sam_storyteller: (Gen Fic)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-19 05:00 am
Entry tags:

Finder's Fee

Title: Finder's Fee
Rating: PG
Warnings: None.
Summary: Repatriating a priceless cultural artefact shouldn't involve housebreaking, handcuffs, or John Watson. But it does, and it's still the right thing to do.
Notes: After I posted my Six Things About Sherlock last week, Stranded_Pearl on LJ got an idea for a fic and pointed me to the Sherlock Holmes Kink Meme where the idea was posted. I am vastly unacquainted with kink memes, other than to be aware of their existence, but I liked the idea a lot, so away we went. This is the more polished version of the fic. There is no real kink in this other than a hinted moment with a pair of handcuffs, though.

Originally Posted 8.7.10

Available AO3.

***

Once the confused shouting had subsided -- why did people always shout? Perhaps they thought being louder would help them be less stupid? -- the woman who had been wearing a priceless jade artefact in her hair slumped down at her desk and looked up at him.

"What do I do with it?" she asked, holding out her hand for him to return it. "I wouldn't even know where to sell it."

"That's quite all right," he said. He'd already pinned it into one corner of his muffler, wrapped it in the rest, and tucked it in his pocket. "You needn't trouble yourself to sell it. You see it doesn't, technically, belong to you," he added, scratching his cheek idly.

"I'm sorry?" she asked.

"Your boyfriend nicked it and gave it to you. Granted he nicked it from someone else who nicked it. But the point remains, two wrongs only make a right under certain circumstances, and this is not one of those. Though I suppose in my nicking it from you, three wrongs are about to make a right. Hm. Morality and mathematics don't agree."

"The bloody hell you will," she said, circling round the desk and going for him. He caught her wrists. She hadn't the imagination, he supposed, to try kicking.

"This is a priceless cultural treasure," he said, as she kept trying to lunge for him -- and then trying to pull away from his grip. "It will be repatriated. I shall pass on to you any reward and/or finder's fee, naturally. Although by the spirit of the thing, I actually found it. You just shoved it in your hair," he added, distaste curling his lip. He tumbled her back into her chair, let her go, and bent over, resting his palms on the chair's arms.

"After all, you wouldn't want to be tried for receiving stolen property, would you? On a nine million pound antique, that's definitely a jail-time charge," he said. She stared at him, wide-eyed. He leaned back and began pulling his gloves on. "I shall keep you up to date on the progress of the jade. I'm sure the Chinese government will be feeling suitably generous, and you've prevented a very nasty international incident. Elgin Marbles all over again, eh?"

She watched him leave, and didn't try to stop him. Sherlock allowed himself a small, private smile as he walked out of the building. Part of it was, he admitted, that he wanted an evening to study the jade before he contacted Scotland Yard about its return; also, he thought John might be amused to hold nine million pounds in his hand, and it had become almost distressingly important to him that John be amused at every possible opportunity.

He was in, for him, quite a good mood when he arrived home. This evaporated immediately on seeing who was in his flat.

"They were here when I arrived," John said, before Sherlock could demand to know why he'd been such a fool as to let Mycroft into their home.

"A bit of B&E always lifts the spirits," Mycroft said. He was standing in the middle of Sherlock's lounge, on Sherlock's rug, hands folded behind him. He was also within ten feet of John. All of these things would have been killing offences, exept that it would upset Mum.

"What do you want, Mycroft? I don't have time for petty bickering," Sherlock said. He could play the odds, walk into the kitchen, and hope Mycroft couldn't see him put his muffler in the concealed safe he'd installed. ("Sherlock, why are you drilling drywall at five in the morning?" "It was there to be done. We're both awake so I shouldn't think it would bother you. Why are you awake at five in the morning, is the better question.") On the other hand, he didn't want to give away the location of the safe even theoretically, and there were more important considerations.

