Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never owned 'em. All rights to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the producers of BBC.


Where Pathways Meet

4. The Red-Headed League

Chapter 2: Brixton Road, Lauriston Gardens

~oOo~

As expected, a panting Lestrade ran through the door barely few minutes later.

"Good morning, Sherlock. John."

John nodded at Lestrade to greet him. Lestrade took a moment to catch his breath, then started.

"There's a fourth suicide case. Brixton Road, Lauriston Gardens. Please, Sherlock, we need your help... although my boss is pissed off, thanks to your text."
"The Yard was babbling in front of those reporters, and I'll just stand by and speculate?"
"They are already creating a fiction from your text. They-"

Lestrade paused, then sighed.

"There's no time. Please come fast."
"Who's for examiner?"
"Examiner? Hmm- Anderson. Why?"
"Not my favour."

Sherlock, who pondered for a moment, cast a glance in John's direction.

"John?"
"Mmm-hmm?"
"You may be familiar with dead bodies, aren't you?"
"I haven't got to the cadeva-studying level-"
"-couldn't care less. Can you analyse the condition of the corpse?"
"Not yet-"
"-then perfect. I just need somebody to block the blabbering sound of the hotheads."

John paused for a moment.
After the 'heat' incident, John avoided every possible chance of going out with Sherlock.

Sherlock, who waited for John to answer for a while, turned to Lestrade and spoke.

"Lestrade, will you give us a moment?"

"Hmm? O...kay. I'll see you on the scene."

Lestrade must have taken up the hint, as he evacuated from the flat swiftly.
Missus Hudson, glancing at them repeatedly, backed out from the room after Lestrade.

As soon as Mrs. Hudson stepped out from the room, Sherlock closed the door.

"Is this because of that incident?"

Sherlock asked. John was silent.

"I know that you are avoiding me because of that, John."

It was as clear as crystal.
Nobody, unless a fool, would let the hints go by unnoticed-
-and, Sherlock was no fool.

John stared down at his coffee mug, its brown waves fluttering against the white wall.
Finally, the time has come.

John pondered between the words.

"The 'I love you' was a mistake"?
"Sorry for dragging you into the bed"?
"It's nothing, so we can get over it"?
"I cannot stay with you. I'll move out"?

They were all harsh reality, hard for John to admit with his own words.
John was quiet, until Sherlock spoke.

"Just- think of it as an experiment."

John lifted his head and stared at Sherlock. He was staring back, his face static.
The sharp, clear blue eyes were static as well, looking into John's trembling eyes.

"I am an alpha, and you are an omega... Just, take it this way; we conducted an experiment on 'how an omega's heat affect an alpha'."

John was wordless for a while.
An experiment? Just an experiment? My first heat, my first time, was an experiment for you?

Sherlock kept talking.

"This is just a part of an experiment... and that cannot ruin our friendship, John. I need you, and you need me too.
We depend on each other. The Baker Street environment would fail, if one is missing from the ecosystem."

However, the previous words were banging so loudly inside John's ears, so he wasn't even able to hear anything after that.
Experiment? An Experiment?

At that moment, another voice whispered into John's ears.

You cannot live without him. You need him.
If you just go along with his words-
Then you can stay by him as a friend.
Ignore your stupid feelings.

Did they ever help you?

John thought deeply.

However, the process seemed lengthy, and Lestrade was still out there waiting for Sherlock.
John decided to push the thought aside; and he nodded.

"I'll go with you, Sherlock."

~oOo~

"What's with that gun?"

As soon as they arrived at Lauriston Gardens, Sherlock asked John.
John was surprised that Sherlock took hint of the gun he hid under his jacket, but Sherlock was Sherlock after all.

"It's my father's."

Before he took up to become a butler for the Holmeses after John's grandfather, mister Watson served for the country for several years.
He was shot on the shoulder and was resigned from the army, from which he brought the gun with him.

"Hmm, Sig Sauer P226R, army designation L10641. You're well aware that the possession of the gun is illegal, John?"

