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of murder and mayhem

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*

“John, we’ve got a case,” Sherlock announced gleefully, typing away at his laptop. “High-profile murder. Oh, I love those.”

“We’re on vacation!” John protested.

“Yes, and it’s awfully boring.” Sherlock was serious now, his brilliant mind already in motion as he analyzed the information he had. “John, this case is urgent.”

John gave himself a moment to lament the abrupt ending to his time off. “Hang on, what were you typing? Did you agree to take the case already?”

“I said high-profile, but strictly speaking, it’s not high-profile yet, and the police want to keep it that way,” Sherlock explained, as if he hadn’t heard a word John had said. “A celebrity contestant on a TV show has been murdered. The police are trying to catch the murderer before the news gets out. And yes, I’ve already agreed to help them.”

John stared, dumbfounded, as Sherlock swept past him and out the door of their hotel room. Then he sighed, rolled his eyes, and followed him.

*

They were picked up behind the hotel by a heavily-tinted undercover police car.

“The TV show is called Show Me the Money,” Sherlock told John as their driver wove through Seoul traffic. “It’s billed as South Korea’s only rap survival show. I’ve taken the liberty of doing some basic research and it seems there’s no shortage of potential suspects.”

John frowned. “Do some of the contestants have criminal backgrounds?”

Sherlock shook his head, looking undaunted by the prospect of a challenge. On the contrary, he looked excited. John made a mental note to remind Sherlock to take it down a notch.

“A K-pop idol trainee won the last season of Show Me the Money. Because of that, this season has had an unprecedented number of idol contestants, all hoping to prove themselves by winning. However, the show was created to give prize money and, more importantly, TV exposure to rappers who don’t have the support of a record label, or at least not a powerful one. Also, there already exists a prejudice against idol rappers’ talent, or supposed lack thereof. All of this has created tension on the show. And now, an idol rapper has been murdered.”

John tried to remember everything Sherlock had just said. At least this time Sherlock was sharing information; John had gone whole cases without knowing what had happened or who they were looking for. “So you’re saying...any contestant could possibly have a motive? The idol rappers want to take out their competition, and the other rappers think an idol doesn’t deserve to win?”

“Yes.” Sherlock looked proud that John had arrived at the correct conclusion. Despite the situation, it made John happy. “Of course, once we arrive and I get a look at the crime scene, things could change. The fact that the victim was an idol doesn’t mean that he was murdered because of it.”

“Of course.” John looked out the window as they crossed the Han River. “What’s the victim’s name?”

“Woo Taewoon.”

*

John found himself disoriented by the utter chaos in the filming location’s crowded main room. Police were everywhere, barking orders and confiscating mobile phones and tablets. Some of the people present—including some fans, most likely—were crying, others arguing heatedly. Even Sherlock looked suddenly unsure of what he was doing there, though he hid it well.

A man spotted them and rushed over, followed by a female police officer. “Thank you for coming, Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson,” he said quickly, shaking their hands. His eyes were slightly red from crying. “I’m Tablo, I’ll be translating if needed. This is Officer Yoon. I hope you’ll be able to help us. It’s really terrible, what happened.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed, his expression appropriately somber. For now, John thought. “Please let all police officers know not to let anyone leave this building for any reason until I’m done. May I see the crime scene?”

“Of course, follow us, please.”

“By the way, Mr. Tablo,” Sherlock said as they walked away from the crowd, “your wife will be angry with you when she finds out you’ve been slipping your daughter extra chocolates.”

Tablo glanced back at Sherlock, startled, before he cracked a small, tired smile. “Honestly, I was afraid the murderer would never be caught. But now that you’re here, I think the chance of justice being served is going up.”

“Why do you think the murderer won’t be caught?” John asked.

“There’s barely any evidence,” Tablo replied. “There are cameras everywhere, not just ours, but security cameras and fans’ cameras as well. Yet there wasn’t a single camera that caught anything useful. It’s going to be hard for the police to prove anything.”

