The Science of Deduction's 1st Student
John was quiet on the drive to Downing street, but his eyes held an almost manic intensity that was somewhat intimidating. Lestrade was filled with questions, the biggest one being was Sherlock actually still alive, or had John finally cracked up under the pressure? He was tempted to draw him out, to try and understand what John had figured out, but the ranting in the morgue that made less sense that Sherlock Holmes on his worst day, stayed his tongue. He was hoping that Sherlock's brother Mycroft would be able to shed some light on all of this.
John jumped out of the car almost before Lestrade could bring it to a complete stop, and the detective had to run to keep up with the very determined steps of the doctor. John strode straight into the building as though he belonged there, and walked with fierce determination passed anyone who made a move to stop him. Lestrade had his identification pulled out and held it up for inspection, but was unsure of whether or not it was his identification or John's intimidating face that allowed them to pass through the building unchallenged.
John obviously knew exactly where he was going, heading in a quick determined pace to a door at the end of one of the hallways they had turned down. He didn't knock or even slow down as he reached the door; simply grabbing the knob and waltzing in as though he owned the place.
A neatly dressed dark-haired man stood in front of a highly polished desk as though waiting for John to enter. The large office was large with recessed book shelves, an antique bureau, a large porcelain vase on an ornately scrolled table, and fine adornments from all over the world gracing the walls. In short, it was exceptionally posh. The man himself was meticulously manicured, his suit immaculate and very expensive. Lestrade knew Mycroft Holmes, but he had never been to his office; in fact he had never been to Downing street. To see him here in his 'natural surroundings' showed the man in a new light for Lestrade.
"Don't. Don't you dare! You know damn well why I'm here."
Mycroft Holmes stood there in his own office, clearly a very powerful man, and he looked contrite, as if he were a mere boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. John was unmoved.
"So where is he?"
Lestrade moved closer to John fearing that he might actually hit the man. The anger rolling off of him was palpable, and just a little frightening, and a hint of that fear showed in Mycroft's eyes.
"Don't. Don't you even try to placate me. You wanted my help, you wanted me to look after Sherlock after you handed him to Moriarty on a silver platter! So instead you helped him pull off this fantasy."
"I know; I think I have always known, somehow. That wasn't him, lying on the ground in front of St. Bart's. That body was cold. It couldn't have been him."
Mycroft raised his eyebrows but refrained from saying anything. He seemed to be waiting for something.
"You want me to spell it out? Fine. Sherlock is not dead. I touched the body lying on the ground in front of St. Bart's. That body had no warmth in it, none! If that had been Sherlock he would still have been warm."
Mycroft sighed and his stiff posture went slightly slack. "Yes. We tried to keep you back far enough so you wouldn't suspect the subterfuge, but you are quite persistent when you need to be. I am very sorry, John. It was necessary. This is what Sherlock wanted, he asked me for my help."
John started toward Mycroft who, to his credit didn't flinch although Lestrade was pretty sure if he were in the man's place he would have, but then John stopped his advance, took a deep breath, and visibly controlled himself.
"Do you know what the last thing I said to him was?" Not waiting for an answer, John continued. "I told him that friends protect people. Friends, Mycroft. I'm really not sure that term can be applied to you, and yet he went to you for help, he even went to Molly for help, instead of me. Why?"
What happened next is something that Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade would remember until his dying day. A door in the rear of the room swung open and Sherlock Holmes stepped through, walking up to John as he spoke.
"You needed to believe me dead for this to work, John. I am sorry."
Lestrade will never forget the array of emotions that flitted across John's face when he clapped eyes on Sherlock Holmes. Shock, relief, and vindication all seemed to want expression simultaneously.
"I'm actually surprised it took you this long to piece it all together."
John moved so quickly that Lestrade didn't think he'd be able to stop him even if he had seen it coming. Sherlock certainly didn't see the punch before a powerful right hook slammed into the side of his jaw. John moved away from the man shaking his hand from the impact. Sherlock's head rocked back with the force of the blow and his lip began to bleed. He pulled a handkerchief out of a pocket and dabbed at the blood, but otherwise took the hit in stride turning to Lestrade.
"I'd say that was an understatement."
Further comment was cut off when John spun around on Sherlock facing him.
"You selfish bloody bastard! Did you even consider what you have put us through? Mrs. Hudson, me? Do you even care?... Or were you too busy trying to outsmart your little playmate. This is all one big game to you isn't it?
