Somebody shoot me! I said I wasn't going to start another multi-chapter until my current one is finished, but the plot bunny grabbed me and wouldn't let me go….
Dedicated to Puggle, who made my day with a multitude of reviews...I hope you enjoy it Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Sherlock characters, but would give all or any of them houseroom…..
20.00hrs, Friday 1st February, 2013
'I said dangerous, and he came.' Sherlock stared at the now empty chair, the chair where John had sat that first night, thinking about the man who had to all intents and purposes disappeared from the face of the Earth. His thoughts were in turmoil, memories forced their way in.
He had deduced from that first meeting that this man, this ex-army doctor, would thrive on adrenaline. Even Mycroft had seen it (and how he hated to admit that his brother could possibly by right!), in the brief time they spent together that night, five minutes that proved – if nothing else would – that John was driven not by greed, but by a need to be useful, to have a purpose.
Anger filled the consulting detective's mind. It was that same need to be useful that had led John to St Bart's and an eight hour shift cover in A&E. Admittedly it helped him to keep his license – he had to spend a certain amount of hours actually practicing medicine – and it gave him a degree of financial security, but it also made him vulnerable to attack, and attack this time had come in the shape of four burly thugs. Despite the doctor's best efforts at self-defence, they were able to overpower him and throw him into the back of a small blue Volkswagen Caddy.
That had been 48 hours ago. A text, sent from a new pay-as-you-go mobile that had been immediately discarded, had advised him that his friend would be dead within 36 hours. All Sherlock had to do to save him was find him.
The kidnappers knew his available contacts would allow him access to CCTV – why else would the coverage from the kidnap site show not just one blue van, but four of them, all with their number plates smeared with mud and unreadable, all coming from different directions, then travelling along the same road, overtaking each other, then dropping back, almost like a game of 'tag'. One by one they dropped away, one by one they were abandoned, but none were abandoned where the CCTV cameras would capture the transfer of Dr John Watson either to another vehicle, or to the building that would prove to be his prison and his place of execution.
Unable to contain his fury Sherlock swung round, his outstretched arm pushing books, files and papers from his desk, his fists clenched in impotent rage.
"Brother dear; that will not solve the problem of the good doctor's whereabouts" Mycroft stepped softly through the door.
"Get out, Mycroft! The one time I need your help you turn out to be totally useless!"
"Sherlock, we have done everything we could, my people have examined hours of CCTV footage. There was nothing, no hint at all as to where they have taken him or why?" he leaned on his umbrella "What about your…..sources?"
"The homeless network have neither seen nor heard anything of John, they've seen nothing that struck them as suspicious, but this was no random kidnap" Running his long fingers through his hair, he started to pace in front of the fire. "They have taken John, and if their text is right he is already dead, but what is the point of killing him and keeping his body hidden? Why tell me I could have saved him? Why torment me?"
"Did you inform Scotland Yard?"
"Well of course I did! Lestrade is off on a case, but Dimmock has taken the details, he's working with your CCTV people, and will let Lestrade know when he returns.
Mycroft watched his little brother pacing and sighed. He had not been certain of John Watson's suitability as a flatmate when it was first brought to his attention – the man was a veteran of Afghanistan, wounded, broken by the war, his livelihood taken from him, a man struggling to live in the place he had come to consider home, and all because the 'system' didn't value its war heroes enough to give them a pension fit to live on. Despite this, his attempts at bribery were met with a solid wall of contempt, and within hours of their meeting he had saved Sherlock's life, and probably the lives of several unsuspecting taxi passengers.
"Mycroft! Are you listening to me?"
"Yes Sherlock, you asked if we had checked all the empty properties surrounding the vehicle drop points – yes, we have…..twice." he cleared his throat and continued "we found his phone, though it's of little use to us." He withdrew a plastic bag from his pocket, its contents the shattered remains of the gift Clara had given to Harry Watson; that had been passed to her little brother less than six months later.
"On the Victoria embankment – you remember I told you, all four vans used that road, it would be impossible to tell which one dropped it."
That had been their last real hope, that John had somehow managed to leave them a clue, a message, anything to help them find him, but as he looked at the crushed mess of plastic and metal, Sherlock knew it was a forlorn hope.
"Why?" dropping into his chair and resuming his scrutiny of the empty one opposite him, Sherlock steepled his fingers under his chin. "Why kidnap John?"
"Maybe the questions should be; what would be gained by kidnapping him? What would be gained by killing him?"
20.45hrs, Wednesday 30th January 2013 (48 hours earlier)
John cursed as they heaved him into the back of the small van, his left shoulder taking the full force of his weight landing on it, his head cracking against the internal panelling. Two of the men climbed into the back of the vehicle with him, he assumed the other two were in the front.
One of the thugs roughly searched through his pockets, holding both his wrists in one meaty fist, and twisting his arms painfully. His wallet and phone were taken from him, and passed to the front passenger through a cut-out in the makeshift partition that separated the cab from the back of the vehicle.
"Why are you doing this?" John kept his voice calm, almost conversational. The only response forthcoming were the twin glares he received from his captors. It occurred to him then that he may be in more trouble than he had at first thought – none of the men who had attacked him had bothered to conceal their identities, which meant they were either too stupid to realise he would be able to identify them later, or – and more worryingly – they didn't intend for him to be able to tell anyone who had done this to him.
John started to wonder why, apart from the hulk holding his wrists above his head, they hadn't bothered to tie him up, and he was just debating trying to use his lack of restraints when the van screeched to a halt. He was hauled into a sitting position as the back door opened and a third man entered. In his hand he held a piece of white cloth, and with one swift movement he pressed it against John's nose and mouth. John barely had time to acknowledge the familiar smell of chloroform before he was rendered unconscious.
20.35hrs, Friday 1st February 2013
Sherlock reached for his mobile, his fingers already tapping out a message.
"If he's dead then surely his body would have been found by now. There would be no point in hiding it – they obviously want me to feel I've failed" he pressed send, and the text to Lestrade was on its way. "But there's been nothing…." His voice faded as he heard the slamming of car doors outside the property, followed swiftly by the sound of two people running up the stairs.
"Sherlock, I…." Lestrade stopped, surprised to see both Holmes brothers. He flinched slightly as his mobile buzzed with an incoming text alert. He looked at his phone – a text from Sherlock. He looked perplexed.
"What's happened?" Sherlock stood and swiftly crossed the room. "Is it John?"
"Yeah, but…hang on, how did you know?"
"Have you found him?" He looked at the uncomprehending expressions on their faces. "Hasn't Dimmock filled you in? John's been kidnapped!"
"What?" Sally Donovan stepped around Lestrade, a look of shock on her face. "No, he can't have been!"
Sherlock was about to brush her comments aside in his usual manner but he caught an echo of Sally's shock in Greg's expression. He glanced over his shoulder at his brother – yes, Mycroft had picked up on it too.
He turned and looked at the police officers.
"John was involved in an incident yesterday morning. We weren't sure at first, the eye witness was a little shaky….."
"Wouldn't you be with a gun shoved in your face?" Sally's voice was harsh
"Yeah, well," Greg took a deep breath "Her e-fit looked a lot like him."
"Yesterday morning?" Mycroft spoke for the first time since the officers arrived. "Yet you have waited 36 hours to come here, Inspector"
"The fire did a lot of damage to the cameras and equipment, it's taken a little while to get clear enough prints…"
Sally held out three grainy security photo. The images were unmistakable. In the first a blond man, shorter than average and with distinctive military bearing, was holding a gun against the head of an elderly lady. The second showed clearly the man's face – there was no doubt it was John Watson. But the third….the third was the most damning of all – it showed the ex-army doctor gunning down a teenage boy in cold blood!