Cycle 4 Round 4 Results!
First place is tied between #7.(Team Mycroft) mrwubbles and #24. (Team Watson) ghislainem70. They each won 3 canes for their teams!
It was a few minutes after Tesco's John realized he was being followed.
Black SUV, tinted windows, driving too slow. John turned a corner to find another identical car idling.
No current case (to Sherlock's dismay) and no texts from Lestrade (to John's relief); nothing that would warrant a chaperone to the shop for milk and Jammie Dodgers.
As John debated his next move, his shadow’s twin rolled up to him.
As John reached for his Browning, a window rolled down, revealing an austere face. He considered making a run for it.
Finally, John huffed, dreading another warehouse conference, "If you're looking for Sherlock—"
"I know his whereabouts." Mycroft frowned, considering his watch, "for at least the next nine minutes. Get in."
Under the laughter that greeted them as they entered 221B, John could have sworn he heard Mycroft curse. Mycroft flew up the stairs and John followed, fueled by Mycroft's uncharacteristic urgency. Taking two steps at a time, gun drawn, John rushed into the room to discover Sherlock...
Sherlock’s companion, a man with brown hair combed to defy gravity looked up from his cup.
"Hullo." The stranger grinned hugely.
Mycroft bristled. "I suspected as much," he said frostily, "when we lost our satellites for two seconds."
"You really shouldn't put them in asymmetrical orbits," the man said mildly, "Another three hundred and forty years, you’ll have a real crisis on your hands." He sipped his tea then beamed at Sherlock. "This is very good."
"I insist you leave at once." Mycroft didn’t raise his voice but everyone (except Sherlock) winced as though he had.
The man brushed crumbs off his long coat and blinked through his glasses. John almost bought his guileless expression. But Mycroft looked as if he were considering giving the cheerful gentleman a good whacking with his umbrella.
Sherlock finally spoke, still affecting boredom. "Wanted to see if I would like to take another trip."
"No," Mycroft and John automatically said.
The stranger blinked. His smile flipped to a mild frown.
"You don't even know me," he aimed at John, miffed.
Always driven by good manners, Mycroft sighed. "John, this is the Doctor. Doctor, this is Doctor John Watson."
John furrowed his brow. "Doctor? Doctor W—"
"Don't say it," Sherlock warned.
The stranger leapt to his feet. John tensed, but the Doctor merely shakes his hand, vigorously.
"Good, very good," he enthused, still shaking John's hand as if trying to rattle change from his pockets. "A doctor? So shout 'Doctor', we'll both answer! Brilliant!"
"He's not going," Mycroft resumed flatly. "The last time—"
John's hand was finally released as the man focused his attention on Mycroft. "That was good fun! Ole George had a lark! We could see him again or..." The man spun around to Sherlock. "We could meet Emperor George."
Sherlock looked intrigued. Mycroft looked ill. John...wasn't sure what he looked like but was filled with alarm.
"Sorry," John interrupted before Mycroft suffered apoplexy. "What are we talking about here?"
"Adventure!" the Doctor declared.
"Chaos," Mycroft muttered.
"No," Sherlock intoned.
For the first time, the Doctor looked something less than utterly confident. "What?"
Sherlock steepled his hands. "There's someone I must deal with in this century."
"Jim? Pish, if you think he's a nuisance, wait another ten thousand years..." A quick flick to John and his mouth snapped shut. "Are you sure?"
Mycroft appeared only marginally relieved. "For once my brother has chosen sensibly." He ignored the impolite snort. "Please, Doctor. If you don't mind..." Mycroft paused. "Where are you parked? Not the previous location, I trust? Her Majesty's corgis have never been the same since..." Mycroft stole a sideways glance at John.
This was becoming very annoying.
The Doctor shook his head. "Regrettable, but they should have shrunk back to normal once you changed their kibble. No, I parked in the kitchen."
John craned his neck but saw nothing except Sherlock's jars of pickling body parts.
"Pardon me, but where did you—" John began but never finished as the Doctor shook everyone's hand, warned John to avoid the purple melons (what?) and strode towards the kitchen. A rectangular patch of light blazed into existence by the kitchen table. The man gave a jaunty wave, thanked Sherlock for the tea and disappeared. There was a thud, a disembodied whoosh and a small maelstrom that blew two weeks' of the Times through the sitting room.
Quiet descended. John studied the kitchen. Looked normal. He considered Mycroft. Mildly perturbed, so again, completely normal. He checked Sherlock: still bored.
Suddenly, John started. He gawped at Sherlock.
"Hold on. You made him tea?"
Westminster Cathedral was filled near to overflowing. But this occasion was not a royal wedding, nor a royal funeral. The occasion was, sadly, more commonplace than either.
Today was the annual Solemn Requiem Mass of the Catholic Police Guild for police officers recently deceased.
The Metropolitan Police’s Male Choir sang the liturgy, doleful and majestic. Row after row of dark-uniformed police bowed their heads and paid respect to their departed fellow officers.
One figure did not bow his head. Instead, he was fuming, glancing distractedly between his watch and the great doors of the Westminster. He refused several officers a place next to him. That place was being held for John.
But John did not come.
This year’s Requiem Mass was distinguished by following immediately upon the funeral of two officers, Renwick and Ellis, who had died in a bombing that very week. A third officer was gravely wounded. Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade, at the last minute, agreed to join them for a game of racquetball, protesting that his record as a marksman would likely not carry over onto the court.
He never got a chance to find out.
The official line was that the officers had been deliberately targeted. Drug lords, Islamic extremists, and disaffected youths were variously blamed.
Evidence was scant.
* * *
“How long does a man live?” Bishop Stack looked out over the throng of officers.
“They live, we are taught, in our memories, and in our experiences, long after they have gone. It is our recollections that keep them alive. Remember your fallen brothers, and especially Officers Renwick and Ellis, who fell to a brutal and senseless bomb attack, just five days past.
