invida_fic: (sherlock)
[personal profile] invida_fic
Title: A Damsel in Distrust (5/?)
Author: invida
Rating: PG-13 for the swears
Word Count: 4050
Fandoms: BBC Sherlock, Veronica Mars
Timeline/spoilers: entire series of Veronica Mars, up to A Scandal in Belgravia of Sherlock.
Disclaimer: I know the law, and the law would win.
Summary: Veronica Mars meets Sherlock Holmes. How well did you think it would go?
Acknowledgements: Thanks to [ profile] aud_woman_in for the beta, encouragement, and a willing ear. Thanks to [ profile] maybe_amanda for giving me the idea for an actual plot. Thanks to DC for the challenge.

Following Sherlock's instructions, John had come back to the flat after an hour. Sherlock had texted him the plan. He'd only need an hour at most to break Veronica, to find out what her link to Moriarty was. And if that didn't work, he had a secret weapon.

But all John found when he got back was a Sherlock and Mycroft sitting across from each other in the armchairs, while Veronica sat in the desk chair, facing them both, in a Mexican standoff with glares rather than guns.

"What have I missed?" John asked as he stepped into the sitting room and took in the situation. "God, Sherlock, please, please tell me your brother wasn't your secret weapon."

In answer, Veronica pulled the other chair from the table out for him to sit down next to her.

Mycroft broke their silence. "What do you want me to say, Sherlock? Because clearly the facts aren't what you want to hear."

Sherlock shook a file at his brother. "This can't be all you've found!"

"I've told you, it is all our intelligence has been able to gather at this time."

"But I know all this already," Sherlock said, tossing the file on the table. "A simple internet search could tell you this. You're the British Government. Surely you can do better than Google!"

"I dunno," Veronica said. "NSA was pretty thorough. I doubt Google could've found out about me downloading the first season of Game of Thrones. You know, you guys would love the sibling dynamics in that."

The brothers turned and narrowed their eyes at her briefly before turning their attentions back to each another.

"I can't make up what's not there, Sherlock. This is what the Americans have given me regarding Veronica Mars. I'm sorry she hasn't been involved in as many scandals and criminal activities as your last Femme Fatale."

John nudged Veronica. "Oh, you'll like that story! Sherlock was nearly outsmarted by a dominatrix!" Veronica gave a snort of amusement.

"Shut up!" Sherlock shouted.

"Official Secrets Act, John," Mycroft reminded him.

"Right. Sorry." John shrugged, then whispered to Veronica, "Tell you later." She gave him a small smile, but it was enough to make her eyes sparkle, John thought.

Sherlock continued to rant. "There's nothing here that links her to Moriarty! It can't be all coincidence! It's just too…too…"

"Coincidental?" Veronica supplied.

"Contrived?" John attempted.

"X-files. Nice one, Mulder," Veronica said, grinning at him in admiration.

John tipped an imaginary hat to her.

"What are they talking about?" Sherlock asked the room.

Mycroft rolled his eyes. "Pop culture reference, Sherlock. And an American one at that." If that was meant to admonish John, he didn't care. He was still revelling in the fact that Mycroft had nothing on Veronica, and so she had to be one of the good guys, and he could go back to winning her over. But not really, of course.

Sherlock made a disgusted noise. "They've been like that since they met. Ignore them."


That seemed to get Veronica's ire up. She cocked her head at Sherlock. "Ignore me all you want, Scully. But you're going to have to accept the evidence in front of your face eventually. And I'm not going to wait nine seasons and two movies for that. So if you'll excuse me --" Veronica stood.

"Where do you think you're going?" Mycroft asked in that scolding tone that John knew Sherlock hated. He didn't think Veronica would care for it much either.

Veronica said, "To actually do something other than act out your family drama –" she pointed at Mycroft. "And indulge your conspiracy theories –" she pointed at Sherlock. "This isn't getting my friend found."

"Don't assume, Ms. Mars. As my little brother mentioned, I occupy a minor office in the British Government. And I can provide something that you do not have and Sherlock cannot get you."

She was nonplussed, but asked, "And what's that?"

