"24 hours." Sherlock scanned her face, before he gave the syringe. "You'll need to administer the antidote within 24 hours, or there'll be tissue degeneration and brain damage." Molly nodded, looking at the syringe with trepidation. It was the one thing that would counteract the drugs he had to take, the one thing that would speed up Sherlock's metabolism, his heart rate, again, and the one thing that would bring him back from the death.
"Are you sure, Sherlock?" she asked one last time.
"The only way to stop this is with my death and I'm not yet ready to die yet. I have to fake this. It's the only way and it needs to believable, believable even to those who know me. People will be looking very closely and they'll know if it's not me on the slab."
"But the autopsy, the funeral? We can't just let your body disappear." Sherlock smiled a devilish smile at her words.
"You'll find this on your desk, just after they put my body on the slab." Sherlock put his little black notebook -A moleskin Molly's mind ridiculously supplied- open and face down on the table. Molly picked it up and gave a start as she read the text, read Sherlock's last wishes, his demand for her to do the autopsy, for her to arrange everything, including the demand for a closed coffin. She quickly put down the notebook again.
"That, by the way, are my real last wishes," Sherlock said causally. Molly felt her stomach jump at the words. "You're the only person I'd trust with my death body." Molly knew the words were morbid, not normal, but she both understood the sentiment and appreciated it. She never was the person for normal. "Goodbye, Molly Hooper, I'll see you again soon, or rather you'll be seeing me soon." At those words he smiled a real smile, spun around, twirled his coat far too dramatically for the situation and walked out of the room.
The large, oak breakfast table was covered in newspapers, the plates of the occupants left standing to a side as they read the exposé of the fraud detective together. The greyed haired man looked up with a sigh.
"Have you called him yet?" he asked his wife. The question made her smile.
"Of course not, I'm not getting between those two.' Her husband raised his eyebrow. "All this." She gestured to the paper spread between them, "Is Mycroft's doing. Because even though my son may no longer talk to me, I would not betray him like this, so most likely Mycroft's doing. Unless of course, there's something you want to tell me." She threw him an amused look.
"Those two will be the death of me one day." His words made her laugh out loud.
"I'll call Mycroft after breakfast to see if this is part of their rivalry, or that Sherlock has some case going on that requires him to destroy his good name." She folded the newspaper and turned to her breakfast in comfortable silence. Just as she had buttered her second piece of toast she heard the ring of her phone. She frowned at the sound; there were only a few people who had that number and she could not imagine any of them calling her at this time of day out of their own free will. She walked to the side table, picked up the phone and looked at the number. She felt her heart sink at what she saw. She only had ever remembered four numbers to heart, her husband's, her sons' and the number now on the screen. She pressed the answer key and spoke.
"Ma'am." The voice on the other side sounded breathless, hesitant, nothing like the man she knew.
"What is," she started, but then he spoke again.
"I'm sorry." The voice hitched on the second to last syllable.
"What's wrong?" she demanded, her heart heavy with dread.
"I failed; he jumped; I failed him, you." The voice had suddenly turned expressionless and she felt her heart sink even more.
"Tell me. Tell me exactly what happened."
"He said he was sorry. He told me it was all a lie, his genius, his cases, everything. He said she was right and then he told me this was his note. He jumped. There was no pulse, and so much blood." The whole thing was delivered in the voice of a soldier reporting he had just lost his whole squadron.
She had heard it all, but had not yet taken in what it meant, was not ready to take in what it meant, so she sat down blindly. She could feel her husband's hand on her shoulder, saw the worried look in his eyes and she let out a sob. .
"Ma'am, what should I do?" The voice sounded helpless and to be honest she was not clear of mind enough to know what to do in this moment. She closed her eyes for a moment. She had to be the soldier again, to be in charge again.
"Listen carefully. Where are you?"
"Okay, I want you to find a place to sit down and then I want you to call the office, have somebody pick you up and bring you to Bakerstreet. Tell I said so. I'll take care of things.
"And John, whatever happened, this was not your fault. You didn't fail me or him. Remember that."
She put down her phone the moment she heard the dial tone and whispered, "If there's somebody who failed him it was me."
Molly stood next to the slab, the body on it was pale and she felt a sort of shame as she took stock of the bruises, wounds and scars. She never expected to have chance to look at his body and here she was. Then she looked at the fake wound on the head, his own blood clinging to his hair and wished all of this wasn't necessary. Just as she wanted to pull up the sheet, cover the body, her left hand felt the needle in the pocket. She knew it wasn't time yet, but she really wanted it to be over. She stood for a long time contemplating everything. Suddenly the door to her sanctuary opened and she watched as Lestrade walked in.
"Molly?' He started as she quickly pulled up the sheet, but she was too late and Lestrade fell silent as his eyes caught sight of the body. He closed his eyes for a moment, steeling himself and then he spoke again.
"Molly, there are some people to identify the body." Lestrade didn't have to explain which body. "Can we… Is he ready?" he said hesitantly, his eyes on Molly, studiously avoiding looking at Sherlock.
"I just finished the preparations," she said as she made sure the body was completely covered.
"Molly," Lestrade said, "Why are you here? Couldn't somebody else?"
She smiled a sad smile, "Who else is there?" Lestrade nodded understandingly; he was there too after all.
"Yes, please let them in. Things are as ready as they'll ever be."
Lestrade walked away and opened the door to let some unseen people in. Three people entered; she recognized Mycroft Holmes immediately and there was no doubt who the man was whose shoulder Mycroft's hand rested on. The woman who stood on the other side of the man was small, but she was the one supporting him. She knew this were Sherlock's parents and not for the first time since last night she hated the man on the slab, because she could see the hurt radiating of the three in front of her.
"Dr Hooper," Mycroft Holmes acknowledged her. "May I introduce my mother and father?" Molly took a good look at the two people. The woman was short, but her bearing, clothing and manner gave the impression of tall, powerful lady and it was immediate clear from whom Sherlock had inherited his eyes. Sherlock's father on the other hand looked very much like distorted version of Mycroft. Mycroft's face was blank, with no sign of emotions. The man's eyes on the other hand were red and it was clear he was supported by the two people beside him. Once again Molly felt a stab of annoyance towards Sherlock and she almost wanted to scream out it was all a game, all fake and not real.
"Dr Hooper," Mrs Holmes shook her hand firmly.
"My condolences," Molly said, feeling like a horrible person when her condolences were accepted silently.
"May we? Mrs Holmes asked.
"Are you sure you want to look?" she aimed her question at the room at large, but her eyes were on Mr. Holmes.
"Yes," was the short answer, so she cautiously moved the sheet away. The movement was met with a soft gasp and she looked immediately at Mycroft, but his face was blank again before she met his eyes. She turned her head to Mrs Holmes and her face was blank too. Her husband on the other hand had turned white as he moved his hand to his son and then looked at Molly for permission. She nodded, not trusting her voice. He placed his hand on Sherlock's cheek, carefully stroking some stray hairs from Sherlock's face.
"What's the cause of death?" Molly looked up startled, since Mycroft's words were like a pistol shot in the silence.
"It's of course not official yet, but head trauma. It would've been quick." She didn't say painless because that would be another lie.
"The eye-witnesses stated he was already death when the first people reached him." Lestrade spoke for the first time and his words were met with silent acknowledgement of the meaning. Mr Holmes carefully removed Sherlock's hair to the side and let out a gasp when he saw the mess that was Sherlock's head. Molly felt pride for a moment at her handy work quickly followed by more shame.
"Who'll do the autopsy?" Mrs Holmes asked, her voice steady.
"Sherlock," Molly started hesitantly. The woman raised an eyebrow, but Molly went on, "Sherlock asked me to do it."
"He did what?" Mrs Holmes looked at her sharply, suspicion in her eyes. Molly swallowed as she gave the woman the notebook. Mrs Holmes went through it until she reached the middle. She then silently read it, before handing it to Mycroft, Lestrade looking over Mycroft shoulder.
"It's Sherlock's handwriting," Mrs Holmes confirmed, "I know you're the best for this, Dr. Hooper, but I do want a copy of the report and I assume the police will be discrete with this information." At these words she looked at Lestrade. "Now if you don't mind giving us a moment with our son." Her words were a clear dismissal of Molly and Lestrade and the two of them walked away in silent, giving the grieving family some space.
