Actions

Work Header

THE BLACKBIRD AND THE SPARROW'S NEST

Chapter Text

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson ran down dock #3 at the Racecourse Marina Windsor to the small yacht docked at the end just as another yacht burst into speed and left the marina at a breakneck pace.

“He’s getting away!” Sherlock yelled, but there was no time to give chase.

The small yacht was already starting to list as it took on water. As they neared the yacht, Sherlock shook off his coat and pulled off his scarf, dropping them onto the dock, then leaped on board the craft as if he practiced parkour every day. Even so, he let out a groan with the landing. As he was nearing his fortieth birthday, his joints were giving him signs that they were not quite as forgiving as they were when he was twenty-five. John made a more cautious but quick boarding. Sherlock was already heading below deck.

The lower deck had several inches of water and more was coming in at each moment, and Sherlock waded mid-calf into the staterooms. “Stay back, John! Wait for emergency services!” he said as John started to follow him.

“Two of us will make it go faster!” John insisted.

The yacht suddenly lurched with a small explosion beneath the hull and Sherlock was quickly up to his knees in water. “Get back!” John stepped back to the upper deck while Sherlock opened the master stateroom. The large bed was already underwater, and covers and pillows were floating on the water with other debris. Sherlock opened the storage areas against the pressure of the water which immediately flooded each one. Yachts were not his specialty and he’d spent very little time on them. Storage was tight and cramped, he knew, but he still needed to find a space big enough to hide a body or two. He tried to scan for clues. Live-aboard, linens unwashed. A child’s shirt floated on the water buoyed by a half-dressed Barbie doll. 

“Sherlock, hurry up!” John yelled.

“They’re here somewhere! They have to be!” Sherlock insisted as he slogged through to the galley. Seat cushions were floating in the water. He thought he heard something, like a soft pounding, and he turned around. He reached below the water to open a compartment beneath one of the bench seats, immediately flooding it, but a hand reached out, and he quickly pulled up a young teenage girl who came up gasping and coughing. “I’ve got one!”

The girl clung to him. My sister! Find my sister!  she begged him in Ukrainian. It had been several years since he had spoken any Ukrainian, but he vaguely recognized what she said, and he also knew there was another person on board. At least that was what the intelligence sources had indicated. Ukrainian wasn’t a widely spoken language even in the Ukraine where more than 80% of the population spoke Russian. The fact that the girl chose to speak in Ukrainian suggested to him that the girls were an ethnic minority and were from somewhere between central and western Ukraine. Ukrainian had been necessary for him to learn a few years earlier during his two-year MI6 mission of dismantling Moriarty’s network, but the Ukrainian branch of the network was small, and he hadn’t spent much time there. He had tucked the language away in a room in his mind palace.

I will find her he assured her as he helped her up the stairs towards John. He was surprised how quickly the words came to him although he was not certain his grammar was 100% correct, and he did not have time to access his mind palace for more detailed information.

John pulled the girl up onto the deck and onto the dock, and as he did, the yacht suddenly lost its mooring, listed sharply and began to go down. The yacht basin was not terribly deep but it was still deep enough for the small yacht to be completely submerged under many feet of murky water.

“Sherlock!” John yelled as the yacht went completely under in a matter of moments.

Sherlock tumbled in the darkness as the yacht shifted, and he found himself underwater not knowing which way was up until he released a small bit of air from his lungs and tracked the direction of the bubbles through his fingers. He followed the bubbles as small emergency lights came on. They would short out soon enough, he knew, but he found an air pocket and gasped for air. The yacht had gone down on its side, and he knew there was not much time. If the sister was still alive, she would likely drown quickly. He also knew his time was limited. Although he was certain the air pocket would remain, it would quickly run out of oxygen. He was going to have to swim with the girl whether she was alive or dead, and he was going to have to dive within the yacht to search for her.

