A/N Uuuuugggghhhh, I'm such a goober D': I have been mowed under with A level exams and ridiculous shifting at work but, in all honesty, procrastination is half part blaming and doing other things instead of writing and/or not writing what you should and half part being too bloody self-conscious to write it, so if anything is to be blamed, it's me and my brain because this is so laaaaaaaaate D': So, I am really really sorry guys, I promise I'll give myself a good solid slap round the face and tell myself to get over it :D
But anyways, hello again my sweet dears! Gosh I've missed you! I hope everyone is well and I can't wait to hear from you! I apologise for 1) any errors in spelling/grammar in this chapter but also 2) any inaccuracies with London geography XD I know a bit of geography of London as my parents used to live there but I'm a northern girl so have no idea, so sorry to anyone who knows London well and spots issues with it! :D
Anyway, I hope you like this chapter and it's good to be posting once again! XD
Disclaimer: After hearing about Oz: The Great and Powerful and the competition to their rightful place in monkey society, the flying monkeys rallied to defend their rightful positions of power and broke us out of prison! Unfortunately, they deem it necessary to fly me to Hollywood to personally fight against previously mentioned movie monkeys… Someone please tell them that they'll always be our favourite flying fleabags, I mean, monkeys so they'll put me down!?
John jumped from his chair as the door to the flat swung open.
"Sherlock!" John started, surprised to see his friend home.
The moment Mycroft had been taken to the hospital, Sherlock had caught a cab.
"Stay here, I won't be long," Sherlock had said and then he'd gone, the cab drifting off into the night in the opposite direction to the hospital, swallowed by the half-darkness. That had been two days ago and, aside from the occasional text message from his flatmate; he had heard nothing about his friend's whereabouts. And now Sherlock was sweeping back into 221B, coat billowing, arriving as if he had never left. The flurry of movement around the flat was instantaneous and John saw the detective dig around in the living room, oblivious to John.
"Sherlock," John repeated more forcefully. Sherlock shot him an irritated look in response. John sighed.
"Sherlock, where the hell have you been?" John snapped. His skin bubbled in anger as his flatmate ignored him and he had to grit his teeth. Sherlock had just seen his brother shot, the least that John could do was try to keep his patience with him, as hard as that was after spending two days in the flat, alone, with a bloodstain thickening on the rugand only the odd text from Sherlock to keep him from thinking that the very same stain was thickening beneath his friend somewhere in a dark part of London. John didn't even want to mention the other reason for his worry, that little niggling thought that never really left since Moriarty. Every time Sherlock left, there was always the "what if?" The thought that he may not return, as if Moriarty was alive and waiting for him out there somewhere. John shuddered to think that Moran, a part of Moriarty's web, was out there, still waiting.
"Sherlock!" John shouted and Sherlock stopped at that, momentarily tilting his head at John. There was a brief second before Sherlock said anything.
"You're angry with me," Sherlock said and he sounded genuinely puzzled, "I don't understand-"
"You didn't even tell me where you were bloody going Sherlock, I thought- You could have been hurt! Moran could have found you, or your father, for God's sake Sherlock; you have to be more-"
"Careful?" Sherlock finished with a bite. John swallowed his words and looked incredulously at the detective. He lifted an exaggerated, helpless shrug at him. Sherlock's smile was so dry that John thought for a moment that it would shatter the dishevelled, gaunt reflection of his friend.
"We don't have time to be careful John," Sherlock said. John frowned.
"We? Wait a minute, it was you that-"
He was lucky to catch the phone that came sailing his way and John let out a curse. Sherlock ignored him in favour of continuing to search around the room, pickpocketing the sofa and raiding the slippers by the fireplace. For a minute John watched him, weighing up the odds that Sherlock might be trying to find his stash of drugs or cigarettes and if he should intervene. Sherlock hadn't mentioned Mycroft since he had returned home but John didn't need to be a detective to see that the framework of Sherlock's entire world had been rattled. Things had fallen down that Sherlock had believed in and John didn't want to believe that it had shaken him enough to turn to his last resort but he had to entertain the idea, even if it was only to make sure Sherlock didn't hurt himself more. Sherlock's attention switched to the bookshelf and he started tearing through pages in a few of the leather bound notebooks that he had stuffed at the top when they'd first begun re-arranging the flat after his return and John's attention fell to the phone that Sherlock had thrown him.
