One hundred and five reviews! Oh my God, I don't know what to say. Thank you all so much! You're amazing, every last one of you! ^^
Ah, as if writing this wasn't hard enough already, I went and threw a case in there too XD But then again, what is a Sherlock Holmes story without one? I'm hoping the case will take a backseat in this, because A, I'd rather focus on Mycroft's plan and getting John and Sherlock together, and B, I'm nowhere near creative enough to come up with a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes :( But I've got a funny feeling that this story might end up being longer than I originally intended. Oh well, I'm sure you guys won't be complaining about that! :D
Y'know, this chapter wouldn't have been up here at all if it weren't for my friend Jack, because the stupid college computers decided to corrupt my memory stick, and I couldn't open any files at all, but Jack the lifesaver managed to recover them all for me! So you should all thank him for his awesome computer skills, without which this chapter would've been forever lost.
And once again, thank you so much to the wonderful Elvendork-Infinity for the feedback and the help, I really appreciate it! I've almost mastered those tenses now! Haha :D THANK YOU! ^^
This chapter ended up being WAY longer than I thought it'd be :/ 7120 words! O.O Um… word limit? No idea what that is ^^
Anyways, on with the chapter! Read on and review for me, it'd make me a very happy bunny!
Chapter 3: There's No Way My Luck Can Be That Bad.
Thanks to Mycroft Holmes, I can't enjoy a nice relaxing shower any more with the knowledge that some unlucky suit is watching me via a video feed from our bathroom. There might not be anything altogether perverse about it (oh, but it isn't far off, bloody Holmes and his lack of respect for personal boundaries), and I'm sure Mycroft has his reasons, but I can't help but think maybe the bathroom camera is a step too far. The bedroom cameras are bad enough. Hell, all the hidden cameras are bad enough! Yes, I get it that he wants to keep as close an eye on his sociopathic younger brother as possible, but twenty-four hour surveillance really is overkill, in my opinion. All I can say is that I feel so sorry for the poor sods who have to sit there and watch Sherlock and me for hours on end. I hope they get paid extra for all this psychological damage.
These past four days since my latest meeting with Mycroft, I've been little more than a nervous wreck. He'd said that sometime during the next week, I'd meet someone and his secret plan would come into play. To be honest, I haven't a clue what he's got in mind, or how on earth it's supposed to help bring Sherlock and me together. Which it won't, anyway, whatever he tries to do. And I'm not just being pessimistic there. No matter what Mycroft says, I refuse to believe that his brother has feelings for me that are anything more than platonic. It… it just isn't possible! It doesn't work! This is Sherlock Holmes we're talking about here! There's no way on earth that my flatmate thinks of me in that way, never mind using me as masturbation material. I think I'll need more proof than the word of Mycroft Holmes, thanks.
I yawn widely as the kettle boils, willing my eyes to stay open long enough for me to rummage around for two teabags and drop them into the cleanest pair of mugs I can find. You always have to be careful in this kitchen. The last time I neglected to check exactly what I was adding to my tea, I nearly poisoned myself with some lethal concoction Sherlock decided to replace the milk with for one of his experiments. That man will be the death of me someday, I swear.
It's about nine o'clock in the morning, and I've literally only just woken up less than fifteen minutes ago. I'm so glad I don't have to be at the clinic today, because I actually don't think I've ever been this tired in my entire life, but that's all Sherlock and his bloody violin's fault. Don't get me wrong, he can carry a damn good tune with that thing when he wants to, but why does he always have to practise (and practise horrifically, I might add, like he's trying to hack the strings to death) hours before the crack of dawn? It's so infuriating! But then again, if he didn't do it, I'd think he was ill or something. Just one of the many inescapable eccentricities of the wonder that is Sherlock Holmes.
I'm curious though, I've got to admit. About Mycroft's 'plan', I mean. Because really, God knows what goes on in that mysterious brain of his, and I'm seriously worried that I might need some kind of therapy if I ever manage to live through whatever he's going to do to his brother and me in order to get us together. Hell, it could be something as simple as locking the two of us in a room and not letting us out until someone ends up with a limp that's definitely not psychosomatic. I wouldn't put it past him. Sounds like the kind of sneaky underhand trick Mycroft would play, the conniving bastard. I wonder if he learnt that deviousness from Sherlock, or vice versa. Either way, it seems to be a dominant Holmes family trait, that's for sure.
