Title: What You Are Worth
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Word Count: 4034
Spoilers: None really.
Summary: John helps Sherlock with a case, but he questions his real value to Sherlock
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them.
Author's Notes: I think this is one of the few Sherlock stories I've written that didn't come from a prompt. Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch for making this Sherlock so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Emma de los Nardos and Gemma for the super-fast beta jobs and the hand holding. Your input was invaluable and I owe you both so much! Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me. And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
What You Are Worth
John stands off to the side watching, partly because he's trying to stay out of the way of Lestrade's team, but mostly because Sherlock's asked him to. He leans against a wall, intently studying the face of the man Sherlock is talking to, and everyone walks past like John's not even there.
John is used to it and really, he won't complain. His invisibility is the result of years of practice. It served him well through his teenage years when he was smaller than all the other boys and a target of teasing. He'd gotten better at it when his family life had degenerated into his drunken father yelling at his sister all the time for being an "abomination." And John had turned it into an art form after returning from Afghanistan, not wanting to be an object of pity. By this point in his life, he's pretty good at becoming one with the wallpaper behind him. In truth, his self deprecating manner, his ability to just blend into the background, is wholly intentional and just as much a facade as Sherlock's sociopath persona. Of course, it's even easier to blend these days. Who is likely to notice John when the other half of this double act is the amazing Sherlock Holmes? And speaking of Sherlock…
"Oh, I'm so very sorry." Sherlock's voice is pitched a bit higher than normal and rather nasally. John is sure that relates in some obscure way to the character Sherlock is playing, although he can't see how.
Sherlock has knocked over a glass bowl of fruit and is now kneeling on the floor, picking up shards of broken glass and trying to round up errant apples while he repeatedly apologizes. John spares him one quick glance and goes back to his assignment. The man standing above Sherlock makes no move to get down and help with the clean up. He stands there staring down with distain and Sherlock keeps nattering as he works.
"I can't imagine why anyone would steal such an odd assortment of items," Sherlock says, not looking up. "String? Paper clips? A Bible? And to kill a man when all they were going to take is rubbish? I wonder what they possibly could have been after."
And then John sees it. The man looks down at Sherlock, a frown on his face, and then looks up at a shelf above the kitchen door. It could just be somewhere to look, but it feels much more purposeful to John. He coughs quietly and Sherlock shoots him a glance from his place on the floor. John nods and Sherlock nods back.
"Well, Mr. Myers," Sherlock says, getting to his feet. "I think we're done in this room. The crew here will finish the clean up. Why don't we go to the garage and have a look at your gardener's body?"
After they leave, John gently pushes off the wall, not attracting any real attention as he moves. He walks to the kitchen table and picks up a chair, carrying it over to the door.
"What are you doing?" Sally Donavan's voice startles him and John jumps a bit. "I thought you were just here to hold the freak's coat."
"And apparently to bring him a chair," John says, with a shrug and a smile.
"I swear, the next thing you know he'll have you polishing his shoes," she says, shaking her head. "Have you considered taking up golf? Or sky driving? It'd be safer and a lot easier on your dignity."
She doesn't wait for an answer before she walks out of the room and John lets out a breath, setting the chair down. Once again, he's been labeled harmless and incapable of deceit. John knows that most people underestimate him and that too is intentional. His friendly manner and boyish charm aren't all affectation, but he's pretty sure that most people have no idea that he has a serious addiction to danger that has him spending his nights chasing criminals around London with his lunatic best friend. Which, he reflects, is probably good, because if they knew he'd never be able to get away with lying like this.
John climbs up on the chair and looks at the shelf. It's a random collection of items; a silk plant, a ceramic watering can, a fake bird, and an…ugly round plaster paper weight? Why would anyone keep a paper weight on a shelf over the door? Never mind that there are no papers here; one good door slam and the thing could roll off and kill someone. John frowns. Going on instinct, he puts the paperweight in his jacket pocket and climbs down. He puts the chair back at the table and goes off to find Sherlock.
