Title: The Great Holmes Swap
Summary: Anthea finally agrees to date John if he can prove that living with Sherlock is much harder than coping with Mycroft, but when they switch lives, chaos, hilarity and true love ensues. Chapter 4.
Pairings: Sherlock/John, Mycroft/Anthea,
Warnings: Slash, domestic scenes and too much George Clooney.
Unbeknownst to the general public, a serial killer was stalking the streets of London. This particular embodiment of evil enjoyed butchering young single women in the back alleys of Hackney and Whitechapel. The first victim was mutilated beyond recognition and had to be identified by her dental records. The second victim was so thoroughly disembowelled the coroner couldn't tell where one organ ended and another began.
Like the makings of any sensational news story, there was first an attempted cover up by the Metropolitan Police PR department. This was closely followed by the leaking of private police communicates detailing the horror all its grotesque glory. News International, who had been bribing police officers for years, immediately ran a four page spread on the new "Ripper Murders" with a free London walking tour with every copy sold.
It was no surprise when the press started to flock like vultures again before the second body had even cooled.
By the time Sherlock, Jane, Lestrade and Sally arrived at Scotland Yard the front entrance was already blockaded by a horde of ravenous journalist and concerned citizens. A team of burly police officers cut a swath through the crowd to let their patrol car through.
Lestrade's office was on the fifth floor but even from this height, the noise of the baying journalists outside was hard to block out.
"Twenty-year-old student at UCL, cash strapped and heavily in debt," said Lestrade, describing the first victim in his usual gruff, nonchalant manner. "Turning tricks on the side, lucrative business from what we discovered in her bank account but she spent it faster than she could rake it in."
"Prostitute," said Sherlock in a tone that suggested he already found the case boring.
"You're one to judge," snapped Sally, who clearly considered Sherlock's line of work several rungs below prostitution on the career ladder of ill repute.
"Anyway," interjected Lestrade, "she was found dead in Hackney with her throat torn out and her face slashed beyond recognition."
"I want to see," demanded Sherlock instantly and Jane looked from her blackberry with barely concealed horror.
"He has no sense of common decency," said Sally blandly, "you can try beating it into him but I dare say his brain just isn't wired that way."
"Anyway," growled Lestrade impatiently, "our Vic died from massive haemorrhage. They found at least three litres of blood at the crime scene, splatter all consistent with the injuries."
"What about shadows, lack of splatter, the killer must be drenched in blood," insisted Sherlock, fidgeting restlessly in his seat. If anyone noticed his uncharacteristic behaviour they were probably too tired to comment.
"Nope, this guy knew where to stand, best guess he got microsplatter on his arm but nothing noticeable."
"How do you know it's a man?" demanded Jane, out of the blue.
Lestrade flashed another charming smile and proceeded to layout the fundamentals of criminology. Sherlock yawned loudly throughout the lecture and then launched a pen using a rubber band straight into Lestrade's face. He ducked with the well practiced graced of a man accustomed to flying missiles and threw the pen right back at Sherlock.
"They just won't grow up," said Sally in a long suffering tone.
"Tell me about it," Jane muttered in agreement, "my boss insists on having the last word with everyone, including the Queen Mother when she was alive."
Sally's eyebrow shot up in surprise.
"The poor lady nearly had a heart attack when he phoned her up with a witty comeback at three in the morning. She was one hundred and two years old."
"Yep," agreed Sally, "they never grow up."
"And the time he confiscated all the chocolate from the children on the Great Easter Egg Hunt at the palace. He claimed it was for "health and safety" reasons."
"I bet he ate them all himself," said Sally, knowingly.
"It wreaked havoc with his dieting schedule!" sighed Jane.
"Er, ladies, stop the mothers' meeting, we are still discussing the case here," said Lestrade waving his hands dramatically. The twin looks of distain quickly shut him up.
"I suppose we should head down to the morgue," he said in defeat.
The police morgue was a menace to Health and Safety that would put any Easter Egg hunt to shame. Firstly, it was staffed by Barry and Larry, two identically obese men with equally bad body odour and utterly disinterested attitudes to infection control. Secondly, the law which criminalised smoking indoors apparently didn't apply to this dank corner of the Scotland Yard. Every junior officer in need of a fag break on a wet afternoon could be found in the morgue casually polluting the atmosphere. Thirdly, there was the persistent smell of sewage in the air which even the choking smoke could not fully mask. Several different plumbers and a Thames Water specialist had all failed to come up with a reasonable explanation. Some of the new recruits started spreading the rumour that the morgue was haunted by a particularly malodourous ghost: Stinkin' Stan.
