From the mind which has brought you "The Long Week", here comes another BBC: Sherlock fanfiction titled "Behind Closed Doors".
Words of caution my lovelies, this story is a tad darker and more twisted. Don't worry there still are the occasional bits of humour and fun, but it also broaches (although not too graphically) some more dire subjects such as child abuse.
There are also - you will find throughout the paragraphs - the ever-present signs of the Easter spirit. I know this can seem somewhat ludicrous given the fact that we're in May, but well what can I say... this story was written in April.
This work is, once again, beta-read by the ever wonderful Kate who took on the Herculean task of correcting my whimsical use of the English language.
I sincerely hope you will enjoy this story and look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.
Behind Closed Doors
Chapters: 7 chapters + prologue & epilogue
Type: case-fic, adventure, friendship, family, drama
Main characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, DI Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes
(no slash / no incest)
Timeline: Set after 2x02 "The Hound of Baskerville" and before 2x03 "The Reichenbach Fall"
Summary: A violent serial killer roams the streets of West London in what quickly turns out to be Sherlock and John's most frustrating case ever. It doesn't help that the detective is plagued by disturbing case-related nightmares he cannot make sense of.
Beta Reader: the wonderful Kate (aka love_like_burning)
Disclaimer: Don't own the show; don't own the characters (sadly).
Written: 06-10 April 2012
"When the truth is ugly, people try to keep it hidden because they know if revealed the damage it will do. So they conceal it within sturdy walls, or they place it behind closed doors, or they obscure it with clever disguises. But truth, no matter how ugly, always emerges; and someone we care about always ends up getting hurt; and someone else will revel in their pain; and that's the ugliest truth of all."
"The water stains on the carpet," Sherlock Holmes murmurs almost breathlessly, breaking the silence that has fallen on 221B Baker Street.
John Watson, who has started to quietly doze off in the nearby chair, shakes himself awake at that.
"What was that?" he asks, prompting his friend and colleague to continue. He looks sharply at the consulting detective who has fallen silent again. Sherlock is flopped on the sofa, head propped on a pillow and long legs dangling off the other side. He has been playing living-statue for the past – John quickly looks at his watch – three hours, give or take a few minutes.
The blogger has long since gotten used to these strange moods of his. When on a difficult case, Sherlock would often retreats within his head to think. He'd sit or lie down somewhere and stop interacting with the rest of the world. The first time, it had scared the good doctor half to death. He had though his friend was having a crisis of catatonia or something worse. Now, he's gotten used to it; it's simply one more thing to add to Sherlock's long list of idiosyncrasies. Today, he's gotten the laundry done and straightened their flat a bit while the detective did... whatever it was he did within his head when he got like that.
When the doctor deemed the cleaning done, he finally decided to sit down and rest his eyes a little. The week has been a long one, even though it was only Thursday. Lestrade requested their help on a new case of art-theft involving several renowned paintings which have been lifted very recently from private owners all over London. No matter how good the security measures in place were, the pricy art pieces kept disappearing in the wind without a single clue left behind. A missing Rembrandt and three Matisse works later New Scotland Yard was still at a loss and the newspapers were starting to poke fun at their inability to catch the man they have nicknamed The New Arsène.
Sherlock and John have been on the case for over a week now, but paintings are still disappearing. The latest missing canvas was of a Parisian dancer made by Degas in 1877. It was stolen on Tuesday night.
"The water stains on the carpet, John." the detective interrupts his thoughts once more, sitting up quickly. His eyes finally come to life again and focus sharply on his colleague. "You know I hate to repeat myself, please pay attention."
"Right." The former soldier slaps himself awake mentally. Welcome back amongst the living, he thinks sarcastically. "Right, water stains on whose carpet?" he asks.
"Last owner- Dale," Sherlock stands up, grabs his coat from where John has neatly draped it on the back of the second chair. "In the living room where the painting was: there were no water stains on the carpet. But it was raining on Tuesday night. If the thief had entered via the window - like everyone supposes - there should be water stains but there aren't any."
The young man is out of the door before the end of the second sentence. Watson follows quickly, locking the flat behind him and sprints down the stairs to find Sherlock hailing a cab by the road. He hasn't stopped talking apparently.
"-not just a very talented thief, then. Do you see John?" he asks when a black car finally comes to stop in front of them.
The doctor nods 'No', but the brunette already has his back to him as he gets inside the car. The shorter man follows him in and the monologue resumes after Sherlock instructs the cabbie to take them to New Scotland Yard.
"I thought all along he had some inside information. I fancied a mole within the insurance company but this is far better. This is more clever; more elegant. This is why he came in through the front door." the detective finishes, clearly elated by the thrill of the chase.
John still has no clue what is going on, or who the culprit is. He can't really remember what the carpet looked like; he seems to recall it being blue. Sherlock is facing him with a raised eyebrow now, probably trying to gauge if his friend has understood his explanation. Or maybe he is just waiting for John's word of praise that usually accompanies one of his brilliant tirades. The blogger fancies Sherlock's gotten fond of them, not that the detective would ever admit to it, of course.
"Wasn't it blue?" the doctor asks hesitantly, when the scrutiny finally gets too much. "The carpet, I mean."
The flitting look of indignation which crosses Sherlock's face is almost comical, but it disappears practically instantly to be replaced by the detective's usual mask of indifference. He turns his head to his left sharply and lets his gaze wander outside the window.
John remains silent for the rest of the ride and the entire length of their march along the corridors of New Scotland Yard which takes them to Detective Inspector Lestrade's luminous office. The doctor lengthens his step when they reach the glass door and opens it for his flatmate, letting him enter first. It's a silent apology of the sort, which the younger man seems to understand, if the small smirk that instantly graces his lips is anything to go by.