I pour the hot water into the cups, then absently stir each tea bag with a spoon before I head for the fridge for the milk. Why I'm making two drinks, I don't know, because I actually have no idea where Sherlock is right now. He isn't shooting walls in the living room, and there's no experiments bubbling away unattended on the kitchen table, so if he hasn't locked himself in his bedroom like a reclusive hermit, then I'm completely clueless as to his whereabouts. It's times like these where I seriously consider having him electronically tagged. Actually, I'm surprised Mycroft hasn't already thought of that. Maybe I should mention it to the elder Holmes brother the next time I see him.
I cradle one of the steaming cups in my hands and bring it up to my lips as I turn away from the counter, then halt abruptly in my tracks as I catch sight of a familiar tall and slender figure suddenly blocking the doorway. He stands there looking as imposing and imperious as ever, his grey-blue eyes almost ethereal in the light streaming through the kitchen window opposite, his dark curls tinted with gold from the morning sun and his white skin practically luminous. Any other time or situation, I definitely would've stopped and admired the view as subtly as I possibly could, but then I notice he's wearing his long coat and scarf, and his mobile phone is clutched loosely in one black leather-gloved hand. All that combined can only mean one thing. Fucking hell.
"Lestrade." Sherlock announces, just like I knew he would, holding his phone up and showing me the bright white screen, as though he expects me to be able to read the tiny font from right across the room. "Says he's got a crime scene and a dead body he needs me to take a look at."
"You've got to be kidding me." I groan, my tea now completely forgotten. Typical. Just bloody typical. Five minutes past nine in the morning, and Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade decides this is a perfect time to summon us over to a crime scene, post-haste. I'm still in my pyjamas, for crying out loud!
Sherlock's lips curve upwards in amusement at the expression of half-hearted despair on my face, his intense eyes gleaming in a way that's almost feline. He takes two strides into the room with those abnormally long legs of his and swipes the cup straight out my hand with practised ease, raising it to his lips and drinking deeply before I even have chance to splutter in protest.
"Ten minutes, John. I'll be waiting in the cab." He grins devilishly, handing me back the now empty mug before turning and stalking from the room, his long black coat whipping out behind him dramatically as he disappears from view around the corner. I'm still standing there stupidly when the front door slams and his quick, light footsteps make their way down the staircase, but then I swiftly jump into action because I know for a fact that in ten minutes time, that taxi will set off whether I'm in it or not. Either that or Sherlock will come back up here and drag me out semi-dressed. Imagine how incriminating that would look if we pull up at the crime scene with me half-in, half-out of my jeans. Donovan and Anderson would have a field day with that one. They'd never let us live it down, and they're already insufferable enough as it is without adding any more fuel to their fire.
Needless to say, less than the designated time limit later I'm fully clothed and climbing into the cab beside the consulting detective, zipping my trusty old coat up to my chin against the bitterly cold morning air.
"Nine minutes, forty-seven seconds, John. Not bad." Sherlock comments offhandedly, not even bothering to glance my way when I get in, his gaze fixed firmly on his phone as his slender fingers skim across the keys. I purposely ignore that, fastening my seatbelt and settling back into the seat, flashing a brief smile at the cabbie as his curious (and slightly pleading) gaze meets mine in the rear-view mirror. Can't say I blame him, really. After spending ten minutes in a confined space with Sherlock Holmes, it's only natural for you to either want to kill him, or kill yourself. Or, in my case, shag him senseless. Dear God, what's wrong with me?
"Where are we heading?" I ask the infuriatingly brilliant (or brilliantly infuriating, whichever) genius sat next to me, looking so delicious and untouchably perfect in every way that it actually hurts me a little to look at him. It's like a constant reminder that he's close enough to touch, and yet he's always going to be just out of my reach. Screw what Mycroft Holmes says. Because really, does he know Sherlock's unfathomable mind anywhere near as well as he thinks he does? No, he doesn't. He's good, but not that good.
Sherlock's grey-blue irises flicker up to my face from beneath the dark curls that hang down low in front of his eyes, the rich brown colour contrasting amazingly with the paleness of his skin.
"54A Broadwick Street, Soho."
It takes us about twenty minutes to get there, and after pushing our way through the massive crowd of morbidly curious neighbours and bystanders gathered around outside the police tape barrier, we find Lestrade already there waiting for us. The Detective Inspector straightens up from where he'd been leaning against the doorway and watches the two of us approach, Sherlock striding towards him like he's literally bloody royalty and me not far behind.