He took a large gulp of air and dove down a few feet, feeling his way along the curved bench seating in the galley. He opened the storage units beneath each. Nothing but normal items. He came back up for air, then struggled to open the seating above him. Something immediately tumbled down on top of him, forcing him momentarily under the water. He saw her. A child of no more than ten years old, and she was as limp as a rag doll in the water. He quickly pulled her up into the air pocket. She was unresponsive.  Breathe! He said. "Breathe, damn it!” He patted her cheeks but she remained unresponsive, and it was impossible for him to attempt CPR. Drowned, he knew, but he did not know for how long, and he hoped there was a chance to save her. He made his way towards the stairwell, took a deep breath and pulled her underwater as he swam out with her in tow.

The surface of the water was at least twenty feet up, but it was not clear. Filtered light in the murkiness. He pushed off from the yacht to propel himself up faster, but even so it was further than he thought, and he felt his lungs wanting to burst. As he broke surface he gasped for air and he quickly brought the child up.

John reached down from the dock and pulled the child up onto the wooden planks, then helped leverage Sherlock out of the water.

A small crowd had started to gather from the nearby restaurant and small housing community. Emergency vehicles were just pulling up into the marina car park, and Sherlock picked up the girl in his arms and carried her down the dock to the grassy area where John immediately began CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Her lips were blue. John had only been at it for a few moments when they were met by the emergency paramedics and police. John stepped back and let the paramedics take over.

The older sister began to cry at seeing her younger sister so lifeless, and John held her back as the paramedics began to work on her. CPR was not helping the child.

“Anichka! Anichka!” the older girl wrenched out of John’s grasp and fell to her knees beside her sister. She gently stroked the girl’s head, Wake up! Please!

John again pulled her back and wrapped his arms around her firmly. Sherlock turned to the sister.

What is your name? he asked.

“Ionna.” She said.

Ionna, Let them work. He said gently. He assured her that everything possible was being done.

Is she dead? She turned to John and began weeping into his shirt. Sherlock figured her age to be between thirteen and fourteen, but she was small, perhaps due to inadequate nutrition in her formative years. The same was true of her sister. She was given a warm blanket, and John wrapped it around her. She was trembling but not with cold.

Anichka remained unresponsive despite the CPR, and she was quickly loaded into an ambulance with her older sister. Please come! She begged Sherlock.

He shook his head and told her she was in safe hands and not to worry, but inwardly he was worried. He was no longer concerned for their safety but he was concerned for their ultimate fate.

Detective Inspector Lestrade walked across the grass to Sherlock. “Good work getting to the girls.”

“I wasn’t fast enough.” Sherlock said grimly. “The young one is dead.”

“You don’t know that.” John said. “They’re still working on her. In fact, I’m going to go with them to hospital and see what I can do to help. I’ll catch you later.” John ran up to the ambulance just as they were about to close the rear doors, and he was immediately let in. Within moments the ambulance took off with sirens wailing.

“They would have both been dead if you hadn’t got here first,” Lestrade reminded him, but it was of little comfort. Sherlock felt the sting of failure. He had worked out where the girls were and was simply first on the scene, but he hadn’t worked it out quickly enough, and a child was possibly dead. He knew that ultimately the death was not on his shoulders, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that had he been just a bit quicker in all respects that she might still be alive, even though he knew she might have been dead before they even arrived on scene. ““I didn’t know you spoke Russian.” Lestrade said.

“Ukrainian.” Sherlock corrected. “They’ll need an interpreter, of course.” Sherlock said. “Go easy on her when you interrogate her. She must be all of fourteen. She’s not a criminal.”

“Why don’t you interrogate her since you already speak the language?” Lestrade asked.

“Let’s not forget the screaming that happened the last time I attempted to interrogate a child,” he said referring to an incident a few years before when his old nemesis, James Moriarty, had had two children kidnapped by someone who looked very much like Sherlock. When Sherlock had gone in to question the girl later, she had screamed in terror.

“But you saved these girls. It’s different.” Lestrade said.

“I saved the two Bruhl children also and was smeared as a fraud in the press. No, I leave the interrogation of minors in your hands.” He said.

“And just how did you know that they were even on the boat?” Lestrade asked.

“Not everything is about deduction. Sometimes it’s just about getting the right information.”

