NOTE: Takes place after TGG, when Lestrade and the others are still trying to figure John out-who is this guy, and how does he stand Sherlock Holmes, anyway? #
"Well, you've got a decision to make." Mitchells gave one last look at the police barring his way, wind off the river ruffling his hair as they faced off in the parking lot. "You can arrest us, sure, but it's not going to save that detective of yours."
Greg felt his fingers tingle as all the blood changed course to rush back to his heart, leaving the rest of him chilled. "What?"
"Didn't you know?" Greg desperately wanted to punch that smirk off the man's face. "He and that doctor friend of his showed up half an hour ago, just as Tom and I were checking in. Rather rude, we thought. They're a little indisposed at the moment, and only we know where they are. If you arrest us now, we'll never tell you where they are. If you let us go, though, we promise to send you the address." He glanced at his watch. "They've got at least 90 minutes of air left, so there's plenty of time."
"What have you done?" Greg couldn't keep the strain from his voice. Sherlock might not be one of his favorite people, but he certainly deserved better than to die at the hands of such an incompetent criminal.
One could make an argument that capturing Sherlock Holmes demonstrated competence, of course, but everything else about this case screamed otherwise. The man had killed his own brother in front of witnesses, and then laughed. Not in that maniacal, crazy way that you might expect, but as if they were sharing a great joke as the brother bled out all over the café floor. He had even finished his coffee before getting up and strolling out the door, and now was acting like his brother Tom was right there with him.
It had taken them less than two hours to find him here in this rather seedy hotel on the water, but obviously Sherlock had been faster. (Of course Sherlock had been faster.) But how had the lunatic captured him?
John, too, he reminded himself. He hadn't known the doctor for long but liked what he'd seen. He had helped keep Sherlock on an even keel during that five pip case with the serial bomber, and he generally seemed like a nice enough fellow, though maybe not one who could cope with a murderer. Greg knew about his army service, though. He knew that while John might not look tough, he'd lived through years in a war zone and could take care of himself.
In ordinary circumstances, at least. Not that life with Sherlock was ever ordinary, he was sure.
Still staring at Mitchells, his mind raced. If Sherlock and John had found him 30 minutes ago and were now running out of air … where could they be? It's not like this idiot had a whole lot of time to restrain them or lock them up. They had to be close.
He glanced at Sally, whose mind was obviously racing as fast as his, but he kept his voice level as he said, "We only have your word that Sherlock was even here. Why should we believe you?"
The man giggled. "Oh, did we forget that? You could try calling him, if you like." He reached into his pocket, raising the other hand in warning as he slowly pulled out Sherlock's phone. Greg would know it anywhere. "Though his answering service might not be very reliable. We've got other things to do today. So, really? If you could just step aside and let my brother and me leave?"
Greg was just opening his mouth to respond when there was a huge splash from the river. They all turned to look and saw John Watson surface, dragging an unconscious Sherlock Holmes.
There was a moment of complete stillness, and then his unit burst into action. Sally and several other officers took Mitchells into custody as Greg ran to the water's edge. "John? Do you need help?" he called down, but there were already officers on their way, reaching over the edge to pull them up.
Together, they laid Sherlock on the asphalt and John immediately went into doctor mode, doing chest compressions to force the water out of Sherlock's lungs and calling out orders. It was only a minute (an impossibly long, endless minute) before Sherlock coughed and John leaned back on his heels in relief and wiped his arm across his face.
It was only then that Greg realized how bad the smell was. The two of them were covered in sewage—something that the river water certainly wasn't clean enough to wash away.
"Right," he told John. "Strip."
Still panting from his efforts, John looked up blankly. "What?"
"You're covered in filth, and freezing cold to boot. You need to get out of those clothes and into something dry. Now." Greg tried not to make a face. "As soon as possible would be nice."
He gestured to Sally, who was hurrying over with an armful of blankets. "Faugh, what a smell! What did you two do, go down a toilet?"
"Tactful. As always. Sally," Sherlock gasped out between coughs. "Locked. In. Sewage pipe. Under…"
John was fingering Sherlock's head, pausing when he felt a lump. "Just concentrate on breathing, Sherlock. I'll tell them." He inhaled and smiled wryly. "I have to admit they have a point, though. We both stink, and it's freezing. Come on, off with those clothes. You're courting pneumonia already as it is. Not to mention concussion."
Greg sighed. Of course he was going to help, but he couldn't help wishing for one of Anderson's protective suits. The last thing he wanted to do was touch either of these two. The smell would cling to his clothes for days, but still … there was no choice. He grabbed a pair of latex gloves and waved one of the uniforms over to hold a blanket up to block the worst of the wind from the river. Then he helped John ease Sherlock to a sitting position and pulled off his coat, dumping it in a heap as far as he could manage. "Sally, get some towels. John, I've got this. Get your own clothes off.."
It was an order, and he could almost see John's military training forcing him to respond as he automatically pulled off his coat, kicking it to the side, and then reached for his jumper, sagging heavily with dirty water. How had he managed to swim to shore with all that weight and Sherlock, too? He'd had no idea John was such a strong swimmer.
He turned his attention to Sherlock, who was complaining about his clothes and griping about being able to take care of himself, when he obviously wasn't. Greg just told him to save his breath and tried to hold his own. The stench was appalling.
He looked back to see a uniform come over with NSY tracksuits for the two of them and gave him an approving nod. He handed one set to Sherlock and turned to John just as he heard Sally murmur "Oh my"
He followed her stare to where John was standing, just having stripped his shirt off and reaching for his jeans. He had his back turned, but the lack of privacy didn't seem to bother him. Greg supposed that was a carry-over from the army, but that wasn't what had caught Sally's attention.
John was in excellent shape. Sturdy and well-muscled and very obviously fit. You could see by the economy of movement that he was totally aware of his body's limits. He had the kind of efficient grace that said he knew exactly what his body could do, exactly how much he could ask of it.
You just couldn't see it under the layers of wool and cotton he normally wore.
Greg started to glance away, not wanting to stare, when his eyes were caught by the scar on John's shoulder. He had known the man was invalided home from Afghanistan for being shot, but … he hadn't expected anything like this. As a detective, he'd seen numerous gunshot wounds over the years, but it was only now that he appreciated the difference between a handgun and, well, whatever the hell the military was using.
That must have hurt, was his first thought as he stared at the thick scar tissue circling a deep pucker where the bullet had penetrated. This was no clean little scar from a civilized little bullet wound. He finally realized exactly why John had had to stop being a surgeon.
This scar testified to real, searing trauma. Trauma that the everyday John they all knew never even hinted at.
It made him wonder what other secrets John kept. If he could casually shrug off that kind of injury, what other traumas did he have in his past? What other secrets did he keep hidden behind his polite, self-effacing doctor's face?
He glanced at Sherlock and saw him staring at John's shoulder with that intense, deductive gaze of his. Greg could almost hear the man's brain calculating bullet caliber and trajectory, all while the skin around his eyes tightened at the realization of how severe John's injury had been. It was as if he had just realized how close John had come to never returning home at all—a thought that made Greg shudder, too, remembering how much easier Sherlock was to deal with when John was around.
It was several long seconds before he realized that they were surrounded by silence. It seemed that everyone was staring at John, casually toweling off the worst of the sewage, with a sudden, blossoming respect—and it wasn't easy to impress the officers of New Scotland Yard.
"What's everyone staring at?" Greg barked, and in a flash, everyone was back to work.
John turned around, a questioning look on his face, but Greg didn't say anything, just held out the clothes. "Put these on," Greg told him, trying not to look at the (even more gruesome) scar left by the exit wound at the front of his shoulder. "And once you're done, I want to hear what happened down there."
John pulled on the trackpants and then in one easy movement, pulled the shirt on over his head. He reached for a shock blanket for Sherlock, making sure he was as close to warm and dry as possible before he spoke. "Well," he began, "Sherlock took him by surprise at first, in an old sewage tunnel. Except, it wasn't as old or as empty as we thought. Mitchells was hiding and had knocked him over the head before I got there. He was rummaging in his pockets when I got there and ran away while I was checking on Sherlock."
He took a clean towel thankfully and tried drying his hair, wrinkling his nose at the smell. "Which was when he locked us in and somehow turned on a valve I don't think had worked for decades. The only thing to do was try to force our way out the end of the tunnel."
"Those are blocked, though, aren't they?" asked Sally.
"Yeah, and I didn't exactly have the right tools, but…" John shrugged modestly. "I managed to force it open and to grab Sherlock as he washed by. It was kind of touch and go, there. It's a good thing you were all here to pull us out. Hypothermia would have killed us."
"And if the ambulance doesn't get here soon, it'll be pneumonia for both of you," Greg said.
"If we don't pick up some other godawful thing from all the sewage," John said. "Meanwhile, let's get out of this wind, shall we? I don't like Sherlock's color."
Greg could only nod. Right then, he had to admit to being a little in awe of Dr. John Watson, who was obviously more resourceful than he'd realized. He'd known he was a doctor. He'd known that he was polite and observant (by non-Sherlock standards). He'd known he was trustworthy and good for Sherlock. But until now, that had been all he'd seen.
What he hadn't realized was how many varied talents the man had. "What did you do in the army again, John?"
His forehead wrinkled as he raised his eyebrows. "RAMC surgeon, Captain, Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers. Why?"
"Just curious. Most doctors I know wouldn't have been able to get out of a secure sewage tunnel, is all."
John gave him a sunny smile. "That's army training for you. Here's the ambulance." He moved over to meet the medics as they clambered from their vehicle and began barking orders about Sherlock's condition, and not allowing himself to be examined until Sherlock was taken care of.
Yes, John Watson was a strong swimmer, thought Greg. He'd made his way through medical school and risen through the ranks in the army and now dealt with Sherlock Holmes—and he managed all of it with a calm, friendly smile. He'd learned something today about the man who followed Sherlock Holmes around, and all in all, felt better for it.
Note: As always, I own none of these characters or the wonderful BBC world-I just like to play here.