"Yes, Mycroft, do tell," Sherlock said, eyes narrowed. John could see the sibling rivalry welling up again but he could also see the similarities. Sherlock loved to show off and hated being shown up. Mycroft was no better.


"To what?"

"Gorya Sorokin's last known location," Mycroft said as he pulled another file from his briefcase and held it out in front of him. "A Sorokin syndicate safe house. It was called into Scotland Yard who got to the scene first. They handed it over to Serious Crimes, who is currently investigating. And both MI5 and MI6 are champing at the bit."

Veronica swiped the file from Mycroft before Sherlock could. She sat down on the sofa. John quickly took a place beside her. Sherlock squirmed his way into the narrow strip of cushion on the other side of her, shoving her and John over on the sofa, earning him a glare from both of them.

They perused the papers over Veronica's shoulder. Most of it had been redacted.

Simultaneously, Veronica and Sherlock said, "When can I see it?"


It took one phone call from Mycroft. John was surprised he was still surprised at Mycroft's security level. More surprising was the fact that Sherlock didn't take advantage of it more often, even surreptitiously.

In a matter of minutes, they were in a cab and on their way to Kensington. They would only have a half hour once they got there. That's all the time Mycroft could get them before MI6 would take over. Still, he could keep Security and Secret Services at bay for a spell. If Fleming were writing now, M would stand for Mycroft. John wondered if he would get the joke if he started calling him 'Control'.

Veronica sat across from John and Sherlock. She was uncharacteristically quiet and continued to read the file on the way. Not that there was much to read – a brief report, a floor plan, and a couple of photos by Scotland Yard who was first on scene.

"Well?" Sherlock said.

John tore his gaze off Veronica to see if it was him that Sherlock was talking to. Indeed it was. "Well, what?"

"What do we know so far?"

Oh Christ. Now? In front of Veronica, no less. Typical. Well, there was nothing for it. Sherlock would nag at him until he gave in, might as well get the humiliation over with right away. Like peeling off a plaster.

"We're going to a flat in Kensington. Didn't think you'd put a mob safe house in a posh neighbourhood like that."

Sherlock waved his hand. "Russians have been buying up property all over London since the housing crash. Paying one's way into society is nothing new."

John continued. "Looked like it had been ransacked. Unless the Sorokins kept their safe house particularly messy. I mean, you probably wouldn't hire a cleaning service if you were trying to keep your location secret. 'Course, if three levels of police are investigating there's a strong indicator that something more happened there than just a bit of clutter."

"Yes, but the blood would be a better indicator," Sherlock said curtly.

That earned Sherlock a sharp look from Veronica. Sherlock frowned in confusion as if he wanted an explanation for her rebuke. But Veronica shook her head and went back to the file. She'd been staring at one photo in particular for a while now. Was she memorizing it or trying to glean something the average person wouldn't notice? Or was it merely a way to deal with the shock of seeing something violent? After all, a clever detective she might be, but she wasn't Sherlock. She had emotions. And that look she gave Sherlock told John that she had a greater connection to this situation than she'd been letting on.

John glanced back at Sherlock and was surprised to see that he was still watching Veronica. Oh, that wouldn't do. There was no bloody way he was ever going to have a conversation with Sherlock Holmes about horning in on a girl your mate was interested in. Not that he was.

"What blood?" John asked, hoping to pull Sherlock's attention away from her. The chance to show off would be too hard for him to resist. "There's nothing about blood in the report or in the photos, at least not in the parts that we can still read."

To John's relief, it worked. Sherlock asked, "Who signed off on the report?"

John shrugged. "No clue."

Sherlock sighed. "Well, if you had paid attention, you'd know that she is a Scotland Yard crime scene investigator that specialises in human forensics. That means blood or tissue was found."

"And you just happen to know the directory of crime scene investigators?"


John turned to Veronica and jerked his thumb at Sherlock. "This he knows, but not who the sitting prime minister is."

"Unless he commits a crime or is a victim of a crime, it is trivia, and not important to my work. There are, however, several practical reasons for knowing the names of SOCOs. One of which I just demonstrated."