It doesn't take much. All he has to do is follow the sound of Sherlock's dramatic voice. When he's in character like this, he has the tendency to over act the part, though John would never tell him that. Sherlock is standing in the driveway, shaking his head.
"Just horrible," Sherlock says. John walks up behind Christian Myers and just stands there. Sherlock looks up at him, raising an eyebrow. John shrugs and Sherlock nods. "Well, Mr. Myers, I wish that I could do more, but it looks like the police have this matter in hand."
"You'll be leaving then?" There is unmistakable relief in the man's voice.
"Shortly," Sherlock replies, nodding. He disengages from Mr. Myers and walks over to John. "Well?"
John pulls his hand halfway out of his pocket, showing Sherlock the paperweight. Sherlock frowns and reaches out, taking it from John.
"Where did you find this?"
"On the shelf over the kitchen door," John says quietly. "It was behind a watering can."
"Odd place for a paperweight," Sherlock muses, hefting it a bit. "Unless it's not a paperweight. Still, why would one keep it over the door?"
"Don't know, but it's an ugly paperweight," John says. "Looks like one I made when I was in primary school. We put rocks in a cup, added plaster and after it dried, we decorated it."
"Rocks?" Sherlock asks, frowning. "Why would you do that?"
"To give the paperweight its, well, weight. The rocks formed the middle of it and we poured plaster around them."
Sherlock nods absently, shifting the weight from hand to hand. John stands there quietly, not disturbing him, knowing that he needs to be alone with his thoughts. After about five minutes, Sherlock's eyes go wide.
"Oh, couldn't be," Sherlock murmurs, handing the weight back to John while pulling his phone from his pocket and bringing up the Google home page. "It is the right time frame though and his name is rather familiar to me."
John has learned better than to ask questions. Sherlock will tell him when he's ready and not a minute before. Lestrade and the others never seem to get that. They'll pepper him with questions and he'll deliberately ignore them. As John is patient, Sherlock tends to share. After another minute of furiously tapping on the phone, Sherlock grins.
"Well, what are the chances of that?" Sherlock asks. He looks up at John. "Seems we just solved two cases. May I have the paperweight, please?"
John hands it to him, wanting to ask, but restraining himself. Sherlock is still smiling. He puts the paperweight in his pocket and then, with a quirk of his eyebrow, he tosses John the phone. John catches it, looking at the screen. After a few minutes, his eyes go wide and Sherlock laughs.
"Knew you'd get it. Brilliant, isn't it?" Sherlock asks, taking the phone back from John and putting it in his pants pocket.
John doesn't have the heart to tell Sherlock that he doesn't completely understand; not all of it, at any rate, so he just quietly follows as Sherlock turns and walks to the garage. He looks around for a second, then goes over to Inspector Lestrade, who is supervising as the body is loaded onto a stretcher. He looks up as Sherlock and John stride over.
"Weirdest case we've had in a while," Lestrade says with a sigh. "I can't understand why a man would be murdered over junk."
"Oh, I think there's a lot more than rubbish involved here," Sherlock says and John can feel the controlled excitement rolling off him.
"You have something?" Lestrade sounds surprised.
"I think I do," Sherlock answers.
Sherlock pulls the phone out and hands it to Lestrade.
"A museum robbery three years ago?" Lestrade asks, his brow furrowed. "What does this have to do with anything?"
"There were quite a few rare gems stolen. Most of them turned up later, sold under an alias on the black market."
"And?" Lestrade prompts.
"Look at the article, Lestrade. Actually, look at it. Who was the museum guard on duty who was beaten and gagged?"
Lestrade frowns, looking at the article. After a minute, his eyes widen.
"Suggestive, isn't it?" Sherlock asks.
"Of what?" Lestrade frowns.
"Doesn't it seem odd to you that this man went from being a museum guard to owning an estate in less than three years?"
