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Don't you want me? (4/4)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (nudity, non-explicit femslash)

Summary: After the internet chat session from hell reveals all her secrets, what can Anthea hope for from Sarah?

Sequel to Working practices, Do you want to know a secret? and What's love got to do with it?
No Series 2 spoilers and not compatible with it.

Betaed by the very helpful Greywash.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

She stood on the pavement outside number 221, trying to regain Anthea and she couldn't. Her compact mirror showed Anthea's face still there, but what good was that glossy facade now? In a minute, she had to go upstairs and face Sherlock and Sarah. And Sherlock would crack her open again so that Sarah could see the mess inside clearly.

It was too late to fight back, and all her weapons were the wrong ones, anyway. As a teenager, she'd led Sarah on, playing on her emotions and flooding her senses till it hadn't mattered to her any more that Anne was a woman, not a man. But she couldn't manipulate her way out of this one. Sarah was wise to her tricks now.

She banged the knocker and Mrs Hudson let her in, and the shell of Anthea languidly reassured the older woman that there was nothing wrong, she'd just come to see Sherlock on a private matter.

"I thought I heard him go out earlier, dear," Mrs Hudson replied, "but maybe he'll be back soon. You can go up and wait for him, but please don't try and plant any listening devices. You wouldn't believe the mess it makes of the walls when Sherlock removes them."

"Right," she replied, smiling. She hoped that was a joke; she was finding it harder and harder to tell.

Her legs felt heavy as she walked upstairs: Anthea Zelig off to her own execution. She knocked on the door of the flat. It opened, and her eyes went up to meet Sherlock's and then down because it was Sarah standing there instead. Pale, but calm, as if she were about to tell someone the bad news from their blood test.

"Come in," Sarah said, and Anthea walked in and stood there and couldn't think what to say. What was there left to say now?

"If you go and sit on the sofa, I could get us some drinks," Sarah said. "Is whisky OK? I think there's a bottle around here that's safe, and I certainly need it."

Anthea sat down and waited. She couldn't even think of a Plan A, let alone a Plan B. Well, except the usual Security Service Plan B. Run away and pretend this never happened.

"I sent Sherlock down to the gym," Sarah said coming back with two tumblers of whisky, and sitting down at the other end of the sofa. "He's probably causing chaos there, but John can sort him out. And I think if we're going to talk, it's really easiest without him. He does like to meddle."

"So does Mycroft." The whisky was warming her stomach, but the rest of her still felt cold. Sarah looked so warm. Warm and safe. If only Sarah would let her fall into that warmth.

"I'm sorry," Anthea said, and the whisky was catching in her throat, or maybe it wasn't just the whisky. "I don't...I've made such a mess of this."

"You have rather," said Sarah, soberly. "But it's OK. Messy's normal. You've done stupid things, but so have I." And then she looked at Anthea and said, almost casually: "I married a man I didn't really love because I got to thirty and panicked about being single. But you probably knew that already."

Anthea nodded. "I knew about you, and I’ve used that knowledge. And I’ve hurt you as a result."

"Yes. I suppose manipulating people comes with your job, but you're going to have to stop doing it to me if this is going to work."

"I’m sorry..." She swallowed the last of the whisky, but it didn't help. If she could only work out the right thing to say...She put the glass down on the floor beside her. Sarah's hand, gentle, but firm, reached out and took hers.

"I don't think the conversation this evening was exactly well-advised," she said, "but you have to admit it was comprehensive. Is there anything you've done that Sherlock didn't bring up?"

"I've killed people. Not often, but De Moncy wasn't the only one."

"I'm a doctor. I know about people dying. And...I've met people who I might well have killed myself, if I'd had a gun and known how to use it, just to stop them harming others. Though I hope you don't normally carry cyanide capsules around."

"No," she said. "But I have done other things for Mycroft, illegal things. I'm a criminal, Sarah, you need to know that."

