My first Sherlock fic, be nice to me.

Holmes clicked his pen and pointed it at the first witness, still staring at the papers in his lap. He didn't want to risk making eye contact just yet. "You were hired for the deceased's birthday party?"

The kid swallowed nervously, an eighteen-year-old rent boy carefully dressed to pass for older and hoping to last long enough to attract a rich London widow. Normally Holmes wouldn't have bothered himself with the murder of a strip club owner, but his narcotic supply had been cut off by skirmishes in the latest sandbox oil war, and any work was better then the misery of detox.

"You were paid in tips?" Holmes asked.

"Um, no, flat fee."


"Cash. Everything was done in cash, the owner didn't like bothering with computers."

Holmes 'hmmed' to himself, scribbling in the margin and wondering how the owner killed himself. Bourgeois businessmen weren't assassinated cleanly in their beds on their birthday. He would have to wait for the coroner's report to prove a drug overdose, but his brain was itching to know why, and this doe-eyed idiot sitting across his desk was the best lead so far.

One of the police officers poked at a framed picture of John, lifting it off the mantelpiece and sneezing on the glass. "Sorry," he muttered, pulling a filthy kerchief from his pocket, "Bloody storm."

Holmes pulled his coat tight around his shoulders, his eyes flicking over to the window as his guts twisted on themselves. He couldn't even see the cars in the street for all the rain, and considered sending a taxi to John's clinic to get him home safely.

"Who else was at the party?" Holmes asked.

He shrugged, discretion came with the job. "People with money."

"Anybody there out of place?" Holmes asked, looking up finally.

Poor kid, he'd never been in real trouble before. His eyes watered under the detective's scrutiny. "...I don't know."

"I need a name."

He let the silence stretch, and eventually the kid clutched his hair and his eyes glistened. "I'm sorry," he said, swiping at a stray tear, "My head's killing me, been killing me all day."

Holmes noticed his face, the rawness around his eyes, his lips curling at the greasy handprints the boy was leaving all over his desk. John had just polished it that morning, and he'd hoped to keep it tidy.

He sighed, opening a small drawer filled with plastic baggies. He had some sympathy for his fellow drug addicts. "Something for the pain?" he asked, placing four yellow pills on the desk.

The dancer eyed them hungrily, but Holmes kept his hand on them. He loved this part of the game. "Did he break up with his girlfriend?"

The boy bit his lip, thinking. "No."

Holmes slid one pill across. "Was he being blackmailed?"

"I don't think..." he said, cupping the second pill in his hand.

"Did he run into the law?"

"No," he said, shaking his head and speaking much more naturally now that Beauty's Sleep rested in his lap, "He didn't screw around."

Holmes fingered the last pill. He had a dangerous spectrum of prescription drugs in his apartment, and if John weren't constantly stopping in at night to eat and hide all the bullets, he'd have locked the bedroom from the inside and doped himself into a fugue state. "Did he owe anyone money?"

The boy breathed in slowly, considering. "You'd have to ask his bodyguard."

"He had a bodyguard?" Holmes asked, narrowing his eyes at a policeman, who hurriedly set down a pencil he'd been using to clean his ear.

"Yeah, they traveled together for bank deliveries, probably they made a few, um, deposits every month."

You mean they bribed members of the zoning committee, Holmes thought, rubbing his temples as the rain pounded against the window glass. Odds were good that someone, somewhere in this area, was being injured in a motorcycle accident, which meant John might not be home for hours.

He waved him away, plucking the phone from it's cradle to ask Scotland Yard how soon they could get the bodyguard to his place for questioning. Lifting his shoe, he rolled the offending earwax pencil into the waste basket, and wiped his heel on the carpet. As soon as everyone left, he slumped in the chair, aching all over and sick from the stink of men's aftershave. If he could just be alone for a little while...

"Hello, you're still working?"

Holmes looked up at the door, and sat a little straighter. "I thought you were on call."

John shook out his umbrella. "The interns can manage. We had some hooligans wheeled in from a game fight, but the morphine should keep them down til tomorrow."

Holmes pretended to busy himself with papers. "Are you going straight to bed?"

"I thought I'd eat first," he said, filling the kettle from the tap, "What about you, have you had anything?"

He tried to think of anything appetizing, and his guts turned to battery acid. "I'm good, thank you."

He was looking away when John approached, and wasn't prepared when a cool hand pressed against his forehead.

"You're running hot," he said, concerned, "How long have you been sitting in this room, it's freezing."

"It's nothing." he said, trying not to lean into his hand. He already felt a thousand times better, and wished John would keep talking. He'd been listening to people all day, yet now he didn't seem to mind the company.

John took his hand away. For all he knew Holmes was testing a mad science experiment on himself and would sprout feelers in the morning. "You need to sleep."

Holmes flinched, his face hardening at this accusation of weakness. "I'm busy."

John held up his hands. "It's your funeral. I was going to cook some lentils, but if you don't want any-"

His hip vibrated, and John looked down at his pager. "Fuck's sake, can't I have an hour to myself?"

"Where are you going now?" Holmes asked, trying to keep a high note out of his voice as John looked around for some food he could pocket.

"Work," said John, unfolding his umbrella while stuffing an orange in his jacket, "One of the patients ripped out his IV and made a raid on the pharmacy, chewed up enough Percocet to go blind."

Holmes snorted. "Amateur."


"Nothing," he said off-handedly, "Don't stay out too late."

John smiled. "Why?"

"It's not a good neighborhood." he lied, secretly wishing everyone in the clinic would overdose and die so John could keep him company. Down in the street, a police car pulled up with his next witness, and the old familiar pain crept back.

"I'll be back in two hours," said John, heavy boots echoing in the stairway below as he buttoned his coat, taking all the warmth of the apartment with him, and Holmes wondered if he'd last that long before shooting somebody, "Don't let the bastards grind you down."