"How are you, molly?" Lestrade asked. She only shrugged in reply, not certain what to say.
"I should ask how you're doing. It looks likes you haven't slept in days". Lestrade smiled at her words
"Things are not good. He really made a right old mess of things, didn't he? And then this." Lestrade sat down looking at the door. "I can't imagine him being death. I expected him to go out in a blaze of glory, taking out the world, not jumping from a building, because he saw no other way out. And then there's every chance I'll lose my job because of him."
Molly didn't know what to say. She felt guilty, but knew there was nothing she could do to stop the hurt, his hurt and the hurt of the people grieving for a living man. She did the only thing she could think off and put her arms around the detective and held him.
"What will you be doing?" Molly handed Sherlock his clothes as he sat on the edge of the metal table.
"I'm not sure yet. I'll need to hide until things have calmed down a bit. I need to find out what is left of Moriarty's organisation and then I'll have to find out how to take it down completely." Sherlock stood next to Molly for moment, both lost in thoughts.
"I bought you this." Molly handed him a small plastic bag. "It should get you through the next few weeks, until you know what to do." Sherlock opened the bag and inside were a cheap phone, and a wallet. Sherlock smiled at her.
"Thank you, Molly Hooper." And to her surprise he hugged her, holding her for longer than was necessary. Molly did everything to stop herself from clinging to him, part of her hoping he would stay, but then, after a lifetime, but still too soon, he let go, picked up his coat and shawl and with a twirl walked to the door.
"Use it," she said as she watched him walk away from the room. He turned around with one last smile and then the door closed and Molly knew this might be the last time she had ever seen him.
It was after sunset, but the city was still alive and the streets of the city were never dark. The day dwellers had gone home and now the streets were slowly taken over by the night. Sherlock always loved this time of day, the massive overwhelming masses gone, but enough stimulation to keep things interesting. He spent the last few nights out on the street, picking up discarded newspapers, trying to find out the latest gossip, to see what they said about him again.
Sherlock had left the morgue two weeks ago and immediately laid low, knowing he had to stay out of sight until the dust had settled and he could discover how much was left of Moriarty's network. He had been cooped up in one of his old safe houses, the one not even Mycroft had known about. The place was cramped, smelly, loud and his senses had been accosted almost beyond endurance. That was why he had to go out and how he found himself walking the city in the dark, taking in the details of a city that never sleeps, not even in the middle of the night.
He took all his old steps, like he had done so many times before, mapping the city, taking in little details. He watched the change; streets closed for renovations, freshly painted houses, new hotels, shops closed. It would always amaze him how much a city could change in just a day, but what was more amazing was nobody ever noticed it. He had walked around for the better part of an hour, when he saw something that stopped him in his tracks for a moment and then he frowned at the graffiti on the building in front of him. It was new, fresh no more than 30 minutes old.
The frown deepened because the words were familiar and it took him second to realize he had seen them before. He had seen the same tag two streets earlier and on the wall opposite his hideout. The tag was simple, just two words and a pound sign.
No not pound sign his mind supplied, a hash tag and he realized it was a message. One that invited people to use the internet, but for who was it meant and why did they do it so in the open he didn't know. The messenger wanted the whole world to see. Was it part of a citywide advertising campaign he wondered. Normally he would have pulled out his phone and looked it up. His hand made the movement and then he stopped, realizing he still had to buy a new phone, before he could do it again. He shrugged and thought it was probably nothing.
Sherlock walked on until he reached the Thames. Until now he had avoided this part of the city, too many tourists, too many people, even at this time of the evening. He sighed as he walked up to one of the benches and sat down just to think. He had to do something; he couldn't spend the rest of his life like this, living in the shadow, stalking a city. He needed help and he knew there were only a few people who could help him. He also knew that had been the reason he had walked around London for the last two weeks now. He closed his eyes and sat there, listening to the city. Suddenly a hand on his arm made him jump from the bench.
"Are you okay, sir?" Sherlock looked up at the small group of American tourists who stood next to him.
"Yes," he said, "just tired."
"Okay, you didn't look good. We had to make sure."
"Nothing is wrong. I just needed to think. But I have my answer now." At those words he smiled and walked away, leaving the confused tourists behind.
He had spoken the truth he had his answer. Unfortunately it went by the name of Mycroft Holmes.
Sherlock knew what he was doing was stupid, visiting the graveyard where they buried him, but he had to know. He had to see the place. It was a rather macabre itch that needed to be scratched and this would be his last chance. Tonight he would go to Mycroft and there was every chance Mycroft would kill him.
He stood under the tree, looking for the one grave with upturned earth. He smelled the fresh air, felt the wind ruffle his hair and found the irony of the whole situation almost amusing. He found his grave easily. Apparently they had decided not to bury him on the family plot; instead the sleek, understated gravestone gleamed in the light, away from everything else. He smiled. This was surprisingly nice of them, although he suspected it was mainly his father's doing. Mother and Mycroft cared way too much about decorum and the family honour. He wondered briefly if he should have brought flowers. That were the sort of things people did, although normally probably not to their own grave. The ridiculousness of the situation amused him more and more.
Suddenly he was woken out of his dreams by two soft voices. He immediately moved away, hiding away so nobody could see him. Two figures come into view and for a moment he caught his breath.
In front of him was the one person he longed to talk to and next to him was the one person he wanted to hug so very much.
He stared as John and Mrs. Hudson talked. It was clear even to Sherlock John wasn't doing too great. He radiated anger: anger, pain and sadness and Sherlock just wanted to walk forwards and tell John everything was okay. It took all his willpower to stop his muscles from moving. He tried to listen as he stood frozen to the ground.
'Please don't be death.' was what finally broke Sherlock and he took two steps forwards, but John placed his hand on the headstone, gave a short nod almost a salute, did a military precision turn on the spot and marched away before Sherlock could move.
Sherlock stared after the retreating figure and knew John was hurting, that much was clear, but he wasn't broken. Not yet and Sherlock would everything to make sure he would never break.
For a moment Sherlock hated himself for doing this, before remembering why he did it. He kept his eyes on John knowing this might be the last time he would ever see him, then he turned around too, walking away in the opposite direction. He had a job to do and the sooner he finished the job the sooner he could return to John, because now he was certain he wanted to return to him.
Mycroft sighed when he finally put his coat on his chair. He was home, finally home after the worst two weeks of his life. Two weeks culminated in him almost making an unforgivable mistake, which could have caused World War Three. It had been the moment he cleared his agenda, took a week off, so he could finally grieve, at least for a few days.
The last two weeks had been necessary, just to clean up the chaos left behind when a brilliant man had seen no other way out of Mycroft's mess then to jump. Mycroft, of course, never believed the papers; he knew Sherlock, probably better than anybody else and couldn't be fooled by a nasty exposé and a rooftop confession. Unfortunately the rest of the world wanted to believe and so they did.
It did, however, still not explain why Sherlock had jumped. Mycroft shook his head in an attempt to clear his mind from the stupid man buried in a lonely grave before he walked into his kitchen.
Mycroft opened his fridge, his rather empty fridge and though it had never bothered him before, now the loneliness hit him hard. He closed the door hard and picked up one of the many take-out menus on his counter. Still in the dark he walked to his sitting room, when a flash of blue in the corner of his eye made him halt death in his tracks. Thrown over the back of one of the chairs was a scarf, tossed carelessly, a very familiar scarf, one that should be below several feet of earth.
He was immediately drawn to the chair on the left, the one he never used because it was Sherlock's.
"Get out." Were the first words that left his mouth. Sherlock looked at him bored.
"Get out," he repeated. The swell of anger burned in his chest and when Sherlock didn't react he physically dragged his brother out of the chair. Sherlock didn't put up a fight, whether out of surprise or because he knew it would be useless. Mycroft dragged him out of the house and closed the door in his face.
He immediately walked to his liquor cabinet, filled a large glass with his finest whiskey, drowned it in one go and then poured himself anther, before sitting down with his head in his hands.