He placed himself squarely between John, in the chair near the fireplace, and Mycroft, who pivoted to watch him. There was another man with him, not his usual assistant, and Sherlock took him in. Chinese by ancestry but London born, a translator by employment but not by profession (probably with political aspirations), and planning a trip to Scotland in the near future. Sherlock wondered idly what a politically-motivated translator could find of interest in Scotland.

"Who says I want anything?" Mycroft asked. "Can't I pay a friendly call on my brother? I keep extending the olive branch, Sherlock, and you keep knocking it away."

"You know perfectly well why I do," Sherlock retorted. "Tell me what you want or get out, Mycroft."

Mycroft studied him for a moment, then sighed theatrically.

"We need to talk about the jade, brother."

"No," Sherlock said, relishing the syllable.

"Yes, I think so," Mycroft told him. "I know you have it."

"Yes, and you can't," Sherlock answered.

"Excuse me," John said from his chair. "You have the hairpin? The nine million pound hairpin?"

"Of course I have it, why else would Mycroft be here?" Sherlock asked, turning to him.

John shrugged. "He seems to like annoying you."

"I don't enjoy it, Dr. Watson," Mycroft called. "Well. Not gratuitously. I merely take pleasure in a job well done."

"I'm repatriating the jade," Sherlock told him. "It's stolen property. You can't have it."

"My dear brother, I don't want it." Mycroft smiled. "I'm just here to save you from making an international cock-up out of it. While I know you believe me to be the soul of evil, I don't particularly fancy a war with China this week. But return it to Scotland Yard and there are legal channels, court hearings, evidence processes."

"And your confiscating it will prevent all that?" Sherlock demanded. The other man stepped forward, casting a momentary glance at Mycroft.

"Perhaps I had better handle this, Mr. Holmes," he said, then turned to Sherlock. "Mr. Holmes. My name is Thomas Lee."

"A bit like calling yourself Mr. Smith, isn't it?" Sherlock asked.

"Nevertheless, it's my name," Mr. Lee said, a hint of temper showing through. "I'm a -- "

"Translator for the government, yes," Sherlock waved a hand. "We can skip the resume. Edinburgh's wet this time of year, by the way, so you may want to pack sturdy shoes."

Mr. Lee glanced at Mycroft. "He's as good as you said. Mr. Holmes," he continued, coming forward again, "The Chinese government wants the jade back. I'm sure they'll be pleased to hear you want the jade returned to them. I'm here to facilitate that."

"A translator?"

"Occasionally I freelance to...smooth things over between parties," Mr. Lee said. "I think everyone feels that this can best be handled privately."

"Why?"

"The repatriation of the jade is likely to stir up anti-Chinese feelings in the city; the British government is not known for giving up its lootings lightly; not everyone in China agrees that high finder's fees for stolen artefacts are an appropriate use of government funds. This way, we circumvent that, and everyone walks away happy."

Sherlock considered matters. He didn't like backroom deals, but Mycroft's presence at least assured him of Mr. Lee's bona-fides; this wasn't a scam meant to recover the jade for some criminal enterprise. This way things would be taken care of neatly, and he would avoid the most egregious newspaper gossip. He didn't mind a spot of publicity, but it made the work more difficult.

"Mr. Holmes," Mr. Lee said, sounding slightly impatient, "the question isn't whether the jade should be repatriated. I think we're all in agreement on that. The question is, are you willing to respect the Chinese government's decision to handle the exchange this way, or does your magnanimous nature not extend that far?"

Oh, that had a bite to it. Sherlock grinned.

"Mycroft, get out," he said. "Mr. Lee can stay."

Mycroft made a constipated face. "You don't trust me? I'm hurt, Sherlock, deeply wounded."

"I don't like you. Significant difference," Sherlock told him. Mycroft, with another theatrical sigh, made his way to the door. Sherlock waited to be certain he'd gone down the stairs before turning back to Mr. Lee.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked.

***

-- Tomorrow morning, Lee had said, an aide from the Chinese embassy will bring two cases to your home. One of them will be given to either yourself or your companion --

-- Dr. Watson, Sherlock said.

-- Hi, Watson added, waving.

