A/N Hi! Okay, this'll be a relatively long AN that you're absolutely allowed to skip. Go on. Skip it. *nudge* No? Wow, thanks. So. This story was originally posted in three parts, of which I got only the first two up. Then I decided that they were much too long for chapters at 10,000 words each. So now I've divided it into 10 chapters, all of varying lengths, though they're all between five and ten pages on Word. This is indeed my first Sherlock fic, and blah blah blah. It's just pre-S/J for the first several chapters, I'm afraid... by "several" I mean, like, eight. Okay. Anyways. Reviews would be utterly adored, and for those of you who were following this story before I started re-posting it... I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. For the wait, that is. Look, I'm quoting Doctor Who. I'M QUOTING TEN. Thisby, stop talking about DW in a Sherlock fic's Authoress's Note. Right. Sor- you know what? I'm just going to shut up now. Oh, but one more thing- I am one of those dreaded, idiotic Americans, which means this is written American-style, with spelling and grammar and all that. It'll be flawed. For this, I apologize. Now I'm done apologizing.
Rated T for blood. Blooooooooooooood. I like blood. It's nummy.
Disclaimed I don't own Sherlock or any associated characters, events, etc.
WOMAN REPORTED MISSING
The disappearance of Sarah Sawyer, 38, has taken a rather alarming toll on the spirit of the medical practice which claims her occupation. Sawyer has never served a large job there (though it is confirmed that she had a more than adequate salary, possibly linked to her disappearance), and yet, according to a fellow worker, she "Brightened up the place, really—it's been different without her around…"
The next words were blurring. John squeezed his eyes shut, breathed in slowly, and opened them again, but the text refused to solidify any further. He realized that he was clutching the newspaper far too tightly, that it was slicing into his palms, but this was a sort of faint echo in his mind. It didn't matter. It didn't matter…
'She's in here,' was what he wanted to say, but somehow it came out differently, as "I'm in here." Softly, lightly, hesitantly spoken, but the ears of the only other in the room would have been hard-pressed not to catch even the faintest of sounds.
"Hm?" was the vague reply from somewhere near the couch, but he hardly heard it. They didn't tell me she was gone, he thought numbly. That man, that man with the notepad, intruding the other day… he'd been a reporter, then, hadn't he? Well, what else had I expected? A family member, in all honesty. Just a family member… because he'd thought she was sick. That was what he'd been told. Never in the exact words, but… she is unavailable. Indisposed. Otherwise occupied… He'd never thought that she'd be missing, though. Why had nobody told him? Surely he was a relevant person in her life, an important one, and deserved to find out such a thing through a more direct informant than the paper?
He wanted to keep reading. Wanted to find out what they know about her, who was on the case, why nobody had told him…
"I'm… I'm in here," he found himself saying again. "I'm in the paper. Quoted."
The same response as before, pronounced only slightly differently. Indifference rather than inquiry. Sherlock didn't care. Of course he didn't care. Why should he care? But John wanted him to care, wanted somebody to care… he felt numb. It was frightening, and he needed an escape from it.
"Yeah. I'm quoted… in an article… about Sarah."
The reaction he got this time was notably more literate, but certainly not a shade less careless. "Sarah, isn't she that woman that you're spending so much time with? What's she done now?"
He didn't bother to answer. Instead, he spoke two more words—just two more, letting them drop into the air, confirming it.
And then, finally, he felt something—a sort of hollowed-out sensation around his stomach, as if some small, inner piece of him had fallen away, leaving behind a heavily empty cavity, swirling fiercely with nothingness. Sarah. She was missing. Missing. Lost. Gone. That's ridiculous. She'll come back. Of course she'll come back. It was a mistake, some stupid kind of mistake… people made them all the time; that was something that he'd learned, living with Sherlock Holmes… all the time.
Yet there was something so official and standard and real about those small black-inked letters staring out at him from the fresh white page. All his life, John Watson had been a man to work along with the law, with society- never rising above or slinking below it, though disapproval wasn't necessarily beyond him. He believed the facts he was presented with, when they were at least somewhat reasonable, and these words, these sentences right here- they were unavoidably true. Slowly, without even realizing that he was doing it, he let the paper slip through his fingers and stood, looking up and staring through and at nothing. "She's missing," he repeated, not talking to anyone anymore.
Unwillingly, he felt a sick ripple of dread running through him. To imagine- just imagine... what if he was involved somehow? Moriarty? True, he and Sherlock had seen neither hide nor hair of the so-called 'consulting criminal' since that night at the pool, when the two of them, knowing instinctively what each other was thinking, had turned and plunged into its watery depths just as Sherlock fired the shot that would, hopefully, be the end of the mad and dangerous man standing yards away with a mildly interested and ever so slightly surprised look on his face. By the time that the dripping wet pair had dragged themselves out onto solid ground, though, Jim Moriarty was long gone. Somehow he had evaded the bullet that should have meant certain death for him- even through tightly shut eyelids, John had felt the fierce burn of the explosion and glimpsed the red-hot flash before sinking underwater. How he'd done it was a mystery, however. Mysteries... they certainly had no lack of them, him and Sherlock, at least as many as the police had questions when they had arrived minutes later. He had overheard Sherlock talking to Detective Inspector Lestrade later on, while he, John, was busy being tightly wrapped in a bright orange blanket. Telling the story, yet leaving out one thing, one essential thing. As far as Lestrade and the rest knew, now, neither of them ever caught a glimpse of Moriarty himself. There had only been a henchman. John didn't bother to ask Sherlock the reason for this alteration to their story, knowing the answer well enough himself. What Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty were engaged in now was between the two of them, and, at times, John. The police weren't to get involved. It was like the stupid taxi cab driver all over again. Sherlock wasn't going to call in the authorities. He was going to take the chance. Absorb the risk. Swallow the pill.