"What took you so long?" Lestrade asks when we're close enough, stepping aside for a uniformed police constable to move past him before he turns to head back inside, gesturing for us to follow him into the building.
"We had to wait for John to put some clothes on." Sherlock answers impassively, his sharp eyes taking in every inch of our surroundings as we start up the staircase to the first floor in single-file. I unintentionally wince as he says that, my poor tortured brain immediately turning the innocent statement into something a lot more sexual. Lestrade glances back over his shoulder at me with his eyebrows raised questioningly, and I know for a fact he's thinking the exact same thing. The mortified expression on my face soon sets him straight though.
Over these past six months, I've become fast friends with Greg Lestrade. Granted, at first we weren't really all that keen on each other, but we soon developed a mutual level of respect that then went on to become quite a close friendship between us. We go down to the pub for a beer together every so often, usually for a lengthy moan about Sherlock's general lack of tact and social graces, and swapping life stories. We've both had some pretty crap experiences in our lives, trust me, so there's always something to talk about.
I think Lestrade knows. About my feelings for a certain consulting detective, I mean. It's just the way he looks at us sometimes in a mixture of curiosity, anticipation and frustration, almost as though he's trying to will us on and then being irritated when nothing happens. I've noticed that expression a fair few times, but definitely far more frequently in these last three months. I guess when I realised how I felt for Sherlock, it must've been written all over my face for everyone to see. Well, everyone other than Sherlock himself, obviously. As intelligent and amazing as that man is, he's still so spectacularly ignorant about some of the most basic human instincts and tendencies. In fact, 'spectacularly ignorant' doesn't quite cover it sometimes. Thank heaven for small mercies.
At the top of the staircase, Lestrade directs us to the first door on the landing and steps smartly back so Sherlock and I can enter flat 54A before him. The consulting detective does so without a second's hesitation, his narrowed grey-blue eyes flickering briefly around the room before focusing almost unblinkingly on the lifeless figure spread-eagled on the carpet in front of the fireplace.
The body is unmistakably a woman; blonde and petite, sprawled face-down with her neck twisted at a horrifically unnatural angle, her dark blue eyes glazed and vacant as they stare sightlessly across the room at us. Her hair is pulled back from her thin face in a messy bun, and she's wearing soft grey jogging bottoms, a pale pink long-sleeved t-shirt and a long black cardigan. Even from here, I can clearly see the sheer amount of bruises that cover the greyish skin of her face, neck and hands. It's obvious that this woman either took the mother of all beatings, or put up one hell of a fight for her life.
"Who is she?" Sherlock demands, pulling off his leather gloves and shoving them into his coat pockets. Lestrade passes him a pair of white latex gloves without needing to be asked.
"Her name's Sophie Harrison, according to the landlady." The Detective Inspector answers as Sherlock yanks the smooth latex over his pale fingers and starts towards the victim, easily navigating his way across the room that literally looks like a bombsite right now. It's a complete ravaged mess, with broken furniture, papers and millions of jagged glass shards strewn all over the floor, the wallpaper slashed and peeling away from the walls, pictures ripped brutally from their frames and torn beyond repair. Someone must've been absolutely blind with rage and hatred to do something like this, that's for sure. "She's a teacher at Soho Parish Primary School. Recently divorced, with joint custody of their four-year-old daughter. We're trying to get in contact with the ex-husband as we speak. No immediate family, no other relatives. She was murdered sometime between half ten and eleven last night, found this morning at eight thirty by the landlady, a Mrs Martha Bennett when she came to collect the monthly rent."
Sherlock doesn't respond, but then again, neither of us really expected him to. He's in the zone now; there's no one in the room but him and poor Sophie Harrison, and she's about to tell him every single tiny detail about herself without having to say a word. I feel sorry for her, in a way. Not just because she obviously suffered a great deal before her death, but also because she isn't even allowed the dignity of taking her secrets to the grave with her. Who knows what skeletons she could have locked away in her closet? Only Sherlock Holmes.
He crouches down on his haunches by the victim's side, flicking the edges of his coat back to make room for his long legs to bend. His head is tilted slightly to one side as he examines the body determinedly with his gaze alone, committing everything to memory and cataloguing away anything that can help lead us to her killer. There are a fair few of Lestrade's men in the room with us, photographing the surroundings and waiting to collect evidence, but everyone is deathly silent as Sherlock works, all eyes fixed as intensely on him as his own are fixed on Sophie Harrison.
