It was two a.m. on a Friday morning when Watson was woken up by the insistent buzzing of his phone. Groaning, he rolled over to fumble on his bed stand for it, knocking an anonymous object to the floor with a soft thwump. Wincing as the harsh glare of the small electronic burned his tired eyes, he opened the text with annoyance. It was probably Sherlock asking for more milk, or to check on the current experiment in the microwave, or something equally ridiculous.
Squinting, he made out the words;
"Package outside for you"
He frowned. This wasn't the usual order Sherlock gave. Best not to ignore it though, he thought. Last time Sherlock got a package it contained not-so-legal products. Not the best thing to leave outside.
Swinging himself out of bed, he fumbled for the door, grabbing his night-gown on his way out. Stumbling in the dark (the light switch being on the other side of the damn room), he threw the door open and continued to the front door, trying not to miss any of the stairs.
It was a shame he didn't bother to turn on the light, otherwise he would've noticed the disarray of their flat.
A small, white envelope awaited him, lying on the doorstep in the chilly night air with an air of indifference to the fact that it had forced John to get out of his nice, warm bed. He huffed in annoyance, from the looks of it; it could've waited until morning. No one ever questions the contents of a white envelope, after all.
He nudged the door shut with his foot as he turned round to go back to bed, but the front the envelope caught the glare of the lamp posts outside for a second, making him frown and finally take notice to what was written on it.
For starters, his name. In bold, impossible to misread, font.
He tore it open, finally realising that everything was not normal. That something was dreadfully suspicious was occurring. The only letters he ever got were bills.
He elbowed the light switch on, fingering out a folded sheet of paper, letting another piece drift to the floor.
The message didn't do much to make him feel that everything was okay;
"By the time you read this letter, your boyfriend will be in my possession. If you ever want to see him alive again, you have twenty-four hours to try and find us. First clue: 'I am a famous killer, and I got the whores good. This is where my first strike was"
He bent down to get the other piece of paper, and unfolded it with shaking hands.
It was picture.
Bound to a chair and gagged by a thick piece of material. He had another tied tightly around his eyes. Unconscious, judging by how his head drooped onto his shoulder.
He ran back to his room to phone Lestrade.
* * *
It was half three when he, Lestrade and Co. were all in the station, tense and pacing.
It was silent; everyone already released their worries into the air, giving it an unpleasant tinge.
On the cork board was the note, along with the picture of Sherlock. Watson had shifted his chair so he wouldn't have to look at it.
Donovan startled them all as she walked in with a tray of mugs;
"I thought everyone could do with some caffeine," she shrugged, eyes slightly puffed, giving away the fact she had been crying.
"Thanks," Lestrade smiled tightly, moving to sit back in his chair, turning around to John, "are you sure that Sherlock didn't have a case?"
Watson huffed, "I've told you, he was playing his violin constantly, and he only does that when he has nothing else to do! He didn't act like he usually does at all when he has a case!"
"Fine, back to this damn riddle then. I've sent Anderson to get all the cases that mentions someone who deals with prostitutes," he added for the benefit of Donovan, who slunk into another chair after handing out the mugs. John clutched his in his hands, frowning into the gently steaming contents. Twenty-four hours to save Sherlock, and who knew how long this game would last?
"That's probably going to be half the archive!" She replied in outrage, "It'll take weeks to go through it all, and the Freak obviously doesn't have that long!"
"Well what do you want me to do?" He slammed his hand down, yelling back, "Do you know any famous person who dealt with whores? Because I bloody well don't."
Then Watson got a marvellous idea.
"Famous. He has to be famous. And it was sent to me, so he can't just be famous underground or whatever," he looked at Lestrade, frantically trying to put it together in his head, "and it referred to the person in past tense, meaning they're dead."
They stared at each other for a while, trying to figure out between them in silence who was dead, and famous for dealing with whores.
Then John remember the documentary he watch a few weeks back, when Sherlock insisted on studying the effects of a lack of sleep on the average human's brain. Since that obviously ruled him out, Watson had to deal with being prodded and nagged to not fall asleep for three nights, before Sherlock finally found out what he needed and sent Watson to bed.
"Jack the Ripper!"
The other two stared at him like he had lost it,
"I doubt it'll be someone from the 19th Century, John."
"Well do you know any other famous person who 'dealt' with whores?"
"Fine, we'll take any lead we can get, I suppose. Donovan, go wiki Jack the Ripper, and find out where the first body was found."
Watson let out a sigh. He knew it couldn't be that easy, something will be wrong, or it'll be an over-sized trap for them all. Either way, they had to try. For Sherlock
A muffled groan was heard in the small, well cemented cell as Sherlock shifted awake. Coldness seeped into his side, and his head was groggy and unwilling to work properly as he tried to work out where he was. No noise, apart from himself. Alone then. He tried to work out more- he could deduce some one's love life based on their cologne, for goodness sake- but his brain was as stubborn as him, and refused to take note of anything else around him.
He fiddled with the rope on his wrists, trying to find some sort of leeway. No chance, and he guessed an even smaller chance with the rope around his ankles. He refrained from letting out a frustrated sigh.
It was around a lifetime before the sound of a door swinging open entertained his presence.
Footsteps; heavy. Male, probably muscular. Wearing boots, worn from wear.
They stopped just behind him, the owner staring down at his curled up body.
"I was expecting more from you, Sherlock. You just made it so easy. Too easy! I'm half-expecting something to happen, to reveal why you would purposely let yourself get caught, because that can't be the best you can do, can it?"
The feet shuffled, one nudging at his body to turn onto his back. Sherlock wished he wasn't blindfolded, he so wanted to see this man. And the movement didn't help with the mugginess in his head, he felt dizzy and light-headed now. Brilliant.
"Or maybe it is? Maybe the great detective is just a title you gave yourself!" A soft chuckle, "well, let's not let that ruin the entertainment. Twenty-four hours until the end, let's hope your boyfriend can make it in time, eh?" Louder laughter now.
"I have a friend outside for you; he desperately wants to meet "The Great Sherlock Holmes". And he loves using his belt to mutilate bodies. For some reason the Police don't like it when you do it to others" The tone changed, injecting a frown into it, as though the man was trying to figure out why. Silence for a couple of seconds before he returned to what was happening, "anyways, I do hope the two of you get along, no fun if you don't is it?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes. An insane kidnapper, so cliché.
Another man entered the room, and rough hands tugged his shirt open, leaving his heaving chest bare. Someone else left.
He braced himself for tonight's "entertainment", trying to think of something else. Anything else.
As the first strike was made, the strong leather meeting his chest with a sharp pain, he could only think of one thing.