Blind Man's Bluff
Summary: "We are gods among mortals. But even gods must be tested." Sherlock loses his sight temporarily and must rely on his other senses and John in order to solve the case at hand. But as the killer draws closer, could the pair be in more danger than they first thought?
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock or any of the characters. I wish I did but I'm just not that lucky. I am, however, lucky enough to be able to write about them.
Story notes/warnings: Timeline wise I'd say this could be set either just before episode 1.03 (The Great Game) or after it so basically – spoilers for season 1.
A/N: This show is just truly brilliant – from the storylines, the characters and the directing of the episodes. I've found myself obsessing with every little detail because it's just such a fantastic show and I can't believe I've only just got around to watching it. So, here I am – thanks to Schelz – addicted and writing fanfiction…
This is not just my first Sherlock fanfic but my first story away from the supernatural/fantasy genre so I really hope I don't disappoint and that you enjoy reading as much as I have been enjoying writing this. Thank you in advance for reading.
Big thanks to Schelz for getting me addicted and to Gen for the title of this little number.
Crime scenes, as a rule, don't generally speak. Being crime scenes, they're just… there – being a crime scene. Perhaps it is because crime scenes, much like the police officers milling about them, know the importance of not speaking a particular name. Unfortunately, it seemed no one had informed this specific crime scene.
This crime scene didn't so much speak that particular name as scream it from the top of its non-existent lungs.
Even so, denial lingered in the air.
The lower officer's exchanged knowing glances. Unlike the crime scene, they knew better than to say anything out loud. They had witnessed what happened to those who did. For them, they had discovered that mentioning a particular name, even if it were in casual conversation, would surely mean being sentenced to desk duty - the painful kind of desk duty that involved photocopiers and printer jams.
Detective Inspector Lestrade took one look at the body of the dead woman before him and felt his chest tighten. Dread washed over him and as he pulled his phone from his pocket, he was sure he could actually hear the rolling of eyes. Of course, he was partly right in this as the man standing with him in the doorway did in fact roll his eyes at that precise moment – though whether a definite sound had been made was debatable.
That man, Anderson, had no problem expressing his disapproval of the name that was on everyone's minds but no one's lips – the crime scene didn't count as, technically, it didn't have lips.
"You've got to be joking. We haven't even started yet," Anderson complained, eyeing the phone in Lestrade's hand with distaste.
But Lestrade was not joking – he rarely joked about such things. He had learned very early on that when that particular name was raised, it was no laughing matter.
His eyes landed on the small off-white envelope beside the body. "We're going to need his help on this one."
After all, it is so rare for a crime scene to speak that it would have been unwise not to listen if one ever should. And this crime scene spoke quite clearly.
"Sherlock Holmes," it screamed and much to the dismay of several officers of the law, DI Lestrade had to agree.
Much like crime scenes should really be incapable of speech, flats are often found to be incapable of thought, though perhaps it is merely that they are incapable of expressing such thought that is the problem. But should they be capable, they would have many a secret to share.
Should 221b Baker Street be capable of thought, it would have many a complaint to make to its owner, Mrs. Hudson. But landladies rarely listened to their abodes, for the occupants tended to be much too loud – no matter how many bullet holes lined the wall or how many broken vials of acid and other such liquids littered the kitchen floor.
John Watson took one look at the mess and knew instantly the inevitability of the situation at hand. His lips thinned and he raised his eyes, from the glass and acid eating away at the flooring, to look at his dark-haired flatmate instead. "I take it we're eating out then?"
"Eating?" Sherlock Holmes questioned, glancing up from his work and toward John with a bemused 'what is this word you speak of' expression firmly sitting on his features. "Who said anything about eating?"
"I did, for one," John answered, edging a little more into what was meant to be the kitchen. He stopped short when he saw another spill and couldn't decide whether it was more acid or just plain water.
Sherlock returned his attention to a beaker that had started bubbling over, replying in bored dismissal, "Food is unimportant."