"You had Molly find a corpse that would be the right size, had her use facial putty or something to make him look like you. You fell but were caught with some sort of life net or jumping sheet like the fire brigade uses. That bloke on the bicycle, he was meant to slow me down so you had time to make the switch. That crowd around the body, those were Mycroft's people. Did I miss anything?"
"Very good, John. You got all of that from one touch. You truly are The Science of Deduction's first student, but you didn't address why Claudette Brule screamed when she saw me."
John did not look amused. "You sound like some demented school teacher. You're actually treating this like it was some sort of test. Why did she scream? I haven't a clue, maybe it is just the effect you have on people! You are making me want to scream right now!"
"Perhaps the abductor was made up to look like me. That is my theory."
"So what! It doesn't really mater does it? God damn it, Sherlock, just tell me why? Why did you do this? Why was it necessary to put me and the only other people in this world who care about you through hell?"
The Holmes men exchanged a look. Mycroft is the one who spoke up, however.
"It is time, Sherlock. They need to see the rooftop footage."
Sherlock nodded his head in agreement. "Yes, that would be the best thing at this point."
He turned his attention to John who was looking on very confused. "Please sit down. It is time you know what actually happened during that encounter on the roof at St. Bart's."
John looked confused and Lestrade shared his confusion, asking, "What encounter?"
Sherlock turned to Lestrade. "Detective Inspector Lestrade, pleased to see you again, I wasn't in fact ignoring you." he said, holding out his hand. "Please do have a seat."
Sherlock looked between both men with an expression on his face like he was about to drop some sort of bombshell. "There was a camera hidden in the chimney vent situated right next to the ledge and recorded everything. I was not on that rooftop alone. Moriarty was there with me."
John stared at Sherlock as he felt all the warmth evaporate from his body. His best friend had been on the top of that building with a monster. He didn't ask any questions, he simply complied and took a seat. Lestrade followed suit and both men waited. Mycroft turned his laptop around on the desk so that both men sitting in the ornately carved wooden chairs facing the desk could see the screen. Mycroft touched the screen and a video began to play. The first thing they saw was a camera panning from left to right as the Bee Gees song 'Staying Alive' played in the background. It was Moriarty's mobile phone. John remembered how utterly ludicrous it all seemed the first time he heard that ringtone. At the pool where Carl Powers was murdered, John knew that he and Sherlock were about to die, a sacrifice he was willing to make to rid the world of a maniac, when that ridiculous phone went off.
The camera swept right past the ledge where James Moriarty was sitting holding his phone and listening to that stupid song. The camera paid him no mind and continued to pan to the right until it stopped at the stairwell door where Sherlock emerged and then followed Sherlock's progress back to the left as he moved closer to Moriarty.
John and Lestrade watched in rapt fascination as the scene unfolded. He couldn't help but glance at Mycroft when it was revealed that the key code was a fake. The bitter look on his face said it all. Everything that had happened, did so because of Mycroft's fear of something that James Moriarty had made up. Richard Brook the story teller, oh but he did spin a very convincing tale.
John found himself wanting Sherlock to let go of that little bastard when he held him by the lapels over the edge of the roof. Only a moment after having that thought, he felt ice in his gut when Moriarty told Sherlock that if he didn't jump he and Mrs. Hudson and Greg Lestrade would all be killed.
"Three bullets, three gunmen, three victims. There's no stopping them now, unless my people see you jump.
Your only three friends in the world will die unless..."
"Unless I kill myself; complete your story."
John didn't even realize that he had begun shaking. Sherlock had been put into an impossible situation. He didn't really hear what Moriarty said next, over the rushing in his ears. He dropped his head into his hands and felt Lestrade's hand on his shoulder, but what brought him away from the brink of passing out was a cool hand laid across the back of his neck.
Mycroft had paused the recording and gotten a glass of water that he handed to Sherlock, who was now squatting in front of John.
"John." the name was spoken softly laced with genuine concern, but John couldn't even acknowledge that yet. Something else had occurred to him.
"Jesus. Oh Jesus." He was breathing fast trying to calm the bile roiling around in his stomach that was threatening to come up. "That hit man from Glasgow. Greg, that tattooed man who was at Baker street; he was going to kill Mrs. Hudson."
It was a command, but delivered in a tone of voice John had never heard Sherlock use. After taking a few sips he nodded that he was fine and waved toward the computer.
"Yes, right, I'm fine now. Let's see the rest of it."
John almost regretted asking to see the rest of the recording. When Sherlock stepped up onto that ledge with Moriarty watching he was actually shaking. It is the most frightened John had ever seen him. Not even after seeing that hound, for that was an irrational fear brought on by poison, this was real fear. Fear that ran down to the very soul.
That was in stark contrast to when Sherlock began to laugh. There it was. That was the man he knew. Sherlock had somehow out-witted Moriarty. It really was like watching some bizarre chess match. Mycroft had tried to intimidate this animal into giving up the key code to no effect, but Moriarty actually feared Sherlock. Something Sherlock said would stay with John to the day he left this world behind.
"I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."
It looked as though Sherlock had won. Moriarty admitted defeat, admitted that Sherlock had a way out. As long as he was alive, Sherlock could save his friends. John actually shouted, "No!" when Moriarty pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. John watched as his friend reeled with what had just happened. It didn't take Sherlock long to realize that what he had so desperately tried to avoid was now his only option left.
John looked on, shaking his head as Sherlock stepped back up onto the ledge. The camera was close enough that he could see his friend's face. He had heard the sorrow in Sherlock's voice when he lived through that phone call the first time, and now he could see it on the man's face. He saw the tears that fell as Sherlock told him that he was a fake, that he had lied to John all along. This was John's nightmare, this phone call, these last few moments of Sherlock's life and now he was actually seeing it from Sherlock's point of view.
John shook his head. "No stop, I don't want to see... Stop the recording."
Tears had formed in his eyes as he watched Sherlock make a false confession in order to keep his friends safe. He looked up at Sherlock alive and standing before him, seeing the swelling lip that was still bleeding, a bruise forming on his face from being punched, and wished he could take it back.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry, Sherlock. I'm so sorry; everything I said..."
"John, you were right. Friends protect people. That is what I was doing, that is what I learned from you."
Ever the pragmatist John sat up straight. "So now what? Moriarty's dead, and the world thinks you are."
John had almost forgotten that Greg was there in the room. "So it's you who have been providing all the bodies?" Lestrade said, to Sherlock.
Sherlock stood up to his full hight. "I have killed no one."
The DI turned to Mycroft and raised an eyebrow. "I have fifteen bodies and an open murder inquiry to deal with. Can I trust that I will not be finding any more bodies?"
Mycroft waved his hand in a dismissive gesture that coming from anyone else would have infuriated Lestrade. "The government has spent considerable manpower and resources systematically dismantling the crime network that James Moriarty set up."
Lestrade just shook his head. "Is that what you call it?"
Mycroft, as unflappable as ever, continued on as though Lestrade hadn't said anything. "As for the bodies, one can only hope that you will not find anymore. I naturally wish you good luck in your investigation, but that has no bearing on this. There is always a danger that Moriarty could still come after you so we intend to continue to keep a close eye on all of you."
John frowned. "Hold on, what? Isn't Moriarty dead. I mean we just saw him blow his brains out."
"As you can well imagine we were all rather preoccupied taking care of the situation with Sherlock's untimely demise. By the time we had secret service agents up to the roof, Moriarty was gone."
"Gone? What? How?"
"John, for almost three weeks you have believed that you saw me plummet to my death. You saw it with your own eyes."
"Are you saying that Moriarty faked his own death?"
Lestrade whistled. "You mean that psychopath is still out there?"
Mycroft answered both questions. "It is a very distinct possibility. It would be just the sort of thing he would do, but he also had, or as the case may yet be has, a huge network of people at his beck and call. One of them could easily have slipped up to the roof and removed his body."
"But you don't think so, do you? You think he's still out there." John looked directly at Sherlock. He wanted to see in the man's eyes what he really believed.
"I do not believe that he is dead, John."
Mycroft held his hand up to Sherlock indicating that he should stop speaking.
"If he is still alive, James Moriarty thinks he has won, but his network is collapsing. The British government has brought its full and considerable attention and resources to bear in undoing his organization. We have solid intelligence that many of his former associates are backing away and moving on to greener pastures as it were. If he is indeed alive, he will think twice before crossing... me."
The words were delivered with such deathly calm and a cool smile, that John now understood why Sherlock once described Mycroft as the most dangerous man he had ever met. Mycroft Holmes wielded incredible power within the government and Moriarty had tried, and nearly succeeded in, murdering his little brother.
John wasn't going to be deterred. "That recording, it's evidence that can clear Sherlock's name. That recording is proof enough that Moriarty set all of this up. Now you can be cleared of the kidnapping charge, and everything else."
Sherlock stepped over and closed the laptop. "It can not be divulged. If my name is cleared and the world knows that I am still alive then you, and Mrs. Hudson, and Inspector Lestrade are all put in danger. The man who was set to kill Mrs. Hudson may be dead, but we don't know about your assassin John, nor who in Scotland Yard is or was working for Moriarty."
"Now hold on just a moment. Are you saying I have a dirty cop?" Lestrade was upset now, and it showed clearly in his voice.
"Yes of course, don't be an idiot. How else do you think Moriarty was able to pull so many strings? How did he know exactly where I was when I was there? How did he know exactly when to send those messages on the pink phone? Your assassin, Detective Inspector Lestrade, was and still is within your own department."
"I want to know who it is, Sherlock. I want you to find out."
Sherlock sighed. "What do you think I've been doing for the past fortnight, having tea parties with Mycroft? I have no idea who John's assassin is either."
"I don't care!" John shouted. "I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. This recording, this evidence needs to be put out there, in the newspapers. Kitty Riley needs to be exposed for the trash she wrote about you!"
"No, No. Sherlock you cannot spend the rest of your life in hiding. We'll find this..." John stopped, struggling to find words to describe what he was feeling, but the venomous hate he held toward Moriarty couldn't be adequately expressed. "We will find him, Sherlock. We will find him and I will end him."
Mycroft cleared his throat. "Yes, well whether or not Jim Moriarty is alive, his criminal network has been seriously compromised. When a dangerous animal is threatened he become more dangerous."
"Good, let him come. I'll take the son-of-a-bitch on myself."
John was not going to let this game continue. "Sherlock, either you tell the press the truth or I will. Kitty Riley is not the only reporter. It is time to end this nightmare."
"You want me to just walk back into the flat at Baker street as if nothing had happened?" Sherlock asked, clearly hoping to put this idea out of John's head.
John thought about that for a moment. "Mrs. Hudson would either faint or keel over with a heart attack. You'd better let me talk to her first."
Mycroft was not on-board with this plan at all. "This idea; it isn't safe. This is not a wise choice. We still need to find out if Moriarty is alive, we need to be sure that he doesn't still have standing orders to kill the people you care about. We can't do anything rash until we find him, Sherlock."
Lestrade spoke up now. "Look, if Moriarty is still alive, then you've given him a bloody nose. You have destabilized his organization and he is going to be feeling pretty off set. Now if Sherlock suddenly raises from the dead and Jim Moriarty is made public enemy number one because of that recording it will have an effect. On it he admits to being insane for God's sake. How many self respecting criminals will want to be associated with someone who thinks of them as ordinary, and who thinks of himself as insane? This could work to our advantage. It could draw him out. Set him off enough that he makes a mistake."
"Excellent point, Lestrade." Sherlock said, before turning to Mycroft. John had seen this look of stubborn determination in his face before. Still staring Mycroft down, Sherlock addressed John.
"John, go have a talk with Mrs. Hudson, I'll follow in a while. It will be good to be back home. I'm sorry Mycroft, I must agree with John and Lestrade. It is time to end this charade. I'm board with being dead."
With that Sherlock swept from the room through the same door he had entered leaving John, Lestrade and Mycroft alone.
"It is going to be much more difficult to keep an eye on him and all of you now."
"It'll be worth it if I can get him to tell me who the dirty cop in my department is. I imagine all he has to do is show up and watch the faces of those around. I hope it is that easy, but nothing with Sherlock ever is."
"Amen to that." John said, as he and Greg left Mycroft's office.
Stepping out into the bright mid morning sun, John looked up to the sky and thought that it was the most perfect day he had ever seen.
A/N: So what did you think of my solution to the puzzle of how Sherlock survived? Naturally I added in a whole bunch of angst, because that's what I do, and to a certain degree that is what most readers of fan fiction want.
I will be very interested to see how close I came to the major points when series three eventually makes it out of production.
Thanks for reading