The crime scene, a short, dimly-lit hallway not far from the main room, was deserted except for two police officers keeping guard at either end. Officer Yoon handed all of them shoe covers, gowns, and gloves before she lifted the cordon for them, shining an electric torch to help them see. Next to Sherlock, Tablo drew in a shaky breath, looking close to tears again at the sight.

Woo Taewoon lay sprawled on the floor in a pool of blood. He was a large man, as tall as Sherlock and more solidly built. John crouched carefully next to the body, avoiding the blood which hadn’t completely dried yet. Paramedics had already cut open Taewoon’s shirt, revealing a bullet wound in his chest. “Cause of death should be obvious, I’d say,” John said, gesturing to the wound. “Is the bullet still lodged inside the body?”

“The bullet was found in the floor three meters away from the body,” Officer Yoon answered, in careful but perfectly understandable English. “It is from a very common type of gun. We have started looking for who here owns that type of gun, but it will take a long time. We have also searched the floor and walls for evidence, and found nothing. The security cameras from here to the main room all stopped recording only a few minutes before the murder happened.”

Sherlock crouched down next to John, scrutinizing the body. “Well, doctor?” he prompted after a moment. “What do you see?”

John took a moment to collect his thoughts, hoping he hadn’t missed any important details. “The bullet punctured the sternum and the aorta, judging from the amount of blood.” Behind him, he heard Tablo translating for Officer Yoon. “A full autopsy may reveal more details, but likely not any that will help identify the murderer. There are bruises around the wrists and on the forearms. So there was a struggle, probably over the gun,” he concluded.

Sherlock nodded. John eyed him apprehensively. “Did I miss anything?”

“Well...”

John groaned.

Sherlock looked up at Officer Yoon. “Is it alright if I move the body?”

She nodded, and Sherlock turned the body over to examine the corresponding bullet wound in the back. “You failed to notice that the wound in the front is an exit wound. Taewoon was shot from the back, probably as soon as he attempted to run away, and the murderer then repositioned the body. There’s also the question of whether the murderer aimed for the aorta, or simply got lucky. Comparing the entry and exit wounds, you can see that the bullet traveled downwards and towards the right as it passed through Taewoon’s body. He got lucky, then.

“The sharp angle of entry suggests that the murderer’s hand shook when firing, meaning he wasn’t used to shooting a gun. However, South Korean law requires every able-bodied man to serve in the military for at least two years before the age of 35. We also know from the bruises that there was a struggle. So, we’re looking for a strong young man, at least 175 centimeters tall, who hasn’t done his military service yet.”

A stunned silence fell when Sherlock finished speaking.

“Wow,” Officer Yoon said, shaking her head in amazed disbelief.

“How do you...how do you know the murderer was a man?” John asked after a moment, resisting the urge to echo Officer Yoon’s sentiments. Even after knowing Sherlock for years and going on dozens of cases with him, Sherlock’s deductive skills never failed to astonish him.

“Balance of probability,” Sherlock replied nonchalantly. “The bullet was fired from a short distance away and traveled downwards once it entered Taewoon’s body, so the murderer couldn’t have been more than ten centimeters shorter than Taewoon.” He raised his arm and made his fingers into the shape of a gun to demonstrate. “Not many Korean women are that tall.”

“Why reposition the body?” Officer Yoon asked.

Sherlock frowned at that. “I’m...not sure. To check if he was dead, perhaps?” He stood and stretched. “Mr. Tablo, could you tell me what happened shortly before the murder? Why did Taewoon leave the main room in the first place?”

Tablo appeared distracted, still staring despondently at Taewoon’s body. After a long moment, he forced himself to look away and answer Sherlock’s question. “The contestants were practicing for their one-on-one rap battles. As you can imagine, it was quite loud in the main room, so some of the contestants had gone into the hallway or other rooms to practice. The judges were walking around listening. Almost everyone had cameras on them—Taewoon apparently didn’t, so it’s still a mystery why he ended up in this hallway. Then the next thing we knew, we heard a gunshot and...” He faltered, unable to continue.

