A/N: Ha ha! I have survived both graduation and a week long musical! Forgive my tardiness and my spelling errors. This chapter is dedicated to everyone who has reviewed so far. I'm looking at you, NarutoRox, IntoTheUniverse, rothjenna, and Wilhelm Wigworthy! Of course, there are anonymous reviews, so thank you for those.
Anyway, enjoy the next harrowing chapter!
It was really a ridiculous amount of yarn. Lestrade had found a nice little empty patch and stayed there. Sherlock was bounding around the kitchen searching for bomb-disposal equipment. Like Mrs. Hudson would keep any in the flat. Eventually, he settled on just a few tools for his mission: salad tongs, three corn-cob stakes, a tube of 'flexible adhesive' glue, a pink pizza cutter, and a turkey-baster. Lestrade didn't understand, and frankly didn't care. He was content to sit back and watch.
Sherlock was hovering over the little box. He had a corn-stake in one hand and the salad tongs in another. Probing about inside the box was an easy feat. He lifted the circuit interface from the bottom and examined the underside. Ah.
"This is simpler than it looks, Lestrade." He looked over at the Detective Inspector. "But, I'll need you to navigate the maze."
Sherlock adopted his patented 'I work with children' glare. "Yes. The maze out in the foyer. Navigate through that and see if you can find a red string. It'll be the only one. The rest are tan."
"One red string…"
"Must I repeat myself? You're not colorblind, are you?" His voice took on a slightly analytical tone. Before the deductions could begin anew, Lestrade waved him off.
"All right, all right. One red string. Got it. Any tips on navigating the maze?"
"Yes." Sherlock stated, returning his attention to the box. "Take off your shoes and socks for better traction. Your jacket will hamper your movement, so it would be wise to remove that as well."
Lestrade got to work on his shoes. He found a safe spot to set them and his socks before shrugging out of his jacket. It's getting a bit warm in here… Lestrade thought, and unbuttoned the topmost portion of his shirt.
"Not taking the shirt off too, are you Inspector?"
Lestrade flushed deep scarlet. "N-no! Of course not. Sorry, Mrs. Hudson!" The poor old lady. She's probably scandalized. This whole affair must be terribly awkward. He thought.
Pity, mused Mrs. Hudson.
Lestrade scurried out into the foyer to face the maze. Shutting the door behind him, he stepped forward to begin his search. So far, there was nothing but tan yarn as far as the eye could see. It was even warmer out here. He grabbed the collar of his undershirt and fanned himself. Does Mrs. Hudson always keep the heat cranked up like this? Maybe it's Molly's doing- trying to mess with our heads, or something. Lestrade tried to ignore the heat and focus on the yarn in front of him. He knew he wasn't near as young as he used to be, but he wasn't an old fogey yet. Just take it slow. You can do this.
Lestrade began working his way through the first section of the maze. It was slow going at first, but as he began to get used to the movements navigation required, it became easier. It probably hadn't taken Sherlock half as long, but Lestrade was proud for getting this far. He was actually halfway to the stairs when he finally spotted it: The one red thread. It was stretched behind the impenetrable yarn-wall on the staircase. In fact, it could only be seen from this angle, which happened to be face down on the floor, hands bracing the wall and feet splayed two directions. No wonder Sherlock hadn't spotted it. I bet he didn't get himself into such a mess on the way in. But, he could just ask Sherlock about it later. Right now, he had to get behind that wall.
Lestrade picked his way towards the banister. From this side, there was actually a navigable path. Navigable, but by no means easy. He had to duck under strand after strand, which was really putting unnecessary strain on his back. When Lestrade finally reached the banister, he had to stretch. His back popped loudly. So did his neck. He hoped it couldn't be heard from the kitchen.
From his new vantage point, Lestrade could see that the only way behind the wall was to go over a certain section of the banister without hitting the ceiling. Said ceiling was encased in yarn. Well, let's get on with it. Lestrade rolled his shoulders and got a firm grip on the railing. Between the criss-crossing yarn and narrow rails, Lestrade had a tough time getting a foothold. After some fiddling, he got his foot in a secure spot. The next bit would be trickier. He had to push himself over the rail. Lestrade took a deep breath and hoped for the best. He pushed off of his floor-bound foot, and followed up with a spring from the other. Surprisingly, the push got him in the air and up over the banister. Unsurprisingly, his lack of landing plan left him perched on the narrow wooden beam with nowhere to go.
