At Right Angles (PG-13), Part v [final]

Jun 29, 2012 20:55

Title: At Right Angles
Characters: Joan, Sherlock, Molly, Mycroft, others
Rating: PG-13
Length: 3400 words this part
Beta: the wonderful yalublyutebya
Summary: In which Joan's world is turned upside-down, Mycroft and Molly are nosy, and Sherlock is the last one to find out (for once). Preg! Fem!John.
Notes: Originally written for this prompt on the meme. Click for disclaimer.

Time passed. Joan’s chest felt tight, and she reminded herself to breathe. Breathing. There shouldn’t have been enough time for her to breathe.

Finally, Joan chanced a look up. Above her, Sherlock’s eyes were already open. He was frowning at the numbers on the mobile.

“Sherlock, Joan? Are you there?”

The sound of the blessedly familiar voice sent a jolt through Joan’s body. Greg. She pushed Sherlock off hurriedly and struggled to her feet. “Yes,” she called, waving.

Greg’s shoulders slumped in a sigh of relief. “Thank God,” he said, striding down towards them.

As he approached, Sherlock rose to his feet, still frowning. He moved forward to intercept Greg. “Did you catch him?” he asked, but the DI swept him aside. To Joan’s surprise, he continued straight past Sherlock and took hold of her shoulders.

“Are you alright?” Greg asked, his forehead creased with worry. His gaze swept over her body, searching for injuries.

“Joan’s fine,” Sherlock quipped waspishly. He crossed his arms. “I suppose it is too much to hope that you managed to both catch the perpetrator and deal with the explosives upstairs.”

Greg ignored Sherlock, his eyes still on Joan. He leaned in closer, whispering, “I heard from Molly about your-about you.” He gestured in the general area of her stomach, sounding apologetic. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”

Joan looked down and was startled to find her right hand still resting lightly on her abdomen. She wondered at how natural it felt there, how unselfconscious she was about the position. She didn’t even feel annoyed that Molly had spilled the beans. “I’m alright. Really,” she added, when Greg’s look of concern didn’t falter. “Nothing happened, just a lot of running around.” She decided not to mention knocking Sherlock to the floor-it would only lead to unnecessary questions, and she really was alright. “How did you find us? Did you crack the riddle?”

It was Greg’s turn to look confused. “Riddle?”

Sherlock interrupted with his usual impatience. “Obviously, it was Mycroft,” he said. “No one at the Met has the capability or insight to solve the puzzle.”

“Anderson found the nitroglycerin,” Greg corrected, swiveling to face the detective.

“Anderson couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag,” Sherlock retorted. “Mycroft planted a tracking device on Joan hours ago. He’s been feeding the coordinates to dispatch all night, just as I predicted.”

“Tracking device?” Joan repeated in an outraged voice, just as Greg sputtered, “Predicted?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Obvious. Dull,” he replied in a tone that suggested they were missing the point entirely.

This was not a satisfactory answer. Joan shot a sideways glance at Greg, who rolled his eyes at her. “Alright, then. If you ‘predicted’ everything, what’s going on with the bomb upstairs?”

“I didn’t say I predicted everything,” Sherlock said haughtily. “Foreseeing the next move of a criminal mastermind requires effort and creativity. My brother, on the other hand, is a known quantity.” He shifted to face the screen, the harsh light bleaching his skin and eyes stark white. “I guessed that his target would be the projector room, as other areas of the cinema have far too much regular foot traffic to effectively disguise the explosives, but I didn’t predict this specific situation.”

Joan looked up at the screen for the first time since they’d hit the floor. The countdown had stopped at two, though the circle was nearly full. It was almost funny, in a perverse way. She had thought she was going to die; the cortisol currently coursing through her veins, making her giddy with relief, was a testament to that. Yet that final, interminable second had never actually happened. Strange that the most significant near-death experience of her life was a fake.

“He wasn’t in the projector room, Sherlock,” Greg said, pulling Joan’s attention back to the conversation.

“He must have been.”

“It was a recording.” Greg shook his head. “When was the last time you went to the cinema? Talkies have been around for a while now.”

“I don’t need to go watch some brainless drivel to understand film technology,” Sherlock snapped. “I know more than enough to tell you that IMAX film doesn’t use an embedded soundtrack. The sound is recorded separately, and then digitally synched with the film during the performance.”

“So the soundtrack was separate then, so what?”

“So,” hissed Sherlock, “we were up in the projector room seconds before you arrived. The digital sound system was off. He must have been feeding the sound manually, probably through a microphone.”

Greg crossed his arms. “Well, there’s no way he was physically in the cinema. We had the place surrounded-we would have seen him leaving.”