“You’ll have to get a lot more specific than that or the press will nail you as being involved, and this, like the case Moriarty tried to frame you for, have image tarnishing implications, and this one will be much worse.”

He did not want to elaborate further at the moment, however. It could damage the trust he had built with his network and possibly put some of them in danger. The network was an excellent source regarding information on runaways, hiding fugitives, and various other crimes including human trafficking. There were codes for certain activities, and the code they had for trafficking was “stolen painting.” When he was alerted that two sickly young runaways had been recaptured by traffickers and were to be killed, he had dropped everything to search for them. He was informed of a yacht at the marina that was often used for illicit trafficking activities and that two young girls matching the description of the runaways had been seen on the boat. He could not tell Lestrade any of that, however, without risking his ability to be a confidant to his network. They needed him as much as he needed them.

It was obvious to Sherlock that the traffickers felt the heat of the law on their plans and had tried to scuttle the boat and kill the girls. It did not completely make sense to him, however, that a perfectly good yacht should be scuttled just to murder two girls when killing them could have been done in much easier and far more discreet way. He was either dealing with a trafficker who had panicked or with a moron. He favored both scenarios.

“I have to protect my sources, Detective Inspector.” He said simply.

Lestrade sighed in frustration. He hated it when Sherlock tied his hands that way. “I’ll come up with something to tell the press.”

One of Lestrade’s officers handed him a blanket, and Lestrade handed it to Sherlock.

“What’s this for?” Sherlock asked.

“Because you’re dripping buckets, and I’m giving you a ride back to Baker Street, and I don’t want you getting my car seat wet.” Lestrade said simply.

“Let me save you the worry.” Sherlock said somewhat sharply as he retrieved his coat and scarf from the dock and walked over to the GoGos restaurant inside the main marina building. He returned several minutes later wearing his coat and scarf, but his trousers and other wet clothes were in a plastic trashbag. His legs were bare as were his feet.

“Are you naked under that coat?” Lestrade asked.

“Aren’t you naked under your clothes?” Sherlock rolled his eyes at Lestrade as he got into Lestrade’s car.

As Lestrade drove him back into central London, he turned to Sherlock and said, “This isn’t actually my division, you know.”

“When I’m on a case, it’s always your division.” Sherlock said simply.

“Sherlock, this isn’t like a regular case.” Lestrade said. “It’s bigger than you and not one you can solve. Not this time.”

“Is that a challenge?” Sherlock asked.

“You know what I mean,” Lestrade insisted. “It’s not stolen jewellery or a husband having an affair or even murder. It’s human trafficking and the sex slave trade. There’s no one source of the problem. It comes from all over the world, and you can’t stop it.”

“I stopped it for those two girls.” He said.

“Maybe.” Lestrade said.

“What do you mean maybe?” Sherlock asked.

“Because they’ll probably be deported back to the Ukraine where there’s little hope for them to have decent lives as orphans, and they’ll go right back into it.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I said it wasn’t my division,” Lestrade said. “I didn’t say I was ignorant about it. You know what I’m saying is true. You just don’t want it to tarnish your heroics today.”

“Heroics? I don’t care about heroics.”

“Bollocks. You like the thrill of being in the most danger and you know it. You didn’t send John in after the girls on the sinking boat.”

“He’s got a family, and he’s not a particularly good swimmer.” Sherlock said dismissively.

“You get off on it, Sherlock. We both know that, and we’ve known each other too long for you to pretend you don’t. One of these days you’re not going to be so lucky.”

“One of these days Scotland Yard will be faster, but until then, your best bet is still me.”

It was true, and Lestrade knew it. There was absolutely no one in Scotland Yard who could deduce crime scenes or facts the way that Sherlock could, and Sherlock was none too keen to work as closely with Scotland Yard ever since the smear campaign that had been started by a couple of over-zealous detectives. Although Sherlock’s name had been eventually cleared, he generally did not trust them any more although his friendship with Lestrade remained intact.

