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Seven Seconds

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Day (-10)
New Scotland Yard
1400 UST

    "I'm not sure I'm following you, Sherlock." Lestrade sighed and tossed the case folder onto his already cluttered desk. "We have already gone and talked to Mr. Sainsbury twice."
"I know that, you idiot! I'm telling you he is lying. Look at these receipts, he obviously was not at the house when he claims he was, and neither was her brother. The butler, however, was. Don't you see?"
Sally Donovan and John Watson stood back against the glass wall sipping their coffees. There was no way they were getting involved in this one. Nope.


Day (-9)
Lauriston Gardens
0236 UST

    Sherlock Holmes sat in the back of the ambulance with yet another hideous orange blanket draped over his shoulders. Honestly, when were they going to learn that he. Was. Not. In shock. Yes, the butler had knocked him out with a toaster when he let himself into the kitchen of Madame Marlene Huggard, then took him to (where else?) the empty flat a floor down from where Scotland Yard had found the lady in pink. Admittedly, a normal person would be in shock. He was most assuredly not normal.
"How's the head?"
John was in a bit worse shape than Sherlock was. A split lip, loose tooth, and a rather painful looking lump forming on the older man's temple didn't seem to temper his jovial mood, though.
"I'm not in any sort of pain, and I don't have double vision. I believe we are good to go."
"That's good, real good. Lestrade told me that he will get our statements tomorrow when he comes over to retrieve the five warrant cards you have nicked from him over the last month."
Looked like beating the utter shit out of the murderer and the two slabs of beef with the man did wonders to John's overall mood. Sherlock would have to remember that. Possibly get a gym membership for the doctor's next birthday. The detective smiled.
"Hungry? I know of this fantastic Mongolian grill not too far from here. The owner knows me."
"Got him off a murder charge?"
"No. Grand theft auto, actually."
John laughed.

Day (-7)
221B Baker Street
0546 UST

    John finally pulled the sweat soaked sheets away from his legs and swung his feet to the floor. The remnants of his night terror still floated around his mind, fueled by the adrenaline reaction of his body.
God damn and bloody bollocks. Another sleepless night, and right before a surgery shift to boot!
Bloody hell and ruddy well sod it!
Downstairs, he could hear his flatmate tuning his Stradivarius. John held no illusions; the only reason that crazy man plays this early in the morning wasn't for Queen and country, nor for his boredom. As the consulting insomniac began to play a soft melody of some sort, the ex soldier tossed his soaked shirt into a hamper and got back into bed.
He had no problem falling back to sleep.

Day (-6)
King Street
0927 UST


    "Not much to go one here, I know." Lestrade sounded almost apologetic. "I can give you ten minutes, no more."
Sherlock waved his hand. "Go away and see what Anderson unearthed in the basement. It probably is something moderately important."
The Detective Inspector tilted his head tiredly and shut the door behind him. As soon as the latch engaged, the detective spun around and went to work. Surprisingly, he didn't start with the body, but the dresser. John knelt down carefully (his damned leg was acting up again. Sometimes he wished that it would get the memo that it was no longer the most injured part of his body anymore so it could stop begging for attention) and looked into the young lady's mouth. He immediately found what Sherlock was looking for, but the detective was looking in the wrong spot.
"Hey, Sherlock. Let's try the master bath."
The smirk the tall man flashed his way said it all.
"Yes, let's."

Day (-5)
221B Baker Street
Who gives a good god damn, John's in a strop again!

    "Sherlock."
"Yes, John?"
"There is an entire pig carcass in the tub."
A pause. "Yes, there is. Very good observation,"
A very patient sigh. "You gonna do something about it?"
"Well, not until the results have been recorded, of course."
"Let me rephrase that. You are going to do something about the dead fucking pig in the god damned tub."
"I said - "
"Now, Sherlock."
"But I haven't - "
"Sherlock bloody Holmes, if you do not do something about the dead fucking pig in the fucking tub that I need to use right the fuck now because I need to get to the surgery before I get fucking fired, its new home will be in your fucking bed."

Day (-4)
221B Baker Street
1215 UST

    "News sources are saying very little about this outbreak of what some are calling 'a new strain of rabies'. It does seem to be isolated cases, though and the U.N. is keeping a close eye on the situ-"
John jerked his head up and glared at his flatmate.
"Oi, you git, I was watching that!"
Sherlock snorted. "Who cares about that drivel. We've got a case!" The man rubbed his hands together. "A locked room theft of a highly valuable necklace, with no viable witnesses and no surveillance in the area at all, oh, it's Christmas!"
John sighed in resignation. "Oh, fine, Sherlock. Fine!"