I'll never get tired of watching Sherlock do what he does best. I see him do this practically every day, but he never ceases to amaze me with his scarily accurate deductions that he seems to pull from thin air. It's phenomenal. He's phenomenal. And there's nothing else to it, really. Sherlock Holmes is one of a kind.
"I hope I didn't interrupt anything this morning." Lestrade says casually, making me jump a little at the unexpected comment. I turn to look at him, and although his head is purposely facing forwards and he isn't looking at me, I notice that there's the tiniest smirk playing at his lips. Oh bloody hell, I should've seen this one coming.
"Not a thing." I reply, careful to keep my voice down. Sherlock is prodding at the body now, his slim fingers meticulously tracing every bruise, noting the differences in size, shape and colour. The last thing I need is for him to overhear us, because that wouldn't go down well, to say the least.
"Damn." Lestrade mutters under his breath, "I wish you two would hurry up and screw each other already. I've got fifty quid riding on it."
Well. How exactly am I supposed to respond to that? I bet the look on my face is absolutely fucking comical right now, with my eyes in serious danger of popping right out of my skull and my mouth gaping open in total shock and disbelief. I actually don't know what I'm more surprised about: the fact that he said that at all, or the fact that he's betting money on it!
Luckily for Lestrade, he's saved from being ruthlessly interrogated by me about this when the consulting detective chooses now to straighten up with a smug smirk on his pale face, his eyes practically gleaming with triumph and exhilaration as he peels off the latex gloves. Immediately, both mine and Lestrade's attentions are drawn straight back to him. Straight back to business.
"She isn't divorced." Sherlock announces as though it's the most obvious thing in the world. As always, confusion is instantaneous, and Lestrade definitely isn't the only one in the room wearing a puzzled frown.
"But the landlady said…"
"She's separated, there's a difference." My flatmate huffs, rolling his eyes at the slow thought processes of the average human being in comparison to his own magnificent mind. "She's still wearing her wedding ring, but it's on a chain around her neck rather than on her finger, meaning that it's still dear to her. If she was divorced, she would've removed the ring altogether as it would've been too painful a reminder of what she's lost. But she kept it with her, hence separated, perhaps expecting they'd get back together again at some point? That could've happened, the signs are all here."
"Signs? What signs?" Lestrade asks, his frown even deeper than before.
"The signs, Greg! Look at the pictures, it's obvious!"
It might be obvious to him, but the rest of us definitely need a bit more prompting before we can come to the same conclusion. I take the initiative and move forwards, my eyes scanning all the damaged photographs that litter the floor in bits and pieces. I can practically feel everyone staring at me, Sherlock's unwavering grey-blue gaze the most intense and penetrating out of the lot of them. After a moment of staring at the faces smiling up at me from the ruined pictures amongst the debris, I think I understand what my flatmate's trying to get at.
"Her husband's in every one." I remark, glancing up a little uncertainly at the consulting detective, not completely sure if that's what he meant. But judging by the wide grin on his face, I guess I hit the nail right on the head with that one.
"Excellent, John!" Sherlock beams proudly at me. Praise from Sherlock Holmes is pretty damn rare, so I can't help but feel ever so slightly smug to be on the receiving end of it. It proves (to myself, more than anyone) that I'm not just some stupid sidekick who follows him around all the time like a lovesick puppy; I actually do have a brain of my own, thanks, and I can bloody well use it.
Lestrade still looks dubious though, and I can't say I blame him, really.
"Now hang on a minute, what does that have to do with anything?" The Detective Inspector demands, now fast losing his patience. Sherlock's grin vanishes and he turns to Lestrade with an impressive swirl of his long coat.
"When your wife divorced you, did you keep her pictures on the wall?"
Lestrade doesn't even try to repress the wince and Sherlock's direct and tactless question, but he answers nonetheless, his expression sour.
"God no. They were the first things to go."
"Exactly! Mr and Mrs Harrison parted in a mutual agreement on good terms, but it wasn't because they fell out of love with each other. Or at least, Sophie still loved her husband despite the separation. That's why she kept the ring on her person and the photos up in plain sight. She liked being reminded of her husband, because she wanted him back. He would've noticed this too, whenever he came around to collect their daughter when it was his turn to take her. Sophie wasn't exactly being subtle. I'd say that in another month or so, they would've been back together, or at least cohabiting again."