"SHERLOCK!" He bellowed.
A moment later, there was a muffled "YES?"
"I FOUND THE STRING. NOW WHAT?"
A pause. "PULL IT, LESTRADE!"
"PULL IT! THE RED THREAD SHOULD DEACTIVATE THE EXPLOSIVE IF I TRIGGER THE SECONDARY MECHANISM SIMULTANEOUSLY. CAN YOU REACH THE STRING?"
Lestrade, from his uneven seat on the banister, looked around. If he leaned waaaaaay over, he could probably grab the thread.
"YEAH, I THINK SO!" He shouted back at the kitchen.
"ALRIGHT. LESTRADE, ON MY SIGNAL. I WILL COUNT TO THREE, AND THEN PULL THE YARN."
"NO, AFTER THREE. AS IN, 'ONE, TWO, THREE, PULL.'"
"OH. ALRIGHT THEN."
Lestrade leaned out as far as he was able. He could just grip the yarn between two fingers. It was as close as he was getting without upsetting his balance or a subsequent explosion.
"GO FOR IT!"
"OK! ONE, TWO, THREE, PULL!"
He wrenched the cord upwards as hard as he could. It came away much easier than he had expected. Lestrade fought to keep his balance as the red thread went slack. He had just managed to regain his seat on the banister when a loud CRASH from the kitchen startled him into movement. Lestrade, at this point, flailed his arms before pitching forward over the staircase. He curled his arms over his head as the steps came up to meet him. The world spun rapidly for a moment. Something wrapped around his entire body as gravity pulled him along another descent. Lestrade finally came to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. He took a deep breath, and set off an explosion in his ribcage. His lungs were on fire.
He could feel the stuttering footsteps as they pounded across the wood flooring. Whatever cocooned him was shifted slightly when somebody came to a stop next to him.
"Lestrade. Lestrade, answer me. Are you hurt?"
It was Sherlock. The Detective Inspector opened his eyes. At first glance, he was covered in yarn. Both of them, in fact, were covered in yarn. Head to toe, Sherlock was draped and Lestrade was tangled in the stuff. The gangly detective was trying to loose strands from the massive knot on Lestrade.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine Sherlock. Just jostled my ribs a bit on the way down. What was that crash? Where's Mrs. Hudson?" His voice rose slightly in a panic as he searched for the landlady. As if on cue, Mrs. Hudson emerged from the kitchen holding half a teapot and a spatula.
"Sherlock! That was- Oh! Detective Inspector!" Mrs. Hudson set the kitchen casualties on the floor and rushed over to the foot of the stairs. "Sherlock, what did you do?" Her tone was one of motherly disappointment, and the familiarity with which she used it said many things to Lestrade.
"I didn't do anything, Mrs. Hudson!" Sherlock sighed as he pulled another strand of yarn, "I found him like this."
"Oh, like I haven't heard that one before. I know you didn't just find my teapot like that!" She gestured to the grievously injured china. "Sherlock, you're going to have to do something about that."
"Hmm." Sherlock grunted noncommittally. The last of the yarn knot came away in a bundle and Sherlock threw it across the room. It attempted to cover the distance, but exhaustedly came to rest a few feet away.
"Sherlock, what did you do to that teapot?" Lestrade inquired groggily. He hadn't hit his head, thank goodness, but he was feeling much dizzier than when he'd started that little climb. So long as Donovan didn't appear through the doorway, he felt that he could get away with this incident more or less OK.
"Threw it across the kitchen."
The terse reply came out a few seconds after Lestrade decided he wouldn't get an answer. He turned to look at Sherlock. The detective was staring at a spot on the stairs. He had a faraway look that told Lestrade there was much more to the story that he was going to find out, one way or another.
Lestrade blinked. "Care to elaborate?"
"Do it anyway."
Sherlock sighed. "If you must know, Lestrade, you were right. For once. John is missing." The admission came like a slap in the face. Lestrade had never expected to hear those words from the detective. He imagined in other circumstances, he would feel differently about the collapse of Sherlock's pride, but the statement made him sick to his stomach. John was really MIA.
Sherlock continued. "Mycroft… Has his sources and-…" Sherlock abruptly stopped. He stood quickly and went for the door.
