Several Decades Later
Sherlock looked up from his microscope. John had spent the day unpacking and trying to find room for his things in amongst Sherlock's clutter. He had gotten all the daily necessities stowed away and was down to his last box (battered and closed with old, dusty tape—it hadn't been opened in years).
"I was just going through this old box of mine," John said as he came down the stairs and entered the sitting room. "It's been in storage for years and I haven't … I should have realized … I mean, how many people do you ever meet named Sherlock?"
He paused to gather himself and then asked, an odd, wistful smile on his face, "Does this look familiar to you?"
He held up a black pirate hat.
Sherlock could almost swear his heart had stopped as he reached out a hand. "Where did you get that?" he asked, lightly stroking the edges, running his finger along the brim, then turning it over and prodding at the crown.
"I met his remarkable kid the summer I turned eleven. He'd been kidnapped and actually outwitted the two men who'd taken him and managed to convince them to bring him back so he could spend the afternoon with me. It was one of the best days of my life—it was my birthday, even." John's voice was soft, weighted with the memory. "And when he left, he left me his hat—but he never told me his full name, or how to reach him. I've wondered for years what happened to him."
Sherlock didn't look up from the hat, he was so overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. How much he had cared about his friend, how hurt he had been that John had never written. How had he failed to recognize him when Mike introduced them at the lab just two days ago?
He tried to keep his voice light as he said, "You never wrote."
"You didn't give me your address," John said gently. "It's not like I could do an internet search back then. I had no way of finding you."
Sherlock kept his eyes on the hat. "I did leave you my address."
"No. I would remember."
Sherlock's long fingers were already at work, pulling away the false lining in the crown, revealing the hiding spot with his survival kit, distress button and … brittle and yellowed now, as he eased it out … a piece of paper covered in a child's handwriting.
"Jesus," John breathed. "I had no idea that was in there. Sherlock, why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought the hiding place was obvious, I just assumed you'd find it. When you didn't write … I thought you had decided not to be my friend anymore."
"No, never," John told him. He was standing next to the table, waiting for Sherlock to look up. "I wouldn't have … But when I couldn't get in touch … well, you know how it is when you're a kid. People come and go and it's not like you have control over any of it. I was just grateful for that one amazing, wild day. It's why I kept the hat, even though it never fit—it reminded me of you."
He stared at the hat for a minute, then shook his head. "I don't know how I didn't make the connection when Mike introduced us. Or, you know, when we were chasing the cab together. Or when you willingly went off with a kidnapper. I mean … how many crazy people named Sherlock can there be?"
Sherlock's lips twitched. "Most people consider one to be more than sufficient."
John laughed. "One's enough for me. I'm just glad we found each other again. You'd think I would have made the connection when both of us were kidnapped within a few hours of each other last night. It seems to be a theme for us."
Now Sherlock was chuckling, too. "Especially considering Mycroft was behind yours … and mine, all those years ago."
"What? Mycroft arranged for his little brother to be kidnapped? What did you do, steal his action figures?"
Sherlock shook his head. "Quite the contrary. He arranged it as a special treat, an adventure, because he knew how bored I'd been all summer."
He braced himself, waiting for John's response. Was he going to decide the Holmes family was too crazy, too intrusive? Decide he'd be better off finding another flatmate? But then John just shook his head. "Well, sure. Because, naturally, being kidnapped is nothing but fun … you're not going to be boring at all, are you?"
They smiled at each other for a long moment (it felt so good), and then John looked curious. "I thought you said the hat had a tracking device? Why didn't you just use that to find me?"
"Oh, it does," said Sherlock. "Unfortunately, once my parents learned I'd lost it, they disabled it—despite my pleas that we could use it to find the hat. They said it was a 'lesson,' and of course, it's not like I could say I'd left it behind after being kidnapped. Mycroft would have been in too much trouble."
"I'm surprised you care—I thought he was your archenemy?"
"Well, yes, John. Now. But it was different we were children."
John just smiled and looked like he wanted to swat him upside the head. "I'd imagine all sorts of things were different. Being kidnapped for fun. Unbelievable. And you call me the idiot. But, er … you can just keep that hat, yeah?"
Sherlock beamed, feeling a sense of rightness, as if something that had been off had just clicked into place. "My pleasure. I can't wait to show it to Mycroft. You know, he did say he was looking forward to meeting you."
"Yeah, well, just tell him next time to skip the kidnapping or I'll think he doesn't know any other tricks. Want some tea?"
Nodding, Sherlock gave the pirate hat one more stroke before laying it carefully next to his microscope. Against all odds, he'd found his friend again.
A Year Later
"It's good of you to come, but we really don't need you, Sherlock. We caught the guys in the room with the murder weapon, though they're insisting they're innocent." Lestrade tilted his head to the two men being handcuffed in the back room. "Though, John, one of them got a bump on the head, if you'd be willing to take a look? Since the paramedics haven't arrived yet?"