"Well, I don't believe Mycroft would let me go to prison."

John shrugged.

Having the British government at his back makes one quite of a brave person. Sherlock laughed.

"Why did you bring it along?"

Sherlock lowered his voice not to be heard by the police.
John lifted his eyebrows, then asked back.

"Are you surprised that I brought a gun along?"
"I'm not questioning your shooting skills, John. The quality of your skills is proven by my father's loving attention towards you.
What I'm asking now is what on earth is that gun doing in your pocket?"

Nathanael Holmes, Sherlock's grandfather, and his son Sherrinford Holmes were devoted hunters.
They brought Sherlock and John along with them around the Holmes' hunting grounds since they were young.
While Sherlock showed no interest and even less talent in shooting or any form of hunting,
John became the apple in the Holmes men's eyes through those numerous hunting trips.

John shot with his first hunting rifle when he was ten, and Sherrinford Holmes, fascinated by John's talent, educated John himself and treated him as if he was his son. Thanks to great education and hard work, John soon developed a highly professional skill in the field.
Naturally, John became the most beloved and approved member of the hunting trip when the Holmes men are headed for the hunting grounds.

"You are running around the city following criminals, and I should back you up with nothing to protect us?"

John saw Sherlock frowning.

"I can guarantee our security without any weapon."
"Don't be a fool, Sherlock. You'll need this some time."

Sherlock tried to say something, but Lestrade spotted him from the doorstep and waved at them.
Sherlock sighed, at which John smiled and pulled his alpha friend at his elbow.

"There are four quote unquote 'suicide' cases, Sherlock. It's Christmas for you!"

John saw Sherlock smirking back.

~oOo~

Even though there was a little struggle with Lestrade when Sherlock tried to force John into the crime scene,
Lestrade reluctantly allowed John to step inside the line after John asked him for his mercy.
Sherlock knew Lestrade had a soft point for John. He supposed it was just a sense of kinship among omegas.

"I can give you two minutes."

Lestrade spoke. Sherlock, who so easily ignored the policeman's words, glanced upon the stairs.

"Is the scene that way?"

Lestrade nodded.

"According to the credit card records, the body's identity is Jennifer Wilson. Kids found her when they stopped by for a smoke."

While John was stuffing himself into a vinyl overall which resembles a surgeon's gown, Lestrade spoke to Sherlock.
When they finally reached the crime scene, a blond man standing next to the body greeted them.

"Mister Holmes-!"

The man saluted. DI Gregson, Lestrade's boss was one of the few men who cared to listen Sherlock's rambling about how the Yard always catched the wrong guys and who were really responsible for the crimes. Thanks to Sherlock he solved several cold cases, and it was since then he started to return the favour with interesting cases.
However, even the DI, one of the few men who really approved of Sherlock's talent, seemed quite pissed off.

"Morning, Tobias. Late night?"

Sherlock said, with the can't-care-less fashion as always. The DI scowled.

"Thanks to you. You really had to humiliate the Yard in front of the journalists?"
"Actually, I prevented humiliation. You want them to blame you after the case got tangled up and everything went haywire?"
"-and you had to do at that-"
"This is Doctor John Watson, Tobias. He's here to help me."

Sherlock snubbed the DI's words, and then pulled John at his waist to drag him to his side.
John blushed for a second, and then quickly freed himself from Sherlock's grip-who was, in fact, never looked away from the body.
The DI seemed surprised for a little.

"Doctor-?"

John quickly stepped forward. He had to correct Sherlock's mistake, whether it was intended or not.

"Not a doctor yet. Nice to meet you, Inspector. I am John Watson, currently enrolled in UCL Medical School."

John took the man's hand and shook it. The DI seemed bewildered.

"So how did you come to know Sherlock? A friend? Oh no, you're an omega. Are you-"
"-not a boyfriend, which I presume you think me of one."

John was annoyed for a little, but his voice was polite as ever. The DI shook his head slowly.
He tried to say something, but he stopped after taking a glance at Sherlock.
The room was quiet for a little, until Sherlock snapped at Lestrade, who was standing by the door.