Day (-4)
1123 Vine Street
1105 UST

Seven minutes after the chase began, it ended with a bang.
Sherlock panted hard, adrenaline and a frisson of fear shooting through his veins. The echo of the firearm discharge still rang in the stale air. The silence was (for want of a better term) deafening. After the shouting and feet pounding on the concrete floors, the lack of any sound at all frightened him terribly. He stayed hidden behind some crates next to the number four gantry crane, in case one of MacDonald’s bodyguards were still wandering around. After a couple of moments, he couldn’t wait any longer. He needed to know, damn it.
"John?" His voice sounded hollow in the abandoned warehouse, and save for the echo of his words coming back to him, there was no answer to his question. 'Who had fired their gun?'
"John!"
He could hear sirens in the distance, no doubt in his mind that the calvary was on its way. But was it too late? Sherlock's heart rate jumped again in worry. Where was his friend?
"Sherlock? Sherlock, where are you?"
Oh, thank every single deity whom ever existed!
"Near the number four gantry, John!"
It didn't take long for the ex Army doctor to find him. John once again looked as though he had gotten into the ring with a bear, now his green pullover could be counted as a loss as well. That was unfortunate, because that was one of the few that Sherlock actually liked - well, if it was paired with something other than the ugly brown pin striped...thing the doctor liked wearing with it most days. Yet as the detective picked himself up from the cold concrete floor, Sherlock noticed that his best friend had a wide grin on his face.
Another round won for the good guys, then.

Day (-3)
221B Baker Street
1323 UST

    “A little help, Sherlock?"
Sherlock peeked his sleep mussed head out the front door, toothbrush still in his mouth. The man's jaw dropped, letting the brush fall to the stoop.
"What on Earth is all of this, John?"
The doctor, whom, to Sherlock, seemed to be a bit cracked right now, dragged another bag out of the back of the cab and added to the pile of what amounted to pretty much the entire Tesco's store he had gone to three hours earlier.
"What in God's name has gotten into you?"
"Don't argue with me, just help, will you?"
Curiosity winning over indignant confusion, Sherlock shut up and grabbed as many bags as he could carry. It took five trips total (a whole shopping bag full of powdered milk and TEN cases of beer?) to get everything into the kitchen where John immediately began unpacking. His shoulders had a strange tense quality to them. Sherlock could almost say 'military'.
"John, I don't understand. Why the sudden hoarding?" The detective picked up twelve (really?) cases of protein bars and placed them on the higher shelf above the entire world's supply of tinned beans and whole berry cranberry sauce. The digestives (oh, goody, three different kinds too!) went in the next cabinet next to the five billion cans of tuna fish and meat product (ugh).
John sighed. "Do you remember the news program I was watching yesterday?" He shoved the last box of tea into the lower cabinet...at least, he tried. It wouldn't fit. He tried again. Nothing. He grunted and tossed it onto the counter. Sherlock shrugged, not interested in that.
"Yes, something about isolated cases of rabies making people attack each other in Africa. Boring."
The doctor stiffened a bit more. "Well, cases have been showing up in China now."
That gave Sherlock pause. Wait. In one day? Almost an entire world away, in one day? He blinked. That shouldn’t really be possible, not if it’s...oh dear. "You have a bad feeling."
"Yeah. I do."

Day (-3)
Tesco's Extra
2033 UST

    "Should we concern ourselves with wood paneling? I mean, I have enough in my account..."
"Don't worry, Sherlock. Go ahead and get some."
"Where are you?" The dark haired man scowled at his phone, pulling such a face that the store associate assisting him (assisting? really, all he was doing was pulling a huge deep freezer and three cricket bats behind him on a trolley. Tedious.) jumped a bit. Sherlock waved his hand at him.
"Getting some extra things just - "
"In case, yes, John, I get it. I just want to go on record saying that I believe you are over-reacting."
"God, I hope I am."