The sound of the front door lock being opened made him drown the other glass and he reached for the bottle. The moment the door to his sitting room opened he spoke again.
"I said 'get out'; don't make me throw you out again."
No sound came to indicate the other man had heard him, just the sound of Mycroft's harsh breathing and the sloshing of the whiskey into the glass filled the room.
"Did falling to your death make you deaf?" he harshly asked. "I said get out."
"Mycroft, I," Sherlock finally spoke and Mycroft felt his heart sing. The sound of Sherlock's voice was the best thing he had ever heard in his life.
"I'm sorry." At those words Mycroft stood up with fire in his eyes and he looked at his brother.
"What do you want?" he spat out, half desperate to hold him for ever, half ready to never look at his brother again.
"I need your help. Please, Mycroft, I need your help." The words were desperate and maybe for the first time his words were sincere and that was all it took. Mycroft stepped forward and then Sherlock held his brother for a long time.
"I can't help you. Not with that," Mycroft said, his hands folded in front of him. "I can get you the information we have on Moriarty's network. I might be able to get you out of the UK, but even that will be difficult and the US will be out of bounds completely. Sherlock snarled at Mycroft's words.
"I'm serious, Sherlock. After the stunt with Bond Air, I lost a lot of negotiation room in the States and putting an agent in their midst without their knowledge will destroy all my hard work." Sherlock stood up throwing an angry look at his brother before he hit the fireplace with his fist.
"You're no use. Do you know that, Mycroft?" Mycroft smiled because the words had no conviction behind them.
"There's one other option," Mycroft said, watching Sherlock's shoulders stiffen.
"No," Sherlock said resolutely, "I'm not going to her."
"She'll be able to help you. She has enough resources outside any of the official channels, besides this is hurting them."
"I can't." Sherlock turned around to his brother again. "Besides why would she help me? The last time I asked for help she told you and got me arrested." Mycroft let his head fall in his hands in despair.
"You were about to leave the country with millions words of strategic plans. Plans she spent her whole life defending. And all because you needed bait for a case. You were lucky she got you out of the country until everything calmed down, you could have gone to prison for years." Sherlock sighed, but remained silent.
"Tomorrow?" Mycroft asked after a few minutes. Sherlock nodded in reply. "You can use the spare bedroom. It's still ready for you; that never changed." Sherlock didn't say a word as he walked out of the room. Mycroft sighed again and he picked up the phone to dial one of the few numbers he had remembered to heart. The phone rang a few times and then there was the soft voice of a woman answering.
The car stopped at the large, iron wrought gates and Sherlock sighed as the feeling of irritation rose. He always hated the prison feeling those gates gave the place. The car barely stood still in front of them before the gates opened grandly and the car drove up into the grounds. The guard nodded to both the driver and to the backseat as they passed him. Sherlock didn't recognize the man, but figured he was one of his mother's million lackeys who always seemed to love Mycroft. The gate closed immediately after they had passed through and the loud metal clank only increased the feeling of imprisonment for Sherlock.
They were going to the house of the best guarded woman in the whole of England, probably even better guarded than the queen. Even after she retired she still clung to the same ridicules measures to protect herself. Slowly Sherlock got and more nervous the closer they came to the front door. He was unsure what would await him, but he knew it wouldn't be good. Mycroft's reaction had tempered his expectation about the acceptance of his return. And he wasn't sure he could handle the reaction of the one woman he never wanted to fail.
The house appeared empty when they walked up to the front door, but even before they could ring the bell the door flung opened and a well-dressed woman in her forties stood in front of them. She frowned for moment at Sherlock and then ushered them both in.
"Mycroft, it's good to see you. She's expecting you in the drawing the drawing room." Her words were aimed at Mycroft as she studiously ignored Sherlock.
"It's nice to see you too, Elsie," Sherlock said sarcastically. She gave him a withering look in reply and it only confirmed his fears about how things would be. Mycroft ignored their exchange and handed her his coat with a smile and a friendly nod. Sherlock kept on his coat; it strangely felt like armour protecting him from feelings he didn't want to have.
They walked to the empty and silent house without a word. The drawing room was empty too and Mycroft immediately sat down in his favourite chair, but Sherlock walked to the drinks cabinet, pulled out the closest crystal bottle and poured himself a generous amount. He held up the bottle to Mycroft, who raised an eyebrow before shaking his head. Sherlock let the smell of the whiskey reached his nose and sighed before he sat down in the nearest chair and let the atmosphere come over him.
The house felt the same as it had always done, had done when he was growing up. The same smells, the same sounds and it surprised Sherlock how much it still felt like home after all these years. Sherlock let his mind flow over the job ahead, because for the first time since the jump he felt safe. The thoughts of life and death flew by and he carefully avoided all thoughts of John, just as he mentally sorted through all the fact he knew about Moriarty for the fifth time, the side door opened his mother walked in
"Mycroft," she acknowledged her oldest son and then hugged him briefly when he stepped up to her. She ignored Sherlock for a moment, before she walked over to him. Sherlock jumped from the seat, unsure how to greet her. To his surprise she wordlessly handed him a red file and then she walked away to the drinks cabinet, poured herself a smaller, but still generous amount of whiskey, before she sat down with a sigh.
"Mother," Sherlock said tentatively, unsure how one greeted one's mother after she thought you had been death for weeks.
"I'm not the person you need to apologize to, Sherlock," she said after a long moment of silence. "I assume there was a good reason." Sherlock opened his mouth a few times, torn between uttering apologies and explanations. The explanations won out in the end.
"They threatened… I had no choice." His mother raised her hand and Sherlock fell silent.
"I assume the reason was good, like I said." The small smile on her face told Sherlock she actually meant the words. The silence which followed was oddly comfortable. Sherlock sipped his drink eyes on the file his mother had handed him.
"Open it." She smiled again because she knew her son too well.
Sherlock put his glass down and opened the file warily. To his surprise a passport and a wallet were the only things inside. He looked at his mother who nodded to him. He cautiously pulled out the passport and he realized it was his passport, or at least if his name had been Sigerson. He quickly opened the wallet and as he expected inside were all sorts of cards; bankcards, no doubt linked to a nicely filled bank account, loyalty cards to several shops, all in different states of use, some newer than others. Sherlock smiled because he knew this was what he needed, but then the implication hit him.
"You knew. Even you could not have done this in one day." His mother shook her head.
"I've known you were alive for almost a week now." Warmth spread through Sherlock at those words.
"Of course, I should've known you'd figure it out." His mother's face turned cold.
"But," Sherlock started.
"I did," a gentle voice came from the doorway and there his father stood.
"You, but mother?" Sherlock turned to his mother in surprise.
"She couldn't, just like Mycroft couldn't." Sherlock looked back at his father. He had never understood why his mother had chosen him. A man who was only just average in every single way, just a family doctor. A man who cared too much, who didn't understand his children. Just a boring idiot, like the rest of the world and yet he had been able to draw his mothers attention and hold it for more than 40 years.
"You all think carrying is a disadvantage." His father smiled that frustrating smile that made Sherlock unconsciously wanting to apologise, even if he didn't do anything wrong.
"It is," Sherlock said hoarsely.
"It's when you try to pretend you don't care. You, Mycroft, your mother all of you. The moment you start to care you breakdown." At those words he handed Sherlock a file; Sherlock immediately recognized both the type of folder, and the handwriting on it.
"That's your autopsy report. Tell me what you see, because neither Mycroft, nor your mother could see it."
Sherlock opened the folder and almost immediately wanted to close it again, because the first thing he saw were the photos, photos of a death body on the slab, of his death body on the slab. He turned his head away, because of course he knew they existed. He had been awake when Molly took the photos, but there was something disconcerting about seeing your own body like that. Sherlock closed the file instinctively.
"No, open it and tell me what you see." His father opened the file for him and Sherlock looked.
"It's me, pretending to be death."
"No, what do you observe? Tell me. You're the uncaring detective, forget about John, Mrs Hudson, forget about us." His father's words were harsh and had the opposite effect, out of the blue Sherlock saw his friends mourning him. Sherlock looked at the photos again, but as much as he wanted to observe, all he saw when he looked at them was John marching from the grave side.