Sherlock nodded, absorbing every detail of what Tablo had said. Then he asked, as if it were a logical conclusion, “Where is Taewoon’s brother? I’d like to talk to him.”

Officer Yoon looked surprised. “Zico? You think he is a suspect?”

“How on earth could you know he has a brother?” John exclaimed. “Don’t tell me you deduced that, too.”

Sherlock grinned at him, before he caught himself and assumed a more serious air. “I didn’t. I looked it up on the way here. Taewoon’s brother Zico is one of the judges on this show.” He turned back to Officer Yoon. “I just want to talk to him. Has he seen his brother’s body?”

The police officer shook her head, and exchanged glances with Tablo. “Mr. Holmes,” Tablo said quietly, “Zico is being held in custody as the prime suspect.”

*

“You don’t honestly believe Taewoon was murdered by his own brother, do you?” John demanded in an undertone as they made their way through the crowd in the main room.

“More horrific things have happened, John,” Sherlock replied absently. “But if you really want to know, I didn’t think Zico would be a suspect.”

Zico was sitting silently in the hallway on the other side of the main room, a pair of sunglasses covering half his face. Two other young men were hovering near him, one with a snapback pulled low over his eyes and the other with a buzzcut and thick eyebrows. A burly police officer stood a few steps away, watching Zico distrustfully. His makeshift English nametag read ‘Officer Jo’.

John gave Zico a once-over, wondering if he fit Sherlock’s description of the murderer. Zico was tall and slim, but something about his bleached blond hair and round face made him seem young and frail, especially in comparison to his brother’s stocky build. He wasn’t handcuffed.

As they approached, the young man with the buzzcut jumped to his feet. “Jiho-hyung didn’t do it,” he burst out desperately. “Please, Mr. Holmes—”

“Mino,” Tablo said softly. “Sit down.”

Mino obeyed with a huff, reaching out to wrap his fingers around Zico’s wrist protectively as if he thought Sherlock and John were going to take Zico away.

Sherlock knelt so that he was at Zico’s eye level. “It’s all right. I don’t think Zico did it, either.”

Officer Jo made a sound of disbelief. John furrowed his brows, confused. Sherlock had spoken so gently, and kneeling to look a suspect in the eye wasn’t exactly something he made a habit of doing. What had Sherlock already seen that made him so sympathetic?

Zico raised his head slightly, his expression almost defiant. “Are you sure, Mr. Holmes?”

“He keeps talking like that,” Officer Jo said scornfully. He added something in Korean. “He says Zico has been uncooperative,” Tablo translated, almost reluctantly. “He hasn’t offered an alibi, nor has he refuted the police’s speculations about his possible motive. All in all, he’s acted extremely guilty.”

Sherlock nodded in acknowledgement. “I’d like to hear it from the suspect himself. Why are you the prime suspect?”

“There were only a few people who could not be found on camera when my brother was murdered,” Zico explained tonelessly. “I was one of them. The police think I am the most suspicious.”

“Why didn’t they handcuff you?”

He shrugged sullenly. “I did not resist. And too many fans were watching.”

“Where were you, then, when your brother was shot?” Sherlock asked. Curiouser and curiouser, John thought. He’d never seen Sherlock behave so kindly towards a suspect, even if he didn’t believe them to be guilty. For that matter, he’d never seen Sherlock behave so kindly towards anyone, not even Mycroft, his own brother. Especially not Mycroft.

“Does it matter?” Zico replied bitterly.

The other young man, the one with the snapback, frowned. “Jiho-yah,” he said sternly.

Zico switched to Korean. “You know how it is, Hanhae-hyung. The news will get out eventually, and the fans will pressure the police to identify the murderer. No matter what I say, I’m still the most likely suspect. Might as well give the fans someone to blame for the death of their idol.”

