|Kink-Meme Fill: "Getting Away With Murder" - Sherlock/John, Mycroft, Aziraphale - PG13
||[Aug. 15th, 2010|09:48 pm]
(she lives between pages)
Title: Getting Away With Murder
Crossover: Sherlock (BBC 1) & Good Omens
Pairings/Characters: John/Sherlock (sort of), Mycroft, Aziraphale
Notes: This is a fill for the following prompt. Seemed stupid not to do it, what when I've got the appropriate background. See below the cut for the quote from Good Omens to which the prompt's requester is alluding. Alas, this turned out to be more creepy than funny, and Crowley didn't get to make an appearance.
Summary: Mycroft makes John and Sherlock an offer they're too bored to refuse.
*** Now available as podfic read by wanttobeatree. ***
Aziraphale was the first angel ever to own a computer. It was a cheap, slow, plasticky one, much touted as ideal for the small businessman. Aziraphale used it religiously for doing his accounts, which were so scrupulously accurate that the tax authorities had inspected him five times in the deep belief that he was getting away with murder somewhere.
—from Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
"Let me see if I've got this," Sherlock said, unsuccessfully attempting to keep a straight face. "You want us to call on the owner of some dingy bookshop in Soho because you've got reason to believe he's some kind of tax-evasion mastermind?" Sherlock studied the piece of paper bearing the address once more, and then handed it off to John. He didn't burst out laughing, but his smirk was in full bloom.
Mycroft shrugged primly, filling the seat across from them with discomfiting ease. "I think we've already established that it's exceedingly difficult to make you do anything. However, there are some—hmmm, how shall I put it—details I'm withholding that may intrigue you. Give your attachment to logic and reason a run for its money."
"This is back one of those dead-end alleys just off Great Windmill Street," John said, setting the paper down on Sherlock's knee, just to annoy him. "I think I know it."
"Explain," Sherlock said, flicking the address onto the floor.
"Mr. A. Fell," Mycroft began, "has been in business, if our records are correct, and I assure you that they're very rarely wrong, for just under thirty years. His tax records, still maintained on an Apple IIe, are flawless. Not a penny unaccounted for."
"Impressive," John said. "But he may just be very good at maths."
"Doubtful," Mycroft said, chuckling. "For example, my tax records only look perfect."
"Go on," interrupted Sherlock, forcing a yawn. "I have yet to find anything earth-shattering in your report, except for the fact that this man has somehow successfully maintained a piece of machinery that should have died a slow, painful death."
"Where's the catch?" John asked. "Must be dangerous if you're concerned. Does he have some other form of criminal record? Do his shop assistants go missing?"
Mycroft shook his head. "To the best of our knowledge, he doesn't employ anyone. He doesn't even appear to sell that many books. In fact, his intake exceeds his output. We have reason to believe he's amassed the finest collection of rare antiquarian Bibles anywhere in the world. Simply put, he's spent millions on it."
"And you want us to have a jaunt down there to, what, convince him to donate his collection to the British Library?" Sherlock asked. "Is that what this is about? Racking up a few philanthropic gestures so that the wrong people don't criticize your recent lack of worthwhile accomplishments? Frankly, I can't be bothered."
"You said there was something else," John prompted, studying Mycroft's unreadable expression through narrowed eyes. "Some defiance of logic wouldn't go amiss right now, because I'm as bored as Sherlock." He could feel the warmth of Sherlock's smile.
"No shop assistants, no family. One long-term acquaintance or friend, possibly partner, by the name of Anthony J. Crowley. We're not entirely certain what he does for a living, but whatever it is, he appears to work from his home in Mayfair."
"I'm giving you ten more seconds," Sherlock warned. "Ten, nine, eight—"
"If my investigators can be believed, neither one of them has aged a day."
John frowned. "In how long?"
Sherlock didn't say a word.