"Bravo," Veronica muttered. She seemed to be getting more dejected as they neared their destination. She closed the file and stared out the window, watching London as it passed by them. He'd forgotten that this was her first time in London and that she'd seen so little of it. The flat, Kane Software, Scotland Yard, and a quick jaunt through Westminster was hardly enough to say you've seen London. And she'd been here days now.

John vowed to make it up to her.


The rest of the ride was quiet. When the cab finally came to a stop, they were in front of a row of terraced houses. The passenger door was opened from the outside and John turned to see Mycroft's assistant, Anthea, predictably staring at her mobile.

"You're to follow me." She turned and walked into the building without watching if they were behind her.

They trundled up the stairs after her. She was waiting by an open door at the top of the stairs. She held out latex gloves to them as they neared. "Put these on first."

They each took a pair of gloves. Powder puffed out from their wrists into the air as they snapped them on. Anthea looked up briefly to note that they'd all done as she said.

She looked back down at her screen, but said, "You can go through now. Even though you've got gloves on, you're only here to look. You're not to take anything. I'm to watch you so you don't."

And a bloody fine job she was doing so far, John thought. They stood staring at her for more instructions. When no one moved, she finally looked up again and seeing that they were still there, gave them an exasperated, 'well, go on' shooing motion.

As they entered the flat, John whispered to Sherlock, "There must be some compelling reason Mycroft keeps her around. It can't be the conversation."

"Her grandfather's in the House of Lords."

Ah. John wondered if the arrangement was Mycroft giving or returning a favour. Most likely the former. He couldn't imagine Mycroft being sloppy enough to get in a situation where he'd be beholden to anyone. Then again, he did manage nearly to bring the country to its knees because he was too lazy to deal with Irene Adler himself.

Veronica had gone off ahead of them. Anthea stood in the entryway and called after her, "Nothing was found in those rooms." Veronica ignored her, which was easy to do since Anthea didn't look up to see if Veronica was listening.

Sherlock ignored all of them and went into the main sitting room where most of the evidence was found, leaving John to decide whom he'd rather follow. He could tell well enough when a woman wanted to be alone and Sherlock would be a right dick if he didn't get a chance to flaunt his intellect.

The flat had an open concept, the small kitchen only separated from the sitting room by a breakfast bar, which seemed to function as the entire flat's eating area. Large windows in the living room opened out onto a balcony. The furniture was all black leather and chrome – modern and masculine. A large LCD telly took up one wall. Behind the sofa was a set of weights and exercise equipment. The bedrooms and bathroom were down a narrow hallway off the sitting room.

The first thing John noticed was the smell of the flat. Stale. Like when you'd come back from being away and not tidied up before you left. Take-away containers, and used napkins and tissues littered the coffee table and kitchen counter. It made him glad he was wearing gloves.

John came to stand in the centre of the room beside Sherlock, who asked, "What do you see?"

John rolled his eyes. "A posh flat that's been done over. Do we really have time for this, Sherlock? We're on a clock here. Just assume I'm going to miss everything important and get on with it."

Sherlock frowned, affronted, but then tilted his head with a squint like he was weighing his options. Then he nodded, decision made. "Right then. Flat's been reno'ed within the last few years. According to the records, the entire building was bought by a holding company of the Sorokin's syndicate two years ago. None of the other flats have been let. Single occupant in this flat for the last two weeks, likely male judging from the furnishings and the state of the place. Ate in front of the telly, only one setting. One sofa cushion is bowed out more than all the others. Creature of habit."

Sherlock paused, then turned his head to and fro in search of something. John asked, "What're you looking for?"

"Where was the blood found?" Sherlock asked loudly, trying to get Anthea's attention.

Anthea looked up in surprise, but pointed to the small kitchen. "There."

Sherlock pulled his magnifying glass from his pocket and snapped it open. He began scanning the surfaces. "One or more?"

Anthea frowned and looked at John who shrugged. She asked, "Of what?"

"Blood types. Did it all come from one person or were there multiple sources?"