"Until someone decided to snap her neck." I say softly, shaking my head at the lifeless corpse by Sherlock's feet with fresh pity. The expression on the consulting detective's face is unreadable for a moment, but then I look back up at him and he holds his latex gloves out towards me in one hand, inclining his head expectantly.
"Your turn, Dr Watson." He says coolly. Without needing any further instruction, I step up to him and take the offered gloves, pulling them on briskly as I crouch down beside Sophie's head just like Sherlock himself had done a few minutes before, my injured leg protesting slightly at the movement.
I examine her quickly, but carefully, determined not to miss anything out. Her bruises stand out even more vividly against her pallid skin now that I'm closer to her, and I can definitely make out the shapes of them. Mostly handprints, especially around her wrists and throat, where her attacker had evidently grabbed hold of her hard enough to leave ugly mottled marks behind. There's a nasty cut on her head too, leaving blood streaked down the left side of her face and pooled on the carpet below. That wasn't deep enough to have been fatal, but it would've undoubtedly immobilised her long enough for the murderer to take her head in their hands and twist.
Sherlock is crouched down next to me, watching me intently with those sharp eyes of his, observing my every move as I lightly press along both sides of Sophie's throat with my fingers, feeling the broken bones of her neck shift beneath the slight pressure.
"Well?" Sherlock asks quietly, his warm breath ghosting over the back of my neck in a way that almost makes a pleasant shiver trail down the length of my spine, but somehow I manage to restrain myself. Barely. A crime scene is no place to get all hot and bothered, especially when you're kneeling over a corpse, not even when it's someone as unbelievably attractive as Sherlock Holmes breathing down your neck.
I don't answer him straight away, instead reaching out to gently take one of Sophie's wrists, studying the bruised skin of her knuckles and torn fingernails that had once been painted with pastel pink nail polish. Defensive wounds. Oh, she fought alright, and she fought viciously. Sophie Harrison had been determined to live, but unfortunately for her, her desperate efforts just weren't good enough to save her. I turn her hand over, checking beneath her nails. Wait a minute. That's… not right. There's no blood at all, no skin cells, which there definitely should be if she'd tried to fend off her attacker as violently as she obviously had. That can only mean one thing. I lift my head and meet Sherlock's inquiring gaze.
"Her fingernails have been cleaned." I tell him, although he'd undoubtedly already noticed that himself earlier. My flatmate nods slowly, his eyes narrowed and calculating.
"There isn't a scrap of the killer's DNA left behind, not a fingerprint or strand of hair anywhere near or on the body." Lestrade adds from across the room.
"Cause of death?" Sherlock prompts me as he leans back a little on his haunches, his elbows resting on his thighs and his fingers poised together beneath his chin in his classic thinking pose. Six months ago, I would've probably said how the cause of death was pretty much obvious, but after spending so much time with the consulting detective, I've quickly come to learn that even the most obvious of things sometimes aren't quite what they appear.
"A cervical fracture. Her spinal cord is completely severed. She would've died almost instantly, if she was lucky."
"Hmm." Sherlock murmurs pensively, casting his gaze briefly over Sophie Harrison's body for a second before he abruptly straightens up once more, the angle of his jaw and that endless column of his flawless white throat looking so sinfully delicious (even more than usual) from my point of view beneath him. Whoa, beneath him, dangerous thoughts, Watson, very dangerous territory there…
I stand up alongside him before my evil brain can even consider adding that view to my latest Sherlock-based fantasies, watching him curiously as he twirls around slowly on his heels, his skilful stare now fixed entirely on the surroundings, surveying the entire ravaged state of the room with one eyebrow raised in contemplation.
"Oh." The tall dark-haired man exhales suddenly, joining the invisible dots with blatant ease and excitement, and as per usual leaving the rest of us a million miles behind him. "Organised chaos. Clever, very clever."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who can hear the thinly-veiled admiration in his baritone voice. My flatmate absolutely loves it when he's faced with a smart opponent, someone he can compete with on an intellectual level and who can stimulate that incredible mind of his long enough to keep the boredom at bay. He loves a challenge just as much as he loves proving (repeatedly) that he's the most intelligent man on earth. To be honest, looking at the mess around us, I don't see anything 'clever' about it. But then again, I'm not Sherlock Holmes.
