Once more I'm uncertain how long this story will turn out to be. Knowing Audrey and I, it will turn out fairly lengthy. Hope y'all like this as much as the other two stories. Thanks so much to everyone who has continued to follow the story!
Usually, Sherlock found the news to be boring and ignored it. However, the news captured his attention immediately. No, no, no, no! He glanced to his brother with narrowed eyes. It was difficult not to yell, and continued to glare daggers at Mycroft. "I have to go. You and Mum can take care of Amy..." Could he just leave like that? He wanted to. He needed to find John. A panic like this hadn't hit Sherlock since seeing the army doctor get shot.
Mycroft instantly put a hand on Sherlock's free shoulder. "No, you can't leave. Sherlock, we have no idea where they are. He landed and went in to meet his new company and they all went missing." He looked at Amy who was blissfully unaware, focusing her attention on a button on Sherlock's shirt. "You've got to stay. It is far too dangerous to have you gallivanting around while we can't find him."
Sherlock wanted to argue and fight, but he ended up nodding numbly. What if John never came home? What was he supposed to tell little Sandi? That while her father was lost and missing he did nothing? Would she ever forgive him? Would he forgive himself? Sad eyes glanced down at Amy. It was his fault. He should have known something was wrong when John didn't check in after landing. He should have said something to Mycroft, but he had been too busy pouting. He stood up, walked to his room as he muttered something about wanting to be alone and closed the door. He sat on the bed, still staring down at the infant in his arms. "What am I supposed to do now?"
Mycroft watched Sherlock for a long moment, frowning before quickly dialing a number in his phone. This wasn't supposed to be happening. He had been trying to keep it from his younger brother in the hopes that John would turn up from an unplanned patrol. It had never happened.
Amy glanced up at Sherlock when he spoke, her eyes narrowing slightly just like John's. She wiggled slightly in Sherlock's arms and turned to rest her head comfortably against his chest.
"Easy there little one. Your Dad has a big gun." Now he was rhyming without meaning to. Sherlock managed a faint smirk and burped the baby. He wasn't a sit around and wait kind of guy. He got up from the bed and went back out to the living room. He sat on the floor, holding little Sandi close and opened John's laptop. He signed in, used one of his brother's clearance codes he wasn't supposed to know about and hacked his way into satellite images.
It didn't take long for Amy to fall asleep in Sherlock's arms, snuggled against his chest with her back to the laptop.
"You won't find anything," Mycroft commented in a bored tone as he turned the phone away from his mouth. "We have already looked at those. They covered their tracks rather well. We are working with people who have done this before. Given that information we can expect a video soon."
"Do you forget who I am? What I do for a living? Your people probably missed something." Sherlock spoke to his older brother but kept his eyes on the screen. Even if he didn't find anything, he was at least doing something. It was better than sitting in his room sulking and doing nothing.
"I was the one who looked at them," Mycroft responded with a small roll of his eyes. The moment he had heard he had spent his night on John's laptop looking at everything he could. "We already have a video," he commented softly. He had hid it from Sherlock for very obvious reasons. "Do you want to see it?"
"That's a stupid question," Sherlock replied as he finally looked up from the screen with narrowed eyes. His brother had been right, nothing was on it. Professionals for sure. Of course, they would need to be to get the drop on an entire company. One that was led by John. "Moriarty's group? The one you thought was almost cleaned up?" He didn't bother to hide the bitter tone.
"It would seem so." Mycroft took the laptop and logged into a private email account. "A group working with his web that went undetected." He opened the email and glanced at his brother. "Don't hurt Amy," he whispered as he clicked play.
The screen was blank for several seconds before John's form was shoved forward from the left side, falling to the floor with a thud. A masked man entered the screen and pulled him up by his bound wrists, his other hand holding an assumed rifle under John's chin to hold his head up. Blood was pouring down the right side of his face from a deep gash above his eyebrow and his bottom lip was split and coloring his chin red.
"Name," the masked man said. John was silent. "Name!" A fist appeared from off screen and John doubled over from the blow to his stomach.
"C-Captain John Watson." He took a deep breath and resumed his military posture.
"What's his name?" The man holding John's wrists motioned his head somewhere behind the camera.
"Alexander Edwards," John replied obediently. A gunshot was heard and John tensed, his eyes locked on the camera as he swallowed hard. Then the video ended.
"Anything you can get from that?" Mycroft glanced at Sherlock with a small frown.
Murderous rage ran through Sherlock, his eyes narrowed into tiny slits so small it was amazing he could still see out of them. He managed not to crush the infant in his arms. "Take her." He offered little Sandi to Mycroft. He hit play again, stopping it every now and then and sometimes rewinding it. "I will get you back. You will not be ashes on the mantle." He was obviously talking to himself. Hamish came around and took his place on Sherlock's shoulder, staring unblinking at the lap top screen.
