Puggle - I finally made it! The final chapter :) I hope you have enjoyed it - in fact I hope everyone who has read it has enjoyed it, and will forgive me the nasty things I do to our John!
Disclaimer: I don't own Sherlock or any of it's characters - sadly only the original characters and storyline are mine :(
04.35hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
The speed at which the paramedics worked, a team moving in a smoothly choreographed life-saving dance, would have made John proud. Once in the ambulance, they stripped his damp clothing from him, all the while keeping Sherlock's coat over him, retaining the shared warmth the younger man had offered in the cellar.
Sherlock sat quietly on the jump seat at the head of the stretcher, his eyes on John's face. The doctor looked small and very fragile, covered as he was by the coat and layers of blankets, his nose and mouth encased in a clear plastic oxygen mask. A paramedic performed CPR while an ambulance technician monitored John's vital signs.
"What are his chances?"
The technician looked up from her patient, her fingers still resting on his carotid pulse point.
"Hard to say at the moment," she said softly. "I still can't find a pulse, although that is fairly common with this degree of hypothermia." She reached across to brush damp wisps of dirty blond hair away from his face. "Is there anything you can tell us that might help?"
Despite his desperation to help, Sherlock found his brain was refusing to co-operate with him. He stared down at his friend, knowing that if the tables had been turned, John would have reeled off all the pertinent information, from his blood group to what his last meal had been and when.
The woman must have seen the lost look in his eyes because she smiled and prompted him. "Let's start simple – his name?"
"John….Dr John Hamish Watson" saying his name had the effect of loosening Sherlock's tongue, and with it the floodgates of information. "He was beaten up at around 8.45 on Wednesday evening – I imagine they gave him some kind of drug to knock him out, he was unconscious when they carried him down to that cellar less than five hours later."
"So, he's been down there more than 50 hours, he's very lucky you were looking for him. Did you feel a pulse at all when you found him?" She asked, and as Sherlock nodded, she filled in some of the boxes on the form clipped to the board in front of her and smiled back reassuringly. "Sounds like he's strong; he didn't give in easily."
Sherlock nodded. "A fighter" he murmured, bracing himself as the vehicle dipped and swayed, swinging at speed around the roundabout, finally slowing to turn into the St Thomas' Hospital ambulance bay.
The next few moments were a blur of activity as John was whisked out of the ambulance and into the hospital, the paramedics giving clear and concise information about John to the team taking over his care. Following the trolley swiftly through the doors, by-passing A&E and heading straight for ICU, the consulting detective's long stride kept pace with the medical team. As they entered the lift he could see that there was no room inside for him without compromising his friend's care, so he stepped back and watched as the doors closed, hearing the nurse directing them to the first floor.
Glancing swiftly around him Sherlock spotted the stairs, and hurrying through the doors he took them two at a time, reaching the first floor in time to see them push him into a treatment room, the door closing behind them with awful finality.
04.50hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
Joe Callaghan had watched in a kind of horrified fascination as the tall, curly haired young man passed his precious burden reluctantly upwards, and into the hands of the waiting paramedics, before scrambling up the ladder and tearing off in their wake. His three companions didn't seem at all surprised at his behaviour, and as the city gent and the dusky skinned Detective Sergeant made their way slowly back to their car, Callaghan found himself left holding the proverbial baby as the senior officer from New Scotland Yard instructed him to seal off the area and, in Lestrade's own words, 'make sure that not so much as a sparrow's fart gets in or out of the site' without his say so.
Now he stood in the empty street outside demolition site, waiting for the site manager Phelps to re-lock the gates and secure the site. Through the gaps in the wooden fencing he could see the blue and white tape that his officers had tied around metal pegs, staked out around the remains of the Lighterman pub.
"Will we be able to carry on as planned on Monday?" Phelps dropped the final padlock into place, and moved to join him at the roadside. "I mean, I know what that other Detective said, but surely he won't hold up work?"
"I wouldn't bank on it," Joe responded tiredly "At the very least this is a case of attempted murder – by the look of the poor bastard they dragged out of there I'd be very surprised if it doesn't become a murder enquiry before the day grows much older."