"Doesn't look very organised." Lestrade remarks, voicing my thoughts exactly as he glances around the place with his eyebrows pointedly raised. Sherlock's gaze flicks over to the silver-haired Detective Inspector, impatience and exasperation etched into every chiselled line of his angular face.
"Oh, but it is, and that's precisely how our killer intended it to be. I think it's safe to say that the majority of this mess didn't occur until after Sophie Harrison was murdered." Sherlock responds haughtily, and with that cryptic little observation he turns away once more, not bothered at all that the combined level of confusion and scepticism in the room has just cranked up another couple of notches. He's staring at the mantelpiece now for some unknown reason. I haven't a clue why, but my curiosity is piqued (and that's rarely a good thing, since my irrepressible natural curiosity is something else that could possibly get me killed one day. That is, if Sherlock doesn't get there first, of course) and I step carefully around the late Mrs Harrison's body on the carpet at my feet, edging forwards for a closer look at whatever's caught my flatmate's attention.
In hindsight, I really should've thought twice about moving into Sherlock's peripheral vision, but in my defence, I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, and even if I had known, I don't think anything in the whole world could've prepared me for it.
Because suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, the entire length of Sherlock's lithe form is pressed against me, the heat of his body seeping through the back of my jumper as every single muscle in my body tenses rigid in sheer shock. He doesn't even give me chance to get over that before he seizes hold of my right wrist in a merciless vice-like grip and yanks my arm behind me, forcing it up my back at such a painful angle that I have to lurch up onto my tiptoes and lean back against his chest to relieve some of the strain. His other arm snakes around my throat, his forearm pressing firmly against my larynx, and my free hand instinctively flies up to grab his slender wrist. Yeah, I think 'shocked' is a bit of an understatement for how I'm feeling right now.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?" I shout, caught somewhere halfway between furious and incredulous as I start to struggle against him, because he might look like a skinny lanky thing, but you wouldn't believe just how deceptively strong he actually is. The fingers of my right hand have already gone numb.
"Relax, John. I'm not trying to assault you." Sherlock responds calmly, his mouth impossibly close to my ear from where his head is beside mine, and I don't have to see his face to know he's rolling his eyes at me. His breathing is hot and heavy against my skin, and any other time I would've been thoroughly enjoying this close contact, but not right now. Fortunately for me, I'm far too pissed off and shocked to be aroused. No doubt I'll remember this later, in intimate detail, with a far more X-rated ending, because that's just how much my brain hates me these days.
"You could've fooled me!" I hiss back at him, but I stop fighting against his hold and fall still with all the grace of a petulant child, scowling at the wall in front of me since I can't see Lestrade or any of his officers now I've got my back to them all.
"Sherlock, are you actually insane?" Lestrade demands from behind us, sounding every bit as stunned as I feel at the moment. The slight flexing of Sherlock's long fingers around my captive wrist is the only sign he gives to show his annoyance, and when he answers his voice is as steady and aloof as it always is.
"There's too much mess here, so much potential evidence. I need to narrow it down and eliminate all the fake possibilities in order to find the facts, and the best way for me to achieve that is to recreate what happened." He explains. His dark silky curls tickle the side of my face when he moves his head to glance back over his shoulder at the Detective Inspector and I can't help but squirm a little at the feeling. "Judging by the pattern of bruising on the victim's wrists, this is how she was initially grabbed, caught unawares from behind by her attacker. This means that either she had no idea that there was an intruder in her flat intent on killing her, or she trusted this person enough to turn her back to them. Now, John, if you would be so kind."
"What do you want me to do?" I ask as I adjust my grip on his arm around my neck, wondering why I always seem to be the one that ends up in these kinds of situations with the self-proclaimed high-functioning sociopath I have the misfortune of sharing a flat with. But would I honestly have it any other way? I think the answer to that one is pretty obvious.
Well. That was insightful. Thanks a bunch, Sherlock, way to broaden my horizons and all that. But I know he doesn't want my reaction (which would be to stamp on his foot, elbow him in the solar plexus and headbutt him, all at the same time), rather he wants me to act as Sophie Harrison undoubtedly did in this scenario. And going by the state of her hands and fingernails, her reaction was anything but controlled, relying purely on her basic human survival instincts that would be a lot easier for me to replicate if I were actually female.
