Fandom: Sherlock/Life on Mars (incorporating aspects of Ashes to Ashes)
Word Count: 1800 words.
Notes: Sherlock/John overtones, Sam/Gene overtones. About as slashy as both shows, so, pretty slashy, actually. Technically, gen.
Summary: John had known that reality had taken a backseat in his life the first time he’d ever met Sherlock... time travel still felt like a stretch.
John had known that reality had taken a backseat in his life the first time he’d ever met Sherlock. It had taken one simple phrase ("Afghanistan or Iraq?") to indicate that anything was possible when Sherlock was around. Anything at all.
Time travel still felt like a stretch. He’d made what he thought was a convincing case for dual hallucination.
"NLP, Sherlock, it is possible. A clever hypnotist could give us the suggestion, and..."
"Do you really think I could be programmed? Be honest."
He’d put forward the idea this may be one large and elaborate prank, funded by the ‘Anti-Sherlock Copper Brigade’.
"An idiotic name, a brigade couldn’t be made out of copper."
"That’s not what they mean."
"I dislike you when you’re being deliberately literal."
And had wondered for at least three minutes if the Sherlock before him was a figment of his imagination.
"How do I know you’re not just my mind trying to convince me you’re actually here?"
"See that man, over there? He has a job interview later today. He won’t get the job. He has nail indentations on his palms, ruffled hair and whitened knuckles, indicating stress. He keeps adjusting his suit jacket and fiddling with his briefcase. Judging by the latches, the case hasn’t been opened for at least five weeks, which means it’s either there for show or was pre-packed over a month ago and he’s never progressed far enough in the interview process to warrant the content’s necessity. He has a speech impediment – look at the jaw movements, John, and 1973 is such a discriminatory time."
"You’re right. You’re terrifyingly, undeniably real."
"Thank you. You do know that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
"I do now."
It seemed, it really did, as if they had miraculously been teleported thirty-seven years into the past due to a car accident on the Mancunian Way. John should have known that a case involving City and United fans was only going to land them in hot water, with Sherlock holding the kettle.
According to Sherlock, the most logical course of action was to find the nearest police station. It took some question-asking, a decent amount of apologising, and more than their fair share of unnatural smiles, but eventually they attained directions and started the trek. The station they arrived at was unlike any station John had been in before, and he had now been in a few. A fug of acrid smoke and stale body odour immediately filled his nostrils, and the Constable behind the front desk gave a whole new layer to the word ‘stern’. She did not take kindly to their intrusion, and if John didn’t know any better, he’d think this building was off limits to the public.
"Hello there," Sherlock said in frankly disturbingly charming tones. "I was wondering if you could point us in the direction of CID?"
John knew that Sherlock had already figured out where the CID was, had done so from outside the building, so this was him trying to glean more data in an attempt to give himself a pseudo-official entrance.
"Who’s asking?" The Constable asked, giving them the once over with steely-blue eyes that rivalled Sherlock’s in their frostiness.
Sherlock leaned forward and spoke confidentially. "We’re here for the audit."
The Constable didn’t say, "oh, are you now, you arseholes?" but the message came through loud and clear regardless.
"Take the lift over there, up to the fourth floor. Keep walking to the end of the corridor and CID’s on your right. Can’t miss it, it’s the one with all the layabouts and cretins."
In the lift, John questioned Sherlock on his plan of action.
"I’m going to solve whatever troublesome cases are facing the department, naturally."
"Okay. Why? We’re in another year. We could be doing anything! Exploring. Reliving. Betting on events in the future. I thought you knew someone who could help, but if you’re only here for entertainment, then I’m not sure I see the point."
Sherlock gave him one of his patented cold stares. John had had quite enough of those kinds of stares today already.
"Inter-dimensional time travel does not happen without reason. We can safely assume that it certainly does not occur by coincidence. I’m the world’s only consulting detective. I’m here to solve a case."
"It hasn’t occurred to you that this may have nothing to do with you, but could revolve around me?"
"Of course it couldn’t be about you, what a ludicrous concept."
John looked up at the metallic ceiling and counted to fifteen, clenching his left hand in his right until his knuckles cracked. Sometimes, it was the only way.
"Oh, please don’t be so pedestrian as to be offended, it’s simple logic."
The lift stopped and they stepped out. Everything was browns and oranges, with hints of musky, smoky blue. It reminded John of pictures from his childhood. A man greeted them at what were presumably the doors to the Criminal Investigation Department. He was average height, slim, but not scrawny. Objectively good looking, if not a little tired around the eyes. John began to hypothesise as to what might be keeping this man awake at nights when he realised Sherlock had been rubbing off on him far too much.