"Nearly thirty years," Mycroft sighed. "Haven't you been listening? We sent the first team in 1985, and all parties involved described Mr. Fell as being somewhere in the range of forty-three to fifty. You know the type. Middle-aged, difficult to tell."
"And this Crowley fellow?" asked Sherlock, cautiously intrigued.
"Thirty to thirty-five if he was a day."
"In 1985?" John asked.
"Yes," said Mycroft. "And we've sent people to investigate Mr. Fell roughly every two years since initial contact was made, although there has been a slightly longer gap since the last investigation due to...complications."
"Meaning your agents never came back from the last trip," Sherlock suggested.
"When was that?" John asked.
"Late 2001," Mycroft said. "Of course, we had bigger things to worry about."
John fidgeted. "Did your men come back?"
"Yes, but they couldn't remember a thing. It was if I'd never sent them. No excuse for behavior like that. They were sacked, of course."
"Of course," said Sherlock, flatly. "So, what you're saying is, you'd like us to go investigate a couple of wealthy eccentrics who may or may not actually be secondhand-book merchants and have bloody good plastic surgeons."
Mycroft closed his eyes and shook his head.
"I'm asking you to go fetch the backlog. And, of course, to give me your assessment."
"I've already given it," Sherlock said. "I think you've finally gone 'round the bend."
John gave Sherlock the look that they'd somehow unconsciously devised which meant, What harm could it do? In return, Sherlock just glared at him in defeat.
"We'll go," John said. "Sherlock could use a bit of air."
Sherlock made a strangled noise, but didn't protest.
"Excellent," said Mycroft, rising. "I'll leave you to it. Sherlock, do try not to ruin Dr. Watson's fun. I'm amazed he's decided to stay on. You can be so very selfish."
"Pot, kettle," muttered Sherlock. "Get out of our flat!"
John patted Sherlock on the shoulder. Mycroft was already gone.
Between John, Sherlock, and the cab driver, it took them over an hour to locate the address on the slip of paper. Even with getting lost, it should have taken fifteen to twenty minutes at most. By the time the cab left them on the curb in front of the nondescript, nameless brick storefront with dust-filmed windows and a battered wooden door, Sherlock was in a desperately foul mood. He pounded unceremoniously on the door, which, as it turned out, was locked even though the sign said OPEN.
"Hey," John said, catching him by the elbow. "Go easy. The paint's peeling."
Sherlock jerked his arm out of John's grasp, scowling.
"You said you thought you knew where it was."
"Thought being the key word," said John, levelly. "I was wrong."
"Strange, that the cab driver didn't know, either," Sherlock said, peering through the window into the shop's dark interior. "It would have made our lives a lot easier if he'd had GPS like a normal person." He leaned heavily on the door, squinting.
The door opened abruptly, and Sherlock almost fell forward across the threshold. John caught him by the waist, surprised to find that Sherlock in free-fall wasn't quite as heavy as he would've expected. Sherlock didn't shake him off this time.
A middle-aged man with greying bond hair and spectacles stood in the doorway, blinking at them. He was wearing tweed trousers, a collared white shirt, and a beige jumper that reminded John uncomfortably of one of his own. His blue eyes were kind.
"Dear me," said Mr. Fell. "I'm afraid we're closed."
"The sign would suggest otherwise," Sherlock replied, adopting a youthful, optimistic tone that John recognized as his charm-the-socks-off-a-pensioner standard. "Someone said you specialize in religious treatises. Word-of-mouth only, really great stuff. I'm a Ph.D. candidate in History at UCL," Sherlock gushed on. "English heresy as expressed in Reformation-era Bible misprints—that is, if they are indeed misprints. My thesis topic and all that. You wouldn't happen to know where I might..."
John bit his lip to keep from laughing. Mr. Fell looked as if he might be in love.
"Well, I suppose there's no harm in a private viewing. Do come in. Your name is—?"
"Michael," Sherlock said, following him inside. "This is John."
"Why do I never get a pseudonym?" John hissed between clenched teeth, letting himself be tugged along. The bookshop was musty. He sneezed.