Sherlock fell silent, his expression stony. Greg sighed, and rubbed a hand over the five-o’clock shadow darkening his chin. “Let’s get you both outside. We need to have you checked over for injuries. It’s procedure,” he added quickly, before either could protest. Having used that excuse herself, Joan was in no position to complain. “And Sherlock, tell me about this ‘puzzle’ you keep going on about.”

As they walked towards the exit, Sherlock launched into an explanation of the gunpowder, the date metaphor, and the meaning of the cardboard boxes. Greg made a disgruntled noise when he explained the meaning of the salt, but didn’t interrupt. As they left the building, a slender woman with a halo of dark ringlets and a harried expression turned towards them, hesitating for a fraction of a second at the sight of Sherlock.

It was the hesitation that got her. “Sergeant Donovan,” Sherlock said, taking the initiative. “Pleasant evening?” His sarcasm cracked like a whip.

“It was.”

“Yes, cleaning Anderson’s floors must be quite an entertaining business. I’m sure his wife appreciates it,” he replied smoothly, with a pointed look in the direction of her legs. Joan’s eyes followed automatically, and she noted that the woman’s knees did look a little raw.

To her credit, Donovan only glared at Sherlock, though if looks could kill he would have been a smoking pile of rubble by now. She turned to Greg. “We found something. Thought it might be important.” She held up a clear plastic evidence bag, inside of which was a vibrantly pink mobile. “It’s set to speaker.”

Sherlock made a grab for the bag, but the sergeant lifted it out of his reach. “Hands off,” she warned him. “It’s evidence, freak.”

Joan felt her burgeoning sympathy for the police sergeant wilt. “I think he deserves to see it, after practically solving the case for you,” she said, eyes narrowed. Donovan’s attention turned in her direction, and she raised an eyebrow.

“Who’re you?”

“This is Dr. Watson,” Greg introduced her. “She works with Molly at Bart’s. Joan, this is Sally Donovan, my second in command.”

“Joan’s my colleague,” Sherlock added.

“Colleague?” Sally’s eyebrows travelled farther up her forehead in disbelief. “You don’t have colleagues.” She turned back to Joan, one hand on her hip. “Did he follow you home?”

“Well, yes,” Joan admitted. Greg turned to stare at her as well. “But only because there was a severed arm on my kitchen table.”

Greg chuckled, and Sally looked mildly disgusted. Sherlock merely frowned. “I really do think you should let Sherlock see the phone,” Joan continued. “It’s only fair.”

Greg and Sally held a silent staring contest, which Sally lost. She sighed, capitulating. “Here,” she grumbled, reluctantly handing the evidence bag over to the detective. Sherlock snatched the proffered phone instantly. “But you have to give it back.”

“Of course,” Sherlock replied carelessly, already engrossed in the mobile. Sally rolled her eyes, then turned around and stalked back into the cinema. Greg rubbed his face tiredly.

“We’ll need both your statements, too,” he said. “Everything, including what happened when you found the arm in your flat, Joan. We may have to come photograph the scene.”

Joan stifled a groan. “Can it wait until morning?” she asked hopefully.

“Technically, it already is morning,” Sherlock commented without looking up.

“Thanks for reminding me, Sherlock,” Greg muttered. He glanced at his watch, cursing softly. “Damn.” He sighed. “Alright, come by the Yard in the afternoon, we’ll take your statements then. And don’t forget to bring the mobile,” he instructed Sherlock firmly. “Sally’s right, it is evidence.”

Greg left to go check on the forensics team. Sherlock continued to study the pink phone, completely riveted. Joan poked him in the small of the back to get his attention. “You’re not off the hook about Mycroft,” she said firmly, when he finally looked up at her. “And you owe me. Now, what did you mean when you said he put a tracking device on me?”

“Check your pocket,” he grunted. “The left one.”

Joan thrust a hand into her coat pocket and turned it inside out, emptying the contents into her palm. There was some lint, a few pennies, and the cabbie’s business card, slightly bent. She frowned and dug back into her pocket, feeling around. Finally, her fingers brushed over something small and rounded like a bead, tucked into the corner of the cloth. She pinched it, carefully withdrawing it from her coat. It truly was tiny, barely more than five millimeters in diameter, smooth and black and inconspicuous. She would never have noticed it if she hadn’t already been informed of its existence.

"Joan," Sherlock sounded edgy. Joan looked up from her examination of the tracking device. He was staring down at the business card in her outstretched palm with a strangely intense expression. "What is that?"

"Nothing," Joan said, flipping the card over so the text was visible and holding it up for Sherlock to see. "Just something the cabbie gave me."

"Let me see."

