John Watson crouched on a ledge, four stories above the ground. He clung to the spaces between the bricks, fingertips turning white with the effort. The wind whipped at his jacket, and he closed his eyes, pressing his forehead against the rough outer wall to assure himself that he was still attached to it, however tenuously.
He should have zipped up his jacket. He should have found a better hiding place. He should have planned a better escape route.
He should have done a lot of things.
John opened his eyes, glancing up. The voices in the room beyond the window, the ones he had so cleverly climbed out of said window to avoid, had faded. It was probably safe to climb back in. Carefully, both to avoid being seen and to avoid losing his footing and plummeting to his death, John straightened his knees until his eyes were level with the window sill. The room was empty, and the door ajar.
Not knowing how long he had, John quickly swung himself over the window sill, rolling ungracefully across the floor and banging his knee on a chair leg. He lay there for a moment, expressing his pain through quiet but extremely emphatic hand gestures, before getting to his feet and walking somewhat asymmetrically toward the desk in the centre of the room.
The voices, and the men that they belonged to, had interrupted in the middle of searching it. Another quick rifle through the contents of its drawers revealed nothing he thought he could use. The computer on the desk was password protected, and John could barely remember the password to his email account half the time, much less figure out someone else’s.
He crept to the door, gingerly poking his head out to have a look. The hallway was empty. To the right, the lift waited, just two doors away. To the left, it was five doors to the stairwell, the way he had come in the first place, and the way he felt most comfortable leaving. He darted out, but only made it as far as the first door before he heard the lift go ‘ding’. In a panic he ran into the nearest room, shutting the door behind him and turning to lean against it.
Only to discover that there was now a woman staring at him from behind a row of computer terminals. She rose slowly, adjusting her red horn-rimmed spectacles.
“IT services,” John said, thinking quickly. “Routine maintenance of the, er, system.”
“This is IT,” the woman said, face impassive.
“Right.” John hadn’t noticed the servers stacked against the far wall.
“I’m going to call security.”
“No, just hold on a minute.” John pulled out his pistol and pointed it at her. She stilled, hands falling to her sides, and John felt a pang of guilt. “Sorry. I won’t hurt you if you do as I ask. If this is IT then you’ll have access to everything on the servers. I know Callaghan’s hiding something, so why don’t you have a seat and start copying everything you have onto this flash drive.”
He fished a flash drive out of his left pocket and placed it on her desk, keeping the pistol trained on her. His mouth was dry. Months of sleuthing and searching, months that had turned into years, and he finally had a result in sight. At first, try as he might, he couldn’t find any evidence that Moriarty had existed as anything other than a fabrication created by Sherlock Holmes the Fraud. Every lead John had followed led him to Richard Brook, frustrating his efforts to clear Sherlock’s name. Finally, he had been approached by a member of Sherlock’s homeless network: a skinny, grubby little boy who sold him a name for a five pound note.
Just one name: Terence Callaghan.
John had drawn a complete blank. Of course he had heard of Terence Callaghan - everyone living in London who owned a television had heard of Callaghan. He had just become the youngest man to ever be appointed Home Secretary.
But what had Callaghan to do with Moriarty? A quick search on the internet revealed that absolutely nothing. Callaghan was known for introducing controversial new policies that he claimed would protect British citizens, but in reality seemed to be more about restricting their freedom of movement and privacy. Thanks to him, Parliament had just passed a bill that had unleashed hundreds security cameras across London, and was preparing to pass another that would foist thousands more across the UK.
It wasn’t a link. If anything Callaghan was the exact opposite of Moriarty - tall, charming, seemingly grounded, and entirely dedicated to abolishing crime. Either young Wiggins had cheated him out of a fiver, or there was something more to Callaghan that remained to be discovered.
What else did John have to do anyway?
The woman picked up the flash drive, tossing it up and then catching it again. It had been a gift from Harry, another gadget passed down secondhand. This one looked like a metal cigarette lighter, until you pulled off the cap to reveal the usb plug.
“What is this? 4 gigs, maybe?” She asked, turning it over. “The server holds about three terabytes of data.”