"I can't -– I'm not -- " Anthea stuttered in confusion. "I don't know how much I'm supposed to tell you!" She turned away and began typing furiously on her phone again.

Sherlock walked over to her and put a hand over the screen of her phone to stop her. "We have less than a half hour. You can waste our time asking my brother what to tell me and waiting for him to reply or you can just tell me. If Mycroft didn't want me to know that, he wouldn't have allowed me access to the crime scene."

"But the Inspector said –-"

"Tick tock," John said.

Resigned, Anthea sighed. "Only one found and only in the kitchen."

With that, Sherlock went into rapid-fire deduction mode. "So, assailant was let in since there's no forced entry. The struggle started in the sitting room and ended up in the kitchen where a weapon was finally used. Maybe even a hard surface like the countertop. Victim was subdued here, which is why the mess is confined to these two rooms. Since the rest of the building is unoccupied, they had time to dispose of the victim whether dead or alive – the amount of blood will tell us the probabilities of that. Presumably the reno included soundproofing or neighbours from other buildings would have heard the struggle and called the authorities sooner. Victim was likely carried out since there's no drag or scuff marks on the floor or walls."

John blinked. No matter how many times he'd seen or heard Sherlock do his deductions, he never failed to be amazed. But now Sherlock dropped silent, as he rummaged through drawers and cupboards.

John watched a little longer and he started to feel useless. "You seem to have things under control here. I'm just going to see how Veronica's getting on."

Sherlock gave him a dismissive shrug without looking up. Anthea didn't even bother with that.

Veronica had been gone a while now. More disconcerting was how quiet she'd been. John had heard nothing from the other side of the flat since they'd gone in. He made his way towards the bedrooms. He found her in what was presumably the second bedroom. The only pieces of furniture were a small bed and a side table. Veronica, however, was staring at the radiator, which was under a fashionable radiator cover.

John cleared his throat. "Anthea – Mycroft's assistant – she says they didn't find anything in here. So what are you doing?"

"I heard her. But just because they didn't find anything doesn't mean something or someone wasn't here. I want to see if there's anything in this." She gave the cover a kick. "How do I open it without breaking it?"

"It's just the radiator." John squatted down to get a look at it. "It's custom-made. With most of these bespoke covers, the front panel should open." He pulled at the grill and it unlatched and dropped down. "Voila"

"You're a god." She may have been exaggerating, but John had to admit he at least felt useful. She crouched down and started searching throughout the cover.

"What makes you think someone was in here?"

"This room is too clean."

"Well, if it wasn't used, then it would be, wouldn't it?"

Veronica straightened up. "No, I mean just cleaned. The other rooms look lived in or they're a mess. This room is more than immaculate; it's sterile. There's no dust. And everything is fresh or new. Smell the sheets, the carpet. Whoever took Gory cleaned the hell out of this room, but none of the other rooms. Why would they do that?"

"To cover up having someone in here." Jesus. She was good. "What makes you think something's in the radiator cover?"

"At home, some of us would hide things from our parents in air vents. This seems to be the closest thing to a vent in here. Besides, if you were being held in this room, where would you hide something? I just -- I need to make sure." Veronica crouched back down. "I think there's something back here. It might be caught."

"What are they doing in there?" Anthea called out. John heard footsteps. It wasn't Sherlock's gait. Of course, John thought, now she decides to do her job.

"Anthea's coming," John said.

"Distract her."

John started to protest. If they found anything, surely they'd have to tell the authorities, wouldn't they?

Veronica looked up at him. "Please." There was a break in her voice that caught in his chest and John lost all the argument in him. Maybe Sherlock was right about him having a damsel in distress complex.

He rose and met Anthea in the hallway before she got to the door of the bedroom, nearly running into her. "There you are!" he declared.

"Sorry?" she said, stepping back.

"Yes, I wanted to ask you –" Well, now here was a quandary. Quickly, think of something that will keep her attention. "If you're free tonight?"

"Excuse me?" Anthea asked incredulously. From behind Anthea, he could see Sherlock momentarily pop his head into the hallway and narrow his eyes at him. John heard something drop in the bedroom and hoped it was surprise and maybe a bit of jealousy making Veronica clumsy.

