Sherlock waited, impatiently, in 221b for John to come back from the market with beans and milk. He tossed John's pistol idly from hand to hand. Mrs. Hudson had stolen the bullets from it he had surmised when he picked it up to target the wall again that afternoon. He wasn't so bored now, in the middle of a case like this with three people saved and one old woman dead, but still. He'd like to shoot something to stem the business of his brain.
The Vermeer painting had been a bit of a throw off, he would admit, but he had figured it out before there ever was a call from the crying little boy. Yet, there was that thing on the edge of his brain that made him sit up straighter in his high back chair, milking the fire for a rhythm and the tossing gun for a beat to end the case. There was that last pip to wait for. Sherlock hated waiting. For John or for Moriarty.
The pink phone lay on the armrest, silent. He wished Moriarty would ring soon, Lestrade had given up on calling his real mobile hours ago and the pink phone wouldn't stop vibrating now with Lestrade's texts. It didn't do him much good, staring at the pink phone, willing it to ring with the number blocked. After another 10 minutes of sitting hunkered down in the chair in front of the fire, Sherlock decided John had given up his solid bed for the night to sleep at Sarah's, again instead of coming back to the cold apartment. Typical. Sherlock thought about texting him about the beans (at least they should come home back to the apartment, he for once was feeling famished), but he decided that wasn't quite so interesting as waiting up John to come back with a crick in his neck and a throbbing pain in his shoulder and surmising what piece of furniture he slept on.
He laid his head back on the chair and let himself slump towards the left corner. It felt good to get some sleep while he waited for John come back or for the next suicide bomber to ring, crying. The unwilling, scared mouthpiece of that criminal mastermind Moriarty. The crying was understandable from normal people, Sherlock thought, their thoughts running wild and helter-skelter through what-if's and thinking about their sons with runny noses, and how their families would take their deaths if the police didn't find them. Wild emotions never helped them survive. Sherlock, however, lived off their adrenaline filled nightmares, and he had solved their puzzles for them in record time. Emotions had never stopped him before. Not ever.
He closed his eyes thinking Moriarty would call him soon, through yet another voice. The moment of realization always excited him when they called. Of course, his reaction horrified John but Sherlock knew John understood what he was getting at. You needed that distance in order to solve the game, kill the enemy, save the person still breathing at the other end of the line. So it was unexpected, even surprising when the pink phone rang with a number not blocked and one that wasn't Lestrade.
Sherlock nearly had fallen asleep on the chair when that bloody pink phone rang. Moriarty had a funny sense of humor, calling after business hours. He answered it rather blearily.
"Sherlock? That's you isn't it?" It was indeed Sarah, and there was worry in her voice.
"Yes, yes it is." Sherlock said, but
"Sherlock, John was going to come over and—"
Sherlock interrupted sitting up, wide-awake now.
"He hasn't turned up?"
"No, he hasn't."
Sherlock glanced at the clock in the kitchen, 8 o'clock. John should have made it to Sarah's by now, or to Baker street even with the nearest supermarket just around the corner.
"Sarah," he said as nicely as possible when he didn't have any caffeine and his mouth was dry as leaves.
"I'm sure he's on his way, probably out buying a couple frozen dinners..or flowers…something. No need to worry."
"Sherlock," said Sarah softly, her tone contrite. "He sent me a text."
Sherlock sighed. "What was it?" He could hear her hesitate on the other end.
"It's just dashes and dots," She said finally.
Sherlock's feet came off the chair and planted themselves on the floor.
He spoke slowly and distinctly into the mouthpiece. "What are they?"
"Just dots and dashes."
"Tell me what they are."
" Dot, dot, dot.. dash, dash, dash.. dot, dot, dot."
Dots and dashes. Sherlock let out a breath. What could John be doing?
"Could it be an SOS?"
The thought had crossed his mind. "Yes, it could be that's Morse code for SOS."
"Why didn't he send it to you then?"
Sherlock grimaced inwardly. "I haven't been answering my phone."
"Oh." Sarah didn't push it. Good for her.
"How did you get this number?"
"I called Detective Lestrade," said Sarah. She hoped he would offer answers straight away.
The phone clicked and beeped in his ear. He looked at the screen: it said blocked. His heart raced. Moriarty. At last.
"Sarah I'm going to have to call you later." He hung up without even waiting for a reply.
He slide his thumb across the mobile screen and waited only a split second to say into the mouthpiece.
"Yes." He could barely keep the adrenaline fueled excitement out of his voice.
Another awful second and the voice on the other end, again, not Moriarty, but another probably younger man's voice said: "Evening."
Sherlock was on his feet in an instant, his body electrified.
"Nice turn out this." It was John. He wasn't crying like the rest. He sounded under distress definitely, his voice clipped and devoid of any emotion as he read out the words on a pager.
Sherlock knew he couldn't answer him but he still said:"John, what the hell?"
"Funny that you picked the pool… where little Carl powers died." Sherlock heard a slight shaky intake of breath.
"I stopped his heart." Sherlock closed his eyes, his mind on overdrive, listening intently for sounds in the background to John's voice.
"I can stop John Watson's too."
A strange tug at his conscience, that line. A bit poetic and less angry than Moriarty had been with the other suicide bombers. He sounded excited, like this was more than another step in the game. Sherlock hadn't seen this coming after all.
"What—What would you like for me to have him say next?"
"Gottle o gear… Gottle o gear." John repeated, humorlessly in Sherlock's ear.
"Stop it, just stop it." Sherlock hissed. He stopped himself before he went any further. He could hear, no feel John's unconscious gape. He wasn't really talking to John, John knew that, but it didn't help things. Better to address Moriarty even though he desperately wanted to address John. Oh, how he wanted to. He needed to hear that he was alright. He sounded fine, militarily collected and under stress, but fine.
"I have the missile plans," said Sherlock urgently, hoping that would get Moriarty's attention. No response through John.
"I solved the last case," he continued. "What more do you want?" he asked.
He gritted his teeth.
"Why John Watson?" He knew he was pressing his luck, but he could try. He wanted a reaction.
He heard John inhale softly. John was waiting for answer too.
A high piercing noise filled his ear and he grimaced at it. The last pip in the series of five a long and almost mournful sound ringing in his ears. Moriarty hanged up on him. No information this time, no clues, not yet. John was the last bomber. That was all Sherlock needed to know. This had gone from a game of cards to a game of chess. Moriarty had John, strapped up to a bomb, with a timer ticking and no case to solve. It was personal now. His question why John had touched a nerve. Moriarty would be handling this bomber differently.
But John was clever. Sherlock knew that, and he smiled at the thought of John hurriedly sending Sarah the SOS. Good man, John, he knew what to do in distress. The fact that Moriarty had chosen John his colleague to be his next voice, a little reminder of how close he was 221b, to Sherlock struck him to the core.
This was different. This was new. Dangerous. His mind raced for answers he couldn't conceive off yet. He felt himself caring, wishing he could have told John to stay, to sit and have a cold, safe dinner in the apartment with him. He shoved that feeling away, down deep away from the surface of data and calculations. It had never helped him before, it wouldn't help now. Caring wouldn't do. And still. And still that tiny bit of guilt and worry ingrained itself into him like a parasite and wouldn't let go. Moriarty had chosen his next pawn well.
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A/N There is a word in the repeated dots and dashes at the beginning and ending of every chapter. By the end of the story you have the whole word. Kinda silly, but I like the idea. :)