They've been casing the place for two days now, watching everyone come and go. It's not a great part of town, which makes it easier and harder at the same time; it's secured, which means they need a way in. The nurses and female doctors all look like they've got scalpels in their knickers and pepper spray in their purses, and they move in packs like hyenas. Anyone who gets near one of them is taking their lives in their hands. Which leaves the two male docs. Overconfident because they're blokes, says Codfish sagely, and Bobby thinks Cod is brilliant.
One of the docs is fat, as fat as a blimp. Never fit in the boot, Bobby says, trying to sound like Cod. Cod nods and the suggestion of faint praise makes Bobby flush. Little one, Bobby continues. Gympy leg, small, easy. Easy, he breathes, and Cod grins a shark grin and stands up from his slouch. Now? Bobby asks, half terrified, and Cod flicks his cig in the puddle and saunters after the doc. No time like, Cod says, and off they go.
It's exactly as easy as they think it will be. They get right up behind the little bloke and get him straight into the boot of the old car, zip-tie his hands and feet, and hop in the front. Nobody sees them. It's perfect. Bloody perfect.
Cod intentionally hits a bunch of bumps on the drive, giggling the whole way.
Perfect. Bloody perfect, John thinks, as he smells stale cigarette smoke and spilled pickle juice and sour milk and beer and vomit. Even in the trunk this car reeks. He thinks, I'll never complain about Mycroft's methods of kidnapping again. The Chinese knocked him out so there's no basis for comparison there. Even Moriarty had a clean van for this bit. He doesn't count Irene in the style department, she was just mimicking Mycroft - although from what he's read, her usual methods of kidnapping would probably be more enjoyable than anyone else on the list. He's really got to give that one a go someday, just to round it all out. John then thinks about what it means that he's become something of a connoisseur of kidnappings. If the trunk of the car were any cleaner, he'd thunk his head on the floor in frustration; but he's rather afraid he'll accidentally cut himself and get tetanus. Or worse.
Instead, he sighs and gets to work on the restraints.
They pull up outside the building. Bobby keeps a lookout while Cod opens the trunk. Cod makes a noise of surprise; there's a polite "Hello" in a strange voice, and Bobby takes his eyes off the alley to see what's going on. The little gymp is lying there on his back, legs bent but obviously unbound, hands folded up on his stomach. He looks as though he's been having a nap instead of being scared and blubbering. Bobby gapes. The little man's gaze flicks between them for a moment while they stare at him. He sighs. "Right then." He struggles upright and scrambles awkwardly out of the boot; Cod and Booby back up a bit. Then Cod gets himself together and grabs the man's arm and yanks him towards the door, and Bobby starts to follow. The little man looks at him over his shoulder. His expression is puzzled. "Aren't you going to close the boot lid?" he asks in a mild tone, and Bobby and Cod both freeze. "It's just very conspicuous," the little man says gently, and Bobby whirls and slams the boot lid and swings back, thinking there must be a trick, but the little man is nodding genially and blinking at him as though he's just done something clever. The little guy smiles at him, then Cod yanks on his arm and the guy stumbles around and they head inside, and Bobby really, really can't figure out what's going on.
They get him into the flat and Cod shoves the guy, and he almost falls. He gets his feet under himself again, though, and looks around. His glance reminds Bobby of his aunt, the one who lived in the nice terrace house which always smelled like freesia and coffee and who Disapproved of his mum's drinking. Like he's seeing things that disappoint him. Bobby can't help but think the flat is a tip. There's a mattress covered in dirty linens, a cup with the dregs of coffee and a bunch of soggy fags floating in it, a broken fan, a playstation and a big screen TV and loads of games lying around and Bobby has to fight the sudden, irrational urge to tidy up.
"How'd you get loose?" Cod asks with a snarl, his shoulders stiff and his voice menacing. The little man blinks. "Oh, that? I've got a little thing, flattened the end off a nice sturdy paperclip. Keep it up my jacket sleeve. Almost forgot I had it, really," he says, and his gaze goes far away and fond and sad. He comes back with a start. Cod is recoiling like the little man is crazy, and Bobby is gaping. The little man winces. "Sorry, right," he says. "Um." He presses his lips together for a moment, looking at them. "I should explain. Or probably not, you seem very - um." He pauses and grimaces. Makes up his mind. "You don't kidnap people very often, do you?"
"How do you know?" Bobby says, and it comes out sounding a lot more admiring than sarcastic and frightening, and the man smiles a genuinely self-depreciating smile. And then there's a set of footsteps on the stairs, and the most beautiful woman Bobby has ever seen walks in texting someone. It's like seeing a ghost, or a scene from a movie. She doesn't belong in this crappy little flat at all.
Instead of whistling or hooting or looking awed like any sane person would, the little man looks appalled. "Oh bloody buggering hell," he says. "What on earth are you doing here?" He hasn't actually moved at all but suddenly looks very different, not at all injured and soft, but rather compact and coiled. The woman raises her eyes, lifts an eyebrow, and glances pointedly around the room. The little doctor exhales. Scowls. "Really, they're just kids. Complete amateurs. There was no need to -" Cod, who has been gaping all this time, reaches behind his jacket and yanks out a gun, and Bobby's breath freezes in his chest. Cod waves the gun around dramatically. Bobby feels both a moment of shining awe that Cod can do this so effortlessly and look so cool and dangerous, and a frission of fear that there's a gun, and a real anxiety because this isn't how it was supposed to go at all.
