Series: Firestorm over London - Book 1
Title: Crystals in the Storm Glass
Summary: Post- Reichenbach. After a disastrous reunion, Sherlock and John inadvertently find themselves becoming flatmates once more. When Irene Adler asks them to solve an international espionage case, Sherlock sees a chance to possess the one thing he's always wanted: John. Dark!Sherlock.
Chapter: 1. Auspicious Beginnings
Main Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, Mycroft Holmes, "Anthea", Harry Pearce (Spooks), Erin Watt (Spooks),
The Old Bailey, Central London,
Kitty Riley rushed pasted the Muscian's Church, dodging a crowd of Chinese Tourists and their strange plethora of waterproof clothing. The Old Bailey was just in sight and even from across the busy thoroughfare she could hear the frantic shouts of investigative journalists crowding around the entrance to England's largest criminal court.
She was late to the gathering and from past experience she already knew exactly which martial arts maneuvers she would employ to get a decent place amongst the ravenous throng of reporters and paparazzi. It was rather ironic that only two years ago, she had been dashing across the same street in a low cut silk top and a deerstalker hat hoping to impress the world's only consulting detective into giving her an interview.
That story had catapulted her stuttering career into the big leagues. Only two months after Sherlock Holmes' 'suicide' she had been offered a desk with the Daily Mail, reporting real news and within six months she found herself flying out to Tunisia to interview the insurgents who had over thrown a tyrannical monarchy. Some people in the office had thought Sherlock Holmes' miraculous return from the dead with enough evidence to shut down the largest criminal network in the world would be her undoing but Kitty Riley had a way of making herself indispensible.
Squeezing awkwardly around the front of a dark car parked illegally on the double red lines across the street from the court house, Kitty peered into the window at the strange couple sitting placidly inside the Audi. For a moment she almost recognized the woman, a strikingly beautiful face framed with voluptuous brown waves, who looked more suitable on the set of Hollywood than the streets of London. For a moment she pushed down the stab of pure jealously and ran a hand through her own wind torn hair.
The crowd of reporters where already working themselves into a frenzy despite the doors of the Old Bailey being tightly shut. The man of the hour had yet to make an appearance. Kitty efficiently elbowed a stout, heavy set photographer in a vulnerable region and pushed passed him to get a better view of the dais once Sherlock Holmes did eventually grace them with his insufferable presence. She supposed that he would be willing to at least throw some insults her way, after her instrumental role in disgracing his reputation, but then she realized that being the arrogant fool he was, Sherlock Holmes would distain to even acknowledge her presence.
"Brace yourself, Mr Holmes," muttered a burly police officer.
Twice married, three children, one Dalmatian – not pure breed, suffered a recent football injury, hoping to move to another division.
Sherlock didn't bother to acknowledge the man's existence, his mind was already moving on from processing the inconsequential policemen to tackling the baying crowd outside. It was cold comfort to know that this time they were not out for his blood. As the doors swung open automatically, he was greeted by hundreds of painfully bright camera flashes accompanied by a cacophony of clicks, screams and garbled words.
"Mr Holmes, what can you tell us about Moriarty?"
"How did you fake your death!"
"Is it true you're gay?"
"Where will you go from here?"
"What is your connection to Whitehall?"
"Is it true that Moriarty sold nuclear weapons information to the Iranians?"
"How does it feel to have your name cleared?"
"Will you be back working for the Yard!"
The last question thrown into the cesspit of noise, sweat and desperation, caught Sherlock's mind and he almost wrinkled his nose in distaste.
"I do not work for the Yard," he sneered condescendingly at the unfortunate woman who had caught his attention.
Unsuccessful diet, debt problems, left handed, looking for casual sex.
"Are you going back to solving crimes, Mr Holmes?" cried another journalist to his left.
