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FIC: A Damsel in Distrust (1/?)

Title: A Damsel in Distrust (1/?)
Author: invida
Rating: PG-13
Fandoms: Sherlock, VM
Timeline/spoilers: entire series of VM, S1 of Sherlock
Disclaimer: I know the law, and the law would win.
Summary: the winds have blown the tiny blonde one to another shore to annoy a whole new country.
Acknowledgements:  A birthday fic for maybe_amanda. Thanks to aud_woman_in for the ear. Thanks to DC for the challenge.

“I want her gone, John.” Sherlock’s fingers drummed on the arm of his chair with the frequency of a hummingbird’s wing.

“If we all got what we wanted, then I’d be living in a tidy flat with far fewer body parts in the fridge,” John said, turning another page of the newspaper. "You wanted a case. She brought us a case.”

Lestrade brought us the case. She just –" Sherlock’s hand circled as if he could pluck the right word from the air. "Interfered.”

“The case is about her. She’s allowed to take an interest in what happens to her. You’re just jealous that she’s probably going to solve it before you.”

“What she is doing is not solving.”

“And what would you call what she’s doing?”

Sherlock waved his hands back and forth to emphasize his point. “She’s blundering about the city, crashing headlong into things until she thinks she’s on to something and then she latches on like a proverbial pit bull. You’d have to shoot her to get rid of her." Sherlock paused. "Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Where’s your gun?”

John ignored him. “And this is different from what you do – how exactly?”

“I do not blunder.”

“Right. Well, she’s an actual licensed private investigator, unlike some people I could name. I think you could say that she knows what she’s doing.”

“Yes, licensed. In the United States. Do you know what it takes to become a licensed private investigator there? You take an examination. And multiple choice, no less. That’s the only qualification. Even a barkeep needs more certification.”

John rolled his eyes. “She’s getting results, Sherlock. Isn’t that what matters in the end?”

“Is that all you think we do? Just get a result?”

“No. No. Of course not. You get to show everyone how clever you are and get to be a right bastard while doing it. Not every detective has the same finesse as you, Sherlock. But she is figuring this out and you have to give her some credit.”

Sherlock eyed him for a moment, then gave him a look of realization. “Oh, I see.” Sherlock clapped his hands together and touched his fingers to his lips, letting his gaze settle on John.

“See what?” John asked, knowing that he was not going to like Sherlock’s answer one bit.

“Your motivation for defending her.” Sherlock said, pressing his fingertips under his chin as he observed John.

John put the newspaper down. He told himself to be calm, to ignore Sherlock. Don't say anything and then you won't give anything away. Not that there was anything to give away. But it wouldn't matter to Sherlock. And yet, as much as he told himself not to, he couldn’t seem to stop his mouth as he started to defend the girl some more.

“Motivation? She's been accused of a crime she didn't commit and she needs help. You do believe her, don't you?"

"Clearly. But I think there's more to it than that."

"I’m simply pointing out that she’s a clever girl in her own way. She’s managed to hold her own against the likes of you.”

“And nearly got herself and you killed in the process.”

John laughed, shaking his head. “So you’ve got the exclusive on being the only private detective who can nearly get me killed?”

Sherlock eyes narrowed. "You know she has a boyfriend?”

John blinked at him incredulously. “And you’re mentioning this - why?”

Sherlock shrugged. “Why do you think? I haven’t changed the subject. Your motivation."

“For god’s sake, Sherlock, I am not –“ John stopped when he took in Sherlock’s bemused expression. Christ. Why am I even bothering? It was exactly the reaction Sherlock wanted.

John picked up his breakfast plate and took it to the kitchen, muttering on his way past Sherlock. “And not that it is at all relevant, but she says she doesn’t. “

Before John even turned around from the sink, Sherlock had his laptop on the kitchen table with several browser windows open.

Sherlock pointed at the screen triumphantly. He proceeded to list off the various facts in rapid fire succession. "Photos of her with a dashing, not to mention famous -- or infamous as the story goes --young man in the American tabloids. Here they are at a courthouse together after his murder trial. Adorable! And most telling of all, her Facebook page. Relationship status: 'It's complicated'."