His father smiled a sad smile at him. "Sherlock, everybody cares and pretending you don't, only makes it easier to exploit that fact. It makes you blind when something happens to overrule your self-control" His father sat down on the arm of his chair pointing to the photo of Sherlock's wrist.
"How old would you say those injuries are?" Sherlock took a deep breath and spoke.
"I don't know?"
"My estimation is between twenty and thirty hours." Sherlock took a good look and nodded
"I agree," he said.
"What caused them?"
"Handcuffs," Sherlock said with a smile.
"Yes, and how long before your death had you been handcuffed?"
"Ah," Sherlock rapidly said. "Less than ten hours before."
"I noticed the bruises and cuts on your wrist when I held your hand in the morgue. They were still pretty fresh so how is it possible for a corpse to heal its wounds?"
Sherlock looked at his father and unexpectedly he no longer saw the boring man who had held him back when he wanted to jump, but he finally understood what his mother ever saw in him. His father took the file and sat down.
"So I would love to know why did you do it and how can we repair the damage, because there's somebody you need to get back to."
Sherlock took the sheaf of papers and screened through them one last time. He had memorized the layout of the warehouse completely and now he just had to get in, find the last missing information and get out without being noticed. He placed them back on the table and sat down on the bed, putting on his shoes, the last touch to his outfit. He looked at the pile of papers, which represented almost two months of his hardest work ever. Together with all the information Mycroft had gathered in those few weeks Moriarty had been in his hands, Sherlock had managed to piece together the whole of the criminal's organisation. A few links were still missing here and there, but, except for two names, he had identified the top of the organisation and tonight he would get those two names.
He looked in the mirror standing across him and smirked at the view, which was as different as could be to what he was used to. Urban camouflage his brother had called it; the dark jeans and t-shirt had been his own, left behind at Mycroft's a long time ago, the hoody had been handed to him with one of Mycroft's patented smirks. The perfect camouflage, hide in plain sight, he would blend in with the average people on the street perfectly.
He picked up an USB stick from the desk, which he would send to Scotland Yard tomorrow. All the information they needed to arrest the whole of Moriarty's network. After tomorrow, it would just be a few weeks and Sherlock would be able to return from the death. It had been too long already. He placed the USB stick back on the desk, ready for Mycroft to pick it up tomorrow morning. Sherlock threw one last look in the mirror and walked out of the room; he had work to do.
He reached the warehouse an hour later, longer than it would have taken him only a few months ago, but these days he had to make sure nobody knew where he was going, so taxies were out. Now he just looked like somebody walking home after a hard day's work.
He had staked out the place extensively the day before and he knew the easiest way for him to get in would be by one of the back entrances. They would be waiting in the front for a large shipment of drugs arriving tonight. He carefully made his way to the warehouse, making sure to stay in the shade at all times.
He smiled when a small flash of light came from one of the top windows. They were already there which was good because that meant he didn't have to wait too long and then he heard it, a shot coming from the top window; he cursed and started to run straight into danger. If he wasn't there to see the missing links everything would be for nought. He came up to the back entrance only to find it wouldn't open, even though it wasn't locked. Somebody had barricaded the door Sherlock cursed again as he realised he wasn't getting in via that door. He had to go by plan B, unfortunately it meant he had to think up a plan B because none of his plan B's had taken into account that the door might be barricaded. He took a few steps back, his hands in his hair as he looked round annoyed and stressed.
It was an open window on the first floor that caught his attention. He pulled the mental map of the warehouse and decided it might work. He looked at the wall, hastily found some footholds and he climbed up, pulled himself up on the bottom window ledge and wormed himself inside the building. He had entered into an empty storage room full with old desks and other things discarded by their old users.
He hurriedly walked to the door, listening intently for more shots. He only heard one, and now there was only silence, frustrating silence. He opened the door a bit and saw he stood at the end of a long open corridor with little to no place to hide and he cursed. If the shooter was still in the building he would come through this corridor and would probably leave via this room. Sherlock pulled out the gun he had taken with him and took the safety off, then pressed himself against the wall, looked around and decide to take a change.
He kept low and ran to the nearest door and tried it. To his relieve it was open and he got in. He breathed in deeply and pulled the door almost closed, just a slight crack allowed him to watch the corridor. He was just in time because only seconds later he heard running footsteps coming down the hallway. He looked, but unfortunately all he saw was the silhouette of a man, short, broad shouldered, wearing dark grey trousers and a grey shirt. His face was covered with a hat and a grey muffler. Sherlock saw a flash of light caught by the shoulder holster the man was wearing and the knife around his ankle inside his trousers.
Sherlock's instinct screamed military, SAS trained assassin and for once he decided safety was the better part of valour and he let the man get away. He stayed for a few moments more, waiting for more footsteps, but there were none. He quickly went down the corridor, his own gun in his hand, making sure he was ready for everything.
The thing that met his eyes he had not expected however. In the room were three bodies, one lying on his back, empty eyes staring up, a bullet hole through in his left cheek. A small trickle of blood had run down his cheek, and joined the large pool of blood below his head. Sherlock had no doubt the man was death, but it were the other two bodies that interested him. Unlike the other man they were tied up, laying face down on the ground. Sherlock knelt beside the closest and immediately searched for a pulse, which he found. He did the same with the other man and he sighed when he found both men were still alive, although both unconscious. He turned back to the death man and looked at the small memory card taped to his forehead.
It was rather ridicules and made him smile, before he removed it and put it in into his phone. He opened the files and soon found it contained pictures, documents. He suspected there was enough to convict them. The man who had done this had been thorough and there was even some information Sherlock and Mycroft had missed. He removed the card and taped it back the man's forehead.
Then he heard the sound of a lock being opened and footsteps on the stairs making him curse and leave the room. These were the people he waited for, the missing links. He immediately fled to the next room and watched the corridor with anticipation. The first upstairs was a woman Sherlock had never seen before. Tall, thin and dressed like she was the chairman of a CEO meeting. Sherlock had no doubt this was one of the missing links; she was nobody's lackey. She was followed by the second person coming up the stairs and Sherlock drew a loud breath.
"Sebastian Moran," he cursed under his breath. He kept looking because this could not be. Moran had just been a small pawn, a hired help, nothing more.
Yes, they suspected he was the one holding John at gunpoint during Sherlock's meeting with Moriarty, but there was no proof he had been any more than that. They had detected no trace of him anywhere else in the organisation. Had the mysterious woman hired him as her bodyguard? Sherlock cursed again under his breath. This complicated things. He mentally catalogued everything he knew about Moran. Army, SAS, sharp shooter, assassin, dishonourable discharge after three tours of duty, excessive violence against civilians had been the official line. Sherlock had read the man's official record and that told a story about killings, torture and rape. Sherlock knew he was death if they caught him here, so he made ready to escape. He might have lost his change to get proof against the missing links, but at least he had found one and perhaps two.
"What the fuck is this?" Moran's voice boomed through the room just as Sherlock opened the door to flee. He heard some sounds and then two shots. Sherlock closed his eyes for moment. Sherlock had no doubt what the man just did and Sherlock knew he had to get out now, before Moran came out of the room. Sherlock no longer doubted about who Moriarty's heir had been because only Moriarty's right hand man could have decided to kill the men.
Sherlock swiftly left the room he had been hiding in and found his way to the room he had come into. He quickly climbed out the window and just as he raced the edge of the street light he heard the window being opened. He fled around a corner just as bullet hid the building behind him. He kept running until he had reached the safety of a busy street. He tried to calm his breath when he realised everything had just gone completely pear shaped.
Sherlock's life after he faked his death was not what he expected. Dealing with the aftermath isn't easy and when Moran, with a bit of help, wants to rebuilt Moriarty's empire, it is up to Sherlock to stop them.
The sound of a pile of papers being swiped of the desk made Mycroft look up at his brother, who currently paced the room rather angrily.
"Who was he?" Sherlock spat out when he made another round passed Mycroft's chair. "Who was the idiot who destroyed months of hard work?"
"Sherlock, sit down. The man didn't destroy months of work. They've arrested the whole of Moriarty's British network and the only one who got away was Moran. Besides we didn't have enough evidence against him anyway. Just the small things, nothing that would've kept him imprisoned for more than a few months. This was the best outcome we could have hoped for." Sherlock threw himself on Mycroft's sofa.