Jane tried to look comfortable with her surroundings but the smoke was ruining her tailor made suit and she couldn't imagine how she was going to get the smells out of her hair. Sherlock, meanwhile, became very preoccupied with deep breathing exercises.
Lestrade gruffly ordered everyone to brace themselves as he flung the sheet off the first cadaver.
Although the morticians had hosed down the body, the raw gaping wounds still looked horrific. Lestrade had not been exaggerating when he claimed there was very little left of the first victim's face.
Jane tried to look away from the grotesque corpse but her eyes refused to obey her command. The image burned itself into her retina and her psyche.
"Let me give you a hand," said Lestrade grimly. He reached out an arm to support Jane but she knocked it back reflexively. She had seen many things in the course of her duties and her personal life with Mycroft but nothing quite prepared her for the mutilated body of a young woman who had been murdered for no other purpose than a monster's amusement. Suddenly she could feel the bile rising up in her throat and quickly stretched out a hand to lean against the wall.
"It's shocking the first time round," said Sally supportively, "but you get used to it."
Sherlock had finally gained enough of a nicotine fix to turn his mind to the case at hand. He pulled out a small magnifying glass and started scouring the body like an antiques dealer looking for flaws.
"Small mark just above the right deltoid," he said contemptuously, "injection."
"She did have crack in her system..."
"Wrong place for crack!" snapped Sherlock, leaping around the table, "it's an intramuscular injection, likely a sedative but undetectable on usual drugs screen – prescription drug! Lack of defensive wounds –
"She has defensive wounds," pointed out Lestrade but Sherlock merely gave him a contemptuous look that most people reserved for particularly ignorant racists.
"The wounds on her hands are covered in grit, she didn't hit anyone, she scrapped them on a brick wall, meaning she was attacked from behind and drugged backwards. The mutilation happened after she was subdued by the injection. This was well planned, coldly premeditated. The killer must have been out hunting all night, victim was either just unlucky or actively targeted – not sure which yet. " answered Sherlock in a torrent of words.
"Right," muttered Lestrade grimly,
"Where's victim number two?" demanded Sherlock suddenly.
"She's still cooling in a pool of blood, just the way you like them," said a familiar contemptuous voice from the other end of the morgue.
Anderson, the forensics officer, had finally arrived wearing an expression of great distaste.
"Anderson," replied Sherlock with mock joy, "how's the wrist? Considering the criminal you apprehended was ten years old, I'm sure only your pride was injured."
Anderson scowled at Sherlock like he was an especially vile specimen of rabies-carrying bat.
However before he could make an ineffective comeback, his eyes were suddenly drawn the slender, graceful form of Jane leaning against the wall, her head cradled in her arms. Captivated by her beauty and bolstered by the sure knowledge that she would be just as attracted to him, Anderson slithered forwards. On the way, he completely ignored Sally, who was standing expectantly to one side waiting for her lover to acknowledge her presence.
"I must have missed the meteor shower the bought you to Earth, honey," he said in his most seductive tone, "so tell me which piece of heaven you descended from."
Jane looked even more nauseous at this pick up line than the grotesquely mutilated corpse.
"Seriously, Anderson, we are on duty!" snapped Lestrade. The hypocrisy of his statement did nothing to quell the righteous indignation in his tone.
"Not that it stopped you," commented Sally cynically. Lestrade gave her a disapproving look that promised that her next pay review was about to be delayed indefinitely and she quickly turned her attention back to the corpse.
"I need to see the second victim," snapped Sherlock, "right now, before your forensics team do any more damage to the crime scene."
Anderson was about to protest but Lestrade's glare quickly silenced him as well.
"No harm done," he promised with a hint of amusement, "she's not going anywhere after all."
The dark alley behind Billingsgate Market reeked of rotting fish. Several boxes of unidentifiable decomposing seafood had been dumped haphazardly into the narrow medieval alley way, poisoning the entire area with an unbearable stench. Although the City of London had deemed this alley way worthy of a name, the passage was really nothing more than a precarious gap between two buildings.
It was a very grim place to die.
The body lay undisturbed in the middle of the alleyway, too far from either entrance to be spotted from the main roads. Congealing pools of dark blood lay splattered around the prone figure making the scene look like a grotesque piece of modern art.
"Well, have fun, Sherlock," muttered Sally sarcastically as Sherlock leapt over the police cordon and jumped merrily into the crime scene.
Jane, on the other hand, was looking decidedly queasy from both the breakneck police car ride and the sight of another freshly slaughtered murder victim.
