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BBC Sherlock

Rating: 15 (violence, drug abuse, swearing, aggressively implicit slash)

Summary: written for a prompt on Sherlock BBC Make me a Monday: "A modern adaptation of The Adventure of the Illustrious Client"

Betaed by Warriorbot

[From the Sherlock Holmes in Transcript (SHT) project, version 1.0]


I believe some authors give warnings at the start of their work. I'll therefore say right now, don't read this transcript if you're stupid. Or easily offended. Unfortunately, you're almost certainly either stupid or easily offended, if not both, because most people are. So if you carry on reading this, don't say you weren't warned.

And let me make one other thing clear. This is about a case, but it isn't one of my case reports and it has nothing to do with John's blogging. My case reports are for my eyes only, and they deal solely with deductive methodology. John's blog posts are the outpourings of the more juvenile and sentimental side of him, clothing the hard facts of criminality with layers of suffocating verbiage for the delectation of a few pathetic readers on the internet. But there was no deduction in this case, and it's not one that should be put on the net, however anonymised. You can't make these events entertaining or enjoyable: this is about people getting hurt, badly hurt at times. I'm recording this because some day, someone will want to know the truth. Future historians of Britain, thank me now.


John was living in Queen Anne Street at the time, so I met him at the Endell Street sauna. We both have a weakness for the place, and it's one of my favourite spots when I need to see him, to be with him. To be human. He'd moved out of Baker Street soon after we started sleeping together. I made him move out, because otherwise there'd have been nothing left of me.

People looked at John when we first became flatmates and saw a put-upon man. They didn't see him working on me, the slow drip, drip of water that can wear away a stone. I've been reliably informed that I don't have a heart. I certainly don't have one now. That's because John Watson found it and stole it, the bastard.

When things became...physical between us, I knew I had to protect myself. Protect John as well, maybe. For three months I couldn't think straight with him around. Because when he was in the same room, the same flat, the same postcode, all my body and mind wanted was his body and mind. There was nothing but the urge to pour myself into the Sherlock-shaped hole in him. It was awful beyond belief, feeling like...just feeling. And even after that initial period, when it got so that I could forget him, sometimes, for minutes at a time, concentrate on a case, I still couldn't let him back, not fully back.

The real problem is, John makes me good. Or better, at least. I've met other good men before, but no-one whose goodness is quite so contagious, or contagious to me, at any rate. John's my moral compass, the man who's made me feel things I've never felt before, care about things. You can see why I have to stop him taking over my life, don't you? Restrict my intake of him - stop sniggering, you dirty-minded perverts - to carefully calculated doses? Because otherwise there'd be none of my greatness left. His goodness, his ordinary common decency - uncommon decency - would destroy what makes me a detective: the ability to look at people as dots, combinations of molecules, and to spot the patterns. You can't analyse a game of chess, let alone win it, if you worry about a pawn being captured, destroyed, because it's got a wife and family. Caring for people not only doesn't help, it entangles the mind, my mind, destroys the objectivity that I need to observe the truth.

The thing I fear most is that one day John will be murdered. Not just because I would lose him forever, though that's almost unbearable. But because that will be the crime I will be unable to solve, however obvious the killer is. I can never think clearly if John is hurt or in danger. Like the time he'd been captured by General Shan, and I was trying to untie Sarah, because that was what he needed me to do, and I couldn't shake off that bloody thug of Shan's, couldn't work out how to save John or Sarah. He saved us all, of course, and made a joke about it, afterwards. He has his own form of greatness. But you didn't come here to hear about John, did you? You came to hear about me, the great Sherlock Holmes. Well, if you didn't, sod off to the John Watson Jumper Appreciation Society, or whatever it is. Just don't forget he's mine, even if I don't live with him anymore.


We were in an isolated corner in the lounge bar of the sauna, when I showed John the letter I'd been sent.

“It may be some fussy, self-important fool; it may be a matter of life or death,” I said. "If I'm really lucky it may involve the death of some fussy, self-important fool."

"So Sir James Damery is coming round to see you tomorrow at 4.30 pm, about a 'very delicate and important matter'," said John, thus proving he could read a simple letter. "Why's he writing to you, not just phoning or e-mailing?"

"Covering his back, I suspect. He's the sort of man who'd want all the unimportant details written in triplicate, and everything vital spoken only, in a place he can be sure isn't bugged."

"I've vaguely heard of Damery," John said, which surprised me. "Isn't he some kind of government special advisor? There was an article in the Guardian about him a week or two ago. I remember, because it mentioned something about him ensuring that the defence budget didn't get cut."