-- to be escorted to the drop point, Lee finished, looking like he was very much over dealing with Sherlock Holmes already.


"Well," John said, once the case had arrived and the jade hairpin had been placed inside it. "How do I look?"

The case had been closed, locked, and handcuffed to John's wrist. Sherlock found himself distracted by the cuff; it glinted below the sleeve of John's best shirt, metal wrapped around the delicate flesh and bone of the wrist. He imagined what it must be like to be confined that way, and what it must be like to confine John so. After all, John was an unsettling if fascinating combination of gentility and rage; a wound spring Sherlock was still working on the precise trigger for. Imagine containing all that, controlling all that, with a pair of metal bands and a chain. Imagine what one could get John Watson to do.

"Sherlock?" John's voice intruded. "Still in there?"

"Hm? Yes? You look semiotically untrustworthy," Sherlock told him. John made his best I-don't-get-you-but-I'm-trying face. Sherlock stepped up into his personal space and undid the top button of his shirt, fingers brushing John's pulse-point casually. "In the TV box where the tiny people dance for your amusement," he drawled, as he worked the button, "a top-button fastened without a tie is a semiotic indicator of an untrustworthy man."

"Oh," John said.

"There, now you look perfectly normal except for the armoured briefcase handcuffed to your wrist," Sherlock added. He took a risk and touched John's wrist, lifting it up, case and all. "Do you know, in British intelligence, what they do when they capture a counterspy with a handcuffed case?"

"I sense you're going to tell me," John drawled.

"Well, they can always pick the lock or cut the chain, but they find it usually more expedient to simply remove the hand," Sherlock told him. "So, if for some reason you do find yourself pursued by malevolents of either government, or some independent interest...try not to get caught."

"That's very comforting, you're so comforting," John told him.

"He's perfectly safe with me," Mr. Lee said, standing in the doorway. "You needn't worry, Mr. Holmes."

"I'm not worried," Sherlock replied, puzzled. John seemed equally puzzled, but he sensed it was not at the same thing.

"Dr. Watson, we should go," Mr. Lee added.

-- The case will be escorted to Thames House, where its escort will be meeting with the Chinese Ambassador, Lee continued. One aide will remain with the other case at your home. During this meeting, the jade will be identified and authenticated by a neutral third-party expert.

"I'm really not very experienced with this level of James Bond intrigue," John told Mr. Lee, as they waited on the far side of the room for the evaluator to authenticate the jade.

"Intrigue? This is barely even politics," Mr. Lee replied. "If you want intrigue, you're running with the wrong Holmes brother."

"No, I don't want intrigue, but I seem to be getting it nonetheless," John said. Mr. Lee grinned.

"Relax, Dr. Watson. You're doing fine."

-- Neutral's pushing the definition a bit, I think, Sherlock said. How many neutral art appraisers do you know?

-- In this case, all we want is for her to ensure that the piece isn't a forgery.

-- Your trust is touching.

-- With all due respect, Mr. Holmes, we're leaving you in custody of the jade for an evening, Lee said, looking around at the frankly not-very-secure seeming flat. Do try not to lose it or conveniently have it stolen. Once the jade has been authenticated, they will make a call to your flat, where the finder's fee will be officially turned over to you by the Embassy's aide.


Mr. Lee called the aide; the aide handed over the money; John, knowing better than to expect a telephone call, watched for a text from Sherlock to confirm it. When the text came through, he nodded at Mr. Lee and watched as the nine million pound jade hair-pin was locked away in a secure box and handed to the Chinese Ambassador.

Nine million pounds. They weren't even going to get the finder's fee, because Sherlock had promised it to the woman he'd taken the jade off, to keep her quiet about it. Being an upstanding citizen was very unpleasant sometimes.

"Dr. Watson," the Ambassador said. "I hope this concludes our business."

"Yeah, uh, me too," John replied, uncertain how one addressed an ambassador. There was an awkward silence. "So, I'll go, shall I?"

