Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, and I'm not making any money from this story.
Warning: The verbal threat of spanking – but NO actual spanking in the story.THE MATURE ADULT
Joan woke up to a darkened room, and blinked a couple of times until her alarm clock came into focus. Two thirteen? Her brow furrowed. Why am I awake? A soft noise came from down the hall, making her more alert. Being a light sleeper was one of the things that made her a good sober companion. She heard the soft gasping sound again, and sat up in bed. Sherlock had been oddly quiet before she'd gone to bed, putting her on alert. Now she had to wonder if whatever the Captain had said to him was going to be a setback to his recovery. The noise was slightly louder this time, and Joan's eyes opened wide when she realized it was the sound of crying. But that couldn't be right. That was entirely unlike the man she'd grown to know over the past six weeks.
She slipped out of bed as quietly as possible, her stocking clad feet silent on the hardwood floors. The closer she got to Sherlock's bedroom door, the more convinced she became that the man was in fact crying. Stopping in front of his door, she put a hand up to knock, but stopped before he knuckles hit the wood. Sherlock would not want her company. He hated sharing anything personal with her. A clearly audible sob forced her to take action. The whole reason she'd stayed was to help the man, weather he wanted the help or not. Instead of knocking she opened the door a crack, and poked her head in.
The sounds of crying instantly stopped, and she heard the rustling of covers as he turned his back to her.
"What is it?" he asked in a surprisingly calm tone.
She opened the door wide, and walked towards the bed. "Have you been crying?"
"Of course not." He surreptitiously wiped the wetness off his face. "Don't be ridiculous."
She sighed and sat down on the bed next to him. She looked at the dark silhouette of the back of his head, and said, "I heard you, Sherlock. Let me help you. Tell me what's wrong."
"Nothing's wrong." His voice wavered against his will.
She tentatively put a hand on his back. The man twitched at the touch, but she left her hand in place, and started rubbing gentle circles on it.
"We both know that's not true."
"Go away." He'd wanted that to sound like a demand, but the words came out in a broken whisper.
"No." She patted his back.
"Leave!" he shouted, and inched his back away from her hand.
"No." she said gently.
"I don't want you here," he said, and tried to stifle another sob.
"I'm sure you don't," she put her hand on his back again, "but I am here, and I'm not going anywhere." She felt his shoulders shake, as his tears started back up.
For the next several minutes, Joan sat with him, and rubbed his back in silent comfort. When the crying finally tapered off, she squeezed his shoulder, handed him a wad of tissues from the nightstand, and said, "Let's go downstairs. I'll make you some tea, and we can talk about it."
He wiped his face and blew his nose before looking back over his shoulder at her. "I'd rather not."
She reached over and turned on the lamp on his nightstand before standing up. "Come on." She flipped his covers off his chest. "We're having tea."
With a loud, put upon sigh, he rolled over, tossed the covers all the way off, and started to stand up quickly. He winced half way up, and his entire body froze for a second before he slowly straightened up.
"You're hurt!" Joan said.
"It's nothing." He waved a hand in the air as if he could wave away her concerns.
"Let me see."
"No," he said with a hint of panic in his voice. He stepped to the side to avoid her, and headed to the door.
She rushed past him to block the doorway. The two stared at each other for several seconds.
He looked away and said, "Can we please not make an issue of this?"
His shoulders slumped in defeat, and he lifted his shirt. She gasped at the spectacular bruising on his stomach. Automatically looking at the skin as a doctor, she said, "Have you had any blood in your urine?"
"How painful is it on a scale of one to ten, with one being zero pain and ten being excruciating?"
She scrutinized his face, trying to see if he was being honest with her.
"Four at most," he added after seeing the worry in her eyes, "and only when I move."
"I'm going to feel for serious internal injuries. Tell me if any of my prodding brings your pain to an eight or higher." She pushed at various places on his abdomen, and he winced through it, but remained silent. When she was done with her quick exam, she looked him in the eye, trying to see if he was trying to hide pain from her.
Getting exasperated, he said, "I'm fine. No internal organs damaged." He put the shirt down, and said, "Are we going to go back to bed, or are you going to make me suffer through tea?"
After a pause she said, "Tea." She walked towards the kitchen with him at her heels. Her mind raced as she walked. Her initial thought had been that Captain Gregson had left that bruise, but that seemed so out of character for the man. Sherlock sat at the table, and stared at his folded hands, while Joan got busy putting water in the kettle, and pulling out mugs. By the time the water was boiling, she had the sinking feeling that her initial thought was the correct one. She sat a mug of tea in front of Sherlock and sat down across from him.
"Gregson did that to you."