Day (-2)
New Scotland Yard
1130 UST

    "Have you guys been paying attention to the news?" Sally handed John, Sherlock, and Greg their coffees and leaned against the corner of the desk.
Sherlock groaned around his cup. "Yes, we have. Exhaustingly. Never anything else anymore, it seems. It’s all so dull and boring. What do you people see in that idiot box with all the stupid people talking about things that don’t even matter anyway...”
"What do you think of it? 'A new strain of rabies', they're calling it." Anderson smirked and shook his head, choosing to completely ignore the detective’s tirade. "Load of bollocks, I say."
"It does seem to be traveling fast, though. First it was just some random cases in Africa, but now they are seeing 'outbreaks' in China, India...there's even a suspected case in Greenland!" Lestrade chewed on the end of his stir stick. "Doesn't sound like bollocks to me."
"But how is it spreading? I get China and India - those countries' populations number in the billions. But from Africa to Greenland?" Sally shifted uneasily. "That's a bit of a stretch, yeah?"
Sherlock tipped back in his chair, and fixed everyone in the room with a calculating stare. "Scientists from around the world travel to Greenland by air to study its ecosystem. Considering many come from Asia, that would be a viable vector for the rabies to travel. It stays dormant in the human body for days before symptoms begin to present. That is, if this is simply rabies. If it is something different, then it could be something entirely else entirely." A warble emanated from his breast pocket. "Ugh. It's my brother. He probably wants me to go to the little soiree that my mother is holding, but most likely he’s just calling to irritate me. Nonetheless, I must take this, excuse me."
As Sherlock left the Inspector's office, John stood up. All eyes turned to him. His body language demanded - no, commanded - attention. Greg’s eyes narrowed. That was something new. Last time he’d seen John like this was back during the Baskerville case. John cleared his throat.
"As far as I'm concerned, this could become something big. Global, even." He paused. "Maybe it already is. I don't know. I'm going to follow my gut on this. All I can really say is that it could be something as simple as rabies, or it could be much worse. I just want everyone to be ready for when it does happen, whatever it is. Write down your personal and work numbers so I can program them into my mobile. You can call me anytime, day or night. Keep in touch. The way this is going..." He stopped and ran a hand over his face and through his hair. “The way this is going, I’d want all the people I can get around me.” He held out his hands in a ‘hold on’ gesture. “I know, I know, I sound paranoid right now, but just trust me on this.”

Day (-2)
St. Bartholomew's Hospital, The Morgue
1312 UST

    John found Sherlock carefully setting test tubes and petri dishes into a carry all. Molly was flitting around, grabbing bottles of liquid and other various substances and lab instruments. Though they were being thorough, the general feeling of the room was of urgency. Right. Not a good call, then. The doctor watched from the doorway for a couple of minutes, then announced to the room that he was going to pester Stamford for additional supplies.

St. Bart's employee parking
1336 UST

    The backseat and boot of Molly's little Ford couldn't hold any more if it tried. There was everything from three 'trauma room in a bag' paramedic kits to a sterilization suite. John took off in a cab, saying something about a pharmacy over his shoulder. Sherlock sat in the passenger seat of the grey four door and twitched.
"It's going to be bad, isn't it, Sherlock?"
The consulting detective could only say, "Stop by your place and grab all you need."
Molly nodded, a resolute mask on her pretty face.

Outside Sainsbury's on Streatham High Road
1504 UST

    John stopped next to a cardboard box marked "Free puppies". No one was around, other than the other shoppers whom pretty much ignored the litter of English Bulldog pups. He knelt down in front of the box, and noticed that despite being left in a box in front of a drugstore, they had water and a bowl of crunchies, and a few squeaky toys to play with. They seemed healthy and happy. He stuck his hand into the box and the puppies went bananas over his hand, nipping and licking and chewing and yipping happily. John felt a smile forming as one in particular latched onto his little finger (the one that was scarred from a torture attempt) and suckled greedily. Barely weaned. Hell, he's always wanted a dog.

221C Baker Street
1637 UST

    Sherlock opened the door to the stairs leading down to the basement flat, stepped back, and spread his long arms in welcome.
"Make yourself at home, Molly Hooper. Welcome to 221 Baker Street. You can keep the body parts in the fridge upstairs in my flat."

New Scotland Yard
1638 UST

    Greg Lestrade closed his eyes when he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He put down the case file he was trying to finish (all this speculation and worry about a god damned disease that won't really hit here, it was bothering him something fierce) and took it out to look at the display. It was a text from - wait. Mycroft Holmes? The inspector’s face scrunched up. That infuriating man hasn't said boo since his younger brother got clean and off the streets. What the hell could he possibly want right now? Greg opened the text and read carefully.
Then he read it again.
"Oh, shit."
He read it a third time, and would have read it upside down while whistling "God Save The Queen" if it would have done any lick of good. Didn't matter. Nothing changed.
"Jesus Christ." The oath came out on a long breath.
Sally popped her head in. "What's up, boss?"
Greg looked at her, then showed her his phone. The text seemed simple and straightforward.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Text from: Mycroft Holmes (number withheld)
To: Gregory Lestrade
1638 UST
I don’t care how you do it, Detective Inspector Lestrade, just remove yourself from London immediately. Today would be grand. Tomorrow could work, but any later than that will be too late. I can’t stop this. - MH
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sally gasped and handed the phone back to her boss. “What the hell is this?"
“I don't really know, but -" Greg sighed and rubbed the back of his head with the hand not holding the phone. "- you know that vacation you put in for?"
"Yeah?"
"You have it. Get the hell out of London. Now."
The sergeant's eyes widened. "What's happening?"
Greg set the phone down on the file and steepled his hands. "I'm quitting tomorrow, and heading for parts unknown, just somewhere else, somewhere other than this place. Apparently, the shit is about to hit the fan, and I want to be gone before it does."