There was only one message on his phone, despite John having sent him more than a dozen angry texts over the past few days and John felt a sting of frustration when he realised that Sherlock had apparently deleted them. John spotted the name of the sender and felt his throat close a little. He flicked his eyes up to glance at Sherlock who was still gusting through the books with ridiculous speed before looking back down at the phone, rubbing his forehead, feeling a headache coming on as he read the chain of messages.
"Sherlock, you can't really be thinking of going after your dad after all of this?" John said. Sherlock made an indifferent noise and seemed to find what he was looking for in his books, ripping out a page and cramming it into an inside pocket of his jacket. He turned, expression closed to face John.
"Why not? He's a criminal, it's what we do."
"Yeah, but he's also your dad. Who just a day before he- well, before he hurt Mycroft, you believed in whole heartedly," John corrected.
"A mistake on my part," Sherlock said tightly. John sighed.
"Sherlock, what I mean is, you can't be serious about just dashing out and confronting him. Let Lestrade do it, tell him where-"
"No." Sherlock snapped. The look in his eyes told John that the conversation was over and John bit back a frustrated sound at his friend's stubbornness. He sat down on the arm of the armchair with a heavy breath and watched Sherlock scan through the pages of the books. There was something more determined in Sherlock's movements than John had ever seen and it was easy for him to see how rattled Sherlock was. No matter how much he insisted on this being about justice, John had fought in a war long enough to recognise the look in his friend's eyes. This was nothing to do with justice, despite how aloof Sherlock tried to act.
"So," John said finally, resigning himself to the fact that Sherlock wasn't going to be talked out of it, at least, for now, "What's your plan?"
Sherlock ignored him for a few long seconds, engrossed in whatever it was that he was reading. John was sorely tempted to go and read over his shoulder but there was something forbidden embedded in the leather bound volumes that Sherlock had brought home on the day of his return; something that turned John's stomach, as if all the memories of Sherlock's death was encased in each book and he had never had the courage to read them. He didn't think of himself as a coward, but to have those memories lingering over the room, rotting on the top shelf of their bookcase had been a continual source of unease for him. And now that Sherlock had lifted one from the shelf and opened it, it was as if a shadow had crawled out of its pages, dragged itself across the floor and perched itself above the door to stare into John with an intensity that made his hands shake. He couldn't help but think that Sherlock looked too intrigued, too resolute as he poured over whatever diaries of his death that he had brought back and John felt fear spring in him at the idea of the detective being pulled back into that life.
John jumped when Sherlock snapped the book closed.
"We're going," Sherlock said suddenly, "Call Lestrade, I'll be back in a moment."
"I thought you weren't going to call-"
"Forget what I said," Sherlock called back from the hall and John heard his footsteps hurrying up the stairs to John's room. John rolled his eyes. What the hell was Sherlock up to now? And where exactly were they going to if they were calling Lestrade?
Regardless, John looked through the contacts in the mobile, taking only a moment's pause to press dial on the only other number besides his own and Mycroft's. It answered on the third ring and John couldn't help but smile a little at that. Despite how much Sherlock annoyed him, Lestrade had been worried ever since the break-in and shooting at the flat and John took a second to imagine the Detective Inspector scrambling for his mobile when the caller ID flashed up.
"Sherlock? Where the bloody hell have you been? John's been worried-"
"It's me Greg," John interrupted.
"Oh, John. Thought you were Sherlock for a minute, why have you got his phone?" The disappointment in his voice was barely recognisable but there all the same.
"Yeah, he's home, he's just got back but he's upstairs. He told me to call you-"
John didn't get the chance to finish his sentence before Sherlock was back and the phone was swiped from his hand.
"Ready? Come on John," Sherlock urged before he put the phone on his shoulder, tilting his head to keep it fixed to his ear while he tugged his scarf on. Startled, John jumped to attention, shrugging on his own coat.
"Could bloody well just ask for the phone," John muttered. Sherlock sent a smug smile in his direction that made John scowl. "Even at a time like this," he mused irritably, "Still manages to be an arrogant twat"
Sherlock either didn't hear or didn't care because he was talking now, hurriedly and John was surprised that Lestrade could even take it all in. A moment later however he proved that apparently he couldn't because Sherlock tutted as he had to repeat himself as he swept past John, down the stairs. John hurried to catch up with Sherlock, cursing.