At the noise, Anthea tried to move around him, but he stepped in front of her again. John forced out a laugh. "Oh, not with me! Blimey, no! I mean, we've just met." She missed his sarcasm, but looked relieved, so he leaned in conspiratorially and quietly said, "Actually I'm asking for my friend over there."

Anthea frowned. "You mean Mr. Holmes's brother? Sherlock Holmes? Seriously?"

Again, Sherlock's head popped out, this time lower to the ground. Eyes wide.

"Yeah. I mean, surely you've seen the way he looks at you and how much he shows off whenever you're about?"

Anthea paused, thinking about it. "He's not – you know –?"

"Psychotic?" John offered.


John resisted the urge to fall into a rant about assumptions. "Would I be asking if he were?"

"But…he's so tetchy."

John waved his hand. "Bluster. He only does that with the girls he's most interested in. You know, playing hard to get."

Anthea blushed. "Well, um – I think – it's not that I don't think he's brilliant and gorgeous – it's just, you know – Mr. Holmes wouldn't approve."

"John!" Sherlock was stalking over to them now. Anthea turned and actually batted her eyelashes at him. Sherlock's expression was a cross between alarm and revulsion. "John," he repeated. "What is going on here?"

John tried to give Sherlock meaningful looks behind Anthea's back, but he said, "Sorry, Sherlock. I tried. She doesn't think Mycroft would be happy about it."

"About what?" Sherlock demanded.

John jerked his head towards the bedroom and mouthed 'found something'. He was relieved when comprehension dawned in Sherlock's expression. John then said, "A date. With Anthea."

Sherlock made a sour face, but quickly recovered before Anthea could see. Anthea smiled shyly. "It's not my real name."

"It doesn't matter," Sherlock said, giving her a phony grin. His eyes were back on John and his expression serious again. "John, collect Veronica. We should be on our way before Secret Service arrives."

John nodded and turned back towards the spare room. He could hear Anthea trying her best to make it up to Sherlock, taking his reaction for rejection rather than disinterest.

"Maybe we could just go out for drinks sometime. You know, as mates."

"I'm really an all-or-nothing type of person. With a stress on nothing."

John lost the thread of their conversation once he entered the bedroom. Veronica was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at something he couldn't make out that was dangling from her hand. He went over to the radiator and replaced the cover.

He turned and stood in front of Veronica and could see she was holding a necklace or a bracelet made of shells. The kind people came back with after holidaying in Hawaii. "What's that you found?" he asked gently, trying to get her attention.

Her head snapped up towards him as though he'd startled her. Her eyes were glossy and she turned away so that he couldn't see them any more. She shoved the jewellery into her jeans pocket, stood, and said, "I gotta get outta here."

It took him a beat to realize that she was fleeing the room, and he went after her. She pushed past Anthea and Sherlock, who watched in confusion as she exited the flat.

Anthea looked to John for an explanation. He shook his head. "Americans," he said with a shrug. As John had hoped, Anthea seemed to buy it. John stripped off his gloves, tossed them to Anthea and then ran after Veronica. Sherlock must have followed suit because practically at John's heel all the way down the stairs. It's not like he expected Sherlock to make a graceful farewell to Anthea.

They made it out onto the street and looked up and down the roadway. There was no sign of Veronica. Sherlock merely pointed in one direction and took off in a jog in the opposite direction. The street was thankfully empty and quiet. John ran for a full minute, alert to any sightings and sounds, popping his head down alleys. He decided he'd gone far enough that he would have caught up to Veronica by now, given how upset she was, so he doubled back and began to look for Sherlock.

He was almost at the end terrace when he heard a sob. He rounded the corner into a fenced-off garden and found Veronica, her hands covering her face and Sherlock's hand on her shoulder, as if steadying her. Then she turned and leaned into his chest. A look of utter shock passed over Sherlock's face. John was sure it must have mirrored his own. After a moment, his arms came up awkwardly and held her there as she cried.

No. This would not do at all.

Part 6
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