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Title: Post Mortem
Character: John Watson
Rating: PG-13
Length: 925
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers through 2x03.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the BBC, Moffat, and possibly ACD.
Thanks to: llassah for the beta
Summary: Sherlock could see everything in a glance, but John had to take his time, follow his instincts when it came to spotting the little details that could crack a case.

The final post mortem report was fourteen pages enclosed in a blank manilla file. Generous for a body with no question of foul play, of cause of death, of … anything at all, really.

At least, not in the opinion of anyone but John Watson.

John opened the file. He began with the two photographs, examining them with a clinician’s eye for detail and a combat medic’s familiarity with the signs of violent death. Next John held up the X-ray film against the lamp, squinting for evidence of anything unexpected. Then he read the entire file, section by section.

John had bullied the full report out of Molly by waiting until she stepped into her tiny office and then standing in doorway, feet planted, trapping Molly in there and staring at her until she ran out of stammered excuses and lip-bitten refusals and handed over the copy she kept locked in her desk.

Molly was an exceptional pathologist. She’d completed a thorough external and internal examination, run toxicology screens, analyzed the stomach contents, and searched for any discrepancy. There were none. Every piece of evidence in the report was consistent with the trauma inflicted on a human body by impact after falling (jumping, John corrected himself viciously) from a great height.

But still, there was something wrong with the report. Reasoning in advance of the data, chided a deep voice that existed now only in John’s mind. He ignored it. Sherlock could see everything in a glance, but John had to take his time, follow his instincts when it came to spotting the little details that could crack a case. What was missing?

John had read hundreds of post mortem reports in his time with Sherlock. Victims of serial killers and crimes of passion. Urgent cases and cold ones. He’d seen more of Molly’s reports than anyone else’s. She was the only pathologist Sherlock deemed competent to autopsy his cadavers, and the massive wobbly he threw when he didn’t get his way had convinced all the other pathologists at Bart’s to swap their lists around to avoid him. Molly’s reports had a certain familiar rhythm, born of hospital regulations, the repetition of daily paperwork, and the copy-and-paste habits of any modern day office worker.

This report didn’t fit her usual pattern, but it wasn’t because anything was missing. It was longer than it should be. John paged through the file again. Tucked between Histology and Time of Death was a section titled Identification. In addition to the typical finger-prints, and the less common dental records match, Molly had included a list of nineteen ‘distinguishing marks’, both external and internal, that Sherlock had documented about his person. They ranged from a detailed description of his tonsillectomy scar to a full DNA profile. Which was absolutely bonkers, but did make a twisted sort of sense. Sherlock probably was more likely to be murdered, decapitated, burned beyond all recognition, and then have his remains stuffed in a car boot and put through a crusher than he was to die in his own bed.

The really odd thing about it, John decided, was that Molly had gone through and checked off every single item on the list. Sure, the blood-type was simple enough, the tonsillectomy scar only needed a quick peek with a scope, and the childhood linear temporoparietal fracture would show up on an X-ray. John could almost have believed it was Molly’s own particular coping mechanism; a black-humored tribute to a fallen comrade.

But a full DNA profile? Lestrade was always complaining how it took weeks to get one of those back from the police lab. The lab techs at Bart’s wouldn’t be much faster. Even if Molly decided to perform the test herself, it’d take a good half a day. So why bother? What was the point? It’s not as if the identity of the corpse was in question.

Unless it was.

Unless the identity of the corpse was in question, and Molly knew it. Because whoever that was lying dead on her slab, it was not Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock was a bastard. A complete and utter brilliant bloody bastard. Did he think John wouldn’t figure it out? Well, he didn’t know everything, but he had enough of an end free to start tugging, and see what unraveled. Molly was a good start, but Sherlock wouldn’t have kept her up-to-date on where he was going, what he was doing under cover of his own grave. Mycroft. Mycroft must know.

