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Title: Concentration of Responsibility
Fandom: Elementary
Rating PG
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Joan Watson
Length: 500 words
Alternate Link: AO3
Author's Notes: Written for the watsons_woes JWP Prompt #17: Victorian Strangeness (vigilante story). Trigger warning for mention of domestic violence. Unbeta'd.
Traditionally in a firing squad, one gun was loaded with a blank round. This bullet was known as the “conscience round” and promoted diffusion of responsibility among the executioners.

Consultants are denied such luxuries.

"BASE jumping, Detective? Really?" Sherlock inspected the well kitted out corpse lying crumpled at the bottom of the Freedom Tower. "While I hate to jump to any conclusions, I suspect he fell from a great height, and his parachute failed to open."

Bell gritted his teeth. "I'm aware, Holmes. But I can't get a word out of his girlfriend, over there," he said, pointing to the young woman wearing similar gear who was sitting on the kerb, sobbing. "And, I don't know, something feels off."

Sherlock turned to watch as Watson put an arm around the pretty young thing, who flinched away and then began crying even harder.

"Hmmm. No, I'd call it a clear case of death by misadventure. Watson!" he called. "We're due at the museum in thirty minutes!" Sherlock walked briskly away, looking for a cab.

Watson caught up to him half a block later. "Sherlock," she hissed. "The victim's girlfriend had two cracked ribs, a wrenched shoulder, and a series of bruises on her wrist. She was assaulted, recently, and I don't think it was the first time."

Sherlock nodded, flagging down a cab. "Well-spotted. End of the honeymoon phase of the third, perhaps the fourth battering cycle, I'd say by faint scarring along her hairline."

He opened the door of the vehicle and scooted along inside, making room for his partner. "Coming?" he invited her.

Watson stared at him for a moment, and then got in.

Sherlock rattled off the museum's address. The cab pulled out into traffic.

"You lied," she said quietly.

Sherlock glanced at her. "What's that?"

"You told Bell it was an accidental death."

"No," Sherlock corrected her, "I told him that it was a death by misadventure, which is another name for death by stupidity. I consider that an accurate description of a man throwing himself off a skyscraper whilst wearing a parachute that was packed by a woman he has abused both regularly and recently."

Watson shook her head. "It's not our job to make those kinds of judgment calls."

"Ah yes," he said, pretending a lightness that fooled neither of them. "We should trust in the criminal justice system. It has proven quite, quite infallible." He grinned unpleasantly.

"Sherlock," she said, "You can't just –"

"I've explained my decision; you should make your own," he interrupted. "You have free will, agency, and a mobile phone sitting right there in your coat pocket. Take it out. Call Detective Bell and give him the benefit of your observations. I won't interfere." Sherlock sat back in his seat and stared out his window.

Watson pulled out her phone and called up Detective Bell's name on her Contacts list. She looked down at the phone, forehead creased.


Ten minutes later they pulled up outside the MoMA.

"Ready for our next case?" Sherlock asked her, eyes intent.

Watson turned the phone off and put it away in her pocket, pulling out her wallet to pay the cab fare. "Yeah, let's go."



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2014 09:09 am (UTC)
Nice take on the prompt - and a compelling story! Very much in the mode of "Abbey Grange."
Jul. 19th, 2014 08:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, you are absolutely right, and I hadn't even realized the connection until you mentioned it! Thank you, gardnerhill.
Jul. 20th, 2014 03:39 am (UTC)

And if nothing else, Holmes is not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies.
Jul. 20th, 2014 07:31 pm (UTC)
That's certainly one way of looking at it. Thank you for the comment, pompey01.
Jul. 25th, 2014 11:28 am (UTC)
This is very good! And even more brilliant when (as gardnerhill spotted) it ties with Abbey Grange. Wow.
Jul. 25th, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It fits so very well with Abby Grange, I have to wonder if my subconscious was prodding me in that direction.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )