Short version: Not dead. So yeah, my deepest apologies for making all of you wait so very long for the next chapter. On the bright side though, due to some...ah...unforeseen effects of recent events, I should have lots more time to write in the near future!
Greg ran a hand over his tired eyes and sighed before he turned to greet the Baker Street duo. Sherlock offered nothing more than an agitated wave as he stalked purposefully towards the body.
"This is definitely a weird one, thought you might want to have a look," Lestrade stated as he watched his consultant gingerly step around the body with less merriment than usual. He frowned and took a closer look at Sherlock's body language, still attempting to puzzle out what was the cause. Before he could draw any conclusions, John drew his attention back to the murder.
The doctor crouched down near the victim's head as he snapped on a pair of latex gloves. "Well, this is definitely weird…are we thinking this one is linked to the staking case?"
"Of course we are, John!" Sherlock declared before the DI even had a chance to open his mouth. "This is the bartender from the club—Dante, I believe was his name."
"So this murder is connected?" Greg demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
With a put upon sigh, the genius gestured toward the body and retorted, "You know it is, Lestrade! That was precisely why you called me in the first place! Besides, don't you find it odd that mere hours after we go question his 'employer' that he ends up dead in an abandoned lot half way across town?"
John grimaced as he checked over the body. "Not only that, but he was exsanguinated. Look—there are two puncture wounds on his neck right here."
Sherlock stepped closer to get a better look. He whipped out his pocket magnifier and inspected the perforations more closely. "Hmm…you're right, John…so first we find a supposed vampire murdered by what initially looked like a stake through the heart and now we find someone within that same inner circle dead with what was obviously meant to look like a vampire bite drained of his blood…fascinating."
"Look here," the doctor pointed out, drawing his partner's attention to the tissue around the initial wounds. "It's difficult to see now because of the loss of blood, but you can see traces of teeth marks around the vampire bite."
"Yes, I had noticed," Sherlock acknowledged as he further examined the corpse from this new vantage point.
"I would say that this guy hasn't been dead more than maybe…two hours? And I would hazard a guess that the ultimate cause of death was blood loss. Though the autopsy will probably give you more information," the doctor added while he stood back up.
"Thanks, John. Appreciate it," Lestrade said, glad that their theories meshed. He was momentarily distracted though as he watched his friend help the genius to stand. Sherlock had a pained expression on his face as he resumed his full height. A quick glance to John revealed the doctor offering what could only have been an apologetic look—Greg had seen it enough to know that it meant the doctor was sorry for something. His suspicion was confirmed when Sherlock's hand lingered in his partner's hold longer than was strictly necessary.
"And all I can say is thank God! Finally! The tension between you two was making everyone else edgy! So now maybe we can all just go back to our daily scheduled lives and not have to contemplate whether the dynamic duo is shagging, because based on what I see, that's a resounding yes," the DI stated with a cheeky grin and a wink at his companions.
"You're not half as slow-witted as the rest of this lot," Sherlock grumbled. "Though your deductions also are aided by the fact that you no doubt have inside information."
John was not about to continue this conversation further with half the Yard present to overhear. "Great, so umm…we'll just wait for the lab results then? See you later, Greg!" He grabbed his flat mate's hand and pulled him towards the street.
Lestrade just chuckled as Sherlock called back to him, "Have Molly run a full test on puncture wounds! More than likely there is some residual saliva from the bite!"
The doctor miraculously hailed a cab on the first try and was already sliding in before the genius had time to say anything else. Sherlock told the driver to take them straight to Bart's before he turned to give his partner a confused expression. John was angled away from him, cheeks flushed and staring out the window, doing his best not to look at the younger man.
"You're embarrassed," Sherlock stated blandly.
"Yeah, umm, yes—good guess."
"Oh…" For a horrifying few seconds, the genius started to doubt his blogger's feelings for him. Emotions were never really his forte so it was possible he had read the situation all wrong.
John got a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach as he watched the reflection of his partner's face fall at his admission and he quickly sought to rectify the misunderstanding. "No—no, I'm not embarrassed by us, Sherlock! Just having everyone know our personal business! Did you really think I was embarrassed by you?"
"What else would you be embarrassed about?"
"God—Sherlock! I could never be embarrassed by you—well, not in this sense."
That got him a small quirk of the lips before he clarified, "It's just having other people comment about it—about us."
The genius gave him a quizzical look and said, "Honestly, John—it's just Lestrade. You talk to him about us—oh, don't give me that look. I know that you have discussed our…relationship with him so I fail to see why it matters in this instance."
The older man just shook his head and smiled ruefully. "You're right, it is just Greg." He then reached over and grabbed ahold of his best friend's hand to interlace their fingers.
"I suppose this is why we should talk about this shift in our relationship," Sherlock surmised.
"It would decrease the potential for misunderstandings."
"Are you alright with waiting until the end of the case before we have that talk? I feel that this is one of those things that deserves my full attention and I cannot give it that until we solve this case," the genius inquired.
With a nod, John responded, "I can live with that."
Hours later saw them in the cold sterile familiarity of Bart's lab after watching Molly preform the autopsy. Then there was the routine analysis that followed. John was sitting on a stool staring blankly at the mass spectrometer, listening to its whirling and humming. It was a comforting white noise, something that he was accustomed to and it helped to focus his thoughts and to calm his frazzled nerves. John had thought he was over this, but it seemed he was wrong. Again.
He wasn't even sure what he was nervous about really. Sherlock had responded positively to the idea of them being together and had thought it was him that was the issue. Perhaps it was the hot and heavy sex bent over the kitchen table that did it—well, that and then rushing straight to a crime scene. The doctor was pretty sure his adrenaline level was still through the roof at the moment. Yes, that was it.
While his mind ran in circles, John lost track of time and nearly fell off his chair when the heavy door swung open suddenly.
"Are those the results Sherlock was looking for?" John asked as Molly entered the lab with a ream of paper tucked under her arm.
She quickly walked over to him, took the stool next to his, and handed him the files. "Yes—and the autopsy results from the victim—take a look. I think you'll find them quite interesting."
He accepted them with a "Ta" and started leafing through her report with mild curiosity.
Molly glanced around with a confused look on her face and wondered aloud, "Where is Sherlock anyways? I thought he was here in the lab with you?"
At that precise moment, the door opened to reveal said man. Both John and Molly watched as he slowly entered the lab with an odd expression which didn't dissipate as he slid his coat off and took a seat across from his companions.
"Alright there?" John inquired, slightly worried.
"Yes—it was—never mind."
Sherlock hesitated before telling them, "I was a few floors up chatting with a nurse who had reported an odd occurrence the other day, according to Lestrade. I took the nearest lift to get back down here…I know pressed the button for the right floor, but it took me down to the basement; the lights and the power then went out. I had to pry the doors open manually."
John raised his eyebrows at that but kept silent.
"Since it was clear that the lift wasn't working, I just took the stairs back up to the first floor," the genius explained. "The, umm, the stair case wraps around the bloody lift shaft and as I was walking back up—the damn thing followed at the same pace! I know for a fact that the power was out! And then when I got to the first level…the lift is right there, doors open and lights on like nothing had happened. I was just…strange…"
Molly and the doctor exchanged a knowing look as she whispered, "The coffin lift."
"Pardon?" Sherlock questioned.
"It's kind of like the ghost story of St. Barts," John told him.
"Seriously?" Sherlock asked in an incredulous tone.
Molly nodded in confirmation. "Yeah, it happens all the time actually, especially at night. Legend has it that there was a nurse who was supposedly killed by a patient in that lift ages ago."
The genius glanced back and forth between the two doctors with a look that clearly said that he was worried about their collective sanity. "The both of you are not sitting here telling me that actually believe in a ghost story are you? Fully trained medical professionals, giving in to silly superstitions..."
"Seeing is believing," Molly chirped to which Sherlock simply rolled his eyes in response.
"I'm not saying that I necessarily believe," John defended himself, "but… when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
His flat mate stared at him with a blank look on his chiseled face. "Please tell me you are not trying to use my own logic against me in this situation." He waved his hands in the air as if to dissipate the very thought that a ghost story could be true before reminding his companions in an aggravated tone, "Now if we're done with this nonsense—I have a murder to solve if you would be so kind to get on with it. Do you have my test results?"
Molly nodded as John handed over the stack of papers. "Definitely saliva in the puncture wounds," she confirmed.
"And I'm sure you don't need to be told who's DNA it was, do you?" John asked wryly.
Sherlock sighed and set the file down as he declared, "It's just too easy. Have you notified Lestrade yet?"
"Yeah, I just called him before I came back into the lab a few minutes ago," Molly stated.
Without any other queue, John immediately stood and slipped his jacket back on mere seconds before Sherlock did the same.
"Oh, are you off then?" Molly asked in surprise.
"Yes," Sherlock answered bluntly as he tied on his scarf. "No doubt Lestrade has come to the wrong conclusion and has arrested the wrong man."
"But the tests—" she protested in confusion.
Sighing with an air of exasperation, the detective stated, "The tests were meant to lead us specifically to the one person that seems the most likely to have perpetrated the exsanguination."
Sherlock's bloody coat billowed out behind him as he stepped out onto the pavement in the late night—or early morning, depending on one's perspective. John huffed in aggravation as he yet again struggled to catch up to his infuriating flat mate-turned-lover. It was nearly a full block before the doctor caught up with him.
"Jesus, Sherlock! Can you just slow down for a minute?" John queried.
"What?" the genius asked, genuinely confused.
The older man barked out an incredulous laugh. "You've got to be joking, right? You and your damn stork-like legs—some of us don't have the stride of bloody ostrich!"
Sherlock stopped suddenly, which caused his blogger to run into him. He turned just in time to catch the other from falling. "Honestly, John—I am an ostrich or a stork? I can't very well be both."
With a giggle, the doctor gave his companion a playful shove, "Alright, alright. Go on then."
Smirking, the consulting detective resumed walking. They continued on in companionable silence for a few minutes before John spoke again.
"Aren't we going to the Yard? Why aren't we taking a cab?"
"Oh we are," Sherlock assured him. "I just know that you are still extreme high on adrenaline right now and I thought that it might do you some good to burn off a little of that energy before we spend the next several hours in the company of Lestrade's team of dimwits."
Coming from anyone else, that statement might have seemed a bit odd, but John found it rather touching coming from his best friend. He appreciated it, especially since John felt that he might crawl out of his own skin with the need to do something.
After several more blocks, Sherlock finally hailed a cab and they sped off towards the Yard, each man absorbed in his own thoughts. When the car pulled up along the curb in front of their destination, the genius paid the driver before they made their way into the building side by side.
The desk clerk waved them in and said that Lestrade and Sally were bringing in their suspect now. The partners hurried off down the corridor leading to the interrogation rooms. Mere seconds later, Donovan rounded the far corner, manhandling a very serene looking Constantine in front of her.
"Doctor! How pleasant to see you again, and so soon!" the vampire greeted with a toothy smile. Sally snorted in disgust as she kicked open the door to the chosen room and dragged her charge in with her.
"Lestrade!" Sherlock hissed as the DI drew near. "You have arrested the wrong man! Have I taught you nothing?!"
Greg's tired features twisted up in annoyance as he retorted, "He knows the victim, his DNA was found on the body—which was drained of its blood, I will have you remember! A bit funny how those puncture wounds seem to be the only point of blood loss."
"But Dante seems to be more than just a friend to him—why would he kill someone in his inner circle?" John questioned.
With a shrug, the DI answered, "Stranger things have happened. And that's why I'm about to get a confession out of him."
"Highly unlikely," the younger man stated arrogantly.
"And why is that?" Greg demanded as his crossed his arms over his chest.
Sherlock threw his hands in the air, completely exasperated. "Because he's not the murderer! Look at him, Lestrade! Does he seriously look like a killer to you?!"
"Yes," was the surly reply. "I'm a cop—everyone looks like a killer to me."
Rolling his eyes, the consulting detective challenged, "Then do I look like one too?"
"Again—yes," Greg said emphatically. "I swear to God that you kill my patience! And just because you've annoyed the living shit out of me, you can watch from the other room."
