John dropped the remote on the coffee table. Of course the Wasps were losing. Wasn't even worth watching anymore. He half-heartedly rooted through some papers on the table. Christmas card from Harry? Must have sent it before she had the hare-brained idea of an extended family Christmas dinner.

And John should have known that perfect cousin Mark would make the effort to come even with that late notice… and that Harry would start something before the pudding came out, and he'd humiliate himself by fighting with her in front of Mark and his beautiful wife and their twin boys…


"Yes, Mrs. Hudson?"

"Don't mind me. Just bringing up some leftover pudding for you boys. And… look at this mess! I don't know if it will fit into the refrigerator. Sherlock really needs to learn to…"

John slouched further into his chair, stared at the animal skull on the wall, and tried to tune out the incessant noise. His hand was hovering over the remote, when a touch sent him springing out of his chair.

"…shaking, poor dear! It's not too cold in here is it?"

John clenched his jaw and pulled his hand from her grasp. "No."

Mrs. Hudson's face lit up. "Oh! It's… yes…" Sympathy pout. "After all you've gone through in the war… I was just watching a program on the telly… do you think my herbal…"

"I have to go out!" John stormed out to the landing, and then decided to go up the stairs instead. He heard Mrs. Hudson tutting as she returned to her flat.

The wall of his bedroom was duller than the telly downstairs. Just barely.

His eyes wandered the room for the fiftieth time. And stopped at the wardrobe again. But he wasn't interested in answering the questions – How did you get this? Who did you get it from? We'll be taking it…

Shame he didn't have a silencer.

He opened the wardrobe anyway, and pulled out the box in the back corner. He turned it over in his hands. Too light.

Two clicks later and he considered where to take aim.


The gun dropped out of his hand and nearly slid to the floor before he caught it. And then reached into his pocket. Stupid bloody phone.


So, that's where he was. Hadn't been home when John left yesterday morning. Christmas dinner?


Trouble. Come prepared.


John looked around the lot twice before he realized the voice was coming from a dirty heap against a wall.


"Yes. Hurry, we don't have all day."

"Have you been sleeping…"

"It's a drugs and trafficking ring. This dealer could be the key, though. I need you to hide behind those bins and wait, in case he decides to run."


"He could be here at any moment. Hurry!"

After about twelve minutes of eerie silence John thought he heard something. Sherlock had too, if the slight twitch of his head was any indication.

John hefted the gun in his hand, pointed it steadily between two of the bins and watched as a scrawny man with a scar over one eye appeared around the corner. John couldn't see Sherlock, but the man did, and ambled over.

There was a brief muddled conversation that ended with a shout and the sound of a blow. John jumped up and saw the dealer reaching for something in the back of his jeans.

"Touch it and I'll shoot!" The dealer startled at John's shout, and started running.

"After him, John!"

And John ran. The wind whistled around his ears. The cold air filled his lungs. There was nothing in the world besides himself and the man running ahead of him.

John saw him stumble. He grinned widely, put on a last burst of speed, and flung himself forward. He made contact and he was falling farther than he expected… He had about two seconds to wish he'd realized how close they were to the river before he hit the freezing water.

Half an hour later John's mind was still racing, processing police boats, Sherlock wrapped in his dirty sleeping bag, the warm blanket that an officer had handed John after they fished him out of the river... not very effective against the cold left behind by the water.

Sherlock and the sergeant who'd arrived at the scene (Bradstreet, maybe he said?) were talking.

"…needed a sample! Sherlock why couldn't you just have waited for us to…"

"Don't be an imbecile. I pinched a sample before I sent John after him. Here." John watched him pass over a plastic bag.

"Is this all, Sherlock? The Detective Inspector..."

"Wants my help. You just do your job and bring that to him. Now I have some business to take care of. John!" The sergeant shrugged and walked back towards his car.

Sherlock walked over.

"John, I'm off to Barts with this sample." He held up a second plastic bag filled with a white powder. When you get back to the flat, get the tin from the kitchen table, but don't open it. And clean socks. Stop off at Scotland Yard. Dimmock will have a file for you. I'm texting him now. Meet me at Barts in two hours."

John giggled as Sherlock swept away in a swirl of… ratty sleeping bag. Then he pulled the blanket a bit more firmly around his shoulders, and strode off to hail a taxi.