"With Moran out there I have to stay death. I just want to return to my life. I'm getting sick of playing hide-and-seek."
"I know. Let's just see what we can do to make your life slightly better. I might have a lead on the woman who was with him." Sherlock immediately sat up and looked at the laptop screen Mycroft had turned to him. The woman on a badly pixelated CCTV picture looked an awful lot like the woman who had been with Moran the week before.
"Who's she?" Sherlock asked eagerly.
"Her name's Annika van Heeren." Mycroft turned the screen back and typed something. "We don't know a lot about her, but we do have a lot of suspicions. She's Dutch and has been brought up in connection to several assassinations in the Netherlands. The public is unawares, as are the police, but she's flagged up by both the Dutch secret service and MI5."
"What does she do?"
"She has a trading company which trades mainly in nuts and coffee. She makes a lot of money with it and it seems to be legit, but she got flagged because she was in contact with a few known drug barons in the Middle East. There has never been solid proof, but her name comes up just a bit too often."
"That still doesn't prove anything."
"No, it doesn't, but one of her bodyguards was a known assassin." At those words Mycroft turned the screen around again. And there was the man Sherlock shook hands with only a few months ago. A man who was killed only seconds later. Why would a legitimate business woman have an international assassin as bodyguard? An assassin who has been suspected of killing at least two drug barons in the Netherlands. And now she was closely linked to Moran, another assassin. And apparently Moriarty's right hand man. We don't have any evidence against her or Moran. We need to get her first. "At those words Sherlock looked up.
"Why? I don't care about her. I want Moran because then I can get back safely to the land of the living."
"Sherlock, if we go after Moran she'll get away and she might not be a new Moriarty, but she's smart enough to build a whole empire without anybody knowing. We need you to find her. She has become Moran's right hand woman. The brains against his power and influence. Take her out and Moran will be weakened."
Sherlock stood up and started pacing again. "Tell me about her, her weaknesses, her strengths. We need to find a way in."
"I've several ideas," Mycroft started when Sherlock sat down beside him and together they started to plan the downfall of an empire.
"Whose idea was this again?" Sherlock said irritably to the empty room, before looking in the mirror in his room. A pair of dark blue eyes looked back at him almost mockingly. The rest of the face and body were also not his own. His blond hair stuck out and his body was way too tanned. He looked ridiculous, especially with the swimming trunks he currently wore. He was no longer Sherlock Holmes, but Madoc Sigerson, millionaire, playboy and all around annoying guy.
And the type of man Annika van Heeren tended to go for. She looked for one thing in her people and that was that they had been able to keep up with her, both in intellect, money and looks and if they had a criminal streak that was only more appreciated. That was when this version of Sigerson was born, Welsh, self made man with rather shady contacts, contacts that could certainly help Ms Van Heeren.
He was going to play his part perfectly and he hated it already. He threw one last look in the mirror and walked out of his 5000 dollar a night suite and onto the terrace that let to the small private swimming pool. Small groups of people sat scattered around the pool and Sherlock looked at the most strategic of places to observe them. He sat down with a book and one of the waiters immediately came up to him.
"Can I get you something sir?" Sherlock looked at him for moment debating whether to scare the guy away for the rest of his stay or use him to get the drink he longed for.
"Orange juice, please." He had to keep a cool head so alcohol was out and it was too hot for tea at the moment.
"Of course, sir." Sherlock watched lazily as a man detached himself from the largest of the groups and slowly walked up to Sherlock.
"Hey. New here?" he asked as he reached Sherlock's chair throwing himself in the chair next to him rather dramatically.
"Yeah just a few days out here in the sun," Sherlock said as his mind provide all the information he needed about the man. Straight, but playing up his ambiguity, run down model career, owner of at least two cats. Not here on his own money. Grifter. Boring. But Sherlock held the words he wanted to say back because the man was also van Heeren's right hand man and the one he had to impress if he wanted to get close to her. The man's sideline was winning a lot of money from unsuspected men.
"Madoc." he held out his hand and the man shook it interested.
"Nice meeting you, Madoc. I'm Carl. What brings you here?" Carl started a casual conversation about the town, the beach, his yacht. Sherlock played along knowing Carl was deciding whether Sherlock was an interesting mark.
"Do you have something to do tonight?" It had been the question Sherlock had been waiting for. Sherlock styled a bored look on his face as his mind raced.
"I'm sorry, I'm not interested in men," he said schooling his features into an apologetic look. The man smiled. Clearly convinced his ruse worked.
"Oh sorry, I wasn't coming on to you. We're just going to a club tonight and you looked like the kind of guy that would enjoy the place. And the more people the merrier."
"Actually, that would be brilliant." Sherlock smiled at the man. He was very good, his causal invitation was done perfectly and Sherlock knew most people would fall for it.
"Great, here's the address, just say my name and they'll let you in." Sherlock looked at the business card the man had given him and nodded.
"It was good meeting you," Carl said as he walked away.
"You too," Sherlock replied. He sat back closed his eyes. Phase one was done.
That evening Sherlock walked to the club, enjoying the soft breeze which made the night comfortable instead op oppressing hot. He wore a light blue linen suit that made him blend in perfectly in the crowed and nobody would look twice at him like this, just another man with too much money.
He reached the club at ten and the bouncer let him in almost with a pitying look. Sherlock knew the man thought he was yet another poor sod who would be losing a lot of money tonight. Carl talked to several good looking men and women and waved him over the moment he spotted Sherlock. Sherlock made his way through the large group of people, many of who tried to get close to him.
"Hey Madoc, sit down. Meet the girls and guys." He waved his hand at the people around him, who all assessed Sherlock with calculating looks. They were only there for one thing, money.
Sherlock sat down and immediately two of the women moved close to him. Carl pushed a glass of champagne in his hand and Sherlock wondered what game he would be playing tonight. Would it be a long game or would Carl go for the quick grab and run scheme?
They spend a few hours pleasantly talking when they slowly came to investment opportunities and it became clear it was a long game Carl would be playing, which suited Sherlock fine.
"It's just a small amount of money, 250 thousand," Carl said. Sherlock shrugged.
"I usually don't invest in those kinds of things," Sherlock said casually and when Carl looked triumphant for a very short moment Sherlock knew his words had registered. Sherlock sat back, waiting for Carl to make the next move when a woman approached them. She was very good looking objectively, but it were her eyes that Sherlock especially liked, intelligent as she screened the room, the eyes of a hunter.
"Do you mind if I join you?" she asked with smile. Carl looked at Sherlock before he nodded and then ogled her with unhidden lust. Sherlock wanted to role his eyes at the man's stupidity.
We'll talk later Carl said the Sherlock as he turned to the woman completely. Sherlock watched as the woman slowly talked her way into Carl's bed and smirked. Phase two progressed nicely.
Sherlock watched carefully ready to start phase three and when the woman left he took his change.
"Carl." Sherlock walked up the man and bowed his head to him. "You might want to watch out with her." Carl raised an eyebrow.
"Why? Jealous, she's harmless."
"Actually," Sherlock said, "did you notice the four men sitting there, there, there, and there." Sherlock pointed to four men spread across the club. "She's playing you. If you go with her you'll end up without your clothes and money and that's the best case. In the worst case with your head bashed in. She's a hunter and she's after your money." Carl looked around at the men sitting around him and cursed.
"Damn and she looked so fine." He drowned his glass in one gulp. "You by the way have a sharp eye I'm impressed."
"Thanks, I'm always on the look out. Hurt too many times by her type." Carl smiled at the words and nodded commensurately.
"Well never mind," he said. The woman returned and Carl walked to her and whispered something her ear. In reply she kicked him right in the balls and Carl doubled over. Sherlock had to admit he was impressed by her strength; he really should compliment his brother on his choice of agents because she was good. He calmly walked up to her, grasped her arm, held her back and watched Carl trying to regain his breath. The men Sherlock had pointed out earlier came to action. The first, a burly, six foot six man, tried to hit Sherlock, but he was slow and Sherlock dodged his attack without getting even a hair out of place. Unfortunately he had to let go of the woman's arm and she ducked away to safety. Two of her other friends immediate charged him too. These were slightly smaller, but a lot faster and Sherlock had to do everything he could not to get his head bashed in. He managed to hit the closest right in the face and the man went down like sack of potatoes. The other men just kept going on and the fight ended up as an all-out brawl. In the end the police entered and took out them all in.