John nodded and walked through to the back while Sherlock scanned the crime scene. It seemed fairly straight-forward, if violent. The dead body lay in a pool of blood from what looked to be multiple stab wounds. Although … He looked back at the two older men in custody, something niggling at the back of his brain.
Oh. Of course.
He strode through the door, eyes examining everything, but resting mostly on the two suspects being tended by John's competent medical care. "Let me see your hands," he told them and after a cursory glance, turned back to Lestrade. "These aren't your men."
"Are you kidding? They were right here at the scene, and both have rap sheets a mile long. It's clear-cut."
"Any violent crime on those sheets?" Sherlock asked, but he was already hurrying on. "No, of course not. They have been on the wrong side of the law for years, but never for anything violent. They considered it once when they were younger, but caught themselves and while they've committed any number of petty crimes, they have never physically hurt anyone. Certainly not your victim. Blood-spatter alone would exonerate these two men, since there's no way they could have stabbed him so many times without getting any blood on their clothes or on their hands."
He spun and gestured toward the bag sitting on the floor. "No, these men stumbled on the scene accidentally. They were actually breaking in to rob the place—you can see the forced entry on the back window—but once in, they found the victim. Their timing was remarkable, really, since the murder had happened only minutes before. In fact, I think you'll find that they are the closest thing to an eyewitness you're likely to have. The killer forced his way past them—hence the blow to Joe's head. You can see the faint hint of a footprint here on the mat."
Jaws had dropped all around the room, with everyone except John looking flummoxed. He glanced at John's patient and stepped up to the other man. "So, Davy? Did you see anyone?"
The larger man's face was blank. "How did you know all that? And how did you know my name?"
Sherlock smiled tightly and then leaned forward and said quietly so that his voice didn't carry past the four of them, "We've met—I'm sure you remember, though you served some very questionable cocoa and I was wearing a pirate hat at the time." He paused to relish the look of shock and then straightening, "If it helps, though, my name is Sherlock Holmes. You might remember my friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson, though he prefers tea these days. Maybe we should discuss this later, after the murder is solved?"
He glanced at John, relishing the dawning look of glee on his friend's face before turning back to Lestrade.
An hour or so later, the four of them were standing on the pavement outside the house. Sherlock had persuaded Lestrade not to press charges for the aborted robbery since Davy and Joe had actually turned out to be helpful.
He had been intercepting looks from them all evening—stunned, awed, disbelieving—all while John just looked amused. His sole comment had been, "I don't even pretend to understand how things work around you anymore, Sherlock. I'm just surprised you haven't run across them before, but … bit of a coincidence, don't you think?"
So now they stood in the light of a streetlamp, the two criminals looking awkward and grateful. "So, you're a police detective?" Joe finally asked.
"Hardly," sniffed Sherlock. "I'm a consulting detective—they consult me when they need my help, which was fortunate for you today."
"Thanks for that," said Davy. "I didn't know how we were going to convince them … we're not killers!"
"No, you're not," Sherlock told him. "Much better as kidnappers."
Joe looked embarrassed. "Look, I don't … we're sorry about that."
Sherlock just shook his head. "No, no, don't be. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my childhood. No apologies necessary. In fact, had you not kidnapped me, I wouldn't have met John."
Davy turned to look at John. "So … you two have been friends this whole time?"
"Not exactly," John said. "He hid his address in the lining of his pirate hat and I never knew. We lost track completely until last year, when a mutual friend introduced us."
"And now here we are, like old times," Sherlock said, eyes alight. "I almost feel as if we should invite my brother."
Sherlock nodded. "But, of course, you never met. He was your boss during your kidnapping venture."
"Wait … your brother arranged for you to be kidnapped?" Davy's voice was disbelieving.
"Indeed. He knew I was bored and wanted to help, though there wasn't much he could do, being only fourteen and stuck in school. So he hired the two of you, trusting that your anti-violent tendencies would keep me safe. Tendencies, I might add, which led to your decent treatment of both me and John—and your obvious innocence in this murder tonight."
John was watching the two older men with sympathy. "Sherlock, give them a moment to process this. You just told them they were hired by a teenager—it's a bit of a shock."
"I suppose," Sherlock said. "I've always wondered, though—did you get paid at all for that job? Or were you relying on the ransom?"
Davy looked beyond the power of speech, so Joe answered, "We got paid up front—which is odd, now I think on it. All the expenses for the car and caravan were covered, but we were supposed to get a cut of the ransom … how could your brother do that to your parents?"
"Oh, they never even knew about it," Sherlock told him. "They were out of the country at the time. The number Mycroft gave you was actually one of his, so your ransom demand didn't really go anywhere. He counted on me escaping so that he wouldn't have to pay—it would have been difficult, of course, because he hadn't come into his trust fund yet. The only one really put out by the affair was my nanny who tried to cover up the fact that I was missing for two days and deserved getting fired for it. Dreadful woman."
He glanced up and saw the nearest CCTV camera pointing their way and gave a little wave and then chuckled when his phone chimed.
—Tell Davy and Joe I said hello.