I sigh in defeat, knowing full well that the only way I'm getting out of this is by playing along, so I shove down whatever masculine pride I have left and thrash back against the taller man, clawing at his coat sleeve with my short fingernails, imagining them to be long sharp pink-painted talons. He must've been caught off guard a little by my swift acquiescence, because he staggers back a step or two, then regains his balance and tightens his forearm around my throat, only holding back the slightest amount so I don't choke. How this looks to the other officers in the room, I actually don't want to know. I can practically feel their eyes on us from here.
Sherlock is scarily silent as I buck and writhe against his grip; I expected him to give us some kind of running commentary throughout this 'recreation', but the only sounds that come from him are the occasional grunts from the effort of holding me steady. Well, he wanted me to react, and he got it alright. This feels like a mixture of torture and indulgence to me, because as much as I'm (secretly) enjoying this close body contact with the consulting detective I've been fantasising about for nearly four months now, I know that when he lets go of me and turns his attention back to the crime scene at hand, it's going to hurt so much. That's the problem with hearts though, isn't it? Far too easy to break.
I've no idea how far my feigned feminine reaction is supposed to take us, but I can feel Sherlock's grip loosening slightly from my violent struggles and I use that to my advantage, yanking the arm around my throat down and throwing my entire bodyweight forwards. By some miracle, it actually works, but by the time my momentum has lurched me straight into the wall opposite and I've spun around as quick as I can to face him again, he's already towering over me, his grey-blue eyes blazing as he grabs me by the throat one-handed and pins me back against the wall beside the mantelpiece. The tiniest thrill of unease trails my spine and for a split second, I actually fear for my life a little. Crazy, I know, but trust me, if you were in this position right now, you'd be bloody terrified too.
"The killer is right-handed," Sherlock says, his voice sounding strangely lower than usual as it echoes slightly around the otherwise silent room. He's announcing his deductions for Lestrade's benefit, but he doesn't take his eyes off me as he speaks, barely blinking as I stare up at him, his fingers riding uncomfortably over the cartilage of my windpipe every time I breathe. "Judging by the pattern of bruising around the victim's throat, her attacker's intention wasn't to strangulate her, but to hold her still. To talk to her, perhaps? But she wouldn't listen, or she didn't like what she heard. Either way, she didn't stop fighting."
He raises an eyebrow at me pointedly as he says that, and I realise that I've stopped struggling, frozen in place against the wall for no real reason other than actually being held there. But to be honest, I've no idea what to do from here. And I really wish Lestrade or one of his officers would say something, because I'm seriously starting to feel like me and Sherlock are the only people in the room right now.
Sherlock moves himself a little closer to me, his free hand clamping my left wrist back against the wall next to my head. His eyes finally flicker away from mine, scanning along the mantelpiece and the floor around our feet for something significant amongst the mess.
"She wasn't physically strong enough. Her attacker overpowered her, but Sophie was both determined and resourceful. Her right hand was free, and in the perfect position to grab a makeshift weapon from the mantelpiece. There. The vase. Easily within reach and definitely heavy enough to cause the murderer to release her when she smashed it over their head. There should be blood on the vase shards from the impact, but there isn't; obviously cleaned like the victim's fingernails. Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure they haven't left even the slightest clue to their identity or motives. We're dealing with a very careful killer, Lestrade, one who is unlikely to make any mistakes should they choose to kill again."
I'm wondering whether or not Sherlock expects me to act this latest bit out, but he looks like he's far away in his thoughts now, that magnificent brain of his piecing everything together faster than should be humanly possible. He's still got me by the throat though, which is pretty disconcerting, I must admit, but I'm nowhere near stupid enough to interrupt him mid-flow. I'm not suicidal, thank you very much.
"And are they likely to kill again?" Lestrade asks. Sherlock's eyebrows furrow together slightly, his intense gaze once again trailing along the mantelpiece. Trapped here like this, there's nothing I can do but stare at his pale face, taking in every stunning inch of this brilliant man's features. Not a wise move on my part, since I know only too damn well the consequences, but I honestly can't help myself. I might not get another chance as good as this one, you know? Better make the most of it while it lasts.
