I naturally don´t own the characters of Sherlock, John or Mycroft (but the baddies are mine and so is the story!). I´m not native in English nor an expert of British culture so there is probably bound to be some mistakes despite my best efforts. I hope that they won´t prevent anyone from enjoying the story. All feedback is very welcome!
24 hours with you
John Watson was walking back home after rugby practice. The sun was already low and the narrow side streets of London were being rapidly swallowed by shadows. He was exhausted after a long day. He also felt genuinely happy for the first time in a while. The coach had praised his skills as a player many times during today´s practice and John knew that he was almost sure to make it as a regular this time. The reason he hadn´t made it until now, after all, had more to do with his small build than his skills. John was never one to avoid danger and he was far too skillful of a player for others to ignore on the field. In official games opposing teams tended to construct of the oldest and biggest players of their respective schools and the coach was worried that he would get himself lynched. That thought didn´t concern John himself nearly as much. However, the coach was the one who made the decisions.
John knew that during the last year he had become kind of a mascot of the team. He almost never got any playtime, but despite that he was by far the hardest worker of the team, often being the first one to arrive on the mornings and the last one to leave at the evenings. His persistence encouraged other members to train harder as well. Therefore the coach kind of owed him a lot. Even John himself thought silently that he deserved to be rewarded for his efforts. It was great to notice that it would be happening soon.
John was so deeply in his thoughts that he hardly noticed that he had entered to one of the worse areas of London. It wasn´t one of the real bad areas (where one should never venture without a bulletproof west and a hand gun at least) but surely it was not a place for a kid in his age to walk alone. The smell of weed was quite detectable. Garbage bags that were piled next to old deteriorating buildings gave their own disgusting addition to the smell. There were dozens of cigarette butts on the ground next to something that looked like puke from last night. Occasionally some druggies hanged around here, but now the street was luckily empty. It was probably still too early for most of the residents as the area was basically nocturnal and at it´s busiest after midnight.
Even if John had seen someone, he wouldn´t have paid any attention to them. That´s how he ensured, that they didn´t pay attention to him either. Sometimes John really valued his almost magical ability to blend into surroundings. He was very ordinary boy. No remarkable physical features. No traits or talents that would stick out. Which was good. He wasn´t seeking trouble.
Then something alarmed him. He looked around carefully, not making it too obvious. He could hear voices from a dark gateway while passing by it. It was a kid, he realized. He hadn´t expected to come across to another kid here. The way the boy talked was very unusual for a child, however. Sentences were carefully pronounced. There was a hint of arrogance, but mostly the tune was just very self-confident. Despite himself, John got curious and glanced to the direction of the voice.
He saw a child, a bit shorter than himself but considering the fact that he was short for his age, the other boy was probably several years younger. He was talking to a man who looked like he could be a member of a criminal biker gang. The boy had long dark curls and a cute little face. The man on the other hand was dressed in a black sleeveless shirt and a leather jacket. His face was decorated with all kinds of piercings and his arms, thick as tree trunks, were covered in tattoos. In addition to that he looked furious.
John got chills down to his spine. He wondered if he should get someone to help. If he knew anything about angry people (and unfortunately he did), the kid was going to get a serious beating very soon.
-What a true fool you are, the boy told the man, daring to look mildly disgusted.
John was impressed by the dysfunction of his survival insticts.
-I noticed that you simply adore your young son. You have his picture on your wallet and when you see a boy even remotedly around his age you mention your son immediately. He used to idolize you but not anymore. You send him text messages at least once on every day but he ignores them. You haven´t seen him in a while. Not your decision. It was almost too easy. Just a bit of fake flattery about wanting to become a professional driver just like you when I´m big enough and you offered me a drive in the same car you used in a kidnapping a couple of days ago. You thought, you could understand your son better if you got friendly with someone around his age, didn´t you? Some innocent questions and you told me even the things I wouldn´t have dared to ask. Talk about overly eager.
The boy klicked his tongue.
-The boys in my age have generally very empty heads (according to my observations they have only some pointless information about ancient reptiles in there). You still shouldn´t expect a 10-year-old to be less intelligent than a common house dog. (Even dogs understand some basic causality!) From the total lack of discretion, I must conclude that you didn´t seriously try to hide anything. Did you, perhaps, think that no-one would believe in a child like me?
The boy measured the man´s face as if trying to read whether his hypothesis was true.
-Too bad. Even a child is believed, if the evidence is convincing enough.
-Evidence? You don´t have any evidence! The man snapped.