Out in the street he leaned against the wall and exhaled deeply. Another text showed up on his phone.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: All clear?

He tapped a reply. They looked happy to see the back of me.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: Off to drop the cash by the office. Meet for lunch?

You're buying. I did all the heavy lifting.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: Yes, but I did all the heavy thinking. Besides, handcuffs are a good look on you.

John laughed, a little insanely, and pressed the edge of his phone to his forehead. It beeped again.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: It seems to be a workable situation for us, don't you think? Lunch? I think I know a place in Chinatown.

On the one hand, Sherlock was going to be the death of him; on the other hand, there were worse ways to die.

Lunch. See you in an hour.

END
capt_spork: (capt_spork)

[personal profile] capt_spork 2010-08-07 11:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Wonderful! It really bugged me how they dealt with...well, pretty much the whole episode, but especially the hairpin in the end. Nice solution.

"Intrigue? This is barely even politics," Mr. Lee replied. "If you want intrigue, you're running with the wrong Holmes brother."

"No, I don't want intrigue, but I seem to be getting it nonetheless," John said. Mr. Lee grinned.


My introduction to Mycroft was something all on the lines of: "he's the smart brother". I approve of the intrigue.

(Anonymous) 2010-08-08 10:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Sherlock functions in society?!?! I kind of want to see more of this less-functional-than-Sherlock Mycroft. I'm intrigued as to how he would even exist.

(Anonymous) 2010-08-18 09:06 am (UTC)(link)
very true, it's a little disappointing how this modern version of holmes deviates from the canon in being terrible at blending in and disguising himself... his idea of normal is just plain creepy at times...

anyway, lovely story, thanks for sharing :D

Random passing anon puts in her two cents on the matter...

(Anonymous) 2010-10-28 04:07 am (UTC)(link)
Actually, from what I understand, BBC did a brilliant job at translating Sherlock's dysfunction into modern terms. Thing is, while in the original series he comes off as more or less publicly normal for our times, it was completely different in that time. The social standards were much higher, and so what seems fairly normal to us nowadays basically came across then as approximately as bad as BBC's Sherlock comes across now.

I will add the caveat that I am not personally familiar with this, but I have been assured by several knowledgeable friends that this is in fact the case. It really does make a lot of sense, when you consider just the massive differences in public social dynamics over the past century-plus.

(I will also add that I'm only a bit of the way into the first book, so this is pretty much entirely what I've been told by these friends, so I'm not sure that this is actually quite what you meant... but it's something that I'd never understood until I had it explained to me, so thought I might as well pass it along.)

--Fire
random_nexus: (Default)

[personal profile] random_nexus 2010-08-08 12:35 am (UTC)(link)
I liked this, and VERY much liked Sherlock's inner thoughts. Heh, totally fun the things John's NOT aware are being thought in relation to him.

Well done, you.
melayneseahawk: (adult)

[personal profile] melayneseahawk 2010-08-08 12:41 am (UTC)(link)
Lovely fix.
tabula_x_rasa: bookshelf (books)

[personal profile] tabula_x_rasa 2010-08-08 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
This is totally my canon now. Fantastic work. :D
paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)

[personal profile] paxpinnae 2010-08-08 01:08 am (UTC)(link)
Oh dear. I think I may have accidentally woken up my flatmates by laughing my head off. Your Sherlock is brilliant, all impatient and slightly perplexed by the fact that he actually enjoys John's company, despite John not being very bright (by Sherlock standards). The kinky asides could have been very jarring, but they totally worked in that whole "This is very illogical, but I'm going to gather more data anyway" context.

[identity profile] eruvadhril.livejournal.com 2010-08-08 01:53 am (UTC)(link)
I could SEE John in my head waving hi from the fireplace. Mycroft continues hilarious.
sanura: (Default)

[personal profile] sanura 2010-08-08 02:38 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, yes. THIS. Man, you are so good at voices and reasonable complexity that is much more satisfying than anything on, it's a crying shame you don't work in television.

