sherlock might insult her and she'd refute his claims fervidly, or they'd get pissed at each other's habits, but neither party ever genuinely loathed the other.

Their arguments mostly just dwindled off forgotten after an hour or so, never to be brought up again. And then they'd be back to normal, with their casual banter and Quinn's occasional teasing. Or they'd just sit in silence, quietly enjoying the others company even if there were no words exchanged between them. It was a cycle that seemed to work quite well, most of the time.

Quinn would always forgive Sherlock's attitude and insults, or just ignore them entirely. He could be the rudest piece of shit in the universe to her and she'd just brush it off. It didn't get to her, and she was hardly ever bothered.

Which might be why her temper was so unexpected.

Well, temper might be putting it strongly. She wasn't mad, per say- at least, not outwardly. Sherlock knew when she was angry, because she got this little crease in her brow and her face would flush in indignation. She’d become rather irritable, and would snap at Sherlock rather cooly until she eventually forgave his transgressions.

However, she was showing no signs of rage, at the moment. She wasn't showing much signs of anything, actually. Her face was blank and utterly devoid of all emotion, leaving her with an unreadable mask.

The taxi ride to the crime scene was very quiet, and incredibly uncomfortable. Quinn had slipped into the front seat, and had been very obviously avoiding conversation. Sherlock had pretended to occupy himself by checking his text messages, which John had painfully strained to create idle small talk.

It didn't do anything to buffer the tension in the air, however, and even the driver had appeared uncomfortable.

Currently, Quinn had taken to ignoring Sherlock entirely. And Sherlock, who really was an attention whore, wasn't exactly appreciating that.

John coughed as the taxi whizzed by the murky streets of London, and his voice broke the terse silence in a painfully forced way.

“So, what’s the case?” John asked in a cringe-worthily friendly manner.

Neither Quinn nor Sherlock answered him, although both had very obviously heard. John, however, was used to this treatment (from Sherlock, at least. Quinn hardly ever ignored him this blatantly) and therefore continued as though nothing was wrong. “Isn’t there two dead people?” He tried again, knowing Sherlock would be bound to cheer up at the notion of murder. But the curly hair detective remained impassive.

Now, John Watson, although not exactly a creature of incredible wit, was not an imbecile when it came to affairs such as the tension between his flatmates. And although he wasn’t quite sure what had been happening when he’d walked in on them (nor did he long to know) he was sure some of their frustration had to do with the fact that they were both idiots.

Oh, they were both geniuses, sure. But as if often happened, the smartest of the humans tended to be the most ignorant. And of course, it didn’t exactly help that Sherlock was a jealous bastard who was currently attempting to understand why he was so upset when there was absolutely nothing to be remotely upset about. He’d already came to the conclusion he had no feelings whatsoever for the female in front of him, and therefore he should be feeling nothing but professional concern for her personal life. No, even that was too much. He should feel nothing, because Sherlock Holmes had never cared about anyone who wasn’t a serial killer or a homicide victim’s personal life in his entire life.

And yet here he was, caring.

The human mind really was baffling, wasn’t it?

The younger of the Holmes siblings had pushed that certain thought away and moved on to more pertinent questions, ones that he could actually deduce answers to instead of just picking apart his moral code.

He was currently attempting to understand why Quinn Caunter was so mad at him, and failing rather fantastically at every hypothesis.

Quinn Caunter was a human with a very high tolerance for rudeness towards her, especially when it was Sherlock committing such abuse. Why, the detective could think of hundreds of cases in which he’d insulted her very being (for no particularly good reason, either) and she’d just shrugged it off.

This thought was immediately followed with the realization that Sherlock was kind of an asshole to her.

Not that he felt particularly guilty about it. No, Sherlock wasn’t really an empathetic person to begin with, and he felt that if people reacted emotionally to his observations, well, that was their fault.

However, he was beginning to realize he’d been a little more than unfair in his treatment of his female flatmate. He’d often snap at her for at no reason aside from the fact he was frustrated at something entirely out of her control. And the poor, stupid, woman wouldn’t even blink, because she was an idiot, and so forgiving, and compassionate, and ridiculous, and one day her heart was going to get her in a lot of trouble.