Eyes closing briefly, John shook his head. A small thought niggled at the back of his mind. "When was the last time you ate, Sherlock? I mean, you have eaten today, right?"
"Don't ask questions that you already know the answers to, John," the darker-haired man berated distractedly, his fingers moving up to sit just below his chin as if in silent prayer, eyes observing what was floating in the centre of the beaker of acid. "It wastes both your time and my own."
"So does avoiding the question."
Grey-blue eyes rose enough to consider the tawny-haired man but the owner of said eyes remained silent.
"You haven't eaten then." John let go of breath.
"I don't have time to eat," was the response as Sherlock danced around the spills of acid to reach a small Petri dish on the kitchen counter. With the same lithe movements, he edged back up to the overflowing beaker.
"Of course you have time to eat because normal people make time to eat." John tipped his head to the side, watching the man before him pour the contents of the dish into the beaker. As he did this, he realised the mistake in his own words. "But then you're not normal, are you?"
Sherlock didn't answer, focusing his attention instead on the reaction taking place in the beaker. John found his own eyes drawn to what was going on and though he was sure he didn't want to know, his brain was too slow to stop his mouth from asking.
"Oh God… Are those fingernails? Human fingernails?"
"Well of course they're human – I couldn't very well use an animal's nails to prove my theory, could I?"
"And just what theory are you trying to prove?"
Sherlock raised his eyes, mouth opening ready with an in-depth response. What came instead was a beep beep from his phone and his response fell away, his gaze going back to the experiment. "Could you get that for me, John?"
John huffed a little but did as the man asked, taking up the phone from the counter. His mind still attempted to catch up with the current topic of conversation as he gave up trying to remember what the original purpose of it had been.
"It's Lestrade," John informed his flatmate, opening the new message on the phone and reading it in silence. "He wants your help."
At that, the taller man narrowed his gaze and looked up once more, curiosity settling in his eyes. He considered the idea of helping the Detective Inspector for a mere moment before shaking his head. His eyes dropped back the beaker and he lowered himself to better stare into the clear liquid inside. "I'm busy."
"You're busy?" John questioned, unconvinced by Sherlock's words. He knew, as well as the consulting detective, that his lack of enthusiasm was nothing to do with being busy. "You mean it's not interesting enough."
"How could I possibly know whether or not it's interesting enough without first hearing the details?" Though it was phrased as a question, John knew the man wasn't seeking an answer. For whatever logical reason, Sherlock had decided that the case was beneath him. What John didn't know was that the lack of details was the cause for that.
"Yes, how could you possibly know?" John rolled his eyes, sarcasm dripping from his drawn out words.
The phone beeped once more. This time he didn't wait for Sherlock's instruction to read the message. "He says it's important and involves a note."
"A note?" Sherlock stood, his eyes darting about the room as he processed the information. "Just the one note?"
An ever so slightly exasperated sigh slipped past John's lips. "Maybe you should ask him as he's the one with the crime scene."
In one short moment, the taller man went from contemplative and still to lively and alert, a flurry of movements as he sprung forward, abandoning his experiment. He already had his coat halfway on before he looked to John expectantly. "Well?"
"Oh, you want to go now?" John asked, turning to face the man as he mocked him. He circled his hands in mid air, moving to point behind him at the mess still in the kitchen. "Shall I just see to the Bunsen burner so we have a home to come back to?"
"If you would, please, that is an excellent idea. I'll meet you outside when you're ready." Ignorant of the frustration on his flatmate's face, Sherlock smiled and took his phone from the doctor's loose grip. "And do be quick, John. Detective Inspector Lestrade will be waiting for us."
As the consulting detective had stated, DI Lestrade was waiting for the pair. He was not alone.
Sergeant Donovan stood with him, lost in her conversation with Anderson. She was not so lost though to end it abruptly, both parties taking an unconscious step back and away from each other as a taxi pulled up and Sherlock climbed out. They thought they were in the clear and had not been noticed.
