Whenever I see stories with hundreds of comments I always think 'Wow, that must be worth reading', and so I am really excited about the number of comments, favourites and follows Sentenced has got so far on this site and AO3.
The story came to me after watching series 3. Much as I like Mary, it bugged me that John forgave her for shooting Sherlock. And much as I love Sherlock, it bugged me that there was no real consequence for him murdering Magnussen. Not just morally, but because it was a lost opportunity for an exciting episode about Sherlock solving a case in prison! The story just wouldn't get out of my head and so I gave in and wrote it. I guess it also doubled up as therapy for me, as I'd recently realised I was bi and I wanted to explore the experience through my favourite characters.
This is written as a virtual series 4 episode 1 - it follows on directly from s03e03 and doesn't contradict canon. So kick back, relax, and imagine that series 4 has begun and the writers have finally given in to the fact that they're clearly closet John/Sherlock shippers! :)
Thanks very much to LittlePippin for beta reading, she is brilliant.
And thanks to everyone who has commented on the story so far, I've been so excitedly checking my emails and love to see the words: 'Review: Sentenced' in my inbox, it really makes my day. So please do let me know what you think, either of individual chapters or when you reach the end. Enjoy...
"What's that?" John asked.
John pointed at Sherlock's black eye. "That," he repeated, with more emphasis.
Sherlock's fingers brushed against the purple swelling as if the memory of getting it momentarily distracted him. But only momentarily. "Must we do this 'how are you, how am I' rubbish, John?" he complained. "We only have half an hour. Focus."
John gritted his teeth. "I'm focused on this, Sherlock." He gestured to the their surroundings in Flitwick Prison's visiting room. On John's side of the room were angry wives, screaming kids and disappointed parents. On Sherlock's there were thugs, weirdos and psychopaths in matching maroon sweatpants, grey t-shirts and handcuffs.
In-between them were a wall and a window.
It was about as personal a visit as visiting the bank.
Not that he wanted things to be personal personal with Sherlock. But there was not-personal, and then there was this.
It was like when you don't notice a building till it's been torn down, or don't hear the noise of the fridge until it clicks and goes off. Ever since there had been a literal wall between them, John felt like they had been wrenched apart. He ached to just reach out and squeeze Sherlock's hand, or punch him lightly on the shoulder, or brush his thumb over the tender skin of his black eye.
He also had an urge to smash through the glass, throw Sherlock over his shoulder and rescue him from the criminals he was trapped with, some of whom he had put into jail himself with his compulsive crime-solving, but he couldn't do that either. For one thing, the glass was bulletproof.
"Prison?" asked Sherlock, facetiously. "Yes, rather hard to forget, isn't it."
"Has Mycroft visited yet?"
"Why would he?"
John tutted. "Can't you just... y'know. Apologise? I mean, you did try to sell him out to a dangerous blackmailer, putting his job, his life, and the whole country at risk."
"Pfft," Sherlock said dismissively.
"And despite that, he still organised for you to be released from prison to go on that secret mission..."
"So?" Sherlock shrugged.
"And then when Moriarty returned, Mycroft sorted out that hearing so you could stay in the country after all. I mean, if you hadn't pissed off his boss with those deductions about her daughter... and step-son, and husband, and chauffeur..."
"The chauffeur was the step-son."
"...I'm sure he would've managed to keep you out of jail and..."
"I don't need him, John," interrupted Sherlock with a huff. "The parole hearing..."
"The parole hearing!" John said, incredulous. "You... Sherlock, it's only been a month... do you realise how little chance there is of a murderer..."
John stopped himself short.
The word 'murderer' hung in the air and John avoided Sherlock's gaze.
Sherlock frowned. A murderer. Was that how John saw him? Yes, he supposed it must be. John had killed, but only as a last resort to an immediate threat. Sherlock had killed Magnussen as a last resort to an impending threat. There was a subtle but important difference according to the judge - and, apparently, to John.
They had never talked about it before and Sherlock wasn't keen to start now. "Don't worry John," he said instead. "As always, I have a plan up my sleeve."
Ice broken, John near-shouted in response: "Well bloody-well hurry up with it!" He took a deep breath and forced himself to speak calmly: "I'm… Just… Worried," he said. "Black eyes, sprained wrists, split lip. It's something else every week, Sherlock. What the hell is going on in there?"
He didn't say that whether Sherlock was technically a murderer or not, it made him want to break in there and punch somebody, but that was one of the good things - and one of the bad things - about Sherlock. He almost always knew what you were thinking.
Sherlock sighed. "Fine, let's talk about our feelings then, if we must." He put on a mocking voice to imitate John, "How's prison, Sherlock? Shit actually, John – how's being married to a liar who's eight months pregnant with your child? Shit actually, Sherlock –"
Sherlock screwed up his face, re-evaluating, "Okay, a bit crap, a bit good, generally confusing all round. I've been sleeping with a gun under my side of the mattress –"
That was cutting a bit close to the bone. "Sherlock…" John warned, but Sherlock was on a roll.
"– just in case. Well, I say sleeping."
John just rubbed his head in frustration.
Sherlock switched voices: "Oh dear, John, how terrible for you. Don't worry, I understand just how you feel. I can't sleep either – my cellmate's a killer too. Let's talk about it and hug."
John looked up to see Sherlock's cuffed wrists reaching out as if he could embrace him through the screen, his put-on expression simultaneously sympathetic and vulnerable. John looked Sherlock straight in the eye for five seconds, but still couldn't decide whether to laugh or shout or cry.
"Fine," he said eventually. "Let's talk about Moriarty."
"Finally!" Sherlock said with relief, withdrawing his arms.
"Only there's nothing to tell," John said.
"You're just not looking properly!" snapped Sherlock.
"I've done everything you said, Sherlock. There was no evidence linking those disappearances to Moriarty. People disappear."
"He's too good to leave evidence."
Now it was John's turn to snap, "Then what the bloody hell do you expect me to do? Maybe it was a hoax, maybe he's not even back. That's what everyone's saying."
"Oh, everyone," said Sherlock with disdain. "What do they know? Who cares what anyone thinks apart from me?"
John snorted. Sherlock didn't acknowledge it, just carried on: "So, you did everything else I said?"
"Uh huh," said John. "Yes. Went along with Lestrade to the crime scenes you asked about. Looked for the types of things you said. Looked on the victim's Facebook accounts. Everything. And still nothing to suggest he's back except that ridiculous video that went… viral, is it? I mean, it wasn't even live footage, Sherlock..."
But John was just playing devil's advocate. He knew they couldn't sit back and risk that Moriarty's return wasn't a hoax. And Sherlock knew that he knew.
"Did 'everything' include – that thing?" Sherlock asked.
"The prescription?" asked John. "Yeah, I faxed it through to the prison doctor like last time. I do know what zamasaproxyl is for, you know. You gonna tell me why..."
"Not that thing," said Sherlock.
Then John realized what he was referring to. "No! And like I said last time, I'm not going to be doing that thing."
Sherlock's sad response was almost pathetic.
"Are you… are you trying to pout? Are those supposed to be puppy dog eyes?"
Sherlock snapped out of it and asked: "Is it working?"
"No. No, no, no," said John, with finality. "Absolutely not."