"Shut up."
"I wasn't saying anything?"
"You were thinking. It's annoying."

Lestrade met John's eyes, rolling his eyeballs.
John smirked back at Lestrade.

Sherlock scrutinised the dead woman's hands.
The end of her nail polish were peeling off on her left hand. Left-handed, then.
He saw what the woman scratched into the floor. Rache. German, noun, revenge.
'Rache'. What can come after? d, r, t, l. Rachel.

He touched the woman's pink coat-and thankfully he was wearing latex gloves. Wet.
Her umbrella was white. Dry as a field under drought.
He skimmed along her jewelry. Her golden earrings and necklace were all clean. Sherlock scrambled through his pocket and pulled out a magnifying glass.
She was wearing two rings. The ring she was wearing beneath the wedding ring was clean. But what about the wedding ring-?
Dirty.

Sherlock removed the dirty wedding ring. He looked inside. Clean.

A smile spread across his lips. Serial Adulterer.

"Got anything?"

Gregson asked. Sherlock stood up.

"Not much."

A voice, which John does not recognize, spoke from outside.

"She's German."

John, Lestrade and the DI turned to look at Anderson.

"It's Rache, German for revenge. She's trying to tell us something-"

"-okay, thanks for your opinion."

Sherlock elegantly closed the door. Anderson's voice was blocked out.
He took out his phone to find the weather application. John asked.

"...German?"

"Of course not. But she's not from here either."

UK Weather: Maps. Local. Warnings. Next 24 hours. 7 day forecast.

Sherlock pressed Maps.

"She planned to stay in London just for a day, before she headed back to her home at Cardiff. So obvious, isn't it?"
"I'm sorry, but obvious?"

John asked. Sherlock ignored it.
Lestrade decided to step out and comment.

"How about the message on the floor?"

However, Sherlock ignored Lestrade.

"How do you think about the body, Doctor Watson?"
"Again, I'm not a doctor yet."
"John Watson, 10 years old, shuffling through the anatomy textbook in my father's library. You read through all books about medicine in the library since then."

The DI lifted his eyebrows at Sherlock's comment. 'My father's library'?

"Body like this will be easy to read for you, John."

John thought whether he should thank Sherlock for his trust in himself, but already everybody was staring at him.
John never wanted to make a mistake. He felt his lips dry. John tensed, and wet his lips.

"There's a forensics team right outside."

The DI scowled, but Lestrade whispered.

"Do what he says, what he wants."

The DI looked back and forth at the young pair, then left the scene.
Lestrade followed his supervisor then closed the door behind him. John heard him talk.

"Anderson, don't let anyone in for a few minutes."

John squatted in front of the corpse. He heard Lestrade coming in.

"So, what exactly am I doing here?"

John asked Sherlock. The alpha glanced back at him.

"Helping to build my opinion."

John grimaced.

"I had no such intention."
"Then we're having fun."
"Fun? There's a dead woman, even an omega, and we're having fun?"
"A flawless logic, but I supposed you can look at it in a more advanced viewpoint."

John sighed, then turned to look at the dead female omega.
He extended his hands, equipped with latex gloves, then lifted her chin to inspect her lips.
John forced open them to look inside her mouth.

"Well... asphyxiation. Apparently. She choked on her own vomit after she passed out. There's no hint of liquor... it may be due to a seizure. Perhaps it could be blamed on drugs."
"You know what it is. It's in the papers."
"Yeah, clearly one of those 'suicide' cases. The fourth one."

"Sherlock, two minutes are over. Tell me anything you found out."

Lestrade stepped in out of impatience. Sherlock started to talk, while he stood up from the cold body.

"The victim is in her late thirties, omega, with a professional career. Judging by her fashion, there's a high possibility she's working in journalism. Honestly, the pink is too much. Considering the size of her suitcase, she was planning to stay in London just for a day away from Cardiff."

"Suitcase?"