"You think he stole the gems?"
"He was the guard on duty that night and if you read the article he saw nothing at all. He was a trained security guard and he couldn't detect an armed man walking up behind him?"
"So, he wasn't observant." Lestrade shakes his head and looks at Sherlock. "That doesn't make him a thief."
"The first rule of assassinations is to be the first responder. The first rule of robbery is to be the victim. People are less likely to suspect you." Sherlock says emphatically. "Who would suspect the guard who was held at knife point and tied up?"
"So, you think Mr. Myers was the thief?" Lestrade asks. "What exactly does this have to do with our murder?"
"I think Mr. Myers had an accomplice," Sherlock says. "And I think the accomplice is the man who came here looking for something and surprised the unfortunate gardener."
"Something?" Lestrade glares at Sherlock.
"Yes, something," Sherlock responds with a nod.
"So, Mr. Myers had nothing to do with the murder?" Lestrade asks.
"Not the murder, no. But I think we'll find that he was the man who came up with the robbery blind."
"You don't honestly think someone would risk going to prison over some paperclips and string, do you? But a robber who was surprised before he could steal anything and then had to commit murder to save himself? A rather believable story, but not one supported by the facts."
"Why wouldn't he just turn in the man who killed the gardener?"
"He knew if he turned in his ex-partner that his partner would tell us who masterminded the museum theft."
"We're back to this mysterious partner?" Lestrade asks.
"The person who tied him up and who split the stolen gems with him. Except Mr. Myers didn't split all of them with him. He kept something for himself. And I think the partner finally figured it out and came to collect his share last night."
"Sherlock, all of this is pure speculation on your part. You have nothing to back it up."
"That's not exactly true," Sherlock says, smiling. "John provided me with the final clue."
He takes the paperweight from his pocket and holds it up. Lestrade gives him an odd look.
"And what exactly is that?"
"Our proof," Sherlock says with a grin.
He walks over to a workbench a few feet away and puts the paperweight down. John and Lestrade follow him over, both intensely curious. Sherlock looks around and picks up a hammer. Without saying anything, he suddenly brings the hammer down with considerable force, shattering the paperweight. Shards of plaster skitter across the workbench and the garage floor, but John's attention is drawn to an object about the size of a golf ball wrapped in wax paper. Sherlock picks it up, carefully unwraps it, and turns to face John and Lestrade, his expression unreadable. In his hand is a clear stone that has the unmistakable flashing brilliance of a diamond. It's huge for a gem stone and completely flawless. Lestrade gasps and looks at Sherlock, his eyes wide.
"The Ankara diamond," Sherlock says, holding it up to the light. "According to the article, it was stolen from the museum along with other precious stones. Right about the time that Mr. Myers came into his sudden fortune, if memory serves. As I said, all the other gems were sold, but this one is too remarkable a specimen to sell without attracting attention."
"Well," Lestrade says, rubbing his face and looking a bit overwhelmed. "I think we need to go talk to Mr. Myers."
John smiles as he follows them out onto the driveway.
John sighs as he settles into his favourite chair, leaning back and relaxing. It had been a long day, but not all together too bad. Although John has to admit, he can't get what Sally Donavan said out of his head and it's starting to make his mood a bit sour. He knows that he'll never be as smart as Sherlock, and Sherlock doesn't seem to care, but sometimes he feels like nothing more than a hanger on.
Sherlock walks into the sitting room, dressed in his pajamas and robe. He's still in a good mood from solving the case and he actually smiles as he sits on the sofa.
"I think we did great work today, John," Sherlock says, settling in on the couch.
John looks over at him, raising an eyebrow.
"We? All I did was lean on a wall and stand on a chair."
Sherlock looks at him, his eyes narrowed.
"Histrionics don't suit you, John," he says, his voice quiet. "You insult us both when you down play your value."