"No, no, I said I need you to get to South Bank. Yes. I'm sending you the address. Bring a team. Oh, I don't know, officers that don't annoy me. Make sure they have at least half a brain cell Lestrade- No, that doesn't mean Sergeant Donovon," Sherlock rushed out as he yanked the door open to step onto the street. John pulled his coat around him, wishing he had more than just an old jumper on as the air had turned brisk in the afternoon. Sherlock flagged down a cab, apparently unaffected by the chill breeze."Anderson? Lestrade, are you listening? I said your best men, not your finest imbeciles, although I realise that may be the same thing with your lot" Lestrade seemed to take offense to that as John heard the voice on the other end of the phone raise. John caught the phrase "What the bloody hell is-" before Sherlock ushered John into the taxi, jumping in after him. He covered the phone for a moment.
"Coventry Street," he waved at the taxi driver. John gave the driver a sympathetic look. The man shrugged and the car smoothed off the pavement into the London traffic.
"I believe that an accomplice of Moriarty is taking refuge at South Bank. He is probably armed so I would take caution detective," Sherlock said, "Yes. Sebastian Moran, ex-military sniper. Yes, well, do use a certain amount of precaution inspector, that might be helpful. Yes. Me? Oh, well, you'll understand if I don't join you, John and I are…" Sherlock sent John a sideways look and something in the ex-soldier's stomach twisted as he recognised the expression. It was almost as if Sherlock was having second thoughts about taking John with him and John recognised that it was the same torn emotion that had plagued Sherlock upon his return, the simultaneous loneliness tossed into turmoil with the need to protect his friend. John gave him a resolute nod. You're stuck with me, Sherlock.
"We're compiling evidence. For when you catch him, we have the upmost faith you'll do a splendid job of it inspector," Sherlock finished. He gave a few half-hearted ascertains to what sounded like incredulous questioning from Lestrade before he hung up, his attention turned inwards to his own thoughts. John let him ponder a moment, glancing out of the window to see London pass by. Mycroft had been right all along. He did see things differently when he walked with Sherlock Holmes.
"You really think that Lestrade can arrest Moran?" John said. He was unnerved to notice that Sherlock's initial reaction was a doubtful expression and John could only pray that Sherlock knew what he was doing. If he didn't, it was more than just Lestrade's job on the line; it was possibly his life too.
"Perhaps," Sherlock said at last, "They have the element of surprise at least, Moran won't be expecting Father to betray him, it's one of the few negative side effects of hubris John." There was something poignant about the way that Sherlock said that and John decided not to comment.
"So," John said, "If Lestrade is headed after Moran, that means that you're serious about catching your dad?"
"Of course. It's very difficult to find a person like Robert Holmes if they don't wish to be found John, but luckily, I was hot on his trail from the moment he left our flat. I've had my network on him ever since," Sherlock explained.
"But, what do you intend to do, even if we catch up with him? Arrest him? He's not going to be an easy-"
"One step at a time John, one step at a time," Sherlock said before lapsing into silence. John watched the streets pass outside.
"I've bloody missed this," he said. He sent Sherlock a grin.
"Quite," Sherlock responded and John caught the glint spark off Sherlock's eye as he grinned back.
The taxi pulled jerkily alongside the hotel that Sherlock had directed them to and John looked at it with distain.
"Apparently crime does pay," he commented, taking in the marble entrance and the statue-esque guard in the navy uniform on the door. Sherlock smiled wryly, leaning forward to pay the taxi driver.
"And… you're footing the taxi fare," John said, surprised, "Should I be worried?" Sherlock scowled at him as they both got out, grimacing at the cold.
"Well, I've not taken to a life of crime, if that's what you mean," Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him, "I figured that I should pay, since this is my first "collar" back on the job, shall we say?" John looked at him with scepticism but eventually let out a snort of laughter.
"Please never say the word "collar" ever again Sherlock," John laughed. Sherlock gave him a confused look, which only made John laugh more.
"What, why? Why?" Sherlock pestered as he followed John. John quickly stopped laughing as he caught the grey, stern eyes of the hotel doorman and he hurriedly fell into step beside Sherlock, trying to look like he actually did have a room here that probably cost as much as his rent did for a month.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen," the doorman grunted warily as they passed, opening the door with a practiced, threatening glare.