“And what about your fans?” Hanhae retorted, raising his head in agitation, enough for John to see that he had been crying. He supposed Hanhae had been deeply affected by Taewoon’s death, but was trying to keep calm for Zico’s sake. “Don’t be rash, Jiho-yah.”

John could practically see the gears turning in Sherlock’s head as Tablo translated. His next question took them all by surprise. “Mino, how long has Zico had a heart condition?”

“S-since he was born,” Mino stuttered. “How do you know?”

Sherlock ignored his question. “Hanhae, how would you say Zico’s health affects his daily life?”

“He often misses practices, and even some public events, because of his condition,” Hanhae said, in a mix of English and Korean. “He had surgery as a baby, but he always needs to be careful of his health still.”

“Why are you asking these questions?” Officer Yoon asked.

“Frankly, on the emotional aspect alone, I already doubted Zico had motive to murder his brother,” Sherlock replied, standing. “But if you need more proof, Zico’s heart condition makes it near impossible for him to have engaged in a physical struggle with a man of Taewoon’s size to the extent that bruises formed on Taewoon’s arms. I’m sure you can find medical records that back up that statement.”

“You said ‘emotion’,” Officer Jo pointed out, skeptical. “What emotion? Zico didn’t even cry when we told him his brother is dead.”

“Come now,” Sherlock said, sounding almost like he was chastising a child. “Surely you know that having emotion and showing emotion are two different things.”

Officer Jo bristled. “How do you know, then?”

“Zico doesn’t like to express his feelings,” Sherlock replied, clearly eager for another chance to show off. “He’s playful and flashy, that much is obvious from his fashion choices, but when it comes to more intense emotions, he tries to hide it—hence the sunglasses. And I assume that he’s the prime suspect because his relationship with Taewoon wasn’t good. But Zico isn’t the sort to waste time or energy on disliking someone. He has more important things to focus on. Despite the tension he had with his brother, he did care. Does care.”

He paused, and added, satisfied, “And if you think I’m wrong, the look on Zico’s face proves that I’m not.”

John glanced at Zico, and had to fight back a smile despite the situation. The young man was staring at the ground, clearly embarrassed.

“You’re right that he feels guilty,” Sherlock continued. “But the murder was meticulously planned, not a spur-of-the-moment decision—the murderer wouldn’t feel guilt after successfully carrying out his plan. No, Zico feels guilty because he thinks he could have done something to save his brother. Don’t waste your time trying to indict him.” He stopped to take a breath, and added, almost as an afterthought, “For the record, Zico, don’t blame yourself. There was nothing you could have done.”

Officer Yoon looked somewhat skeptical, but gestured for Zico and his friends to return to the main room. John was still thoroughly confused by Sherlock’s unusually considerate behavior.

“Oh, and Hanhae?” Sherlock called. The young man turned to look at him, and Sherlock smiled a little. “Zico and Mino will be fine. Your new friend, however, is quite shaken up by this whole incident. You should go comfort him. He’d appreciate that.”

Hanhae blinked, surprised. “How do you know about Jaewon?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“Firstly, you’re wearing new clothes,” Sherlock pointed out. “Could be that you want to look good on camera, but you feel slightly uncomfortable in these clothes. Since this is a competition, you’d probably rather be comfortable so that you can perform well. You’re dressing to make a good impression on someone, then. It’s got to be someone you’ve just met, too, because something as simple as new clothes wouldn’t impress an old friend.

“Secondly, while I was talking to Zico, you responded to at least five texts from the same person. The police aren’t allowing any outside contact, so obviously, that person has to be in this building and aware of the situation. Five texts in less than ten minutes means worry carefully calculated to not seem like worry. It’s probably not a woman, a worried woman would either come out here instead of texting or keep quiet altogether. So, a man, a young man who’s frightened and trying not to show it, and would appreciate your comforting him without having to ask for it.”