“Let us pray.”
* * *
In the silence before the prayers for the dead, Sherlock sprang to his feet.
“Remember them! Remember your fallen brothers!” He shouted, striding between the pews, his voice echoing amongst the stone pillars. “Praying won’t bring them back. Don’t you see, the way to honor the dead -- is to avenge them. None of you should be here. On your knees. Waste of time. You should be out - solving crimes. That is the way to honor dead policemen.”
There was a general uproar as policemen protested: some leaped forward to restrain Sherlock, but he was too quick. He was in the front pews now, where the pallbearers from the funeral sat.
“Sit down, sir,” the Bishop ordered, scandalized.
“Willingly. After all of the pallbearers remove their gloves. Now.”
The pallbearers stared up at Sherlock, pale and furious, an avenging angel.
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police pulled at Sherlock’s shoulder. “Mr. Holmes. Stop this or I’ll have you arrested.”
“Arrest me: but make them take off their gloves.”
“What’s this about, Mr. Holmes?”
“You know my record: Do it, and I promise you will do more for your dead officers than a hundred Requiems.”
The Commissioner nodded at the pallbearers, who began removing their gloves. Gloves which had just lowered the dead officers into their graves.
The last pallbearer was pale and shaking, shrinking in his seat. The others stared at him, and then up to Sherlock, looking grimly triumphant. Before the man could flee, two pallbearers tackled him and forcibly removed his gloves. They handed them to Sherlock with awe.
Sherlock turned them out.
The insides of the gloves were stained with brilliant blue blotches.
* * *
“I arranged for gloves saturated with a reagent of my own invention to be substituted for their own gloves,” Sherlock announced. “The pallbearers were made to change their gloves for the final handling of the caskets. It reacts to the minutest of traces of very particular type of explosive. An explosive, I might add, stolen from police evidence. Renwick had caught our pallbearer – his best friend — stealing from the evidence room: drugs, money, guns. Renwick was going to turn him in.”
Sherlock handed the gloves to the Commissioner; at his signal, officers took the pallbearer swiftly away to general uproar.
“There’s a proper Requiem, Bishop,” Sherlock said, and strode out of Westminster Cathedral. Row by row, officers rose to thank him.
He paid them no mind whatsoever.
* * *
Sherlock entered to the quiet hospital room where Lestrade was recovering. John was there, pale and exhausted. Lestrade was still unconscious.
Observing Sherlock’s formal suit, John smacked his forehead. “The Requiem Mass. Sorry, Sherlock. I –“
“There were some departures from the traditional service,” Sherlock said. He leaned down close to Lestrade’s ear and whispered.
Lestrade’s eyes fluttered.
John could almost swear the ghost of a smile crossed his lips.
Second Place is a fun occurrence with a 8-way tie between #4 Team Watson's-- gloria_scott, #10 Team Sherlock's-- nickelsandcoats, #12 Team Watson's-- eanor, #14 Team Sherlock's-- polkadotsquared, #15 Team Mycroft's-- brate7, #17 Team Sherlock's-- myfieldnotes, #22 Team Watson's-- thisprettywren, and #26 Team Watson's-- goldvermilion87. They each won 2 canes for their teams!
WARNING: Character Death
It was a crisp October morning when Lestrade made his way up the steps of Westminster Cathedral. He’d come to the Catholic Police Guild’s Solemn Requiem Mass every year since he was a constable. The cathedral was packed, and the service had already begun. Lestrade remained at the back, standing unobtrusively beside the door.
Since this was a special mass, the Archbishop himself stepped forward and began the liturgy.
I am the resurrection and the life…
Lestrade scanned the crowd and was surprised how easily he picked out Sherlock and John. They were sitting towards the front, John with shoulders sagging and head bowed, Sherlock defiantly upright.
His eyes continued to rove over the backs of heads until he found Donovan and the rest of his team. He fought the urge to jostle his way through the crowd to join them, not wanting to disturb anyone.
In the midst of life we are in death…
He sensed someone standing beside him, and without looking he greeted the newcomer.
“Good of you to come, Mycroft.”
“My pleasure, Gregory. I know how important this is to you.”
The prayer ended and a deep silence descended, before the Archbishop began reading off the names of the police officers who had fallen in the line of duty. Most years Lestrade had known some of the names, others not. This time, a strange sense of anticipation mingled with his grief.
David Kent…Mustafa Khalid…Susan Lathan…Gregory Lestrade…
Lestrade sighed deeply, and then turned to look at Mycroft. “What was it like for you, then? Dying, I mean.”
Mycroft wrinkled his nose as if recalling a noisome smell. “Painful. A heart attack is a terrible way to go.”
“A bit of a surprise, too. I thought you took pretty good care of yourself.”
“Yes, I did, though it was probably for nought,” Mycroft replied. “Congenital defect, inherited from my father. There’s only so much one can really do about that, after all.”
Lestrade turned to face the altar once again, though his eyes focused on nothing in particular.
“I only remember the cold.”
Mycroft said nothing. The Archbishop had finished reciting his litany of the departed, and the light, ethereal voices of the choir singing Agnus Dei began to fill the otherwise silent cathedral.
Lestrade closed his eyes, allowing the sweetness of the music to wash over him. He didn’t want to ask his next question, but he swallowed the dread that had crept into his chest and soldiered on.
“So why are you really here?”
“I have some business to attend to,” Mycroft replied lightly.
A chuckle rattled in Lestrade’s throat like a dry bone. “Occupying a minor position in the celestial hierarchy now, are you?”
“Something like that. I’m to escort you onward.”
Mycroft shrugged. “It helps to have a friendly face in this situation.”
“Yeah, well, no offense but I would have expected my mum, or even Aunt Gertie, before you.”
“I volunteered, as I was going to be in the neighbourhood anyway.”
“Still keeping an eye on that brother of yours?”
“Two, whenever possible,” Mycroft smiled.