They were wrong.
"Good evening, Donovan, Anderson," Sherlock said as he approached the tape, a smile firmly on his lips. He said nothing else. He didn't need to.
"Freak," Donovan greeted in reply, hostility clear in her voice and face. She raised the tape without question. Had Lestrade not been there it would have been a different story – you didn't need to be the world's only consulting detective to see that much.
Sherlock slipped under the tape with the ease of a feline and moved on toward Lestrade without another glance to the Sergeant. John, however, nodded in thanks as he trailed closely behind, offering her a friendly smile for her trouble. He had noted once to Sherlock that he didn't think she liked him all that much, to which Sherlock had replied, "Nonsense, John. Sergeant Donovan neither likes nor dislikes you. Now, me on the other hand – I don't think 'detest' would be strong enough a word."
And upon reflection, John had to admit that there was a definite air of indifference to her attitude. He still hadn't decided whether or not that was a good thing.
Lestrade led the way and, after donning the appropriate blue suited attire, they entered the crime scene.
"Five minutes," he said, standing guard by the door.
"Five minutes?" Sherlock repeated in question, his eyes already moving in rapid succession from point to point across the scene and body. "A whole three more than you usually give me."
He dropped to his haunches, moving the tail of his coat back and out of the way in one fluid motion as he did so. Inch by inch, his eyes considered the dead woman before him, taking in every aspect, every little visual detail from the colour of her nails to the quality and cut of her diamond earrings.
"What do you think?" he questioned, stopping in his search long enough to meet his flatmate's gaze.
"Uh," John started, giving himself that internal shake needed to remind him that he wasn't just there to observe Sherlock at work – though sometimes he did wonder if that was exactly why Sherlock brought him along.
He joined the taller man beside the woman, examining her closely.
"Well?" Sherlock asked, after a short drawn out silence, and the doctor drew back a little.
"No physical trauma to speak of," John answered, swallowing the small lump in his throat. "So more likely something internal – heart possibly but she's too young for heart problems…"
"Which means?" Sherlock interrupted, more eager, less impatient, waiting for John to reach his conclusion.
"Poison possibly?" the doctor questioned, narrowing his eyes on his flatmate.
"Two minutes," Lestrade called from the doorway, his voice a low grumble as he reminded the consulting detective of his time limit.
But Sherlock was already done. He pushed to his feet and faced the Detective Inspector. "You mentioned a note."
"We'll get to the note – first tell me what you've got about her."
Sherlock glanced to the body. "Professional escort – her drink no doubt poisoned by her client. The question is why. It can't be theft or he would have taken all of her jewellery, not just her necklace. So possible jealousy – the necklace a gift he gave her and decided to take back."
"Escort? You're just messing with me, aren't you?"
Sherlock shook his head, impatience fast setting in. "The way she's dressed, the expense of her jewellery – she wants to show off, likes to, but she doesn't do it just for attention. There is an element of professionalism, the colours toned down just enough to show she's serious but not too much that she won't be noticed – she wants to stand out. And the jewellery, she wouldn't buy it for herself – too expensive. They're gifts from admirers – clients."
He took a breath and circled the body, pointing to each piece of jewellery in turn. "The earrings don't match the bracelet or the watch – different designs from different jewellers. When buying gifts like that, you would try to complete the set. So different designs," he said, raising one hand and then the other as he continued to speak, "most likely different men."
"And how, exactly, does that make her an escort?" Lestrade asked, eyeing the man before him carefully.
John nodded in agreement to the DI's uncertainty. "She could have just had a lot of boyfriends."
Sherlock blinked at both men. "Your simple mindedness never fails to amaze me. No, these aren't gifts from lovers – she wouldn't wear them all at the same time if they were. Questions would be asked, suspicions would be raised." He paused and raised an eyebrow at Lestrade. "Or would you fail to notice if your wife started wearing a pair of expensive earrings that you didn't buy her?"