Hanhae whistled lowly, impressed. “Thank you for helping Zico, Mr. Holmes,” he said after a moment, smiling sadly. “You probably know, this is hurting him more than it seems.”

Sherlock waved a dismissive hand. “I know,” he said casually, but his tone was gentle. “No need to thank me.”

*

The police’s second suspect was Lee Donghoon, Taewoon’s rap battle opponent. Sherlock eyed him briefly, asked him to sprint across the room and back, and promptly dismissed him as too physically unfit to be the murderer when Donghoon returned, panting and exhausted.

Officer Yoon was looking increasingly discomfited at what she probably perceived to be Sherlock taking control of the investigation. Nevertheless, she accepted Sherlock’s judgment and led them to the third suspect, who was arguing angrily with another police officer.

Tablo sighed in exasperation. “This is Andup, and he’s already created quite a reputation for himself as someone who hates idol rappers. ‘Idol sniper’, some people call him.”

“I’m innocent,” Andup insisted, in fluent English, as soon as Sherlock and John were within earshot. “Why am I being held in custody?”

“You have to admit people are somewhat inclined to think you had motive,” Tablo deadpanned.

Andup rolled his eyes. “I’m just as innocent as Vernon, okay?” He gestured to a strikingly handsome biracial teenager sitting against the wall not far away, gazing blankly into the distance. Tablo murmured to them that Vernon was Andup’s rap battle opponent. “Or you could say Vernon is just as guilty as me, you know. Why isn’t he a suspect, huh?”

“Jaewon confirmed Vernon’s alibi, and you know that,” Officer Yoon said, as though she were talking to a particularly stubborn child. “You, on the other hand, have no one to vouch for your alibi or your character.”

“I’m not the only one who thinks idols shouldn’t be on this show,” Andup complained heatedly. “Just because I said those things and also happened to be too boring to be filmed when Taewoon got himself shot—”

Tablo cleared his throat pointedly.

Andup exhaled sharply, some of the aggressiveness leaving his posture. “Sorry,” he said, more quietly, and John thought he really did mean it. He was sorry Taewoon was dead, but he was more frustrated that he was being held as a suspect on rather scant evidence. “But look, if you’re going to take my ‘idol sniper’ nickname as proof that I would actually murder an idol, don’t you think I would’ve shot my opponent, not the guy whose little brother is a judge?”

“Quite right,” Sherlock agreed. “Vernon would’ve put up less of a fight, too.”

“Sherlock!” John exclaimed, scandalized.

“Oh, relax, John,” Sherlock said smoothly. “I’m merely stating a fact. Look at how thin he is, the poor boy. I assume he’s been put on a diet, that’s the normal thing to do these days, though quite bad for the health.” He turned back to Officer Yoon. “Sorry, officer, I know it would all be very logical if Andup were guilty, but he’s not.”

Officer Yoon crossed her arms over her chest, annoyed. “You said all of our suspects are innocent. What’s your idea, then?”

Sherlock opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it, uncharacteristically stumped. Actually, this entire case had been uncharacteristic, John thought, but he couldn’t figure out why. “I’ll have to think about it some more. There’s definitely something I’m missing...”

He walked off, mumbling to himself. After a moment’s hesitation, John went after him.

Sherlock turned to him and gripped his shoulders, peering at him as if John somehow had all the answers. “We know the murderer is young and tall,” Sherlock said. “What else do we know?”

John tried to concentrate, hoping to make a worthwhile deduction. “Well...the murderer isn’t any of the police’s suspects. There isn’t any evidence other than the body itself, though.”

Sherlock dropped his hands from John’s shoulders, beginning to pace. “Evidence...how did the murderer avoid leaving any evidence?”

John racked his brain for anything he’d seen or heard that could help solve the mystery. “Officer Yoon said the security cameras stopped recording. The murderer must’ve had an accomplice—”

Sherlock stopped suddenly, slowly getting that familiar expression signifying some incredible leap of logic. “What is it?” John demanded.

