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It was only three months later when Joan finally had enough. They were lying in Michael's bed (he hadn't even graced the brownstone's door in nearly half a year). It had been a relatively good day: after he got off work, Michael had picked her up for dinner and then they had gone back to his place. They sat on the couch drinking wine and talking for hours. He caught her up on the gossip at the clinic (she was rarely there anymore) and she gave him some of the gritty details from their last case (leaving Sherlock out of the story almost entirely). They'd discussed plans for Thanksgiving. It had been a lovely evening that culminated in their making love.
When Michael said, "I think you should move, here, with me." It hit her like a ton of bricks. Not only did she think that was premature, she had no desire to leave Sherlock. Moving away (even if it only took fifteen minutes to get there) would greatly inhibit their work. Plus, she knew innately that Michael was trying to separate her from her partner. That really put a damper on the romantic offer.
Joan looked at him intently for a moment and then, carefully, said, "If I did, wouldn't you hate my hectic schedule and late nights?" He looked surprised. "What do you mean?" She took a deep breath trying to keep calm. Knowing he'd react badly to Sherlock's name she tried to be delicate. "Working with the NYPD means that I have to be available to visit crime scenes, talk with suspects, and review theories at any time. I'm often up late into the night looking over case files and researching varying possible outcomes."
"I assumed that you would keep it to a normal 9-5, except in cases of emergency. Just like I do." His flippant response to her life and career choices infuriated Joan. How could he just presume that she could (or even want to) change her life so completely just to dispel his insecurities. Joan decided it was time to address this issue once and for all; damn the consequences.
"I am aware that you've had a problem with my friendship with Sherlock from the beginning. I have tried to ignore it, but I can't help but feel that you don't trust that our relationship is entirely platonic. You don't trust me!" She was up, pulling her clothes on, feeling the need to put as much distance between them as possible. Part of her hoped he would deny it, try to comfort her and ask her to come back to bed, but subconsciously she knew this was it. They'd have it out and see where they stood once the dust settled.
"It's not that I don't trust you, Joan," He started off right. "but it's obvious that Sherlock is interested in you. Plus, he's made it very clear that he doesn't like me." Joan cut him off. "That's ridiculous! He has no romantic interest in me whatsoever." Even as she said it (sounding so sure) she felt the niggling memories of all the times Sherlock had moved into her space unnecessarily; all the touches that had become more frequent recently; all his double entendres and flirtatious comments. Joan had put these instances out of her mind, believing that he could not be serious.
"Regardless," she continued. "My work with Sherlock will continue no matter what happens between you and I." Michael got up, wrapping the sheet around his waist. He looked at her for a moment before saying. "I know you love working with the police, Joan. I respect that about you, but I hate that you work with and live with HIM. He's a pompous, obnoxious know it all. I don't know how you can stand it, except that you must feel something for him as well. God knows why?" He finished with exasperation.
"So you don't trust me! It shouldn't matter what Sherlock does, if you trusted me you'd know that I would never, never, do anything behind your back. If I wanted to be with him, I'd tell you." Joan had had enough. She snatched up the last bits of clothing left on the floor and stormed out of the room. Michael was close on her heels, but instead of apologizing he yelled, "You're choosing him, that ass, over me! You may not want to admit it to yourself, but you do want to be with him. I knew it!"
Joan shoved her bra and underwear into her purse and put on her coat. "Damn right I'm choosing Sherlock!" She yelled back. "He wouldn't make me feel guilty about doing something I love and, while he doesn't much like you, he has never given me an ultimatum to break things off. He is my friend and he understands me. You're just a selfish jerk with trust issues and an inflated sense of self." With that she stuffed her feet into her boots and rushed out the door.
By the time she got home her eyes were puffy from the tears she'd tried not to shed and her nose was running. It took Sherlock exactly ten seconds to realize something was amiss and Joan tried to ignore the pleased expression that momentarily flitted across his face when she acknowledged that, yes, she and Michael had broken up. "I suppose I should buy you chocolates and rent you a film about female empowerment." He quipped. After everything she'd been through tonight she couldn't take his nonchalant attitude. "I broke up with him because he wanted me to stop living here, stop working with you. You should be grateful that I'm even here, not spouting nonsense about women's silly breakup rituals!" The shock on Sherlock's face gave her a small sense of triumph, but she was so emotionally drained that she didn't feel like she could make it through the questions he was about to barrage her with. Joan turned on her heal and quickly made her way upstairs to her room.
About twenty minutes later there was a knock on the door. "Come in." she called. Sherlock entered, she could sense his discomfort, but he pressed on. Setting down a cup of tea on her nightstand, he stood looking at her (fingers drumming against his leg) for a few minutes. Finally, he said, "I'm sorry I made light of the conclusion to your relationship. I should have realized you were quite upset; all the signs were there…foolish of me really." He trailed off and they both waited for what seemed like an eternity.
"It's fine, Sherlock." Joan didn't want to get into it. She hoped that he'd take her hint and leave, but he just stood there. Perhaps he felt he deserved an apology too. While Joan didn't feel that she'd done anything wrong, she wanted to get him out of her room so she added, "I'm sorry I snapped at you."
"You had every right, Watson." He responded emphatically. "I was being highly insensitive, especially considering the reason behind your fall out with Michael." Joan nodded curtly, praying that would be the end of it, but he continued. "I want you to know that I would never wish to come between you and anything that brought you happiness. If you felt that leaving here, leaving me, was bearable (he almost stuttered the word) then I would accept it; if being with Michael makes you truly happy." Sherlock dropped his gaze to the ground. He looked wounded and so vulnerable that Joan said the next words without thinking.
"I would rather stay here with you. I can't imagine not being here, not having you in my life."
Goodbye Michael! Hello Sherlock?