"Wait! Sherlock! What's going on? What did Mycroft say?"
Sherlock was already pulling on his coat and scarf. "No time Lestrade. I'm going to get John."
"Hang on. Let me put in a call to-"
"No!" The exclamation stopped Lestrade halfway off the floor. "No…" Sherlock hurried over and pushed Lestrade back onto the stairs. "No," he began again, sounding like a broken record, "You're going to stay here. Yes. Stay here and …hmm... take care of Mrs. Hudson." This evoked an indignant response from both concerned parties. Sherlock ignored them and made for the door.
"Sherlock, please, give me something to go on!" Lestrade called to the detective's back as he opened the door. Sherlock stopped in his tracks and turned.
"I can't give you anything, Lestrade," he began, "because that is exactly what you will do: go."
He ran out of the flat to hail a cab.
Mycroft Holmes betrayed no emotion. He never did. That was one of his diplomatic advantages. In tense or hostile situations, he used this emotionless display to diffuse threats or unnerve his political adversaries. He prided himself on being more the machine than John Watson credited Sherlock for being. Mycroft Holmes never broadcast his thoughts. Never divulged his inner workings.
When that irritatingly perky mass-murderer had the gall to taunt him in front of his subordinates, 'never' was looking like a very strong word.
He didn't flinch, even as she smiled- the evil sparkling in her eyes. Nor as she laughed in his face- something few had ever done and lived to tell the tale. This Molly Hooper had a lot of gall. She was surrounded by trained killers and their cars on the top of a sealed-off parking garage. She was powerless here. Powerless, but cocky. To his credit, Mycroft Holmes retained an expression of cool detachment before making a countermove.
"Miss Hooper. I can see that-"
Mycroft Holmes blinked. One did not just interrupt the British Government personified.
"We are aware of your involvement in the bombings, Miss Hooper."
She gave him a polite smile, an expression he was not accustomed to receiving. If memory served, he gave that look to others more often than not. It was the face of patient tolerance that one would give a child or a particularly dense public official.
"Yes. And you are also apparently misinformed. Molly Hopper is not now, nor has ever been my name, although it does have that cute little ring to it. Really disquiets people when a name that cheery is on the other end of the knife in their chest." She smiles again, and Mycroft Holmes thinks he may have underestimated the situation. "As to my 'involvement', as you put it," she continued, "There's more to the story than meets the all-seeing-eye." Molly, Moriarty, or whoever she was stood in front of him, arms crossed and dangerous looking. Dangerous, that is, to anyone not backed up by thirty-plus armed security personnel with extensive training and killer instincts. From Mycroft Holmes' perspective, Molly was the one who should fret. But, the thought didn't dissuade the unease that radiated out of the situation.
"I did it. I did it all, and Oh, was it fun!" Her smile widened. Mycroft Holmes was suspicious. Admittedly, he was always suspicious of everyone, but politicians were instinctively shady and had to be monitored as a matter of course. Mycroft Holmes knew that there was something else going on. From what he had not already deduced of the circumstances, the evidence at hand just screamed 'background activity'. It was time to employ his best tactics. Now or never, Mycroft Holmes had to put an end to this.
"We have been tracking your lieutenant- or should I say 'Colonel', as Sebastian Moran achieved that rank during his time in the American military, among involvement with Special Forces and several botched operations that landed him in your employ- and we have the coordinates of your base of operations. We know that is where you have taken Doctor Watson. I suggest you call off Moran and surrender. Or," Mycroft Holmes flashed his half-smirk of victory, "We could have you shot many more times than is necessary."
To his utter shock, Molly Hooper threw her head back and cackled. He could see that the action unnerved some of his men. This was unexpected. Mycroft didn't do 'unexpected'.
"Oh… oh… That was a good one!" She wiped a stray tear from her eye. Moriarty smiled. "I must give you points for presentation. The whole Royal 'We' shtick really sold it. I bet you practiced that in the mirror."
Mycroft decided that the best move right now was to just sit back and listen. If Moriarty thinks she has the upper hand, she may become overconfident. The situation would be best diffused if left to play out. Her defiance could prove to be her undoing. We shall see.