“Oh, John,” Sherlock said, grinning, “what do I always say to you? You are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light.”

“That doesn’t answer—” John started, but Sherlock was already walking away, ecstatic at having solved yet another mystery.

“Cameras, John!” he called brightly over his shoulder.

John scowled, hurrying after him. “Would you please tone down that grin of yours,” he hissed. “It’s not decent.”

Officer Yoon was deep in discussion with some of her officers, and Sherlock cleared his throat to get her attention. “I believe I’ve found the murderer,” he announced. “It’s one of the cameramen.”

Officer Yoon raised an eyebrow. “Of course,” she said, with a tone of grudging respect. “He would be almost invisible behind his camera. No one would ever suspect him.”

“It’s very likely he also had an accomplice,” Sherlock added, winking at John. “A security guard, perhaps, who turned off the security cameras.”

Officer Yoon nodded, turning to her officers and giving them hurried instructions.

As the officers left to question the cameramen, Tablo came over. “What’s going on?”

“The murderer is one of the cameramen,” Sherlock informed him. “I should have figured it out earlier—you were talking about the cameras from the very beginning, saying there were cameras everywhere but none of them had recorded any evidence. Then Andup said he was ‘too boring to be filmed’, and it reminded me of how you’d assumed Taewoon hadn’t had a camera on him when he left the room. I realized there could have been other reasons Taewoon wasn’t being filmed. He must have had a cameraman filming him, who was able to separate him from his opponent without suspicion, then murdered him and erased the camera footage.”

Tablo shook his head, sadly. “What a waste,” he murmured. “With that kind of cleverness, the murderer could’ve dedicated himself to something useful. But instead, he ended someone’s life...” His voice choked up near the end and he turned away, passing a hand across his eyes.

There was a commotion on the other side of the room and John and Sherlock turned to look as two officers wrestled someone to the ground, struggling to handcuff him.

“He’s not denying it,” Officer Yoon reported with distaste when the three of them came over. The man had stopped resisting, and was now standing still with a look of defiance on his face.

“Why did you murder Woo Taewoon?” Sherlock asked coldly.

The man shrugged. “Because I could.” It made John’s stomach turn, how the man didn’t seem to feel even the slightest bit of guilt.

“Wrong,” Sherlock said. “You’ve planned this for quite some time. Why?”

The man rolled his eyes. “Fine. I’m an anti-fan. I don’t like Woo Taewoon and I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.”

Sherlock frowned, but before he could question him further, Zico stalked up to them, trailed by Mino, Hanhae, and a handsome young man who John assumed was Jaewon. “Let me see the suspect,” he demanded.

“Zico-sshi, maybe that’s not a good idea,” Officer Yoon tried to say, but Zico simply took off his sunglasses and glared at her.

“Let me see my brother’s murderer.”

Officer Yoon pressed her lips into a thin line but relented, stepping aside.

Zico stared at the man for a long moment, his jaw clenched. “I hope you rot in jail for the rest of your pitiful life,” he said finally, each word careful and deliberate. “May God have mercy on your soul.”

He turned away and was about to walk off when the man spoke, tauntingly. “Want to know what your brother’s last words were?”

Zico turned back to him, slowly. “No,” he said, almost pleading.

“‘Jiho-yah,’” the man mimicked, his imitation of Taewoon’s voice credible enough that Mino, Hanhae, and Zico all flinched. “‘Jiho-yah—’”

Zico took two quick steps and lunged, punching the man in the face. The officers who had been restraining him conveniently loosened their grip so that he fell, blood dripping from his broken nose. Zico didn’t spare him a second glance, sitting down on the floor and burying his face in his hands. Mino crouched next to him, his hands hovering over Zico’s shoulders, Zico’s back, hesitant to touch him.

“Hanhae-sshi,” Officer Yoon said, looking a little shaken, “is there anything you wanted to say?”

“No,” Hanhae replied immediately, his voice trembling with pain and anger. “Nothing.” Jaewon took his hand, silently, and Hanhae gave him a brief but grateful smile.

