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.
Chapter 2: The Adventure of the Monster Men
“Sherlock!” Molly gasped, ducking out from under the Doctor’s arm, but Sherlock raised his hand, stopping her in her tracks.
Turning to John, he rubbed at his jaw. “I may have deserved that.”
“You definitely deserved that,” John corrected him.
“It was for your protection!”
Sherlock hit the floor this time. John flexed his hand, wincing.
“Is this really the time?” The Doctor asked.
“It really isn’t,” the redhead said, getting up from the desk and unplugging her hard drive. “We’ve got to go.”
“What is it?” Molly asked, slipping her twig into her bag.
The redhead handed her the hard drive, which Molly put in her bag as well. “I may have tripped an itty bitty firewall. Nothing major, only, you know, good time to run for it.”
“You tripped a firewall?” The tall man asked.
“I was distracted! Look at all this testosterone!” She gestured at Sherlock and John. “Seriously, though, we should book.” The redhead grabbed Molly’s hand and started for the door.
The Doctor, turned to John. “Aren’t you a doctor? Do no harm, all that?”
“I’m retired. And he made me think he was dead.”
“Fair enough.” He patted John on the shoulder with a big grin. “Well, like I always say, run!”
He ran off after the ladies, converses squeaking against the polished floor. The tall man gave Sherlock and John a helpless shrug, then took off after him.
“John,” Sherlock began again, but John shook his head.
“Not now,” he said, breaking into a jog.
They ran to the stairwell, but instead of going down, the others were running up, towards the roof.
“We’ll be trapped!” John shouted up at the others.
“I’ve got transport!” The Doctor yelled back.
Other footsteps filled the stairwell, the sound of many, many feet, far more than they had amongst themselves. John looked down to see hands sweeping along the railings, and shadows moving quickly upwards.
“The door’s locked!” The redhead called down. John heard her banging on a door - the roof access. “They must have put the building on lockdown!”
“Let me through!” The Doctor squeezed between her and Molly, reaching into the breast pocket of his jacket.
“No, I’ve got it,” Molly said, fumbling with her bag’s zipper.
“That’s alright, Molly, it’ll take me two seconds to configure the right setting.” The man peered at what looked like a silver screwdriver.
“Where’s my wand? I had it a minute ago!” Molly dug frantically through her bag.
“Look, if neither of you can open it, I’ve got another solution,” the tall man said, gripping his axe. Their pursuers were getting closer.
“There!” The Doctor pointed his screwdriver at the door the same time Molly retrieved her twig from the depths of her bag and cried ‘alohomora!’ The lock clicked, the redhead grabbed the door handle as if her life depended on it, swinging the door open, and they spilled out onto the building roof.
“Into the TARDIS, everyone!” The Doctor shouted, running across the roof toward what was very definitely a blue wooden box.
“What is that?” John asked, skidding to a halt to read the words across the top of it. “A police box?”
“Transport!” The Doctor replied proudly, pushing the door open. “Inside everyone, inside!”
“How is that supposed to fit all seven of us?”
“Just trust him, okay?” The tall man said, jogging past. “It’s… You’ve gotta see it for yourself.”
“Inside!” The Doctor ran back and herded them into the blue box. John tried to resist, but the Doctor was much stronger than he looked. Before he knew it, John was stumbling in through the door, bracing himself to crash into the others all packed in like sardines.
Instead, his back met air. His hands met air. There was actually quite a lot of air.
“Jesus,” he murmured, mouth agape.
“Everyone in? Everyone accounted for?” The Doctor glanced around, counting heads. Satisfied, he slammed the door shut just as the first of the security guards ran up onto the roof. “Well then, allons-y!”
“You should hold on to something,” Molly said, coming up to him and slipping her hands around the railing that circled what looked like a control panel in the middle of the room. “It gets a little rocky.”
“I love this part,” the redhead said, grinning from ear to ear.
John had just enough time to grab on before the floor bucked under his feet. The lights flashed, someone shrieked in a most undignified manner, and John was at least seventy percent sure that it wasn’t him. When the shaking stopped he collapsed against the railing, knees buckling.
The redhead laughed, tossing back her hair. “Better than the Bizzaro.”
“Where are we?” The tall man asked, getting to his feet. He had been thrown to the ground during the turbulence.
“The Forest of Dean.” The Doctor paused with an apologetic look. “Sorry, Sam. Forest of another Dean. So sorry. Still, somewhere safe, eh?” The Doctor skipped past them and opened the door. John could smell the trees. “I think we could use a few wards, just in case. Molly?”
“Okay.” Molly gave John a quick smile and drew her twig out of her bag again before stepping outside.
“I’ll help, I guess,” the tall man said, giving John an awkward nod. “I’m Sam, by the way. Sam Winchester.”
The redhead looked from John to Sherlock and took a deep breath. “I’ll go… Um. I’ll go. I’m Charlie.”
“Hi John. You get used to it,” Charlie promised with a quick smile before following Sam outside.
That left the Doctor. He surveyed the two other men in the TARDIS, hands in his pockets. “Some ground rules! No breaking anything, and that includes bones. No touching the controls. And if things get heated there are bedrooms. Just don’t… Don’t make a mess.” He made a face and rocked back and forth on his heels.
“Why would we need bedrooms?” John asked, an old familiar tic pulsing at his temples. Funny how old habits returned without much prompting.
“Oh, it’s fine, I’ve met all sorts. Well, I’ve met Jack.”
“We’re not going to need bedrooms.”
“No, ‘course not.” The Doctor pulled on a large, brown overcoat, signifying the end of his involvement in this conversation. He shut the door to the world behind him.
John looked around him at the impossible walls, at the lights and wires strung up along them, and the madly complicated console set into the middle of the room. Sherlock stood beside it, watching him take it all in.
“It’s a TARDIS,” he said, shifting ever so slightly.
“A what?” John inspected the coat rack by the door.
“A TARDIS. Time And Relative Dimension In Space.”
“And what’s that mean?”
Sherlock narrowed his eyes, as if John was being particularly thick on purpose, which, to be honest, he was. “It’s a spaceship.”
“Oh from space?”
“And Molly’s got a wand, so that makes her, what, Harry Potter?”
“Do also you have an alien tucked away in there or just more doctors and Americans?”
“What?” John shouted. Sherlock didn’t respond, didn’t seem to know how to respond. John clenched his hand into a fist, and since Sherlock’s face happened to be out of reach, he banged it against the railing instead. “It’s really you, isn’t it? I haven’t been eaten and gone to heaven or anything like that?”
Sherlock took a step towards him. An unwise move, as far as John was concerned. “This isn’t heaven.”
“No, of course not. You’re in it, must be hell.”
“Three years, Sherlock, three bleeding years. I thought you were dead. I buried you.” John hit the railing again, fingernails digging into his palm. “And you’ve just been spending all this time in a bloody spaceship!”
Sod the distance, John could close it in three wide strides.
“It’s also a time machine.”
That stopped John in his tracks.
Sherlock continued. “The Doctor made a miscalculation, and he jettisoned Molly and I into the future. It’s only been three days for me.”
There was a seat by the control panel - a little tattered and held together with duct tape, but a seat nonetheless. John made his way to it and collapsed on it, passing his hand over his head. He had stuck it out for three years, hoping against hope for some kind of miracle, and here Sherlock was claiming to have done a modern interpretation of the bloody resurrection.
“I think you better explain it from the top,” John said, massaging his forehead. Sherlock even had on the same clothes he was wearing the last time John had seen him, falling to the earth.
“We don’t really have the luxury of time.”
“We’re in a time machine.”
“Fine,” Sherlock exhaled, irritated. He leaned back against the railing. “Where would you like me to begin?”
John met his gaze. They might as well be in the living room at 221B, surrounded by all of Sherlock’s mess. It was all still there. John hadn’t moved a thing.
“Start at the roof.”
Chapter 3: The Adventure of the Monster Men
Molly drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, nervous energy working itself out in an erratic rhythm that did absolutely nothing to soothe her nerves. She gripped the wheel, willing herself to calm down. She was only about to break the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. But then again, she had already done it twice, and she still had her wand. Maybe they had relaxed the rules. After all, the books had come out, and now people held conventions and everything.