Pakistani, drug habit, allergic to pollen, very ambitious
"Of course," he snapped and pulled the lapels of his Belstaff coat up against the bracing chill of the wet and windy British Summer. Without acknowledging any other reporters he strolled purposefully down the steps, allowing the crowd to part before him like grass to the wind. He steadfastly ignored the sardonic glare of Kitty Riley as he moved towards the pavement in the hopes that a taxi would appear from around the corner to take him back to the one place he could truly call home.
Kensington Uppers General Medical Practice, North West London
John Hamish Watson sat in the lounge at Kensington Uppers General Medical Practice doing the Times crossword whilst dunking biscuits into his English Breakfast Tea. It was twelve o'clock and the extras from the morning surgery had all been dispensed with repeat prescriptions, sound advice and cheerful small talk. Kensington was what his old teacher would call a 'boring posh white area' where the most interesting disease happened to be ingrown toe nails. After a morning referring five women to the Harley Street Clinic for designer vaginas, he had decided to indulge his sweet tooth and delay the home visits he had lined up for the afternoon.
He looked up when Sarah strolled in, wearing one of her trademark pastel coloured business suits.
"Morning," he grunted casually as she approached,
"Have you seen the news?" she asked with wide eyed wonder, "Sherlock -,"
"Yes I know," he snapped and then instantly regretted that tone of voice. "I don't want to talk about him,"
"It's a pity we didn't work out," she said with amusement bubbling in her voice, "I'd always blamed Sherlock but now I realize it was nothing to do with him at all." John scowled for a moment as he tried to suppress the memories of the dark smoky circus and the murderous Chinese Triads hell bent on executing him for being Sherlock Holmes. How he wished he had punched Sherlock a whole lot more when he still had the chance.
"Well, if it helps, I regret it too," muttered John turning back to his crossword and dispelling the unpleasant feeling of being scrutinized by Sarah's deep brown eyes.
"Eight months is a long time to be mad at someone," whispered Sarah as she perched on the edge of his sofa.
"Hey even if I wanted to apologise, the restraining order would put me back in jail before you can say "Die Sherlock!" I think I have enough criminal charges to be getting on with don't you?" asked John.
Sarah broke into another heartwarming smile and then started to giggle incessantly.
"Do you find the idea of me in jail so funny?" demanded John trying to sound theatrically wounded.
"No," she replied between bursts of laughter, "I just haven't met a middle aged doctor with an ASBO!"
"That washis fault too, you know," muttered John darkly, as he found himself unconsciously twisting the newspaper between his fingers.
"Okay, so you don't want to make up with him, but what will you do when he moves back into the Baker Street Flat?"
"He won't," replied John with a tone of finality that cut the conversation down and went back to studying his newspaper.
"I think you need to sort this out," said Sarah placidly. She was very much used to his abrupt manner, which she heartily welcomed after suffering through the eight months of pure angst since Sherlock Holmes' return. It was rather ironic that despite having only seen the man once, life at the surgery had now been split between before The Return and after The Return. "Even if you despise Sherlock -,"
"I do," replied John flatly
"- you should still make it right with Molly," That was her trump card.
John continued to stare with great concentration at the crossword puzzle but she could see the muscle in his jaw subtly twitching as it was apt to do when he was stressed.
"She lied to me," he muttered breathlessly,
"Well she had a good reason, she was trying to keep you safe -,"
"I don't need her to keep me safe, I'm the one supposed to keep her safe!"
John's voice reached an alarming crescendo before dissipating feebly into silence. Thankfully they were alone in the brightly lit lounge and John finally relaxed again.
"I'm sorry," he whispered sheepishly, "I just – I'm finally coping with this situation, my therapist says I'm finally finding my equilibrium again."
"Maybe," suggested Sarah softly, "it's not your equilibrium that you need to find."
"I need to… distance myself. I need to live the normal life I have right now. I can't afford to do that all over again."
"No!" snapped John in exasperation, "Why does everyone think it's all about Sherlock? It's not about Sherlock!"
From the look in Sarah's eyes, he knew she didn't believe him.
