[fic] Why They Actually Do Get On - Ch. 2: Just a Bit

Title: Why They Actually Do Get On
Chapter Title: Just a Bit
Fandom: Sherlock
Status: 2/4
Word Count:3075ish
Warnings: A bit of a gory murder
Summary: Sometimes Sherlock says things that are a bit not good. But John gets it. He does.
A/N: I...yeah, I did not intend for it to take this long to get this chapter done, but work turned into hell (overtime...so much overtime...*cry*) so I spent my weekends passed out asleep instead of being productive, then I started getting ideas for the casefic aspect, despite the case not being the point, and had to research, and arrrrgh. Yeah, so, this took way longer than I expected. Sowwy! Un-beta'd and un-britpicked, alas, alack. ^^;;

--

Chapter 2: Just A Bit


They just stared at the crime scene for a moment, even Sherlock surprised at it and looking like he wasn't quite sure what to start with.

You could say a lot about this murder, but "elegant" certainly wasn't one word that could apply. "Absolutely fucking mental," however, were words that did.

"Bit bloody, isn't it?" John finally said blandly. It was that or swallow thickly, and he had a feeling that would lead to bad things. Besides - he'd seen worse. And he knew enough to know if he reacted like he wanted, he'd spend the night twisted up in his sheets, dreaming of that worse.

Best not to, then, so blandness it was.

"Just a bit," Sherlock responded after a blink of his own, his eyes flicking from the ceiling to the walls.

"Kind of looks like the kitchen this morning. Minus the liver in your hair," he said with a faint jerk of his head upwards, gesturing at Sherlock's head.

"Minus the liver in my hair," Sherlock said, giving John a sideways look, and then the two of them managed a straight face for only a few seconds before they burst into snickers.

There were some situations where inappropriate levity was the only way to properly deal with them, and this was one of them. John was OK with that.

"So I reckon we can rule out death by blender, then?" John asked once he got his snickers under control, and kept his voice flatly bland even as a grin tried to come out at the corners of his lips.

"Splatter pattern's all wrong," Sherlock deadpanned.

"And no blender that big. I mean, where would you plug one that big in?" John said, feeling rather gory and a bit like he was going to hell, but he was a doctor, and he'd been a doctor and a soldier in a bloody war zone where IEDs were de rigeur, so he'd seen quite a bit of people who were only bits (splatter pattern's all wrong for that, too, he thought. Somebody intentionally splashed up the walls with that girl's blood), and if you didn't learn to develop that morbid sense of humor about it, it'd drive you mad. It was laugh or nightmares, and he had rather enough of nightmares, please and thank you. Let people think he was crazy - better people think he was than he actually be that way.

"However improbable, John," Sherlock said, fighting to keep his straight face.

"Right. Go have a look around for that outlet then, shall I?" John said with a quirked up eyebrow, and they started giggling again.

"Are you girls finished, or are you going to start braiding each others hair?" Lestrade cut in in irritation, shaking his head and giving them both disgusted looks.

John coughed. "Sorry. Yeah. Sorry. Just a bit of gallows humor, there." Well. He didn't mind people thinking he was mad, but there were limits.

Sherlock just rolled his eyes as if annoyed, then abruptly turned his attention to the body and everything else was forgotten.

"Rare for you to call him in this quick," John said to Lestrade, and Lestrade grimaced.

"Yeah, well, didn't want this guy to make good on his threat," Lestrade replied back, and pointed to the wall. John blanched slightly at the small, neat, and very clear "1" looking like it had been painted on with a brush. In blood.

If there was a "1", there was probably going to be a "2" then a "3" and more. "Right. Yeah. Best to nip that in the bud, yeah."

"Exactly. Normally that git," he said, gesturing at Sherlock, who had his magnifying glass out and was examining the dead woman's hands, with his thumb, "is a last resort, but I'd rather not have any more like this around."

That was one of the reasons John liked Lestrade - he had his priorities.

Sherlock was paying them no mind, all but jumping around as he gathered his data, going from the dead girl to the walls and back, examining the body more closely, when suddenly he stopped short. "John."

John instantly snapped to attention - he knew that tone of voice. He was over to Sherlock's side before he even registered he'd moved, crouching down to see what Sherlock wanted him to look at.

"Look at her mouth."

John frowned, peering closely at the woman's mouth, and--

His breath caught. "Her mouth's been sewn shut," he said, going onto his knees now so he could lean in closer. The stitches were done with the clear filaments normally used for plastic surgery stitching. They had been neatly done as well, on the inner surface of her lips so at first glance, her lips just looked like they were closed - someone with some skill had done that. "Postmortem, from the looks of things. No blood traces I can see, and no swelling." He looked at her face and mouth more closely. "But...I think there's something in her mouth," he finally said.

He looked up at Sherlock, who nodded. "Well spotted," Sherlock murmured approvingly, and John didn't miss the look of anticipation in Sherlock's eyes; he knew the man well enough to know he wanted to grab a knife or scissors and cut open the poor girl's mouth right then and there and find out what the killer had placed within.