She looked up, and almost jammed her foot down on the accelerator. Sherlock was holding Jim over the edge of the roof of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
“That’s not the plan,” she said, panic surging into every synapse. “That’s not what you planned.”
Sherlock backed off, and the men moved away from the edge of the roof. Molly closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the wheel. It wasn’t that she still felt anything for Jim, it was just that she still had half a hope that Sherlock would somehow be able to turn it all around, somehow talk Jim out of it, convince him to give up and turn himself in.
Was that a gunshot, or just the wind? Molly stared up at the roof again, willing Sherlock to appear, willing him to still be alive.
Sherlock stepped up to the edge of the roof, his coat billowing out in the wind. Molly glanced behind her, through the small window in the back of the driver’s cab, at the garbage bags she had spent all night filling with foam. Sherlock had provided the trash disposal truck in which to place them. Molly hadn’t asked how.
He was on the phone, Molly could see him holding it to his ear and wished that she had some extendable ears. Who would he call? It wasn’t her, her phone was silent in her pocket, as always.
Sherlock raised his arm, reaching out over the edge. That was the signal. Fumbling a little, Molly started the truck, driving the short distance to park at the loading bay. She got out, looking around surreptiously. People walked with their heads down or with their eyes focused on where ever they were going. No one paid her any attention, and for once she was grateful for it.
She looked up at Sherlock. Their eyes met, and she gave him a nervous nod, reaching into her pocket.
Sherlock spread his arms, and fell.
Molly whipped out her wand, whispering under her breath as she flicked her hand and swished her wrist. The moment stretched to an eternity, and then Sherlock swooped midair as if caught on a draft of wind. Molly guided him into the back of the truck, and as soon as he was safe on top of twenty bags of foam she turned again, summoning the cadaver she had transfigured into the likeness of Sherlock Holmes. It smashed to the ground with a horrific, sickening crack.
Amid the screams and confusion, Molly returned to the truck, unnoticeable amid all the chaos.
“Are you okay? What happened?” She asked as she helped Sherlock pull a tarp over himself. “I thought I heard a gunshot.”
“Moriarty shot himself.”
“Oh my god, is he okay?” Molly bit her tongue, realising how stupid her question had been even as she asked it.
Sherlock gave her a look. “Molly, while I appreciate that you will have questions, there is a certain amount of urgency to our situation.”
“No, sorry, of course.” She got into the driver’s cab, but they had barely turned the corner before she screeched to a halt.
Sherlock rapped on the window between them. “Molly, I may have failed to stress the urgency-“
“It-it’s Jim,” Molly stammered, winding down her window and sticking her head out to confirm what she had seen in her rearview mirror. “He’s-It’s Jim!”
Sherlock pulled the tarp off his head, staring up at the roof of Bart’s. A man stood at the edge, his face catching the light of the sun. It was James Moriarty, it was unmistakably James Moriarty.
“Maybe he missed, maybe it was a trick.” Molly was blabbering, standing on the side of the street and just rambling away. “Maybe you thought you saw him shoot himself, but maybe you were mistaken.”
“I don’t make mistakes,” Sherlock snapped, shielding his eyes to get a better look. “Moriarty killed himself.”
“But he’s standing right there. He-” Molly stopped, heart caught in her throat. Jim had seen them, just as clearly as they could see him. And now there was something terribly wrong with his face.
“I’ve seen that before.” Panic flared again. Her heart thundered in her chest.
“This is a drug. I’ve been drugged,” Sherlock looked down at his hand, turning it over, sniffing at it. “Something to alter my perception of reality so he could fake his death and induce fear, oh, very clever. No puncture wound. Transdermal administration?”
“It isn’t a drug, Sherlock, it’s real, it’s very real. I’ve seen that face before!” Molly rushed to the back of the truck, undoing the clasp that held the grill shut. She beckoned to Sherlock, urging him to get out of the truck. “We have to go.”
“We have to go back,” he said, climbing out and heading for the driver’s cab. “John’s at the hospital. Moriarty knows I’m alive, he isn’t safe.”
“We’re not safe either, Sherlock, look!” Molly jabbed her finger in the air. Jim leapt from the roof, arms wheeling wildly as he soared through the air. It was an impossible jump, but he made it, crashing against the side of the next building, scattering brick and glass. Immediately, he began to climb downwards, towards them, like a spider bearing down on its prey.
Molly turned back to Sherlock, fear and adrenaline driving her to dare to grab his hand. “We have to go, I’m sorry, but we have to, or we’re dead. I’ll come back for John. I promise, but we have to go now. Don’t let go of my hand.”
Destination, determination and deliberation. Molly hadn’t apparated for years. She stumbled, head spinning, into a tree. As her world righted itself, she heard Sherlock retching.
“Are you okay?” She asked, running to him. “Do you have all your limbs?”
“Why are we in the Forest of Dean?” Sherlock waved her away. He was a unsteady on his feet, but the point was that he still had them. Molly sighed with relief.
“It just came in my head, somewhere quiet and safe. It’s where Hermione brought Harr—You wouldn’t have read—It doesn’t matter. Do you have any paper?”
Sherlock tore a sheet from his notebook and handed it to her. “What was that, back at the hospital? If it wasn’t a drug, then it wasn’t human, either. What was it?”
“Something from a very long time ago.” Molly scribbled quickly, then folded the piece of paper in half before taking out her wand. “I have to send a note, there’s someone we need.“
Molly’s lips twitched as she drew a circle around the note with her wand. It shuddered, then lunged into the air, fluttering its edges like wings. Molly flicked her wand in a wide arc, and it zipped up into the treetops, flying out of sight.
She turned back to Sherlock. “I have to go to the hospital to do your post-mortem. I have to be the one that does it, or they’ll know it’s not you. Please don’t wander off. If the Doctor comes, he’ll come right here, where I cast the spell. Give him this, so he knows you’re with me.” Molly reached into her pocket for her keys and detached the smallest one.
“Do you mean John?” Sherlock asked, taking the key.
“No, not-Another Doctor. But I’ll try to find John too. Just stay here, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
And, keenly aware that this was probably not her best idea, Molly disapparated.
Sherlock paced, his mind racing.
It wasn’t drug. Molly had seen the same things he had, and she hadn’t touched Moriarty’s hand just minutes prior. It was real, then, he could trust the evidence of his own eyes.
So there was magic, and there were monsters.
And a doctor - not his, another doctor. Molly worked in a hospital, she knew plenty of doctors, but why this one, in particular? A doctor that had to be summoned with a spell, one that had to be given a key.
Sherlock held out his hand, the key flat in his palm for examination. It was a simple brass Yale key, nothing spectacular or extraordinary. Presumably it opened a door. St. Bart’s had recently upgraded to the swipe card system to keep better track of its employees, but some storerooms and cabinets still had Yale locks. Did it open one of those?
Coming to the limit of deductions he could make without unsubstantiated assumptions or further input, he abandoned the train of thought and thought instead about Moriarty. How long since Moriarty the man had become Moriarty the monster? Had he been a monster the entire time? What sort of monster? Something with teeth - a large gaping maw of teeth - incredible strength and agility, not to mention the ability to survive a bullet through the back of its head. Sherlock allowed himself a wry smile. Before, he would have deleted this information almost as quickly as he processed it. If the past twenty-four hours were anything to go by, however, Sherlock couldn’t afford to dismiss fantasy and fiction any longer.
Speaking of which.
The wind picked up. Leaves and other detritus began to swirl, and spin, as if trapped in an eddy. Over the sound of the rustling trees came a distinctive whirring noise, like an engine.
A blue box began to flicker into existence, not five feet from where Sherlock stood. Not just any blue box, a blue police call box. As the wind and dust settled, Sherlock circled it, hands clasped behind his back. It had taken some knocks - there were marks on the corners, but at heights and angles that were inconclusive. One or two bullet scars, but from no bullet Sherlock had ever come across. He traced one such scar with his finger, measuring it from fingertip to knuckle. A bullet that size should have punched right through the wood, leaving a splintered hole, and yet it had simply ricocheted off the wooden surface of the box.
He came round to the front of the box, scanning over the instructions printed on the side before focusing on what appeared to be a simple Yale lock.
The key was hot in his hand.
