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02 August 2013 @ 10:42 pm
FIC: Do No Harm (3/3)  
Title: Do No Harm (3/3)
Author: joonscribble
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Summary: John runs into someone from his army days while out on a case with Sherlock.
Timeline: Set in between "The Blind Banker" and "The Great Game."
Rating: R for swearing later
Spoilers: Nothing in particular.
Disclaimer: All familiar characters originated from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and were then tweaked by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
Author's Notes: Finally stopped whining about it and just finished it! One more WIP left!

Chapter One
Chapter Two


Robert Murray was released from prison on a Tuesday in February. The weather was seasonably chilled and for a good three minutes after exiting the gates that had enclosed him for two years, Murray merely rocked back and forth on his feet, letting the cold seep in through his rather inadequate jacket. It had only been April, just becoming spring, when he’d been incarcerated.

No one was there to meet him outside the gates, which was what Murray had prayed for every night in his cell. He didn’t want anyone there to witness the fact that he was hesitating walking through the prison gates.

Murray liked to imagine that he was embarking on a new life from here on out. That he had gone inside as one man (a boy really) and exited a new person all together. He knew better. Yes, he had it carved into his very bones that he would start in a new direction. But it would never be a completely fresh start. Alongside those very carvings of a new beginning were the carvings of his old life, what he had done. He would carry those with him to his grave, rightfully so.

**

2010, London

Murray was in the midst of folding his dress shirt with painful precision when the phone by his bed rang. It was an older model whose ring tone cut through the silence like a siren that would have caused less trained persons to jump a foot in the air.

“A John Watson down here to see you, Mr. Murray,” the cheerful voice of the receptionist informed Murray.

For a brief moment Murray considered slamming the phone handle back onto its cradle and let the obvious message stand for itself. He couldn’t stand the thought of facing Captain Watson now and be subjected to all the questions his former superior no doubt had.

Coward.

“Mr. Murray?” the receptionist queried, sounding a little less certain in her chipper attitude.

“Oh, yes. I’ll…I’ll come down, thank you,” Murray replied, accepting the inevitable.

**

There was a small lounge area in the lobby of the Carriage where John managed to find a quiet corner and order two coffees. By the time the drinks arrived, Murray was exiting the hotel elevators, looking like a man trying to put on a brave face against a firing squad.

“Captain Watson,” he greeted.

The invitation to call him by his first name stood at the tip of John’s tongue. He was no longer Murray’s captain and he’d never been a stickler for ranking even when he was in the army. But something told him that inviting away the layer of formality would only work to make Murray all the more uncomfortable. So instead he gestured to the seat across from his with a warm smile. Somehow Murray managed to sit down while keeping his back ramrod straight. He nervously picked up the small spoon next to his plain black coffee and stirred it unnecessarily as John watched, almost wincing at how anxious his former corporal looked.

John pushed his coffee to one side. “Look, Murray,” he began. “I wanted to say sorry about what Sherlock said earlier.”

“No need for apologies, sir,” replied Murray. “It’s not as if anything he said was untrue.” He looked up from stirring his coffee, finally looking at John properly. John could see the faintest traces of some defiance in Murray’s eyes, as if a part of him was challenging the older man to contradict him. The sight made John feel significantly better.

“I’m always going around apologizing for Sherlock,” he sighed. “So, force of habit.”

Murray nodded, his eyes falling back to his coffee. “You want to know what happened.” It wasn’t a question.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to know,” admitted John, taking a sip of his own plain black coffee. “But it’s not your responsibility or your job to satisfy my curiosity.”

Keeping his eyes on his cup, Murray frowned, the silence between them stretching out for a few beats. “I really enjoyed working with you, sir,” said Murray, his words carefully spaced. “Out of everyone…I didn’t want you to know. About what happened.”

The shame that had been flooding out of Murray earlier when Sherlock had announced his deductions in front of everyone was back. John wondered, as he watched Murray looking far more miserable and beaten down than he’d ever seen him on the field amongst dead comrades, what must have happened. What it was that Murray had done that got him sent to prison and clearly still shadowed him now.

He thought about his first few days back in England after being invalided home when he had gone to his mandatory therapy sessions. His therapist had been so keen on having John talk about or at least write about what he had gone through and what he was experiencing now. He’d balked against it despite knowing logically that soldiers before him and no doubt after him would find the intervention helpful. But what he had needed was to feel useful again. To be part of something larger than himself again so that he wouldn’t have to constantly remember all the things he had done wrong. All the lives he had failed to save and the ones he had been forced to kill.

Maybe that was in part why Murray had been such a good medical officer in the field. He had thrown himself over completely to being something larger than himself in order to escape that horrible, scarred part of himself that was always demanding attention.

“What I do know, Murray,” said John, finally. “Is you are an excellent orderly.”

“It doesn’t change what happened before, thought, does it?”

“No,” agreed John. “It doesn’t. But you helping people and saving my life. Those things happened too.”

The air of misery around Murray didn’t dissipate much, not that John expected his words to render a miraculous transformation. But Murray did nod and begin to drink his coffee.

The conversation then shifted to reminiscing about their time together in Afghanistan. Murray spoke a little about the captain he was currently serving under, who sounded like a hard but fair man. While many were now being discharged home, Murray relayed plans of staying on in the army, planning on making a career out of it. John told him a little bit about his new situation in London and his work with Sherlock. It was getting on nine o’clock when the two finally bid each other goodbye.

He held out his hand which Murray took to shake after a brief hesitation. Letting go, Murray raised his hand in a short salute which John returned, willing himself to keep his expression light. Even now, Murray still looked painfully young despite the layer of maturity he’d so carefully worked to keep up.