"Either way, threats like that won't do you any good." She adopted an expression of mock concern, grimacing at his supposed social gaff. "No, that's not going to get you anywhere." Moriarty shook her head sadly. "Threatening me, storming my evil lair, it's all going to end badly for you. I hear unnecessary civilian casualties cause quite the press scandal. Yes, threatening me was a bad idea, because now I can threaten you. I have Doctor Watson. There is a bomb in the kitchen of 221A Baker Street, and an assassin posing as a graveyard-shift janitor about to check in for duty at a certain hospital. Sherlock Holmes will find himself in very hot water if so much as a postman arrives at the coordinates which you have so cleverly uncovered. That or I could always blow up a city block." She stared Mycroft down under the glare of the headlights. All of the men still had her in their crosshairs. What sane man would let his guard down in front of a literal evil?
"What do you want?" Mycroft still had quite a few cards up his sleeves. The fact that he still had an ace hidden might win him the game. Until the time was right, he would bluff like he was holding a pair of twos.
"You're the second person to not ask me that question today." She smirked at him. "I guess I should humor you. I want you to keep well away. It's no fun watching a tightrope act while the net's out. No, when Sherlock walks, I want to see him sweat. No safety net, no umbrella."
Mycroft Holmes let her see him swallow. The ace was burning a hole in his sleeve.
"Very well." He nodded at one of his men. They all backed off, ever the precision instrument. Mycroft Holmes let his eye twitch. To his delight, Moriarty's smirk widened.
"I'm glad we could reach an agreement. Toddles. I'll not be seeing you around."
Moriarty turned and walked to her car. The driver was still standing stock still beside the door. He began quaking in fear as his former boss neared the vehicle. Moriarty slowed, and then came to a stop right in front of the man. Mycroft could only see the back of her head, but the driver's face was in clear view. Whatever she did startled the life out of him. The driver fell backwards in a dead faint. Moriarty plucked the keys out of his limp hand. She turned to face Mycroft one last time and winked.
As the car pulled away, Mycroft's men stood around expectantly.
The car was a good way down the block by now. Mycroft knew this was a dire situation. Moriarty did not strike him as the type to make empty threats. All the more reason to make loaded threats of my own. He pulled out his phone and sent two texts.
Sergeant, I believe this is the clue you require: [Attachment: Address: 34…]
You are on your own, brother mine. [Attachment: Address: 34…]
John Watson was not the slightest bit pleased. He had an itch on his nose, for one thing. For another, his hands were tied above his head to a large section of pipe. He leaned against the damp wall of the boiler room and tried to breathe. Moriarty had him scared stiff. She was many parts killer, psychopath, and sadistic maniac, but John hadn't expected this of her.
"Hellooooo, Johnny boy!" The voice had made him shudder awake. He had found himself tied to a pipe, but more alarmingly, face-to-face with a killer. He jumped back and bumped into someone else. Moran was there, gun resting safely in his holster.
"How was the road trip?" Moriarty spoke again and John had to fight off the disorientation that threatened to overwhelm him. Gee thanks Moran, he had thought.
"Oh, I've had worse." It wasn't a lie. Other armed thugs had tried beating the crap out of him as a method of sedation. If he was honest with himself, this was preferable despite being surrounded by practiced killers. John chose to ignore the fact that he could easily be counted as one of their number.
Moriarty's smirk dimmed. "Good to hear." The meaningless statement struck a bad chord with John. He'd have to be careful mouthing off in the future, lest he wake up in a ditch with missing fingers.
"Not too much trouble, Moran?" She turned to her lieutenant, with expectations.
"None 't'all, boss." He tried to seem his ordinary, creepily-cheery self, but John saw his heart wasn't in it.
"Mmm. Good. Set the traps." Moran hustled off without a word beyond 'Yess'm', but John wasn't sure how any of these half-scrambled expressions should be considered grammatically. In any event, he was left alone with the most dangerous person in London. Arguably, from his perspective, the most dangerous person in the world. Sherlock might know of others. Barring that, Moriarty took the cake.
"I bet you're wondering where you are, what's happening, and heaven forbid, 'What am I planning'?" Moriarty stalked forward. "I'm having a bit of fun with you, obviously. You know, start everything off with a BANG!" John jumped. Moriarty displayed a predatory smile. "I'm sorry to say you'll have to wait a while. Sherlock's not due for a couple of hours. He'll figure out a way to disarm the bomb in Mrs. Hudson's flat-"
"Mrs. Hudson?! Leave her out of-" In his indignation and worry, John didn't see the strike. The side of his head bounced off the mess of pipes behind him. His ears rang.