"Because you don't need one," Sherlock would inform him later. "Your name is perfectly innocuous. Mine, on the other hand, is obnoxious and easy to Google."
Mr. Fell's eyes skipped over John and studied Sherlock for a moment.
"Can't say the name suits you," he said. "But, then, one can't help what one is called."
"Rarely," Sherlock agreed, feigning distraction as he scanned the floor-to-ceiling shelves. He'd probably already collected more than enough data to tell Mycroft everything he wanted to know about Mr. Fell, right down to what kind of shampoo he used and why this was exactly what he had taken it for: a fool's errand.
Mr. Fell was still studying Sherlock. John tried to catch his eye, perhaps engage him in conversation while Sherlock did some poking around, but something about the man's expression unsettled him. It was as if he could see something in Sherlock that John couldn't. And that bothered John more than he was ready to admit.
"I regret that my private collection is not available for perusal. You might find some useful secondary sources in the Religion section, however," he said mildly.
"You'd do a lot more business if you brightened the place up," Sherlock suggested, pulling a book half off one of the shelves before sliding it neatly back into place. "It's a shame you're a difficult man to track down. You've got some excellent stock. Valuable stock, at that." Sherlock was shedding his enthusiastic-student façade by the second, maybe because he could tell that Mr. Fell suspected something.
"I think I've been here before," said John. "With my sister, ages ago. You wouldn't know it to look at her, but she's got a thing for old books."
Mr. Fell nodded, as if it was all coming back to him. He wasn't as dozy as he looked.
"You look vaguely familiar," he said. "Was her name Harriet, your sister?"
John's stomach clenched uncomfortably. "Yes, that'll be her. She goes by Harry."
"Not when I last saw her," said Mr. Fell. "It has, as you've said, been years."
Sherlock was facing them now, riveted, eyes darting back and forth between them.
"I haven't seen much of her myself," John admitted, shrugging. "Life, I guess."
"It hasn't been kind to you," Mr. Fell observed, leaning forward to set a hand on his left shoulder. Something drained out of John: a chill, followed by rushing warmth.
Sherlock stepped forward and put a hand on John's arm, almost possessively.
"I'm not a student at UCL," he said. "I think you've figured that out."
Mr. Fell just nodded, smiling as he withdrew his hand from John's shoulder.
"You've come for the tax records, haven't you? 2001 to present, I believe?" he asked, still talking as he vanished into the back room. "I had wondered if that Holmes character would ever remember where he left off. I would have called him to follow up, but he never did leave a number, you see," continued Mr. Fell, emerging again with a brown paper parcel fastened with twine. "I didn't really trust those chaps he sent last time, you see. They were so very absent-minded."
John had the overwhelming urge to get out of there, and quickly, but Sherlock still had a firm gasp on his arm. He settled for taking hold of the heavy parcel that Mr. Fell was offering him, nodding in acknowledgement. Mr. Fell beamed beatifically.
"So glad to have got those off my hands. They were taking up space."
As if John hadn't taken enough of a shock for one afternoon, Sherlock put one arm around his shoulders and braced John's other arm, heavy-laden as it was, with the other, simultaneously steering him towards the door.
"Thank you for your time, Mr. Fell," he said. "We won't trouble you any further."
"I expect you'll be too busy," said Mr. Fell, opening the door for them. "Please tell your brother I would enjoy it very much if he would come calling in person next time."
John felt Sherlock's grasp on him tighten. Unnerved.
"I'll do that," he said, pointedly not bothering to look back over his shoulder once they'd emerged into daylight. "But I wouldn't wait up for him."
"Be well, John," said Mr. Fell.
Instinctively, John turned his head.
The bookseller's pale eyes, as kind as ever, were luminescent with—well, who knew what. Some terrible knowledge. Foreboding. It made John shiver, but he nodded, the sparest of thanks, and let Sherlock lead him back to the land of the living.