Sherlock looked at the mess and especially at the small group of con-artists or as he normally would have called them mummy's little tea boys. They were all led to the waiting police vans and when they finally sat in the back Sherlock could start to catalogue his injuries. Sherlock nursed his bruised jaw and saw Carl wasn't doing any better with a nice black eye.
It took them the better part of the night, but they were released with a fine the next morning. Sherlock went to his room to nurse his wounds, before he got dressed in his swimming trunks once again and found himself lying on one of the deckchairs feeling like he had fought a round with a giant. The bruises on his chest were spectacular. After about an hour, the sun was suddenly blocked and when Sherlock opened his eyes there stood Carl. He too was sporting some massive bruises and a manic smile on his face.
"That looks nice," he said as he pointed at Sherlock's chest.
"Yeah, feels great." His words drowned in sarcasm.
"We were having a conversation before we were rudely interrupted," Carl said as he sat down his eyes closed for a moment.
"I know," Sherlock said with a smirk.
"Thought about it?" Carl still had his eyes closed and his heart seemed not to be in the long game he was playing.
Sherlock bowed down and pulled out a thick envelope that had been lying beneath his chair. Sherlock sat back holding it out to Carl.
"This was what you're after, weren't you?" Carl looked at the envelope, took it tentatively opened it and his eyes went wide for moment.
"You really thought you could con me, Carl? This," Sherlock gestured to the pile of money in front him, "is peanuts. You can have it, but I'm rather insulted you thought I was stupid enough to fall for this. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book. I've played it a hundred times before."
Carl frowned for a moment and then laughed throwing his head back. Suddenly he was no longer playing the slightly dumb man, but Sherlock saw the con-artist return.
"Well, well, well Mr Sigerson. This is unexpected. Although after last night I should have expected it."
"Yeah, I didn't expect you to see through it though. Most people don't."
"You don't seem the type that needs to grift people," Sherlock said.
"I don't have to. I just like it," he replied with a smile. "It elevates the boredom. I'm currently between jobs and my boss, well, she sent me on a vacation. So I had to find my own entertainment."
"Yeah, I know what it is," Sherlock said disdainful playing the bored playboy to the fullest.
"You're a smart guy. I could always use somebody like you, somebody with brains, who isn't afraid to get into fight, who can handle himself. The money is good." Sherlock smirked to himself. He loved it when everything went his way.
"I might be interested. I'm always up for something new and I've little else to do at the moment."
"I'll have to do a background check on you though," Carl said and Sherlock smirked between his mother and Mycroft his alibi as a slightly seedy business man with a love for women and with a passion for getting in things over his head would hold stand even to the most secure of checks.
"Oh you'll find my credentials impeccable," Sherlock replied and with those words phase four was done.
The playboy Sigerson had finally arrived.
"An, darling." Carl walked up to the woman talking with a small group of overdressed women and men.
"Carl!" She kissed him with happiness that to Sherlock's surprise seemed to be real. He catalogued the fact for later use.
"An, may I introduce Madoc, the man I told you about." She extended a well manicured hand, and Sherlock shook it. The handshake was firm, self-assured, the hand shake of woman used to standing her ground, and it gave Sherlock the opportune change to deduce the woman further. She was dressed in a simple black cocktail dress that drew attention, but was not flashy or inappropriate. So a woman who knew what good clothes could do for a person. The jewellery was understated, simple, but Sherlock knew the diamond was probably real and flawless. So expensive taste, but not for the outside world. Her shoes were high heeled even tough she was not short herself, which forced people to either look up to her or look her right in the eyes. She was clearly not afraid to intimidate men and women.
"Madoc." Her words cut right through his deduction. "It's great to finally meet you. I understood from Carl that you are interested in our trade."
"Yeah," Sherlock nodded "I've been in the transport business for ages and always looking for new trade."
"We should talk business later. Now let's have some thing to drink and I'll introduce you to some people."
Sherlock found himself slowly integrated into van Heeren's group, but it wasn't until he stood on the Dam in Amsterdam planning the shipment of drugs to Berlin that he knew he was finally accepted.
Mycroft pushed another pin into the large map and sighed as he read the message once again.
It had been not the first of the messages, not even the 10th. It had started almost six months ago with one simple text message.
F29 51312574 0093047
"He does it deliberately," Mycroft said, while he looked at the letter followed by a long list of numbers. "Where is he and what does he mean by this?" Mycroft threw his hands in the air. His mother looked up from her screen with a raised eyebrow that reminded Mycroft too much of his brother.
"Mycroft dear, please calm down. I know you're worried about him, but he is a grown up man."
"Are you sure of that, mother?" Mycroft asked, annoyed at the fact that his mother didn't seem to take him seriously.
"His passport was last used in Berlin airport this morning," she answered and further simply ignored his tirade. Mycroft looked at the text message again which arrived this morning from an unknown number. No doubt Sherlock had 'borrowed' it from an unsuspecting bystander.
"Let me see again," his mother said and she looked at it, then frowned.
"I think it are three series of numbers not just one." His mother frowned, "The numbers look familiar, I'm sure I've seen them before" she said . "Just let me think for moment." Mycroft split the numbers and then it hit him.
"Of course," he said, "Like you said, they're in just about every report about Sherlock." She looked at his hands when he put the coordinates into a map and then she too started to smile.
"Oh, he's good, but why would he send the coordinates of Baker Street, and what are the first numbers?"
Mycroft frowned and went through his metal map of his brother, Baker Street: home, John, Mrs Hudson, violin, happiness.
"That's it," his mother suddenly exclaimed. "What was the date he met John; that he moved his things to Baker Street?"
"29th of January 2010."
"29th," His mother pointed to the first two number in the sequence.
"And F is Friday," Mycroft added, "They met on a Friday."
"It's the key. He wants us to have the key. There'll be more messages," Mycroft said and at that moment his phone gave a beep. He pulled it out and looked at the message eagerly. The phone number was yet another one, but the message was similar.
T20 522302 131447
"Tuesday the 20th?" Mycroft said.
"But where?" His mother's hands flew over the keyboard to look up the coordinates and then put a map on her tablet and pointed to it.
"So something will happen here." She pointed to a warehouse and then immediately picked up her phone. She might be retired, but she still had enough power to be able to assemble a few men to do her bidding.
A few minutes later she put down the phone and looked at her son.
"My men will be there."
The next Tuesday the agent had reported a large shipment of marijuana had arrived in the warehouse he had been observing. The pictures that were sent with the report gave a very good start of a case against Annika van Heeren.
The next message had come two weeks later and had been just as mysterious. Mycroft had read it and immediately send a man out. This time it had been a human trafficking scam that had been sending people from The Gambia to Europe. They had stopped the large fishing vessel and arrested everybody involved. The messages kept coming after that.
S05 260803 281338 (Johannesburg, South Africa): Ivory and blood diamonds. The shipment had been allowed to pass, but the aristocrat who had hunted the elephant down had been unexpectedly arrested for a large scale fraud when he returned to London
W15 225752 431020 A (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): an assassination of a drug baron. This had changed Sherlock's code to include an A. They only found out too late what it had meant, but Mycroft suspected that Sherlock didn't mind that much.
T08 19245464 99094376 M (Mexico City, Mexico); a meeting of several heads of large drug cartels. This time Mycroft's men had just documented it. Nothing more nothing less afraid of what it would mean if they intervened. The M had been added to their repertoire.
M091515 35404441 139425192 A (Tokyo, Japan): another assassination this time he had included a time and they had been able to safe the woman that had been the intended suspect. The woman had betrayed the men that had abused her.
1551850 1630710 (St Louise, Senegal): Sherlock seemed to be bored and the agent they had sent had enjoyed a nice short holyday, enjoying the sun for once.