The service ended, and the rustling of programs and gathering of coats and murmurings of wasn’t that a lovely mass? began in earnest.
“Ready to go?” Mycroft inquired amiably, pointing the tip of his umbrella at the open doors behind them.
Lestrade cocked his head at the umbrella. “Do you really need that now?”
“No, but I am a creature of habit, even in death.”
“Where are we going?” He didn’t really expect an answer, but he was reluctant to leave this place, now that his departure was imminent.
“Still a cryptic bastard. That hasn’t changed either.”
The corners of Mycroft’s eyes crinkled as he smiled again. “I do enjoy my little surprises. Shall we?”
Lestrade remained rooted to the spot. “Do I have a choice?”
Mycroft’s smile faded, and though his look became quite serious, it was not without tenderness. “You always have a choice, Gregory.”
Lestrade looked around at the crowd of people, now up and moving all around and through them. He caught sight of Sherlock leaving through the door to his right. Several paces behind, John walked with a comforting arm around Donovan’s shoulders, though it was John’s eyes that were puffy and swollen from tears.
“Right,” Lestrade said. “Let’s get on with it.”
Mycroft extended his hand and Lestrade took it, and the world fell away to a shroud of fine mist, and was gone.
I Hear You in My Heart (You Carry Me Always)
Ever since he could remember, Gregory Lestrade had heard a song tugging low and deep in his heart.
And ever since he had been old enough to understand, he knew what that song was and how to use it.
When his gran died, the song was louder and louder and louder until it finally got whisper-quiet and stopped when she did. When his mum died, the song was a quiet low hum that burned through his consciousness and wormed its way into his ears. For months, that song was all he heard every time he closed his eyes.
As he grew up, he was able to push the song away, to only hear it when he needed to.
The first time he used it on the job, it was to see if a kid would make it until the ambulance arrived or if he would bleed out before it got there. The song beat in his ears like a bass drum steady and slow until suddenly it wasn’t and the kid’s blood washed away in the rain. Lestrade stood up, shook his head to clear it, and walked away from the body in the street. He walked around the corner and leaned against the crumbling, dirty brick wall and tipped his head back against the rain. He let the sound of it hitting his eyelashes chase the lingering memory of that slow steady beat out of his head. He had to sleep tonight.
The only person whose song he never heard was Mycroft Holmes’. The silence surrounding the man disturbed Lestrade, who found the lack of the tug and pull disconcerting. After a while, he realised the reason he didn’t hear Mycroft’s song was because it was tied up in his. When they lay in bed together, Lestrade’s heart was quiet and gentle, the song a soft hum in the back of his mind, nearly forgotten.
The only other person he’d known who’d lost their song was John Watson.
The good doctor’s song, the first time they met in Sherlock’s new flat, was loud and strong and determined, the heart of a protector. It was so loud, in fact, that it nearly drowned out Sherlock’s more erratic, quicker song.
When he saw John and Sherlock together again after the end of that Chinese smuggling case, John’s song was gone and Sherlock’s wildly unpredictable cadence had gained a smooth, thumping backbone. It sounded like a heartbeat.
The whole pips case had Lestrade’s teeth on edge. Sherlock’s song was even more erratic than before, and it was distracting in the extreme. Over the years of their acquaintance, Lestrade had attuned himself to Sherlock’s song, telling himself that it was just a precaution when in fact, it was so that he would know the instant something went wrong. It had saved Sherlock’s life more than once.
And now, racing to a pool that had been blown to bits, Lestrade could hear Sherlock’s song beating an insistent help help help help help help help help help him help him helphim helphim helphimhelphimhelphimhelp and overlaying that, the strong steady thrum of John’s repeating the same, doubling and trebling until the feedback loop was so overpowering he could barely see, breathe, or even think. His own pulse raced and thumped in time with their combined song.
As he drew closer, the song, instead of increasing in volume and intensity, began to fade. John’s steady beat was slowing, quieting, and Sherlock’s trilled in panic before it, too, began to slip its rhythm, fading in and out of Lestrade’s consciousness, tugging insistently at his heart-
-and then he was scrabbling at the rubble with his bare hands, digging, cursing under his breath, praying for some miracle that would keep their songs going, keep them from fading away to their dissonant ends.
His fingers hit flesh and he gasped in relief. He dug harder, faster, and when he unearthed them, they were clinging to each other, bloodied, bruised, barely breathing, but there.
As he uncovered more of them, John’s song stopped, and the entire world held its breath and came to a standstill. Sherlock’s song screamed in blind panic and then took a deep breath itself and said
and there was a soft thump thump thump as John’s song tiptoed back and the soft trill of Sherlock’s own intertwined with it until both of their songs beat as one-not Sherlock’s, not John’s, not John’s subsumed with Sherlock’s-but together as they breathed and Lestrade cried with relief.
Warning: character death
It was at the precise moment he realised he was dying that, for the first (and last) time in his life, Sherlock Holmes found himself running out of time. Not even time for himself (although – obviously – there were always more crimes to solve), but more time to spend with John.
Had he had a minute left, he would have used that time to tell John how important he was to him, how marvellous it felt to have a friend, someone he could trust and rely on. Or maybe he would have made a quick observation instead, some kind of joke, to see John’s eyes light up in astonishment and adoration and to see his achingly familiar smile one last time.
Had he had an hour left, maybe they could have gone to have dinner in one of the small, exquisite restaurants he occasionally produced much to John’s surprise (and delight). This time, he wouldn’t even have minded going to one of those slightly grubby and loud pubs John liked so much. Or they could simply have gone home, sat down in their chairs and enjoyed a quiet cup of tea.
Had he had a day left, he would have made sure nobody could interrupt his perfect day with John. And nobody would have included Mycroft and Lestrade, even if the prospect of missing an interesting case was a devastating one. But he would have endured this to spend a whole day with John, locked in their flat, watching some of the ludicrous action films John was so fond of, and only muttering complaints under his breath.