“Sorry I’m late, I was on the other side of the universe!” The door swung open and a tall, skinny man in a brown striped suit stepped out, beaming as he pulled on a tan overcoat. He looked around, spotted Sherlock, and came forward, hand extended. “Hello, you’re not Molly.”
“No. Are you the doctor?” Sherlock took his hand, fingers ghosting over the man’s pulse point out of habit. He pulled back, startled.
“Two hearts, yes. Also yes, I’m the Doctor.”
“The Doctor. Where’s Molly?”
“In the morgue, I expect.” Sherlock straightened, making notes on the Doctor’s appearance. Modern haircut, plenty of product, and the suit had most likely been tailored to fit like a glove. But he wore converses, worn and brown with long and heavy use. Someone who walked a lot, traveled often - in a dingy police box, no less - and who saw battle, but didn’t like to engage in physical combat. Not a doctor: he didn’t exhibit any of the thirty-six tells that Sherlock had categorised over the years that Sherlock had spent in and out of Barts. Not a wizard: Molly said those were human, therefore, only one heart, not two. Not a monster: Molly trusted him, wanted him around. Someone who had just come from the other side of the universe.
And he had thought the world mundane.
“Which planet are you from?” he asked. Now that he had leveled the playing field, he was curious.
“Never mind that, why’s Molly in a morgue? She’s not dead, I got her note.” The Doctor pulled a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket.
“She’s doing my post-mortem,” Sherlock said dismissively. “It’s not any of the planets in our solar system, they can’t sustain life.” Thanks were due to Moriarty, he supposed, for making astronomy suddenly relevant.
“They can’t sustain human life.” The Doctor peered at Sherlock. “You’re not dead either.”
“Molly’s making sure I am. Is this your spaceship?” Sherlock walked back to the blue box, re-examining it. “How does it work? It doesn’t have thrusters, and it’s hardly aerodynamic.”
“What are you, an aeronautical critic? And why is Molly making sure you’re dead when you’re very clearly not?”
“I’m a consulting detective. Sherlock Holmes. Hi.” Sherlock gave the Doctor one of the smiles he had perfected. He was enjoying making his first alien look so very put out. “Could I have a look inside?”
“It’s alright, I’ve a got a key.” Sherlock wagged Molly’s key in the air, then inserted it in the lock in the door of the police box. It was a perfect fit.
The Doctor took a step forward, his whole demeanor changing. “Where did you get that? Where’s Molly?”
“I’ve told you, she’s in the morg-”
Sherlock was interrupted by a loud crack, then a scream, and Molly came tumbling out of the air, followed by a suit and a tie and a mouthful of razor sharp teeth.
“Help me, get him off me!” Molly screamed, struggling to pull her arm from its tenacious hold. But before Sherlock and the Doctor could react, the monster let Molly go, morphing back into Moriarty as it let out an agonised roar. Its arm was a stump, black blood spewing out onto the forest floor.
“That’s—” The Doctor’s face registered recognition, coupled with disbelief. “They were gone, they were trapped!”
“Impedimenta!” Molly shouted, and it was as if Moriarty was frozen in time. Even his blood stopped oozing.
“Molly!” The Doctor held out his arms to Molly. She hesitated.
He nodded, beckoning, arms still stretched out. “It’s me, magical Molly-girl.”
“Doctor!” She cried, running into his arms. “You really came!”
“‘Course I did. I got your note!” He laughed, almost lifting her off the ground.
“You look different.” Molly pulled back, searching his face, then shook her head. “Never mind that, sorry. We have to go. The impediment jinx doesn’t seem to affect him as much as it should.”
Sure enough, Moriarty began to move sluggishly, as if through water instead of air. But there was nothing wrong with his speech. “I’m as old as time, older than the angels. You think white magic can harm me? I’m a Leviathan, kitten. I’ve eaten hags with warts more powerful than you.”
Sherlock started forward, but the Doctor held him back.
“Careful,” he said, hand on Sherlock’s shoulder. Sherlock shook him off, but stayed where he was.
“What do you want with me? What’s your motive, why target me?”
“That wasn’t me,” Moriarty said, propping himself up. “That was Jim all over. He was the first one I saw, you know. On TV. Shining like a crazy diamond.”
“The trial,” Sherlock murmured.
“Man breaks into three digital fortresses, then walks out of court. Not guilty! That’s a man I just had to be. It took time, of course. And I was so hungry. Let myself get a bit distracted. But I got him, in the end, slithering out of that reporter’s house. Oh, I knew he’d be delicious, but I had no idea he would be so extraordinarily fun. You should see it, in his head. All his ideas, prowling and growling, scratching at their cages, flooding into me the moment I copied him. And your name, over and over like a drumbeat. Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes.”
“Stop it,” Molly said, holding up her wand. Her hand was shaking, and she had tears in her eyes.
Moriarty laughed. “He had it all planned out, so I thought, why not? Why not solve his final problem? He was prepared to take the curtain call, after all, I just added the twist.”
Sherlock couldn’t resist moving closer, scrutinising the mad eyes that tracked his own. Was there a difference between the man and the monster? Could he discern it? It had been a man, after all, that had thought strapping bombs to people would be appropriate motivation. It had been Moriarty himself who had orchestrated the elaborate farce of Richard Brook. Moriarty the man had already chosen to die, long before the monster could promise revival.
“Who is this? What are you all going on about?” The Doctor asked. “Molly, why are you crying?”
“This was James Moriarty, and it’s going on about how Moriarty convinced the world I’m a fraud.” Sherlock said, narrowing his eyes at the monster. Then he turned his back on it. “Molly’s probably crying because it ate her ex-boyfriend.”
Molly made a sound like a spitting cat. “We had three dates!”
“Oh yeah, you’ve never really had the best taste in men. Remember the Duke of Cheswick, in 3046?” The Doctor asked.
“That was fourteen years ago!”
“Is it just me, or is that spell wearing off?” Sherlock asked. Moriarty the monster was moving a lot quicker than he had a moment ago.
“Impedimenta!” Molly cried, but to no avail. Moriarty continued forward, pushing faster and faster against his invisible barrier. She drew herself up, changing her stance. “Confringo!”
One of the Moriarty’s legs exploded, splattering blood and gobs of flesh across the forest floor. Sherlock reeled back, stunned, as Moriarty collapsed, howling. Molly had shown him spells the night before, little tricks to prove magic was real - she had floated a test tube across the laboratory and ignited a pack of litmus paper. She hadn’t mentioned the power of explosive dismemberment.
“Molly!” The Doctor was appalled.
“Sorry, it’s just-” Molly wrung her hands. “He said white magic couldn’t harm him, so I thought, maybe an offensive spell instead of a defensive one.”
“You blew up his leg!”
“I was aiming for his head!”
“I’m going to eat your insides and wear your outsides!” The Leviathan roared, clawing at the ground, trying to crawl forward with his one hand.
The Doctor spun around. “Into the TARDIS, everyone, inside, right now, go!”
Molly led the way, running ahead into the police box, followed by the Doctor. Sherlock lingered, hand on the doorframe, eyes on Moriarty. His leg was putting itself back together, pieces of it wriggling towards him. Its foot lurched over a bulging tree root.
“In or out, Sherlock Holmes?” The Doctor shouted. Sherlock tore his eyes away from Moriarty’s insane smile and came to a shuddering halt.
“The interior of your spaceship appears to extend far beyond the dimensions of its exterior,” he said, hating himself for stating the obvious. He stepped inside, and the door swung shut behind him with a click.
“Where did you say you found this guy?” The Doctor asked Molly.
“Don’t you like him?” She asked him back.
“He’s been trying to out-weird me since we met!” The Doctor rushed around what appeared to be a console, adjusting levers, pressing buttons and even kicking a section of it.
“That’s just how he says hello,” Molly said.
“This is a spaceship,” Sherlock repeated, and hated himself even more. He was in danger of plumbing depths of inanity previously plumbed by only the likes of Anderson.
“It’s not just any old spaceship, Sherlock Holmes. It’s a TARDIS. Now hang on!”
The Doctor gripped a lever and pulled, and the TARDIS jerked, throwing them all off their feet. The lights flickered, and the consolel sparked ominously. Another jolt tossed them in the opposite direction, and another, and another, until suddenly the TARDIS came to a complete standstill. The lights dimmed, and the TARDIS made a sound like a generator powering down.