John looked back at the body, and fought the urge brush the dead girl's hair back from her face. It would have been a useless gesture of comfort and kindness, but it was still there, and held in check only because this was a crime scene and the police were still gathering evidence.

Jesus. She looked so young. She was barely in her twenties, maybe not even out of her teens, and it was always painful to see kids - and she was a kid to him, a lot like the kids he'd seen dead on both sides in Afghanistan - like this, and he hated it; hated that there was nothing he could do for her, not even hold her hand as she died.

Sherlock had no idea anything had gotten to John; he was in full-on detective mode and was already up and pacing. "Oh, he's thought this one out," Sherlock said, eyes gleaming at the challenge. "A serial killer, this one, and just getting started. Not actually his first murder, but the first one where he's developing his calling card style. The others, I'd say two, but that's just a guess right now, didn't count, they were all practice runs, but this one he claims with pride. Oh, this is excellent," he said, grinning happily, and John shook his head.

"Sherlock. A bit not good," he said as he stood up.

Sherlock paused. "Why?"

"Because three dead girls, Sherlock," John said.

"Maybe three dead girls. Might have tried this out on pigs first," Sherlock said, and John couldn't deny a feeling of relief at Sherlock's uncertainty.

A sense of relief which Sherlock promptly killed. "Which is why I'm not sure if there's one or two prior victims. Definitely one; but not sure whether the one before was a test run on a human or animal..."

Sherlock stopped short. "What?" he said, sounding irritated and staring straight at John with a faint frown.

John sighed. "Just...I know it doesn't matter to you, that it won't help you solve the case any faster, and that it's all just 'useless sentiment,' but...someone, somewhere is going to miss those girls," he said, then his mouth tightened. "Or worse, no one'll miss them at all, because they never had anything good and now they never will." John sighed again, feeling tired suddenly. He much preferred the cases that came in from his and Sherlock's websites over the cases Lestrade brought them. The police cases, there was never anything they could do for the victims besides bring their families - if they even had any that cared, which he wondered if this girl did - closure. There was nothing left to save, no one left to help, when it was a dead girl lying in a gory room. "Look, let's just get her to morgue so we can find out what that nut shoved in her mouth so you can find him faster," John said, shaking his head. "You just put that big brain of yours on that."

He clenched and unclenched his left hand into a fist quickly several times, to cover the faint tremble that had started and to get it back under control.

He hoped Sherlock didn't notice, but he didn't hold out much.

"Just give it up, John," Donovan said loudly from off to the side. "He won't ever get it, you know."

His hand clenched again as he tried to keep things under control, but now for an entirely different reason. "Right. Morgue next, shall we?" he said, and his voice was bland.

--

Molly refused to let Sherlock cut open the girl's mouth himself, though it was clear he dearly wanted to. "You don't get to do autopsies, Sherlock. And that's part of one," she said firmly. There were very few things she stood up to Sherlock on, but her actual job tended to be one of them (and John respected her quite a lot for always standing firm in that one respect), and Sherlock let out a dramatic sigh.

"Look, I'll do that first, OK? Then I'll the rest of the autopsy and the tests. Cause of death, all that good stuff," she said with a little smile, and John was reminded of how they were all mad here.

"Fine," Sherlock groused. "But cause of death was clearly exsanguination."

"Yes, yes," Molly said, clearly humouring Sherlock. "Sit down and I'll get that mouth open for you."

"Ta," John said, because it was clearly Sherlock preferred to grumble at not getting to do it himself over thanking Molly for shifting the order of things around for them.

Sherlock paced impatiently as Molly went about getting the girl's body ready and pulling out a small tape recorder to record the autopsy. She described the body in detail (Sherlock heaved a great bloody sigh whenever she seemed to miss something), then began to describe her procedures aloud, beginning with cutting open the sutures.

"Subject's mouth has been sewn shut; there are signs that a foreign object was placed in her mouth prior to suturing," she said. "Cutting the sutures now to remove the foreign object."

"Finally!" Sherlock let out, and John stomped on his foot. "Ow!"

"Hush!"

Molly, trooper that she was, ignored them, and began cutting the filaments, and Sherlock all but bounded over, practically quivering with excitement.

Once the last suture was cut, Molly opened the girl's mouth and picked up a pair of long tweezers. "Extracting the foreign object now." She put the recorder down, and her eyes went wide as she pulled the object out of the girl's mouth. "A ...bug?" she said, sounding surprised.

"No," Sherlock said. "A spider."

"Well, at least it wasn't a moth," John said with a sigh, and both Molly and Sherlock gave him a blank look. "Buffalo Bill? You know, 'The Silence of the Lambs'? The 'It puts the lotion on its skin' guy? Oh, never mind," he said.

--

Sherlock was silent the cab ride back, completely focussed on his phone as he searched out the details of exactly what kind of spider had been in the girl's mouth, when he stopped, looked at John, and, what seemed to be out of nowhere went, "I don't understand."

"Pardon?" John said, blinking. If there was something about the case Sherlock didn't understand, John was sure to be of no use, but he had the feeling - something about the way Sherlock had seemed to shift gears - that it had nothing to do with the case; that it was something else that was bothering him.