“Stay safe, Murray,” said John.

“Thank you, sir. You as well.”

**

When John got up to the shared living area of Baker Street, he spotted Sherlock sitting on a chair, staring at a wall that was now covered in photographs of the dead body from earlier. There were also several plastic buckets turned upside down on the floor with bullet holes in them.

“I was testing a hypothesis,” said Sherlock, answering the question John had yet to ask. “Results were inconclusive. We’ll have to go back to the winery for further tests and also bring along a small animal. A cat should do.”

John stared at the mess as well as the time. “Right.”

Tearing his eyes away from the photographs, Sherlock spared him a glance. “How was coffee?”

From most people the question would be a light inquiry about John’s coffee with Murray. But for Sherlock making the inquiry at all was as close to an apology as John knew he would get, according to his ever growing Sherlock to Human Dictionary.

“…It was fine. It’ll be fine.”

Sherlock nodded. “We should go now. And bring some of the leftover tuna casserole for the cat.”

John noted the bullet hole-ridden buckets again. “You’re not shooting a cat.”

“In order to-“

“No, you’re not shooting a cat. Really. Seriously.”

“…I suppose a cuddly toy of some sort will do.”

THE END

 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson's cute noseawanderingbard on August 3rd, 2013 04:09 am (UTC)
Yay for finished things! And yay for Scribble fic!

I really like that we never get the fully story on what Murray did, and I like that you've shown how far John has come since leaving the army by contrasting Murrary, who is still very military. The conversation between them was very nice, and I love the bits at the end with Sherlock. Especially John's Sherlock-to-Human in translation.

One little Britpick thing: it should be a cuddly toy and not a stuffed animal.

Great work!
formerly lifeinsomniac: WatsonCocktailjoonscribble on August 3rd, 2013 04:22 am (UTC)
One little Britpick thing: it should be a cuddly toy and not a stuffed animal.

Edited, thanks! I'm also amused at the idea of Sherlock saying 'cuddly toy.'

I really like that we never get the fully story on what Murray did

Oh, good! I'm glad that didn't frustrate readers as I wanted everyone to stay in the dark like John. Ironically I spent a long time writing flashback sections where you do see what Murray did but all of that got scrapped as in the end I wanted Murray to remain a bit of a mystery.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on August 3rd, 2013 04:25 am (UTC)
Hehe! One of my favourite episodes of Lewis has Hathaway saying cuddly toy about 80 times in it. That was when I first heard the term used, actually.

Ironically I spent a long time writing flashback sections where you do see what Murray did but all of that got scrapped as in the end I wanted Murray to remain a bit of a mystery.

I think it's good because it shows that it doesn't matter to John, and I also think it sort of shows that whatever happened, Murray is making amends for it. So, we can forgive him or cut him some slack, where we might not if we knew what he did. If that makes sense.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on August 3rd, 2013 04:37 am (UTC)
One of my favourite episodes of Lewis has Hathaway saying cuddly toy about 80 times in it.

Which one was that??

I also think it sort of shows that whatever happened, Murray is making amends for it. So, we can forgive him or cut him some slack, where we might not if we knew what he did. If that makes sense.

Yeah, that does make sense. I was hoping that Murray's obvious guilt over what happened would be enough to suggest that he did something Very Bad. Though to be fair to Murray, it was less him acting with intent and more him making a bad decision that changed things forever. Still, not knowing the crime but knowing Murray's guilt about it probably goes farther in having readers sympathize with Murray rather than condemn him, which was his fear about Watson finding out.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on August 3rd, 2013 04:56 am (UTC)
It was the one where the babysitter is killed, and there are gorillas. This is what I remember. Hold on... "Fearful Symmetry" what was it was called. I admittedly mostly enjoyed it because it had Hathaway singing to a toddler in a brilliantly bored voice.

I was hoping that Murray's obvious guilt over what happened would be enough to suggest that he did something Very Bad

I think you have succeeded, and made the right choice.

Edited at 2013-08-03 04:57 am (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on August 3rd, 2013 05:12 am (UTC)
I have zero recollection of that episode but now I have reason to re-watch it.
The other Weird Al: minisherlock - blogger johnaeron_lanart on August 3rd, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
I like. The contrast between post-Afghanistan John and Murray is great, even with Murray's hinted at 'past' and I'm glad you don't go into detail about that.

John's asides to Sherlock are fantastic, and him to a T. The "you're not shooting a cat" one made me giggle.
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on August 4th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

John's asides to Sherlock are fantastic, and him to a T. The "you're not shooting a cat" one made me giggle.

I'm glad that bit worked. John's last scene with Sherlock was largely the thing that was holding up the last chapter as Sherlock refused to cooperate with me.
aelfgyfu_mead: Sherlock and Johnaelfgyfu_mead on August 4th, 2013 08:18 am (UTC)
I'm glad to see the end of this! I feel really bad for Murray, exposed by Sherlock like that for no good reason. (Whatever Murray did, there must have been some extenuating circumstances, because the Army doesn't usually take ex-cons, right? I might have that wrong.)

I hope he and John will keep in touch now.
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on August 4th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see the end of this!

Me too! Now just one more to go...

Whatever Murray did, there must have been some extenuating circumstances, because the Army doesn't usually take ex-cons, right?

The British Army apparently does but it does depend on what offense. As Sherlock deduced it wasn't a first degree offense so Murray could still join. I had a whole thing written out in an earlier draft that explained the circumstances of Murray's prison time but left it out for purposes for lining the audience up with John's not knowing as being part of accepting Murray as he was.

I hope he and John will keep in touch now.

I have a fantasy that while Murray stays with the army for life, he and John do stay in touch.