The map had slowly been growing. And with every pin the net around Annika van Heeren grew tighter and tighter. Just one thing was missing, one thing that would be the final stab. They had to make sure that everything was linked to her.
And the message Mycroft currently looked at was the one that told him everything would be over soon. The message was no longer encrypted and just one word.
Sherlock followed Carl out of the train and was immediately hit by an odd smell which clawed at his senses. He had been close to sensory overload for weeks, not giving his mind rest to order things, constantly on his guard for six months slowly killed his mind, his concentration and worst of all his ability to deduce. And this didn't help.
"You haven't been here before, have you?" Carl laughed.
"No," Sherlock said disgusted when they went up the escalator.
"You've never smelled this in you warehouses?"
"As a rule I don't go into the warehouses," Sherlock said with his nose upturned, giving the perfect impression of a spoiled brat.
"It's the cocoa beans in the harbour. If the wind comes from the wrong direction you'll smell it."
"Great." Sherlock sighed as they walked through the slightly derelict train station. They stepped outside and Sherlock was immediately hit by the next attack on his senses.
Everything was green.
It took him a few moments to realise it was the sun reflected of the green buildings around the small square they just stepped on. He closed his eyes and opened them again.
"What the hell is this?" Sherlock said.
"You think this is bad? Look up." And there in front of Sherlock stood one of the ugliest buildings he had ever seen. It seemed the architect just smashed dozens of green houses together and Sherlock had an odd urge to set fire to the building.
"That's the hotel we'll be staying in. The office is just over there." Sherlock followed Carl's finger as he pointed to a building mostly covered with glass and sighed. He got more and more irritated with everything and he knew it was good that things were almost over.
"What's your whitest, no frills room?" Sherlock's first words to the woman behind the counter were terse.
"Sir?" she said and she looked helpless at Carl.
"Argh, whatever. Carl, please get us our rooms. I'm tired and I want to get some rest." Carl nodded and Sherlock walked away and felt Carl's eyes on him for several long moments. Sherlock sat down, his hands on the side of his head. He needed to concentrate because what just happened wasn't something Madoc would do; instead it was Sherlock Holmes breaking through.
"Just a few more days, just a few more days, just a few more days," he murmured and the mantra calmed him down enough to get himself back under control for now, but when Carl handed him a key without Sherlock had noticed he knew he was in trouble.
"You're okay?" Carl asked. "You were..."
"Yeah, sorry, I think I'm getting a migraine. I just want close my eyes for a few hours."
"No problem, I've made reservations for us and An at seven here in the hotel. I'll just come by and wake you up then?" Sherlock nodded and followed Carl into the elevator.
The room was large and luxurious, but it was just like every other hotel roost six monthsyed in the lam he had sta. He walked and stood in front of the window and looked over the town on the horizon he could see Amsterdam and he sighed. He kicked of his shoes lay down on the bed and closed his eyes and started the clean out of his mind that was long overdue.
Four hours later Sherlock opened his eyes with a start at the knock on his door. He sat up and felt a bit better, but he knew he was still not in top form.
He walked to the door opened it and to his surprise it wasn't Carl, but Annika standing before him.
"Hoi schat," she said. Somewhere along the line schat had become his nick name. He hated it, looked up the meaning and then he hated it even more. He was nobody's darling.
"Bad flight?" she asked as she kissed him hello and sat down on the chair looking curiously around the room. Sherlock nodded and he tried to brush away the creases in his suite in an attempt trying to look somewhat like a normal human being. He looked in the mirror; his red eyes showed the irritation caused by the contact-lenses and the darkening under his eyes the lack of sleep.
The diner was simple, tasteful, but Sherlock didn't joining with the conversation and he knew he failed to be Madoc.
"Schat, go to bed. We've got several long days ahead of us this week. I don't want you to keel over death on me." Annika said after yet another attempt to involve Sherlock in their conversation. She kissed him three times as she always did, then linked her arms with Carl and walked into the bar. Sherlock felt his mask slipping the moment she turned around the corner and he almost ran to his room.
The next day after, yet another too short night, Sherlock sat and watched people eat breakfast. He knew he should eat too but his appetite had decreased at the same rate as his sense. He drank his coffee in the hope to regain some of his wits.
"Ready to get to work? " Carl spoke and hit him on the shoulder jovially.
"You know me, always ready." Sherlock stared into the coffee in the hope of finding a little patience in dealing with the idiot for the rest of the day.
"You look like shit, man," Carl said, "but there's no time to be ill today, is there?" After breakfast, they walked to the office where they were greeted by a friendly young woman in the reception.
Hey Nathalie, heb je een pasje for Madoc hier. Hij zal er de komende week iedere dag zijn, kan je hem een pasje geven of zo?" Sherlock followed Carl's words, he recognized the Dutch and managed to follow a bit of it and he figured Carl just asked for some sort of badge.
"Natuurlijk, Carel," she replied and handed Sherlock his badge with a flirty smile. It took Sherlock a few moments to react as Madoc would and to flirt back.
Sherlock followed Carl up the stairs into a large, open space with floor length windows at three sides and several small private offices on the fourth side. A large table covered in papers and magazines was the focal point of the office and the rest consisted of desks placed in several groups all around the office. Most of the desks seemed to be covered with screens, all running with numbers and graphs.
"That are the trading desk." Carl pointed to the two circles in the farthest corner. "And this is our spot." Carl pointed to two desks, mercifully empty of screens. Sherlock immediately picked the one desk that allowed him to sit discreetly with his back towards the window. people would no be able to walk past him unnoticed and the curtains protected against the reflexion of the screen. Nobody could just accidently read over his shoulder.
"Just plug in and do your magic," Carl said. Sherlock did just that; what Carl didn't know was that Sherlock's magic consisted of more than just planning a large drug shipment across the world. He also hacked into their system to get to the vital information they needed to get Annika. His fingers danced of the keyboard as he expertly hacked into the company's deepest hidden paths. Sherlock didn't expect much direct information, but as long as he could link intercepted drug transport with the legal trade in cocoa, nuts and coffee he had something already. Sherlock worked the whole day without a break and at the end of the day he had enough data to know who were involved and who weren't. And he knew Annika would be going behind bars for a long time on this information alone. Now he only needed the data he suspected to be on Annika's private server, the one that could only be reached via four devises; Her telephone, her laptop, the desktop standing in her office and Carl's phone.
"Dam," Sherlock cursed at the end of the long day. He was ready to step up the game. tHe office was empty except for the three of them.
"What's wrong?" Carl looked over the divide between their desks.
"My laptop refuses to connect. And I promised Annika to send her the data now. "
"Try one of the others," Carl gesture to the desktop computers around him.
"They're not working either," Sherlock said a few moments later. He had activated the virus on the computer. He had to admit Mycroft's whiz-kids came in handy sometimes, especially when it came to programming a simple virus that attacked the network connection of the infected computers.
"An," Carl yelled and Annika came out of her little office looking annoyed.
"It's not diner time yet," she said.
"I know, can you connect to the network?' Annika ducked inside her office again.
"Yeah, it's working here." She replied a few moments later.
"Damn, the office-network's down and we need to send the schedule," Sherlock said. He held his breath for a short second because he knew this was the moment between success and the waste of months of preparation.
"Use my laptop. it connects to via my own network so it should still work." Sherlock had to fight the triumphant smirk, which threatened to take over his face. He just gratefully accepted her laptop and after he had started it. He looked at the password screen for a moment and then she appeared again.
"Shall I log you in?" Sherlock looked at her for moment saw the slightly condescending smirk she always offered to people who amused her. Usually at their expense.
"Be my guest," Sherlock gestured to the laptop. She carefully out of his view, entered her password. Sherlock knew she still didn't trust him completely, which was why she was still the best in the business, but she was getting sloppy, lending him her laptop was the prime example.
She walked away and Sherlock immediately started to go through everything on the network. At nine Carl stood up, stretched a bit and then walked to Annika's office.
"People, I'm done. I'm getting something to eat. Do you want to eat something, pizza?" The other two shook their heads and Carl walked away, while he muttered about workaholics.
Sherlock worked on in silence; he had now enough evidence for her to be convicted for life several times over and there was enough evidence to satisfy several small and large nations to ask for her head too and what was more important he found enough evidence to make Moran's life in the Netherlands incredibly difficult.