"You want to save people," Sherlock said, and yeah, this was clearly something different, and the way Sherlock said it made John sit up. "And I want to solve the case, which is much easier when it's interesting. The sooner I solve it, the less likely that more people will die. So I don't understand," he said, and there was a hint of petulance in his voice. "I don't understand why it's 'a bit not good' that I enjoy what I do and the details someone has thought of in the puzzle when the end result is precisely what everyone else wants to happen - the criminal goes to jail and the murders stop. You would think people would be happy that I want to throw myself into solving a serial killer case!"

It was so much like what he had said during the 'Game' with Moriarty, but almost painfully different - there wasn't that sharp, icy-cold knife-like anger this time. There was something almost childlike in the way Sherlock had said it, like a little kid trying to understand the weird world of grown-ups when they had no frame of reference yet to puzzle it out.

"Because other people don't see that part of it."

"Other people are idiots."

"Well, yes. But other people see a murdered girl, and that's never something to cheer."

"I'm not 'cheering' about a dead girl."

"I know," John said, because he did get it. He did get Sherlock, even when Sherlock's reactions shocked him. Sherlock didn't cheer the murder of that girl - or anyone - per se, just the mystery it brought him. He didn't want anyone dead, wouldn't want someone dead just so he'd have a nice little murder to solve...but if someone was going to have been killed, then he would enjoy the solving of it.

He got that, now. He hadn't, not during that 'Game' with Moriarty. But once it had all clicked...he got it, and he got it probably better than anyone Sherlock knew.

He hadn't liked people dying and in pain, but he'd be every kind of a liar if he couldn't admit he had loved the battlefield.

He got it.

"I know. It's the mystery, not the murder. You don't like the murder beyond the idea of it as a case. But...but other people, most people, they don't see that, and they get the wrong idea." John sighed, trying to think of a way to put it. "You...you enjoy the mystery. And you should because you're right, you're liking to does do good, even if that's not the why of why you're doing it. But people see you happy and they take it wrongly. And that's not good, Sherlock. It's not good for you, because it means people think the worst of you."

Sherlock's next words were arch and aloof. "I have never cared what people think."

John sighed again, to keep from trying to pull his own hair out. He couldn't think of how to put it so Sherlock understood. It wasn't about what people thought; it was about what people could do, and Sherlock was painting a great bloody target on himself every single time he made himself seem so unfeeling. Sherlock was used to being and working alone, but John had been a soldier - he knew, had seen, what happened when people on your own side didn't trust you.

'Friendly fire' was used to cover a lot of things, and the thought of someone who thought the worst of Sherlock - Sally, Anderson, any of the myriad of others - turning on Sherlock when he least expected it...

"You may not, but it matters," John said softly. "Look, just...just keep the glee at the mystery in check around some of the yarders in front of a body, is all. Feel it all you like, I'm not saying you can't enjoy it, just...just try not to show it so much sometimes. Like cases like this."

Sherlock made a disgruntled, annoyed sound.

"Think of it this way. It's like in Harry Potter with the Ministry for Magic banning the use of magic around Muggles so they don't learn about it and panic or anything," John said finally, and Sherlock stared at him.

"What."

There definitely hadn't been a question mark at the end of that, and John bit back a groan. Of course. Of course Sherlock had no idea. Of course. "...Yeah, OK, I am going to sit you down and make you read every single Harry Potter book. Or watch the movies. Or maybe both," John said. He'd thought it was bad when Sherlock hadn't had a clue who either Lady Gaga or Adele were, but this was far worse - for someone so observant, the man truly lived under a rock when it came to pop culture.

(And Lady Gaga had been a wash, music wise, but Sherlock had been fascinated by the imagery in some of the videos, especially Bad Romance and Telephone, which John realised, once he thought about it, really shouldn't have surprised him at all (he was still kicking himself for not using that chance to throw in introducing Beyonce - he had the feeling Sherlock would appreciate the sentiment behind some of her more gleeful 'kick the idiot to the kerb' songs). Adele, though, he'd counted as a win when he'd come home from a crap day at the surgery to find Sherlock playing "Someone Like You" rather beautifully with some truly lovely improvisations and theme variations, which, after John had settled himself down to listen, Sherlock'd turned into a whole medley of interweaving melodies from "Set Fire to the Rain" and "Rolling in the Deep" with a few strains of "Rumour Has It" somehow gluing it all together before flowing back to "Someone Like You," and the whole thing had evaporated his bad day far better than the beer he'd been planning ever could have.)

"When this case is over, and right when the 'BORED' is settling in and you're about to shoot up the walls, it's a Harry Potter marathon for you. No arguments," he said, making his voice as pulling-rank as he could, and a smile tugged at Sherlock's lips.

"Yes, John," he said, and looked out the window.

John suddenly had a mental image of Sherlock yelling "Oh, Avada Kedavra!" in consternation at Anderson just to see if it would work, and he looked out his own window to hide the grin.
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