But that brought Sherlock back to his initial line of questioning. Quinn had never been quite as bothered by his behavior before this moment, and he had to wonder what had caused her to snap.

It must have been something he’d said, he concluded. He must have struck a nerve with this particular chord of cruelty (although it had been much milder then his usual abuse), and Quinn was merely upset.

And he was partly right. Quinn had been sorely affected by his words, this time, although that was hardly a reason for her to react the way she had. After all, Quinn was a big girl. She could easily take a few punches with a smile.

But it wasn’t just a few punches.

The words were not fists. They were knives. They were sharp, and more often than not left scars so very, very deep on her wintry skin. Sticks and stones would break her bones, perhaps, but bones healed.

Her heart, unfortunately, could not.

There were monsters inside. They lived deep in her, and were tamed only by her lies and many, many distractions.

She’d keep them all bottled up and settle them under layers of false security and weak justifications, but the words could still escape. Sherlock was unknowingly feeding into her inner demons with his barrage of mindless insults- mindless, because that’s often what insults were. He never really stopped to think about the person- the living, breathing person- under all that wit and charm, because Sherlock (as we have previously established) was a brilliant idiot.

And Quinn was a wonderful actress.

The curtain would rise, and the lights would shine down on the woman and her perfect hair and perfect grace. She’d play the role perfectly, and the audience gave her a standing ovation. Bravo, they cheered. From their boxes in the darkness, it was beautiful. It was perfect, and so was she.

And then you looked a little closer, and you begun to notice that something was off. Not anything dramatic, but the makeup that had once looked so convincing was now just a little too much now the closer you approached, and her perfect smile had just a little too many teeth.

But the show must go on, and she continued to dance and sing until the curtain closed for the night, and she slowly dragged her sore muscles backstage.

The words that had assaulted her during her remarkable performance seeped through her fine facade, and the whispers set fire to her head.

The words were bombs, assuring her that she was pathetic and useless and good for nothing. Their voices would rise to a battle cry of shrieks and clawing fingers, and she’d sink to the floor of her bathroom with a bottle of whisky as the word crumbled around herself, and she’d bite her arm so hard she’d bleed as she tried to to stifle the screams and broken sobs, because if she was too loud, the audience would surely hear her.

And no one wanted to hear a broken woman.

If Sherlock had known, before, maybe things would have turned out differently. Maybe he’d stop hurting her, and she’d quit her acting. Maybe, if he’d known earlier, he would have been able to save her.

But he didn’t know.

And that would destroy him, later, but ignorance is bliss.

John coughed again.

Sherlock handed him a napkin.

 

.................

 

“Ah, you’re here,” Lestrade said as he strode over to the newly parked taxi as Quinn climbed out of her seat. “I was starting to think you’d bailed on us.”

“No,” Quinn responded shortly as she pushed past the inspector and into the ancient building behind him. Her hair swished behind her as she briskly strode into the room, not bothering to even glance back at her flatmates.

Lestrade paused at her less than graceful entry with a double take. Perhaps for Sherlock Holmes, the reply would have been expected. But for Quinn Caunter, the flamboyant, aggressively friendly woman who had never failed to harass Lestrade every time they crossed paths, it was startling.

“What’s up with her?” Lestrade asked, glancing at the retreating figure of the younger detective as Sherlock and John ducked out of the car, the former of whom looked rather disgruntled at something beyond Lestrade’s comprehension.

“Sherlock was being an ass, again,” John supplied as Sherlock rolled his eyes.

“I told you, I was merely informing her of her stupidity of her actions.”

“You called her stupid?” Lestrade asked in disbelief.

“Of course not.” Sherlock huffed, looking thoroughly bothered as he crossed his arms over his chest.  “Caunter’s certainly not deficient in mental integrity, unlike Scotland Yard. However, she was making a mistake, and I was attempting to explain to her she was in the wrong.”

“By insulting her life choices,” John pointed out, causing Sherlock to shoot him a look.