"Hi, I’m DI Tyler, Sam," the man – Sam – said. He gave a deferent and appealing smile, "I’m here as your tour guide."
"Unnecessary," Sherlock said, all false pretences at charm dispensed with now that he was here. "This isn’t your usual audit. My colleague, John, and I, would like to assess efficiency and effectiveness by being directly involved in the solving of cases."
Sam faltered, his eyes narrowing. "Gene’s not going to like that."
John was constantly surprised by how convincing Sherlock could be in any role he immersed himself. Sherlock gave a haughty stare, which wasn’t new, but then he also affected a weedy, middle-management persona that was quite unlike his own mad energy.
"Gene has no choice."
"You’d better come through and explain that to him personally."
Sam led them into the room, asking them to wait, and disappeared behind a set of double doors.
There was something profoundly unsettling about the office, John felt, the moment they walked in. The lights were stark, but he was used to that. The colour scheme was muted, but, no, that was nothing new. The rows of desks with telephones and piles of folders weren’t out of the ordinary. He couldn’t place what it was.
"It’s the asymmetry," Sherlock murmured, touching John briefly on the elbow. "Nothing’s in line and your brain immediately processes it as distinctly wrong. There’s beauty in symmetry, vulgarity without."
"I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stop reading my mind."
"If I were, indeed, reading your mind, your saying that would only make me want to do so more."
The corners of Sherlock’s eyes crinkled. "Then you must be a masochist."
Sam returned with another man in tow --- taller, broader, puffing thoughtfully on a cigarette as he assessed them and found them wonting.
"You wanna work on one of my cases?" he asked without preamble. "What makes you think you’re capable? Office boys like you belong tucked safely away from the nastiness of real policing."
"You need me,” Sherlock stated, "need us," he corrected, almost making John forgive him for his earlier dismissal. "You’ve had, what, three unsolved murders this month? You think there’s a connection, but you’re unsure as to what it is."
John didn’t even want to know how Sherlock had come to this conclusion. Gene clearly thought it was something he’d been told.
"Alright, smart alec, what good would you do?"
"I have skills," Sherlock said. "In observation."
Gene gave a bark of a laugh and pointed mockingly in Sherlock’s direction. If there was one thing Sherlock detested, it was being mocked by people he believed inferior, which was pretty much everyone. His entire face seemed to purse.
"You’ve been working in the police since you were a teenager, and for a while there, you hated the job, but you kept at it because, for you, it’s a calling, a mission. You were dirty, but now you’re cleaning up, with a little assistance. You’re married without children, which is a sore point, and your wife is currently staying with her mother, whom you hate, so you haven’t spoken for at least three, four weeks. You’re irrevocably attracted to your DI here, and in many ways he’s the best friend you’ve ever had, even though most people who know you both are foolish enough to think you hate each other vehemently. Oh, and you served in the military at one point, must have been National Service, for the timeline to fit, and you were shot in the arm, but it was only a glancing bullet and did more psychological damage than physical."
Gene’s face cleared of all expression and for a second, John felt sure he was going to punch Sherlock. He’d seen it happen enough times to pick up on the warning signs.
"Okay," Gene said, eventually. "My turn. You’re a pointy-faced, springy-haired know-it-all with a superiority complex and a pole shoved so far up your jacksie it operates as a second spine. You think you’re cleverer than everyone else so you look down on them and consequently they all think you’re an arse-bandit crack-head who wouldn’t know his own prick if it were bitten off by a rabid Rottweiler. The only person who remotely likes you is this dick here, so you cling to him like a used rubber johnny, but even he thinks you’re a royal pain in the neck. Are we even?"
Sherlock grinned. One of his weird, genuine grins that was more manic than human. John looked at Sam and shared his look of confusion and fear. He couldn’t say what Sherlock’s next course of action might be.
"I was right, wasn’t I? In every particular."
"Apart from the attraction bit," Gene conceded. John almost laughed when Sam glanced at him quickly, head tilting in a bird-like fashion.
"Oh, I didn’t mean sexually," Sherlock said, waving his hand as if he was waving away the suggestion. "But it is interesting that that’s the one you decided to highlight." He changed tack, face lighting up. "I can give you the evidence for my deductions."
"I don’t care. You’re right in that we’ve three unsolved murders, and bug-a-lugs does think they’re connected, don’t you, Sammy-boy?"
Sam nodded as Gene continued. "We need all the help we can get, and I’ve heard about you, Sherlock, so get your arse into gear and follow me."
John was gratified to see that even Sherlock was surprised by this revelation. His carefully cultivated mask slipped for a moment, his eyes widening in surprise.
John could only think that it was going to be an interesting day.
[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]