The little man and the gorgeous woman are both watching the gun with fascination, and Cod puffs up. Bobby is uneasy, though. There's no *fear* in them, and that's wrong somehow. But Cod is yelling, and that distracts Bobby from that niggling worry. "Shut it, shut your traps, fuck! Both of you - Against the wall, both of you!"
The little man and the gorgeous woman glance at each other and move over towards the wall opposite the entrance. The woman snaps her phone closed as she walks, tucks it in her pocket and crosses her arms. When she leans on the wall she looks like she's posing for a photo shoot, not being menaced by a gun. The little doctor has his hands in his pockets and looks like he's hanging around the bar at a pub waiting for a pint to be pulled.
They're both paying more more attention to each other than to Cod. The little man blinks at her. "Oh dear," he says mildly, and there's a line of concern between his eyes. "Are we going to war with China then? Or perhaps somewhere a deadman switch somewhere will go off, and Canada will blow up?" The woman gives him a Look, and the little man snorts. Then she glances at Cod's gun. "You have yours?" the woman asks, and the little man grimaces shamefacedly. "Didn't think I'd need it," he confesses, and she's got a smug look on her face but Cod is looming over them, the gun waving inches form their face, so they fall silent but as soon as Cod's back is turned Bobby sees the woman roll her eyes. He looks over at Cod. Cod looks upset. Bobby thinks he probably shouldn't mention the eye-roll, just now. The little man is watching him and his face looks so rumpled and understanding, and Bobby suddenly wants to confess everything he's ever done wrong and have the little guy tell him what to do about it all. Then Cod grabs his arm and drags him aside, and the moment is gone.
"Listen," Cod says, and he's grinning and Bobby feels uneasy and hopeful all at once. "Listen, this is good. No, yeah, this is good. Two hostages now instead of one, right? We don't both have to go, we send you with the Doc and I stay here with the babe and we tell them -" There are more footsteps on the stairs, and he and Cod share a disbelieving look because nobody ever ever comes up here ever and now it's just fucking Trafalgar Square.
"John?" someone calls, a guy's voice, and the little guy perks up. "Up here," he calls, and Cod just looks ballistic, and he takes two steps over towards the little guy to punch him with the gun when someone who reeks like pig steps through the door. He's got silver hair and cop clothes and cop shoes and he stands in the doorway, taking it all in, and Bobby thinks we're fucked the jig's up we're done for now, and the cop raises his eyebrow and Cod points the gun and shouts "Freeze!"
The cop's other eyebrow climbs up his head. He raises his hands. Cod is breathing heavy now, and for a long moment that's the only sound in the room.
The doctor's voice cuts the silence. "Ah. Perhaps you should ask him if he's armed?" He sounds polite.
The cop glares at the guy. "The fuck, John?" The little doctor shrugs.
Cod is trying to watch both the cop at the door and the doctor and the babe at the wall. Them being on opposite sides of the room makes this difficult, so his head is swiveling back and forth as he tries to keep them both in view. He shoots a look over at Bobby, and Bobby wants to say leave me out of it but Cod says, "Search the pig." So Bobby shuffles over to the cop and searches him, patting as though he knows what he's supposed to be patting for. All the guy has are handcuffs. Bobby pulls them off his belt and the cop grimaces, and Cod gets that grin on his face again, but this time Bobby's less hopeful and more worried.
Cod waves the cop over to join the others, and the cop does, treading with heavy cop steps across the room and watching Cod with the look of someone who will take advantage of any little slip-up. But "Cuff him," Cod says with relish, so Bobby cuffs the cop with his hands behind his back. The little doctor grimaces at the cop, who glares at the little doctor, who suddenly looks bloody angelic.
"Now you know how I felt," the little man says, and the cop grimaces.
"I said I was sorry," he replies, aggrieved. The little doctor sniffs, as though it's possibly not quite enough, but getting there.
"What are you doing here, anyways?" the doctor asks.
"Couldn't find you, called Mycroft," the cop says. "He told me you were here but neglected to mention anything else." They share a look of perfect disgust.
Cod is looking at them. "Right," he says, and he's nodding. "Right, this can still work. We can still do this. You," and he points at the doctor. "You're going with Bobby there," and all three hostages wince simultaneously.