Lestrade’s car pulled up at 221B Baker Street, and Sherlock got out of the car with a quick thank you and retrieved his bag of sodden clothes from the back seat. He fished out his keys from his pocket and let himself in. He was almost immediately met by Mrs. Hudson who was just on her way out, a small suitcase in tow. She looked him over, rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I’m not even going to ask.”

He dropped the bag of wet clothing at her feet. “Ruined probably, but perhaps you could take them to the cleaners for me while you’re on your way?”

“I’m on my way to my sister’s for the weekend, Sherlock. You’ll have to take care of it yourself.” She said. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek then wrinkled her nose. “What have you been swimming in, young man? Go take a wash!” She waved her hand to send the scent of him away as she let herself out of the front door.

He bounded up the stairs two at a time, glad to be back in his flat. A long, hot shower removed the stink of the Thames from his skin and hair, but his eyes burned a little from the contaminants from the yacht basin waters. He rinsed his eyes with cool water for several minutes. He had escaped death today and knew it, but he didn’t know how long he would be so lucky. Thankfully the life and death cases were rarely on the agenda, but he didn’t want to pursue them either. He’d had enough brushes with death to last him the rest of his life.

A text from John was waiting for him as he went into the kitchen to make some coffee.

GIRL’S HEARTBEAT RESTORED.
NOT AWAKE YET.
WILL KEEP YOU POSTED.
JW

Sherlock breathed a sigh of relief, but he knew a heartbeat restored was no guarantee that there was not residual brain damage from oxygen deprivation. What bothered him more, however, was that the one probably responsible for trafficking the girls into and within Britain had got away on another yacht.

The scuttled yacht would have to be pulled to the surface by salvage, and then Sherlock would investigate the yacht for further clues to the trafficker. That might take salvage several days, however, depending on how quickly Scotland Yard moved on it, and then it would have to sit in dry dock for several days to drain out the water and dry it out a bit. Finding the owner of the yacht would be simple enough, but whether or not the owner was of any connection was still to be determined. He would press Lestrade to have the yacht salvaged as quickly as possible before valuable evidence was further damaged or completely destroyed.

Maybe the girls would be able to offer information. He knew that conditions in the Ukraine, especially for orphan girls, were dire. Although human trafficking had never been one of his MI6 assignments, he had spent some time in the Ukraine dismantling parts of Moriarty’s old network, and he had seen first hand what little opportunity there was. Even so, it still shocked him at the age of the girls as this was a very seamy underside of human trafficking – either child slavery or pedophilia, and both turned his stomach. He was determined to find their trafficker and bring him to justice. He assumed the trafficker was male but he left open a possibility that the trafficker could be female. Either way, the exploitation of children was something he refused to tolerate, and he did not particularly even like young children or teenagers. He especially did not like teenagers. He thought they had got snarkier through the years, always thinking they knew more than they did with little respect for authority. He found them annoying.

There were some teenagers in his homeless network: disenfranchised youth who had been spit out of the system or who needed to escape a difficult home life, but he laid down a very firm personal law with them and had no qualms bringing his swift, stern judgment to anyone who stepped out of line. He treated them with respect and expected to be treated with respect and loyalty in return. Any disloyalty within the network was rooted out and dealt with firmly not only by him but by older members of the network. They would not tolerate it either. Sherlock was one of their guardian angels, they knew, but they also knew not to cross him.

Although he never helped in a soup kitchen, Sherlock did find ways of covertly helping those in his network. He generally left philanthropy into the qualified hands of others, but he could on occasion point someone in his network to potential opportunities for a better life without getting directly involved himself. Having grown up in a very comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle, he had never really wanted for anything, and he did have a small amount of sentiment for those who struggled daily to have something to eat or a safe, warm place to sleep. He could not fix London’s homeless problem, but paying some of them on occasion to be his eyes and ears had proven to be a tremendous benefit in solving a great many crimes faster than Scotland Yard.

Sherlock walked down a long corridor inside St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He had the floor plan of the entire hospital memorized, but he’d never had occasion to go down this particular corridor before.