Had he had a year left, undoubtedly they would have spent most of it in action. They would have raced all around London, chased after the most dangerous criminals and solved the most difficult cases. Between their adventures there would have been periods of calm too, but with John they would have been acceptable. Because being with John was like living in the centre of a cyclone – one could experience constant excitement while staying perfectly still.
Had he had a whole lifetime left with John, he wouldn’t have had to worry about things like drinking tea or watching films or even chasing criminals. Oh, all of that would have played a part in their life – their life together, their lives tightly interwoven – but the best part of it would have come at the end. He could almost see their tiny house in the countryside, feel the warm breeze smelling of fruit from their garden and hear the calming buzzing of their bees. For a split-second he wondered whether John would actually have liked them. But yes, there most certainly would have been bees.
Unfortunately, Sherlock didn’t have a lifetime left, nor a year; he didn’t have a month either, nor a week. He didn’t even have a minute to tell John all his plans for times that could have been, had he only had more time. He only had seconds left, so the only consolation he could offer his dearest friend was a smile that he hoped conveyed all the promises of their lives not yet spent.
Every single person who came to see the body of the world’s most famous consulting detective afterwards marvelled at how he looked happier in death than anyone had ever seen him when he had been alive. Only John understood that this wasn’t the smile of a man content with his life, but of one pleased with what would have been in store for him. His tears took merely seconds to well up, but a lifetime to dry.
It happens over and over again through time. No matter what year, decade or era there is always a version of the story playing out. There is always the same pairing – strictly professional mind – but they are always drawn together somehow as if their subconsciouses know the story and are goading them into it.
The legionnaire was kicked out of the Roman army because of an injury that he had picked up while they crossed France, his leg did not function as it should and he was left in Londinium as his fellow soldiers traversed north, to fight the Scots and protect England. He met an old friend in his second week there, as he was looking for somewhere to stay when he was allowed to leave the Roman hospital. The friend said he knew someone. All the Roman doctors and nurses had said there was nothing to be done for his leg, but one evening with his new landlord and a short hop, skip and jump around Londinium and discovering the murder plot of the emperor and his leg was normal, no limp, no need for the cane, and he had the thrill back that he had lost many years ago.
The forgotten brother of the King’s aide roams Cheapside and somehow looks cleaner and more well presented than the other peasants of the area. The millers and brewers and butchers ignore him as they have been annoyed by his antics before. He somehow can read their secrets and he has only been saved from being burnt at the stake because of his powerful brother. Recently though, they’ve noticed him calmer and less aggressive towards them, although still knowing their hidden truths. Since that nice soldier came back from the Crusades in the Middle East. A place so far removed from Cheapside that no one really has the mind to be able to wrap around that idea. They are still in a “the world is flat” set of thinking. Somehow the soldier and the witch met, a rumour goes around the place that it was because the soldier needed lodgings and no one had warned him of the witch, but they seem to thrive with the other, rather than the terrible mismatch that most bet on.
The doctor returned to London after the Boer war at the turn of the century, he had seen much death and destruction in Africa and wished for a quiet life. He lasted two weeks before he was bored and visited a friend he had trained with at Barts. Over afternoon tea the doctor had learnt of a boarding house in Baker Street and of its rather lunatic resident who believed he could solve crimes by sniffing and licking and reading people, and then the next day found himself in front of it, holding a letter that read “Doctor, British Library, come at once, could be dangerous.” The doctor was gone, all thoughts of lunatics aside as he rushed to the Library and helped stop a rather courageous gang of youths from making off with an ancient manuscript.
He was a conscientious objector, and wore his white feather proudly. He refused to be sent to France to order men to die by sacrificing themselves for King and country. He was not one to take orders that much was definite and though his schooling meant he could enter as an officer he did not wish the responsibility of other men to look after and send to their deaths. Instead he remained in London and experimented on corpses of the injured that had been brought back to hospital and had not survived. He learnt all manner of interesting things about mustard gas and mortar wounds. Then one day an injured doctor appeared, harassed and clearly missing the action. He had been in Italy by his tan and itched to be doing something better than just tending to the wounded here as he had been relegated to do. The doctor held back with his left arm, even though it was his strongest and the objector guessed a gunshot wound there, that had healed badly – clearly he had been the only doctor in the area. He spoke.
“Sherlock Holmes and I have to see a man about a murder. Will you join me, I might need a doctor's opinion? Could be dangerous...”
John ducked his head and eyed Sherlock askance. From the time John had woken that morning, the detective had been snapping at everyone and everything—more so than normal. No one had evaded his scathing tongue, not Lestrade, certainly not Anderson—not even John himself.
Realizing Sherlock was about to incite a mutiny, John started to walk forward, to either calm Sherlock down or pull him away—he wasn't certain—when his phone beeped. It was a text from Mycroft: Be patient with him.
John's grip tightened on his phone as Sherlock continued to harangue the entire London police force as well as their ancestry, but he did as requested and held back.
In the oppressively uncomfortable taxi ride home, John tried to stay still and appear as small as he could in order to avoid Sherlock's ire. He hoped Mrs Hudson was out, because she didn't deserve this kind of treatment from her lodger.
But Sherlock surprised him again when he greeted their landlady with a kiss to the cheek and a few kind words before running up the stairs to their flat.
John stood at the bottom, bewildered.
Mrs Hudson patted his cheek and said, "He'll be fine; don't you worry. Poor dear always has such trouble with the day." She disappeared into her flat before John could ask what she meant.
He spent the rest of the evening trying to stay out of Sherlock's line of fire, and ended up going to bed extraordinarily early.
John bolted upright, breathing heavily and trying to let the nightmare fade away. A cuppa sometimes helped, so he slid out of bed and walked carefully down the stairs. As he passed the sitting room, he heard a violin being played.