-I wouldn´t be that certain. Did you notice, that you had a yellow mitten on the back seat of your car. That matches perfectly to the one the victim was wearing on the day he was kidnapped. Your phone records also say that you contacted the parents of the victim at the time when they were asked for ransom. You could have at least erased them, if you didn´t want to get caught.
The man instinctively grasped his pocket. The child brought out a mobile phone in front of his eyes. From the way the man reacted, how he fumed when seeing it, it was clear that he recognised it.
-Sorry. I may have accidentally stolen it.
The child gave the man a toothy smile.
-You´ve been visibly shaken over the past two days. Even your coworkers have noticed it. You didn´t wish for the boy to die, did you? It´s heavy on your conscience. From what I´ve observed, you tend to loose your control and get violent during arguments, which is probably the reason why your wife finally left you. You are kinder and more patient with children, but maybe you hit your son once or twice 'accidentally'. Therefore she doesn´t wan´t you to meet him anymore. She´s also preparing for the court case to get the sole custody of your child. Probably she will even get a restraining order for you, because of your violent past. If that happened, you wouldn´t be able to see your only son anymore. That´s the reason, why you need money urgently. You would need a good lawyer to win the case. You weren´t too choosy when it came to the methods, but now you´ve started to regret it. You´re certainly stupid, evil and desperate but not really a killer. You were in this kidnapping simply for the ransom money and when the child died you simultaneously lost your chance with the money. My conclusion is that you have a partner in crime. Someone more clever and ruthless. Someone who noticed that the parents had involved the police. As the whole thing was not going according to the plan anymore he decided to get rid of the victim. And for some reason, you didn´t dare to oppose him. Only thing that is still a bit misty is where you hid the kidnapped boy before killing him. As you have been so very helpful until now, would you kindly reveal that too?
The boys light blue eyes studied curiously the man´s face. A long silence followed his words.
-Brilliant deduction, little man, the man admitted softly after a while.
John, who had watched the whole episode from the shadows was immediately alarmed by his calmness. He knew that "calm before a storm" held true when it came to violence. His old man was mostly harmless in his drunken rampages. He often yelled angrily and shouted insults to whoever happened to stand nearby, but usually that was it. However, John had learned to know when to avoid a punch. That was when his father became oddly silent and calm for a moment. That was the sign.
-There is just one thing I´m curious about, the man muttered.
-Just one? I´m fairly surprised. Though, if I remember right, they actually tend to say something about curiosity being a sign of intelligence, the kid mocked.
-The thing that I´m curious about is, how come you think that after all that you have said, I would just let you walk away with the evidence? The man continued.
The kid blinked his eyes, clearly a bit confused. For the first time, he seemed a bit unsure.
-You aren´t a killer, he claimed.
-I´m not. But I´m a repeated offender of domestic violence. I sometimes tend to lose my temper... And according to you I´m a kidnapper. If I´m going to lose my son anyway, I don´t see much reason to keep my hands even relatively clean.
With every sentence the man took a threatening step towards the boy who slowly retreated until his back was against a prick wall.
As the man rose his fist ready to lay it down in any second, the boy suddenly covered his head with his arms and shrieked:
-If you hurt me, my brother will kill you. He is important! He is in British government!
Right at that moment a chillingly calm voice cut in.
-Well, well, that was pretty interesting, wasn´t it. British government? Really?
A slender man in a stylish, long overcoat had walked into the middle of the scene without anyone noticing. The bigger man stiffened in the middle of a punch. He made very fast check of the other mans face. John could almost see his hairs stand up from alertness.
-M-Mercury? Came out of the man´s throat. The slender man´s face was hidden behind the brim of his hat, but John could see a glimpse of his white teeth when he smirked. Somehow his bare effortless presence was enough to make John´s insides squirm.
The man called Mercury bended over the darkhaired child and looked carefully into his frightened face.
-Well, we will have lots of time to talk it and other things. Because you´re coming with us. I´ll personally make sure, that you get to see the place where we held the other kidnapped child. Aren´t you pleased? My friend here, Al Raymond, will escort you to the right direction.
He patted the bigger man´s back in fatherly manner. The gesture could have been interpreted as friendly if it wasn´t for their obvious height difference of the two men and the fact that Raymond looked as thought his fingers tingled to break the other man´s neck. Those things considering it was clearly a demonstration of dominance.
Without muttering a word the man called Raymond picked the child up to his shoulder. The boy naturally struggled, kicked and tried to yell, but his voice got muffled when the man planted his huge hand on top of his mouth. Mercury walked first leading them to a car. He actually dared to whistle cheerfully as he went. The other man followed him while keeping the helplessly struggling child in his steady hold.