Sarah gave a slightly wobbly smile. "We're currently sitting in the flat of a man, two men, who I know for a fact have committed arson, burglary and drug-dealing. Probably a lot of other things, as well. I think it's a bit late for me to worry about my shady associates."

"What about the men? And...the women?"

"That's harder, though I don't know why." Sarah's blue eyes had lost their warmth, and Anthea could feel the tension in the hand gripping hers. "I mean, John’s certainly had a chequered past."

"I don't expect–" she said, and then remembered she wasn’t lying anymore. "The Service has no evidence that Dr Watson has slept with people he didn't care about to gain favours."

"And you have?"

"Yes, and not just for work. It's easier, not caring."

"I'm not sure it is, in the long run," Sarah said quietly. "But you have all you want from me already, don't you? You don't need to bribe me with sex. And...you do care for me, don't you? You wouldn't be scared if you didn't feel anything."     

"I love you." It came out automatically, and even though it was true, it seemed so banal, meaningless. She wished she could think of something better to say, but her mind and tongue didn't seem connected anymore.

"That's good. I love you, as well." Sarah's voice was kind, but serious.

"Of course you do! I mean, I know you do." I don't deserve it, but she does. But what do I say?

"So what do we do next?" Sarah asked, and it was too much. Anthea gave a wail and collapsed onto Sarah, her arms round her neck, dragging her down, because if she could just bury herself in Sarah she'd be OK. Sarah was warm, and she smelled of lemon soap and goodness, and all she wanted was to stay here, pillowed safely against Sarah's breasts...

A phone was ringing persistently – not hers, she'd switched it off, and who had Sibelius as a ringtone anyway? And then Sarah sighed, and very carefully detached herself from Anthea, and Anthea sat up and tried to pretend that it was fine not being in Sarah's arms.

"221B Baker Street," said Sarah, picking up the phone from beside the table full of laptops. "If this is Mycroft, I am not pleased with you." It was odd, thought Anthea, only hearing one side of a phone conversation.

"How do you do that accidentally?" Sarah demanded. "Oh, yes, as if that's plausible, Sherlock. Well, just don't get John banned from the gym, and drink plenty of water, or you'll get dehydrated." She listened, smiling.

"Can I suggest?" she added, after a while, "that you take John to a hotel this evening, he'll probably be exhausted. And you did say that your flat wasn't bugged, didn't you? Is it OK if we stay here for the night? Right, thanks. Take care."

She smiled at Anthea, as she put the phone down. "Sherlock claims that he and John have been accidentally locked in the sauna at the gym. It might take several hours for the door to be unjammed. And no, I don't know how or why he has a mobile phone with him in the sauna. He also says that John's bedroom is in a better state than his. If you want to stay, that is."

"Stay here?" Anthea almost squeaked.

"It's the one place in London where I'm confident Mycroft can't spy on us. I know I'll have to get used to having no privacy, but I'd like at least one night properly alone. And it's a bit weird, but then this is Baker Street, after all," Sarah paused. "That is what you want, isn't it? I haven't misunderstood you?"

Sex with Sarah in John Watson's bed. There was probably poetic justice there, but what Anthea was mostly starting to feel was panic. Yes, they'd slept together, but it had been ten years ago, and she knew Sarah really preferred men, and what if Anthea couldn't make it good for her, good enough for her...

"What's wrong?" Sarah said. "Tell me." There was a note of command in her voice.

"I'm not sure I'm as good in bed as John," she blurted out.

"He's currently in a sauna, doing inadvisable things with Sherlock," said Sarah. "It seems a bit pointless to worry about his heterosexual past." And then she smiled, and started unbuttoning her blouse, the way she had in the video yesterday that Anthea had forced herself to delete.

"It's OK," Sarah said, and her warm voice was starting to melt away Anthea's fears. "It's going to be hard, but we can work something out. We both want this, after all. So come upstairs with me now, Anthea, because it's time to make a fresh start."