"Please, please tell me Bobby is, a fake name or a nickname or something?" The cop is the one who's speaking. He sounds horrified. Bobby stares, wide-eyed and helpless, at Cod, who look like he just bit into a lemon and found a worm. The doctor has his eyes shut and is slowly shaking his head. The gorgeous woman is shaking too, but with mirth. "N- n- no," she gasps, almost doubled over. "Robert Bruce Hensworth, from Croyden, oh gods this is too priceless." She wipes tears from her eyes. "John, really, your standards in kidnapping have slipped so badly since Sh-"
She halts mid-word and looks stricken. The little doctor is frozen, still, his face devoid of all emotion. The cop looks sick, and glares daggers at the woman, who flinches and looks like she wants to bite off her own tongue. "John, I'm…" She reaches a hand out and the small man blinks and the empty face is gone. He looks at her, and Bobby knows it's fake, the smile, and she looks so regretful. "It's ok, it's fine," the little man says, but it's obviously not.
Cod's letting the gun dangle now. He clears his throat loudly, and the three hostages obediently stop their little drama to look at him with polite expectation on their faces. (Bobby thinks they look a bit relieved at the interruption, to be honest.) Cod glares at them and Bobby thinks, right, my name, let's not think about that please because I'm properly scared now so let's be moving on now to the bit where we get the drugs but there are more. Footsteps. On the stairs. Bobby closes his eyes in disbelief. He thinks he's actually seen this Benny Hill sketch before, somewhere. Cod just turns his head and looks at the door with a terribly pained expression.
A tall man in a very expensive suit steps into the room gingerly, as though he's afraid he'll get something on his loafers. He's holding an umbrella and he uses the tip to flick a dirty towel out of the way. His lips are pursed. The displeased expression drifts across Bobby, Cod, the cop, and the hot girl before resting on the doctor. "Doctor Watson," he says, and the little man shakes his head.
"We were having a perfectly good kidnapping without you," the little doctor says belligerently. The taller man tips his head back and looks down his nose at the small doctor. The doctor crosses his arms and presses his list together and looks as though he'd like to punch the taller man.
He points the gun at the ceiling and pulls the trigger. The noise is deafening in the room, and Bobby's ears ring and a bit of plaster falls down on Cod's head. It turns his dark hair white and rests on the end of his nose like he's been sniffing in a bowl full of coke. He ignores it. "I am the one with the gun!" he shouts. "None of you have a gun, that means I'm the one in charge, so you will - " the little doctor stalks over and calmly takes the gun out of Cod's hand.
He pops the clip out, racks the slide and catches the bullet that comes out, puts it on safe and sticks it in his jacket pocket. Puts the bullets in the other pocket. Looks Cod up and down with a look that Bobby thinks could come straight out of some war film, and says, "Give it up, son, you're terrible at this," and walks out of the room. The tall man looks relieved as the little doctor limps past him.
"Really, John, you can't go around letting other people kidnap you like this. How am I supposed to get ahold of you when I need you if someone else has you?" the tall man says, and the little doctor says, "It wasn't on purpose, Mycroft, and since when do I work for you anyways?" They clump down the stairs.
The beautiful woman has her phone out and is texting again as she walks past them. She pauses, looks them over, and her lips twitch. "He's right, you know," she says, and it's not unkind. "You're really rubbish at kidnapping." Then she shakes her head and picks her way out the door without looking up. The cop walks pas a moment later. His hands are free and he's pocketing his cuffs. He looks at them, shakes his head, and keeps going without saying a word.
Bobby takes two steps after them. "You're not going to arrest us?" he says in disbelief. The cop turns and looks at him. Looks at Cod. Looks at Bobby again and says, "You want me to?" and Bobby shakes his head, and the cop nods. "Right then," he says and shrugs. Bobby can't leave it though. "But we, I mean, we kidnapped…" and the cop is laughing.
"You really didn't, you know," the cop says mildly, and Bobby just looks confused. "Kidnap John. You tried, I'm sure. But you brought him in that brown car out front, right? The sedan?" and Bobby nods, suddenly worried. The cop just snorts. "That thing has back seats that fold down," the cop says gently. "John boy there, he could have come through the trunk into the back seat any time during the drive and killed you both, never even broken a sweat. He figured you were harmless so he decided to play along for a bit." Bobby is still stuck on "killed you both", picturing the little guy pushing the seat down and sitting in the back seat, slitting his throat while they drive, and he feels a bit sick. The cop is still talking, though. "…you're really lucky you picked him, though. If you'd tried one of the others at the clinic, John would've have been far more upset. He's been through a difficult time these past couple years and he's a bit, well. A bit protective of his friends." The cop looks sad. Then he cheers up. "But a nice kidnapping, that's a sure way to brighten his day up. So really, I owe you one for this. Probably best if you never try it again, though. He's not wrong; you're terrible kidnappers." He smiles sympathetically as though to take the sting out of it, and heads out the door and clumps his way down the stairs.
Cod is standing there looking lost. Bobby suddenly feels very fond of Cod, for no reason whatsoever. He walks over and claps Cod on the arm; Cod looks up at him with puppy-dog eyes, and Bobby smiles. "Come on then," Bobby says cheerfully. "We'll get a pint, ok?" Bobby nods at the door, and leads Cod out and down the stairs. Outside they contemplate the car for a bit, then leave it and begin walking down to the main street.
As they walk, Bobby hums softly a bit. Then he says, "Let's not do that ever again" in a very final voice. Beside him in the weak summer sun, Cod shudders in agreement.