To my reviewers:
I am so sorry this is so late! It being such a thinking chapter, however, it was hard for me to type up; plus, I had publishing projects to attend to. (Three of my stories—"Their First Christmas," "Violinist on the Roof," and "Swim" from AMM—are going to appear in the soon-to-be-released Holmesian dot Net collection on Kindle! *cheers* And AMM is getting veeery close to being ready, as well!)
I hope to be able to update this next week, but I make no promises. I have a Sherlock drama that has a rather larger audience clamoring insistently for updates (since Sherlock and John are in comas and Mycroft has blacked out from a gunshot wound, the readers are rather justified), and my muse keeps supplying me with plot-bunnies for Tales from the Great Hiatus (and you know how plot-bunnies are—terribly cute but awfully persistent). I have to say right now that this is one of the most difficult fics I have ever undertaken—getting things right and realistic is a big priority. Not to mention the fact that, once she got me started on this story, the muse decided that she'd only enlighten sporadically as to its continuation. *glares at unrepentant nymph*
Watson: Take your time, dear, and be careful.
Me: Thanks, hon. *kisses him on the cheek* =)
To my reviewers:
Hidinginthecookiejar: (Sorry I had to change your screenname like that, but did you notice what happened last time? Eep!) Without giving any real spoilers… you know Holmes has to rescue Jeremy. If he didn't, we wouldn't have the series, now, would we? ^_^
SabrinaPhynn: Thanks, hon! Don't worry—I think Holmes will… "perform"… satisfactorily to all concerned!
Moonspun Dragon: A faucet? O.O Wow. Whatever happened to the good old rolling-pin? ^_^ Holmes does indeed owe Jeremy big-time, though… As gentle a soul as Jeremy was in real life, I don't doubt that he would have indeed been defiant in such a situation, especially since he was roleplaying Holmes (whom, I doubt, would go quietly, either). Thank you!
ElizabethAnneSoph: Thank you! …Mmm, it might be a little tougher than you think, Jeremy going without… I'm afraid, too, that our beloved JB doesn't actually appear in this chapter… *ducks beneath the desk*
VHunter07: Thank you very much! If you check out the recent Granada C2, you'll find several great crossover shorts by Moonspun Dragon, "Four of a Kind" by Spockologist, and the longer and utterly fantastic A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Set by nomdeplume30. You'll also find my other Granada crossover, A Study in Stardom, that started this craze—although to be perfectly fair, Pompey really started it by inspiring me with her one-shot "Hero Worship" in More Things That Never Happened to Sherlock Holmes. Do check them all out—you'll love them!
The distant sound of pealing bells invaded my subconscious. As I drifted back towards wakefulness, I realised that the noise was a doorbell—more than that, it was my doorbell. I startled awake and flung back the bedclothes, rushing to the window and looking down. The figure standing before the door to mine and Holmes's house (a small but affordable place near Baker Street) appeared to be David Burke. "What the deuce?" I muttered sleepily, thrusting on my dressing gown and slippers before heading down.
I met Holmes on the stairs, as half-asleep as I. "What the devil could anyone want at this hour?" he demanded grumpily.
What, indeed? It was past midnight.
"Did you see who it is?" I asked.
He nodded, reaching the door before I, unlocking it, and throwing it open. "Burke, what on—"
"Have either of you seen Jeremy?" David demanded.
I frowned. "No, not since he left the studio at… what, five?"
"Yes," Holmes murmured, his grey gaze raking over my acting double. "Come upstairs, David," he said quietly. His usage of the actor's Christian name did not bode well.
David followed us up to the sitting room and collapsed onto the sofa. I flipped on the lights and saw that he looked dreadful—dark rings under his eyes and pale, drawn skin. "Holmes," said he, "what's this case you've been working on lately?"
Holmes sank into his armchair, steepling his fingers. "Brett is missing, then."
"Yes." I had never heard David's voice so hard outside of a film take. "He wasn't in his suite when I got back at nine, and he still hasn't come back. There was no note, he didn't make that call to Joan, and he hasn't been back to the studio."
"Good heavens," I breathed, sinking into my own armchair. "Holmes…"
My friend's brow was creased in concentration, and I thought I saw concern flicker through his hooded eyes. "I see," he said gravely. He leaned forward, resting his arms on his thighs. "I have been on the trail of a smuggling ring," he announced. "Drug trafficking, to be specific. Yes, Watson, I know—ironic. But my investigations have revealed a slew of crimes extending beyond drug traffic, and I am sure these fellows wish to see me silenced, one way or another."
David stiffened. "Then is Jeremy… What's happened to him?"
Ignoring him, Holmes stood and began to pace slowly. "But why Brett? To use as a hostage against me, or kidnapped by mistake?"
"You think he's still alive?" David's blue eyes gleamed faintly with hope.