“Your driving hasn’t improved,” Molly said, trying to straighten her dishevelled ponytail.
“Oi,” the Doctor huffed. “When did you get snarky?”
Molly was mortified. “I haven’t! I didn’t mean to— Sorry.”
The Doctor smiled, nudging her. “Just joking. But I’m usually better than that, I don’t know what happened.” He skipped around to a screen above the console, peering into it as he typed on a keyboard below. “Now, where are we?”
Sherlock pulled the door open, and found himself staring at an enormous facade that, in English, read ‘In these stones horizons sing’, and, in Welsh, ran ‘Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen’.
“We’re in Cardiff,” he said, closing the door and shutting out the lunacy of his situation for a moment.
“Oh, that’s good. That’s right where I wanted to be,” the Doctor said, putting on his glasses.
After two deep breaths Sherlock returned outside to have a look around. Geography, yes, he could do that. He was exceptional at that, actually. Monsters might come, and aliens might defy the laws of physics, but buildings, once built, remained standing until torn down. Raising his hands, he traced out familiar landmarks, adjusting for their angles and relative positions. He swept his fingers from left to right, map forming in his head - an exact reproduction of the street maps on his phone, until he came to a tall, modern skyscraper, gleaming in the afternoon sun.
“Oh no,” the Doctor murmured back in the TARDIS, typing frantically. “No, no, no, no, no, what have you done?”
Sherlock stared at the skyscraper, eyes tracing its outline. Then, he began to notice other things - new coats of paint, cars on the street that didn’t match any of the models Sherlock knew to be available, and buildings, tall, prodigious buildings that had no right to exist yet.
He started down the street to a news stand around the corner, and picked up the first newspaper within reach.
“Oh, this might be slightly not right where I wanted to be,” the Doctor said, cupping the screen between his hands.
“What is it, Doctor, what’s happened?” Molly asked, peering anxiously over the Doctor’s shoulder.
Sherlock reappeared in the doorway, holding up the newspaper. “To be exact, we are in Cardiff, on June 15th, 2014.”
“Ah,” The Doctor appeared mildly chagrined. “Like I said, it’s not just any old spaceship.”
“Time And Relative Dimension In Space.”
Sherlock set the newspaper down on the control panel. “It’s a time machine.”
“Yes.” The Doctor shot Molly an impressed look. “Catches on fast, your new boyfriend. I can see why you like him.”
“It was obvious,” Sherlock continued over Molly’s flustered protests that he was not, in fact, her boyfriend. “Can it travel back in time as well as forwards?”
“Bit of TARDIS trouble. You see, before this, I was at the other end of the universe, having a slight disagreement with the Coronalogers of Procyon Six, and before that, I was at the other, other end of the universe, where I had to use the TARDIS to restart the shields of the Radiation Oracles. Fascinating creatures, the Oracles. Evolved to communicate using ionising radiation. Wonderful for them, terrible for the rest of their solar system. They were nice enough to build shields to contain the radiation, but a solar flare knocked them out. Luckily, I happened to pop by.”
Sherlock shifted, working his jaw, and Molly quickly intervened. “Maybe skip to the point, Doctor.”
“I’m coming to it.” The Doctor pulled off his spectacles and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. “Luckily for them, not so lucky for us. The TARDIS is drained, it’s going to need time to refuel. You see, there was a rift here, in the middle of Cardiff. It’s healed, but there’s a scar, still generating energy, and all we have to do is wait for the TARDIS to soak it up and then we’ll be off.”
“How much time?” Sherlock asked.
“A day? Maybe two.”
Sherlock went rigid. “I have to find John.”
“Oh god.” Molly brushed her hand over her mouth. “I’m so sorry, Jim found me just as I finished your post-mortem, I didn’t have time--”
Sherlock reached into his pocket for his phone, then realised he had left it on the roof of Bart’s, three years ago. He withdrew his hands, fingers sliding along the familiar wool tweed, up to his collar. With a flick of the wrists he turned it up, moving as he did so towards the door.
“Sherlock, where are you going?” Molly asked, running up to him.
“London.” Sherlock reached for his phone again, and hissed when his fingers met only fabric. It was going to be an irritating habit to break. “I need your phone.”
“To check the train schedules. I’m not walking to London.”
“He thinks you’re dead,” Molly said gently. “I signed your death certificate. Everyone thinks you’re dead.”
“I need to know he isn’t.”
Molly nodded, more than once, her head bobbing like a toy.
“Okay,” she said, then repeated it. “Okay. You don’t need the train schedule, I’ll apparate us to Baker Street.”
“Not inside the flat. He thinks I’m dead, he’ll punch me in the face. Behind it, in the alley.”
“You don’t want him to know you’re alive?”
“Not three years after the fact. I’ll tell him when the Doctor takes us back. Shall we go?” Sherlock asked, taking Molly’s hand. Molly jumped, gawking at her hand in his, and Sherlock suppressed a sigh and a few comments that she would definitely consider horrible. “That’s how it works, isn’t it? Physical contact?”
“Yes, it is. Sorry. But not here, it’s--Too many people.” Molly pulled her hand from his. “Inside the TARDIS.”
“Have you read this newspaper?” The Doctor asked, as they re-entered the TARDIS. “You’ve got a new Home Secretary. Terence Callaghan. Very keen on security cameras. Molly, could I borrow your phone?”
“Yes, sure,” Molly said, fishing it out of her pocket and handing it over. “We’re going to London, do you want to come?”
“Why?” The Doctor pulled a screwdriver out his pocket and pointed it at Molly’s phone. It lit up, directing a blue beam of light at the phone, and immediately the screen began to fill with text. He peered at it, eyes flicking across the screen as the text scrolled past.
“Well, since we’re stuck here for a bit... But if you’re busy--”
“No, Molly, why are you going to London?”
“Oh. Sherlock has a friend he wants to check on. Another doctor, actually. We’ve all got one.” Molly smiled at her own joke, but stopped when Sherlock didn’t share her amusement.
“Are you going to talk to him?” the Doctor asked, glancing up over his spectacles at Sherlock.
“No,” Sherlock answered.
“Good. The less people you meet, the better. Oh!” The Doctor directed his screwdriver at Molly’s phone again and scrutinised the result. “Well, yeah, that’d be the case, wouldn’t it?”
He flipped Molly’s phone shut and tossed it to her. “London, is it? Love London. Can’t get enough of good old London. How are we getting there?”
“I’m apparating,” Molly said, tucking her phone back in her pocket.
The Doctor made a face. “Oh no, I hate apparating. Couldn’t we take the train instead?”
“Come on, Doctor,” Molly said, holding out her hand. He made a show of reluctance, but took it nonetheless. She held out her other hand for Sherlock, a little more gingerly, and he wrapped his hand around it. Molly took a step, and turned.
They emerged in the alleyway behind Baker Street, and the Doctor careened into Mrs. Hudson’s bins, clutching his stomach.
“You wizards,” he complained. “Magic at your fingertips but you can’t invent a teleportation device that doesn’t turn your stomach.”
“Sorry.” Molly pocketed her wand.
The windows to Mrs. Hudson’s kitchen were shut, but Sherlock cupped his hands against the glass and peered past the sheer day curtains. All seemed quiet inside.
“What if they’re home?” Molly asked.
“They not. Of course! Stupid!” Sherlock hissed angrily.
“Watch it,” the Doctor warned, stepping in front of Molly.
“He doesn’t mean me this time,” Molly said. “It’s okay.”
“It’s June 15th, the day I died. Of course they aren’t home.” Sherlock turned to Molly. “Can you take me inside?”
“I could unlock the windows,” she offered, taking out her wand again. Sherlock was soon clambering over the sill, using the kitchen sink as a stepping stone to the floor.
“I’ll just be off,” the Doctor said, tugging on Molly’s sleeve as she began to attempt the same move. She wasn’t having much success, having much less leg to work with than Sherlock did.
“Where are you going?” She asked.
“We left a rather angry splinched Leviathan in the Forest of Dean three years ago, I’m going to find out what happened to him. And if I find I still have time, I’ll just pop round the home office, check out this Terence Callaghan person.”
“Didn’t you say the less people we meet, the better?” Sherlock asked.