Joan passed the card over with a shrug. She couldn't see why Sherlock was so interested. It was a standard business card, the kind you could buy at any printing shop. The back was blank, and the front read only "Janus Cars" in plain black font, with a phone number below.

Sherlock turned the card over in his fingers, examining it carefully. Finally, he pulled Joan’s mobile from his pocket once again. “Are you ordering a car?" Joan asked. It seemed unlikely.

Sherlock tapped the number into the mobile, but didn't lift it to his ear. Instead, he held the phone out between them, whilst Joan watched in bemusement. Then a ring tone sounded-not from Joan’s mobile, but from the pink phone in Sherlock’s other hand. Joan stared as her own number appeared on the mobile’s screen as an incoming call.

"‘Staying Alive’," Sherlock muttered. “How puerile.”

"At least he has a sense of humour.” Sherlock rolled his eyes.

The ringing continued to voicemail. Sherlock switched Joan’s mobile to speaker, so they could both listen to the message.

“Hello, you have reached the mobile of Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” the teasing, sing-song voice rang out, so different from the cabbie’s coarse accent. Joan clenched her fists. She would never forget that voice. “Congratulations! If you’re listening to this, it means you aren’t dead already. I’m a nice guy, you see, Sherlock-I always give people the benefit of the doubt.”

Sherlock’s grip on the mobile was white-knuckled, his lips peeled back from his teeth in a tight grimace. “I even replaced your mobile. You should really learn to control that temper of yours, darling. Your little doctor may not always be around to rein you in.” Sherlock’s eyes slid towards Joan for a moment, before his attention snapped back to the phone.

“Oh yes, I’m always watching, Sherlock. So don’t bother looking for me-I’ll find you.” There was a smacking sound, like someone blowing a kiss. “Bye bye now, and be a good boy, won’t you?”


Joan swallowed thickly. She wasn’t easily intimidated by violence, but these weren’t just empty threats-this man was more than crazy enough to follow through. From the look on Sherlock’s face, that fact wasn’t going to stop him from tracking the criminal to the ends of the earth. The question was, would she follow him there? Did she even have a choice?

“He didn’t give his name,” she said at last.

“He didn’t need to.” Sherlock pulled the pink phone out of the evidence bag, and began scrolling through the list of calls. He held up the log to show Joan. “Look.”

There were two. The most recent one was just a string of numbers-the missed call from Joan’s mobile. The other had been made about ten minutes ago, right about the time they were entering the cinema. And it had a name.

Jim Moriarty.

“He programmed himself into the contacts,” Sherlock said, bringing up the contacts page and opening the single entry. “Just his number, of course.”

“You can trace mobile numbers though.”

Sherlock snorted, switching off the phone and slipping it into his pocket. “He’s too intelligent not to use a pre-paid phone. He will have disposed of it immediately.”

Joan eyed Sherlock’s pocket. “You’re not going to keep that, are you?”

“He gave it to me.”

“It’s evidence.”

He shrugged, an elegant ripple of his thin shoulders that managed to convey both boredom and condescension in one effortless movement. “The likelihood of Scotland Yard discovering something about the phone that I have missed is minimal. This is our best chance of communicating with the bomber.”

“You mean the best chance of him communicating with you,” Joan said, remembering the voicemail message: I’ll find you.

“There’s no difference.” Sherlock held out Joan’s mobile. “Here,” he offered, as though it were a gift.

Joan took the mobile, shaking her head. “Thanks. I was beginning to think you’d never return it.”

Sherlock gave her a strange look. “Why would I do that?” he asked. “There would be no way to text you if I needed something.”

“That’s right, Sherlock,” Joan replied, rolling her eyes. “I live to serve.” She took a step in the direction of the street corner. “Come on. You’re paying the cab fare this time.”

Joan went to work that morning, but Molly threw her out the moment she set foot in the morgue. “You’re supposed to be recuperating!” she clucked, prying the lab coat from Joan’s fingers. “Go home and rest.”

Joan couldn’t relax at home. Maybe it was the lingering odor of decomposing flesh (no matter how well-trained Mycroft’s cleaning staff were, a dead body would always smell like a dead body), or maybe she was still riding the high of the case-either way, Joan found herself at nearly midday walking aimlessly and alone through central London.

She wasn’t altogether surprised when her phone buzzed.

Turn left. SH

Joan looked up. She was at the corner of Marylebone Road. She turned left, keeping an eye out for the detective, but it wasn’t until she was nearly halfway down the street that he popped out of a doorway by her side. She considered it a small victory that she managed not to jump.

“Hello, Sherlock,” she said calmly, as though his appearance hadn’t startled her.

“Joan.” His eyes crinkled at the edges, and she knew he’d seen right through her. “Taking an early lunch break?”