Mycroft held Amy close to him, watching Sherlock intently. He'd had trouble watching it the first time. The look on John's face after the gunshot had twisted his gut. Military calm. Trained. But his eyes were expressive. Mycroft turned his attention to Amy as she curled against him and studied him with wide eyes. "I'm expecting a second one sometime soon. Same video, I would assume. John might be a bit worse off and I am expecting another killing." He looked at the computer screen.
"Probably," Sherlock replied distractedly. He was doing his best to be detached from everything. Emotions clouded judgment. He couldn't afford to be compromised at the moment. He had to stay focused. At first, the consulting detective had concentrated only on John to see if he could spot some kind of message from the army doctor. The man was brilliant under pressure. However, no such message seemed to exist here or at least none he could decipher. With a frustrated sigh, he started the video from the beginning again. Tired of watching his fiancé being tormented Sherlock turned his attention to Mycroft as he hit pause. "Do you think Dad will help?" He nearly choked on the words but now wasn't the time for stubborn pride. "He is better at these kinds of things…" The words were like vinegar in his mouth, but it was the truth.
Mycroft held Amy close to his chest, hiding her gaze from the laptop as Sherlock spoke. "I think he might, yes." He freed a hand to grab his cell phone and he tossed it to Sherlock. "Ca-" The laptop made a small noise and new message showed up. Sooner than he thought, at least. "Sherlock." He didn't want to be the one to hit play. It had to be Sherlock. Christ, he wasn't even engaged to John and he had trouble watching the first video. A man had died because John had simply said his name. He expected it to be the same thing the second time.
Sherlock was about to object to having to be the one to call their father, when the new message came through. If some kind of demands weren't made this time, then the only point of the videos were to torment himself and his fiancé. John would most likely be the last to be killed in that case. However, with every video came new information. He hit play.
Mycroft cradled Amy closer to his chest and watched with narrowed eyes.
John was on the screen, shirt gone but face trained in emotionless defiance. The blood on the side of his face was dried.
"Name." A masked man held up a small electrical device and nodded off screen. There was a long silence and John kept his eyes trained expertly forward. It wasn't until the man turned it on and shoved the device against his side that he shouted, falling forward onto his knees. The masked man pulled him back to his feet by his dog tags, slamming John against the back wall with a growl. "Name."
"Justin Harrell," he muttered. Another gunshot but this time the video kept rolling. John stumbled forward, his hands still tied firmly behind his back, and he dropped his gaze.
"That was all you, Captain Watson. That boy just died because of you. How do you feel?" The masked man smirked and when John didn't answer he was shocked again, right as the video turned off.
Mycroft was going to be sick to his stomach. He stood slowly, holding a now sleeping Amy against him, and started to pace the living room.
Sherlock clenched his fists together, eyes narrowing once more. "How many men are in John's company?" Without waiting for an answer he continued speaking, "Expect that many more videos. The only point is torture here." He stared down at the phone in his hands, got up and moved to his bedroom as he scrolled the contacts list. He sat down on his bed, hit 'call' and it only rang a couple times before the other end picked up.
"What is it?" Came the gruff and familiar voice of Colonel Holmes.
"Dad, before you hang up…please…you know why I'm calling." Sherlock hated how desperate he sounded, but he was.
"I've heard yes. I assume you want my help?"
Be civil. He could do that right? For God's sake, he had to be. John's life was on the line here. "It would be appreciated."
"What? No threats to try and coerce me this time?"
"No. Look, if you don't want to help just say so. I don't have time to waste begging or making threats."
"Fine. We do it my way though. You are to stay at home and take care of that bastard child. Tell your brother I'll be in touch." The line went dead after that.
If his father hadn't just agreed to help John, he would have tracked that man and strangled him for those last words. He stalked back out to the living room. "Father says he will contact you later." He took a breath and began to watch the second video multiple times. Hoping to discern something.
Mycroft had settled in John's chair, rocking Amy and making small clicking sounds with his mouth to keep her asleep. When Sherlock entered the room he nodded. "Alright," he whispered, wincing at the sounds of the video as his brother watched it for a second time. There were ten men total that had gone missing. Two killed already. That meant seven until John. "His eyes, maybe?" Mycroft looked at his brother. "Watch his blinking. In times of crisis a lot of soldiers are trained to blink Morse code."
"I know that!" Sherlock snapped. "He did that at the pool when Moriarty strapped that bomb to him. I'm not an idiot! He didn't in the first video but maybe in this one he will…" He rewound the video several times, watching and straining for something in the video. "Oh come on John…" He trailed off. Maybe he was too close to this one and he was slipping. The thought made him uncomfortable.
