A/N: Takes place during Series 3' Labyrinth of London plotline, in my own sideline style.
After a tough case, the last thing Sophia expected to happen when she returned to Baker Street was to find a rather drunk Loki stumbling around.
"Ah, Sophia, you're back!" Jareth shouted from the top of the stairs. Sophia groaned as she looked up at him.
"What's all this for?" Jareth met Sophia halfway up the stairs, frowning slightly when Sophia took so long to climb the first set of stairs.
"This rather spontaneous event is in honour of the end of our break, Sarah and I wanted to spend it with our poker buddies, but it appears to be out of hand" Jareth answered. Sophia was about to reply when her phone rang. After a brief conversation, Sophia snapped her phone shut again and attempted to head back downstairs, only to stumble on the top step.
"Sophia, where are you going?" Jareth questioned.
"My eighth case in the past week, though technically it's all one cult, they just murdered someone else" Sophia answered, stepping over the drunk Loki to walk out the door again.
"Please tell me this isn't just a fool's errand Lestrade, I could do with some sleep" Sophia grumbled as she arrived at the crime scene. The DI shook his head and handed Sophia a coffee, waiting until she'd started to drink it before he explained.
"The cult is at it again, three bodies this time. Sliced practically to ribbons with the same markings drawn on the walls in blood"
"All of the bodies human this time or have their beloved pets died with their owners?"
"All of them human, all of them pretty much the same description from what we can piece together from the remains"
"Oh joy, this case may finally be going somewhere" Sophia muttered. She quickly finished the large coffee and handed the empty cup to Lestrade before ducking under the crime scene tape.
By this time, Jareth had gotten rather worried. All of his and Sarah's poker buddies had left the flat and the newlyweds were looking over the folders that had been sitting on Sophia's coffee table. All that remained of the victims was often a bloody pulp, some of the remains charred in some sort of attempt at a satanic ritual.
"If it is a ritual, it's not one I've seen before" Jareth muttered to himself.
"It's certainly unusual for the bodies to be that severely mutilated, normally the bodies are in the maximum of four pieces" Sarah added, looking over another case file.
"Not necessarily, I've seen cult killings where there's no body at all. The bodies had been completely incinerated, there weren't even bones to find" Jareth countered. "What could the killing of the pets have to do with any ritual?"
"I don't know, but I'll look it up after some coffee" was Sarah's reply, the latter part almost inaudible as she was already in the kitchen. Sarah returned from the kitchen to find Jareth already zoned out, staring at the images on the coffee table. She picked up one of the files and started to read through it, setting it aside a few moments later to grab her laptop and begin searching for any possible rituals that would match what she was seeing.
Sophia grabbed yet another coffee from Lestrade as they walked out of the morgue, a rather futile attempt to keep her going. Lestrade steered the teen towards his office and set her on the sofa, taking the coffee from her hand as she collapsed onto the sofa, unable to stay awake much longer. He rolled his eyes as Sophia fell asleep the instant she sat down.
"Honestly Soph, this isn't healthy"
"It never has been and never will be, she's just stupid enough to do it anyway" Donovan grumbled. Lestrade just shook his head and moved the woman out of the room, leaving Sophia to get some well needed rest while he continued working on the case. He was surprised to find Jareth and Sarah exiting the elevator after he'd closed the door behind him.
"I thought you two weren't back until tomorrow"
"Technically we aren't, but he saw the state of Sophia and has started working on the case" Sarah explained.
"Oh, and Donovan!" This caused the officer to turn and address the former Goblin King. "She wouldn't have to work continuous cases like this if you were smart enough to be
of decent help to Lestrade"
"I see marriage hasn't changed you then?"
"Do you really think anything could change him?" Sarah countered.
"Fair point. Now, I suppose you two know the case?"
"We've had a look through the files and Sophia's notes, but if you could give us the rest of the information you've gathered then we'll get to work."
When Sophia registered her return to the conscious world, not that she could really remember falling asleep, it didn't take her long to realise that she wasn't in Baker Street. She wasn't in Lestrade's office either, which was the last place she remembered before her brain decided to shut off. Now, it was possible that she'd fallen asleep in the taxi if she'd been sent back to Baker Street in one, which was the most likely theory, but it didn't explain her surroundings.
"At long last, she wakes! It took you long enough." A voice echoed around the room from one of the balconies above her. Sophia was awake instantly, her mind already working.
"Well a week of clearing up your mess would do that to anyone, never mind me, who was already working overtime anyway" was the response she bit out. "But you lot already knew that, didn't you?"
"You keep posting blog entries about cases, Doctor Watson keeps talking about wedding preparations and the part-time consulting detective doesn't post anything. It doesn't take a genius to work that out."