Joan rolled her eyes. “Don’t play dumb, it doesn’t suit you. I’m sure you’ve already deduced that Molly sent me home.”

Sherlock nodded. “Of course, but I thought you would appreciate the opportunity to say so. People usually like that.”

“Well, I’m not most people,” Joan replied. “Just be yourself.”

Sherlock fell into step beside her, and they continued walking in silence. Joan’s last words kept echoing inside her head. She wanted Sherlock to be himself around her, not sanitised and distant like he was for strangers, or argumentative like with Sally. She wanted to see the real Sherlock Holmes, brilliant and bizarre and irritating, because…why, exactly? They were colleagues and friends, and (maybe) flatmates. That was it-because, for all that there had been almost nothing ordinary about their relationship thus far, “be yourself” was exactly the kind of thing one said to friends. Everyone wanted their friends to trust them with the hard truth, just as everyone wanted someone to put their trust in.

Joan licked her lips. “There’s something I have to tell you,” she said in a rush before she could lose her nerve.

Sherlock slowed to glance down at her face when the silence had stretched on too long. “Yes?” he prompted.

“I’m…” Joan paused and took a steadying breath. “I’m pregnant.”

Sherlock stopped dead in the centre of the street to stare at her. “How?”

Joan shot him a concerned look. “The usual way?” Christ, if she had to explain the birds and the bees to Sherlock, she was going to hunt down Mycroft and…something. No one should be that naïve at thirty-three.

Sherlock grimaced as though he’d read her mind. “Obviously,” he snapped. “I meant how…you were in the army…” he trailed off awkwardly.

“As shocking as this may sound to you, Sherlock, people do have sex in the army.”

Sherlock frowned, but his gaze fell to glare down at the pavement, a sure sign that he felt he’d lost the argument. He began to walk again, faster than before and with longer strides, so that Joan had to double her steps to keep up with him. “Who knows about this?”

“Umm, well. Mycroft, Greg, Molly…”

“Mycroft?” Sherlock’s voice rose in outrage, causing several nearby pedestrians to jump and look back in consternation. “Mycroft knows?”

“Actually, he was the first one to find out,” Joan admitted. “He had my medical records.”

Sherlock sniffed darkly. “Cheating,” he muttered. “How could I have missed it? Stupid, stupid,” he chastised himself. “Voluntary leave from the army, the need for a job, the ill-fitting clothes-”

“What’s wrong with my clothes?” Joan asked. She looked down self-consciously. She was wearing jeans and a woollen jumper under her coat-her usual outfit.

Sherlock ignored her, continuing his ramble. “The expensive vitamins, the nausea. Stupid.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, you’re the first person I’ve actually told,” Joan said. Aside from Bill anyway, which still made Sherlock the first person she’d wanted to tell.

“And the last person to find out,” Sherlock whinged, pouting.

Joan felt a flare of anger. “Oh, right. I kept it a secret from you on purpose, because my pregnancy is actually all about you.” This wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to go, Joan thought. Her irritation with Sherlock abruptly redirected towards herself. What had she expected? Sherlock to suddenly become all sensitive and understanding? He wouldn’t be Sherlock then, and she’d already decided that that wasn’t what she wanted.

Sherlock looked uncomfortable. He slowed his stride minutely, just to the point that Joan could keep pace without straining.

Joan sucked a long breath in through her nostrils. “Look. I didn’t mean to leave you in the dark. I just…I didn’t know what to say.” She struggled to find the right words. “I didn’t really know how I felt about it myself, until today.”

Sherlock looked up, his gaze sharp. “And how about now?”

Joan licked her lips again. “Scared shitless,” she confessed. “But I know that I made the right decision. I’m not on the fence anymore.”

Sherlock’s intense stare didn’t waver, and Joan was slightly relieved when distraction arrived in the form of a text. She pulled out her mobile.

Using all available resources isn’t cheating, it’s common sense. MH

She smiled to herself.

“What’s that?” Sherlock tried to peer over her shoulder at the text, but Joan moved it out of his line of vision and slipped it back into her pocket.

“Nothing you need to worry about,” she said. Sherlock gave a little huff of irritation, but didn’t challenge her. “So, where are we going?”

“221B, of course,” Sherlock replied. He was back to looking at her, though his stare was no longer quite so invasive. “Assuming you’re still interested.”

Joan felt something inside her relax and unwind, something she hadn’t even realised was tense with nerves until that moment. She grinned. “Yeah, of course.”

Beside her, she heard Sherlock exhale slowly. When she glanced at him, he was grinning as well. “Excellent. How do you feel about the violin?”

sherlock bbc, au, friendship, casefic, genderswap

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