"He was a bit busy getting shocked, might have forgotten this time," Mycroft replied softly, placing a hand over Amy's ear to block the sound. "Those two were three hours apart. We have got another three hours, it would seem. Did Father give you any information about what he was doing?"
Footsteps up the stairs. Loud. Heavy. They paused outside the door before Lestrade slowly entered, glancing at Sherlock with sorrow before his gaze turned to Mycroft. "I've got everything I could find at the Yard." He dropped several heavy Manila folders in front of Sherlock. "We think you might be looking for this man." He opened one and revealed a pale looking man, blue eyes full of anger. "Andrei Shevchenko. He has taken the lead of Moriarty's web since he and that Sebastian bloke were killed."
Disgusted, Sherlock stopped watching the video. "No. That would be first." He was about to go on some tirade about their father when he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. His eyes narrowed; he wasn't expecting anyone. His tense body relaxed slightly when he saw it was Lestrade. He took the photo and information and read everything over carefully, committing it all to memory.
Lestrade relaxed in Sherlock's seat, Amy soon passed off into his arms. He held the infant like a precious artifact, looking at her with wide eyes and a bit of a smile. "Beautiful," he whispered, looking at Mycroft before glancing at Sherlock. Right. Information. "He is Russian, obviously. Bit of a sheet before this gig. Robbery and the like. Got tried for attempted murder a few years back but Moriarty managed to get him off." He handed Amy back to Mycroft without a second thought. "We are thinking he has got at least four men with him. He is the one we see most of the time with John. Obviously covering his face." He rubbed the back of the neck. "And you got the second video?"
"I'm not sure who enjoys asking dumb questions more, you or my brother. No wonder you two are perfect for each other." Sherlock mumbled the last part. He began opening the folders that had been set on the floor. It was a lot of information to go through. Time really wasn't on their side, not if they only had three more hours between each video. Even though he hated it, bringing in his dad had been a good call. That man could get results quickly. Hopefully The Colonel would contact Mycroft soon.
"So yes, then?" Lestrade smirked a bit at the man sitting across from him before looking back at Sherlock. He stood slowly and bent at the waist to gently meet Mycroft's lips, careful to avoid the infant as the other man effortlessly deepened it. The Detective Inspector pulled away with a small smirk, one hand moving to rub Mycroft's knee before he turned back to the consulting detective. "I can help, if you would like. There is a lot of paper work."
"You don't know what to look for. You would just slow me down." Sherlock said, never taking his eyes off the papers in front of him. "If you really want to help, then be a good uncle and hold little Sandi so my brother can go through this stuff with me." Knowing his father, he probably had all this information too. It was better to have more than one team working on this, even if the team he was on was stuck in London.
Lestrade narrowed his eyes as Mycroft stood, laughing as he passed Amy into his arms. "The prospect of marriage hasn't changed you much," he muttered as he relaxed in John's chair and studied Amy curiously.
"Alright then." Mycroft sat beside his brother and picked up a folder. "Keep an eye out. Think of it as a normal case, Sherlock. We have got a missing soldier in Afghanistan. Company of ten gone. Two already killed. Notorious web of criminals. Most likely starting spot?" He figured that stating it to his younger brother like any other case might help Sherlock focus better.
Sherlock smirked faintly at Lestrade's comment. He was about to have a snarky comeback when his older brother spoke. Right. He could do this. He closed his eyes, tuning everything out around him. It had been awhile since he had taken the time to visit his mind palace. It was just like riding a bike. In no time he began accessing everything he had ever read or learned about, as he sorted through it in order of importance. His eyes opened and he peered at his brother intently. "Mycroft, when rounding up Moriarty's empire did you come across The Golem by chance?"
Mycroft narrowed his eyes slightly. "We haven't come across him, per say, but..." He flipped frantically through several pages before pulling one from the bundle. "He is part of the web, yes. Why?" What did this man have to do with the entire operation? Shevchenko seemed like he was doing quite the job on his own without the help of some internationally known assassin.
"Even professional assassins like to get payback," Sherlock muttered, more to himself than at his brother. "Strangling is his MO. Before the news about John's company came on, there was another story being covered. The airstrip at Bastion had two dead pilots, strangled and a missing cargo plane. I'm sure I don't need to draw the rest in crayon for you. Anyway, it went missing in the early morning hours, which was before John left. This tells us someone in Bastion is a traitor. How the hell else would this be pulled off?"
Mycroft glanced at his brother with wide eyes and pulled his cell phone from his pocket. "Then who is it? We can't just accuse somebody on that base of being a traitor. We have got some evidence. Between two strangled pilots and a missing plane we certainly have a case. We just don't have a who. Obviously working for... The Golem? Who is working for Shevchenko under Moriarty's web?" So many questions and here he was, sitting on the floor next to his brother, waiting patiently. This was almost too much for him to follow.