"He's slipping," I said. "His job's to keep things out of the papers, not appear in them himself. He's another government fixer."

"Like Mycroft?"

"Less important in many ways, and more concerned with...personal matters. He's the only reason half of the cabinet are still in it. And that several of them are still are in their closets."

"So it could be a worthwhile case?"

"I hope so, that it is something he really needs our assistance for." 


"If you're willing to help, John." He appreciates the formality of being asked, I've learnt that over time. A 'please' or two and he'll do almost anything. It almost makes courtesy seem worthwhile sometimes.

"I'd be delighted to."

"Right," I said. "Tomorrow, 4.15 pm sharp at 221B, and bring some biscuits and coffee, we're low. Until then we can put the matter out of our heads." Now I'd shown him the letter, I didn't need my trouser pockets anymore. Or my trousers.


Can I add at this point, that if you're reading this for sexual kicks, you can piss off. Go and find some Sherlock/John RPF, if they're still writing that crap, or just imagine what we were doing to one another. I'm not here to give you a thrill. I'm here to remind you why sex and love wreck people's lives. As you will see if you're stupid enough to read on.


Sir James Damery turned up promptly at 4.30 pm the next day, which meant John still hadn't finished the washing up. (He offered to - it's not my fault if he's paranoid about mould in cups!) It's hardly necessary to describe him – Damery, I mean - I could spend years describing every millimetre of John, but you'd still be too dense to appreciate him properly. It's hardly necessary to describe Damery, because he was a big, masterful, upper class idiot, and they're all much of a muchness. Oh, except for the fact that he had an Irish accent (carefully preserved over the years to add to his non-existent charm) and lavender socks.

"Of course, I was prepared to find Dr. Watson, after Mycroft's briefing,” he remarked, with a good humoured smile that made me want to torture him to death by inches. “His collaboration may be necessary. We are dealing on this occasion, Mr. Holmes, with a man to whom violence is familiar and who will, literally, stick at nothing. I should say that there is no more dangerous man in Europe.”

"Really?" I said, wishing he could have come up with something slightly more original. "Well, I suppose there's a current vacancy for the position, given between John and myself we've finished off Moriarty and Colonel Sebastian Moran in the last couple of years. May I ask the name of this dangerous man?”

“Have you ever heard of Baron Gruner?”

“You mean the Austrian murderer? An Austrian murderer, I suppose I should say. There's no shortage of them, after all.”

Damery threw up his hands with a laugh. I suspected he'd practiced the gesture in a mirror, along with the rest of his bogus 'honest' personality. “There's no getting past you, Mr. Holmes! Wonderful! So you've already sized him up as a murderer?”

“It's my business to follow the details of Continental crime," I pointed out. "And it's not exactly difficult when it's a case that got the European gossip sites alight. Gruner's wife 'accidentally' takes an overdose of paracetamol when they're travelling through the Splügen Pass. Gruner, however, doesn't realise this until they've travelled on to Prague, by which time it's too late to save her, and she dies of organ failure. And then the Baroness' maid, who was travelling with them, and so could say when the symptoms started to be visible, mysteriously falls off the Charles Bridge a week later, and the whole case gets so tangled up in jurisdictional quarrels that they can't even get a European arrest warrant out of it. Who could possibly have any doubts about the man’s guilt? There are entire websites dedicated to discussing the more sordid details. He's in England, now, I know, but I presume from your involvement that he's not just here for the libel tourism."

“No, it's far more serious. It's important to revenge crime, but even more so to prevent it. It's a terrible thing, Mr. Holmes, to see a dreadful event, an atrocious situation approaching, to understand clearly where it will lead, and yet be utterly unable to avert it. Can you imagine something more awful than that?"

"Well, it didn't seem to bother you before the invasion of Iraq," I said, "but I take it that this time it's personal."

Mycroft had briefed him well. His eyes flicked to John, as he worked out why I now cared about the Gulf War, and then he simply smiled again, and said blandly: 

“It's a personal matter, but not my own. I am acting in the interests of a client on this occasion."

“You didn't indicate before that you were merely an intermediary. Who's the client?”

“Mr. Holmes, I must beg you not to press that question. It is important that I should be able to assure him that his name has not been dragged into the matter. His motives are entirely honourable, but he prefers to remain anonymous. I need not say that your fees will be assured and that you will be given a perfectly free hand. Surely the actual name of your client is immaterial?”

"No, it's not," I said. "There are people I wouldn't help for all the manufacturing output of China. And besides, if I've got mysteries at both ends of the case, it gets too confusing. I always like to know at least one of the parties who's trying to screw me."

