Title: Your Voice Moves Me
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Word Count: 2577
Pairing: Sherlock/John in an already established relationship
Warnings: Description of a dead body and Sherlock/John coupley cuteness
Spoilers: None really.
Summary: Sherlock needs John to consult on a crime scene, but John can't leave work. Sherlock comes up with the idea of consulting over the phone, but in the end it affects him in an odd way.
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. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)
Author's Notes: I'm not a crime scene expert, so if I got stuff wrong, I apologise. 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 for the super-fast beta job. Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me and for her support. 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.)
Your Voice Moves Me
John is frowning as he looks at the form he's filling out. It's time for the clinic to file its quarterly reports and all the doctors are required to complete this paperwork. John doesn't know much about the administration end of medicine, but thirty five pages seems excessive as forms go. And this is only one of three. John thinks he can actually feel his brain atrophying in protest. He's absurdly grateful when his mobile rings.
"John, I need your help." Sherlock sounds excited and that can only mean one thing. "Are you with a patient right now?"
"No, but I am rather busy. Is it a case?"
"It is, though not a difficult one, I admit. I could however, use your expertise on a point or two. Can you get away?"
John looks at the clock. It's half past noon and four of the clinic's six doctors are out to lunch for at least the next forty minutes. John is tempted to just leave, but it wouldn't be fair to leave Doctor Stevens here all by himself.
"Not right now. Maybe in an hour or so?"
"But, John, I'm at the crime scene now."
"I can't leave yet, Sherlock."
"Doesn't the fact that I'm your boyfriend grant me special privileges?" Sherlock sounds petulant.
"It does at home, but I can't shirk my responsibilities here, even for you."
"But in an hour, Anderson will have contaminated my crime scene."
John tries not to laugh at the role reversal and shakes his head.
"I'm sorry, Sherlock, but there's nothing I can do."
Sherlock is quiet on the other end and John can almost feel him thinking. He hears Sherlock take a breath and braces himself for the next wave of arguments.
"John, do you have your laptop with you?"
John blinks. That was not the question he was expecting.
"Um…yes, I do. Why?"
"I could take photographs with my phone and send them to your e-mail and then you could look at them. Do you think you could tell enough from photos to help?"
"I'm willing to try. That's an excellent idea, Sherlock."
"Good. I'll call you back when I've sent the photos."
Five minutes and two form questions later, John's phone rings again.
"Okay, I've sent them," Sherlock says by way of greeting.
"Let me check my e-mail." John pulls up his account and blinks when he sees the size of the file. "How many pictures did you send?"
"I wanted to be thorough."
John opens the attachment and starts looking through the photos.
"Okay, what do you need from me?" John asks.
"Have you looked at the photographs of the body?"
"I'm looking right now."
"Can you tell me a cause of death?"
"From a photograph?" John tries not to sound too incredulous.
"Think, John. Use your medical training. Really look. Tell me what you see."
John shakes his head. This is absurd. But then, with Sherlock, most things seem absurd; at least until you try. He takes a breath and studies the first photo.
"His coloring. His face is paler than his hands. And his lips are blue. Look at the skin on his forehead and around his eyes, He's got Petchia, those small red spots? They're broken blood vessels." John moves on to the next picture. "His eyes hemorrhaged and there are ligature marks on his neck. If I have to pick a cause of death from here, I'm going with strangulation."
"Very good, John." Sherlock's voice sounds slightly breathy, but John ignores it.
"Do you know what he was strangled with? The marks look slightly familiar, but I can't place them."
"I'm not sure," Sherlock says and John can hear the irritation in his voice. "It's one of the things I was hoping you could tell me."
"It's a strap," John says, leaning in to study the picture. "But a lot wider than most I've seen."
"That's what's throwing me," Sherlock says. "It can't be from a handbag or suitcase. I thought backpack, but that's not right either. It looks familiar, though."
John is frowning as he looks closer. There's something nagging at the back of his brain. He's actually seen this exact same injury before, but he can't remember where."
"…so you can see why I'm asking." Sherlock's voice cuts across John's thoughts.
"Is something wrong, John?"
"No. It's just…I've seen this before. I know I have. I just can't remember."
"Focus, John," Sherlock says, "Close your eyes."
"How is that going to help me remember?"