"Value? What value?" John honestly didn't mean to start this. He knows it's likely due to being over tired and he'll feel better after some sleep. But right now, looking at Sherlock, who is frowning at him, he's feeling…small. "I feed you and I clean up after you and follow you around. Exactly what value are you seeing here?"
"Is that how you see yourself?" Sherlock asks with interest.
"Sometimes, yeah, I do." John sighs. "It's not like I help you on cases. I just watch you while you do the work. I fuss at you about not eating and make sure you have clean clothes."
"Do you really think I just keep you around because you feed me and fold my laundry? If I wanted that, I'd get a wife." The tone he uses on the last word leaves no doubt as to how he feels about the subject. "You are necessary to the work."
"But I just stand there and hold your coat," John says, trying not to sound petulant.
"Sally Donavan again. You really should stop listening to her."
"But she's a bit right," John says, sighing. "I just stood on the drive for ten minutes watching you think."
"It was five minutes. And what you did wasn't nothing. It was what I needed you to do."
"What? Give you an audience?" John asks, his voice sharper than he intended.
"Is that really what you think?" Sherlock asks, his voice just above a whisper.
"I…" John pauses, trying to collect his thoughts. "I try not to. But if that's not it, then why…"
"When you stand with me, the others leave us alone," Sherlock says, looking at the ceiling. "They like you and respect you and they give you space. Which in turn gives me space."
"I'm sure they'd give you space if you asked," John replies.
"They never have before," Sherlock says. "Do you think the animosity with Sally and Anderson is a new thing? They don't understand my need for quiet. You do and you make sure I get it."
"So, I'm your bodyguard?" John asks, finding the idea a bit surreal.
"I thought you were my colleague," Sherlock says. "But if the other suits you better, then feel free to think it."
"Okay, so I keep the others at the crime scene from bothering you. That's my great value?"
"There are several reasons why you're valuable to me, John. Must I list them all?"
"I'd settle for one or two," John says with a sigh.
Sherlock turns his head and looks at John, his eyes intense.
"Don't you get it? You are everything I need, exactly when I need it. You ask the right questions at the right time, you keep me focused and let me talk out my thoughts. You keep the rabble away from me. I can't tell you the number of times your intervention has kept me from strangling Anderson with my scarf. You have good instincts, John. You know when to jump in and you know when to stay out of things and let me deal with it. You know when to talk me down and, more importantly, you know when to shut up. That's invaluable to me for what I do. You were my eyes in this case. I had to be the distraction to our suspect and you did exactly what I asked you to. Without you, I wouldn't have solved this case."
"Yes, you would have," John says, trying not to laugh.
"Well, yes, I would have," Sherlock concedes. "But it would have taken me at least twice as long."
John looks at Sherlock, understanding that it's taken a lot for him to say all this. They sit in silence for a few minutes more before John is compelled to share.
"I didn't know, you know," John says quietly.
"What are you nattering about?" Sherlock doesn't even look his direction.
"When you showed me the phone, you said you knew I'd get it, but I didn't."
"Didn't you?" Sherlock looks at him, one eyebrow quirked. "When you read the article, what did you think?"
"I…I'm not sure."
"Of course you are," Sherlock says intensely. "Think about it. What was your first thought?"
"That the guard at the museum was the same man whose house we were at."
"And that was a bit odd. How did he get an estate when he was a museum guard?"
"What makes you think there was an, 'and then'?" John asks.
Sherlock just stares at him and John sighs. He frowns, trying to pin down what his thoughts had been.
"Well, I suppose I thought that it was suspicious that he had all this money when he was there when the jewels were stolen."
"Keep going," Sherlock says, nodding.
"There isn't anywhere else to go," John says. "This is what I mean. You think I can keep up with you, but I can't."
"And I know better than that," Sherlock says with a sigh. "Think about it. Really think. You were suspicious of this man because of the robbery. What else was your mind telling you?"