“I said the less people you meet, the better. I’m a Time Lord.”
“Do you need me to come with you?” Molly asked.
“I’d like that, but you stay. The less people you meet the better too." The Doctor clasped his hands together, fingers threaded. "Here, I'll give you a boost."
Sherlock left Molly to navigate the window sill on her own, and was in his living room when she came in, surveying the room with his hands in his pockets. So little had changed. His armchair still faced John’s. His skull still sat on the mantlepiece. The bison skull, which Sherlock knew John hated, still wore John’s noise-canceling headphones. They had been brand new when Sherlock had placed them up there. There was the possibility, of course, that John had simply been unable to reach and so retrieve them. Unlikely.
Sherlock ran his fingers along the cord. So little had changed, that it was easy to pick out the things that had. Sherlock’s notebooks had been neatly stacked, not left sprawling open across the desk. His mug had been washed and stored. His violin was in its case, not propped up on the sofa. He hadn’t opened the fridge, but he was willing to bet that his little bag of fingernails was long gone.
John had left his laptop on the desk, and Sherlock picked it up, settling in John’s armchair to use it. John hadn’t changed his password since the last time Sherlock had confiscated it. Sherlock drummed his fingers lightly against the keys as he waited for the programs to load up, glancing over the files John had saved on his desktop. His fingers stilled. Most of the files were titled some variation of ‘James Moriarty’ and ‘Richard Brook’.
John had been investigating Moriarty, but getting nowhere, by the looks of it. He had a list of sightings of Richard Brook after June 15th, 2011 and some photographs taken from security feeds, no doubt wrangled from Mycroft, but all traces of the man had vanished a mere two weeks after Sherlock's death. It was like neither Moriarty nor Brook existed. Even Kitty Riley had disappeared.
Sherlock pulled up John's blog, but the last entry was dated 16th July, 2011. It wasn't a long entry, it was untitled, it contained an embedded video, and only one sentence.
"Is he okay?" Molly broke the silence. "Has something happened to him? Only, you look like--Is he okay?"
Sherlock closed the browser window and steepled his fingers under his chin, shutting his eyes.
"You said you'd seen the Leviathan before, a long time ago. When?"
Molly stood behind him, still framed in the doorway. "Three billion years ago, I think. Maybe four? I told the Doctor I wanted to see the dinosaurs, but we overshot a bit. The Leviathans weren’t human back then, no, I mean, they didn’t look human. They looked like, well, like sea monsters.”
“But you recognised them, both you and the Doctor.”
“The teeth,” Molly said, baring hers in subconscious imitation.
“What did you do, how did you kill them?”
“We didn’t. We couldn’t. You saw how that one put itself together; it was just like that, only with thousands of them. I was fresh out of Hogwarts, I couldn’t hold them back.”
Sherlock frowned. “What are hogwarts? Why did you need them, what do they do?”
Molly blinked rapidly, then walked around Sherlock towards his own armchair and sank into it. “It’s a school. I was fresh out of school.”
Sherlock formed an ‘o’ with his lips, and gestured for her to continue.
“The Doctor said that they weren’t alien, they were just old, so old and so destructive that they destroyed themselves before everything else came along.”
“But they didn’t. They’re here, now, or one was, three years ago. Leviathan, that’s biblical. The Old Ones. The piercing serpent, the crooked serpent.” Sherlock tapped his joined fingers against his lips, then reopened the internet browser, typing swiftly into the search engine and scrolling through the results. “‘The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart, or the javelin’, and so on, and etcetera.”
“You’re not really quoting the bible?” Molly laughed weakly. “You, of all people.”
Sherlock held up his hand, cutting her off. Clutching John’s laptop, he stood up and walked over to the windows, pulling the curtains aside to peer down at the street. Mrs. Hudson was standing on the doorstep, waylaid by the owner of Speedy’s, politely protesting the offer of a sandwich ‘on the house’. John stood behind her, head bowed. Quickly, Sherlock hit the keys that would power off John’s laptop and replaced it on John’s chair, then grabbed Molly’s wrist, dragging her to the stairway. He had just taken his first step down the stairs toward Mrs. Hudson’s kitchen when he heard the metallic ring of a key being inserted into a lock. He made an immediate turn, pulling Molly along, up the stairs and into his bedroom. He swung the door shut, catching it at the last moment so it wouldn’t slam and left it open just a crack.
“No, thank you, Bernard, you’re too kind.” Mrs. Hudson’s voice drifted clearly up the stairway. The main door shut, and two sets of feet climbed up the stairs. “I’ll keep this for your dinner, John.”
“No, it’s alright, Mrs. Hudson. I think I’ll head out again in a bit.” The thread of John’s feet seemed a shade heavier than usual. There was a silence, and Sherlock pictured the look on Mrs. Hudson’s face, worried and maternal. He had seen it often enough. Turned his back on it sometimes.
“Just be careful,” she said.
“I usually am.”
They split up, John continuing up the stairs and into the living room, and Mrs. Hudson returning to her own flat. Sherlock opened his door a little wider, easing out onto the landing and avoiding that one floorboard that creaked. He leaned over the railing, catching a glimpse of John’s shadow through the door to the living room.
“Mrs. Hudson, did you use my laptop?” John called out, and Sherlock pressed himself back against the wall as John came out onto the stairway to talk to Mrs. Hudson. His door moved, and Molly peeked out at him.
“Can you apparate us out?” He whispered, as Mrs. Hudson asked John why on earth she would want to use his laptop.
“There’ll be a sound, they’ll hear,” Molly whispered back, as John answered that he supposed she wouldn’t, but that his battery had been fully charged at breakfast, but seemed to have run down a bit while they were out.
"You could be misremembering, dear, it does happen," Mrs. Hudson said. "I thought I closed the kitchen windows before we left the house, but look at them. We could’ve been robbed!"
"We'll have gone, so it won't matter what they hear," Sherlock hissed. He made a grab for Molly's hand again, missed, and landed squarely on the creaky floorboard.
The house went extremely silent as both pairs froze in place. Sherlock closed his eyes, all too familiar with John’s thought process, counting down to the slow, deliberate click of a pistol being cocked. He held out his hand for Molly’s as the stairs creaked under John’s weight. This time, Molly didn’t argue. She took his hand, and Sherlock steeled himself for the familiar twist.
Chapter 6: The Adventure of the Monster Men
Buses, buses were great. The Doctor was a big fan of buses, even when they didn’t careen off into other worlds. He squirmed in his seat, peering out the window at everything that went by. Central London in 2012 was a lot like Central London anytime else. Always hustling and bustling along, full of life and fervour and, hello, what was that? Augmented reality glasses, the latest fad - who’d want to walk around with something blocking their view all day? Honestly, the human race took so much taking care of. Not that he minded.
The bus stopped, and the Doctor hopped off, cheerfully weaving his way through first one crowd and then another, moseying along until he found himself at 2 Marsham Street.
It was a bit flash, the Home Office. Every installation screamed modernity and fool-proof security. Especially the electronic gantries, those screamed the loudest. A man could almost take that as a challenge to shut them up.
“Identification, sir?” A man in a suit, with a name tag that read ‘Shane Boyles, security’, blocked the Doctor’s way.
“Independent Chief Inspector of the Agency that Inspects Things.” The Doctor smiled and extracted his psychic paper from his pocket, flashing it at Shane.
“Sorry?” Shane asked, scrutinising it.
“The Agency of, ah, Serious Organised Crime,” the Doctor amended, reading off of the directory above the reception desk. “Well, we certainly don’t take it light heartedly.”
Shane seemed satisfied with what he saw. “Just step through the metal detector and place your right hand on the scanner if you please, sir. Do you have anything in your pockets?”
“Just my sonic screwdriver.” The Doctor pulled it out.
“My sonic screwdriver. It’s just like a screwdriver, but when I press this button, it makes sounds and lights up. See?” The Doctor pointed it at the scanner and pressed the button, and the screwdriver whirred and lit up. “Bit of a novelty item, I’ll admit, but fun for the whole family.”
Shane seemed mystified as to why a government official would carry a novelty screwdriver in his pocket, but held out a little plastic basket anyway. The Doctor dropped his screwdriver into it, stepped through the metal detector, placed his hand on the scanner which he had just reprogrammed to include his hand print in its database of authorised personnel, and collected his screwdriver on the other side of the X-ray machine.