(Anonymous) 2010-08-08 02:51 am (UTC)(link)
Loved it, especially:

-- Dr. Watson, Sherlock said.

-- Hi, Watson added, waving.


Also, that handcuffs thing was too hot for you not to continue it. Seriously. I expect a sequel.

One problem: "He's as good as you said. Mr. Homes," That should be an 'l' in there.
brewsternorth: Electric-blue stylized teapot, captioned "Brewster North". (Default)

[personal profile] brewsternorth 2010-08-08 03:04 am (UTC)(link)
That's so in-character I think it's my headcanon. And yes, considering the gravity of the case, the lack of Mycroft and/or any other international personages was definitely disturbing.

Heh, love how the kink forms part of Sherlock's thought-experiments.
pocky_slash: (Default)

[personal profile] pocky_slash 2010-08-08 05:07 am (UTC)(link)
Oh god, I don't know you, but your username just flashed me back to college and so so many night on MetroNorth.
sadcypress: (Default)

[personal profile] sadcypress 2010-08-08 03:43 am (UTC)(link)
I like that, while you CLAIM this is a fic dealing with the MacGuffin, I think your real purpose is getting John Watson to undo that annoying top button. I AM ONTO YOU, SAM. (and appreciative of the effort)
annemjw: (Default)

[personal profile] annemjw 2010-08-08 06:59 am (UTC)(link)
My thoughts exactly :D
pocky_slash: (Default)

[personal profile] pocky_slash 2010-08-08 05:09 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, yes. Your Sherlock voice is right on, but what really killed me was how he dealt with Mycroft. PERFECT. There needs to be more amusing usage of Mycroft in fic. Because Mycroft and Sherlock together are HILARIOUS.
darthhellokitty: Schrodinger's cat - a box with Hello Kitty's hair bow (Default)

[personal profile] darthhellokitty 2010-08-08 05:53 am (UTC)(link)
In the TV box where the tiny people dance for your amusement

Oooh you're one to talk, Mr Holmes! Where do you think YOU live?

I like this! But what did I expect, given the writer and the topic.
ext_37421: (Default)

[identity profile] air-ocean.livejournal.com 2010-08-08 08:34 am (UTC)(link)
Marvelous. You write them so well, your Holmes is exactly the right amount of disturbing, and Watson - the right shade of "oh, okay":)

(Anonymous) 2010-08-08 09:19 am (UTC)(link)
"A bit of B&E always lifts the spirits," Mycroft said. I love Mycroft. Every super-smart detective should have an even smarter older brother to annoy them.

("Sherlock, why are you drilling drywall at five in the morning?" "It was there to be done. We're both awake so I shouldn't think it would bother you. Why are you awake at five in the morning, is the better question.") LOL, I should think DIY in the small hours would be the least of the problems. In the books, didn't Sherlock shoot a pattern into the wall with a pistol 'because he was bored'?
christycorr: Dash (The Incredibles) (*Squee!*)

[personal profile] christycorr 2010-08-08 04:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh hi there, new personal canon! *waves*

Good job!
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-08-08 07:25 pm (UTC)(link)
JAMES BONDAGE.

(that is to say, I enjoyed this.)

(Anonymous) 2010-08-09 08:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Sam, I don't think I've ever actually commented on one of your stories before, so first things first: you're brilliant. With the exception of a very few, older fics whose character motivations I found slightly unconvincing, I've unabashedly adored everything of yours I've read. Your characterization are brillant - even when characters make radically different choices from one AU to another, you have a way of making them seem like the only logical course of action - and your dialogue is second to none in tone and in humor.

That said, I stumbled a bit on this story, and I think the primary reason is that I had a hard time getting a temporal lock on it. The texting bits at the end helped ground it in the TV series' modern-day setting, as did the drywall-drilling, but there were places where I had to remind myself which Holmes and Watson I was reading about, that this wasn't Victorian England. If you weren't such a great writer I woudn't even bother mentioning it, but that has never happened to me whie reading your stories before, so I thought I'd better.

