John Watson opened his eyes. A jarring red light shone in his face. It took him a second or three to piece together the fact that he was looking into a screen. It took him even longer to register that the screen was talking to him.
"Hello, John," a deep voice crackled at him. "It's good to see you awake."
"Yeah," John said, blinking. He sat up as best he could. A leather seat made itself known underneath him. As near as he could tell, he was in a moving vehicle. "Are you one of Mycroft's, then? Only, Mycroft doesn't usually knock me out before kidnapping me."
He surreptitiously shifted his hands, finding that they were expertly bound together. With a frown, he looked directly at the screen. The speaker's face was shrouded in darkness. An absurdly fat, gray cat perched precariously on the man's lap.
"Who are you, anyway?" John asked. No harm asking, he figured. Sometimes, people will tell you.
"You will address me as Doctor Claw."
John chuckled breathily. So much for that, then.
"Is something funny, Doctor Watson?"
"Yeah, no," John said, continuing to laugh. "Just the whole 'Doctor Claw' thing. Here I was thinking my flatmate was the dramatic one."
"Ah, yes. The famous Sherlock Holmes." On the screen, Doctor Claw began to tap his fingers on the armrest of his chair, one-two-three-four. John noticed with a start that his hands were gloved in some sort of gauntlet. "I'm sure my reason for abducting you has become perfectly clear, Doctor Watson."
"Hm, I must have missed that bit, actually. It was probably between the time when the big man knocked me out with chloroform – nice touch, by the way – and me waking up in your car. It is a car, isn't it?"
"You are being taken to my London holding facility where you will be kept, unharmed, provided that Sherlock Holmes does not interfere in my plan to capture Inspector Gadget."
John laughed again. "Yeah, a bit late for that, mate."
Claw appeared unfazed.
"You will be held at my facility until Gadget is in my grasp. I repeat – I will not harm you, as long as you do exactly as I say."
John smirked. "And what am I meant to be doing?"
"You are going to make a phone call, Doctor Watson. Just one. You can call whomever you like." Claw leaned forward, upsetting the cat on his lap. "But be careful, doctor. It would be a shame if anything were to… happen… to you."
With an ominous click, the television screen flicked off. Darkness filled the cab of the car – it was indeed a car – and John leaned back against the seat. A darkened plexiglas panel divided the front and back of the vehicle. A small compartment rotated outward from just below the panel, revealing a cell phone which looked suspiciously red in the poor light.
John eyed it with some distaste, before turning back to his hands, which were still tied. He lifted both, knocking at the plexiglas.
"Oi! Mate!" he shouted to the driver. "One phone call, he said. I can't make a phone call all tied up."
The panel rolled down a whole two inches, and a gruff voice issued from the front seat.
"Put it on speaker."
The panel rolled back up.
John sighed and took a breath, and thought, for just a moment. Then, with quite a bit of difficulty, John punched a number into the phone, and managed to hit the speaker button, only fumbling once or twice. A voice answered after two rings.
"Holmes. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?"
"John. Listen, I'm in a bit of a tight spot."
There was the slightest of pauses before Mycroft Holmes' voice continued, unperturbed.
"I'm sorry to hear that. What can I do for you, John?"
John eyed the plexiglas panel, which had not rolled up entirely. Obviously, his phone call was being monitored by the driver.
"Look, I can't explain much, but I'm… I've been taken. I'm not sure where, and they don't want me to be found. But… do you remember that cameo appearance we had in the Vatican movie last year?"
Vatican cameos. Vatian cameos. It was Sherlock's code word, but… Mycroft would have to know it, right? God, please let Mycroft know it.
"Yes, the one with the professional track runner?"
Track runner. He had understood. John could only assume that meant Mycroft was running a trace on the phone number.
"Yes! That's the one. I-"
"Hey!" the gruff voice in the front said. "Less movie gab. More explaining."
"Sorry," John quickly said to the driver. He turned back to the phone, and Mycroft. "Well, the people here want me to tell you to stay well out of their business. They tell me I'm safe, as long as you don't investigate."
"But of course, John. I understand perfectly."
"Good." He glanced up. "I think they want me to hang up now."
"All right. Stay safe, John."
The line disconnected.
The phone rotated back out of sight, and the plexiglas rolled up to its closed position. John leaned back and stared out the window into the darkness, settling in for a long drive.
In a smallish flat on Baker Street, two detectives were thinking.
Or, rather, one detective was pacing around, holding a magnifying glass unnecessarily close to his face, while the other detective attempted not to strangle him.
"Would you please sit down!" Sherlock Holmes seethed.