Before his two mates could get into a full blown row in the middle of the station, John wisely chose that moment to grab ahold of the sleeve of Sherlock's coat and pulled him into the viewing room. Resigned to his fate, the detective, sulked as he ground his teeth together and watched the interrogation begin. Neither said a word until a good twenty minutes had passed and John dared to edge a little closer to partner.
"Do you see where you could have handled that a little differently?" he asked softly, never taking his eyes from the one-way mirrored glass.
A deep sigh responded to his question. That was alright, the doctor knew that Sherlock understood how the situation could have been handled instead of the way he dealt with it. John was about to say something else when the door to the interrogation room was flung open and hit the wall with a dull thud.
"What is the meaning of this?!" Greg demanded as he jumped to his feet. Sally was at his side in an instant.
A man in a three piece suit, looking every part the power broker lawyer he without a doubt was, stepped into the room. "Constantine, don't say another word," the man advised.
"And just who the hell are you?!" The DI growled angrily.
The man didn't flinch as he met Greg's cold stare with one of his own. "I have been retained as Mr. Lugosi's legal counsel. Now if you will, I demand that you allow me to speak with my client in private, Detective Inspector."
"Is that seriously his name?" John demanded incredulously.
His query went unheard as Sherlock watched with keen interest as second man, who had remained hidden in the hall until now leaned into the room. When the doctor followed his flat mate's line of vision, his breath caught.
"Damon!" Lestrade bellowed. "What in God's name are you doing?!"
Salvatore shook his head and replied, "Sorry, Greg, but I couldn't let you do this—he's innocent."
"Oh this is rather entertaining…" Sherlock murmured as he leaned a little closer to the glass.
John regarded him with a fond expression as he declared, "Yes of course you would find it amusing. Don't think Greg sees the humor in this though. We might want to try and sneak out now before they remember we're here."
The genius turned and favored his blogger with a horrified look as he asked, "What? And miss all the fun?"
"You and I have very different ideas of what we both consider fun," the doctor muttered, shaking his head as he returned his gaze to the drama unfolding in the next room over.
Sherlock slid closer to him and bumped their hips together and smirked. "Not entirely," he revealed, his deep voice sent a shiver through John.
The older man laughed at that as he blindly reached down to grab his partner's hand and interlaced their fingers. They continued to listen to the shouting match between Lestrade and Damon for a few minutes more before John spoke up again.
"Seriously though—we should get out of here before they're done. Greg is in a right foul mood and I don't fancy being the target of his wrath. He was none too pleased with you when we showed up and I'd rather not deal with him when he's like this."
"But he arrested the wrong man!" the genius protested. "That's hardly my fault! Besides, if he had done his job correctly, he more than likely would have discovered that Constantine never left his club and therefore would excluded him as a suspect. It's merely because he's a convenient scapegoat and no doubt the Chief Superintendent is anxious to have someone answer for these bizarre murders."
"True… arresting a suspect buys Greg a little time while he continues the investigation," John reasoned.
Sherlock merely nodded in response before succumbing to his blogger's wishes and tugged him towards the door. They had just stepped out into the hall when Damon stormed out of the interrogation room and stomped off in the opposite direction. John froze like a deer in headlights as the DI joined them in the corridor.
Lestrade let out a frustrated groan and scratched at the stubble on his chin. "I know you're right," he declared without actually looking at his consultant, "but I just needed to be sure. Now the two of you get outta here unless you have something more for me."
Sherlock wisely kept his mouth shut and allowed the good doctor to lead him out of the building. For a brief moment he wondered if it was on fire the way John insistently hurried him along.
The Coffin Lift is actually a ghost story associated with St. Bart's-not making that up. Captain Evil found this wonderful book "Haunted London" that points out all these fun (wait for it) haunted places in London! So since this was originally supposed to be a Halloween story (yeah, I'm way off on that one!), I wanted to include it since what's a good "scary" story without a haunting?
For the absolute nerds in the group who I know will immediately go in search for the afore mentioned text, the ISBN number is 9781435138032 and the tale of the St. Bart's Coffin Lift can be found on page 64 (I also place myself in this category, so you know-it's meant as a compliment).