Inside, the hotel was just as lavish as the marble front and John had the sudden and almost irresistible urge to reach down and touch the plush carpets, just to see how far his fingers would sink into the spotlessly clean burgundy. Sherlock apparently had no such idea as he was immediately headed towards the desk, the little row of autonomous ladies behind the computers regarding first Sherlock, then John with a certain amount of scorn.
"May I help you… gentlemen?" The one on the furthest right asked and John couldn't help but catch the doubtful tone on "gentlemen".
"I'm looking for a Superintendent Robert Sherrinford, he's staying here. I promised I'd meet him in the foyer today but, obviously he's forgotten. It's a rather urgent and sensitive matter that I have to discuss with him, not something I can talk about on the phone to him. Is there any chance of you being able to give me his room number? My colleague and I are in a bit of a rush, it'd be most useful for us to just head on up there," Sherlock said smoothly. John raised an eyebrow at the lie but quickly gave the woman the most innocent smile he could manage.
The blonde haired woman narrowed her eyes at them and John could practically hear the cogs whirring in her brain as she determined their trustworthiness.
"I can call Mr Sherrinford for you, if you would like, Mr…"
"Watson," Sherlock said and John almost opened his mouth to ask him why the hell he was on last name basis now, before realising that Sherlock had given the woman his name instead of Sherlock's own. He frowned. "And, well, that would be a marvellous idea however, I'm afraid I must insist that you do not. You see, it is extremely sensitive business and, as I mentioned, not to be discussed over the phone. I was hoping to keep it private, you see…"Sherlock dropped his voice, so low that John could barely hear it and John saw him take something from his pocket and slide it discreetly onto the desk. The woman blanched.
"Oh, I see, well… thank you very much for your discretion Mr Watson, it's greatly appreciated here at the Thistle Piccadilly. I'll just look for Mr Sherrinford's room number for you, if you'll wait just a moment."
It was indeed barely a moment later when Sherlock whipped round without so much as a thank you. "Come along John," he said. John opened his mouth, closed it, sent a smile at the blonde haired lady and hurried after the detective.
"What did you show her?" John asked, "And why did you give her my name?" Sherlock spun, thrusting his arm out to present something to John and John had to take a moment to recognise it as a police badge.
"People will believe mostly anything you tell them if they think it might jeopardise them or their job. And I decided that your name was better than mine, with mine being so… heavily focused on in the media just three months ago. Highly unlikely that she'd recognise it but it's always safer to use another name when your own has been dragged through the mud."
"Yeah, but, that's all behind you now… right?"
Sherlock didn't answer and the look in his eye made John hesitate in following him as the detective swept into the lift. His feet stuttering slightly, he sidled in alongside him and the noise of the foyer drifted into nothingness as the doors closed.
They arrived smoothly without a stop onto the correct floor and Sherlock was practically proprietorial in his movements around the corridor and if John hadn't been following him so tentatively, he could imagine people mistaking him for some kind of hotel manager or businessman in the way that he coolly observed each and every doorway.
"John," Sherlock whispered and John hurried to his side, stopping outside the room that Sherlock was indicating. He licked his lips, anxious. There was something more to this door, like it had been waiting for their arrival all along and now they were here, the embossed gold numbers glistened on it in welcome and the handle gaped a broken, jarring smile, like Sherlock's past was seeping through sharpened brass teeth.
"Don't John," Sherlock said and there was something more to the plea that made silenced him. There was a vengeful solitude to it, the weeping groan that a mountain makes in a bleak winter; both almighty and whimpering all at once.
John nodded. Waited. Finally, Sherlock nodded back and settled a hand on the door, pulling a lock pick from his pocket. It took a few tries but eventually John heard the slip of the lock and it would only take one small movement for the smiling brass handle to turn and open it.
"You ready?" John said. He didn't say any more; didn't need to. You're not alone Sherlock.
"Yes" I know.
The lock clicked and the door swung open.
A/N Again, so sorry for inaccuracies! (I made some bits up about the Thistle Piccadilly hotel I know already :D) and any continuity errors :S I hope you liked it guys but thanks sooooo much for reading and sticking with me no matter what :) I will be posting again sometime this week so stay tuned and thanks again! Until next time my lovelies!