Sherlock kept his eyes on his mug, and said, "Yes."
He took a sip of his tea and said, "I hadn't calculated violence into the equation when I went to speak with him, but I… deserved it." He looked up and made eye contact. "On the bright side, we're no longer carrying on that farce of a suspension."
She put her hand over his on the table. "He had no right to hit you. You…"
He held his free hand up to stop her mid sentence, and said, "Please… Could we please just drink our tea?"
After a few tense seconds, she nodded, squeezed his hand, and let it go.
Half an hour later Joan lay awake in her bed, unable to fall back to sleep. The more she thought about what Gregson had done, the angrier she became. She decided to give him a piece of her mind tomorrow, and then dozed off and on for a couple of hours before the sun came up.
# # #
Joan got up early and left a note for Sherlock, telling him she'd gone for a run. She went directly to the now familiar police station, said hi to the people at the front desk, and went straight into the captain's office, shutting the door behind her.
He looked up from his paperwork, and she saw a flash of regret in his eyes before he was able to mask it.
"How could you?" she said.
"He was going to murder someone," he said with a scowl, "and you're trying to make me out to be the bad guy?"
"He looks up to you. He trusts you, and you sucker punched him!"
Gregson stood up and shouted, "He deserved it!"
"He deserved it?" She shook her head, and started to pace in front of his desk. "That's exactly what he said."
"He did?" he said with surprise. "Well good… then we're on the same page."
She crossed her arms and glared at him. "No, it's not good. Would you punch a kid in the stomach?"
"What? Of course not! He may act like a child, especially when he's having one of those tantrum things, but he's not a child."
"Physically and mentally you're right, he's not a kid, but emotionally I'd say he's about ten."
"Do most mature adult males cry themselves to sleep after a friend punches them?"
He sat back down, and rubbed a hand down his face. He said quietly, "He was probably in pain, and too stubborn to take anything for it."
Joan scoffed. "Not likely."
"Let's just say that after living with him for the past six weeks, I've come to the conclusion that Sherlock probably enjoys a moderate amount of pain."
After a moment's pause, the captain grimaced and said, "Jeez… There's something I never wanted to know."
Joan said, "His tears had nothing to do with pain. I know it's hard to see him as emotionally immature when his intellect is far beyond that of most men, but it's clearly there if you look for it. His father's neglect stunted him emotionally, and then his loss of control mid addiction terrified him, leaving him vulnerable. Both of those together make him highly responsive to the right kind of authority figure. You'll have much better results in dealing with him, if you always remember that you're the mature adult in the relationship."
He just stared at her, clearly not understanding what she meant. She sighed, and said, "For example, he hadn't slept in a few days, and when I suggested sleep, he told me he was ready to do more investigating, so I physically took the files out of his hands, and closed the drapes. He whined, and then fell right to sleep."
"You're talking about a nap. I'm talking about attempted murder with the intent to try it again when he finds the right man!" he shouted.
"I'm aware Captain. The part I don't think you get is that Sherlock isn't emotionally mature enough to understand why murder is the wrong choice."
Gregson was already tired of the conversation, and just wanted it over before it gave him a headache. "Okay, let's say you're right. What am I supposed to do about it?"
"Tell him you're disappointed in his behavior. Tell him you'd miss him if he were in prison. The more emotionally attached he becomes to friends and co-workers, the less likely he'll be to do something to upset us. Hitting him will only drive him away."
"I'll take that under advisement. If there's nothing else, I've got a mountain of paperwork."
Joan knew a brush off when she heard one, and headed out with a displeased frown.
For the next half an hour Gregson tried to concentrate on his paperwork, but found he couldn't even complete one form. All he could think about was the look on Sherlock's face after he'd punched the guy. He wasn't sure he agreed with Joan that hitting the man would drive him away, but certainly hitting him like that again would. With a tired sigh, he put his pen down, grabbed his jacket, and told his secretary he'd be back in an hour.
# # #
Sherlock was going through some old files when there was a knock at the door. When he didn't hear his roommate's footsteps going towards the door, he called out, "Watson?" A few seconds later he heard the knock again, and impatiently put his paperwork down to answer it. On his way to the door, he saw Joan coming down the stairs.
He opened the door, and wasn't able to school his features fast enough to hide his surprise at seeing Gregson on the other side of the door. He quickly recovered, cleared his throat, and said, "Captain Gregson, what can I do for you? Is there something amiss with my phone?" He dug his cell phone out of his pocket as he asked the question.
"I came over to talk to you in person… about last night," Gregson said.
A split second later Sherlock was scowling at Watson. Joan ignored him, smiled at the captain and said, "That's perfect timing, because I was just about to go to the store."