Baker Street, North West London
Standing outside 221B Baker Street for the first time in over two years, Sherlock felt strangely empty. He had not expected a disproportionate emotional response, like that experienced by the ordinary people but he had expected – hoped - that he would feel some form of happiness to look upon his old home once again.
Eight months in witness protection under Mycroft's tyrannical thumb of micromanagement had left him gasping for freedom. Today at 11.20am, he was finally declared a free man. The first cab ride he had since coming back to London reinvigorated his senses and left his heart pounding with adrenaline as he sped through the familiar streets. He had half a mind to check up on his homeless contacts by the Embankment on the way to Baker Street but he was too excited for a diversion.
The front door looked the same as he remembered it, despite two additional years of wind and rain. The locks had been changed but thanks to Mycroft's intervention, two sets of house keys were resting in his coat pocket. The sash windows of the first floor flat were covered by the same flowery curtains. It felt almost as if the last two years had never happened and Sherlock was simply returning home after a long case successfully solved.
He was not sentimental enough to actually believe John might be standing behind him, grinning in triumph with one breath and cursing Sherlock with another but for a short moment he almost allowed his imagination to conjure up the plain, care worn face of his only friend. Over the years Mycroft had sent him pictures, small grainy black and white photos taken from the CCTV cameras that dotted London. John looked well; no physical signs of psychological stress and he had tapered off his therapist appointments long before Sherlock managed to return to England. Dr Watson had moved on with his life as surely as Sherlock had known he would but the satisfaction of this correct calculation was almost lost amongst the strange, alien and uncomfortable feelings that plagued him throughout the two years of his extended exile.
Perhaps you merely miss him, Mycroft had suggested. That particular remark had earned his brother twenty uninterrupted minutes of verbal evisceration from which most people would never psychologically recover.
He did not missJohn.
Thames House, MI5 Headquarters, Central London
Sir Harry Pearce shook the sparkling layer of drizzle from his long overcoat with the tenacity of a British Bulldog. It was good metaphor to describe him with both metaphorically and physically: a heavily built man with thick set features and impressive cheek jowls that reminded everyone of England's favourite breed of dog. Over a decade's worth of desk work at the Grid, a colloquial name for Section D of MI5, had made him a rotund figure but underneath the unevenly distributed layers of adipose tissue was a wall of honed muscle ready to take the fight to Her Majesty's Enemies.
The weather outside was frightful, even measured against abysmal expectations the British had for summer. At only 7 degrees Celsius with wind speeds of 20 miles an hour, it felt more like winter in the arctic but Harry enjoyed the wet and wild days more than the sedate hazy sunshine that better summers might bring.
A cursory glance around his office told him that none of his possessions had been disturbed. Wearily he lowered himself into the desk chair which had faithfully supported his enlarging backside for ten long years. He dumped the large manila folder on the polished mahogany desk with a careless thud and proceeded to pour himself a glass of water.
Through the internal window of his office he could see the rest of his team 'efficiently' clearing the day's tasks. Tariq Masood, a small, lithe, Asian man barely out of adolescence, was poking Callum Wood, a much larger Cambridge educated fellow, in the arm with a biro whilst Dmitri Levendis, the handsome Greek, look on with a superior smile.
The only person who was missing from this pitifully childish scene was Erin Watt but of course if she had been here, Harry doubted the situation would have deteriorated so far. Perhaps once he finished reading the unnecessarily thick file, he should go and straighten the boys out. He had not signed on to this job for another ten years to be a school master but a spy need many talents and controlling unruly youngsters was just one of them.
The new file currently dominating his desk was as thick as the Oxford English Dictionary and looked to be just as dry. The manila front was marred by signs of overuse and the red letters on the front were beginning to fade into a dull pink. He reached out with his stout fingers and traced the words he saw there:
CLASSIFIED LEVEL 4
It was no surprise that a man with the name "Holmes" would end up with a highly classified file, although Harry Pearce had been reliably informed that there was nothing worthy of note inside apart from a few embarrassing pictures of the subject wondering around butt naked in Regent's Park. It takes all sorts to make a world but Harry preferred if he didn't have to personally encounter all the sorts.