“Just put whatever’s important in there. And any information you might have on James Moriarty.”
“Or.” With a deft twist, the woman squeezed the flash drive between her thumb and forefinger, crushing the metal casing and damaging the chip inside beyond repair.
John stared as she tossed it aside. No one could have done that, not with their bare hands. “How did you do that? Who are you?”
“I think you mean what am I,” the woman said, removing her spectacles. Her eyes were dark and calculating, definitely unafraid.
“Alright, yes, what are you?” John’s hand was steady, at least. He had that much. Slowly, he backed toward the door, hand outstretched behind him, feeling for the handle.
“Hungry.” The woman smiled, baring all her teeth, but it didn’t stop there. As John watched, she unhinged her jaw, revealing an impossible amount of teeth and a forked tongue. He fired his gun, emptying his cartridge into her chest, but it didn’t faze her. With a roar that was completely inhuman she launched herself at him. John threw himself out of the way, reaching for the spare cartridge in his back pocket as the woman crashed into the door, splintering it. She spun around, snarling, gathering herself to pounce again, and John realised that he would never be able to reload his gun in time. The woman realised this too, and she laughed, her face returning to normal. She lunged, and John hunched over, meeting her midsection with his elbow. It was like slamming into a brick wall. Clamping her hand over his arm, she flung him across the long work table, sending computer screens and keyboards smashing to the floor.
John groaned, rolling off of the table onto the ground, every joint screaming in agony. He had to find a way out, or soon the rest of him would be screaming too. He crawled under the table just as the woman leapt over it toward him and scrambled out the other side, trying to get to the door, but she was too quick. She jumped on top of him, pinning him to the ground. She was done toying with her mouse. She bared her teeth again, every feature of her face disappearing into that large, gaping maw. John could smell her breath, smell the stink of it, and it was going to be the last thing he ever remembered.
The door flew open, and Sherlock Holmes threw himself at the woman, knocking her off of John.
He rolled off her in one smooth motion, too quick and fluid for her to react. He looked at John, but at this moment a tall, skinny man in a blue suit ran into the room, brandishing a plastic yellow water pistol.
“I do love a dramatic entrance. Hello! I'm the Doctor! Which one of you is it, then?” he asked, glancing from John to the woman.
“That one!” Two voices in unison, American by the sound of it. A man filled the doorway, so tall that John almost missed the petite redheaded woman beside him.
“The one with all the teeth, Doctor!” The redhead yelled, pointing frantically. The Doctor spun around and doused the monstrous woman with water from his pistol, and she shrieked, skin smoking yellow where it touched her.
The American man ran forward, axe in hand. John watched as he cleaved clean through the woman’s neck, sending her head rolling across the floor. The blood that oozed from it was a black, viscous fluid. Her skin was still smoking, the flesh beneath charred and raw.
The redhead turned, beckoning to someone beyond the door. “Molly, you’re up.”
Molly Hooper stepped into the room. As John watched she raised her hand, holding up what looked like a twig.
“Evanesco,” she said, and the head vanished. On the scale of things that John had just witnessed, it was almost anti-climatic.
“Fantastic!” The Doctor beamed, stowing his water pistol in a pocket.
“It was just a vanishing spell,” Molly said, ducking her head.
“But the team work!” The Doctor continued, swinging one arm over her, and reaching up awkwardly to wrap the other around the shoulders of the tall American. “It was absolutely brilliant. We’ve got it down to a science!”
“My turn,” the redhead sang, pulling an external hard drive from her pocket. She walked over to the work table, surveying the wreckage on the floor, then moved over to the last computer terminal and plugged in an external hard drive. Seating herself, she began to type.
“John? Are you alright?”
Sherlock was standing over him, hand reaching down to help him to his feet. John took it, closing his fingers around Sherlock’s palm, feeling the warmth radiating from it. It was solid. He was real.
“I know you must have many questions, and I will answer them in time, but we must prioritise.”
Prioritise. Yes. First things first.
“That was a Leviathan,” Sherlock began, before John punched him in the face.