Easy peasy, not even half as hard as trying to steal candy from a baby.
Eschewing the lift, he headed for the stairwell. The first door he opened led to a small office where almost every head looked up to see who had come in. The second door he opened was to the day care centre. He had a few more false starts before he finally came to a room where no one looked up when he entered, reason being that it was empty.
Perfect. The Doctor made for an empty cubicle at the back of the office and switched on the computer. Adjusting the settings on his sonic screwdriver, he used it to log in and then gain access to the criminal records. The name James Moriarty returned 14 results, none of whom looked remotely like the reptilian little man in the forest. He might not have been convicted, but surely there would’ve been an arrest. Unless it had been expunged from the system. The Doctor searched and found a gap in the files, a little fragment where some data had been deleted or moved or saved over. Nothing the sonic screwdriver couldn’t retrieve.
Ah, there he was. James Moriarty. No prior convictions, not even a parking ticket. Just an arrest for the attempted burglary of--
“Oh.” The Doctor pushed up his glasses and double checked that he had read the screen right. “Well. Impressive, I’ll give you that.”
Curious, the Doctor read the court transcript, and found himself giggling through Sherlock’s testimony. Oh, he liked to show off, this new boyfriend of Molly’s. Or rather, her not-my-boyfriend-just-a-friend-just-just-someone-I-work-with-no-not-a-colleague-I-mean-he’s-just-he’s-just-not-my-boyfriend. Rather long name for a relationship, if you asked the Doctor for his opinion. Clearing his throat, he read on, then stopped, scrolled back up, and then back down again. Moriarty had mounted no defence. None whatsoever. Yet, five lines down the jury returned a unanimous vote of ‘not guilty’.
“Why’d they do that?” He wondered aloud, spinning thoughtfully in his chair. Moriarty must have gotten to them. No wonder the monster had been so attracted to him.
There seemed to be no other trace of the man in the system. Everywhere the Doctor should have found him - census data, school transcripts, tax records - there were more gaps in the data. The sonic screwdriver only managed to bring up a few corrupted files this time. He let out a frustrated groan, sliding down his seat. It would take forever to fix and decrypt those, and what was the point? It was obvious that Moriarty no longer existed, and that someone had taken great pains to make it look like he had never existed.
Changing tack, he decided to look into Terence Callaghan, but had only just begun to access the personnel files with his handy dandy screwdriver when he was accosted by a small woman with fiery red hair and a pin badge that read ‘Gandalf for President’.
“I was going to have a quiet day. Watch some Monty Python, have tea and scones or whatever,” she said. “And then, boom! The system tells me that someone’s dumpster diving on the third floor. And whatever you’re doing, you’re doing so fast I can’t even throw up firewalls to slow you down. I mean, look at this!”
She pushed the Doctor unceremoniously out of the way, bending over the computer and staring at the windows popping up on the desktop - files, articles, reports, anything that had Terence Callaghan’s name in it. “We’re talking warp speed. How're you even doing this?”
“I’m the Independent Chief Inspector of the Agency of Serious Organised Crime,” the Doctor began, taking out his psychic paper.
“No you’re not. That’s not even a thing.” She didn’t even spare it a glance.
“American!” The Doctor snapped his fingers. “Sorry, I was trying to place the accent. When did the Home Office start hiring Americans?”
“When I needed a job, and their website got hacked, and I was in the right place at the right time.” She shot him a mischievous grin. “Why are you interested in the Home Secretary? You’re not a terrorist, are you, because I have to call that in, hacker bro-code or not.”
“I’m not-I’m not a terrorist. What’s the opposite of a terrorist?”
She scratched her chin. “A national hero?”
“No, I’m not that either. I’m the Doctor.”
“And I’m the IT technician.” She rolled her eyes and pulled up the command window, running diagnostics on the computer.
The Doctor caught a glimpse of her name tag. “Julie Verne? You're joking.”
“Call me Jules. Wait, what was that?” Old news article popped up on the screen, and Jules frowned, reading aloud. “Terence Callaghan has announced his intention to stand in the Bradford by-election. He continues to deny allegations that a sponsorship by the American corporation Richard Roman Enterprises constitutes a conflict of interest...”
The Doctor propped his arm up against the back of his chair and tilted his head, gazing at her. “There’s something about you.”
Jules laid her fingers flat across the keyboard and gave him a searching look. “Something special?”
“Everyone’s special.” The Doctor rubbed his index finger against his lip. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was definitely something about this woman. Something about this whole scenario.
“But there’s something about me.” Jules reached behind her, into the satchel bag she carried. “Like a spark that can’t be copied.”
“Yes, exactly!” He jumped to his feet. He knew what it was! He reached forward to grab her by the shoulders, but at that moment Jules pulled a water bottle from her bag and doused him with its contents, then took off running.
“Sorry. What?” The Doctor spluttered, blinking the stinging fluid out of his eyes. ”No, no, don’t go running off, don’t go running off! The one time I don’t say ‘run!’ she goes pelting off.”
He snatched up his screwdriver and chased after her, shouting for her to stop, but to no avail. She was quick, and she ran as if her life depended on it. He hadn’t even gained any ground before she disappeared into the stairwell.
“No, stop, before it’s too late!” He yelled down the stairs to her. He could see her hand on the railing, getting further and further from him. What could he do to stop her? Could he use the screwdriver to lock the exit from this distance?
Before he could give it a go, there was a loud pop, and two women screamed.
“Molly?” The Doctor shouted, pelting down the stairs, hoping it wouldn’t be her, hoping that if it was, that Sherlock wasn’t with her.
But it was Molly, and Sherlock did accompany her, and both of them had definitely, irrevocably met Julie Verne. Met her, crashed into her, and sent her sprawling across the floor.
“Is that a wand?” Jules asked, pointing a shaking finger at what Molly clutched in her hand. “Did you totally just apparate?”
“No,” Molly stammered. “You were going so fast, it was like we came out of nowhere, but actually, we came from over-over there. Didn’t we, Sherlock?”
“I’m more curious as to why she threw cleaning supplies at the Doctor.” Sherlock squatted down and began casually rifling through Jules’ bag.
“I’m jam packed with curiosity myself, if anyone’s explaining,” the Doctor said, wiping his face with his coat sleeve.
Jules pulled her bag from Sherlock’s reach, pointedly soothing down the velcro straps. “I thought you were a Leviathan. My bad.”
Molly gasped, Sherlock turned his piercing gaze on Jules, and the Doctor clapped his hands with a gleeful bark of laughter.
“Now didn’t I say there was something about you?” he asked, extremely pleased with the interconnectedness of all things. The universe, honestly. What a universe.
Sherlock advanced on Jules, never taking his eyes off of her. “What do you know about the Leviathans?”
Jules met him eye for eye. “What do you know about Hogwarts?”
Sherlock frowned, eyes darting to Molly for a brief second. “It’s a school.”
A slow smile spread over Jules’ face. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
“Not here,” the Doctor said. “Let’s go back to the TARDIS, there’s something I need to check.”
“What’s a TARDIS?” Jules asked.
“Your what?” Jules ogled at him. “Wizards have spaceships now?”
"I'm not a wizard, I'm a Time Lord." The Doctor held out his hand to her. “Take my hand. Molly, you take your boyfriend’s. This is Molly, by the way, and Sherlock. This is Jules.”
“No this isn’t,” Sherlock said, as Julie got to her feet and Molly protested, yet again, that she and Sherlock were just friends.
Molly had never apparated with more than two passengers before, and was adamant that she wasn’t about to try for the first time. They returned to the TARDIS in two trips - first Sherlock, and then Jules and the Doctor. Jules clutched Molly’s arm as they emerged in the control room, eyes slightly glazed and as wide as saucers. She opened her mouth, and the Doctor grinned in anticipation of his absolute favourite part about bringing new people to the TARDIS. Instead, Jules leaned over the platform and was violently sick.
“I’m so sorry,” Molly said, running to get tissues for her. “It’s just a side-effect of the apparition, you’ll feel better in a minute.”
“This is your spaceship?” Jules asked, looking around again when she had recovered somewhat.