"The Great Game." That was the name of the blog post that John had finally finished, detailing the majority of their latest ventures, though, like Sherlock, he had left out the fact that they'd encountered Moriarty in the flesh. Back during their first case, it was Sherlock himself who'd said the words: "The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!" And the game hadn't ended yet. No, it was far from it, very far. The cabbie had been wrong about their- meaning his and Sherlock's, Moriarty and Sherlock's- little round of chess. It had much, much more than one move. It was a complex maze, a twisted, shadowy, misleading path of deduction and guesswork and danger and uncertainty that had only come to a very brief hesitation, while Sherlock occupied himself otherwise. They had been waiting, him and John, that was all. Waiting for Moriarty to make the next move.
And, John thought blankly as the newspaper's pages settled into a crumpled heap on the floor, it looked like he just had. He wasn't thinking as he slowly lowered himself back into the armchair, shaking slightly, and so he didn't even register the beep of the cell phone from across the room.
Sherlock, however, who had been watching John with a vague, mild sort of interest (having nothing better to do), did. His hand snapped out and retrieved the phone almost before the brief sound was over, and his intent, green-gray eyes flickered down to the words on the screen.
'Cursed' diamond stolen from British Museum. Nothing broken, no fingerprints, nothing. Just gone from its case. Up for it? -GL
Sighing lowly, he keyed in a response at a speed acquired from texting as often as many called.
Mundane. Even you aren't that pathetic. -SH
Hesitating for the briefest moment, he glanced up to where John was sitting in his usual armchair, staring into space, looking remarkably pale and rather shaky. Why would her disappearance affect him so much? She wasn't that great... it was irritating that, sometimes, the most important questions were complete mysteries to him. Impulsively, he added one last line before hitting send.
What about Sarah Sawyer?
The reply came so quickly that he knew Lestrade must have been waiting for his answer.
She's been tracked quite a ways, wouldn't have thought it was your style. Shouldn't be long before we find her. But Sherlock, this is a valuable gem. Please? -GL
Sherlock curled his lip slightly, reading over the last few texts. A single word jumped out at him- cursed. And from the two syllables, instantly, sprang two ideas, two possibilities for the theft. Either the typical had happened, and someone had wanted the thing for its worth, or there was some insane superstitious sod out there who thought that he was protecting the public. A careful theft, leaving no evidence (that Lestrade and his lot could find, anyway, and he'd learned not to set the highest standards with them) said it was the former, unless there was some sort of myth wrapped around this diamond indicating that it had to be treated with respect, or something of that sort... doubtlessly, a quick look around would tell whether the carefulness had been from an urge to protect oneself from the police, or from this ridiculous curse. He might as well set the Yarders in the right direction. And- this next bit came with another glance towards John- maybe he could hear what they had to say about Sarah.
I'll be there. -SH
You text like a fifteen-year-old girl. -SH
There was no response, but Sherlock wasn't expecting one. In moments, he had his coat wrapped around him, the cell phone and his hands securely pocketed, and his body turned in John's direction.
"We've got a new case. Come on, let's not keep them waiting."
There was a pause, during which the rumble of cars and people outside seemed to echo a hundred times louder. He frowned slightly at the back of John's head, then spoke again, voice raised slightly. "Let's go. I don't want the crime scene completely destroyed; Anderson has the remarkable ability to butcher things until they're incomprehensible even to me."
"No," John answered, simply, quietly.
"No? What do you mean, no?"
"I mean, I'm not coming. I have a couple other things on my mind right now."
"That again. You honestly think that sitting in a chair, staring out the window, is going to help get her back?"
"Sherlock." John tilted his head back so that it rested against the chair, and Sherlock could tell that his gaze had shifted to the ceiling. "You can't- there's no way that you can't see why I'm not in the mood to run around and listen to your egotistical rants right now. You go pester people, go and snap at them about how much of idiots they are, but I'm done. Don't try to out-logic me, either, because just about everyone else in the world understands that huge emotional blows result in this type of thing."
Sherlock's scowl deepened. 'Everyone else in the world,' apparently, was rather idiotic. Of course, that hardly came as a surprise. It was amazing, though, how humans were naturally programmed to do absolutely nothing just when they most needed to. Lucky I'm able to overcome it, or this planet would be a complete mess.
Still, if John was determined to 'care...' Well, why not see how far that would take him?
"Shame, this is rather risky business to be diving into alone... of course, I did get my share of it before you came along..."
"Stop showing off. You said the police would be there."
"You of all people should know, John, that I like to take a look at things privately. You'd be welcome, of course... but if you'd rather stay and mope... well, I suppose I'll be able to manage." He paused, considering the next line he intended to speak very carefully. "You have proved yourself rather valuable, such as that time with the taxi driver... but..."
"Damn it, Sherlock, don't guilt me!"
He smirked faintly at John's still-turned head. "I'm not guilting you, I'm merely pointing out that-"
"Shut up. I'll come, okay, but don't expect me to be of any bloody use to you... I could use some action is all." The last bit was muttered, but Sherlock caught it. It was with no small measure of haste that he covered up his now widening smirk as John stood up and made his way to the doorway. Use some action, indeed. John could deny it, to himself as well as those around him, all he wanted, but Sherlock knew that his own life and well-being were more than trivial to the other man.
Not all that bad, he thought, watching John's worn, distracted face as the two of them started down the stairs, being 'cared' about.