John clicked through all the windows. "Articles from at least a year ago and all the rest is circumstantial evidence at best." John remarked, realizing he was falling right into Sherlock's baited trap. "Regardless, Sherlock, does that mean we shouldn't help her?"

Sherlock threw his hands up in frustration. "It means she's manipulating you. She knows you find her attractive and she knows you can't resist a damsel in distress. She's young enough to be your daughter, by the way."

"Again, not that it matters, but she's 20. She's an adult." How the hell did Sherlock keep getting him back into this stupid line of questioning? "Look, you obviously don't like her. So you don't have to help her. You can stay here in the flat and wait for another case. But I'm going to do what I can for her."

"You're a fool. And you're going to prove it if you keep following her about."

"Yeah. The same was said to me about you," John said over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.


Veronica Mars sat at the small Formica table that just fit the corner of the cramped kitchen. It wasn't meant for company.

She had been listening to the loud argument going on above her. It ended abruptly when a door slammed and a frenzied tune on a violin started up.

A china cup on a mismatched saucer appeared in front of her, surprising her.

"There you go, dear. A nice cuppa will right everything. You'll see," Mrs. Hudson said, as she placed another plate down in front of Veronica, this one filled with an assortment of cookies.

"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," Veronica said stiffly. She wasn't used to being fussed over, especially not by someone so maternal. It had been years since her own mother had tried to take care of her and Veronica wasn't sure how to react any more except to express her gratitude repeatedly. "And thank you again for letting me stay with you. I want you to know -- "

Mrs. Hudson waved her off. "No need to thank me. A nice girl like yourself shouldn't be wandering about the city all on your own. And I appreciate the company. It's fun to have another girl in the house for a change."

"John is lucky to have such a kind landlady."

"Well, I'm lucky to have a tenant who's a doctor. Especially at my age, what with my hip and all. So I don't mind doing him a turn when he needs it." Mrs. Hudson sat down across from Veronica with her own mismatched cup.

"John's a very generous man. I mean, he just met me and he's already trying to get me out of this mess—" Veronica stole a glance at Mrs. Hudson. She wasn't sure how much John had told her.

"Not to worry, Veronica. You won't believe the things I've seen here thanks to those two upstairs! The riff raff they drag in with their detective business. Not that you're riff raff. Far from it, in fact. So whatever it is that happened to you, I've heard it all! But you don't have to say anything. John's vouched for you and that's good enough for me."

Well, that was sort of a relief. But something told Veronica that Mrs. Hudson probably hadn't heard anything as crazy as Veronica's life over the last few years, let alone the events that led her to Mrs. Hudson's doorstep.

"Still, he seems to have to put up with a lot." Veronica raised her eyebrow to emphasize her point.

"Oh, Sherlock? He's all bluster. Don't let him get to you."

Veronica laughed. "Never." She'd dealt with worse bullies with a bigger bite.

They both sipped at the milky tea. Veronica pointed to the ceiling. "So do they know that you can hear every word they say from down here?"

Mrs. Hudson gave her a wink. "Now where would the fun be in that?"


Veronica lay on the twin bed that nearly touched all the walls in the guest bedroom in Mrs. Hudson's apartment. The rest of the room was taken up with a sewing machine and swaths of fabric. She was almost certain that it had once been a closet considering how narrow it was. Still it was better than the streets or a jail cell. She pondered her plight as she slipped her earphones on and cranked up the tunes on her mp3 player.

Keith Mars considered Greg Lestrade a brother in arms. They were both cops at heart. They upheld the law. There was a camaraderie amongst law enforcers no matter where they were from.

They'd met while Keith was still sheriff and when one of London's most wanted turned up in Neptune's lock up and DI Lestrade came to retrieve him in person. It had been easy to strike up a friendship with Lestrade. Mostly it was trading stories or case notes back and forth, or asking for advice, one cop to another. It continued even after Keith's downfall. Greg had offered as much support as someone from Scotland Yard could to a small town sheriff turned private eye. Hell, he'd even bought a copy of Keith's book.