Lestrade exhaled out a breath as he ran his hand over his face in exasperation

. “Okay, Sherlock, for future references- women are always right. Even when they aren’t. And when Quinn’s pissed, we all suffer from it. That woman’s insane. And- hold on, what mistake did she make?”

“Do you really find it productive to stand idly and discuss my female flatmate’s warped ideals or should we actually attempt to find a killer?” Sherlock snapped suddenly, his words clipped and taut with uncharacteristic strain.

Lestrade furrowed his brow. “What?”

Sherlock let out a growl of annoyance at the man’s obliviousness as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat. He proceeded to ignore John’s questioning look and stalked off after Quinn with a scowl on his face and a rather flustered demeanor.

Lestrade and John’s gaze trailed after the lanky detective with a bewildered gaze and a wary frown, respectively.

“Those two... need to fuck already,” Lestrade finally uttered after a moment of strained silence.

John nodded.

 

…………………

 

“Okay, well, I’m off,” Quinn finally- finally uttered after a very, very long period of silence, and Sherlock jumped at the sound of her voice. God, he’d forgotten how damn quiet it had been without her.

John glanced towards her. “Already?” He asked. They’d hardly been there for fifteen minutes.

The wind whipped Quinn’s hair around her face, and caused the skirt of her dress to ruffle around her thighs. She wasn’t smiling.

“You guys don’t need me here, right?” It was hardly a question. “I might as well get going, then.”

Sherlock dropped the wrist of the corpse he’d been examining, and stood up to face her. He wasn't smiling either, because there was certainly nothing to smile about.

“Of course we need you here, Quinn. You’re important. You’re a good person. I care about you, a lot, and I'm sorry I'm such an ass all the time.” He said, and he meant it.

Expect he didn’t say that.

He just stayed in his place on the ground, made a noncommittal sound of acknowledgment and continued to survey the dead body in front of him without actually taking in anything. Dead people are dead, after all. They're gone. They can't do anything, or feel anything, because they'd lost it already.

Quinn was not dead. She had emotions, and feelings, and a head that hurt from too much alcohol and too much of the The Hurt. She was a girl who Sherlock was being a jerk to just because she had a date with a guy who was a decent human being, one who would most likely make Quinn smile far more then Sherlock ever could.  

She left.

Sherlock tried to focus, after that. He really did.

The corpse has slight discoloration on her wrists. She's had a watch. A cheap one, but it’s been stolen from her.

… Quinn never wears watches.

Sherlock shook his head. That didn’t matter. Focus.

Her shoes are new, but the heels are worn down. She must have walked quite a long way.

Is Quinn going far? Probably.

Stop.

She’s probably going to the movies. It’s too late for lunch, but too early for dinner. And that stupid show she likes is in the theaters- she’s been begging John to go with her for a week. She’ll probably end up convincing Sam to go with her to the bar afterwards. Maybe get drunk. No, definitely get drunk. She’ll get bored and sleep with Sam, because she always has sex when she’s pissed off and drunk. And she’s definitely pissed off. She’s an idiot. She’s a drunk idiot who’s going on a date with a guy who I saved from being murdered. A guy who she actually likes. A  guy who’s probably going to sleep with her-

He abruptly stood up.

This wasn’t working. Nothing was working, because the most essential gear was misplaced in Sherlock’s head. He was being driven into distraction, and it was all her fault.

No, it was his fault.

It was his fault for taking out his frustrations out on a woman who’d done nothing (well, mostly nothing) to deserve such treatment.

“John.”

John was immediately at attention at the curly haired detective finally addressing him. He stood a little straighter, which still left him sorely heads below Sherlock. He was, after all, unfortunately short. “Yeah?”

“Let’s go.”

John tightened his coat over himself. “Go where? I thought we were in the middle of a cas-”

Sherlock was gone before John could even finish. didn’t bother to inform Lestrade he was leaving as the detective strode briskly out of the building and into the parking lot, much like his female counterpart had done previously. This time, however, the detective had a well- intentioned doctor trailing him.

“Go where?” John repeated as he caught up with Sherlock.

Sherlock’s jaw was set in determination and his stormy eyes were cloudy with thought as the breeze ruffled his curls.

“How do you feel about the movies?”