AN: Chapter Warning: Mild torture near the end, but nothing graphic. Sorry, but that's just the way the chapter decided it wanted to go.
Disclaimer: Sir Aurthor Conan Doyal is a God, Moffat and Gattis are his angels, I am neither; so it stands to reason that I don't own anything recognizable here.
John walked into the sitting room and froze.
He had been on 'sensitive government business'- though in reality he'd been on a vacation in Italy, fully paid for by Mycroft, and everyone knew it- for the last two weeks while his eyebrows grew back and his arm healed- though everyone, including Sherlock, thought that it was punishment for having been left behind the day of the ball- and was just now coming home.
The last thing he had expected to see upon arrival wasn't Jim Moriarty, sitting in his chair with Sherlock lost in thought across from him- Greg, who had been the one to pick John up from the airport, had told him all about the ball he thought John hadn't been at and about Sherlock's new 'friend' hanging around 221- but the Crown Jewels- supposedly having been taken from their case for cleaning four days prior- sitting on their coffee table was.
Deciding that he could either react to or accept and ignore what was going on, John went with the choice that was least likely to get him tried as an accessory to treason- as least as long as he stayed on the good sides of all the geniuses in his life.
Dropping his luggage by the stair leading to his room, and hanging his coat on its hook, he headed to the kitchen with a sigh.
"Tea?" He called out, not really expecting an answer from anyone.
"You're out." Came the Irish accented reply from the sitting room, making John shiver- he was thankful he was out of sight of the living room by that point- in remembrance of when he'd last heard that voice.
Pushing all thoughts of deep, passion filled kisses out of his head, John began looking through the kitchen- trying desperately to ignore the unnamed molds and things Sherlock was growing in there- looking for anything edible.
Taking one last look in the cupboards he realized that they were out of EVERYTHING, turning back to the door John pulled his jacket back on.
"I'm going to the store, either of you need anything?" He politely asked as he mentally figured up if he had enough money on his card to get even half of what they needed.
"Your taking this all awfully well." Jim drawled as he finally turned tired eyes on the doctor, the man looked as if he hadn't slept any in the two weeks since John had last seen him.
"Well, your hardly the worst thing Sherlock's surprised me with on coming home. I think the live octopuses in the tub and spider crabs in my bed have that honor." John said wih an absent smile as he made for the door.
"Oi! Here." Turning, John brought a hand up to catch the object being tossed at his head, it was a set of keys.
"The blue sportster down the block is mine, card's in the glove box, number's 1-8-9-5, make sure to pick up some chocolate biscuits." John stared a moment then nodded and left.
If Jim Moriarty wanted to pick up the tab for his shopping trip then he wouldn't be the one to argue.
The car was easy enough to find, was a dream to drive and in no time at all John was at the store picking up everything he could think of- and not forgetting the chocolate biscuits.
Two hours, three loaded baskets and a headache from trying to fit it all in the compact sportster later and John was headed back to the flat.
Taking the first load up to the flat he noticed that Mycroft was finally there- John had idly wondered just when the elder Holmes would make an appearance to try and reclaim the Jewels.
"Do either of you realize just how childish your behavior is? All these schemes just to find out the identity of someone who wishes to remain anonymous, it's ridiculous." John exchanged a nod of greeting with Mycroft- trusting the man to not spill the beans about the part he had played that night- and headed back down for the next load of bags.
Coming up again he heard Jim talking this time.
"If you'd just tell us then we wouldn't be having problems like this. And just for your information: the only reason I haven't resorted to killing random people yet over this is that I don't want to take the chance of hurting 'Joan' on accident once the bullets start flying." Descending the stairs again, John turned that bit of information over in his mind.
He had been thinking that Jim had only been interested in a one night stand type of deal, and that was one reason why he had practically begged Mycroft not to let anyone know that he'd been 'Joan', but now it was sounding like the man had true feelings for him.
It was confusing and made his head hurt trying to wrap his mind around what a criminal genius could possibly see in him- and there had been even less to see in 'Joan' that night.
Third set of heavy bags up the stairs, and with still no sign of anyone attempting to help him, John was a little taken aback by the silence rolling out of the flat in waves.