Instead of the usual discordant scratching, the sound was phenomenal. John was mesmerized by the tune. He'd never heard the song before, had no idea who the composer could be, but it was hauntingly beautiful.
Just as he was about to step into the room, John saw tears streaming down Sherlock's face from his closed eyes. John slowly backed out of the doorway and returned to his room.
It took him a long time to fall back asleep.
The next day, John struggled to make it through his time at the surgery after his nearly sleepless night. He just wanted to put in his hours, go home, and collapse.
He wearily called in the next patient. "How can I help you?" John asked.
"You can give me ten minutes of your time."
John whipped his head around to see Mycroft Holmes. "Oh my God, what's wrong?" He jumped up and his body started pumping adrenaline, ready for whatever Mycroft threw his way.
"Don't worry, Dr Watson." Mycroft waved a hand to have him retake his seat. "Everything's fine. I merely thought you deserved an explanation for my brother's behavior yesterday. I probably should have warned you, but I'll admit, I was curious as to how you would react."
John clenched his jaw together. Of course, the Holmes' brothers would share that particular trait.
"And I must say you did admirably," Mycroft went on as if he didn't see John's flash of anger. "Sherlock can be a bit rough on his best days never mind his worst."
"His worst?" John thought back to the previous day, and Sherlock's over-the-top reactions. He mused ,"The violin music."
"Ah, yes." Mycroft smiled sadly. "A piece he wrote for my mother's funeral. He replays it once a year on what would have been her birthday."
Which let the rest of the pieces fell into place.
Mycroft obviously saw he got the point across, and he stood. "I appreciate you taking care of my brother."
"I didn't do it for you," John snapped.
"And that," Mycroft said walking out the door, "is why you're so very good at it."
Before inviting the next person in, John made plans to pick up Sherlock's favorite takeaway on the way home. It was the best he could do knowing Sherlock wouldn't like being fussed over—even if he needed it.
17. Team Sherlock--myfieldnotes
Head pounding Sherlock took a step towards the sounds of the violin playing Danse Macabre and fell. Again. This time nearly taking John down with him. Only John's hard grip on Sherlock's arm and his quick grab at the beslimed brickwork saved them from the icy water. The knee deep rivulet running down the center of the dark sewer splashed and the noise of their scrambling back drowned out the song briefly. Obviously that had been the wrong clue. He should have known. Sherlock shook his head, trying to reorient himself but it only made him dizzy. John lifted Sherlock's arm over his shoulder and they continued forward. "Steady now." John murmured, using his soldier's voice.
Which if nothing else, indicated how much trouble he thought they were in.
Contrary to what some might think Sherlock was not incapable of recognizing that singular state. When absolutely necessary he might even admit to it out loud. Although admittedly to date it had rarely proven necessary to do so where others might actually be present to hear him. Most certainly never when Mycroft was around, Sherlock having long ago decided that exsanguination by leeches would be preferable to such a confession to his brother. Fortunately, John did not require such banal updates on the state of their well being. Which, Sherlock decided at that moment as John stalwartly helped him stumble through the pitch black and out of the freezing water was one of the qualities he most admired in him.
Because they most definitely were in trouble.
With a skirl Mad Tom of Bedlam increased in tempo behind them causing the throb in his temple to increase. The violin's execrable playing reminded Sherlock strongly of cats yowling. "I know we need to hurry." Sherlock snapped pushing them onward away from their pursuer.
Pointedly he ignored the song, although considering it wasn't real, it proved difficult.
Mad Tom increased in volume.
Sherlock hadn't reckoned his own brain could be quite so annoying.
"I think we're coming to an intersection." John grunted. "Right or left?"
Somewhere a gypsy began plucking at the strings. Playful and sly. "No." Sherlock halted them sharply. The word echoed painfully against the rounded walls adding to the cacophony of string work ringing in his ears. "We need to cross to the other side. Not another step."
"Booby trapped?" John asked far too calmly, like a man who'd seen a lot of them which of course he had, as he maneuvered them across.
"Yes." Sherlock said grimly. The gypsy harpy had been playing a military funeral dirge.
Blindly, Sherlock ran his free hand against rough brick and seam joints pacing them onward, John's solid weight under his arm the only warmth in the cold passage. His hand hit a recessed section. "This way," he said to John wrenched them towards the opening in the dark as Promontory obstinately insisted he follow it.
They scrambled their way past fallen rubble and into the new space. Sherlock hesitated turning the raw scraped side of his cheek one way and the other, not feeling any change in the damp air from one direction to the next. However, he could hear John's pained breathing as he moved beside him. Apparently John had decided in their escape from Moriarty not to mention the bullet graze currently spreading a widening damp spot under Sherlock's fingers. Which was fine, an equal bit of quid pro quo, considering Sherlock had equally decided not to mention that he was perhaps basing their escape route off of data born from concussive hallucinations.
At least Sherlock trusted that some part of his subconscious was noting the salient points of temperature, air pressure, and direction and was merely choosing to inform him via a less direct data route than traditional.
Or so he hoped.
He winced as an illustratory bow sawed its way across the opening cords of I Gotta Feeling. Although it would seem that his subconscious was exhibiting highly questionable taste.
Why it preferred to revisit John's music playlists rather than Sherlock's own more classical ones when they were in trouble was questionable.
John's grip abruptly tightened on his wrist in urgency as they both spotted the break of light up ahead and Viva La Vida started energetically up. At volume.
However, Sherlock swore as soon as they were out of this predicament he was most definitely deleting certain swaths out of John's iTunes list from his mental hard drive.
Subconscious preferences or not!
John has known Sherlock for eight months on the night he loses him (then finds, loses, and finds him again).
John attended his medical school graduation with a bruise on his hip the size of an orange, the remnant of a particularly active scrum the previous day. When he sat back in his seat after receiving his diploma--Doctor Watson; it didn't even sound unfamiliar, not anymore--he'd had to grit his teeth. First against the pain, then against a grin.