From the way Damery's eyes flicked at that, Mycroft's briefing had been rather too extensive. Then he concentrated on looking disappointed. In a frank and good-humoured way of course, the sort of "let the side down" expression that made my public school years so intolerable.

“You hardly realise the effect of your own action, Mr. Holmes,” he said.

"Yes, I do," I said, leaning back, and smiling at him. I can do frank and good-humoured as well, sometimes at least. “I've put you in a really serious dilemma. You're convinced I'll be prepared to take the case if you could give me the facts, and yet you've promised not to reveal them. It's a bugger sticking to your promises, isn't it, Sir James?"

"May I, at least, lay all that I can before you?”

"Lay away," I said. "But I'm not committing myself yet."

“That's understood. In the first place, you have no doubt heard of General de Merville?”

I looked at John. He doesn't usually say anything in client interviews, I find it too distracting, but he's useful at times like this.

“De Merville was in charge of the operations to protect the Khyber Pass supply route into Afghanistan a couple of years ago," he said. "Made quite a big impact." I took that to mean he'd blown a lot of things up.

“He has a daughter, Violet de Merville: young, rich, beautiful, accomplished. A wonderful woman in every way." Damery said. He didn't feel the need to mention her accomplishments. I suspected that they were mainly being young, rich and beautiful.

"It is this daughter," Damery said, "this lovely, innocent girl, whom we are endeavouring to save from Gruner's clutches.”

I was so fed up with his attitude by then that I nearly gave him the potted history of feminism that I have occasionally heard fall from Mrs Hudson's lips. (She was having her consciousness raised in 1970s California before she fell for the repulsive Mr Hudson, thus once again proving the stupefying effects of love).

“Baron Gruner has some hold over her, then?” I said instead, mainly in the hope that Damery would be forced to get a bit more explicit.

“The strongest of all holds where a woman is concerned — the hold of love. You'll have seen his photographs on the web. He's extremely handsome, with a very...sexy voice, and that air of mystery which means so much to women. He's said to have the whole sex at his mercy."

"Other than lesbians, of course," I said, which got a snort of laughter from John, at least.

“But how did he come to meet Ms Violet de Merville?” I asked. Not that it mattered, probably, but I was intrigued.

" 'The Rich are Different'," he said. I waited for him to explain, and he waited for me to say something astounding, and fortunately John intervened before the silence became completely overwhelming.

"It was some weird reality show, wasn't it?" he said. "Lots of rich and allegedly famous people all having to live together in bedsits and pretend they were ordinary, or something like that."

"And Ms de Merville and the Baron both took part?" I said. There was a certain logic there: a programme sufficiently desperate for celebrities might well decide that the attractive daughter of a general and an aristocratic uxoricide would help boost their ratings. 

"Yes," said Damery, "in Series 4. I believe they first bonded over a common refusal to do any washing up whatsoever. Gruner then attached himself to the lady, with such effect that he has completely won her heart. To say that she loves him hardly expresses it. She's obsessed by him, won't hear one word against him. Everything has been done to cure her of her madness, but in vain."

"When you say 'everything'," I asked, "do you really mean they've tried aversion therapy and some of the more exciting psychopharmaceuticals?"

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see John giving me a warning look that said 'don't alarm him too much, he wants to give us money'.

"I'm sorry," I added, "I realise this is distressing for you." That's one of the handy phrases that John has taught me, for when I want to demonstrate my commitment to client care.

"Not personally, of course," Damery replied, "But it is for my client. To sum up, Violet de Merville is proposing to marry Gruner next month, once she's finished her current modelling assignment. She's got a will of iron, so it's hard to know how to prevent her.”

“Does she know about the dead wife?”

“He's been very clever. He's told her every unsavoury scandal of his past life, but always in a way that makes himself out to be an innocent martyr. She absolutely believes him and won't listen to any other version." Damery paused, and then added, with a shudder: "She has been known to spend hours on the chat forums of www.evilgruner.com."

"Oh, dear God," I said. "Can you section people for being persistently wrong on the internet, John?" He shook his head.

"Right," I said, "so your client, Sir James, will do absolutely anything, including paying large sums of money to me" - I wanted to emphasise that point – "to put his daughter off the Baron. What kind of figure did General de Merville have in mind?"