He came to door 311E and knocked. He heard a muffled, “Come in” from the other side, and he turned the handle.

Molly Hooper sat behind a plain desk with a computer, mostly empty bookshelves, and one window that had an uninteresting view.

“What’s all this?” Sherlock asked.

“My office, at least temporarily.” She said. “Dr. Mickelberg had a sudden transfer to another hospital, and they asked me to take over his lab classes in the interim. Anatomy, of course.”

“Really?” he said.

“Congratulations would have been more appropriate.” She corrected.

Bad form, and he recognized it instantly, but it was too late to repair his response now without seeming contrite. “I’m just surprised you didn’t tell me before about this.” He gestured around at the office space.

“I wanted to be sure before I said anything, but this is a teaching hospital, and I am perfectly qualified and capable of teaching anatomy and pathology.”

“Wasn’t implying anything.” He said quickly. “So you’ll be teaching and working in the morgue?”

“I’ll be teaching and overseeing the morgue.” She said. “They gave me this office. Never had an office before. Just a locker.” Molly sighed a little, then bit her lip. “And I’ve been asked to give a lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine. Me. What do I have to say that they haven’t already heard a hundred times before and by better people?” She groaned and buried her face in her hands.

Sherlock rested a comforting hand on her shoulder. He could see part of a silver chain around her neck, and he gently lifted it, unburying it from behind her multi-colored jumper to reveal the ring he had given her only a month before. Their relationship was extremely guarded and private with only a handful of people in their tight circle aware of it. She could not wear the ring at work and risk too many questions, but it also wasn’t practical to wear any hand jewelry as she often had her gloved hands inside cadavers, and any ring could potentially rupture the gloves. She tucked it back into her jumper, then reached back and patted his hand. “So what do you really want?”

“Why would you think I wanted something?” he asked.

“Because you don’t make social calls here, not even to see me,” she said.

“Need to work on my CPR skills. Perhaps I could practice on one of the dummies at Barts?” he asked.

“Why the sudden interest in CPR?” She asked.

“It’s come up more than once in a case over the years. One never knows when it might be necessary.”

“So sign up for a class. They’re held all over the city all the time.”

“But there will be other people there.” he protested. “Just schedule me some one-to-one time with an instructor. Pull some strings. Work it out.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m not exactly in the business of reviving bodies but dissecting them, and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m rather busy. I’ve got lessons to prepare, an office to organize, work to do. Greg Lestrade can connect you. I believe all policemen are CPR trained.”

He leaned down close to her ear and barely whispered in a low rumble, “Dr. Hooper, did I mention how very proud I am that you have taken this new step in your career?”

She both loved and hated it when he was being charming to manipulate her. Mostly she hated it because he was very difficult to resist, compounded even more so by their engagement. Not only that, his cologne was particularly intoxicating, and it was the scent she loved the most on him, but she had a caveat. “You’ll help me set up my office.” She said firmly. There was a time when she would not have asked for anything in return, but if he so blatantly was going to use flattery as manipulation, she would make him work for what he wanted.

“Done.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek. He started to walk out, but she called to him.

“Sherlock, what happened today?”

He hung his head for a moment. She had seen through him like she always seemed to do, and there was no pretending. “I wasn’t fast enough.” He said quietly, painfully.

“What do you mean?” she asked, but when he shook his head and held up his hand, she knew not to press the matter. Since they had made a commitment to their relationship, he had become slightly more unlocked about his life and work, but he was still largely guarded about his heart. “Dinner?” she asked. “My place? 8:00?”

“I’m having dinner with Mycroft.” He said. “You’re welcome to come,” he added as an afterthought, but he actually hoped she would decline. Nevertheless he had suddenly felt obliged to invite her even though he suspected the conversation would be of little interest to her.

“Dinner with the two of you. Just shoot me now,” she said dryly. “I think I’ll pass, thank you. Will I see you after your dinner?”

“It could be very late,” he said. “Dinner tomorrow?”

“I’ll be up to my eyeballs in research, but I’ll order in some pizza.”