“Is there something wrong with it?” The Doctor asked defensively. He walked over to the console and picked up a scanner, pulling it over to Jules.
“No, no, I was just expecting something a little more Millenium Falcon, or, I don’t know, HAL. No offense.” Jules watched as the Doctor swept the scanner first over her, and then over Molly.
“You’ve just been sick on my TARDIS, I’ll take whatever offense I like,” the Doctor said petulantly, returning to his console. He passed the scanner quickly over Sherlock, who had seated himself on the Doctor’s chair.
“That’s my fault, I’ll clean it up.” Molly started toward the hall, then paused. “Is the closet still where it was?”
“Still by the library.” The Doctor twisted a knob and reviewed the readout that appeared on the screen. “Don’t fall into the swimming pool. And take your boyfriend with you, he’s in my seat.”
“He’s not-” Blotchy red spots appeared on Molly cheeks. "He's not my boyfriend."
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The Doctor chuckled. “No need to be so bashful, Molly! Your boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind.”
“He’s not my boyfriend, he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend, he will never want to be my boyfriend, so could you please just stop calling him that!” Molly exploded, spitting her words so furiously that the Doctor actually backed into the console.
“I was only teasing--”
“Well, stop it!”
“Molly.” Sherlock said warningly, concerning himself with the buttons of his cuffs.
“Sorry.” Molly took a deep breath and brushed her hair back from her face. “Sorry. I’ll-I’ll go get that mop.”
Jules watched her disappear down the hallway, then turned and gave both men a dry, withering look. “Way to go, douchebags,” she said, holding up two thumbs. “Really great job. Molly, wait up!”
The Doctor leaned against the console, running a hand over the length of his face. He had been trying to relive the camaraderie he’d shared with Molly back when they had first met. She had been so much younger, and so much more carefree. He had teased her then about men from worlds and centuries to come, and she had giggled and stammered, but never once yelled. He knew he had changed since she had last seen him, but it seemed that she too had changed since he had last seen her.
“You could have said something,” he said, fiddling with a lever.
“I chose not to,” Sherlock replied. “How much progress have you made with refueling the ship?”
“Chose not to?” The Doctor ignored Sherlock’s question. “You could have saved Molly the embarrassment if you had just corrected me. Even once.”
“And you could have saved Molly the embarrassment had you chosen not to tease her at all.” Sherlock stood up. On his feet, he was marginally shorter than the Doctor, and yet he still seemed more than capable of looking down his nose at him. “What an immense disappointment it is to discover that the rest of the universe is populated with the same ordinary people you’d find anywhere on earth. Tell me, Doctor, do all aliens suffer the same petty foibles or is it just the Time Lords?”
The Doctor could feel a familiar rage simmering in his chest. Sherlock was threading on extremely thin ice. He stepped forward, meeting Sherlock’s gaze and finding in it only disdain.
“Oh,” he said. “You’re one of those.”
“One of those what?” Sherlock asked, not backing down.
“One of those stupid intellectuals who think emotions only slow them down.”
“What are emotions? A feeling state, yes? A mental reaction to external cues? Divorce yourself from them and the mind is freed to be effective, to make logical conclusions. There is no point in emotions, except, one, as a utility in the solution of commonplace crimes, or two, as a motivator to the unwilling participant. Don’t pretend they’re important or in any way vital.”
The Doctor slipped his hands into his pockets. “That’s anger you’re feeling.”
“Then let my anger motivate you to answer my question.” Sherlock articulated his words inches from the Doctor’s face. “Can your TARDIS return me to 2011?”
“No.” The Doctor looked away.
“Then when will it be ready?”
“No, Sherlock. The TARDIS can’t return you to 2011 at all. You’ve met Julie Verne now. That meeting's a fixed point in time, an event set in stone. I didn’t realise it before, but I should have. I really should have.”
Sherlock shook his head, frustrated. “What does that mean?”
“It means that taking you back would create a temporal paradox, with two versions of yourself running around come June 15th, 2014. Nasty things, temporal paradoxes. They always end with some universe destroyed. I can’t take you back. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Sherlock spun away from the Doctor, pressing his joined hands against his lips, almost as if he was saying a prayer. He was compacting his anger, suppressing it and turning it inwards. The Doctor stepped forward, voice gentle now, realising that Sherlock wasn’t afraid of his emotions, or ignorant of them. On the contrary he was only well too aware of them.
“Did you find him? Your doctor?”
Sherlock’s reply was one clipped word. “Yes.”
“Was he alive and well?”
Again, “Yes.” Then, abruptly, “excuse me, I have to interrogate the IT technician.”
“Question!” The Doctor called after Sherlock’s retreating back. “Interview, discuss, ask politely.” He glanced around the control room. “Yeah, I’d better go with him.”
Molly wiped her nose on her sleeve, turning her back to Jules. “Sorry, I just need-Give me a moment.”
“Yeah, okay. Take your time.” The shadow Jules cast along the corridor shifted, merging with that of the wall. Molly sniffed and patted down the sides of her cheeks, wiping away the remnants of her tears. She didn’t know why she was even bothering to pretend she hadn’t been crying, her eyes were probably red and swollen already. She’d always been an ugly crier.
“Sorry. The library’s this way.” The smile she put on was weak, even for her standards. “Um, over here.”
“He was kind of a dick,” Jules said, tugging on the strap of her satchel as she trotted down the corridor beside Molly. “The Doctor, I mean. Ragging you about that guy.”
“He’s not a-” Molly sighed. “It’s fine, he was just teasing. I never used to mind.”
“But Sherlock’s different?” Jules’ tone was cautiously nonchalant, but Molly felt herself go red nonetheless.
“I just don’t want him to think that I still--Because I don’t! I-” Molly was so desperate to end this conversation she almost wished for another alien invasion. “Oh, look! The closet!” It was a lot more cluttered than she remembered, but of course the Doctor would have added more to it after she had stopped traveling with him.
“Why don’t you use magic to clean up? Seems like it’d be quicker.” Much to Molly’s relief, Jules dropped the subject and began to wrestle a mop free of a stack of dusty bamboo poles leaning against the wall.
“I’ve sort of gotten used to getting by without it. Funny, I can’t even remember the spell I’d have to use.”
“Scourgify,” Jules intoned, sweeping the mop handle like a wand. “I’m totally a Potterhead,” she explained in response to Molly’s incredulous look. “I still can’t believe it’s all real. What about the international statute of secrecy?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t even realise there were books until the movies came out.”
“Seriously?” Jules scoffed a little. “How was that rock you were living under?”
Molly fished a bucket from a tangled heap of metallic fixtures and stepped out of the closet into the corridor, running her free hand along the familiar walls. “Actually, it was wonderful. Come have a peek at the library. But watch where you put your feet.”
Molly wasn’t really one for theatrics, but the Doctor had always been a bad influence on her life, so she waited till Jules was beside her before pushing open the door to the library. Jules gasped, dropping the mop, and Molly beamed.
“The floor’s the pool,” Jules blubbered, completely stunned. “The whole floor’s the pool!”
“The number of times I’ve fallen into this,” Molly laughed, kneeling to fill the bucket from the pool. “Luckily, never while holding a book. I don’t think the Doctor would ever have forgiven me.”
“How do you even get up to the shelves?” Jules stood behind her, leaning against the door frame..
“Well, I had a Cleansweep Six, but I wasn’t very good on it. Hence...” She mimed falling off a broom and into the water
Sherlock descended upon them like a thunderous blizzard on a still night, barking out his question before they even realised that he was upon them. “What do you know about the Leviathans? Tell me everything you know.”
Jules whipped around to face him with a small yelp, backing up against Molly, who scrabbled to catch a hold of the door frame but to no avail. She made a fantastic splash, bucket and all.
“Sorry!” Jules yelled, as Molly broke the surface, coughing and spitting.
“Molly!” The Doctor appeared behind Sherlock. “Not again! I thought you went looking for a mop, not a broom.”
“Sorry,” Molly panted, threading water to reach the door.
The Doctor squatted down, holding out his hand to her. “You okay?” He asked. From the look on his face it was apparent that he was referring to more than just the pool.
Molly nodded, letting him help her out of the pool. “I’m okay. Thanks.”
“Better get you changed,” the Doctor said, when Molly stood dripping by him.