He felt useful in the army. It wasn't the other medics he connected with--they were good enough people but too like the other students he remembered from school, not understanding why John turned down study groups and spent the time on the rugby pitch instead--but the infantry. They were boys, really, all of them too young for this, the endless sun baking squint lines into the skin around their eyes. They weren't allowed personal effects in boot camp and they're carried that ethos with them on deployment; wore their faces like armour, as tightly controlled as the laces in their boots, as impersonal as their camp beds.
Enough of them dropped their act in John's presence, though, that he let himself smile at them, let himself believe he was helping. On quiet days he bandaged their blisters; on unquiet days he applied tourniquets, ran alongside gurneys, shouted orders, passed along last words.
He slept well.
Then he ended flat on his back in a hospital bed himself and saw just how useless it all was, the doctors and the nurses smiling and smiling and thinking they're helping.
After that, he starts having nightmares.
He's back in London before he can force himself to really look at the mark on his shoulder--tight and shiny, inlaid like a carving in sculpture; irrevocably wrong--and he understands just how misguided he'd been, to suppose any of it had meant anything.
He touches the fingers of his right hand to the fresh pink skin of the developing scar, explores the even line of dots left by the stitches and staples. He'd been unconscious for those, of course, had failed to witness the tiny injuries demanded by the greater one, but his body remembers.
John sees himself transformed from a healer to a living memorial, his own flesh made witness to all of them, all the lives saved and lost.
(Or, too often, saved and then--)
This is all any of them ever leave with, he thinks, and he supposes, in a way, he's glad. This way he can't leave it behind.
It's almost a relief to be invalided. He isn't sure he'd have been able to go back, anyway, now that he knows.
By the night Sherlock falls, the scar in John's shoulder has faded to white, though it still grows purple in the cold.
It would have been purple that night, he supposes, if he'd bothered to look. Instead he kneels on the harsh pavement in the January wind, calling Sherlock's name again and again. But it isn't John's wound so it's Sherlock's shirt that he wrenches open. He tears off his own jacket and presses it against the place where the knife had been and gone, trying to stop the bleeding.
It helps, but Sherlock is still bleeding even after his pulse fades, when the skin stretched tight across the space for his heart falls still.
John does the only thing he can; forms his hands into fists and physically beats the life back into his friend's body, pressure against Sherlock's sternum that will crack ribs and leave bruises, and the hell of it is, it works.
Later, after the sirens and the ambulance and running alongside the gurney, after a nurse pulls him into the loo and makes him wash Sherlock's blood from his face and neck, after Sherlock is taken into surgery and John gives an official statement in the hallway, John is finally admitted back into the recovery room.
Sherlock is pale and bandaged and breathing. If this is all they're going to leave with, it's enough.
John folds himself into the visitor's chair and becomes aware of the ache in his chest and arms and back, his muscles' belated protest of being asked to do the work of keeping two hearts beating.
This time, John doesn't bother to swallow his grin.
Requiescat in Pace
He was waiting for something.
But what for? What about all the others. Criminals? Victims? He didn’t recognize any of the faces, but he knew. They were waiting, too.
He needed to know… if only the movie would end so he could think! Think! Just for a moment… figure out what he was waiting for. Was someone about to walk into the pool of streetlight and announce himself, or...
He blinked. Surely that was laptop light... and... hadn’t he been standing outside in the cold? Why was he...
Oh... It had been a dream. That did happen occasionally when he took a desperately needed nap after a case.
Though perhaps this something more than an example of stress-related insomnia…
“John what is that heinous... aural torture?”
John was typing with two fingers on his laptop.
“What? Sorry! Did I wake you?”
“Did you wake me? Of course you did! What is that?”
John looked around the room in confusion. “Wha...”
“Oh... You mean you don’t... of course you don’t know... It’s Journey, Sherlock. Everyone loves Journey!”
“Well, I’m not everyone. Turn it off!”
Sherlock couldn’t ever remember feeling so exhausted… Was this what they meant when they said you feel your age? It couldn’t! He wouldn’t be fifty for… three months, two days, six hours, and eleven minutes.
But he had to admit that after that chase, he did not want even to eat a sandwich. He just dropped to the couch in his coat. The pillow was soft. His eyes began to close. He would never admit it to anyone, but he liked that muzzy place where sleep and waking become indistinguishable. It was pleasant... relaxing... A few minutes of this, and he would get up, eat something, and then change into something more comfortable for bed.
A few more minutes. It was warm. Comfortable. It was…
“SHOT THROUGH THE HEART!”
Sherlock jumped up and clutched at his chest. Was this what it felt like to have a heart attack?
“John! What have you done? This is your fault! You’ve killed me!”
John had slammed his laptop shut, and was staring back at Sherlock guiltily. “I… I didn’t realize it was still attached to the speakers… sorry.”
Sherlock was still focused on breathing. “That… that is because you… you see, but…”
“But I don’t observe. I’m sorry, Sherlock. Just… go back to sleep.”
The last thing he registered before the muzziness took over was John gingerly lifting his laptop lid back open.
Something was wrong. Not that he was smoking it, surely. Even Mycroft had indulged once in his career. And it didn’t hurt him. It was just… nice… not to have to think all those thoughts… instead to feel relaxed, happy, carefree. He’d been wanting that recently – escape from his own head. Why did it feel wrong now?
Ah. He realized after a confused moment. Because he was so many years removed from those days. Because…
“John, turn it off, I’m trying to sleep.”
“What’s wrong with ‘Truckin’?”
Second Place is a fun occurrence with a 4-way tie between #3 Team Mycroft's-- girlingoldboots , #11 Team Mycroft's-- sussexdowns, #18 Team Watson's--grnidshrk, #19 Team Sherlock's--bwblack, earning 1 cane for each of their teams.