Officer Yoon nodded, and motioned for her officers to take the man away.

At that precise moment, someone near the door screamed, and a deafening chatter arose as everyone began talking at once. John stood on tiptoe to see what was causing the ruckus, and nearly lost his balance in his shock.

Woo Taewoon stood in the doorway, his left arm in a sling, looking tired but very much alive.

“What the fuck,” someone hissed behind John, and he turned to see Zico getting to his feet, looking positively murderous.

Taewoon made his way slowly across the room, a paramedic following him closely and glaring at anyone who tried to crowd around Taewoon.

Mino scrambled to his feet, glancing at Zico. He opened his mouth to say something, and then appeared to think better of it. Instead, he stepped closer to Zico and carefully took a hold of the back of Zico’s hoodie, as if he thought he needed to physically stop Zico from attacking his brother. The others simply stood frozen in shock, gaping at Taewoon.

Taewoon stopped in front of them, his gaze passing over Sherlock and John and coming to rest on Zico. He smiled sheepishly. “Hey, little brother.”

“Don’t ‘hey’ me,” Zico snapped, his voice shaking. His hands were curled into fists at his sides. John was slightly concerned that if the murderer hadn’t managed to kill Woo Taewoon, Woo Jiho certainly would.

“Jiho-yah,” Hanhae ventured, half amused and half worried, “it’s not nice to hit someone who’s just come back from the dead.”

“He isn’t actually going to hit Taewoon-hyung, is he?” Jaewon asked, eyes wide.

Hanhae opened his mouth to answer but Zico cut him off, still glaring at Taewoon. “Did you really get shot?”

Taewoon nodded, undoing the first few buttons of his shirt and pulling down the collar to show Zico the bloodied bandage covering the left side of his chest. Mino drew in a sharp breath, lifting a hand to cover his mouth. John caught a glimpse of a tattoo across Taewoon’s chest, and had a fleeting memory of Sherlock asking Has he seen his brother’s body?

Zico stared at the wound silently, his expression unreadable, until Taewoon buttoned his shirt back up. It seemed to John that they were all waiting with bated breath to see what Zico was going to do next.

Suddenly, Zico burst into tears and lunged at Taewoon, throwing his arms around Taewoon’s shoulders and burying his face in the crook of Taewoon’s neck. “You bastard,” they heard him sob, “I thought you were dead—”

Taewoon looked just as surprised as the rest of them. Hesitantly, he wrapped his free arm around his brother’s waist, murmuring comfortingly into his ear. Zico only tightened his grip, making Taewoon wince in pain as his wound was jostled.

Tablo made a small noise, as if suddenly realizing that Taewoon had actually nearly died, and hurried off to fetch some chairs.

Officer Yoon, too, seemed to come back to her senses then. “Taewoon-sshi, please explain how you faked your death.”

Taewoon glanced briefly at his brother, as if expecting him to let go now, but when Zico didn’t budge, Taewoon smiled slightly and began to explain.

Sherlock pulled John aside. “John, I think our work’s done here, don’t you?” He grinned smugly. “You can get back to your little vacation now.”

Bemused, John said goodbye to the others and followed Sherlock out of the building and back to the main street, where they hailed a taxi back to the hotel.

“You were involved with this whole thing from the beginning, weren’t you?” John demanded once they got in the car.

“Whatever do you mean, John,” Sherlock replied blandly.

“You knew Taewoon had faked his death,” John said, growing more sure of himself by the second. He turned to look at Sherlock. “You helped Taewoon fake his death. That’s why you were so nice to his little brother during the investigation.”

“I was not,” Sherlock insisted, looking out the window.

John laughed. “You felt guilty that you were lying to Zico about his brother’s death.” He shook his head, incredulous. “Sherlock Holmes, feeling guilty? No one will believe this.”

Sherlock harrumphed but said nothing, and John looked back out the window, still smiling.