"I doubt it." The consulting detective answers confidently, "This murder was spontaneous, yet thoroughly controlled. Serial killers don't usually take this much care with what they leave behind. Now, after hitting her attacker with the vase, the victim would've tried to run, but they recovered quicker than she'd expected. She was punched to the floor, where the left side of her head then collided with the corner of the hearth there when she landed. Concussion was immediate, and all the killer had to do then was to roll her over onto her stomach, pin her to the floor with a knee pressed into the small of her back, and break her neck from behind. Simple and effective. Sophie Harrison never stood a chance."
"That didn't stop her trying, though." I say, finding my voice at long last. Sherlock's head jerks swiftly back to face mine so fast that he almost gives himself whiplash, his piercing grey-blue eyes fixing straight on my own tawny gaze. He looks a little surprised, to be honest, as though he's only just remembered that he's still holding me captive against this wall with both hands.
"Of course not." Sherlock replies, releasing me abruptly and stepping smartly back, turning away to study Sophie's corpse some more. Yeah, I was right earlier. It does hurt like hell. More so than I expected, actually. You're going soft, Watson. "It's basic human nature to fight back, no matter how futile the struggle might be."
I catch sight of Lestrade as I straighten up and smooth down the front of my jumper with hands that I refuse to believe are shaking. His expression is both pitying and understanding, and that combined with Sherlock's obvious dismissal strikes me a little bit deeper than usual. I've got to get out of here. There's only so much of this I can take right now.
"Are we done here?" I ask, directing the question at both Sherlock and Lestrade, but resolutely keeping my gaze anywhere but on either of them.
"Almost." My flatmate responds absently, whipping his magnifier out of his coat pocket and crouching down once again to take one final look over the body. I nod firmly to myself, feigning nonchalance as I dig my hands into my pockets and make for the doorway.
"Right. Ok. I'll go flag us a cab, then."
Lestrade opens his mouth to say something as I draw closer, but I glance up at him and shake my head once, my body language practically screaming for him to just leave it. Thank God he doesn't push it, and he steps aside to let me pass without a word, but the firm set of his jaw tells me that we'll undoubtedly be talking about this sometime in the near future, probably during our next pub visit or something.
I walk briskly past him without looking back, making my way down the staircase to the ground floor. Donovan and Anderson pass me halfway, and although they both stare after me curiously, they don't say anything. I wonder if I actually look as bad as I feel at the moment.
With a nod of acknowledgement and a small smile, I sidestep a couple of officers by the front door and step out into the late morning sunshine, pausing on the doorstep only to crane my head and look up at the first floor window of 54A Broadwick Street. Why? I've no idea. It's not like he's going to be standing there watching me, is it? Sometimes I wish Sherlock Holmes wasn't quite so socially ignorant. It would make things so much easier.
"Whoa, careful!" Someone cries out, tearing me back from my thoughts, and that's the only warning I get literally a second before I walk straight into something solid and bright yellow. A surprised "oof" leaves my lips as I collide and stagger back, and a pair of warm strong hands shoot out to grab hold of the tops of my arms, steadying me on my feet before I can land gracelessly on my backside on the pavement.
"Hey, you ok?" My saviour asks, his voice as warm and strong as his hands.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm sorry, I should've been looking where I was…" I trail off there, my mouth practically dropping open in complete shock and horror as I lift my head to look this stranger in the face. Because there's just no way on this Earth that my luck can possibly be that bad.
He's tall and lean, dressed in a police constable uniform complete with a high-vis vest, and a hat pulled down low over his tousled light brown hair. A thin layer of stubble shadows his angular jaw, and a pair of thin rectangular black frames magnify his earthy green eyes. He's smiling slightly, one side of his mouth quirking up mischievously for a second before he lets go of me and tips his hat congenially towards me.
"Nah, it's fine. I'm Nathan, by the way. PC Nathan Brookes."
He holds his hand out, and I shake it numbly, knowing that the expression on my face is something akin to a deer caught in a truck's headlights.
"John Watson." I somehow manage to reply, my voice little more than a strangled croak in my throat.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, John." Nathan grins, and there's absolutely no mistaking that gleam in his mossy eyes.
Mycroft Holmes... God, I hate you.
So yeah, Nathan won on the name vote and there he is :)
So what did you think? You still like it? As the lovely Elvendork-Infinity pointed out, I've heaped a load of tension on poor John's shoulders, but don't worry, it's Sherlock's turn next hehe XD
Sorry it took so long for me to get this up here, hopefully I'll be able to update a bit quicker next time.
Review for me? I'll love you forever! ^^