Rhetorical question, or so Lestrade hoped, because he refused to answer it, grumbling instead.
"Check her bag," Sherlock continued. "You'll find her business card no doubt, and a diary. That should tell you who she was meant to be meeting tonight."
"And what about the necklace?" John asked, his fingers running along the neckline of the dead woman. He could see it now, the same thing Sherlock had seen.
"Dressed like that, she must have been wearing a necklace and she wouldn't be so careless as to lose it. Small scratch marks on her neck suggest it was removed by force." He spun on his heel, coat floating briefly on the current created by the movement. "Now, the note?"
Lestrade let go of a frustrated sigh and turned his head to the side, digging into his pocket for the evidence bag that sat there. His eyes moved about the small room, checking for any unwanted visitors – a paranoid habit he had never been able to break since first meeting Sherlock and allowing him to look at a crime scene. He was always waiting for that time when his superiors would seriously reprimand him.
"Here," he grunted, handing the bag to Sherlock.
With practiced ease, Sherlock opened the bag and tipped the small envelope out into his open and waiting hand. He turned it over, holding it up to his face. He ran a fingertip along the edges of the flap and then finally, he pulled the note out.
"Interesting," he hummed, unfolding the note and looking down at the contents. There was no actual note to speak of, no written words anyway, just a complicated symbol printed in the centre of the paper.
"What's interesting?" John asked. He slid up next to his flatmate and gazed over the paper. Whilst he had to agree that the intricate symbol was interesting, he hadn't the faintest idea of what any of it meant.
Sherlock bounced back, lifting the note and it's envelope into the air in excitement and causing John to make use of his quickened soldier reflexes in order to avoid being knocked over. "This isn't a jealous admirer. A jealous admirer wouldn't leave us this."
"And just what is… this?" John motioned to the paper, wishing, not for the first time, that he could see inside of the consulting detective's mind.
Said consulting detective set to pacing the small area, his movements animated and smile growing as his eyes still darted back and forth, connecting the invisible dots in his mind. "What do you do when you want someone to know you've been somewhere? You leave a note or a card – a calling card. This is a calling card. Oh, this is just brilliant!"
"I thought only serial killers left calling cards at crime scenes?" John watched Sherlock through puzzled eyes which widened when the taller man stopped his pacing abruptly and turned to face him, a grin splitting his face – like a child discovering a new toy or an axe-murderer discovering a new axe.
"Exactly, John. Exactly. A serial killer." His thoughts were turned inward once more, body stilling and eyes falling even as the energy still buzzed throughout him, constantly searching for an outlet. "Now, why would a serial killer take her necklace? A trophy? No, that's not it… it's something else."
John was still lost on the serial killer comment though, his mind not even attempting to ask why the necklace was so important – he would leave that to Sherlock.
"This was a serial killer?" the tawny-haired man questioned, looking between his flatmate and the DI uncertainly. "But this is the only body, right? Don't you need more than one victim to have a serial killer? That's why they're called serial."
"That's the beauty of it," Sherlock answered. "This is the first. This is the start." His eyes fell to Lestrade, waiting to see if the man objected and when he didn't, Sherlock knew he was right in his assumption. They had themselves a serial killer who was just starting out.
"So if this is a serial killer," Lestrade started, cautious with his words as he considered the man before him, and God help him, he knew that Sherlock was rarely wrong about such things. "Why did he choose her and how do we stop him?"
Mouth quirked upward in one corner, Sherlock faced Lestrade, his eyes practically sparkling from excitement. "I have absolutely no idea but I intend to find out."
He handed the note and envelope back to the Detective Inspector as he strode past the man, his thoughts well ahead of his footsteps.
For a man who knew everything simply by deducing it, he seemed perfectly ignorant to the notion that perhaps a particular crime scene had been screaming his name for a reason. But then, even if he had noticed – and when questioned later he would deny that he had – it didn't matter to him because this… this was exciting and brilliant and in no way boring.
Thank you for reading - more to come soon.