Damery fidgeted in his chair.
“I'm not going to deceive you, Mr. Holmes. De Merville isn't my client. He's been utterly demoralised by this incident, lost his nerve, become a weak, doddering old man. He's utterly incapable of dealing with a brilliant, forceful crook like Gruner."
"You mean," I said, "he's an idiot who can't make his own daughter listen to him. That's a fairly common sort of idiocy. So who is your client?
"An old friend, one who's known the General intimately for many years, and taken a paternal interest in this young girl since she was a child. He cannot see this tragedy happen without some attempt to stop it."
I rapidly ran through my mind the older and more perverted members of Britain's upper classes (most of whose sons I had been at school or college with), and worked out the five most likely options for the client. Not that it mattered. I didn't need a knighthood or even a blackmail opportunity or two. I needed legitimate money and soon.

"So why come to me?" I asked.
"There is nothing that Scotland Yard can do. It was my client's own suggestion that you should be called in, but it was, as I have said, on the express stipulation that he should not be personally involved in the matter. I have no doubt, Mr. Holmes, you could easily trace my client back through me, but I must ask you, as a point of honour, to refrain from doing so, and not to attempt to breach his anonymity.”
Had he not read the bit of Mycroft's briefing where it mentioned my complete lack of scruples? Or had he just heard my accent, and decided I was a chap he could trust? John understood the concept of 'honour', but even he had never tried to get me to play by such stupid, petty rules. On the other hand, as I've indicated, I didn't really need to know the client. I just liked winding Sir James up.
I gave him a smile. John might want to describe the type of smile it was. I'll just stick to telling you I smiled.
“I think I can safely promise I won't try and trace your client,” I said. That gave me some leeway if I "accidentally" discovered who it was. “Well, your problem interests me sufficiently for me to look into it. How shall I keep in touch with you?”
“The Carlton Club will find me. But in case of emergency, let me tell you my private phone number.”
I entered it into my phone, and sat, still smiling, with it open.
"The Baron’s current address, please?”
“Vernon Lodge, near Kingston. It is a large house. He's been lucky in some rather shady speculations and is a rich man, which naturally makes him a more dangerous antagonist.”
“Is he at home at the moment?”
“Can you give me any further information about the man?”
“He has expensive tastes, a horse fancier. For a short time he played polo at Hurlingham, but they got fed up with being referenced on so many true crime websites, and he had to leave. He collects books and pictures, a man with a considerable artistic side to his nature. He is, I believe, a recognised authority upon Chinese pottery and has written a book upon the subject.”
“A complex mind,” I said. It sounded better than 'a versatile idiot'. "Well, Sir James, you can inform your client that I'm turning my attention to Baron Gruner. I won't say any more. I have some sources of information of my own, and I dare say we may find some means of opening the matter up.”
I thought that was an impressively mysterious way of saying that I knew how to use Google, even if he didn't. I didn't bother to say that I could have got all the information that Damery had just given me with five minutes on the net. He was my client now, or rather the man behind him was. 
When Damery had left us, I sat for a long time in deep thought. Mainly about exactly what I would do to John later on in the evening, but with occasional intervals of considering the case. Well, more the money it would bring in. There's a certain bizarre logic about my life nowadays. I need more money because there's two lots of rent to pay, so I take cases I wouldn't have done before. But when I've got a case on, I can cope with having John around without him driving me completely insane with lust or moral improvement. Then the case ends, and I have to get him out of my life - while I still have one - and we're back to square one again.
At last I decided I'd impressed John enough with pretending to think logically, and came briskly back to earth.
"Why do I get landed with a case involving sex-crazed idiots?" I said. "No, love-crazed idiots, which is worse. All right, John, this doesn't involve facts, just rancid dollops of emotional intelligence. Any views on what I should do?”
“I think your best bet is to go and talk to Ms de Merville, see if you can get anywhere with her."
"Not a hope," I said. "Right, if that's your view, it confirms it's too obvious a starting point. I think we need to start from a different angle. I rather fancy that Shinwell Johnson would be useful."
John put his head in his hands and groaned. Not one of his happier groans, either.

Part 2


Feb. 20th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
enjoying this immensely - it makes so much sense that that's how Sherlock would see his relationship with John. and the reality TV show sounds memorably awful.

*appreciates the carefully chosen acronym*
Feb. 22nd, 2011 07:47 am (UTC)
This one definitely is Sherlock the SHiT, although other versions of Sherlock are possible. I think it's partly a reaction to ACD!Sherlock in The Illustrious Client, who is being a particularly pompous Edwardian. (Any ACD!canon with prominent female characters in it reads far more bizarrely now than the male-only ones). And once I had a story to slash which includes Watson not living at 221B, no mention of his wife, and his meeting Sherlock at the Turkish baths, I had to find some kind of vaguely coherent explanation.