Pushing the door open cautiously- just in case someone **cough** Mycroft **cough** was dead and he would need to drop everything and either give assistance or an alibi- John was relieved to see that it was only a staring contest going on.
A very scary staring contest between Mycroft- THE British Government, a man that could make you disappear to the point that your own mother wouldn't remember you- and Jim Moriarty- the one and only Consulting Criminal, a man that could topple Governments with a single phone call.
John shivered at the icy tension permeating the room, wondered briefly how Sherlock could possibly ignore it, and why he hadn't joined in, and made his way back to the car for the final load.
Slipping back into the flat, John was pleaded to note that the tension was gone and no-one was dead. But it took him a minute to figure out why.
Jim and Sherlock were both intently staring at him, and Mycroft was picking up the Crown and other pieces in preparation of leaving.
Knowing that there was only one bit of information that could be causing this reaction, John turned a cold glare on the tall ginger and asked:
"Just what did you tell them?" Mycroft sighed but didn't look guilty, so John squared his shoulders and closed down his expression in preparation of the upcoming answer.
"The only way I could leave with the Jewels without incident was to give them a clue about their mysterious dance partner, and so I told them that you are personally acquainted with 'Joan'. Now that that is settled I shall take my leave. Good day." John stood frozen to the spot as Mycroft left, leaving him alone with two highly inquisitive and amoral geniuses who looked ready to pounce.
It could have been worse, he rationalized, Mycroft could have just told them outright that he had been 'Joan'. He just wasn't yet ready to let Sherlock- to say nothing of Jim- know that though.
Turning to face the two geniuses, he knew that he had no hope of out smarting them; but maybe he could out stubborn them.
"Before you ask, the answer is yes: I do know who 'she' was that night. And no, I'm not saying a word until 'she' feels ready." Realizing that, though his words had been heard, he was going to be ignored completely, John moved into the kitchen to begin putting things away- and to maybe clean some of the nastier growths up, he thought one might even be growling at him.
"Should I cook?" He called out over his shoulder, hoping to distract either man from whatever plan they were already forming- even though he knew it was a useless effort.
"Or do you want to go out? You two can plan and scheme on how you'll make me talk over dinner, so choose." When no answer was forth coming, John just kept talking.
"Going out sounds nice. But where? Angelo's would be good, but I've had enough Italian food for a while. Somewhere different would be good." Putting the last can in its place, John turned to see both men standing in the kitchen doorway and still staring at him.
"Okay, that's just creepy now." He laughed out as he backed away a step, he had no illusions about how destructively dangerous just one of these men could be when trying to get an answer that they really wanted and he really didn't want to find out how bad both of them together could be.
Even Mycroft had seemed wary of angering their combined forces.
Just as he began to wonder if making a break for it would be worth it or not, Jim smiled. It looked like someone had flipped a switch so fast was the transformation from intent to happy.
"Dinner is a great idea! Don't you think so, Sherlock?" The detective had put on his 'bored' mask in lieu of a smile, but John could tell that his reasoning for doing so had been the same as for Jim.
They had both decided to lull him into a false sense of security and then badger him for information, he was already exhausted just thinking about how much they would bug him and analyze his most infinitesimal of reactions.
"Wouldn't it be easier to just torture it out of me?" He asked, and was only half-joking.
"No. It we did that we couldn't be sure that you gave us accurate information." Sherlock said as he reached for his coat and Jim called in reservations.
"But if you'd like to save us all some time and tell us now..." Jim put in as he shrugged on his own outerwear.
Ignoring the almost question, John shrugged into his coat yet again and headed back down stairs.
Tossing Jim his keys back, John climbed into the minimal back seat so that the two geniuses would have to ride upfront together.
The two didn't appear putout in the slightest, and John momentarily wondered just what sort of game he had got himself involved in.
Dinner had been amazing, at the best restaurant in the city no less.
Sherlock had tried to entertain John by deducing the lives of everyone around them, Jim had made easy conversation between the deductions that Sherlock had nearly been kicked out for- quite possibly the highlight of the evening that was- and John had eaten a meal that cost more than he made in a month.
Arriving back at 221, John put the kettle on for tea as Jim and Sherlock settled in their chairs once more- John had already decided that his chair was now semi-permanently Jim's chair.
Tea made and passed out, John sat down on the sofa and picked up a newspaper from the table top.