At the sound of the doors opening Molly looked up as the detectives escorted the body into the morgue. It was a familiar sight she was greeted with often enough, some months more than others, but lately it had been routine. Quiet even. maybe she should have had that thought, doctors always considered the 'Q' word a bad luck one.
She saw Sergeant Donovan first, Anderson suspiciously absent. She heard through the rumour mill (i.e. Sherlock taunting Sally on the loss of her paramour) that he had transferred. The Sergeant didn't appear to be that broken up about it.
"Doctor Hooper, you don't have to do this one, if you don't want to." She began, showing concern for the other woman. "I could call someone else."
Molly just looks up and starts putting her protective gear on. "I'm the only one on duty these late nights." She put on the gloves. "What happened?" As the sergeant helped her move the trolley into the lab.
Donovan sighed. She seemed tired. "Straightforward stabbing. Took all of us by surprise. The autopsy's just a formality at this point." she said "Forensics is still at the scene, but I've got clothes from the ambulance. They cut them off of him when they tried to stop the bleeding but..." No need to say the efforts were in vain.
Molly turned on her recorder and began cataloguing the details of the body. Holding up a torn and bloody shirt she said "Stab wound. Depth looks pretty deep, about 10 centimetres. Too jagged for a blade of some kind." She looked closer and with tweezers she picked at something. "Glass?"
"Piece of broken window pane." The other woman answered.
"Oddly enough it wasn't the neck wound that was fatal." Molly continued. "The one on his side was. Half a centimetre in either direction he would have survived. Did you catch the assailant?"
"Doctor Watson did. He pulled him off after the second stabbing when we realised what was happening." Donovan replied with a shake of her head. "Funny that no matter how much of this sort of thing you see it's still surprising."
The doctor just nodded and continued cataloguing the injuries on the body, both old and new, measuring wounds and bruises all the while dictating notes into her recorder. Funny that this kind of this would happen to him. A regular, mundane, almost boring bit of violence. Molly didn't realise that she said the last bit out loud.
"Boring?" Sally asked. "You're starting to sound like Himself."
"Am I?" Molly replied. "There's worse things I guess." She binned her gloves and carefully closed the body up in one of the drawers. Later on would be time for arrangements and mourning, but there were other things to attend to first. As Molly sat down at her desk she didn't notice Sergeant Donovan leave. Carefully she began typing up the details of the autopsy from her recordings and memory. She paused slightly, taking a shaky breath as she typed up the name Gregory Lestrade. Tamping it down she finished her report in the cold silence of the morgue.
"Please Molls, just for the week," Jane says.
Molly curls her hands around the mug of tea, wishing the heat would hurry up and unstiffen her cold fingers. She wants to demure, but Jane is looking at her and her expression is somehow both pleading and expectant and, well, Molly's never been so good at saying no to people.
"Please," Jane says again. "I'll come feed Toby for you the next time you're on holiday."
Whoever knows when that will be, Molly thinks. It's a fair offer, genuinely meant, but Molly can't help thinking it's a bit of a safe thing to say. Still, she feels her shoulders curling inexorably toward her ears, her mouth moving to smile faintly, and she knows Jane has her.
"Okay," she murmurs.
Tillie is an Alsatian who, despite a history of being quite polite and well-behaved, has always made Molly a bit nervous. At the moment, she's curled next to the legs of a short table, napping. Molly supposes it ought to make her look younger, more puppy-like, but truthfully she just looks like the same large dog. Only sleeping. Unpredictable.
Molly, stretched out on the settee, wishes Jane would hurry up and come home from Calais. It isn't that she minds watching Tillie, not exactly. It's only, well. She sighs and wipes a hand over her eyes and glances at the screen of her mobile. The alarm she'd set to wake her is still roughly forty minutes from sounding, but she doesn't think she'll really get anymore sleep as it is. May as well take a shower, since she might not get a chance for one until the evening otherwise. Then she can take Tillie for a walk if she's awake, head home to her own flat, and feed Toby, who she hasn't really seen much of this week. She feels a stab of guilt at that, but she'll see him again soon enough. Then, she thinks, after she's done taking care of her cat, she'll come back here, feed Tillie, take her on another quick walk, and go to work.
She wonders what time she'll be able to come home that evening to check on Toby again before ending up back here, and she suddenly doesn't want to get up. She doesn't think she'll be able to keep her eyes open for the rest of the day.
Molly's head snaps up and her hand jerks slightly, spilling coffee over her hand and the sleeve of her coat.
"The monitor?" the slight, dark haired man in the doorway says, hesitantly. "With the screen that went all…" he makes a gesture with his hands that is quite expressive, though Molly's not actually sure what it's meant to express. "I'm from IT?"
Molly thinks this would be a good time to contribute something to the conversation, but all she can come up with is "Sorry, I, no. Sorry." She takes a breath and tries again.
"Next door," she says. "Fairbanks is next door. I'm Molly. Hooper. Doctor…Hooper."
"Oh, thanks," says the IT man. He turns to leave, then comes back. He looks immediately like he wishes he hadn't, and his mouth twitches up at the corner, the same way hers does when she's realised smiling won't actually make any situation less awkward, but she can't make her face look any other way.
"It's just," he falters, and his mouth twitches again. He says in a rush "I'd sort of hoped you were Fairbanks." He blushes and disappears next door.
Oh, Molly thinks, with coffee cooling on her wrist. Well.
Jim, the shy, slight, dark-haired man from IT, brings her chips in a paper cone when she's too busy to get away for lunch.
She doesn't mind covering for Emily, especially as she's getting married on Thursday. But she can't help feeling a bit dejected that no one will be filling in for her while she prepares for her wedding. Maybe, she thinks, maybe if she had a spare minute anywhere in her day, she might be able to meet someone she'd like to marry. She wonders which odds are longer: getting married or having time off.
The chips Jim brings her are thin and crisp, covered in mayonnaise and tomato ketchup. Molly thinks that between these and living on Pot Noodle all week, she can feel her weight going up, up, up.