“Yes, what an illuminating demonstration of emotions. Thank you, Doctor, I am no longer a Philistine. Now can we get back to the subject at hand? Leviathans.” Sherlock turned on Jules again, cornering her against the wall with the sheer force of his voice. “Everything you know.”
“Ancient creatures, um, the Superman of monsters, incredibly strong and almost impossible to kill.” Jules spoke hurriedly as if reciting from memory. “Shapeshifters! They copy people, kind of like the Pokémon Ditto, except they don’t come out purple, and also somehow they know everything you know.”
“Where do they come from, what do they want? Without the embellishments, if remotely possible.”
“Purgatory. And back then they took over a mega corporation and tried to take over the world so they could turn the human race into a meat factory, but then their factory blew up, and I haven’t actually heard anything about them until today so I don’t know what they want now, so just back off, okay, stop crowding me.” Jules glared resentfully at Sherlock. “I’ll cut you.”
“These Leviathans, do they make a habit of getting into positions of power and authority?” The Doctor asked, tapping his chin in thought.
“Yeah, definitely. Their boss was only one of the 50 most powerful people in America. Dick Roman. I worked for him.” Jules shuddered at the memory.
Molly tucked a damp lock of hair behind her ears. She was shaking, but it was an even chance if it was because she was cold or becoming hysterical. “You can’t mean that’s real. Heaven, and hell, and purgatory.”
Jules nodded. “Don’t ask me how.”
“But that’s impossible.”
“Molly, you are a witch who used to ride in a time-travelling spaceship, and you refuse to entertain the possibility that religious concepts might be tangible? I hate to break it to you, but you rank as impossible in rather a lot of categories.” Sherlock sneered, lip curling just a little before he turned from her too.
Molly stared at his back. This wasn’t Sherlock snapping because she hadn’t been able to procure a cadaver for him. It wasn’t Sherlock at Christmas, saying horrible things to embarrass her. This was Sherlock in a white hot rage, more livid than she had ever seen him. “What’s happened? Why are you so angry?”
Sherlock ignored her, turning again to Jules. “You said almost impossible to kill, which means they can be killed. How?”
“Now hold on, they don’t have to be killed,” The Doctor interrupted.
“They are monsters,” Sherlock said. “You’ve said so yourself.”
“They’re billions of years old! Think about it. There are people who spend their whole lives trying to piece together the history of the earth - the Leviathans have lived it. They’ve survived meteorites, ice ages, continental divides. I thought they would destroy themselves, but they haven’t.” The Doctor fairly panted, he was so excited. “Theologists argue themselves hoarse over the existence of purgatory, and they’re living proof! Don’t kill them, talk to them. You could learn so much.”
“I don’t think they’re here to talk,” Jules said, shaking her head. “I think they’re here to eat.”
“How do you kill them?” Sherlock repeated his question.
“Well, I don’t know the permanent way, but if you chop off their heads and keep them off, they act pretty dead. It’s why I have this.” Jules pulled a machete from her bag, and Molly gasped.
“You carry a machete?” She asked, taking a step back from Jules.
“We’re not all witches and Time Lords and... whatever he is,” Jules said defensively. “After what I’ve been told I don’t even go to the bathroom without this thing.”
“Yeah all right, just put it down.” The Doctor motioned for her to lower the machete.
“How do we track them? What sort of trail would they leave?” Sherlock’s forehead creased in concentration. “They eat humans, so a thorough check of the missing person’s database is obvious, but what else is there? What other traits do they have? Habits?”
“I never said I was an expert,” Jules said, raising, not lowering her machete.
“Then who is? Who is your source?” Sherlock asked. “Who told you about the Leviathans? Who taught you to carry a weapon?”
“Sam and Dean Winchester. They’re hunters back home. Monsterbusters. The reason we’re not all walking burger patties for the Leviathans right now? I bet you ten bucks it’s them. Or pounds. What’s the exchange rate?”
“Where are they now?”
“Sherlock,” the Doctor interrupted again.
Sherlock was defiant. “I need data.”
“The TARDIS can’t move for another day at least. Come on, Sherlock Holmes, you’re brilliant. Think.” The Doctor circled Sherlock, coaxing him. “It saw Moriarty on television, it chose him. Someone in the spotlight, someone with power and access to more of it. But Moriarty had to disappear, didn’t he? To validate the story of you being a fraud. The Leviathan had to become someone else. So who would it be, if it could anyone in the world? Who would have power and access to more?”
A flicker of alarm passed over Sherlock’s face. “Mycroft.”
That wasn’t the answer the Doctor had been expecting. “Beg pardon?”
Sherlock strode over to Molly. “I need you.”
Molly squinted at him and sneezed three times in quick succession. “Sorry. Yes, of course. Where to?”
“She’s soaking wet!” The Doctor protested. “She’ll catch her death!”
“I know this one,” Jules wrinkled her forehead in concentration. “Hot-air charm!”
“Of course! It’ll just take a minute,” Molly said, drying herself off quickly, more than a little embarrassed that a muggle knew more spells than she did.
“The address is Wellington Road, St. John’s Wood.” Sherlock looked at his watch. “No, take us to the Diogenes Club. Conway Street, by Ramsay Hall.”
“No, listen me,” the Doctor said. “Someone in the spotlight. If your brother’s in the Diogenes Club he’s not the sort to be swanning around in front of the media. If you could be anyone, then anyone could get into office, and anyone could be--”
Jules jabbed a finger in the air, waving it excitedly. “Terence Callaghan!”
“Yes, thank you!” The Doctor stretched an arm out to Jules. “Terence Callaghan, the Home Secretary! Putting a camera on every street, every corner, every back alley, even in neighbourhoods where a pin doesn’t drop without everyone hearing it. What could he be looking for? No, sorry, what could he be?”
“Dick Roman sponsored Terence’s campaign. I saw it in an the article. He wouldn’t do that unless Terence is a Leviathan too. We just have to prove it.”
Despite the heat from her wand, Molly felt a chill go down her spine. It was one thing for Jim to be a monster, but someone in government...
"Cleaning supplies," Sherlock murmured.
"Yeah, Borax." Jules retrieved the half-empty bottle from her bag. "It burns them like acid. They recover pretty quick, but it's enough to give you a head start."
“That’s not exactly subtle, is it?” The Doctor asked, eying the bottle. “We’d lose the element of surprise and they’d know who we are.”
Molly pressed her hands to her face, trying to remember something she’d learned. She wanted to be useful. She wanted to help. And then she remembered. “The Disillusionment Charm. It’s sort of a camouflage, we could use it to get close enough without being seen.”
Jules looked doubtful. “They’ve got bloodhound noses, they’d smell us coming. But look, we could use their cameras against them. They might slip up, eat someone. I put a Trojan in the system, I could totally hook us up. Do you get Internet in here?”
“That’s brilliant!” The Doctor said. “Julie Verne, if you weren’t carrying a machete I might kiss you.”
“Yeah, I am, though.” Jules adjusting her grip on the handle of her machete with a smirk.
“There’s a cable in the control room. ” The Doctor led Jules down the corridor back to the control room.
Molly waited till their voices had faded before turning to Sherlock. She knew she ought to know better than to linger when he was angry like this. Self-preservation, and all that. And yet, here she was, fingers reaching for his sleeve.
“I could still go. Conway street, was it? They wouldn’t have to know I went.”
“No, the Doctor’s not wrong. Mycroft doesn’t fit the profile, and there’d be much more at stake than the Home Office if he had been copied.” He studied Molly for a moment. “You were a witch in a time-travelling spaceship. How did you hide it from me?”
Molly felt a flash of cold shock at the sudden change in subject. “I wasn’t--I haven’t been hiding. It was all a long time ago. The only thing I kept was my wand, really, and that was always just in my bag. I never used it, I just kept it. I wasn’t trying hide anything, I’m really just a morgue assistant now.” She picked at the handle of her wand. “Just an ordinary morgue assistant.”
She took a deep breath. “I’ll go see if the Doctor needs any help. There’s a kitchen if you’re hungry. Or if you’re not, there are bedrooms down the hall. I really am sorry I didn’t tell you before, but it’s not the sort of thing that you tell. I’m sorry.”
With that she hurried down the hall toward the control room before Sherlock could question her further.