Author's Notes: Let me know how I did with Sherlock's 'deduction mode.' It's not easy to write.
Summary: Of all the people Sherlock expects to be taken to task by after his three year hiatus from the living John's girlfriend certainly isn't one of them.
The Redoubtable Miss Mary Morstan versus Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock is only slightly taken aback at the sight of the woman waiting for him at 221B Baker Street.
He'd deduced, of course, that someone was in the apartment well before he'd walked up the stairs, but he'd thought – hoped really, he admits to himself with a small grimace – that it would be John.
Not this wisp of a stranger.
5'2", natural blonde. Daycare worker. In a stable relationship with someone of better means than she herself is. Recent stressor. Something changed in the relationship. Old girlfriend come back from away perhaps?
The observations and deductions – which are not at all the same thing – come automatically. Tedious information. Superfluous. What has Sherlock's attention is that this woman is quite literally shaking with repressed rage. Rage that is directed at him.
"Are you done yet?" she asks in a clipped voice.
Sherlock blinks, then adds 'father in the army' to his list upon hearing her mixed accent. Obvious when combined with her stance.
"Have you finished working out my life story Mr. Sherlock Holmes?"
Sherlock almost – almost – grins. "Your clothing is entirely practical in nature. You wear minimal make up and keep your hair regularly scraped up in a ponytail, though you have let it loose for this meeting – a bit of unconscious shielding. You have yet to notice the bits of play-dough caught in your hair due to this. Could be the mother of a young child but your figure doesn't match. Also could have been child minding today but the stains on your trousers – which you have attempted and failed to remove – say multiple children over an extended period of time. Early childhood educator then."
She raises an eyebrow, unimpressed. "Keep going Mr. Holmes."
At this Sherlock actually does smile, if only slightly. "One of your parents is career army, your stance and your accent practically scream it. Most likely your father given your age. You are in a relationship with someone who makes more money than you do. You've been with this person for some time. The earrings you are wearing are older than the bracelet by at least a year or two but both have been picked out by the same person. I doubt that you would normally wear something as impractical as a bracelet to your particular work place but this person has been on your mind lately and you wanted a physical reminder of their feelings. Stress then. Something has changed and you are worried, both about them and about your relationship in general."
Sherlock cocks his head and makes a slow circuit around the woman. She stiffens but doesn't bother to turn to keep an eye on him as most people would.
This woman knows him then. But...
"Oh..." he murmurs suddenly. "Oh. You –"
She's the one who grins this time. It's not a friendly expression. "- worked it out?"
She's angry. And she's not misplacing her anger or taking it out on a convenient target. She is genuinely, truly angry with him.
Old girlfriend come back from away... or an old flatmate come back from the dead.
Sherlock bites back an expletive.
"You are John's girlfriend."
"Brilliant," she says, her voice dripping sarcasm. "But then, John said you were."
Of course he did. John had said it from the very first. And he'd kept saying it, even after...
Sherlock deflates. "Did John send you?" But even as he asks the question he knows the answer: John wouldn't have sent her.
"No," she says. "John has no idea that I'm here."
"Would you -" Sherlock fumbles. What is the social convention here? Is there one? "Would you like some tea?"
It's a laughable attempt. Ridiculous. Pathetic. Attempting to make amends with John by offering his girlfriend tea. What was his world coming to?
"No," she says. Again. Sherlock begins to suspect he's going to hear that a lot from her.
She straightens, or appears to straighten if that is even possible from her already rigid, almost-military stance. A tiny woman glaring up at a towering Sherlock Holmes. All because of one Dr. John Hamish Watson.
"Here's what's going to happen Mr. Holmes. I'm going to speak. And you are going to listen to every bloody word. No interruptions. No deductions. No attempts at explanations. Got it?"
Sherlock swallows. It is abruptly, blisteringly clear just what John sees in this firecracker of a woman.
He nods. One short, jerking motion of the head.
"Sit," she commands.
And he does, dropping boneless into his chair. The one he'd always sat in while John sat in the one next to him.
"John was a wreck when I met him," she informs him, ice flowing in her voice. "A complete and utter wreck. You – your death destroyed him, Mr. Holmes."
Sherlock closes his eyes against the accusation, shaking his head in pointless denial.
"You have no idea just how close I – we came to losing him, do you?"
"What are you talking about?" Sherlock asks, confused. He'd known John was upset. Of course he had been, but what, exactly, was she implying here?
She scoffs. "What the hell did you think he kept his gun around for before you showed up?"
Sherlock feels his heart freeze over. No. No... John wouldn't... he wasn't... But he can picture it now. John sitting in some horrid empty flat after one of his nightmares. Staring at his gun, thinking about...
He swallows back the bile in his throat. "You... he-" he began.
"Shut up!" she snarls. "Do you know what kept him alive after you fucking jumped off a building? Do you? Because I do. He told me himself. He couldn't stand the thought of doing to someone else what you had done to him."
She is shaking, gasping for air.
"You... you bloody, callous, heartless bastard. You jumped and made him watch. And I've spent the last two years putting him back together and you... you just show up again like it was nothing! Like it meant nothing!"
"I did it for him," Sherlock whispers. "They would have killed him if I didn't..."
"You should have found a way out!" she snaps. "You should have let him know you were okay. Three years, Holmes! Three years is not acceptable!"
"I KNOW THAT!" Sherlock screams back, jumping up from his chair. "I couldn't – I wasn't smart enough or quick enough. There was nothing –" He runs a frustrated hand through his hair, pacing.
"I never wanted to do that to John," he says meekly, meeting her gaze.
Silence reigns between them for a long time.
Sherlock looks away and clears his throat. "What now then?"
"Now?" she says. "Now you get down on your hands and knees and beg John for forgiveness. You do everything and anything you need to do to make that man forgive you."
"What? Why would you...?" Sherlock asks, shocked that this woman would demand this of all things.
She narrows her eyes. "If it were up to me John would never have anything else to do with you. But there is only one person in this world that John Watson loves and God help me but it bloody well isn't me."
Sherlock reels. She couldn't possibly be implying...
"And you," she chokes here, "you feel the same way about him, don't you? Don't even bother denying it. It's written all over you. So you are going to gain his forgiveness. And then you are going to do whatever it takes to make him happy. Because I will take him back if you don't and fucking keep him. Do you get that Mr. Holmes?"
"Yes," he says, breathless. "Yes, I understand."
He meets her eyes properly. "And it's Sherlock."
She is holding back tears. He'd missed it earlier. The grief hidden under layers of anger.
"I –" he hesitates, "I'm sorry."
"Fuck you," she says and turns to leave.
"Your name?" Sherlock asks, calling out just as she reaches the door.
She pauses but doesn't turn around. "Why should I tell you? You are only going to delete it."
No. No, I don't think I will.
He doesn't say it.
She waits a moment before giving a derisive snort. "Mary Morstan."
Sherlock nods to himself. "Thank you."
He's not entirely sure whether he's thanking her for her name or for coming or for... for everything else.
She doesn't reply, swiftly closing the door behind her.