With a hint of doubt in his voice, Lestrade carefully asked Sherlock. The young detective continued.

"Yes. She was married for at least ten years, but she was never content. There were a throng of lovers, and they never knew she was married."

Lestrade made a face.

"For god's sake, if you're making all that up-"
"Look at her wedding ring. It's ten years old, at least. All the other jewels are polished but not the ring. What does that mean? The inside of the ring is clean. It's because it was wiped automatically every time she took it off. It's not for her work, so what's left is adultery. There won't be a sole lover, as she cannot stay unmarried for too long."

"Brilliant!"

John blurted out. Sherlock looked at John.

"Sorry, continue."

"Cardiff?"

Lestrade questioned.

"Isn't it obvious?"

Looking back at the body, Sherlock answered. John shrugged.

"It's not too obvious for me."
"Really, John? No?"

Sherlock stared at John for a while. John crooked his eyebrows up.

"Really, John, I thought you were different from others-"
"-yes, you are smart. So shut up and tell us the reason."

John saw Lestrade holding his smirk back. John smiled at him instead. Sherlock, still staring at John, started his explanation.

"Her coat. It was wet. Analysing the extent to which the coat is dried, there was a downpour few hours ago. However, as ou know, there wasn't a single downpour in London today. Underneath her coat collar was wet, but her umbrella was dry. What do you think has happened?"

Sherlock paused, then looked at John.

"What, do you expect me to complete your words?"
"That's right, John."
"...Okay. The umbrella must have been dry because she wasn't using it. So why a person won't use it during heavy rain- is it because of the strong draft?"
"Precisely."

Sherlock beamed at him. John cleared his throat, while blushing, glanced at Lestrade.

Lestrade was watching at them as if they were the most hilarious TV show in the world.
John scowled, then growled at the fellow omega.

"Oh for god's sake, shut up, Lestrade!"

Lestrade laughed then shrugged his shoulders.

"Again, I wasn't saying anything."

Sherlock snorted.

"You must have been thinking. So, she planned only for a day's stay. It won't bring her from farther than two or three hours, as her coat is still wet. Then what place had a downpour during that time?"

Sherlock took out his phone, then showed the search result from the weather application to Lestrade.

"Cardiff."

John gave a sweet smile, then added.

"Fantastic."

Sherlock looked back at John then smiled.

"Oh my god... do you know you guys are practically bloody eye-fucking?"
Lestrade growled in dismay. Sherlock snorted, and John reddened a little.

"And Sherlock, you're keep talking about the suitcase. How did you know about that?"

Sherlock skimmed the room.

"Yeah, where is it? There should be a mobile or a note inside it. Lestrade, find who 'Rachel' is."
"So that was supposed to be 'Rachel'?"
"No, she was leaving an angry message in German."

Lestrade frowned at the apparent mocking tone. Sherlock continued.

"Of course it was Rachel. There can't be anything else."
"How about the suitcase?"

"There's a splash of rain stained back at her heel on the right side, but not on the left. Which means that she was dragging a suitcase on her left. The stains start from up here on her left leg, so the suitcase won't be that big. She couldn't have sustained more than a day with clothes in it. Then, where's the suitcase?"

Lestrade, with a frustrated face, answered.

"There was no suitcase."


A/N: Hello, my noble ladies. Sorry it took so long to update a new chapter. I was busy as a bee, literally and figuratively... no, just kidding. But I wasn't able to spare enough free time to come up with a chapter. Sorry. :( As I said before, I'll never let this go on a hiatus! Everything is planned out already, so don't worry whether you'll see the ending. Whether late or not, it will come! :)

And thanks for all who commented, favourited and followed while I was gone. I am so touched by your support. *burst into tears*

To answer some of your questions, no, poor Johnny is not pregnant. I cannot let him go through more angst, as there are more waiting for him... ;(
It's not a spoiler, as I never planned him to be pregnant. At least in this story. I plan to write sequels, but shorter ones than this one.

Then, au revoir, my dear ones!