John frowns again. His mind hadn't told him anything else, had it? He closes his eyes, picturing the moment, reading the article on the phone, thinking about how this man they were talking to was a criminal. Yes, the man must have been connected to the robbery. But…
"He'd been tied up," John says, looking at Sherlock. "I realized that he'd been tied up, so there must have been someone else, a partner. How did I not know I knew that?"
"As I said, John, you have good instincts. You've been in combat, you know how events are supposed to fit together, even if you don't consciously realize what you've seen."
"Okay, so, I knew the man was a criminal and he had a partner. But I'm pretty sure that's as far as it went,"
"I did only give you a couple of minutes," Sherlock admits. "But my point is, that in that couple of minutes, you were able to put together enough that you were at least going in the right direction. I spelled it out for Lestrade, but until he saw the diamond, he didn't get it. He's a trained police officer, but he lacks the imagination and motivation that you have. You at least try."
"So you're saying that I'm useful because I want to impress you?"
"Of all the things I said, this is what you choose to focus on?" Sherlock rolls his eyes. "No. You want to keep up. The police don't care. They have their preconceived ideas and they won't listen to anything else. You want to know what really happened, so you try to follow where I'm going."
"So I'm important because I'm willing to follow you?"
"What is your obsession with this, John?" Sherlock asks, the irritation in his voice almost making it a growl. "I keep telling you that you are essential to the process. Isn't that enough?"
"Most of the time, yes," John says, frustrated with himself. "But every now and then, when everyone else tells me I'm nothing to you, sometimes, I just need to know why."
"Why you keep me around when everyone else bothers you. I suppose I'm just wondering when I'll outlive my usefulness."
Sherlock's brow furrows and he sits up, looking at John, his expression very serious.
"You're worried that the time will come when I no longer need your assistance? You think if you know what it is that I need you to do, you can keep doing it so I won't decide to leave you behind?"
John nods, looking at the floor.
"John, look at me." John looks up to see Sherlock staring at him, eyes bright. "What you do for me, what you give me, is nothing that can be quantified and it's certainly not dependant on your crime scene skills."
"And what exactly is it?" John asks, needing to know.
"Acceptance," Sherlock says quietly. "And friendship. I've never had either of those before, so it's a bit new to me. Although I'm fairly certain most friends don't put their lives in danger for each other as often as we do."
"Not usually, no," John says with a smile. "Guess it's just a bonus with us."
Sherlock looks startled for a second and then he laughs.
"Well, yes, be that as it may, I have no intention of leaving you behind, John."
"At least for now?" John asks, biting his lower lip as he says it.
"Ever," Sherlock says firmly. "People like you are rare, John. You are my friend and colleague and I've no desire to see that end."
"So, you're saying that we make a good team." John asks.
"Of course that's what I'm saying," Sherlock says, waving his hand dismissively. After a moment's pause, Sherlock looks at John. "And you don't break up a good team, do you?"
"No, I suppose you don't," John replies, relaxing into his chair.
"Do we have anything to eat?" Sherlock asks, lying back on the couch. "I'm famished."
"Not the last time I looked," John says. "The whole bottom shelf of the fridge is taken up with cat parts."
"Take away, then?"
"If you want," Sherlock says, closing his eyes.
"I'll go call," John says, getting up.
Sherlock just nods at him and John goes into the kitchen to look at the menu. He's feeling quite a bit better about things. No, Sherlock hadn't made some big emotional speech, but for Sherlock, what he'd said was more powerful than that. They were friends and John was important, even if no one else saw it. And for Sherlock, that was practically declaring his undying love...in a manly, sociopathic kind of way. John smiles as he writes down items off the menu to order. What they had wasn't normal, but it worked for them.
"Have you ordered yet, John?" Sherlock calls from the other room.
"Just about to."
"Well, hurry. I haven't eaten in three days and I'm getting to the point where that cat is starting to be a viable option. And don't forget the Naan this time."
John just smiles as he dials the restaurant's number.