"Just do it," Sherlock says, sighing. "Now, do you know when you saw it?"
"I…I have no idea, Sherlock."
"Picture everything around you. What did the room look like?"
John frowns again, focusing on the image in his head. He's in a room with a table…there's tile and glass…he's standing next to…is that Mike? There are other people to his right. The body is on the table, there's a man standing behind it…"
"Medical school," John says suddenly. "I was at Bart's and it was a cadaver."
"That's good," Sherlock says. "What else do you remember about it?"
"I…" John cuts off as a voice ghosts through his memory.
Note the bruising across his chest. He was in an automobile accident and this is a good chance for you to observe lividity and how bruising is affected by death.
John focuses on the bruises on that man's chest, just like the ones on the victim's throat. A car accident…the bruises…
"Oh God, it's a seat belt," John says, blinking.
"I'm sorry?" Sherlock says.
"Look at it. It's a seat belt from a car."
"That's where I've seen it," Sherlock says excitedly. John hears his breathing quicken again. "You are a genius, John."
"No, just experienced. Anything else?"
"Could you look at the photos of the alley where the body was found? I need you to double check me."
"Since when do you need anyone to check after you?"
"Since my deductions contradict each other," Sherlock says grumpily.
"What do you mean?"
"Do you see how the body is leaning against the wall?"
"We know he had to be placed there. It's obviously not where he was strangled as the person who killed him stood behind him."
"But the only dirt on his coat is from the alley itself. But the coat isn't his, so that doesn't necessarily mean anything."
"Look how it fits him in the shoulders and its length. This coat was made for a taller, thinner man. It was likely put on him after he was already in the alley so as to hide where he'd been."
"So where's the contradiction?"
"Look at his trousers, John. They are made by the same designer as the coat, but they were obviously purchased for this man as they fit him perfectly."
"And from that you get?" John asks.
"That the coat and trousers were bought by the same person, but it couldn't have been the victim or the coat would fit."
"And what does that tell you?"
"That the person who killed him buys at least some of his clothes."
"So, a girlfriend then? Or a boyfriend?"
"Can't be," Sherlock says firmly. "A romantic partner who knows a man's trouser size wouldn't get the coat so drastically wrong. You would never buy me a coat that fit this poorly."
"I presume the same could be said of relatives," John says, his brow furrowing. "So, I suppose we're back to the coat not being his, but the trousers are. Who would buy him trousers if they weren't romantically attached to him?"
"Who indeed," Sherlock says. There's a pause and John hears Sherlock catch his breath. "John, that's it."
"Under what circumstances would you buy a complete stranger clothes?"
"I don't know."
"Yes, you do. You have a lab coat that you didn't purchase."
"Yes, but that's for work, Sherlock."
"Wait, you're saying the trousers are part of a uniform?"
"Purchased by the employer who bought a coat by the same designer for himself."
"That's brilliant, Sherlock."
"Thank you, John," Sherlock's voice has dropped, sounding deeper and a bit rougher. "You helped me get there and I appreciate that."
"So, what do we know?" John asks.
"This man was strangled with a seat belt by his employer. His employer is a man of means."
"How do we know that?"
"Look at the coat, John. It's a man's coat from a rather prestigious label. As are the trousers. If you are going to spend that much on a uniform for your employee, you must have money."
"What was his job for this employer?"
"I'm…wait, John, look at his right hand."
"He uses his hands frequently, but not for manual labour, like gardening. Do you see the rougher skin along his palms, but not the heels of his hands? And look at the back of his trousers."
John opens another picture, one where he can see the seat of the dead man's trousers.
"They're worn shiny," John says.
"Yes, but look where. Just the seat and the backs of his legs, like he's sliding across something. In and out of a vehicle, most likely. Couple that with his hands and the fact that a seat belt was used to kill him and you get a chauffeur."
"Sherlock, that's amazing." John says, smiling. "Okay, so what does all this tell us?"
"Well, we have a cause of death and a suspect."
"We have a suspect profile," John corrects him. "No face to put with that employer."
"We're getting there," Sherlock says.
John pulls up another picture of the body, this one from a side angle and he notices something between the fingers of the left hand.
"Sherlock, does he have something in his left hand?"