He ran a hand tiredly over his face looking first at his shoes, then up into the other man's face.
"They're sending their forensic team in within the next couple of hours, I'll see if we can get a clear idea of when the site will be handed back."
Phelps looked pained. "Even if we can have part of the site back, so we don't get any further behind than we are already are."
"No harm in asking, in fact, you can ask yourself as you'll need to be here anyway to let them in." Callaghan smiled "So, I can give you a ring when they turn up, or I can offer you a half decent cup of coffee and a biscuit or two back at the station while we wait – what's it to be?"
05.00hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
Stepping out of the lift Mycroft and Greg were greeted by the sight of Sherlock, sans Belstaff, pacing up and down outside the closed and locked doors of the ICU.
"Don't ask – they won't let me in until they stabilise him or…" Sherlock spoke as Greg opened his mouth, forestalling the question yet unable to vocalise the worst possibility. His skin looked pale and bruised, the lack of sleep catching up with him, dulling his usually sharp edged tongue, and causing his self-assuredness to falter. He looked at his brother, a silent question in his eyes.
Mycroft shook his head.
"There have not been any new arrests yet. We're waiting for the combined intelligence and Scotland Yard teams to strengthen the case against Anthony Carter, and through him they hope to find the connection to Madam Diane"
"We have clear fingerprints from the bands around the bundles of cash" Greg added, "and Anderson has found the gun."
"Where?" Sherlock almost leapt on the older man, grasping his arms in a painful grip.
"In the car." There was a touch of triumph in his voice, "shoved carelessly under the passenger seat. We're checking it now for fingerprints."
Sherlock acknowledged the words with a brief nod, turning as the door behind him opened and a tall, slim, white coated doctor emerged, carrying Sherlock's Belstaff.
"Detective Inspector Lestrade?" she read the name from the ambulance control sheet, and then looked up at the three men. Greg stepped forward. "Was it you who accompanied Dr Watson in the ambulance?"
"No, that was me."
"And you are?"
"Sherlock Holmes. John is my friend and colleague."
She handed him his coat before scribbling a quick note on the papers in front of her.
"I'm Dr Robinson, I'll be responsible for John's care while he's with us in ICU." Indicating the door behind her, she continued "We're still trying to stabilise him and bring his core temperature back up, so we need to keep him in the treatment room for a while yet. Has he any family that we need to inform?"
Mycroft stepped forward and handed the doctor his business card. She looked down at it, then back up at him.
"I have people on their way to inform his sister and bring her to London. Unfortunately she is currently residing in Surrey, so it may be a while before she gets here." He said.
'If at all' Sherlock's mind added unhelpfully, but he didn't voice his opinion of his friend's alcoholic sister, instead he asked "May we see him?"
"I can't let you all in – only two visitors are generally allowed, and usually only once a patient is transferred to a cubicle on the ward." Dr Robinson glanced around at the pale, tired faces. "Well, maybe I can let you see him for a moment or two." She conceded, turning to press a call bell beside the door.
From inside the ward a nurse looked up, and seeing the doctor waiting outside pushed a button, releasing the door lock.
Mycroft excused himself to make a telephone call, leaving his brother and Lestrade to follow the woman into the treatment room.
The nurse in attendance smiled and stepped outside. John lay on the bed, pale and still. His body, covered in blankets from chin to toes, looked slightly too bulky. Sherlock frowned as he noted it, and also the blood-filled tubes that ran out from underneath the covers to and from a machine that stood beside the bed.
A heart monitor beeped, much slower that was normal; and another machine gave a constant temperature reading – 30 degrees C – still on the edge of severe hypothermia. The young man looked at the doctor.
"We have warm compresses on his body – at his neck, chest wall and groin – and we are performing a cardiopulmonary bypass -" she indicated the machine "- which means we are temporarily withdrawing John's blood, the machine warms it, and then it's re-infused back into the patient"
Sherlock nodded, ignoring the sick look on Lestrades face as he stared, fascinated, at the blood flowing into and out of the machine.
"Will he live?"