"Violent attack," shouted Sherlock without bothering to wait for anyone else to catch up, "killer used a knife, at least twelve inches long – no eighteen – frenzied slashes indicates uncontrolled rage. Target area is the abdomen, most of the organs are minced beyond recognition," he continued casually.
Lestrade and Sally merely exchanged exasperated looks before following Sherlock into the crime scene.
Behind them, Jane staggered a little and pressed her palm against the slime stained wall to keep herself upright.
"Are you alright, my angel?" demanded the sickeningly sweet voice of Anderson. Without even bothering to ask permission, he stealthily wrapped a hand around her exposed elbow. "I know how hard it is to see your first crime scene," he continued in what might have passed for a soothing tone.
"I – I need to some fresh air," whispered Jane, trying to push Anderson away.
The smell of drying blood and rotting fish was repugnant and it permeated every inch of the dark damp alleyway.
"Oh, don't worry my dear, I've got all the fresh air you need," replied Anderson, a sly smile as he tried to crowd her against the wall and envelop her in his arms.
What happened next was definitely not the best response Jane could have made to his terrible attempts at sexual harassment but in later weeks, she decided it was exactly what he deserved.
With one very unladylike heave, Jane emptied the contents of her lunch all over Anderson's starched white shirt, black suit and newly polished shoes. The only thing she regretted not covering was his face but the expression of pure shock etched over his features was enough compensation.
"Well done, Anderson," said Sherlock casually as he strolled out from the crime scene again, "your chat up lines are producing ever greater returns,"
Behind him, Jane could hear Lestrade and Sally sniggering all over the crime scene.
"Oh dear," said Mycroft suddenly, pulling his phone out of his pocket and staring at the screen as if Sherlock Holmes might jump out of it.
"Er – bad news?" asked John, wondering if this could be the reprieve he had been praying for; being stuck in a small boat on the middle of a lake really offered very little opportunity for avoiding contact with Mycroft.
The charming sky blue boat glided smoothly over the crystal clear waters of Mycroft's personal pleasure lake. Swans swam idly through the water lilies, diving for fish and arrogantly preening their features. Small dragonflies with brightly coloured wings darted like tiny arrows across the gleaming surface, occasionally coming to rest for precious moments on the bow of the boat.
"It appears I am needed back at Whitehall," replied Mycroft sounding terribly disappointed.
It took all of John's considerable military self control to keep his composure and not take a deep sigh of relief.
"Ah, duty calls then?" he said trying to sound less than jovial.
"Alas, we shall simply have to take another boating trip tomorrow, you really must see the island," insisted Mycroft, smiling broadly,
John hid his groan behind a well place hand and silently wished the boat could move faster towards the shore.
"Good luck with whatever crisis is brewing," muttered John as the small vessel glided soundless up to the pier.
"Oh I don't need luck," replied Mycroft, flashing a neat row of gleaming white teeth, "I've got my PA."
John released a dramatic moan when he belated realised that he wouldn't have the afternoon to himself, after all.
Well, he thought with mock cheer, what is the worst that could possibly happen?
By the time they actually reached Whitehall, John thought "the worst" had already happened. John could not use the Blackberry Mycroft had practically thrown at him with the air of a man burying nuclear waste. It was a contraption designed for people with nifty fingers and even niftier brains. John's rough hands were more used to handling the firm weight of semi-automatic than the flimsy plastic cover of a smart phone.
In the last half hour he had only just managed to turn it on and now he was staring at a welcome screen that look anything but welcoming.
Mycroft sat in the back of his ostentatious town car looking for all the world like a carefree aristocrat surveying his private fiefdom. John's unholy struggle with the Blackberry passed uncommented, if not unnoticed beneath his serene gaze.
John was usually an inordinately patient person but shut in the close confines of Mycroft's car, fighting with a piece of technology that shouldn't be allowed to exist and being deliberately ignored by the man who had forced him into this position, he could feel his blood boiling. Not even Sherlock Holmes had managed to make him this mad since he returned unannounced from the dead demanding milk.
"You know," he grounded out through clenched teeth, "you could give me a little help."
Mycroft turned to look at him with a mixture of amusement and innocent helplessness.
"Oh, John, I have no idea how to work that thing either," he replied jovially, "Jane always did all her organising on it though and you really must check our personal schedule..."
"You didn't check your own schedule?" asked John, "but we've been doing nothing all morning!"
"Well," admitted Mycroft casually, "I'm sure we haven't missed anything too important, apart from what's just happened."