"I don't…how did I miss that? I never miss something this obvious." John can hear the irritation in his voice. "Stupid Anderson was being a huge distraction. I think I was examining the victim's hands when he called you my keeper."
"Yes, as in, 'so, where is your keeper today? I'm surprised he let you off the leash.'"
"You know, one of these days, I'm actually going to hurt that man."
"And one of these days, I'll let you. It's a photograph, John."
"The thing the victim is holding. Or it's at least part of a photograph."
"It looks like it's a woman. Hold on." John can hear Sherlock shuffling about.
"Do not tell me you're moving evidence," John says.
"I'm not telling you; you guessed. And I'll put it back. Just a second. Okay, check your e-mail."
John refrains from lecturing Sherlock on crime scene etiquette and opens the e-mail. He's looking at a torn picture of a woman with an arm around her shoulders. She's smiling at the camera and it looks like she might be talking to the person next to her.
"John, look at the arm around her."
"What about it?"
"It's the same coat that the victim is wearing. But it fits the arm, so it has to be the actual owner of the coat."
"But why is there only part of the photo?"
"Someone must have torn it from his hand. But as they left this part, they must have thought they got the whole thing."
"But why take it at all?"
"That's the question. Obviously, they didn't want anyone to see it. But why?"
John has been staring at the woman in the photograph for a couple of minutes when he realizes something.
"Sherlock, I know her."
"Well, not know her. I've never met her. But I've seen her on advertising hoardings and on television. She's a famous model."
"Really?" There's a minute of silence. "John, do you know if she's been having problems with her marriage?"
"She's not married. I saw an interview with her a couple of weeks ago. She said she wasn't even dating anyone. Why?"
"I think we've solved the case," Sherlock says and John can hear the excitement in his voice.
"Why do you say that?"
"Look at the hand of the arm around her. It's got a wedding ring. But she doesn't have one and you say she's not even dating anyone. Now, look at her face, look in her eyes. What do you see?"
"She looks happy."
"No, John. She's more than happy. I see that look every time you look at me. She's in love. With a man who has a wife. And here is the picture to prove it. The killer took the picture away from the driver. Why would the driver have it in the first place?"
John frowns, thinking for a minute.
"Oh, wait. Blackmail."
"Exactly. The whole crime feels like one that wasn't premeditated. You don't plan to kill someone with a seat belt. The angle is going to be awkward, you're going to have to work for the leverage. But, if you are sitting in your car and your driver threatens to make your affair public or at least tell your wife, you make do with what you have. This was a rush job, a crime of passion."
"But we still don't have our killer. We only have an arm."
"Yes, but we have the girlfriend. I'm sure if the police inform her of what her part time paramour has been up to, she'll give them a name."
"This was impressive, Sherlock. You did a great job."
"I couldn't have done it without you," Sherlock says and John notices that the breathless tone is back in his voice. "You walked through it with me and helped me put it all in order."
"You know I'm always happy to help. Are you going to tell Lestrade?"
"In a minute," Sherlock says and John notes in passing that his voice keeps catching. He makes a mental memo to ask Sherlock about it when they get home. "Thank you again, John. I am glad we were able to clear this up."
"I knew you'd solve it," John says, going back to his paperwork. "I've always said you were brilliant."
"John? Can you leave work early?"
"How early?" John asks, distractedly.
"You've solved the crime. What do you need me to come down there for?"
"I don't need you here. I need you to meet me at home."
"I've got a couple more hours of work, Sherlock."
"Yes, but I need you at home now."
"I'm up to my eyebrows in paperwork."
In truth, John has only half been paying attention, attempting to get the forms in front of him filled out. But there is something about the way Sherlock says his name that pulls him fully back to the conversation.
"John. I. Need. You. Home. Now."
John blinks, his eyes going wide. Oh. Oh. Well, trust Sherlock to turn crime scene consulting into phone sex. John swallows hard.
"We've been pretty slow today and I think the others are back from lunch now. Let me see if I can duck out."
"Please do. I'm going to fill Lestrade in and I'll meet you at home. Would you mind going over your observations of the victim again for me in person when we get there?"
"Anything for you, love," John says, smiling. "I'll see you there."
He hangs up and tries to contain his excitement as he goes off to tell Sarah that he needs to leave early.