"Still not telling you." He said into the silence, and was answered by more silence.
Smiling into his mug, John mentally checked himself off as having won round one. He had no doubt that he'd lose eventually, and possibly quite soon, but he had learned to enjoy his victories when they came- no matter how small.
Eventually he went to bed to allow his geniuses some alone time to strategize, and to rest himself up for the oncoming trials he knew were ahead of him.
But he would be damned before he gave-in now that he'd made a point about not saying anything.
It was three o'clock in the morning when John was startled awake from a nightmare, and Sherlock was in the sitting room hacking away at the stings of his violin in a maddening rhythm; but these were all common place occurrences in 221b.
What was odd was the body lying next to John in his bed.
"Jim? Are you asleep?" The slightly disheveled criminal turned over to look at John through the darkness.
"I was until he started that racket. How do you manage to sleep with that going on?" John snorted at that- like anyone could sleep with that going on.
"I don't. Oh, and Jim?" John started out carefully, not wanting to offend the Consulting Genius.
"What?" Jim mumbled through the pillow he was trying to muffle his head with.
"Um, just why are you in my bed?" John asked delicately so as not to annoy Jim more than Sherlock's playing was already doing.
"I was tired and Sherlock wouldn't let me use his bed." The brunette said this as if it explained everything, and if John were a genius then it might, but he let the matter drop once Sherlock started hitting some particularly shrill notes.
Sensing his unexpected bed-mate's growing frustration, John slipped out from under his covers and headed downstairs.
Placing a hand over the screaming strings, John silenced the cacophony.
"Play quietly, play well or don't play at all. Some of us are trying to sleep- no matter how boring you believe that activity to be- and would appreciate some quiet." Not getting any response- not even a demand for information about 'Joan' in return for his silence- John hesitantly returned to his room and the Criminal Mastermind sleeping there.
Crawling under his covers, and basking in the warmth that Jim brought to his bed, John drifted off to the sound of Sherlock's quiet playing.
There were no more nightmares after that, now that he knew that Jim was there just beside him he felt surprisingly safe and was able to sleep soundly.
The next day was much like the first, and so was the third and fourth. Before he knew it an entire week had passed by in a blur of fancy dinners with Jim- sometimes with Sherlock, sometimes not- good company, a warm bed partner- Jim always snuck into his bed just after he had fallen asleep and he was getting quite used to waking up as the 'little spoon'- and quiet violin music in the early morning hours.
Not once did either man press him for more information, and John was a bit worried about that. Things were going so well that he knew that it couldn't last, soon either Sherlock or Jim or both would begin to demand answers that he still wasn't sure he wanted to give.
On the eighth day after his return to 221, John was drugged and dragged into the back of a waiting van- much to his unsurprise.
Coming to, and thinking that Jim had finally grown impatient with his lack of answers, John was surprised to see someone else entirely.
"Hello, I don't believe we've met." But they had, John knew.
His kidnapper was the oily man from the ball, the one that had made his flesh crawl with just a look, the Prince whose name he couldn't recall now for the life of him.
"What do you want?" John tried to say, but only managed about half the words before he was silenced by a backhanded blow.
"Silence! You will speak only when spoken to!" The rage vanished just as quickly as it had arrived, leaving John with the impression that the man was crazier than the persona Jim had used at the Pool.
"Now you're probably wondering just what I want. Well, you see, it's like this: I met the most stunningly beautiful woman to ever walk this earth at a party some weeks ago, and now I can't find a trace of her. Your friends with a detective that was there that night, so I'm going to use you to make him find her for me. Doesn't that sound nice?" Before he even realized that he was supposed to answer, several more blows were landed on him.
"Speak! You wouldn't shut up before! So why won't you speak now?!" Thankfully- before any type of sever trauma could be inflicted- a distraction came, it took the form of an underling carrying a laptop.
"Your Highness, it is ready." The servant placed the laptop down and left without a second look in John's direction, and the doctor wondered just how many other people had been given a 'personal interview' with the Prince such as this.
"Ah, yes. Time to hire my detective." The mad-royal said, obviously to himself.
As the Prince positioned the computer so that the camera would pick up John as well as himself, John managed to see Greg looking out at him from the otherside of the Skype feed.
