Disclaimer – You recognise it, I don't own it.
At London St Pancreas International station it is not unusual to find a young traveller looking around in amazement and wonder. Their first real sight of London… Of England.
So no-one looked twice at the lanky mid-twenties man, with auburn hair. Backpack strapped firmly to his back.
He was obviously a foreign student of some sort. Probably Spanish or Italian, by his colouring. Clearly visiting on some sort of holiday. Not wealthy. But not poor either.
With no one looking twice at him, not even the police, no one noticed the shining intellect behind the glasses he wore on his nose. Nor the slightly self-satisfied smug look on his face, which he was managing to hide spectacularly well. He was entitled after all. It was his first time back in London… In England for nearly three years.
Nobody followed the supposed student as he exited into the streets of London. Which was a good thing, as it meant that no-one noticed when less than half an hour later, the student was somehow transformed into an elderly, deformed man with a curved back and white sideburns.
Few people gave this man a second look either. Not even when he approached one of the most private and selective gentleman's clubs in London. Then again, most people didn't even realize it was a gentleman's club.
The man was shown into the Stranger's Room, where he waited calmly to be met.
It didn't take too long. But neither man spoke, until the servants had left and the doors firmly closed.
"Brother." Mycroft Holmes nodded at the man, "I trust this means you have succeeded?"
"Nearly." Sherlock Holmes pulled the wig and sideburns off and straightened up, "I have still to locate the new ring-leader. But I have deduced their location as London."
"You are certain?"
"Were you followed?"
"You insult me. Of course not."
"You have been partially successful. International crime has reduced a significant degree. Though not as much as I anticipated."
"New organisations have sprung up to replace Moriarty's." Sherlock shrugged, "It is the nature of criminals. However these new organisations are less organised and certainly far less dangerous. It is the remnants of Moriarty's Web that I have been concentrating on. The strands that the Police are too dull-witted to unravel."
"You have certainly been effective there. I presume you have at least a partial identity of the new commander?"
"I have heard numerous references to TC. Usually from those sent out to clean up certain messes that had unintentionally revealed their allegiance with Moriarty."
"TC." Mycroft rolled the name off his tongue, "Not a name that has come up in my investigations. However they have been very careful since Moriarty's demise. I believe it was not expected by any level of the organisation, leading to a short delay while hierarchy was established."
"That bears a resemblance to mine. Moriarty was too narcissistic to allow his organisation to continue unhindered after his death. It would give the image that he was unnecessary."
"Indeed. Where do you plan to start your hunt for TC?"
"Firstly by meeting up with John. Where is he?"
"John? Oh, Doctor Watson. I am afraid I do not know."
"What. Do. You. Mean?" Sherlock's voice was low and slow, "Where. Is. My. John?"
"It was for his own protection." Mycroft explained, "The only reason he had any value as a piece on the board was that he was your flatmate and colleague. By keeping surveillance on him I was endangering both him and yourself. My last encounter with him was at your memorial service. Where he threatened violence upon my person should I approach him again."
Sherlock actually looked slightly proud at that statement.
"I have reported statements that he was in attendance at a trial not that long after the service. Apart from that, I have no information of his location. Any investigation on my part would be recklessness. I have not even monitored his records. I could not trust anyone with the information that you were alive."
"Not even your shadow?"
"Some information is too valuable even to trust her. I would advise you, brother, to continue your investigations without the good Doctor's help. It is only sentimentality that causes you to request his presence after all. And caring is…"
"Not an advantage, I know." Sherlock finished the oft-mentioned phrase, "However it is you who does not understand. It is not sentimentality. I find my mind deduces better in John's presence. He is also a stalwart defender and friend. I bid you good day."
With that Sherlock replaced his disguise and quietly departed. His mind whirling as he walked the streets of London.
John was missing.
Mycroft had let John go missing.
John could be…
No, that had not happened. Sherlock was not going to believe that John had… Had… Had died. It was impossible. So it could be eliminated.
Once Sherlock had found John, they could go after TC together. Together nothing could stop them. He knew, far better than his brother, that John was more important than anyone realized. More valuable than his brain. John was necessary. John was important.
John, above everyone else, was the reason he'd jumped that day all that time ago. Because nobody was allowed to threaten John.
And he knew how to find John, even if Mycroft didn't. The Doctor was incredibly loyal and faithful to his friends.
He wouldn't have cut ties with Mrs Hudson.
To those of you who have read the previous two stories to this one… I have not made a Continuity Error. You are simply privy to some knowledge that neither Sherlock nor Mycroft have.
Yes, they can make mistakes. And they have here.