Moriarty shook out her hand. "Don't interrupt me."
John's head was reeling as she went on. Moriarty described the next sequence of events. Sherlock would arrive, fall victim to several clever but ultimately non-fatal traps, and waste time accordingly. Moriarty's eyes shone as she continued to monologue. The gritty details weren't spared, and John couldn't help but conjure images of falling blades, deadly sawmills, land mines, and other gruesome traps that might have come straight from a classic cartoon.
"Finally, wounded but triumphant, Sherlock will round the corner and begin his walk down this very hallway. He'll be wary of every floorboard, every crack in the wall. His nerves will be shot. He will be tired, poor Sherlock. You see that doorway over there?" Moriarty pointed at a black patch of darkness. "After all that, he'll stumble through there. First thing he sees, I'll wager, is you. He probably won't even notice Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Moran in the corner until the Colonel has him in a stranglehold." John felt sick. This was his worst nightmare in every gory detail. It couldn't possibly be worse.
"And then, the finale, Sherlock will watch me shoot you."
Oh. John should have expected this. The shock must've shown on his face, because Moriarty started laughing again. John felt the rage boiling over inside him and he was glad Moriarty wasn't watching.
That was how she had left him. Moriarty laughed her way out into the black corner, and presumably down the hall. The few, melodramatic fluorescents buzzed overhead. John sucked in a deep breath. He wasn't afraid as much as furious. How dare she, he thought, How DARE she! I'm getting out, whatever it takes. I've got a plan. It may be less of a plan and more of a single possible option, but it'll have to do.
John had quickly realized that in his distraction for whatever reason- remorse, evil glee, terrible singing- Moran had neglected to check John for weapons. The pocket knife was still there. All he had to do was get to it.
John surveyed the pipe system behind him. Wherever he was, it apparently required the latest in extensive ancient plumbing. Pipes snaked out over his head, behind him, and out through the dark walls. Fortunately for him, Moran ever the good, prepared camper, had only tied him to the pipe. Lucky for me, not everyone can just pickpocket handcuffs whenever they like. He craned his neck to see what he had to work with. Moran had looped the rope around so that John hung with a wrist on either side of the pipe. The rope doubled back around from the initial handcuff knot to press his wrists back together. If Moran was anything, he was thorough. But, Moran hadn't planned for the pocket knife.
John used the slack from the hanging loop to his advantage. He turned to face the pipes. The sheer volume of tubing provided ample footholds. He started to climb. Using the rope's tension to balance, John worked his way upwards until he was perched over the spot where his wrists were anchored. He worked his way over, until he was in the best position to grab at the pocket knife. Since the blood was still trying to make its way back into his fingers, this was proving to be a difficult task. After a few tries, he managed to get a good hold.
Before John could figuratively jump for joy, or even open the knife, he heard a noise down the hall. Footsteps, and… whistling? Oh no… John scrambled down from his perch and had the sense to conceal the knife in his open jacket sleeve. He felt the metal slide its way down his arm as he himself slid to the floor. John landed with a thud. The footsteps sped up much too quickly. In a desperate attempt to cover his trick, John spun around and started tugging like mad on the colorful ropes. The nylon dug into his skin, but John pulled harder. This had to look real. When the footsteps arrived at the door, John pounded his own foot to the floor as hard as he could. The jolt that traveled up his leg was worth the realism in his 'act of desperation'.
"Now, I was a boy scout back in th' day. I've got three separate merit badges that'll tell you pullin' on that knot'll do you no good."
Thank you, Lord, it's Moran. John growled at the floor. His wrists were starting to sting. Moran legitimately knew his knots.
"I'm sure your scoutmaster would be proud, seeing as how you've gone and used your helpful little skills in kidnappings and murder."
Moran was moving closer. John turned back around. The right-hand man to one of the most dangerous criminals in the known world was advancing towards his prisoner carrying a smoothie in each hand. Anything John thought he was going to say flew from his mind.
"You're upset, Doc. Have a smoothie. That'll cheer you up." Moran licked his lips and started slurping eagerly. He offered the other cup to John, waving the brightly colored straw just under his prisoner's nose. With a stiff little shrug, John accepted. Moran held the large cup as John put the smoothie away. He hadn't eaten all day, being too on-edge for breakfast and lunch, and too imprisoned for dinner. At this point in his day, no ridiculous antic could faze him. John felt like this was a 'roll with the punches' kind of evening. For a while, both men were content to silence and fruit-heavy meal shakes.