"Sherlock, John," the DI greets them as they enter. "Have you got something for me?" he asks, sounding almost desperate.
There's a clutter of papers on his desk. Most seem to be related to the case, John sees. He notices photographs of the stolen paintings, schemes from the security devices that have been disabled by the thief, copies of the current market-value for all the precious art pieces.
"Just a thief," Sherlock answers, looking smug. "Would that interest you?" he asks and John has to fight an impulse to roll his eyes. Show off, he thinks fondly.
"You know who did it?" the silver-haired man asks hopefully.
Sherlock smiles, takes a breath and treats them to one of his trademark blink-and-you-miss-the-punchline style speeches. John pays attention this time and he's left amazed. He says as much and his friend smiles again.
Lestrade grabs his phone and barks orders into it the minute the person on the line picks up. "Get me an arrest warrant for Evanson," he requests. "Yes, Donovan, the security advisor who has been working with us on this case, that same Evanson. He's our thief!" He Hangs up.
On Friday morning, John opens the newspaper to a picture of the missing Degas and the phrase 'New Arsène arrested' headlining it. There's a small portrait of Lestrade within the article and a detailed report of the arrest. Sherlock's name is not mentioned but there's a quote of the policeman highlighting the excellent work of those under his command. The doctor decides the praise is also directed at Sherlock and himself and allows for a small smile of satisfaction to grace his lips.
His happiness falters when he turns the page and reads an article that describes the gruesome death of a child by the name of Karl Millagan. The twelve-year-old boy was found late last night in Ravenscourt Park, having apparently succumbed to various injuries. The reporter remains sketchy on the details but it seems the body was badly bruised and several bones were broken.
John closes the newspaper with a sigh. What a cruel world.
Sherlock spends Friday and Saturday breeding larvae in steaks and calculating their growth. John gives him a few disgusted looks but he refrains from complaining. Mrs Hudson doesn't come up at all, probably because the good doctor warned her off.
The young man sits up, straightens his back before grabbing for a glass and filling it with some tap water. He drinks contentedly, then takes a few steps to the living room and notices John's absence. He doesn't recall hearing him leaving the flat; he must have been too engrossed in his researches, he surmises. He absentmindedly leaves the empty glass on a shelf and goes back to his experiment.
It's time to start dissecting the larvae and Sherlock is feeling gleeful. He reaches down to a drawer and retrieves his box of scalpels. He drops it on the table and opens it only to be momentarily frozen in surprise. The blades are all accounted for but there's an extra item which he clearly doesn't remember ever putting there.
He takes the small oval entity in his hand and studies it with a perplexed frown. It looks like a little egg, wrapped in tinfoil. He sits down on his chair - experiment momentarily forgotten - as he unwraps the mysterious egg with the utmost care and precision. He sniffs at it suspiciously: chocolate, by the look and smell of it. How odd, he thinks.
Not many people could have left chocolate in his scalpel box. Mrs Hudson tends to hoard her boys with biscuits and the occasional bag of candies, but she always brightly announces it first thing when she comes into their flat. She's not the sneaky type either and the detective doubts she would go anywhere near his chemistry set anyway. John seems a more likely candidate. Besides his flatmate does tend to have a strange obsession for Sherlock's eating habits and apparently ravels in constantly remind him to 'eat something before you drop down'.
Had he known the younger man would use his scalpels today and decided to hide food in the box, in the hopes that he would eat it? Possibly. The behaviour does fit John's profile but Sherlock is still doubtful. His friend has never done this before and there was an unspoken rule about staying out of each other's personal possessions, they respected. Well, the brunette thinks amused, at least John did. That leaves the detective with only one suspect: Mycroft.
The young man gives the chocolate egg another suspicious look. His sweet-toothed-and-perpetually-on-a-diet older brother could easily be associated with chocolate or any other highly calorific aliment. But why would he leave it in Sherlock's things: a brotherly token of affection? Nonsense!
Filled with a new purpose, the consulting detective quickly pushes the larva experiment on the side – they can wait a little longer – and promptly starts dissecting the egg, looking for poison or any other unusual chemical compound. He doesn't find any and he goes back to his larvae an hour later, clearly frustrated.
"John?" Sherlock asks Sunday morning, sounding unmistakably ticked. "What is the meaning of this?"
The former soldier looks up from his computer at that. He turns his head to the right and gazes at his flatmate who stands by the kitchen door, one hand on his hip and the other holding in two pale fingers a small egg wrapped in red and green.
"It's a chocolate egg," the blonde simply replies, carefully holding at bay the smile that threatens to break free on his face.
"Yes, I can see that. What was it doing in my socks' drawer?" the detective questions.
John shrugs his shoulders and returns nonchalantly to his computer. "You're the detective," he mutters finally. "Deduce it."
"It's a chocolate egg, John, not a criminal mastermind. What do you want me to-" he's interrupted by the ring of his phone which he quickly pulls out of his pants' pocket. He smiles brightly – mysteriously appearing eggs instantly forgotten - when he sees Lestrade's caller ID flash on the screen.
John recognizes the smile, which only comes with a new case and promptly shuts his laptop off before standing up.
"There's a serial killer in London," Sherlock announces cheerfully after hanging up.
P.S. I plan on updating this fic every Saturday (or Sunday). I will announce it on Twitter should there be any delay. You can follow my account for updates, spoilers and more: www[dot]twitter[dot]com[slash]Cristelle