That question pulled Holmes out of his musings. "I cannot say for certain, but I doubt that our foes would kill me outright so soon…" He took his cherrywood pipe from the mantle and proceeded to pack and light it. "This is certainly a three-pipe problem," he murmured.
At this point in a case, I would normally leave Holmes to his contemplation, and David knew it. Even so, he said, "What about Joan? Should I tell her?"
Holmes frowned and removed his pipe from his mouth. "No, I think not, not until we have something conclusive. We shall do no good by worrying her unnecessarily."
"Except that she's already worried," David countered. "I had to call her to check if Jeremy had called. She was definitely concerned."
An uneasy silence fell over the room.
David began to shake his head slowly. "Oh… don't say that I should lie to her. Don't you dare."
Holmes let out his breath between his teeth. "If you don't wish to lie, then, by all means, burden her with the truth."
"Holmes!" I rebuked sharply.
David's eyes were flashing blue fire. "You little… cretin…"
I groaned softly and stood. "That's enough, David. I'm afraid we'll have to leave the matter of Joan up to your discretion. And for tonight, I should prefer that you remain here rather than returning to the hotel. If Jeremy was mistaken for Holmes, you could well be mistaken for me."
"Very true," Holmes murmured.
For a long moment, David looked as if he might refuse, and, when he accepted, I almost sighed in relief. "Where should I stay?"
"There's a second bedroom adjoining mine upstairs," I told him. "It's always in readiness in the event that we might need to accommodate a visitor."
"All right, thanks." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Do you think Jeremy will be okay?"
I traded a troubled glance with Holmes before replying, "I honestly can't say, David. I would need to know more about them before rendering a verdict."
"Jeremy should not come to any lasting damage," Holmes said with an air of finality. "He may have disillusioned his kidnappers as to his identity, or he may be playing my role—which, I shall admit, should place him in greater danger. However, he may well have the sense to realise that, if they believe me accounted for, I can act with greater freedom now."
David's curiosity appeared to get the better of his anger. "How so? They'll find out that you're still loose—"
"They shall not," Holmes interrupted. "If Brett is indeed impersonating me, I shall do likewise for him."
David shot him a look of disbelief.
"You think I cannot?"
David was obviously choosing his words with care as he said, "I do think it might be… more difficult… for you to play Jeremy than for him to play you."
Holmes's expression was somewhere between affronted and thunderstruck, and, despite the gravity of the situation, I nearly smiled. After a moment, he said, "Nevertheless, that is what I shall do. Now, I advise you both to take the utmost care when venturing beyond this house, the hotel, or the studio. Go nowhere—absolutely nowhere—alone. In fact, it may be best if the two of you journeyed together as much as possible—I rather doubt these men would try to abduct you, Watson, if David was with you."
David and I shared a glance. It would be an awkward arrangement, certainly, but doable, nonetheless. "Fine, fine," my double sighed. I merely nodded.
"Capital." Holmes rubbed his hands together. "Now, in the morning, the three of us shall take a cab to the hotel, where I shall don some of Brett's clothes. Watson, you and I shall have to pack, as I believe it would behove us to move into the hotel for the time being. Following that, we'll go down to Scotland Yard, ostensibly with the intent of reporting my missing-person status. I will deliver the news to the inspector with whom I'm working, Steve Emerson, in private. After that…"
"You go out and do your detecting thing," David finished dryly. Holmes cast him an irritated look to which David appeared perfectly oblivious. "Okay, sounds good. Just one thing."
David stood. He was ever so slightly taller than I—by a mere inch, I believe—and just above average male height, but he possessed the impressive ability to appear taller even than that when he so chose. "Do you really think we can get Jeremy back?" he said gravely. "I mean, alive and…"
Undamaged was the word hanging in the air as heavily as if it had been spoken.
My friend's grey eyes appeared the colour of the stormy summer clouds, and I realised that he was just as disturbed by this turn of events as I was—perhaps even more so. True that half of all conversation between Sherlock Holmes and Jeremy Brett was bickering, but the other half was largely good-natured banter. Necessity was not the only factor that driven them to a kinship parallel to that which existed between David and I. The last man with whom Holmes had developed such swift rapport was myself. "Pray God that we may, David," he murmured. "I am no miracle-worker."
With that, he took his Stradivarius with him into his bedroom and shut the door. I motioned David out into the hall beyond and shut off the lights. Within minutes, a soft, sad tune drifted in the darkness.
Sorry that Jeremy wasn't here this time—next time for sure. A scene with him just didn't fit in this chapter; it ended better on the mournful note from Holmes.
Btw, if anybody's disturbed with David's attitude towards Holmes, allow me to clarify something: David is scared for Jeremy and is lashing out on a perfect target, Sherlock Holmes. Slightly justified, in that, if it hadn't been for Holmes, Jeremy would not have been kidnapped. I daresay any of us would probably act similarly if it was our good friend in genuine danger of his life.
Please review, and stay tuned!