John had a horrible sinking feeling that the entire British Government was probably in complete turmoil right now because he hadn't thought to check Mycroft's schedule. He tried very hard not to worry about a possible nuclear war with Russia or a massive terror attack that would make 9/11 pale in comparison. However trying wasn't good enough to stop his heart galloping away with his blood pressure.
"Are you telling me," snarled John, "that the government is in crisis right now because you won't check your own schedule?"
"John, there is a crisis every day, I'm sure this one's relatively minor."
The words did nothing to reassure John, who felt he was only seconds away from needing to hyperventilate into a paper bag.
"What exactly is this crisis?"
Mycroft looked slightly puzzled for a moment before shrugging nonchalantly.
"I have no idea, you should have full details on the Blackberry,"
John gaped at him with pure horror. The key to solving this disaster was firmly stuck inside a demonic piece of plastic and John was solely responsible for retrieving it. Not for the first time, his sense of duty utterly clouded his more rational judgement. His mind was no longer dwelling on Mycroft's uncharacteristic lack of concern; instead it was reeling with the horrific images of dying soldiers. John could be the only person standing between Britain and another devastating war. If he did not get to the information in time, he could be personally responsible for the death of thousands, even millions of people.
The military training and combat experience had taught him to harness the power of his fear. Instead of wallowing in paralysing terror, the surge of adrenaline cleared his mind and sharpened his senses. With zen-like focus, John honed in on the devilishly tricky piece of technology. He had personally disabled Taliban bombs with nothing but a paperclip, this Blackberry did not stand a chance.
It took him mere minutes to crack the code to message box and another two seconds to open the file in question. Any other person would be trembling with fear but John's hands remained steady and unwavering as he read the message.
Parking regulations meeting 3pm in the Blue Suite - Refreshments will be served.
"What!" cried John, almost dropping the Blackberry in shock. The message he had been led to believe was the key to saving the world turned out to be nothing more than an office memo. "Tell me this is some sort of code!"
Mycroft pulled out his own phone and stared at the screen for a short moment.
"No, it's accurate,"
John stared at the other man in complete astonishment for a full minute before he finally burst out:
"You had the text message all along?"
"Yes," replied Mycroft, frowning, "what made you think I hadn't?"
"You said you had no idea what the crisis was about!" cried John. He could feel the little artery throbbing in his forehead, waiting impatiently to burst.
"Well, I have no idea why there is to be a parking regulation meeting..."
If John could literally vent steam, it would be pouring out of his ears and nostrils in great billowing clouds. However, as a human being he needed other outlets for the pent up rage boiling behind his eyes. This particular episode of stress, which would no doubt take years off his life, could easily have been avoided had Mycroft simply communicated with him. Instead, the irritatingly smug man had simply sat back and allowed John to nearly rupture an aneurysm whilst averting a non-existent crisis.
There were no words to describe John's rage in that moment. He was only a murder weapon short of becoming a homicidal maniac and that wasn't about to deter him.
Mycroft didn't seem to notice to murderous glint in John's eyes, nor the strange way he had taken to holding the Blackberry. The infuriating man looked a calm and unconcerned as ever.
Thus it gave John great pleasure to knock one unresponsive piece of metal against another unresponsive piece of flesh. It was terribly childish but on reflection John decided it was exactly what Mycroft and the Blackberry deserved.
The very expensive phone collided with melodramatic effect with the side of Mycroft's unsuspecting face. The Blackberry made a resounding thud against Mycroft's thick skull and then bounced off straight back into John's outstretched hand.
That was for dragging me into this mess, he thought viciously, and this is for your terrible attempts at seduction!
He hurled the phone again and although Mycroft bought his hands up to defend his face, John's marksmanship was far too deadly. The phone cheerfully bounced off Mycroft's nose straight back to John's hand, leaving a painful mark in its wake.
It was a terrible pity he couldn't video the entire sequence and place the episode on Youtube under the title "Great Git Bricked by Blackberry".
However the lovely red marks blossoming across the side of Mycroft's face were enough of a triumph to appease John's anger. The new look of respect in Mycroft's eyes was an added bonus.
AN: This chapter is about developing the plot a bit more because this is a case fic as well as a romantic comedy. It will get darker in the future but I promise the humour will keep it light hearted.
Also additional thanks to all of the people who have been so supportive in their comments for this story. It has really kept me going through the long hard slog of exam term. Your comments are a shining light in my otherwise bleak existence.
I have not forgotten your requests either but I cannot always fill everyone exactly as there is a plot to get through but I think this chapter has filled in several request - you know who you are - and requests are still open.