Maybe she'll come in early tomorrow and do some laps in the rehab pool before work.
It was almost music to him.
Highs and lows; fast and slow.
He could play what he saw when he looked at them with his violin. Perpetuate the violence they met at their ends with a hard pluck of a string when it was abrupt and messy or a mournful slow screech as they slowly lost their lives painfully to poison or bleeding out.
He could tell their life stories from a glance at their wardrobes and how they kept their hair, tell about their relationships by the state of their jewelry.
He could see how they lived their lives, visualize how the interacted with faceless people day after day.
The only way to exorcise these ghosts, the phantoms of the people whose murders he's solved, is to play.
So he plays.
He plays with his eyes closed and he watches them as they spin past his mind's eye, living out day to, watching as all of the clues fit together in a steam-lined life of monotony until it stutters to an unfortunate or sometimes earned death. Sometimes the deaths are deserved. Sometimes they were desired.
He watches as multitudes of scenarios play out in his head, see's the assailant as he stalks his pray.
Watches as sharp blades push through soft tissue and catch on bone, hears the trapped, strangled screams that try to make their way from throats only to die prematurely as blood fills the lungs and drips from the mouth in a signature of death.
His brain creates the phantom scents of cordite filling his nose and the spatter pattern left from the shot painting the inside of his eyelids with a morbid red and grey, shards of bone mixed within and sticking from what was once a white wall.
He plays, for hours and hours on end, putting all of the lives he's pieced together and pulled apart to rest. He ignores everything.
Even his family, those he could call friends.
John watches him as he sits and sketches, the scenes leaving his mind through charcoal and graphite.
Lestrade drinks and goes home to hold onto the memory of his late wife, fingering her wedding ring and remembering her laugh.
Mycroft is thankful for the disappearance of the drugs and the appearance of John, John who keeps his brother healthy and away from that poison his brother had once used to exorcise the ghosts. Mycroft watches his brother, aware he cannot get so close to the tragedies his brother does without losing himself to the ghosts, he listens to his brother exercise them through starvation and riddles and his violin; a violin that is soundlessly replaced and repaired when it's needed without question.
Mycroft thinks of their Father, so strong and stolid, wonder and imagines how he would react to his youngest son's coping mechanisms, to his oldest son's position and how he wields his power. He likes to think he would at least be proud of him, though he knows he would have wanted to berate Sherlock for his weakness, for having to exorcise them the way he does.
Still, Mycroft records them, each requiem, at the end of each case. He has a flash drive filled with the painful songs his brother plays after each death is investigated, each criminal incarcerated.
That violin continues to play its violent mournful tune, a timeless requiem that only Sherlock can hear and give voice to.
Warnings: drug use
There are many who believe that there are a finite number of basic plots in the world. They are mistaken. There are an infinite number of plots. The human brain, however, isn't usually capable of parsing infinite possibilities. Those that can are sometimes lauded as visionaries. More often they are discredited for lunacy. The line between the two is often faint, blurred, and all too easy to cross.
Is it surprising, really? It is mirrored in so many things. Most children go through life thinking their path is set. They are expected to grow up and take on the professions of their parents, their neighbors, their friends. But with age they often regret the avenues they never explored, or even imagined
Novelty is such a hard road. It takes bravery, daring and just a bit of madness. The first man who dared to dream of flight died at the bottom of a rocky cliff. The 1000th man labored obsessively for 40 years to manage a "flight" mere feet off the ground for a few seconds.What is now routine was the folly of a fleet of anonymous dreamers now forgotten by time.
So it was for the detective. People read of his exploits in the late 19th century. He captivated the imaginations of the masses. They marveled at his intellect and imagined small ways in which they could apply his techniques in their own lives.
They never knew, however, of the many that came before him. The curious, impatient child whose busy mother added poppy juice to his milk to quiet him. The surly young man whose observations went unheard, unheeded and turned to the drug of forgetfulness to quiet his own bored, unchallenged mind forever. The detective could not survive alone.
The next evolution had a brother who was not just his intellectual equal but somebody far more clever. The detective, always competitive by nature, locked himself in his lab making discovery upon discovery always striving to best the brother. His work was lost with him, the greatest discoveries of an era still trapped in his mind upon his death.
The next detective found a partner in science. A man who was intellectual enough to understand beautiful depth of this one great mind, but meticulously scientific enough to chronicle their every step. Together they proved that poppy plant while medicinally useful was not magic. The detective grew eve more restless pent up in his lab and the opium helped still him for work until it stilled him forever.
His partner persisted. He used their methods for years afterwards. He found through careful observation that clubbed fingers often meant a patient was suffering from disease of the heart or lung. He chronicled his findings. He taught the next generation who taught the next. They dubbed this visionary the father of modern medicine.
But without the detective to constantly question his findings and push their research farther medicine stagnates. This doctor cannot work alone The detective cannot work only in pursuits of the mind.
The 19th centaury iteration of the detective found fame when he stumbled upon a police officer so desperate to solve the crimes that haunt his city that he listens. The modern daily press will not tolerate unsolved crimes and the detective is an asset.
It seems a perfect pairing, the detective, the brother, the doctor, the colleague. But the places the battle before the war and goes over the falls in a pyric victory. The brother might have saved him if not for his inherent laziness The doctor, desperate to carry on the detectives wok, inventing an alternate ending for the doctor if only in his journal.
In the 21st century the detective heads to the falls again. He takes with him the bother, the doctor, and the colleague. This time, however, they have worked together in holy trinity to turn one great detective into one good man.
Give everyone a hand! The entries this month were amazing!
Now for the totals--(drumroll, please)
Final Overall Team Standings for Cycle 4:
Team Watson-----29 canes 1 patch
Team Sherlock----17 canes 1 patch
Team Mycroft-----17 canes 1 patch
Team Lestrade----14 canees 1 patch