(Anonymous) 2010-08-09 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, bother, forgot it's Dreamwidth, sorry, I'm *beyondthesunset*.

[identity profile] phineyj.livejournal.com 2010-08-10 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Interesting comment re temporary dissonance. I think the show has got a bit of temporal wibble itself. On the one hand, it's a successful contemporary updating, but on the other, the C19th keeps trying to bleed through. I hope I am making some sort of sense...and I do hope there will be more SherlockFic, Sam, bad BBC, why only 3 eps?

[identity profile] phineyj.livejournal.com 2010-08-10 09:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Aarg, that would be temporal dissonance.
basingstoke: crazy eyes (Default)

[personal profile] basingstoke 2010-08-15 05:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Excellent. That whole ep was a mess; it needs a lot of fixing.
polarisnorth: a silhouetted figure sitting on the moon, watching the earthrise ([sh] brett holmes)

[personal profile] polarisnorth 2010-08-18 10:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Hee! Good to see some fixit fic for this ep. I really enjoyed this; I particularly enjoyed Sherlock's protectiveness of Watson (especially around Mycroft). He wanted to keep the hairpin to amuse John! ♥ And the questions of repatriotising the hairpin interested me quite a bit.

[identity profile] tardis-stowaway.livejournal.com 2010-08-20 08:28 am (UTC)(link)
Stellar characterization, a loose end resolved, Holmes speculating about Watson in bondage, AND getting John's top button undone? I heartily approve of this fic.
abigailnicole: (Default)

[personal profile] abigailnicole 2010-08-24 10:42 pm (UTC)(link)
I just read all your Sherlock stories and I demand more! they make my life a brighter place.

(Anonymous) 2010-08-30 01:32 am (UTC)(link)
Mmmm, great comment about the handcuff. I love the imagery there.

~ raiining
tanpopo: Whitewashed photo of Kris (Default)

[personal profile] tanpopo 2010-09-13 12:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Heee ^^. That was fun! I love your charaterizations. Came here via pandarus btw. - I listened to her podfics of your stories yesterday. They were both amazing! Your really get the characters and the dialogue is spot on. :)
faith_girl222: (Default)

[personal profile] faith_girl222 2010-11-04 06:39 am (UTC)(link)
i enjoyed this!
alizarin_nyc: (sherlock nightlife)

[personal profile] alizarin_nyc 2010-12-14 10:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Lovely! You do a great Sherlock voice.

After all, John was an unsettling if fascinating combination of gentility and rage; a wound spring Sherlock was still working on the precise trigger for. Imagine containing all that, controlling all that, with a pair of metal bands and a chain. Imagine what one could get John Watson to do.

That is pretty amazing writing.
aelfgyfu_mead: Killer rabbit from Monty Python (Killer)

[personal profile] aelfgyfu_mead 2010-12-21 08:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Lovely! You have so many nice touches, as usual:
He was standing in the middle of Sherlock's lounge, on Sherlock's rug, hands folded behind him. He was also within ten feet of John. All of these things would have been killing offences, exept that it would upset Mum.

"I'm not worried," Sherlock replied, puzzled. John seemed equally puzzled, but he sensed it was not at the same thing.

"Of course I have it, why else would Mycroft be here?" Sherlock asked, turning to him.
John shrugged. "He seems to like annoying you."
"I don't enjoy it, Dr. Watson," Mycroft called. "Well. Not gratuitously. I merely take pleasure in a job well done."
Very true: John's line and Mycroft's closer!

Even lovely phrases:
In the TV box where the tiny people dance for your amusement
semiotically untrustworthy


I can hear the voices very clearly here! It's also nice to get the ending cleaned up a little (and maybe counterbalance a tiny bit of the racefail).

tree00faery: (Default)

[personal profile] tree00faery 2011-01-02 05:20 am (UTC)(link)
I think I read this before, but man, it makes /so/ much more sense now that I've actually seen Sherlock.

Thanks for fixing the most obvious and irritating bit of racefail.