"Do I have the honor of addressing the Great Sherlock Holmes?" John could barely keep himself from laughing as Greg nodded in affirmation.
"Oh, good!" The royal nearly squealed with delight, turning a large smile of his hostage before refocusing on the computer.
"I have a proposition for you: the return of your man for all the information you can find on a delicate little flower you may have met at the ball last month. What do you say?"
"Sounds fair, but I'll need to know as much of the woman in question as possible in order to find her for you."
"Of course! Of course. Now lets see: her name was... actually I never got her name. She was blond though, and very beautiful. I'm sure that should be enough for anyone to go on." John could barely hold back the laughter that threatened to overtake him at the sheer stupidity of this man, only the fact that he was tied down and completely at his mercy kept John's mirth in check.
"Sure, no problem. Is that all?" Greg said in his best aloof manner, but a smidgen of sarcasm snuck through and was immediately pounced upon.
"You dare mock me!" Screamed the Prince as he tossed the computer away from him, shattering the screen and thus ending the call.
"No-one mocks me!" He continued on in this vein for a time, screaming up a storm and occasionally throwing things, only stopping once he remembered that John was in the room with him.
"That was terribly rude of me," he said as he straightened his clothes and smoothed down his hair, "I'm sure that you're not at all interested in my little problems." When John made no sound in answer, as he didn't think he was supposed to, the Prince lost it again.
"How dare you!" He screamed to John's utter confusion, and tossed the first thing he laid hands on- a lamp, but thankfully not an overly-heavy one- at John's head.
Unable to move enough to duck the flying light, John had to sit there as it shattered against his forehead.
The Prince then stalked out of the room, leaving John to wonder at just how bad the damage was since he could already feel a trickle of blood running down his face.
A few minutes after the Prince had thrown his little tantrum, and not long after John decided that the wound was in his scalp and probably wasn't too bad, the doors to the room burst open and Jim came striding in with Sherlock hot on his heels.
"Johnny!" Jim cried out as he rushed to John's side, and quite firmly smashed their lips together.
Kissing back without a second thought, John was surprised at just how much he had been longing for this without realizing it.
Breaking for air, and giving Sherlock a chance to fully cut John free of the binding ropes, John asked the question that he should have realized needed asking days ago.
"When did you figure it out?" Jim smirked at that as he pressed a handkerchief to John's torn scalp.
"At dinner that first night. You didn't think I'd crawl into bed with just anyone, did you?" Turning confused eyes on Sherlock as he was helped to his feet- the sudden dizziness he felt might have been from a concussion or the aftereffects of whatever drug he'd been given, but he'd just have to wait to see which it was- and silently asked for him to clarify things.
"We were suspicious as soon as Mycroft said that you knew who 'Joan' was, your reactions throughout dinner to our various stimuli simply confirmed it." They were making their way out of the penthouse suit that the Prince had taken for his base if operations and to the elevators by this point.
John wanted to ask where everyone was since he was sure that there should be people around- he would later learn that they had all scampered off at the first sign of trouble, of which Jim and Sherlock could dish-out in spades- but he decided to continue with his original line of questioning first so that he didn't lose the thread of reasoning.
"So why didn't you call me out on it right away then?" He stumbled over his feet at the same moment that the elevator doors opened, and Jim was all too happy to snuggle him close and hold him tight and upright.
"You obviously didn't want us to know, so I convinced 'Lock here to not say a word until you were ready." Touched by Jim's thoughtfulness, and suitably impressed that he'd been able to convince Sherlock not to simply blurt out a deduction, John leaned a bit more into Jim's shoulder and purred out in his 'Joan' voice:
"I appreciate that Jim, I really do." It was such a lovely 'Happily Ever After' type moment, and John wasn't a bit surprised when Sherlock ruined it.
"Now that I know your capabilities, John, I really think that 'Joan' could be a real asset in some of our cases." John was about to ask how when Jim spoke up and tightened his possessive hold around John's waist.
"Oh, no! He's not wearing a dress for anyone but ME." As the two geniuses began bickering about case needs and personal desires, John simply relaxed and watched the flashing numbers as they headed down to the lobby.
Life would never be easy with these two around, he mused, but at least he would never be bored.
AN.2: Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed it, and don't forget to drop a review. I love to hear what people think of my stories!