221B Baker Street
1747 UST

    "Mrs. Hudson. I know Sherlock said that you really don’t want animals here in the flat, but I couldn’t leave him behind.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, young lady. It’s fine. Now, who is this?”
“Um, well, this is Toby. Toby, this is Mrs. Hudson." Molly smiled as she talked, something she rarely did. Sherlock smirked at the exchange and wiggled his bare toes at Gladstone. He was already rather fond of the English Bulldog puppy that John decided to bring home. The detective just finished setting up the most elaborate laboratory he’d ever dreamed of in his bedroom, since he really wouldn’t be using it anymore. His bed was now Molly's. John donated his extra bedding.
Mrs. Hudson cooed and hummed happily at the little grey tabby named Tobias.
Sherlock sighed. If his brother was right (and as much as he loathed to admit it, Mycroft was rarely if ever wrong about anything, Sherlock’s virginity notwithstanding; it’s not like he sits on the phone and tells his brother about every bloody conquest he’d ever had in his life) this could very well be the last happy day they would experience again. The call from his brother had been simple and to the point.
'Father wishes to speak to you about the deeds to the family estate.'
This was a coded phrase, one that he and Mycroft made up as children playing at being super-spies. Changing one word would change the meaning entirely. This formation meant only one thing.
'Get to safety, something horrible is happening and I can't stop it.'
One only had to turn on the news to figure it out. Once you have eliminated the impossible whatever remained, however improbable, must be the truth. Sherlock took a deep breath and let it out.
This was apparently so much more than an outbreak of rabies. Sherlock rubbed his hands together to rid them of their prickly feeling. Hell, it wasn't even remotely rabies.

Day (-1)
221B Baker Street
0901 UST

    BREAKING NEWS: CHINA DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY - ALL AIR TRAVEL TO AND FROM ASIA HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN DUE TO DEADLY RABIES OUTBREAK - PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA HAS DECLARED NATIONAL EMERGENCY AS OF 0730 UST THIS MORNING - CASES HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IN SOUTH AMERICA, ITALY, GERMANY, ICELAND - GREENLAND HAS BEEN DECLARED A 'NO FLY ZONE' BY U.N. FORCES -

The ticker at the bottom of the screen kept going, but John was focusing now on what the news woman was saying.
"No word yet as to what, exactly, this virus is or what caused it, or what it is doing and where it is going next. Authorities have ruled out intentional infection. The U.N. is holding an emergency summit in the next hour or so. Until we have further reports, we urge you all to stay calm. Do stay indoors, and avoid any and all contact with anyone who is sick or appears sick."
John shook his head. He just...couldn't believe it. He wasn't going to say the word, because it just couldn't be - he could be wrong. He had to be wrong. God, he hoped he was...Gladstone snorted and whined, bumping John's limp hand. He smirked and scrubbed the pup's forehead. "Sorry, old boy. I'm thinking again."

221B Baker Street
1310 UST

    "Mycroft called. He is sending as much details as he can by secure email. Print it out and hand it to me, someone."
John looked up and over at the computer set out on the sitting room table. The printer sat right next to it. Sherlock sat next to it.
“And why can’t you do it?”
“I’m busy.”
“Doing...what, exactly?”
“Research.”
John sighed and pushed himself out of his armchair. Molly relaxed on the couch and played with Toby and Gladstone with a string toy.
“Yeah, fine, just hold on.”

221B Baker Street
1536 UST

    "News is getting worse, Sherlock, much worse. There's already rioting in most major cities. They've got a live feed from Toronto on Sky News."
Sherlock, Molly and Mrs. Hudson crowded onto the couch around John. Tobias and Gladstone both find suitable laps to lay on. And that's where everyone was when everything changed. Four things happened simultaneously.
1) The throngs of rioters begun to fall in clusters and singly.
2) Sherlock's phone announces a priority text.
3) John's phone begins to ring.
4) Sherlock lets out a string of invective so utterly inventive and jaw-droppingly obscene that even John stares at the man.

    Within minutes, the newscasters and reporters go bat-shit because everyone at that riot lay on the ground, unmoving.
Dead.
Just as speculations of nerve gas and riot control get rolling, an off-screen cameraman whispers "Look."
The reporter turns to see the first few people rising bonelessly from the pavement.
The feed cuts out after seven seconds, which was rather fast, considering.
But it was enough.