"But I'm looking for clues!" Inspector Gadget protested.
"You're not going to find them here!"
"To the contrary! I'm finding evidence of John Watson all over the place!" Gadget held up a piece of half-eaten toast he had found for emphasis. "This has his DNA all over it! My sensors can-"
"Yes, because he lives here, you daft sod." Sherlock stared at the inspector in disbelief. While he did consider most people to be beneath him intellectually, this was something else.
It amazed him that a creature so gormless could still be alive.
Gadget continued on, oblivious. "D'you think that Penny and John are being held in the same place? I hypothesize that…" he continued on, wandering toward the window, snuffling up DNA with his finger sensors like some amiable anteater.
"Oh, heaven help me," Sherlock moaned into his hands. Only one person was allowed to make noise while he was thinking, and that was John. John was not here, ergo, Inspector Gadget simply was not allowed to make noise. However, Inspector Gadget certainly did not seem to be aware of this fact.
Sherlock managed to studiously ignore Gadget for about thirty more seconds before his phone went off.
He picked it up almost instantly.
"Mycroft," he said.
Gadget flicked back around, trotting back over to better overhear the conversation. Sherlock glared, and turned away.
"And you've run a trace on the cell phone?" he asked the person on the other line. "Yes, very good. And they've reached the destination?"
"Has your brother found them?" Gadget seemed unperturbed by Sherlock's attempts to maneuver away. His neck extended, allowing his head to rest mere centimeters away from Sherlock's. "Do we know where they are?"
"Yes, thank you Mycroft." Sherlock gave Gadget the nastiest look he could muster as he hung up. He was disappointed, for a moment, that touch-screen phones were so anticlimactic. One could not slam a touch screen phone onto a receiver to make a point.
"Have they been found?" the Inspector asked again.
Sherlock had heard, probably from John, that it was wise to count to ten in your head before you yelled at somebody. He counted to ten in his head.
Then he yelled at Inspector Gadget.
"Of course they've been found, you eavesdropping fool! Now would you move back and get that thing away from me!"
Gadget's head recoiled back onto his shoulders like the tip of a tape measure being wound back into its holster. "Sorry," he said, quite politely.
Sherlock breathed in through his nostrils.
"John made a call to my brother Mycroft approximately seven minutes ago. Mycroft's team was able to trace the call, and find coordinates for the cell phone the call was made from."
Sherlock eyed Gadget with some distrust, for the cyborg looked like he was itching with questions.
"The call," Sherlock continued quickly, "was placed from somewhere on the M4 headed westbound toward Bristol."
"It's about two hours away," Sherlock answered readily, heading off Gadget's questions as neatly as possible. "Mycroft is going to continue tracking the cell phone, as long as it is not powered off. Now, it's possible that they could be travelling to Cardiff, but unlikely, given that Claw would want to be in a reasonably accessible population center. Therefore, he's probably taking John to Bristol, or one of the surrounding areas."
"Then let's go to Bristol!" Gadget jumped up, obviously raring to go.
"Not so fast. They haven't reached their destination yet, and while I pride myself on my deductions, the M4 goes more places than just Bristol. We can't just set off before knowing where they are."
"So what do we do?" Gadget asked, showing just a hint of impatience for the first time all night.
"We wait," Sherlock said. "Mycroft tells me that John has said he is to be unharmed as long as I do not investigate. This leads me to believe that as long as we do not rush off headlong to Bristol without taking precautions, he should remain relatively safe for the time being."
Gadget made a thoughtful sort of noise.
"What did Claw want with John, anyway?"
Sherlock smirked. "You. In a roundabout way."
"Yes. The objective of kidnapping John is to keep me from working against Claw. I'm just a third party. What Claw seems to be after, if I'm reading this correctly – and I am – is you, Inspector."
"How is kidnapping John going to stop you from investigating?"
Sherlock fixed Gadget with a look of 'how-much-more-dense-could-you-possibly-be?'
"He hasn't just kidnapped John, you imbecile, he's threatened to hurt him! Don't you see? If I am caught conspiring in the rescue of your niece… John will be tortured, perhaps even killed."
"…oh," Gadget said, the pieces clicking into place. "I'm… sorry. I didn't realize."
"Yes, obviously not."
Sherlock rounded the chair, reaching over to pick John's laptop off the seat beside him.
"So, what are you going to do now, Mr. Holmes?"
"Sherlock, please," he muttered. "Mr. Holmes is my brother."
"Yes. Well." Gadget shifted uncomfortably. "What are you going to do, Sherlock?"
"We will find your niece," he sighed. "We just won't get caught doing it."