So when Veronica had been picked up on suspicion of robbery in London, Keith of course, first gave her a lecture of 'I told you sos' and 'why did you have to go there in the first places'. Then Keith called Lestrade to see what could be done. Lestrade firmly believed Veronica. Someone raised by Keith Mars could be nothing but a good kid as far as he was concerned. But burglary wasn't Lestrade's division. He could pull some strings to get her released, but beyond that he couldn't make the investigation go away. Not without proof. And Veronica was being accused by the victim outright so she was the number one suspect.

Regardless, Greg knew someone who could help. That is, if he could be persuaded.

Sherlock Holmes strode into Lestrade's office like he owned the place. That already put Veronica on edge. Entitlement always did.

Greg introduced Holmes as he took off his coat. Why he was wearing a coat at all in the summer heat was probably part of the mystery this jackass liked to exude, Veronica surmised.

Another shorter man popped out from behind Holmes and stuck his hand out, "Hi. John Watson." Veronica shook it heartily, feeling sorry for him. Everyone acted like he was an afterthought, even John himself.

Holmes stepped forward and looked Veronica up and down. Then he barked at her to tell her story quickly and concisely.

Veronica glared at him. "Excuse me?"

"Fine," he said impatiently, circling around her. "You don't want to talk, I'll tell you."

"Christ," muttered both Lestrade and Watson while rolling their eyes. Lestrade added, "Don't take anything he says personally, Veronica. This is just the way he is."

Sherlock ignored him and began, his eyes still roaming over her as he circled her. "You're on your summer break from uni – Sorry, college, I believe they call it in America. You've been staying at hostels. You can't afford anything better. And while others could help you afford it, you're too proud to take them up on their offer. You're not here to backpack or any of the other useless things the youth of today think they have to do before they get too old. You've got a reason. How am I doing so far?"

Veronica blinked at him in bewilderment. What the hell was this guy? A sideshow act?

"Sherlock –" Watson said with a tone of admonishment.

"What?" Sherlock turned around and asked John with exasperation, "Have I said anything in the slightest way offensive?"

John merely shrugged. They'd done this routine before, thought Veronica. She wondered if it was the British version of good cop, bad cop.

John was about to say something more, but it was Veronica who said, "Not yet."

Sherlock turned back to her, surprise registering in those cold, nearly colourless eyes. Good, Veronica thought. At least he didn't think she was weak.

He seemed to take that as encouragement. His eyes narrowed as he regarded her further. He began to fire off points again. "You're a photographer. A good one. But you're not a tourist. You will probably take touristy photos later when you think you'll have more time. Most likely to show your parents – father, that is. Mother's out of the picture."

A sharp intake of breath from Veronica caused Sherlock to stop briefly. "Not dead. She left you, and while you're bitter, it doesn't stop you from missing her."

"Did you want some kind of warning when you're venturing into offensive territory?" Veronica asked sweetly but through gritted teeth.

"No, no," Sherlock said with a dismissive wave. "That's fine. While it probably fuelled the reason you are here, it's not at the heart of it."

"And what's at the heart of it?" Veronica asked, curious as to how much he'd really figured out.

"I haven't the foggiest," Sherlock admitted as he flopped down into one of the guest chairs in front of Lestrade's desk. "That's why you actually do have to talk at some point."

"I hope you don't mind, but can I ask you –" John asked, stepping forward again. "Was he right?"

Sherlock sighed. "Really, John. We do not need to continue to keep score –"

"Yeah," Veronica interrupted and then wrinkled her nose. "But then everything he said was kinda obvious, wasn't it?"

"Not…" John looked at her in surprise, then at Lestrade who looked just as bewildered. "Not to me."

More satisfyingly, Sherlock blinked at her. That made her smile.

