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Joan didn’t get flustered easily. She was a cool hand and a cool head. Sometimes. But when it came to falling in love with someone or something she lit up. Her face glowed, she fumbled for exactly the right words, and when she found them she said them either too fast or haltingly. After she started learning Sherlock’s methods she told herself she had gotten better at hiding her muffled giddy smiles, the pink flush of her cheeks. That she had gotten better at projecting a sympathetically neutral expression even around people that she very much wanted to kiss and pin to a counter top. But she also had to admit that after joining forces with Sherlock she had gotten a lot better at lying, especially to herself. There wasn’t any room for dishonesty in what she was about to do though.

She and Mary Morstan had been dating for almost two years now and it felt like the right time to ask. 

They had first met when she had come to them for help. Mary suspected a previous boyfriend was sending her carved pearl beads with vaguely worded notes. Which was strange but then came the more threatening missives and the feeling like she was being followed so she sought out a private detective. He had trouble figuring out who was sending the beads and about halfway through looking he quit without explanation. Just sent a brief email and disappeared. 

So she had asked around and a few cop friends had pointed her at Sherlock and Joan.  At first Sherlock had refused to take her case as she was high-powered attorney and could surely afford to hire security and get a restraining order if this was all that was going on. Joan convinced him to dig deeper and maybe kicked him twice under the table. Something else was going on.

Upon having the pearls examined they discovered that they were from an Indian archeological dig that had reported an entire chest of gold and pearl jewelry stolen almost thirty years ago. That finally got his attention and they both decided to help her, well Joan had wanted to help her immediately but now they were on the same page. In a whirlwind of multiple assassins and the truth about her father’s disappearance from his diplomatic post overseas during her childhood, something else happened with Mary.

Joan found herself drawn to her from the moment they had met.

There was a fire in her that she recognized and it spoke to the same spark in her. Mary felt the same way about the law that she once had about medicine and now felt about her casework with Sherlock. And with them spending weeks together for the case she saw more and more of the little things. It was the sort of map that led some one to fall in love with another person. The light staccato beat her soft brown hands drummed on her coffee mug when she was thinking. The little creases around her eyes that only showed up when she was smirking and about to say something very clever to annoy Sherlock. Her mouth. All the shapes and sighs it made when she spoke. Joan found herself to be increasingly distracted by everything Mary did and it wasn’t just Sherlock who noticed. 

So after they had caught Smalls and his accomplices she hadn’t turned Mary down when she asked her out. Even though she hadn’t dated anyone, let alone a woman, since she quit being a doctor. And of course Sherlock was the first to point out it was a bad idea, that bringing feelings into their work was always a bad idea. She saw the hooded look in his eyes and knew whom he was thinking of. There was only one woman who had destroyed him.

He had been wrong though. They clicked, both were busy but understood when that was and wasn’t a good excuse for not spending time together. Their lives strangely fit together, so well in fact it felt like she was a part of their team as they often went to her to ask for legal favors or hints. She usually didn’t grant them but Mary was very good at finding someone who would. Her connections in the Justice Department were too useful to their investigations because they were often on the middle ground when it came to the law. But Joan felt guilty about using her like that so she had cut back on asking for favors as of late. Mary had noticed but hadn’t said anything either way. She was too savvy for that. So much so she made Joan nervous sometimes. That was part of her excitement though too. Because she wasn’t entirely sure what her answer would be.

So they sat down to dinner at a place Mycroft had recommended, that wasn’t his restaurant. It was a quiet place with crisp white linens, dark wood chairs, and light lavender and white walls. Each table had its own gauzy candle. Joan was dressed up in cream and Mary was still wearing her deep maroon suit from work with her curly hair pulled back from her face with pins, falling to her shoulders. The outfit, with her perfectly manicured red nails, made her co-workers refer to her as “the lady in red.” Joan’s eyes kept drifting over her pensively as they ordered but they hadn’t really spoken after getting out of the cab together. Mary immediately knew something was amiss.

“What’s wrong? You’re not going to break up with me are you? This isn’t a break up dinner is it because I don’t feel like you should break up with someone over French Vietnamese food? It’s full of scalding liquids and far too tasty for that.”

She laughed and her gentle smile seemed to answer Mary’s questions.

“Oh. So something different but not bad-different. At least you’re not sure if it’s going to be good or bad.”

“Sometimes I wonder why you don’t work with us full time. You’re almost as good at using our methods as we are.” 

Mary flashed her a cheeky grin and spooned some of the beautifully steaming oyster bahn pho xao into her mouth. After she finished savoring it she answered.

“Where would be the fun in that if I can’t throw my weight around to make sure neither one of you gets arrested, or worse discredits all the cases you’ve ever worked on?”

Joan raised a skeptical eyebrow and Mary held up her hands in resignation.

“Also you know how much I love my job. We make it work the way things are why change them?”

Joan shifted nervously and watched Mary’s face for any scorn before she started.

“I was wondering if you wanted to move in with me. Well technically with us.”

This time it was Mary’s turn to look skeptical.

“I know you have the room for my extensive library and cat but what makes you think I can stand to live with your prickly partner or vice versa?”

Joan sighed and smoothed out the crisp white napkin in her lap. This was the part of the conversation she had been dreading. 

“I asked Sherlock and he agreed that having you around might make things more… difficult but we talked about it and in the end he agreed to let you move in. If you want to that is.”

Mary ate several more spoonfuls of her now cooling pho while Joan looked down distractedly at her own mostly untouched vit quay, the tantalizing smell of ginger and tamarind drifted off of it but she was too nervous to eat it.

“Okay I have some conditions. As I’m sure he does. But we’ll make it work because we have one very important thing in common. We both love you and want to be with you. Even if that asshole won’t admit it.”

Joan’s smile was huge as she let out the breath she had been holding. The aromatic smells of duck and steak as well as the light chatter of the other people at the restaurant returned in a rush of color and feeling. She stood and started to walk around the table to Mary. She met her half way and kissed her. Her hand running through her tightly wound natural curls while Mary found her hips and pulled her closer. She smiled at the action and pulled away when a waiter almost collided with both of them. Neither one of them much cared that the people at the table closest to them were staring at them curiously. 

 They avoided the gently flickering candle in the center of the table and held hands for a while before laughing and then enjoying the rest of their dinner. The food was delicious and the company was the best. Joan would have never imagined this would be her life five years ago when she gave up her dreams and her job. It was better than anything she could have imagined. Sure living with two geniuses that were more than slightly possessive of her might be an exercise in patience. But they would make it work; there was no other option. As it turned out she was excellent at making new life arrangements work. This one was just going to be particularly adventurous. As she watched Mary try to eat a noodle gracefully and smile at her blushing when she didn’t quite manage it she was content. And that was something she hadn’t been in a long time. Everything was going to be fine.