John remembered Mycroft’s still, stone-faced presence at the funeral; the way his voice had cracked when he’d introduced John for the eulogy. The wanker.

John was tempted to go find Mycroft at the Diogenes Club and drag him out of there by the scruff of the neck. But he couldn’t afford to make a scene, to give away the game like that. It might put Sherlock in danger. So John retrieved his service pistol from its hiding place and checked that it was loaded before picking up his cane, shrugging into his jacket, and tucking his pistol away at the small of his back.

John was careful to limp as he made his way down the stairs and onto the pavement, in full view of the nearest CCTV camera. He settled into parade rest there and glared up at the camera. John waited for Mycroft with the infinite, adrenaline-edged patience of a night when the moon was bright enough for the enemy to try the perimeter.

London was a battlefield, and John was back on the front-lines.



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
*Very* good.
May. 6th, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
May. 6th, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's marvelous, I'm so glad to hear it!
May. 5th, 2012 11:00 pm (UTC)
YESSSS! John is so very smart; of course he would figure it out.

Even more YESYESYES to you for writing Sherlock fic!!!
May. 6th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
*grins* I live in hope that he does! Oh, I am well and truly caught by SHerlock now, no escaping it! Thanks, sam!
May. 6th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
Well done. Molly wouldn't make any mistakes, but I can imagine her trying too hard here.
May. 6th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Covering her tracks a little too carefully, yes. Thank you for the comment!
May. 6th, 2012 12:45 am (UTC)
I love your plucky John.
May. 6th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
I have the greatest respect for John Watson. Thanks, exbex!
May. 6th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
I do like the second-last line. I like it all, actually! Thanks.
May. 6th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
I'm delighted to hear it, thank you!
(Deleted comment)
May. 6th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
May. 6th, 2012 02:26 am (UTC)
I need to start watching this show, but I feel like I get a good idea of it from your fics.

I take it Sherlock is presumed dead, but John's not buying it. For good reason, it seems.

"John waited for Mycroft with the infinite, adrenaline-edged patience of a night when the moon was bright enough for the enemy to try the perimeter." That line is brilliant, and says so much about Watson and his military past.

Maybe I won't watch and just read. You are that good.
May. 6th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
*laughs* A wise choice in many fandoms, to cherry-pick the fic without slogging through the canon, but you NEED to go watch 'Sherlock', Ti! 2x03, their version of 'The Final Problem', is utterly compelling television.

Thanks, I just added that line at the last moment, and I'm very fond of it.
May. 6th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, awesome!
May. 6th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
And the perfect icon for it, too! Thanks for the comment, innie_darling!
May. 7th, 2012 10:36 am (UTC)
Very nicely done - love to see smart John shown in fic.
May. 8th, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)
He's a very fellow. Over-shadowed by Sherlock, most of the time, but who wouldn't be? Thanks missyvortexdv!
May. 7th, 2012 10:52 am (UTC)
I can see this. Love it!
May. 8th, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)
Thank you, fanbot, I'm glad you enjoyed!
May. 14th, 2012 06:19 am (UTC)
Awesome! I love this look at Watson following the clues, slow but steady, and determined. Very determined. I don't envy Mycroft the upcoming interview but I would love to read it, if you feel so inspired.
May. 15th, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)
Very, VERY determined. I haven't any plans to follow this one up at the moment, but if my Muses start muttering about it, I'll be sure to take notes. Thanks, marbleglove!
Jun. 6th, 2012 11:03 am (UTC)
Jun. 6th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jun. 25th, 2012 07:06 am (UTC)
Oh this soooo happened!
Jun. 25th, 2012 09:06 am (UTC)
*grins* It SOOOO did! Thanks, missilemuse!
Jul. 11th, 2012 06:55 am (UTC)
Oh my! I LOOOOOOVED this! You are continuing this, yes?
Jul. 14th, 2012 07:15 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm not planning on continuing it at the moment, but I'll see if my John or Mycroft Muses start talking.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
Heh, thanks Jesse!
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )