A/N: This is a short one, mostly because my Dad mentioned it (I converted my Dad! He's a Whovian! XD) and the plot bunny would not. Go. Away. So, here it is, the object of my obsession. Here's your timeline- After "The Satan Pit" for Doctor Who, just after "The Hounds of Baskerville" for Sherlock.
Special Thanks to Cyril_Asa_Moriarty, Fruitboxen, Lyssa Terald and most of all, Sherlockedmyheart, beta and co-author!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Doctor Who, Torchwood, or Sherlock.
"Well, that was exciting!"
'Exciting' was not the first word that came to mind as Rose stepped into the TARDIS, trying her best not to gag. A thick, slimy substance dripped from her onto the floor, making random exposed wires spark. She hesitantly reached for one of the globs (precariously close to falling on top of what she thought might be a vital part of the machine) and grimaced as it coated her hand. The Doctor breezed right past her, having escaped with only his legs soaked. He always seemed to have more than his share of luck- or perhaps she just had a lot less. That really wasn't fair- he could have at least warned her about the Gheyzeran 'festival'!
"Oh, please tell me this doesn't stain. Or that the smell... lingers..." she groaned.
The Doctor laughed as he began pulling levers at the console. "Oh, no. A bit of water and you'll be fine," he assured her. "Gheyzeran slime is veryeasy to remove. Foreigners kept complaining."
"Can't imagine why." she muttered dryly, wiping her hair out of her eyes. It was then that Rose realized that the stuff was in her hair. That made up her mind. Come war, end-of-the-universe crisis or turbulence, she was getting this slop off. She passed him to change, pausing only when the Doctor made no effort to move. "You're not gonna stay like that, are you?"
He glanced at his suit. "Oh, right. You know, it istraditional to keep-"
"Oh, no. I'm not traveling with a time lord that reeks of Gheyzeran slime. You're showering too." Somehow, she was certain that if hishair had been slimed, they'd both be racing to wash off. Rose grabbed his sleeve and began to drag him down the hall. He sounded like a child, with all the excuses pouring out of his mouth. Rose just laughed and shook her head. "A bit of water won't kill you, ya know."
She felt him stop. He crossed his arms and looked altogether too smug. "And youdon't know where my room is." He said triumphantly.
Rose put a finger to her lips, pretending to be deep in thought. "Oh, well I suppose that is a problem." She mused slowly.
"Can't argue with that."
"Although," She raised her voice as he turned away. "There is always myroom...The shower's big enough for two, I reckon."
It was incredibly difficult not to giggle when he froze. Rose was beginning to wonder if she had taken the joke too far when the Doctor cleared his throat and walked past her too quickly for her to catch the look on his face. "Funny, a shower sounds much more appealing right now. Alone, I mean." He added quickly. "Definitely... alone. Ah, meet you here in twenty?"
John sighed in defeat and dropped the newspaper on the coffee table. Three hours. Three hoursand Sherlock was still staring at the computer screen, doing nothing. Any attempts to ask him what he was doing so far had been met with his usual dismissal. The air was heavy and silent, the only movement the gleam in Sherlock's eyes when he occasionally looked elsewhere on the screen.
John had contemplated leaving, but he doubted that Sherlock would move even then. The thought of Sherlock being home alone, stuck in the same position was somehow even more disturbing than the current situation. He already talked to him when John left the flat, but sitting staring at nothing for hours? A bit creepy. "Okay, I'll bite. Whyare you staring at nothing?"
Sherlock blinked, then glanced at John, looking completely unfazed. "I'm not staring at nothing- I'm waiting. Honestly, just because I don't have a case doesn't mean I have time to sit around and be useless."
"Yes, well, you didhave a case-"
Sherlock closed the laptop and leaned back. "Not this again."
"It was right up your alley! Missing animal-"
"A terrier, broke off it's leash-"
"Robbery with nothing taken-"
"The cane, John. Weren't you paying attention at all?"
"And a threatening note!"
"Meant for the upstairs neighbor, she had nothing to do with it." Sherlock sighed. "Look, it's simple. Mrs. Daniels left the back door open when she went to collect her milk this morning. The man across the street has a cat he's been hiding in his flat for weeks. The terrier saw the cat and rushed out, dragging the cane with him. He'll wander back home in a few hours and will be unhappily reunited with his overbearing owner. See? Happy ending."
The doctor gave the man on the couch his best glare. "I'm soglad you took the time to think of all that, really. I'm thrilled. Too bad the client will never know."
"Kid's stuff, John! Anyone with the brain power of a lab rat could have put all that together. I don't do boring."
John opened his mouth to protest. Honestly, if he didn't pay his half of the rent-
He didn't answer, just looked at Sherlock expectantly. Wasn't he at least a little concerned about the note? Mrs. Hudson knocked again, louder. Leaning back, the detective gave him a pointed look, then glanced at the door. "Getting that?"
A few more seconds passed. "I know you're in there, boys! I'm not deaf just yet!"
"This isn't over." John said, getting up. He opened the door to a slightly frazzled older lady, holding a covered plate. "Yes, Mrs. Hudson?" he asked lightly.
She smiled. "Oh, I'm sorry to interrupt, dear, but I heard that things have been... slow-"
"Appallingly so." Sherlock muttered.
"-so I brought you this. Made them myself, this morning. Everybody needs a bit of comfort food now and again. You're not allergic to peanuts, are you?"
Biscuits? Since when had Mrs. Hudson brought them biscuits? "No. No, no. That's perfectly fine. Thank you."
Mrs. Hudson smiled, handing him the plate. "Lovely. Here you are, just a dozen. Be sure to return that plate, I know how Sherlock gets with his science projects-"
"Yes, dear. Whatever you say." Mrs. Hudson retreated, giving the army doctor a sympathetic glance.
John retreated quickly, unwrapping the plate to reveal several mouth-watering chocolate biscuits. He was about to put them away when Sherlock spoke up. "You can just toss those in the bin."
"I don't eat store-bought, they taste terrible." He looked up when John didn't reply. "Unless you want them. I wouldn't recommend it."
It took a moment for that to process. John was fairly certain Sherlock hadn't even glanced in his direction since he got up."But- Mrs. Hudson baked these. You should at least try them."
Sherlock gave John one of those are-you-really-that-thick looks. "Verkade biscuits, 2£ at Sainsburys. She's been pulling that one for years."
His jaw dropped. "Wha- No. She wouldn't." But he looked from Sherlock the plate, sighed and tossed them. They did look very uniform, and when was Sherlock ever wrong? "That's it. You need a hobby."
"I have several."
"No, I don't mean fingernails in the freezer or replacing the regular eggs with genetically-modified pheasant eggs-"
"It was for a good cause. Will you stop with that?"
John decided not to mention that Sherlock never did anything for a 'good cause' unless it was interesting. 'Interesting', naturally, meant very different things to both of them. "You need something else. Fishing. Cricket. Sudoku, something that doesn't make me terrified to look in the fridge." He leaned forward, head in his hands. "And no, you're not using this to get back into smoking- Sherlock, are you listening to me?"
An eager grin was on Sherlock's face. He jumped up from the couch, making a beeline for the door. "Oh, I'm listening. That's Lestrade's car."
John went to check, but Sherlock had already thrown on his coat, gone through the door and down the stairs. John reached the window just in time to see the two detectives, one significantly more subdued than the other, talking out on the street. This was just as well, he figured, letting out a sigh. At least it would get Sherlock out of the flat.
Rose glanced at her watch when nearly twenty minutes later, the Doctor finally entered the console room. "Really?" Rose said as she joined him on the platform. "All those jokes about girls taking forever to dress and you can't decide what to wear? And here I thought your style was pretty predictable."
"Oy! S'not easy finding clothes that suit me in a wardrobe the size of Buckingham Palace." He pouted, sweeping past her. After a few steps he paused, bouncing on his feet a little. "Huh."
She glanced around the floor. "What is it?"
"Something's... off." He bounced in place a few times, then wiggled his left foot. The Doctor suddenly leaned over and pulled his pant leg up, exposing a lime green sock peeking above his trainers. "This sock is wrong." he said decisively.
His companion leaned forward, eyebrows raised. "They look fine. Well, other than the color. Who taught you how to match?"
"Hey! I'll have you know it's the very height in fashion in the Darcinian Complex. Used to be a law, you know." he defended, pulling off his shoe. The sock came next, and he brought it close to his face, brows furrowed in concentration. "Match your sicks, get thrown in prison. 'Course, they'll let you out in a fortnight, s'long as you promise never to do it again." After a moment his eyes widened. "That's it! This is a right sock!" he declared. "That isstrange. I usually don't mix them up."
Rose's jaw went slack. The Doctor was strange, to say the least, but left and right socks? "No way. Why in the world would you pay attention to which is a left and right sock? There can't be a difference."
The Doctor scoffed. "Of course there is. You just don't pay attention. One moment."
She waited a lot longer than that. Occasionally a bump or a bang came from the direction of his room, but he didn't re-emerge. With a sigh Rose walked down the hall. Hadn't he gone this way...? The sounds led her not to his room, but to the wardrobe. She suspected the TARDIS may have had something to do with it. She knocked loudly. "Doctor? All right?" Rose almost fell into him, he opened the door so fast. He was flustered, moving past her quickly he was a blur.
When she caught up to him, he racing around the console, poking at buttons and pulling at levers. "Gone. All of them!"
"What's wrong? What's gone?"
"The socks! All the left ones, vanished!" he muttered, running his hands through his hair. "That's so... so... weird!"
"That'sweird? We just got slimed by giant green blobs and that's weird?" Rose frowned. "Wait, what about the ones in my room?"
"No point in looking," he said as she turned to leave. "They're gone as well. I had the TARDIS transport all the socks to my room so I could count them."
There wasn't an easy response to that. The first one that came out was, "You telling me the TARDIS cataloged all the socks in under a minute?"
"Yep." he replied without looking up, as if it were the most normal thing ever.
She stared at him, dumbfounded. "So, you had the TARDIS steal the rest of my socks?"
He ignored her, turning to press buttons and turn knobs as quick as he could. "Doctor?"
"The TARDIS hasn't picked up anything." He said to himself. Was she suddenly invisible, or what? No recordings, no new readings, no SRW's... What could possibly-" He squinted at one of the many screens. "Oh. Oh! That is brilliant! I got you!" Rose walked up to him, trying and failing to make sense of the tiny alien writing sprinting across the screen. Sometimes she swore the TARDIS didn't translate for her just to let the Doctor show off.
"What is it?" She pressed when no answer seemed forthcoming.
"Just the tiniest energy signature, Rose. Tiny, but there! Like a speck of dust in a sandstorm!"
"Can you track it?"
"I don't know. Can a Craxian detonate a kilo of Oriphrine at twenty meters?" Before she could ask what any of that meant, he reached for a lever. "Let's see what we missed, eh?" And without warning, they were off again.
The second the TARDIS stopped, Rose was at the door, eager to see what had the Doctor so worked up. She stopped dead in her tracks just outside. That skyline looked awfully familiar...
"Cardiff?" Rose glanced around, and seeing nothing extraordinary (as usual), she turned questioningly to the Doctor. He was locking the TARDIS door.
"Do you know anywhere else with a Rift?"
She stared at him blankly. "The Rift? How do you mean?"
He turned around, and he got that look on his face, the one that was so full of excitement that she expected him to run around in circles or something. "Oh, you remember! Crack in time and space, perfect for charging up-"
"No," she interrupted. "I know whatthe Rift is. But whyare we here?"
He glanced around, hands in his coat. "I have noidea." he announced, seeming a bit too pleased about it. Rose shot him a look. He ignored her and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. "But finding out is half the fun, isn't it?"
She just rolled her eyes and took a moment to look around. The doctor was switching frequencies on the screwdriver. A gust of wind hit her then, reaching icy fingers into the seams of her clothes. "A bit nippy, isn't it?" She rubbed her arms, but it didn't help. "Let me grab a coat. Try not to get in trouble, yeah?"
She had only just retrieved a sweater from her room when she heard the TARDIS door slam. Rose ran out- first left, second right, under the stairs and down the hall- and skidded to a stop. The Doctor was at the console again, running back and forth. "Brilliant!" he cawed, stopping to tug at a particularly stubborn lever. "Up for a ride, Rose Tyler?"
There wasn't a chance to reply before she was jerked to the left. She grabbed for the wall, missed and fell on her side. She had never felt this much turbulence before. The Doctor was still running about, pleased as punch. Of course hewouldn't lose his balance. But Rose had a sinking feeling that something wasn't right. Hoping it was just nausea from the fall, she pulled herself to her feet when the TARDIS landed.
By the time she'd caught her breath, he was out the door. With a sigh, she zipped up her sweater and followed him out. She'd have to take vitamins to keep up with him at this rate- or invest in one of those leashes designed for children. Either way.
"Doctor?" She found him frozen a few yards ahead. "Doctor, what's wrong?" She didn't need him to answer. Half a dozen cars pulled up the street, news logos plastered on the sides. It didn't take long for a crowd to gather, as well. None of them had noticed the big blue box so far, but the TARDIS had a way of being sneaky, sometimes.
When he didn't react to her question, she walked past him and shoved her way through the crowd to see what had captured the Doctor's attention. They were in front of a one-story house, almost picture perfect. It was painted a light yellow, well-maintained lawn, nice car in the driveway. The whole effect was ruined, however, by the tape pulled over the lawn and the cars with flashing sirens on the street. She could hear the reporters now, each clamoring to be heard over the other. It was only when she saw the ambulance pulled up that she realized what she was seeing. Well, this was cheery.
Rose took a few minutes to watch the scene- police swarming around the house, the reporters clamoring and taking countless photographs, the crowd pressing forward for a good look. Standing back wasn't doing anything for her curiosity, so she looked around for someone who might have more information.
"Hey, what's going on?" she asked the man next to her. He jumped, as if he hadn't noticed her there. "What's happened?" she pressed.
"Oh, it's a murder," he said, grinning like it was a novelty, not someone's family cold and dead. "Second one in a week. Heard they called in a specialist this time. Not sure why," he shrugged. "Usually they don't bother with that until the fourth stiff turns up."
Rose frowned. This was something new- and traveling with the Doctor, that was saying something. They'd been to countless planets, seen amazing and horrible things, but usually nothing like this. Before she could ask the man anything else, though, the crowd was pushed back to allow a black cab to pull up to the curb. Being very unnoticeable (as she was beginning to realize) she was pushed back, but not before she saw a man in a long coat emerge from the car, collar turned up as if to hide his face. Then she tripped. She fell backwards, right into the Doctor, who helped her regain her footing.
"Thanks. Don't get a lot of crime scenes, do we?" Rose tried to smile, but the grim look on the Doctor's face stopped her. What was upsetting him? "Maybe we should just-"
"No, there won't be anyquestions answered." All of the reporters had given their attention to a gray-haired man on the sidewalk. "Please, just go home and let us do our job."
"Detective Inspector, is it true that this victim is high-profile?"
"Why have the police called in a detective for a murder?"
The man held up his hands for silence as the voices grew in volume. Rose had to lean forward on her toes to see him with everyone crowding in. "There will be a press conference in the near future," he promised. "We are doing everything we can to solve this case. Please, go home."
Rose was so intent on watching him that it took her a second to notice the Doctor had gently grasped her arm. "We should get away from here." he said quietly, eyes still on the house.
Rose nodded, though she was tempted to pout. They were just finding out what was going on! Hadn't the trail led them here? It wasn't until they'd left the crowd far behind that she turned on him, mildly annoyed. "What was that?" she demanded. "We were just about to figure out what was goin' on-"
To her surprise, he twirled, facing her. "Not everything has to do with us," he snapped. "Sometimes, there arecoincidences." For a second, she thought he might say something else, but he only backed away. "Just leave it, Rose."
Just as abruptly, he started walking in the other direction, away from the TARDIS. Rose could only gape. Her feeling hadn't been wrong, then- something was up. Staring after him wasn't going to tell her anything, though. Rose had to jog to catch up to him. The Doctor seemed determined to leave the crime scene far behind. Her mind burned with questions, but for some reason, she had this gut feeling she shouldn't bring it up. It was a long, silent walk.
The second they stepped out of the cab, it began. With the usual (and now expected) eye roll, Sherlock pulled up the collar of his coat and followed a thin-lipped Donovan into the house. Already John could see his eyes moving, lightning fast, taking in every detail and then some, pure logic telling him which to notice and which to ignore or file away. Sherlock was mostly ignored by the police force, probably because they had no desire to be at the receiving end of one of his deductions. John didn't blame them- the last girl to get cornered by Sherlock's ceaseless need to show off had run away in tears. To be fair, she should have known never to contradict the detective.
They were led through the living room into a bright kitchen, which currently held four bodies- one dead, three living. Lestrade entered through the back door, looking more harried than usual. He ordered the others to clear out, and they were given as much space and quiet as could be expected.
The victim lay face-down on the floor, in a position eerily similar to that of Jennifer Wilson, their first case together. Sherlock was already moving around the kitchen, pausing only long enough to take a pair of disposable gloves from the Detective Inspector. The men were silent, as always, while Sherlock looked in the trashcan, studied the wall, opened the fridge twice and wandered into the living room. He returned and knelt beside the man, looking at his hands, then stood, mouth open to report.
"Detective Inspector!" Someone called. A woman with very bright blue eyes peeked around the corner, avoiding eye contact with Sherlock. "The phone's been ringing for you. I told them you were busy-"
Lestrade sighed. "Give us a minute." he grumbled, leaving Sherlock with his mouth open and arm raised, ready to point. John would have laughed if he wouldn't have to live with the man afterward.
He gave in when Sherlock began to pace. "All right, what is it, then?"
"You can give it all to Lestrade later."
"And repeat it?"
"Like that will be a problem." John scoffed.
Sherlock gave him a small grin. "Well, since you're so curious," he said indulgently. "The victim is roughly twenty-five years old, current or former military. Married- a strained marriage, no children. He's currently on leave or had been discharged. His wife works, probably commutes. Too bad for her; he's been cheating on her for months. Probably wouldn't save the marriage, even if he dropped his lover."
"And why do you say that?"
"Because it's a man's coat hanging in the living room."
"So glad you know all that at a glance, really. It's amazing." Donovan said from the doorway. "How about something that's actually relevant to the fact that he's dead?"
She didn't flinch under Sherlock's glare, only met the expression with an almost childish insolence. "It's allrelevant, Sergeant Donovan. Just because youcan't see it doesn't mean it's unimportant. John, the body."
Watson obediently knelt beside the man, examining him with careful hands. After a few moments, he frowned. It wasn't a stroke, cardiac arrest or asphyxiation. There didn't seem to be any wounds or even bruising. John had nearly given up when he saw it- a row of tiny pinpricks, almost unnoticeable, between his thumb and finger.
"Sherlock..." The syllables were barely out of his mouth before the detective joined him, eyes burning into the wound, memorizing it. "Do you know what it is?"
"Tell me you have something." Lestrade said wearily. John hadn't even heard him come in.
Sherlock got to his feet, and he must have felt a bit nostalgic as well. "Not much," he said with a cheeky smile, echoing his words from Jennifer Wilson's case. "Nothing relevant to the investigation, at least- besides the witness." He didn't wait for the question to continue. "Of course, you can't see it. Typical. Let me point it out to you: Military man, family-oriented, married young to a pregnant wife one year ago. The wedding photo isn't old, but it hasn't been dusted. None of the pictures have, and no new pictures for about six months. Something happened, based on the lack of new photos, probably a miscarriage. He's a vegetarian- soy milk in the fridge, vegetables and fruits stocked, no meat. He's also gone through enough coffee to put ten grown men into cardiac arrest in the last week. His nails are brittle- probably iron deficiency, which means he's a devout vegetarian. Why, then, would he be cooking meat?" Sherlock gestured at the stove, where raw hamburger patties had been placed in a pan. "A morally driven vegetarian wouldn't cook meat for just anyone- someone was here, someone important. Not family- this house hasn't seen any visitors, based on the disrepair, and the wine he took out is expensive- he wanted to show off. So, he's cheating on his wife. His lover was here when he was attacked, and left after the murder, leaving his coat behind."
"And you know that coat isn't his how?"
"Look at his clothes, do you honestly think he'd wear something that dirty?"
Lestrade rubbed his temples. "So...?" he pressed.
"So," Sherlock said slowly, eyes darting towards the living room, "If you're lucky, he left his wallet behind. But that's not the intriguing part." They all watched as he removed the victim's right slipper. There was a dark red sock underneath, a stark contrast to the pale, exposed foot beside it. "Our murderer took a trophy. What man leaves off a sock on purpose?"
"A sock?" John said incredulously. "That was his trophy?"
"You should know, John, a military man like this wouldn't leave a sock off on purpose. What other explanation is there?" Sherlock stripped off his gloves. "Where's the first crime scene? I need to see it."