Halfway through his drink, John had to stop. Wherever the fruity ambrosia had been in the last couple of hours, it had been cold. John had a brain freeze. He let the straw go and tilted his head back. Years and years of medical school had prepared this moment. His studies provided the answer readily: You idiot. Stick your tongue on the roof of your mouth and wait it out like a man. Don't drink it so fast next time, genius.
Moran stifled a laugh behind his straw. "How's the smoothie, Doc? They're tropical fruit, with a bit of natural whey protein. These here are my workout shakes." He held up his own smoothie and shook it for emphasis. Once John had suitably recovered, he hazarded a reply.
"It's possibly the best thing I've ever tasted. Of course, I've spent the last few hours in between the backseat of an SUV and the boiler room of a creepy old building, so lots of things are looking better than they usually do."
Moran had the grace to look shamefaced about it, at least. John put the last nail in the coffin by diving back into the smoothie and fixing Moran with a blank look. Not knowing what else to do, the Colonel followed suit. They both drank their smoothies dry out of awkwardness in a matter of minutes.
"So…" Moran started and never finished. John didn't know why he'd come down here, other than to bestow the smoothie. Moran was just wasting John's valuable time, time that could be used for more productive things, like escaping.
"So, what do you do when you're not out killing people with Molly?"
John's question took Moran by surprise. What shocked John was the sudden anger in his captor's eyes. Suddenly, taunting the burly man with the gun didn't seem like such a bright idea. Moran stormed up to John and stopped inches from his face. Moran was red, livid, like John had yet to see him. It was shocking to see somebody go mercurial like that, flipping the mood switch in a heartbeat.
"You… You don't know anything." Moran managed.
"I was a soldier, I know-"
"I was a soldier too. I have never… will never…" Moran balled his fists. John was waiting for a punch like the one Moriarty had delivered earlier. It didn't come. Moran turned around. He took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and faced John again. His countenance had cleared the anger and replaced it with something else. It was that look again, the one of resigned commitment John had seen briefly in the alley and again in the SUV.
"It's not like that. I wouldn't kill anybody. Not outside the line of duty. I owe a debt, one I mean to pay, but I'm doing it without killing anyone. People in the boss' circle have heard of me as a sniper and a good one at that. I just never say how good." Moran smiled unconvincingly. "Usually, when someone survives a sniper's shot, it's a close thing. More often than not, a concerned government will whisk you away and declare you dead, rather than have you and your target-painted head wander around like nothin' happened. If you're a sniper, you've shot people, and none knows they've survived…"
"You build a deadly reputation." John finished, understanding.
"Exactly. I don't have it in me to kill civilians willy-nilly. Besides, she'd never have me if she knew I'd killed people…"
"Moriarty?" John asked, perplexed. "I thought that was her game: she'd kill people, you'd kill people…"
"No, no, no." Moran shook his head and even gestured with his hands for emphasis. "Not the boss. I mean… This lady is… It's hard to say."
John smiled amenably. "I'm not going anywhere. If it's a long story, so be it." In truth, John was both parts itching to make a break for it, and intrigued at the idea of Sebastian Moran's mystery lady.
Moran sighed. "All right, all right. You've got me. Might as well give it a go. Y'see, Doc, I'm in love. Head over heels." John nodded for Moran to continue. He did. "She's the most wonderful woman I've ever seen. Every so often, there'll be a crime scene, and she'll be there, looking at the perp like-"
"Crime scene? Is this lady…" John struggled to keep his laughter at bay, "… with the police?"