“No, on second thought I should leave you to your research. Don’t want to distract you, big career move and all.” He said. “I know what distraction can do to concentration.”

“Sherlock,” she said simply, “when I am done with my research for the day, I might like a little distraction.”

His brow went up at the idea and he winked at her before leaving her office.

Sherlock met Mycroft at the Savoy Grill at 1930 hours, and they were seated at Mycroft’s private table. Mycroft ordered wine for them, but they were not brought menus. The Savoy knew their orders by heart. Their orders never varied. Mycroft always had the grilled native lobster and Sherlock always had the fillet steak, medium rare. For dessert Mycroft always had English strawberry millefeuille and Sherlock always had vanilla crème brûlée with vanilla madeleine. Of course it always all went onto Mycroft’s tab.

“So I understand you had a bit of a swim in the Thames earlier today.” Mycroft remarked as he began his meal with a starter of steak tartare.

Sherlock took a bite of his smoked salmon starter. “I might purchase a yacht. What do you think?” he asked.

“I think you should stick to cases that have a beginning and an end.” Mycroft said. “You’ve got yourself involved in something that you cannot win. The Ukraine alone traffics over two thousand young girls and women into Britain every year, and that’s just one country they traffic to. And that’s just one country that traffics to Britain.”

“What’s going to happen to the girls, Mycroft?”

Mycroft shrugged nonchalantly. “If a relative can be found, they will be sent back. Or if they are orphans, they may be returned to their orphanage. We’ll see if they were kidnapped or exactly how they got into the country in the first place. Immigration issues are not my department. Why are you so concerned about these two children?”

“I’m not. Just don’t like risking my life if there’s not going to be a satisfactory outcome.” He said.

“Deportation is a satisfactory outcome.” Mycroft said.

“Maybe not for them.”

“If you’re so concerned, why don’t you apply for temporary guardianship?” Mycroft quipped.

“Don’t be absurd.” Sherlock said sharply. “But suppose I uncover something significant that I can diffuse? Perhaps I could take a little vacation to the Ukraine, sort things out.”

“I don’t see the point, Sherlock. There are far more pressing matters at home, or are you so bored?”

“Bored? Why do you say I’m bored?”

“Because you’re eating a decent meal which means you’re between cases.”

“I’m not between cases. I’m still on the case.”

“No,” Mycroft said. “It’s an immigration matter now. I suggest you move on. You haven’t even looked at the files I sent over yesterday, have you?”

“Mycroft, I don’t need you to feed me casework. I have people lining up at my door.” Sherlock said.

“Cheating husbands, stolen jewellery, missing persons. Puerile. Get back in the real game, Sherlock.”

Sherlock sat back in his chair. “Are you making me an offer?”

“The offer is always open, Sherlock. You know that. Think about it.”

“I have thought about it. You already know my answer.”

“So the celebrity lifestyle feeds your ego, is that it?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I’m not a celebrity, Mycroft. I’m a consulting detective.”

“On the front page of The Daily Mail and Guardian three times this week plus one television interview and a radio interview in the last twenty-four hours. You’ve moved up the list of the one hundred most influential people in Britain. John Watson didn’t make the list at all, but you did. Might we be expecting a tell-all autobiography soon?”

“They can read my blog, but they don’t, and that’s all I’ll give them.”

Mycroft sighed. “The Science of Deduction. A bit arcane for the common public.”

Sherlock shrugged. He did not care if people understood what he did. He had not kept up with his blog because it was clear no one was reading it despite his supposed “celebrity.” He expected people to attempt to keep up and if they were too slow, which he knew they were, that was not his problem. Nevertheless he had been somewhat disappointed in the lack of following on the blog. “Yet another dinner full of brotherly empathy and sentiment. Why exactly did you invite me?”

“Must I have an ulterior motive to have dinner with my brother?”

“Always.” Sherlock said.

“Just take a look at the files I left you, and enjoy your fillet steak at the expense of the British taxpayers.”

Their main courses arrived, and they spent the remainder of the meal mostly in silence, but that was largely how Mycroft preferred it. He did not care to chat and eat, especially if he had a lobster on his plate. He usually ate alone anyhow, so he was used to silence.