"Easy-peasy, guv’nah!” Veronica said with a click of her tongue. All three men raised an eyebrow at her. Mental note, she thought, cockney chimney sweep accents are not as hilarious in England.

She cleared her throat. “Okay, well, I'm carrying a bag. It's heavy and it's obvious by the way the bag hangs that I'm carrying something bulky in there. There are only a few things that could hang this way and be that heavy. And another photographer would recognize the shape of a DSLR in a bag like this."

"Or someone who's handled camera equipment before and has a memory for it," Sherlock said with a sniff.

"Right. And this isn't a camera bag. It's just a big shoulder bag which I dump my camera into. So I'm not a tourist and I'm not a beginner because a tourist or beginner would carry a real camera bag and be more careful. I need to get my camera out quickly to get the shot without being noticeable."

"Clearly." Sherlock didn’t even look at her.

Veronica nodded. "And my reaction when my mother was brought up told you everything you needed to know there."

"But how did he know that it was your mother and not your father that wasn't in the picture?" John asked her. Sherlock frowned. Veronica wondered if he was annoyed that John was asking her and not him.

"Oh!" Lestrade cried, with his hand up like he was schoolboy answering a question. "I know that one! I told you that her father asked me to help her."

Sherlock glared at him openly.

Veronica nodded. "There you go. And again, my reaction to him saying 'parents' – plural -- probably told you again that I just have the one parent. As for my financial status, my bag's a knock-off, so are most of the clothes I'm wearing. Everything else is second hand. And London's not cheap, so yeah, I've been staying at hostels."

John frowned. "But how could he possibly know that others could afford to put you up in a decent hotel?"

"Child's play," Sherlock muttered.

Veronica interrupted him before he could go on. "Jewellery." She pointed to a sparkly pendant at her throat and then to her diamond earrings. "I have friends with expensive tastes. These are all real."

"Wow," John said, clearly impressed.

Veronica looked over at Sherlock and threw his earlier question back at him with a tilt of her head. "How am I doing so far?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Well done. Bravo. Now that we've wasted time showing that you could outsmart the likes of John, maybe we could get to the point?"

Veronica ignored him and started pleading with Lestrade. "Look, Mr. Lestrade, I know you promised my dad that you'd get me some help, but I can figure this out on my own."

Lestrade shook his head. "Sorry, Veronica. I’m taking responsibility for you and I can’t in good conscience tell your dad that I’ve helped you if I let you go off on your own regardless of your qualifications. I know Sherlock here seems like an arrogant twat, but he knows what he’s doing. You just have to give him a chance.” Sherlock's expression didn't change at the insult Lestrade made, but John smiled.

Frustrated but seeing no way out of this, she addressed the room again. “Do you know who Jake Kane is?”

“Should I?” Sherlock answered with an indifferent shrug.

“Wait. The software billionaire?” John asked with wide eyes.

Veronica gave him a finger gun. “That’s the one. Kane Software has offices in London so he has an apartment here. Anyway, I tracked him here for a case. And now he’s accused me of stealing from him. Again. He tried that back in the States and it didn’t work. He’s setting me up.”

“How do you even know him?” John asked. "From what I understood, he’s become a weird recluse over the last few years. Like Howard Hughes.”

Veronica shrugged. “It’s a long story, and Mr. Holmes here doesn’t seem to like long stories.”

“I like when long stories are made short,” Sherlock said.

Veronica scowled at him. “He’s my ex-boyfriend’s father. Short enough?”

Sherlock tapped his fingers to his chin in contemplation as he regarded her. “In my experience, if you’re being set up, there is some plausibility that you could have actually done it. So what aren’t you telling us?

Veronica was ready with a retort that died on her tongue. This was getting them nowhere. She didn’t like this Sherlock Holmes person. But Lestrade was good people and he seemed to think Holmes was the only person who could help her. This other guy, John, seemed kind and earnest. You didn’t get that kind of person on your side without being at least halfway decent, or at least having halfway decent motives. And that she knew from experience.

She sighed. She had to trust someone. She looked at Lestrade. “This is all off the record, right?”