"Yes! Why else would she be at a crime scene? Anyhow, I've seen her at a few, and she just looks at the perp while he's bein' led away, and the look on her face, Doc… I never want her to look at me like that. It'd break my heart right there on the spot. I mean, she's never looked at me like anything before…" He stumbled over his words. "Well, there was the one time I was casing a neighborhood for the boss, and it was later in the evening. She was out running, but I recognized her immediately. She spotted me real quick. Spun around and took me on under a streetlight. Let me tell ya, Doc, the lady's a cool hand with that pepper spray." John found himself laughing with Moran. "And another time, I was in town and there she was, off duty and having coffee or something outside this little café. I walk up right next to her- like an idiot- and say hi." Moran turns bright red at this part, but continues. "She recognized me immediately and went straight for her gun. I was less than gentlemanly when I flipped the table at her and ran off down the street, but I couldn't help myself, Doc! I don't know what I was doing! One minute, I'm tailing and informant and then next, I'm sitting starry-eyed staring at an off-duty cop, forgettin' all my trainin' and walkin' straight up to her offa the street! I was kickin' myself for weeks. She probably thinks I'm a creep. I bet the only conversation she'd be willing to have with me involves the reading of my rights." He chuckled.
The image of a lovely police constable and Sebastian Moran sharing dinner from either side of the prison visitor's window sprang unbidden into John's mind.
"So, that's reason number two why I couldn't kill anybody like that." Moran shuffled back and Moriarty's parting words echoed in John's mind.
"And then, the finale, Sherlock will watch me shoot you."
"What about me?"
Moran's eyes sprang up from the floorboards and met John's scowl.
"What about you?" Moran's words didn't quite come out like they should have. John saw the realization in his eyes, the conclusion he was still processing.
"Moriarty's big plan. Get Sherlock out of the way. Burn this, burn that, burn him."
"She wouldn't… She just wants him to stop prying…" The exact phrasing from the pool pushed John over the edge. There was no doubt in his mind that Moran had been the sniper there, that day.
"Oh. Well, I guess she tells you everything then. Like, when you left. She must've filled you in on how you're to ambush Sherlock when he comes so he can watch Moriarty shoot me. That'll get him to stop prying." John's flat words hit Moran like bullets; he flinched back.
This time, however, he didn't make an argument or even deny the fact. Maybe Moran's accepted the truth. Maybe he's on the edge.
"You don't have to go through with it." John stated simply.
It was Moran's turn to drop a flat gaze. "But I do." He replied. "It wouldn't make sense to you, but I do."
"A debt to repay." John remembered the phrase from before. Moran nodded.
"Moriarty helped me out in a tight spot. I owe her. Besides that, the things I've done, the people I've almost killed- they'd have to go into witness protection, leave their families to save their lives- I can't go back. I'm too far gone. It's done."
Moran turned on his heel and fled, leaving John tied to a pipe with two empty smoothie cups in front of him.
All in all, he thought as he began making his way back up the pipes, not the worst kidnapper I've ever met. He makes short work of the nylon ropes with the little knife and is soon free. The first thing he does is relax his arms. His shoulder is tight, and he figures it could cause him some serious problems later if he doesn't stretch it out. Wouldn't want it to freeze up while I'm taking out the guards. Who knows what kind of security Moriarty has in here… Sufficiently stretched, John makes his exit.
The doorway is pitch black. First things first, John finds a wall in the darkness. Feeling along the rough brick, he finds a short hallway and can move forward freely. Something short and dense connected with his toe and John staggered back. It was a step. The first of many, apparently. John kept to the edges as he ascended. By walking as closely as possible to the wall, he minimized any creaking noise the steps would make, and at the same time reduced his chances of falling straight through a rotted stair.
He's climbed at least three floors by now. John counted the landings and concluded he must at least be aboveground. It was still totally dark. John found the wall again and made his way forward. About ten feet in, something cold brushed against his hair. John raised his hands and met with a solid metal bar that ran horizontally across the hallway. Hmm. Weird. And he ignored it.
His foot never found its next step. John fell into the gaping darkness. His hands flailed wildly as he pitched forward, brushing his fingertips uselessly against the wallpaper.
What did Moriarty say about traps?
Down at the end of the winding gravel road, past the trees and fields, a car pulls up. Its headlights have been off for the past mile. No one will have seen anything, not from the abandoned school building obscured by isolation and trees. The car stops. The engine is switched off. All is silent in this little corner of the world. The car door opens and Sally Donovan steps out onto the gravel road. This was the address. John Watson, she knew, was inside.
A/N: Oh no! What a cliffhanger! Well, I guess he's not really hanging so much as falling but... I hope you had a good read! I'll try and get the next bit up before the 21st. That's the beginning of my real busy-ness.
Please tell me if there's anything I've messed up on at all! I'd love to hear your critiques and fix up my writing so it's the best it can be!