Mycroft gave Sherlock a lift home in a government car. “Might I be expecting to hear from you about the files within twenty-four hours?” Mycroft asked as Sherlock stepped out of the car.

“You might. Then again you might not.” Sherlock said simply.

He was about to unlock the door at 221B, but he hesitated, then stepped back onto the pavement and looked up at the windows of his flat. Something was amiss. The curtains were not quite right. He approached the front door cautiously, carefully slowly opening it. He reached in and flicked on the hallway light. He was instantly greeted with a debris field that extended up the stairs. Broken objects, papers, books.

Detective Inspector Lestrade arrived within the hour, despite it being a late hour. He was actually off duty but came at Sherlock’s request, bringing a team from Scotland Yard.

Sherlock’s flat had not just been broken into but completely ransacked and demolished. Broken items, papers, glass shards, overturned furniture. Computers and television smashed. His favorite skull was bashed in. Although Sherlock was not the most sentimental of people, it nevertheless unnerved him slightly that someone had so violated his personal belongings. He let out a terse sigh when he picked up his shattered violin. There would be no repairing it. Of all the damage, that hurt the worst. It was insured and he’d get another one, but he’d had that one for several years and knew just how to coax the best sound from it. Every violin was different, and now he’d have to find another one that he would feel he could grow old with.

“Someone really doesn’t like you.” Lestrade said.

Sherlock shrugged off the comment. There were countless people who did not like him. “I’m not even sure if they took anything or if they just brought in a wrecking ball. If Mrs. Hudson were here she would have heard it. That means I’ve been watched and someone was waiting for the right timing, waiting to do as much damage as they could without being interrupted.”

“Someone, but who?” Lestrade asked.

Sherlock stepped gingerly through the debris which crunched under his feet, and he righted his desk which had been turned on its side. All around him on the floor were the items that had once been on top of the desk.

“Sherlock, don’t tamper with the crime scene.” Lestrade remarked.

“I know it’s a bloody crime scene!” Sherlock snapped. “I’ll figure it out faster than your lot will.” He looked around at the debris near his desk. “I’m looking for a brown catalogue envelope. It was on the desk.”

The envelope held the files that Mycroft had sent over, and it was nowhere to be seen. Sherlock immediately wondered if that was the object of the break-in. Someone wanted those files, and he did not even know what the files were. Of course the files were only copies of the originals, and he could have Mycroft send over a second set, but there was always some governmental secret in the files, and just how top secret the files were was not something he knew.

“We’re looking for a large brown envelope with contents!” Lestrade said to his crew, but an hour of searching turned up nothing. Mycroft would be none too pleased.

“You may as well send everyone home. This isn’t a break-in,” Sherlock said. “As far as I can tell only one thing was taken. The rest of this mess is someone just wanting to destroy everything or do as much damage as possible to me personally.”

“Any ideas?”

“A few dozen.”

“Well, you’re not sleeping here tonight. The boys won’t be finished here for a few more hours, so I suggest you get a hotel room. They’ll be done by the morning.”

“But I just told you—“ Sherlock started but Lestrade interrupted him.

“Yeah, I know what you told me, but when you ask me to come here in the middle of the night, you play by my rules. Get a hotel.”

Sherlock briefly considered the possibility of going to Molly’s for the night, but it was late and he did not want to wake her, and so after picking up a few items from his bedroom and bathroom, he made his way back to the Savoy. He booked a lovely room that overlooked the Thames and the London Eye. He’d had occasion to stay there before and always had an open invitation due to an internal scandal he had managed to solve which saved the hotel well over £1,000,000. Sometimes he took payments and sometimes he took favors. With the Savoy he had taken a little of each. He often did not call in favors on cases at all, but the favors were there if he needed them. He stood at the window and watched the lights of the city at that late hour, and as he did he decided that a security system in the flat was long overdue. This was not the first time the flat had been broken into and it would likely not be the last, but he would make every attempt to keep his belongings safe in the future.