Lestrade’s eyebrows shot up. He looked at his watch. “I was actually off duty as of twenty minutes ago.”

Veronica exhaled. “Okay. Now don’t freak out about this. But the last time Jake Kane accused me of stealing from him, I actually did break into his house and take something from him. But I returned it and no charges were ever brought against me."

Lestrade's eyes widened. John’s jaw dropped. Both men just stared at her incredulously.

Sherlock was the only one who was not shocked. He nodded. "What else?"

No going back now. "Before this all happened, I was kinda planning to break in to Jake Kane’s apartment.”

The corner of Sherlock’s mouth quirked up and he leaned forward. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

Part 2


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2013 04:25 am (UTC)
Ooooooh! Good start. Awesome start! Now it just needs about 10 more chapters! Maybe eleven! Off you pop!

Feb. 15th, 2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
More? Really? Can't this be it? *whine*
Feb. 15th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
More? Really? Can't this be it? *whine*

Ha ha ha! No.
Feb. 16th, 2013 03:42 am (UTC)
I love that this actually went somewhere from that email you sent me ages ago.

Feb. 16th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Actually, except for a few wording tweaks, it's exactly what I sent you.
Feb. 18th, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
And I liked it then and I still like it now! :D
Feb. 21st, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC)

Now tell me what to do with it!
Mar. 4th, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)
Yay! This is off to a great start. (Lucky birthday girl, that Amanda.) Love the one-upsman-shipping between V and Sherlock. Let me know if you need beta on future chapters :)
Mar. 6th, 2013 05:03 pm (UTC)
Lucky birthday girl, that Amanda.

D'oh! it should've been for your birthday too!

Let me know if you need beta on future chapters

Absolutely! tell me what to do next!
May. 9th, 2013 06:13 am (UTC)
I just discovered this and LOVE it. I can't wait to go read part 2 but thought I would leave you a lovely comment on this one first!

Honestly, it's difficult finding VMars fic that adequately characterises Veronica but I think you've captured the voice of all the characters brilliantly.
May. 11th, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
I would leave you a lovely comment on this one first!

Awww. Thank you! I appreciate the feedback!
May. 9th, 2013 06:20 am (UTC)
This is amazing! The dialogue is snappy, and the characterisation is on point and is practically faultless. And believe me, I looked. It's almost like a minor miracle to find a story this well-written with two of my favourite things mashed into one, but here we are. And I am gobsmacked.

I think you have completely nailed both sides of the crossover, and you've done a great job with setting up the backstory. Every time I had a question about how they came to be in their current situation, the answer seemed to magically manifest itself and kept sweeping me along for the ride.

It's impossible not to fangirl the writing in this, because you managed to match the feel and attitude of both series without it being clunky or choppy. Coupled with practically flawless SPaG, I conclude that this is probably the best thing that's happened to me all week. Thank you so much for writing this, and I avidly await updates!
May. 12th, 2013 05:53 am (UTC)
Oh wow! Thank you so much for your very kind feedback! You've really made my day. I can only hope that the rest of the story will live up to your initial impression. Thank you again for commenting!
May. 9th, 2013 06:33 am (UTC)
This is ridiculously good!
May. 11th, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
May. 9th, 2013 06:35 am (UTC)
This is fantastic! Such delightfully perfect characterization, and a great setup for a fascinating mystery. Can't wait to read the rest!
May. 12th, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
Thank you very kindly! I hope the rest of the story will be equally satisfying
May. 9th, 2013 07:48 am (UTC)
May. 12th, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
May. 9th, 2013 04:08 pm (UTC)
I'm really loving this! I hope this goes on to be a lengthy fic....
May. 11th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
I hope this goes on to be a lengthy fic....

Not sure yet. I've got a basic plot but I haven't outlined all of the execution yet. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the comment!
Jul. 1st, 2014 01:57 am (UTC)
Color me very intrigued ;)
Jul. 1st, 2014 12:36 pm (UTC)

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )