Steven Moffat mentioned that no one had noticed an out-of-character thing about the detective: there have been many theories. Mine is that Sherlock neglected the ABCs of crime scene processing. He didn't wear gloves when he touched things at the kidnapping scene. This is loosely connected to "Magic Trick. There was one more unexpected helping hand." and "Birthday Memory".

Enjoy and please let me know what you think. Thank you for reading.

John checked his mobile phone: six missed calls all from Lestrade. He had plugged his phone on the charger and dozed off. He used to suffer from insomnia at the old flat; it got much better here but he really shouldn't have taken a nap. Tonight would be a long night. Sighing, he checked his message and voice mail box because the DI could've left a text or voice mail: there was nothing but a reminder of interview at a local practice. Six calls? Lestrade really had to talk to him. The last call was six minutes ago. It must be something important.

It was about three months ago that they last saw each other at the cemetery on Sherlock's birthday, the first birthday since the fall. With no Sherlock, Lestrade and John had drifted away: John wasn't needed at crime scenes anymore. John had to go to the Yard for the investigations on the Bruhl children kidnapping and the past cases that Sherlock had assisted. John thought the police would rather give him a hard time because he would be the prime witness in both investigations. He was wrong: he remembered it odd - he was off the hook too quickly.

John punched Greg's number. Greg's voice was strangely excited; he would pick the doctor up in thirty minutes. John changed his clothes and waited.

"There is more in the kidnapping case. John. I think someone had staged it to make it look like Sherlock was somehow involved."

John shrugged and took a sip of his tea.

"He isn't...wasn't. We know who was behind it. Moriarty. He's dead. End of the story."

To his surprise, Lestrade shook his head and lowered his voice.

"No, John. Not Moriarty. It's someone else or something else… Remember, John, the day that Sherlock visited the school of the kids. There was something strange about Sherlock that day, something out of his character."

John might have laughed it off, but the DI's voice was too serious. John closed his eyes and pictured Sherlock at the school. As usual, he barked at the poor school lady, checked the rooms of the children, found an envelope with a red seal, the Grimm's Fairy Tale... He sniffed an oil, called Anderson, and got footprint samples with his knife while humming. Wait, his bare hands and Anderson? The doctor opened his eyes all of a sudden, gasping. Sherlock wasn't wearing the latex gloves. The sleuth always asked for a pair of latex gloves or put on his own leather gloves when he touched anything at crime scenes. He had never processed the scene with his bare hands. He also demanded Anderson to assist him.

"Greg. Had the local police dusted the scene before we got there?"

"No, the ambassador had asked Sherlock Holmes specifically. The police just preserved the scene and talked with witnesses. Actually they were told not to do anything before Sherlock went in."

"Sherlock wasn't wearing the gloves. He always wore them when he touched a corpse or evidence left at a crime scene."

"Yes, I noticed it, too. His fingerprints were all over: it would've made it harder for us to exclude him from a suspect list..."

Lestrade's voice trailed off. After a minute of hesitation, he took out a paper from his pocket.

"Look at this."

It was a torn page of government newspaper dated yesterday. There was a picture of the ambassador, Mr. Bruhl with Mycroft Holmes. They were smiling at a diplomatic reception. The article said the two men were very close friends from university. Mycroft and the ambassador… Silence fell. John tried to keep his voice steady, ignoring a nasty feeling.

"The ambassador could've asked Mycroft for help. Mycroft hates any kind of legwork and always asks Sherlock to…"

John froze, remembering well that the two brothers were not even on a speaking terms.

"It may sound too far-fetched but listen to me. The ambassador himself requested to close down the investigation the next day after Sherlock died. We weren't supposed to - protocol- yet somehow the case was closed two months ago without any suspect. A new cold case."

Feeling dizzy, John groaned, overwhelmed by something that he had never thought possible. In the last desperate effort, he whispered.

"But you also saw the girl screaming when Sherlock entered the room."

"She might've done as told. Simple. Not because Sherlock was the kidnapper."

"You're suggesting that Mycroft and the ambassador were behind the kidnapping? His own children?"

"John, I can't be sure. I've tried to ignore this feeling, but I couldn't. With years of detective work, you got a hunch."

"But why? The children returned safe and sound."

"The kidnapping was to make everybody doubt Sherlock Holmes."

"Why did Mycroft discredit his own brother? The result? Sherlock killed himself. "

"Think. Mycroft that we know can't have done it if it had put his brother's life at risk."

"So you're saying..."

"There is another possibility which didn't endanger Sherlock."

John started to tremble, feeling the ground shaking.

"It's impossible. I saw him jump with my own eyes. His lifeless body was on the ground in a pool of blood."

Feeling dizzier, the doctor remembered the last call with his friend: Sherlock had instructed him to stand behind a building "twice". John's position seemed to be so important for his friend. But why?

"Greg. No. Mycroft identified the body. Molly had told me."

"Mycroft again. A body can be switched."

Lestrade continued after drinking a few sips of his tea.

"John. I should've been demoted or forced to take a leave given the size and degree of the fraud scandal because I had cut too much slack for Sherlock. Nothing happened to me. All the cases that had involved Sherlock turned out to be valid - of course, that's Sherlock's work. But I thought it would've taken far longer to clear his name, at least for a year."

"To come to think of it, I didn't face any charges after I chinned the Superintendent. "

"What if Sherlock is alive? What if Sherlock was also in the plot?"

The DI at last muttered out the very words that the doctor hoped and dreaded to hear. Two men finished their tea in silence. The possibility was outrageous. John asked because there were so many questions to be answered.

"Then why didn't Sherlock tell me? Where is he? Why haven't he contacted me?"

Lestrade shook his head.

"I don't know. Before I picked you up, I contacted the Sun and asked for Kitty Riley, the reporter who had written the expose. She had resigned months ago and disappeared. I checked the government database. In London, there were four Kitty Rileys: two were women over their 50's, one teenager, and a toddler."

"But she existed. Sherlock and I met Moriarty at her house."

"She could be also a part of the plot, John."

John's voice got feverish and urgent.

"We need to dig more."

"I'll cover the police part. You check on Mycroft."

"Greg. You don't have to. You've got a family. You're risking your…"

"I know. That's the least I can do for Sherlock."

The DI heaved a big sigh. Managing to keep his posture, he whispered.

"I really shouldn't have listened to Donovan and Anderson."

Their eyes locked briefly only to find raw sorrow that still lingered.

Mycroft glanced at the two reports that Anthea had just brought. One was John's security report: on the last page was the picture of John and the DI talking over tea. That was good because John started to engage with outside world: as far as he knew, except his counseling with his counselor and a few Bereavement UK meetings, John barely walked out of his new flat. The older Holmes smiled at the picture and closed it. While he was in the Cabinet meeting, he got a text from the doctor: John suggested they have tea together. For months John had cut off all the communications with the older Holmes so it was rather unexpected. Taking this as a sign of John's getting better, Mycroft opened the second file. Instantly, his brows frowned into one line. According to the second report, Greg Lestrade was sniffing around the closed Bruhl case and contacting the Sun for Kitty Riley. A hunch of a detective couldn't be underestimated. Mycroft had to take action now. Agent Riley had returned to her work; her name was an alias; Lestrade would be stuck at dead-end. However, the Bruhl case was different. The DI could open the kidnapping case again anytime. Mycroft called Anthea and arranged a meeting with Lestrade that afternoon. He sent a text to John, asking for a rain check given that he was to leave for Brussels the following day.

Late afternoon, Greg Lestrade staggered out of a sleek black Benz. His face was pale with his eyes unfocused and gait unsteady. A couple of passersby moved away from him thinking that he must be a drunken man. He couldn't care less. He sat down on the nearest bench and heaved a deep sigh. The dialogue with the older Holmes rang into his ears like an enormous drum beating.

John needs to believe, Inspector.

He sat there for a long time, cussing the Holmes brothers for pushing him into a tight spot. His mobile vibrated for an incoming text: it was from John.

"Anything interesting? JW"

The DI felt as if a heavy boulder fell onto his heart. He punched a reply while hating him, Mycroft, and Sherlock more.

"I was mistaken. Riley contacted me. Moriarty was to blame. Sorry. GL"

It took more than five minutes before his mobile rang. He could hear the doctor's teary whisper.

"Greg. Thanks. For a day, I was happy because he might be still alive."

Before the DI could say anything, the doctor hung up. Lestrade blinked to stop the burning of his eyes and walked to his office - he had to withdraw the request to reopen the kidnapping case. Mycroft Holmes, meanwhile, upgraded John's watch and called his counselor.

I really hate myself to push John like this:( Please, review or comment about what you think. THANKS.

p.s. As far as I remember, Sherlock licked the candy wrapper and declared it was mercury. I don't know what kind of taste buds he got yet is it possible to detect mercury like that? It was also something not in his character. Sherlock Holmes completely and thoroughly ignored the CSI basics.