"Which is probably be a good thing, because you certainly aren't one. Which one of your brainwashed lackeys did the thinking for you?"
"That would be me" Sophia arched one eyebrow as the Lestrade's newest rookie removed her hood, partially in surprise, but mostly for incredulity.
"I was right about the brainwashing then, it explains the blank look at the crime scenes. Now that I think about it, it would explain the leak of insider information as well."
"So it was noticed by someone. Did you tell anyone else about your discovery?" the cult leader looked at the rookie briefly, a look which clearly said 'we'll talk about this later' before turning his attention to Sophia.
"Didn't get the chance to, but then again, that was part of your plan. Run me ragged enough to make sure that I can't work properly. Its obvious that I'm your target given that I'm the only one here this evening and, let's face it, this was meant to be a stadium for the grand finale"
"How are you-?" Sophia cut the rookie off.
"So with it? My brain is fully functioning because I've been doing this for more years than I care to admit and, as a result, I'm well and truly used to working on very little food or sleep. Sherlock demanded as much of me when I started working with him and it was something I continued. I've had very little choice in it since I've returned to work alone."
"Which you certainly shouldn't have had to." Jareth's voice echoed from one of the tunnels off the main chamber. He became visible a few seconds later, dropping an unconscious cult member on the floor.
"Kick Sherlock's arse later Jareth, deal with the current problem now." Sarah said from another of the tunnels. She used the momentum of the cult member she'd just kicked in the stomach to knock another one over. The second one hit their head in the floor and stayed down, leaving Sarah and Jareth to dispatch the rest of the nameless hooded grunts before they went for Sophia.
"You can have the pleasure of doing it yourself after he's got you out of here." John added from up on the balcony, where he and Mary were busy with the rookie and cult leader.
"If there's anything left of him after we're done with him." Sherlock, who was busy trying to release Sophia from the altar she was tied to, froze momentarily when he heard Mary say that. Sophia's laugh brought him out of it and he finished working, just in time for Lestrade to turn up and lend a hand in the fistfights.
"I'm not arguing with you ther-just let me walk Sherlock." Sophia complained as she was lifted off the altar. Sherlock just shook his head and headed for one of the tunnels, carrying her out of the massive network and placing her in the back of a waiting ambulance.
"Go and help the others, I'll be fine with these guys." Sherlock leaned against the side of the ambulance and let the people get to work looking over Sophia.
"They've all threatened to kill me if something happens to you." He said in way of an explanation.
He stood there until the rest of the group traipsed out of the tunnel and quickly surrounded the back of the ambulance where Sophia was by that point sitting, though with someone pretty much propping her up as they examined the back of her head.
"I know you all want to talk to her, but it will have to wait, I'm going to have to take her in and check there's nothing serious from the head wound." Neville, a regular face in the ambulance and the one they always call out on a case, told them. The group nodded as Sophia was helped onto the gurney in the back, Sherlock climbing in to take the seat beside Neville and the rest of them watching it close the doors. The police vehicles and taxis left the area not long after the ambulance.
John rolled his eyes when he saw the state of the flat and its occupant. Sophia was sprawled out on 'her' purple sofa still surrounded by the case notes that Jareth and Sarah hadn't stolen to look through. Aside from that, the place was a complete state. Every mug she owned was lying around on the flat surfaces with the rings in the bottom signifying it's contents. Most mugs had various utensils and take out cartons nearby, mostly Chinese from two streets over but there was the odd Speedy's wrapper in there, and he didn't dare go in the kitchen.
"How did we let her get to this?" John flinched when Sherlock spoke from just behind him. He moved into the room and started gathering the mugs together as quietly as he could. Sherlock followed him but headed for Sophia's bedroom. He emerged just as John was coming out of the kitchen and lifted the young woman off the sofa so he could put her in her bed. That done, her door was closed and Mary joined in.
"We left our normal lives for a few months, but the crimes didn't stop. Someone had to pick up that slack." John answered, now free to do so.
"I didn't realise she'd be doing it alone though."
"So you're human, like the rest of us," Mary said. She started gathering the random pieces of case files that were spread everywhere which only uncovered more mess.
"Speak for yourself," Jareth protested as he joined the clean-up.
When Sophia was woken several hours later by Molly, everyone else either too busy with the kitchen or too tired to do any more cleaning, it was to a clean-ish flat and to take some of the medication she'd been given. While she was eating, she was told by Jareth and Sherlock that she was taking the next two weeks off, no arguments to be made against it. She was still too tired to do so.
She only managed a week off in the end, but when there are weddings to deal with, someone has to pick up the slack. The sentiment had been nice though.