"I'm not sure yet, still figuring that out. A high ranking officer, most likely. Who knew John would be coming back? The CO who gave the orders seems too obvious but it is better to double check anyway. Have your people run thorough background checks of all the officers stationed there above lieutenant. Someone you trust, in case there is a leak in more than one place." One thing Sherlock knew, his father would not be happy. If there was one thing the Colonel hated more than a derelict solider was a traitor. Maybe that would make the Old Man work a little harder.
"Right. Of course." Mycroft pulled the laptop forward and sent out an e-mail, typing furiously. "Done. It is going to take a while... I'm afraid we will lose at least two more before the results are completely done." His voice was low as he spoke. Not good. They couldn't do anything. John hadn't given any signals, either because he was too nervous or too shaken, something... "Except... what if it was accidentally John?" His gaze turned slowly to Sherlock and he narrowed his eyes. "That cell phone. It is easy to get GPS. He isn't exactly under the radar anymore with the blog and everything. It is been public knowledge that he is there. Just get the access to the GPS and John gives away his location instantly."
"Maybe. Still doesn't explain the dead pilots and the missing plane." Sherlock didn't like having to wait. He didn't want to have to watch two more videos of John being tortured. "Anything from Dad yet?" The answer was obvious, the phone hadn't gone off yet. He was getting anxious. He wanted answers now. Waiting never sat well with him.
Mycroft shook his head slowly, glancing at his phone just to make sure. "No. Not yet. I wish we had some idea what he was doing. It would make things a bit easier." He pushed a Manila folder away and glancing at Lestrade. Right now they were stuck. Waiting. While John was out in the middle of nowhere being tortured. Why was it always them? "Calm down. Deep breaths. Just another case, remember?"
"Since when did the Old Man ever do anything the easy way?" Sherlock offered a faint smirk. "You think he has gotten as far as we have or further? How many buildings do you think he has blown up already?" Bullshitting with his older brother was the only thing he could think of to help keep himself distracted.
"Four," Mycroft shot back instantly. "At least. Maybe five if we aren't counting the ones that are completely demolished." He chuckled for a moment and moved to gently elbow Sherlock. "Do you remember that time we got into a row in the backyard and I pushed you in the fountain? That was when he decided we weren't allowed to have that fountain anymore." He paused and shook his head. "Even though Mum practically begged him not to do it he took a sledgehammer to that thing. You cried because your goldfish were still in there." His head dropped back a fraction to glance at his brother. "So Mum bought you new ones the next day."
"Most certainly five," Sherlock remarked as the smirk managed to get bigger. "I didn't cry over goldfish," he grumbled with a pout. "Fish were the only pets he would allow. Remember when we found that stray dog, and we tried to hide it in the gardener's shed? It barked one day while Dad was home and he freaked out and chased that dog around inside the shed, knocking everything over and broke a window. It took the gardener three days to clean up after father."
"But the dog ran into the house!" Mycroft laughed and gently slapped his knee, glancing up at Lestrade. "We had to clean the floors for a week. Even Mum was upset that time." Despite how much they talked about an unnatural childhood it was obvious the two had moments they could turn to. "You named one of your goldfish 'Pirate' and convinced me the little bugger would be your partner in crime."
"Well, you named the dog Peaches." Sherlock rolled his eyes. Mycroft's cell phone going off caught his attention immediately. He was half tempted to snatch it up, but he settled for drumming his fingers restlessly on the floor. The icon on the display indicated that a new text message had been received.
I've temporarily taken over Bastian. The missing company is the least of my worries right now but I have men on it anyway.
Mycroft turned his head to reply but when his phone went off he picked it up. Least of his worries? He glanced at Sherlock and quickly hit the 'call' button, not even waiting for his Father to reply before he started talking. "You've taken over Bastion but that missing company is the least of your worries? It's international news. You can't just walk in there and ignore them. How is ten missing men, two of them now dead, the least of your worries? Enlighten me."
Sherlock frowned. His father had taken over Bastion? Way to be subtle dad, he thought bitterly to himself. Although being subtle never really was the Old Man's style.
"It shouldn't be news to begin with, now should it?" Siger replied testily and ignoring the gun that recently had been pointed in his face. "I can't talk right now. I'm sure you and your brother can figure it out by playing Hardy Boys." The call ended. Colonel Holmes was certain his eldest son would pick up on the obvious trouble. Anytime the boys tried to sneak in the study to listen in on conversations not meant for their ears, he would tell them they got in more trouble than the Hardy Boys. It was his warning to stay away. Things were too dangerous.