"He has a fighting chance, Mr Holmes. He's fortunate that you found him when you did."
"And long term effects?"
"We won't know until he wakes up" she thought it prudent not to mention the psychological effects of the 50 hours of loneliness and sensory deprivation that the ex-soldier may suffer – that bridge could be crossed once he was out of immediate danger. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave now. Once he's stable you'll be able to visit him again."
Pulling his gaze away from the tubes and machinery, Lestrade shook hands with the doctor and thanked her, then dragged an unwilling Sherlock out of the room and through the doors, back to the hallway where Mycroft was waiting for them.
The three men rode the lift back to the ground floor in silence, each lost in his own thoughts. It was only as they passed through to the A&E department that Greg remembered Sally saying she would wait there for them, that she didn't want to get in the way in ICU. With a frown he glanced around the waiting area, looking in vain for the familiar shock of frizzy black curls. Sherlock tapped his arm and pointed to the far corner of the room – Sally had fallen asleep, lying along several chairs, her head pillowed on her arms.
"Thanks" Greg muttered as he slipped away through the rows of chairs to wake his tired Sergeant.
05.05hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
Everyone in the temporary ops room was tired, many had been working without proper rest breaks for close to 36 hours, snatching sleep where they could but more often topping up the caffeine levels to keep going.
The three suspects had been charged with the kidnap and attempted murder of Dr John Watson; that was enough to hold them for now – more charges though were bound to follow – and the combined teams were now resting, waiting for information from both the HOLMES database and from international colleagues.
Penniston shouldered his way through the door carrying two over-filled mugs of coffee, each with a bacon sandwich on a plate, balancing precariously on top. Placing one in front of Dimmock, he sat down opposite him and took a cautious sip of the hot, strong liquid. The two men had developed a professional respect for each other, thrown as they were into working at close quarters, now they waited together for developments.
"What's he like to work for then, your Mr Holmes?" Dimmock asked, biting hungrily into his sandwich.
"He's a stickler for attention to detail, rarely thanks you for the stuff you do, but if you work hard and don't try to cut corners he'll back you up one hundred per cent, and if you need time out you'll find him surprisingly understanding about it."
Dimmock nodded and flicked a glance around the room.
"Can't say the same about the other Holmes," he said almost conspiratorially, "he'll happily slag you off and still expect you to do things for him, or call him in on cases."
"But he's good though, isn't he? At solving cases I mean."
"Hmm, and that colleague of his, John Watson, he's not such a bad bloke. I didn't really know that Sherlock fella before Watson came on the scene, but everyone says how he's not as bad now as he used to be."
Across the room a phone rang, the sound interrupting their conversation as the whole room waited, listening. The WPC who had answered the call thanked the person at the other end, having written the information in her day book, then she turned to update the operations board.
Picking up his mobile, Dimmock punched in Lestrade's number.
"We've got the connection" he said as soon as the other man answered. "Anthony Carter, known associate of one Solange Dufour, best known to the Police Nationale as Madam Diane, currently a resident of Switzerland."
"Great!" Lestrades voice sounded tinny over the phone speaker, "We need to check with the Border Agency, see if and when she entered the country"
Glancing across at Penniston he saw the intelligence officer already at his computer. Penniston nodded affirmation.
"Penniston's on it already" he relayed the information, adding "I'll start putting together the papers for a search of St Christopher's Hotel, and arrest warrants for both Carter and Dufour."
Terminating the call he turned to direct the waiting staff, before opening up his own computer and logging into the Force database. The sooner he filled out these forms, the sooner they could send a task force to the hotel to make the arrests.
07.50hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
Greg Lestrade, flanked by Sergeant Donovan and DI Dimmock, walked into the reception area of the St Christopher and quietly demanded to see the duty manager.
Both uniformed and non-uniformed officers had been posted outside of the fire exits, and several more were waiting outside the front of the hotel. Standing at the door, slightly apart from the police, Sherlock paced impatiently while his brother, not wishing to get in the way, sat and watched him from the comfort of his car.
At a signal from Lestrade they all moved forward. Sherlock joined the main contingent of officers as they headed for the stairs. In a practiced routine the officers split into three groups, one group standing at the stairwell ready to prevent anyone going past, the others going with the senior officers to the rooms of the two suspects.
On a silent count of three Sally hammered on Carter's door as Greg hammered on Dufour's. Shouting a warning that they were about to enter the rooms, they used the master keys provided by the manager and were into the rooms before either suspect had the chance to even get out of bed.
In Dufour's room, Greg read the shocked and dishevelled Frenchwoman her rights, but she was barely taking any notice – her horrified gaze was on the dark haired detective standing staring down at her from the foot of the bed, loathing and retribution writ large across his sharp features.
"You!" she spat, regaining her wits as she pulled the duvet up around her naked shoulders "What right have you to be here?"
Sherlock spun on his heel and walked out.
"You don't need me for this bit" he spoke over his shoulder to Lestrade "I'll wait outside until the formalities are over."
Greg grinned and turned his attention back to the lady in the bed.
"I have every right to be here" he said, as if her comment had been directed at him. "Now, I suggest you go to the bathroom with the WPC and put some clothes on – we have a nice warm interview room waiting for you at the Yard."
Ten minutes later, both suspects were loaded into police cars and taken back to the Yard, while the officers searched both rooms thoroughly. Sally Donovan's team turned up enough evidence to link Carter to the three suspects currently being held, as well as the names of the decoy van drivers, the fourth kidnapper and a doctor who had supplied the drugs and medical know-how to anaesthetise John.
Greg had been less fortunate, Solange Dufour knew well how to cover her tracks. There was not a single shred of hard evidence in her room that could tie her to the robbery or the kidnapping, and only her reaction on seeing Sherlock gave any indication of the trouble she could foresee if they did find anything.
Sherlock, having assisted in the search of the lady's room, now stood staring out of the window, deep in thought, his eyes out of focus as he tried to work out where she would have hidden the Rostopchin Diamonds. He was certain they were still in her possession, because once they were sold on she would have left the country. None of the papers that he had found gave any clue, there was nothing to link her to any organisation or corporation that dealt in money, jewels or antiques, so the only possibility was…..
"Lestrade, I need one of your officers"
Greg looked up from his third search of the bedside cabinet.
"What do you….no, don't tell me, I'd probably prefer not to know." He glanced around the room, seeing Sergeant Donovan entering at that moment, and prompted by some inner devil said "take Sally, she has the authority for whatever it is you need to do."
To his surprise neither complained, and as the consulting detective swept through the door Sally fell into step beside him. In silence they descended the stairs to the reception, where the duty manager and receptionist were both nervously eyeing the remaining police officers while trying to look busy. Sherlock stalked up to the counter and stared down at the manager.
"The customers in rooms 3 and 4 – did either of them ask you to look after valuables for them?"
Sally's eyes widened.
"Surely they wouldn't…"
"Why not Sally? Hiding the goods in plain sight, not that unusual." He turned back to the manager. "Well?"
"Um, yes. I mean, they both have safety deposit boxes locked in the safe in my office." He moved to open the hatch in the reception desk to let them through, then led the way through the back to his office.
"We don't ask what they want to put in there, only that they have sufficient personal insurance cover, just in case."
Unlocking the office door, he crossed the room to an old Phoenix combination safe. Nerves made him fumble the numbers on the dial, but at the second attempt the lock opened smoothly.
Another set of keys appeared, and the only two boxes in the safe were opened. The first, Carter's, was filled with bundles of money which Donovan swiftly removed and placed into an evidence bag.
"I'd lay odds the serial numbers on these notes run consecutively with the ones we took from Britton's house" she said, sealing the bag and writing on it the time, date and where it had been collected from.
"I never imagined you as a gambler Sally"
"And I never imagined I'd actually be working with you" she replied dryly, opening the lid of the second box.
The contents of the second box took their breath away. Inside was a very old, leather covered jewellery box, with intricate gold leaf tooling on the lid. With care, and respect for the age of the item, Sherlock reached in and lifted it out, gently sliding the ornate locking mechanism and lifting the lid.
"Bloody hell!" Sally exclaimed.
Even in the dim artificial light in the office the Rostopchin Diamonds flashed and sparkled enticingly, their brilliance unmatched by anything the Detective Sergeant had seen before.
"Supposedly worth over thirty million pounds." Sherlock stated, carefully reclosing the box. "You may want to get Lestrade down here to decide how best to transport them back to the Yard."
11.00hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
Looking up from the forensic report from the demolition site, Lestrade watched as DI Gregson interviewed Solange Dufour. It had been a tough decision to make, but Greg was man enough to admit that he was tired, and he really didn't want to screw up the whole investigation by making a stupid mistake. Instead he sat in the observation room dividing his time between watching the screen and noting that there was no evidence to be had at the rubble remains of the Lighterman pub. He signed off the papers returning the site to the owners, sighed and stood up wearily.
He had sent Sally home, and Dimmock had gone off duty too. Mycroft had pulled his staff from the ops room, assuring Lestrade that any further information they received would be passed straight over. Now, as he watched Gregson showing Dufour and her swanky high class solicitor the fingerprint evidence from the jewel case, he knew he could go home too – they had her, fair and square. She could deny it all she liked, but they had her for receiving stolen goods, accessory to kidnapping and accessory to the murder of the apprentice. He wasn't sure yet about the other charge relating to John, currently that stood as accessory to the attempted murder of Dr Watson.
On the other hand, Carter had already admitted that they had, on the lady's instructions, kidnapped the doctor, used theatrical wax and make up to turn Jones into a ringer and used him as the 'front man' in the raid so that Watson would be blamed. Interestingly, he had also confessed that she was afraid that Holmes and Watson would be called in to investigate the theft, so she had staged the kidnapping and set up to keep the consulting detective busy and more importantly banned from assisting Scotland Yard.
As he left the observation room Greg pulled out his phone and stared again at the text message he'd received.
'John is on the main ICU Ward. Temp. 35 and rising slowly. Still unconscious. Prognosis unchanged – SH'
That had been over an hour ago. Sherlock had gone straight to the hospital from the hotel, knowing he wouldn't be allowed to interview either Dufour or Carter. Part of him wanted to go to the hospital to see for himself John's progress, but he knew he was far too tired, and he really needed to go home and sleep. Sherlock would let him know if there were any changes.
13.27hrs Saturday 2nd February 2013
Sound came back first, muted and strangely familiar. Not the crashing explosions or the rumbling of tanks, this time it was the constant, steady beeping of a machine, the soft sound of rubber soles on linoleum, and under all of that the sound of slow heavy breathing.
Confused, John tried to remember what had happened, but his mind seemed stuck on a loop that spun on three words, cold, dark and damp. Trying to rationalise, John noted that he was warm enough, and certainly there was nothing damp about his current surroundings. As to the third, he prised open reluctant eyelids, hissing as the bright hospital light seared his eyes.
There was a movement at the side of the bed, a weight lifting off the mattress.
Sherlocks voice sounded fuzzy with sleep, by the eyes that looked down into John's face were alert and worried.
John squinted, pulling his eyes into focus. He was still trying to make sense of the world around him when he saw movement in his peripheral vision.
The button Sherlock had pressed on the wall beside John's bed alerted the nursing staff, bringing two of them hurrying to the cubicle. As they fussed around, asking John questions, checking temperature readings and vitals, the younger man moved to the foot of the bed. John's eyes followed him, never leaving his face. Sherlock watched the lines of concentration on his friend's face as he tried to answer the questions, but it was obvious to all that he was struggling. It was a relief to both men when, having removed the last of the compresses from under the sheets, the Senior Sister straightened up the covers and advised him to relax.
"You've been quite poorly, John," she said softly, "it's little wonder you can't remember much yet. Don't worry, it'll come back to you soon."
As she left, Sherlock moved back up to stand beside his friend.
"How do you feel?"
John blinked slowly, then licked at his dry, chapped lips.
"Thirsty" he croaked, "and confused. Where was I?"
"First things first," Sherlock smiled, pleased beyond reason that John hadn't asked what happened, perhaps his friend remembered more that he realised. "Let me find a drink for you."
He was about to step out of the cubicle when a staff nurse appeared with a lidded cup and a straw.
"Warm tea" she said as she handed it to Sherlock. "You'll need to hold it for him." And she was gone again before either man could respond.
The detective looked at the cup in his hand, and then across at his friend. John looked right back at him, and a sound – suspiciously like a giggle – escaped him. Like floodgates opening, relief tore through both men, and the sound of poorly stifled laughter floated out from the curtained cubicle and into the ward.
01.25hrs Thursday 7th February 2013
Sherlock lay on the couch, fingers steepled against his lips eyes staring sightlessly at the shadows thrown on the ceiling from the street light below.
John had been released from hospital that afternoon, with strict instructions to rest for a couple of days and not to go out for prolonged periods in the cold.
Mrs Hudson had made a fuss, bringing tea and cakes, and both Mycroft and Greg called in, the former on the pretext of having a case that Sherlock might like to look at, the latter because he felt he needed to apologise for even thinking that John might have been involved. John listened tiredly to all three visitors, sleepily waving away Lestrade's apologies and agreeing with Mycroft that yes, Sherlock would probably need something to keep the boredom away, but right now he really just needed to catch up on his sleep.
When at last their visitors left, and they had eaten as much as they could of the food that Angelo had delivered (personally – to make sure that John really was okay), John took himself off to bed, calling wearily back down the stairs that Sherlock too should get some sleep.
Sherlock had agreed that he would, although both men knew that it was unlikely to happen. And so he lay there, turning over the events of the last nine days in his mind.
He had just decided that the truce between Sally and himself was unlikely to survive their next shared crime scene, when the sound of soft whimpering from the upstairs room alerted him that John might not be dealing with this as well as he thought. Sliding off the couch he started to make his way up the stairs, careful not to step on any of the creaky treads, and he had almost made it to the top when the scream ripped through the flat.
In three strides the younger man was standing in the open doorway of John's room. John was sitting up in bed, his eyes wide open, staring, unseeing. His hands – still lightly bandaged where the skin was ripped and nails torn out – were reaching forward as if to grasp at something. Or someone.
"John" Sherlock kept his voice soft, not wanting to startle his friend. Moving forward into the room he noted that the bedside light was on, had probably been left on when the doctor went to sleep, and as he got closer he could hear John's voice, a pleading whisper, saying the same thing over and over.
"Sherlock, help me?"
Sitting on the edge of the bed, he put a hand gently on John's shoulder.
"John? Wake up, John."
The man in the bed drew a shuddering breath, his arms dropped loosely by his sides and his head fell forward onto his chest.
Sherlock kept his hold of his friend, feeling the tremors running through him slowly subsiding, until John looked up again, confused.
"You were there" he whispered "You spoke to me, but when I called out you didn't answer"
"No," Sherlock shook his head. "By the time I found you, you were comatose"
John frowned, drawing his legs up and wrapping his arms around them, letting his forehead drop onto his knees.
"But…who then? Who did I hear? It was your voice"
"It was a nightmare, John. Just a nightmare." Sherlock's brain was racing through the possibilities as he eased his friend back down onto the pillows. "Do you want me to sit with you for a while?"
The blond head shook.
"No, just leave…leave the light, would you" John hated to admit any weakness, but this seemed especially awful.
"Go to sleep John, I'll be downstairs if you need me." As he spoke Sherlock pulled the covers back over John's shoulders, realising as he did that the doctor was already asleep.
Slowly walking back down to the living room, the young man pulled his phone from his pocket and fired off a text.
'Mycroft, can you find John a good therapist? – SH'
A/N: (*) The Home Office Large Major Enquiry System is an investigation management system that takes all the information entered onto the Police databases and allows it to be evaluated, sifted, sorted and prioritised.
Thanks to open NASA Research data for information regarding Sensory Deprivation.
Thanks also to my wonderful friends in the NHS (who wish to remain anonymous – wonder why? LOL!) for help with the effects and treatment of severe hypothermia.
Lastly – thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed – you make it worthwhile!