As he was about to turn the cover, the most annoying piece of equipment on his desk started to ring. The plain black phone, undistinguishable from the other two identical models, had a direct link to Whitehall outside of the normal telephone exchange. It served as a one way feed system whereby Harry Pearce was drowned with the whims of self-important civil servants who had no idea how a country should be protected. The weather and his arthritic knee had made him itch for a verbal fight.
However as he grabbed the receiver he realized to his dismay that the number was blocked. There was only one office in the whole of Whitehall that had the clout to keep MI5 in the dark and it contained the one person Harry emphatically did not want to speak to at this moment.
"Hello, Harry," came the calm, soothing voice of Mycroft Holmes, "how is the gardening going?"
"I don't garden, Mycroft," snapped Harry, "what do you want?"
"Shouldn't two old school friends catch up after a whole summer apart?" asked Mycroft in his most innocent voice.
"I don't know why you bother," said Harry curtly, "I have your brother's file on my desk and I'm damn well going to read it!"
"Oh dear fellow," replied Mycroft sounding almost bored, "I've not called about Sherlock's file, if I did not want you to see it, it wouldn't be on your desk."
Mycroft always had the strange and highly useful talent of sounding incredibly menacing with even changing his tone of voice but after spending three years at Harrow sharing a room with the man Harry was not intimidated in the slightest.
"Well, get on with it and stop wasting my time," demanded Harry,
Outside his office, Erin Watt had returned with three cups of coffee and was judiciously trying to decide which poor soul would not be getting a caffeine fix. Her long wave chestnut brown hair was still immaculate despite having braced the wind and rain outside.
"I understand you have refused Erin Watt a promotion," said Mycroft blandly, "that really won't do."
"I am not considering applications for section chief until next month, Mycroft, live with it,"
"Dear Harry, must we continue this silly feud? We are after all working for the same government."
Harry sneered despite himself and wondered sheepishly if he could slam down the receiver without seeming too much like a child throwing a tantrum.
"You work only for yourself, Mycroft," spat Harry contemptuously
"I assure you I do not," replied Mycroft, his voice suddenly turning ice cold in a fraction of a second.
A small sliver of self-preservation informed Harry that it was best not to take this particular argument too far.
"I am not starting the application process right now," muttered Harry, "I'm busy what with the Olympics coming up and the situation in Bolivia,"
"Then why do you not just promote Erin and forget about this whole bureaucracy?" asked Mycroft softly.
"Can you imagine what the Human Resource managers were going to say?"
"Sir Harry Pearce," said Mycroft mockingly, "head of Her Majesty's Secret Security Services is afraid of the HR department."
"You haven't met Mrs Hughes," hissed Harry, "besides the procedure is mandatory, whether or not I am afraid of HR."
"I shall deal with Mrs Hughes, she happens to have a soft spot for King Charles Spaniels. You get on with the paperwork for Erin's promotion; I would like her to have level 4 clearance before the end of the week."
"Fine," growled Harry, seeing that he had been bluntly outmaneuvered once again, "what do you want me to tell her?"
"Oh she already knows, old chap," replied Mycroft casually, "well cherrio and I do hope you will join me for lunch at Whitehall tomorrow, 12pm."
Without giving Harry the chance to callously turn down his invite, Mycroft Holmes hung up the phone.
Bloody Bastard! Always determined to have the last word.
AN: Please leave comments/review. I always love constructive criticism for my writing as it helps me to improve my style and content.
I love to hear readers' reactions to the characters, new and old, as well as points for improvement of characterization, please don't hesitate to say: "I don't think Sherlock would do that," or "X happens but it's not very canon compatible,"
I am also looking for Beta for this story, please tell me if you might be interested.
Extras including, cover art and the next chapter are on my homeage: wellingtongoose dot livejournal dot com. If you would like me to reply to your comments/reviews please comment on my livejournal entry because I can just hit the reply button!