Just as he sent yet another package to Mycroft he heard a door open and footsteps walking to the room. Sherlock dismissed them thinking Carl had returned with some pizza anyway.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here?"
The words and voice made Sherlock freeze, skip his heart several beats and he realized how careless he had been. He slowly looked up and there, in the middle of the office, looking at Sherlock stood Sebastian Moran, holding a gun pointed at Sherlock's head.
At that moment Annika opened her door and she looked between Moran Sherlock and the gun.
"Sebastian, what?" she asked, settling her look at Sebastian for the answer.
"An, you do know who this is, don't you?" Sherlock closed his eyes for a moment he knew he was as good as death, so he did one last thing, ready for the bullet to fly through his head. He pushed Send All. Annika was on him immediately, but she was too late.
"What did you just sent?" she yelled at Sherlock while she pulled him out of his chair. Sherlock decided she was surprisingly strong for woman.
"Everything," he said. Annika shoved him to the side and her fingers immediately flew over the keyboard.
"Godverdomme, he sent all data of the last three years." Annika cursed and threw the laptop against the window behind her, before she walked to Sherlock, who had been gestured to the side under the thread of Moran's gun. She grabbed his throat and looked him straight in the eyes.
'I will snap you neck."
Sherlock sneered at her, but knew he could do nothing at the moment, even he wasn't stupid enough to antagonise the woman with her hand around his throat.
"He's mine," Moran suddenly said, his words were so cold that Sherlock felt the shivers travel up his spine.
"Who is he?" Annika stepped back letting Sherlock go and Sherlock took some struggling breaths.
"A dead man." Moran smirked.
"Moran." Sherlock noted she had switched back to last names.
"No literally," Moran said, "This is Sherlock Holmes, a man who's supposed to be dead for a year now." Annika stepped into Sherlock's face again looked at him, re-evaluating him.
"I checked him out, everything fitted. There were traces of him everywhere, school pictures, everything." Annika turned around to look at Moran again.
"Of course there were. He's Sherlock Holmes; he has the British secret service at his command." At those words Annika punched Sherlock squarely in the nose. Sherlock felt his nose break and blood filled his mouth. He spat out the blood on the floor and pinched his nose to stench the bleeding. He knew there was only one way he would get out alive and that was to overpower her and use her as a shield, a hostage against Moran because Sherlock knew he wouldn't stand a change against Moran as long as the assassin had the gun.
Sherlock waited for the right moment because he knew he had to time it perfect; one wrong move and there would be a bullet in his brain.
Then it was Annika who made a wrong move and Sherlock was on her immediately. She stepped just a little too close to Sherlock and with Moran focused on her, Sherlock took his chance. He locked his arm around her throat and pulled her close to him. A loud shot and the sound of breaking glass followed the movement.
The three of them stood breathing hard while behind Sherlock the sound of traffic became louder and the curtains billowed out through the broken window.
Sherlock watched as all of a sudden a sadistic smirk appeared on Moran's face. He knew something Sherlock didn't and Sherlock knew he was in trouble. His suspicion immediately confirmed when a heel embedded itself firmly in his foot, followed by an elbow in his groin. Annika turned away and came to a hold in a crouch on the ground. Sherlock blinked the tears away and rolled away too, ready another shot. The shot didn't come and when Sherlock looked at Moran he saw Moran settling down, now straight out laughing.
"Did I tell you I trained her personally in self-defence? And she's good." Sherlock cursed to himself; he underestimated her and he knew it might have been the last mistake he would ever make. He turned his full attention to her again just in time.
She swung with her left fist. Sherlock moved to his left and felt the air move past his shoulder. Sherlock straightened up and jab his hand forwards. Annika dodged and immediately replied with a well placed kick to his ankle. Shaking away the pain Sherlock began to move in on Annika. She retreated for moment, until the desk hit her back. In the corner of Sherlock's eye he saw Moran move for moment, but Annika shook her head and he retreated back to watching them fight.
Sherlock moved swiftly and hit Annika with a hard left-hook to the head. She went down to her knees and Sherlock was on her immediately. He held her for the moment and tried to manoeuvre her between Moran and himself. Annika elbowed him in the stomach and Sherlock let her go with a gasp. Annika immediate rolled way. They both sat down crouched like tigers. Ready to attack.
They moved at the same times and collided mid punch. Sherlock felt Annika's blow glance his ear and his fist hit her full in the chest. He stood up regaining his breath. Annika used the desk to get to her feet. And Sherlock knew he could beat her. He moved in to give the killing blow making sure to keep her between Moran and himself.
He moved forwards, hit her in the arm and kicked her in the leg. She went to her knee again. Sherlock moved even closer, when suddenly she jumped up and with several quick hard punches drove him back and back and back.
Annika aimed one last blow to him and when his foot no longer found solid ground Sherlock realized what she had done.
Sherlock immediately lost his balance and his hands grasped at the air until they found a hold, but he still fell backwards and for the second time in a year Sherlock felt the freedom of a free fall. His mind became still like it had done the year before. All he could feel was the arm in his hands.
The landing was worse than even his overactive imagination had come up with. Pain radiated from every bone, fibre, cell and breathing became impossible.
He tried to draw some air and then to sit up, but found it impossible, so he just opened his eyes. He looked a few feet away at open eyes that stared at nothing, blindly, death. He watched as blood slowly started to spread under Annika's head. Well, at least he had managed to take her down his mind supplied.
As light flashed before his eyes the irony hit him. Last year he had faked his death by jumping of a building and everybody mourned him. And now he would really die by falling of a building and nobody would ever know. He would be buried in an unmarked grave, would never restore his reputation, never see John, Lestrade, Mrs Hudson again and Moriarty would win.
He took one last breath, listened to the sirens rushing towards them, then closed his eyes and welcomed loss of consciousness with open arms.
"I assume it was you who killed Roberts?" She waited for a reply that wasn't forthcoming. "Well?"
"Of course it was. He was stupid and didn't want to cooperate," he said amused.
"You know the others were killed too?" she asked.
"Yes." His voice turned cold, no longer laughing. "I didn't appreciate that by the way.' She frowned at him.
"You don't know?"
"What, that your man decided to kill them after I left while I left all the evcidnce the police needed. It were senseless killings" She opened her mouth to reply, but then felt relief as his words registered because they showed he had not figured it out yet.
All of a sudden he looked angry at her. "Yes, I know you sent somebody after me and I don't appreciate it." She sat back, her eyes still on him.
"How did you know?"
"I'm not stupid. I saw him and then I watched him flee the place. While being shot at by Moran, I might add. The idiot almost got himself killed. They really need to rethink the training of your tea-boys. In my day he would not ever left the office."
She smiled. "They are no longer my men." She deliberately ignored his use of the infamous nickname her agents had been given by jealous rivals. "I promise you. I didn't sent anybody after you and we know it was Moran who pulled the trigger." At once he looked surprised at her and then thoughtful.
"Can I trust you?" She thought about how she would answer the question honestly without betraying her son.
"The man was not sent after you. You just beat him to his task, John."
Two months later.
Mycroft stood watching over New York. He was already late for his meeting, but he just wanted to enjoy the view. Two months ago his life crashed around him for the second time in a year. And this time the solution had not been as easy as his brother simply walking into his apartment.
He had cleaned up yet another mess Sherlock had caused, but the destruction of a large criminal network spanning several countries did make up for some of it. He stared outside for a bit longer, his thoughts still fixed on the disastrous evening two months ago.
He sighed again and then turned to the other occupant in the room.
"Are you sure you're ready for this? It's only been two months."
"I am. Just give me that cane and I'll be out of your hair." Mycroft looked at his brother, at the splint still around his wrist, the scars of several operations on his bare underarms and the clothing that hid many more.
He handed his brother the smooth black cane and watched his brother's fingers tighten a bit too hard on the handle.
"Mycroft, this round is going to be mine. I just can't lose, not when there are people depending on me." At those words Mycroft watched his brother walk out of the room, heavily leaning on the cane. Mycroft turned back to the window, but the clicking of the cane on the tiled floor filled his heart with dread.