"You were about to do nothing of the sort," Sherlock said with a glare.
Ignoring him again, Joan came all the way down the stairs, picked up her purse, grabbed her jacket, and said, "I'll be back in an hour." As she passed Gregson in the doorway, she said, "It's good to see you Captain."
He gave her a nod, and then focused back on Sherlock. "Can I come in?"
Sherlock opened the door a little wider, and gestured for the older man to come in. Once he'd stepped in, Sherlock closed the door behind them. Before Gregson could say anything, Sherlock said in a rush, "I really don't see any need to discuss what happened last night. You made your position on the matter quite clear."
"Let's go sit down." Gregson gestured to the kitchen table.
"No, thank you." Sherlock crossed his arms.
Joan's words echoed in his head. You're the mature adult in the relationship. He put a hand on Sherlock's shoulder, and gently pushed to get him moving in the direction of the kitchen table. "We're going to sit down and talk." He kept his hand on the younger man's shoulder as they walked.
Sherlock automatically went where the captain steered him and said along the way, "I don't know what Watson might have told you, but she had no business sharing things that were said in confidence."
Surprised that Sherlock wasn't putting up more of a fight, Gregson gently pushed him into a chair, and sat himself down in the chair next to him. Once they had eye contact, Gregson said, "I'm sorry that I punched you."
Sherlock's eyes darted to the table. "You had cause. Thinking of committing a crime in your precinct shows a lack of respect on my part."
"Hey, look at me." Once he had eye contact again, Gregson said, "You're right, as your boss, that was disrespectful, but that wasn't the only reason I was angry."
"No?" Sherlock forced himself to sit perfectly still waiting for his response.
"No. I was also upset because I thought we were friends. Or at least that we were starting to become friends."
Sherlock looked down at his lap, unable to face the emotions that statement brought on.
Gregson said, "The day you came to me and told me about your addiction, and Joan being your sober companion, I changed my opinion of you. I always knew you were brilliant, and damn good at your job, but that day I realized you were a decent guy. A guy who was trying to do the right thing. A guy I could be friends with. So when I found out you tried to kill someone on my watch, I felt betrayed, and to be honest, I was a little hurt."
Feeling uncomfortably close to tears, Sherlock whispered, "It was never my intent to hurt you."
Gregson heard sincerity in the younger man's tone, and decided that Joan had given him good advice. "I believe you, but that's not enough. Part of the reason I lost my temper last night, was because I know you'd do the exact same thing again if given the opportunity."
Sherlock looked him in the eyes again, and said with dismay, "Yes."
"Well you should know that I'll do everything in my power to stop you, not just because that's the right thing to do, but also because I'd miss you if you went to prison, and so would Joan and Marcus."
"I appreciate your honesty, and your concern, Captain. I wish I could tell you that nothing like this will happen again, but I…"
Gregson held up a hand to stop him and said, "I don't expect you to say anything right now. But I do expect you to think about how your actions affect those around you, and I want to give you a warning."
"A warning?" Sherlock asked
"You got away with something that was clearly against the law this time. If that happens again, you're going to be facing some personal retribution from me." Gregson saw Sherlock put a hand on his stomach, and shook his head. "I won't lose my temper and punch you, I'll treat you the same way my father would have treated me for doing something morally wrong. I'll bend you over a table, and tan your hide with my belt."
Sherlock's eyebrows drew together in a thoughtful frown. "That seems a bit…" he wasn't sure how to finish his thought.
"Harsh?" Gregson guessed.
Sherlock shook his head. "Too familiar."
Gragson gave him a confused expression. "Familiar? Did your father…"
"No, no. Too familiar, too personal, too intimate."
The older man put a hand on Sherlock's shoulder and said, "That's exactly why I decided to do it, because you going off to kill a guy on my watch, is way too personal to let go."
After a few moments pause, Sherlock nodded, and quietly said, "Very well. Your warning is duly noted, and for what it's worth, your concern is appreciated."Amazed that Sherlock hadn't put up any sort of argument about his chosen method of proposed punishment, Gregson squeezed the man's shoulder before letting go and standing up. "Okay then, I'd say we're good now."
For some inexplicable reason, Sherlock suddenly didn't want the older man to leave. He stood as well and gestured to the stove. "If you had time, I could make you some tea, and show you some of the cold cases I've been looking through."
Gregson saw the hopeful expression on Sherlock's face, and couldn't deny him. He looked at his watch and said, "I could stay for a few more minutes."
Half an hour later when Joan got home, she found both men carefully pouring over every detail of a case from five years ago. She could tell immediately that the tension that had been brewing between them was completely gone. She sat down with them at the table and joined in the discussion.