Chapter 1: Summer Away
Sometimes I'm terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts--- Edgar Allen Poe
London is the cocaine capital of Europe. All cocaine coming into the UK comes in from central and south America. From there it is transported to the Caribbean then to Holland or Germany. It gets into the UK by various routes from there, air, land and sea. Sometimes people are used as ‘mules’ and they carry the cocaine on or in their bodies or luggage. In addition to opening and inspecting luggage, the police use sniffer dogs to try to find it, as well as other drugs.
Sherlock intended to spend the summer in Paris. He started the summer there. He walked the city. He lived on pan au chocolate and café au lait and not much else. He kept late nights. He lived with his Grand-mere who did not complain about his odd hours and daytime sleeping. She believed that this type of behavior was a ‘rite de passage de l’ adolescence’.
While in Paris, Sherlock frequented many clubs. Because he was always there, he did start to become a loose part of a few groups of college age kids. One would not exactly call it socializing. No one would exactly call them friends. More like club-mates. And of course, there was no one special. No one like Victor. It was a cruel realization that ultimately, Victor did not feel the same way for him as he had felt for Victor. That much was obvious. Sherlock knew this was true. He had let himself become attached.
Sherlock dragged his disappointment with him like Jacob Marley’s chain. He would lay in bed at night and think about Victor. God, he could remember laughing so hard. He never laughed so hard with anyone before. He could see Victor’s eyes, his smile, his smooth skin. He could feel his soft lips, his even, muscled shoulders, his flat stomach, his….he had to stop when he realized his eyes were stinging. Sod this. How did he let that happen? What was it, sentiment? Endorphins? Well, it was certainly chemical and very little under his control. What would Mycroft say to that. He would surely make fun.
He racked his brain for what he had done wrong, but could not pinpoint any one thing. Was he possessive, irritating? He recalled how happy he was being with Victor-he remembers considering themselves to be a couple, even though this had not yet been discussed between them. As it turned out, Victor did not feel the same way. Obviously, he was not what Victor wanted, he was not enough. His thoughts about Victor became obsessive. Some days were not so bad, some were. He decided it would be best not to have any relationships. Easier, he wanted to be alone.
Maime knew he was brooding. Sherlock was not ever considered an effervescent child, but she could tell that he was put out. She took him out to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants in Paris in the 14th arrondissment. They had his favorite dinner- oysters, bread and butter and champagne. When he was a small child, Mamie took him and Mycroft here often for special occasions. He loved the colorful paintings on the walls. He remembered being entertained by the waiters who made silly faces and wore napkins on their head as hats for the children (and occasionally for the adults, too). The champagne made him maudlin.
Spending time with Mamie made him feel better than many things did. She did not pressure him to be anything but who he was. She did not push him. She did not ask him about school. She did not scold. At dinner, Sherlock asked her about love affairs.
“Oh, my darling, you are bound to have many love affairs, if you are lucky. You must enjoy your life. That is what we are here for no? to enjoy ourselves and for love?” she unconsciously touched the string of pearls around her neck. A gift form a former lover, then.
Sherlock was not so sure. He was not sure he was even capable of liking anyone any more than he had liked Victor. He did not want to disclose that he was walking around with a broken heart, but he knew that she knew.
She did not ask why. She did not ask who.
“You are so very young. Don’t take yourself so seriously, darling.” He knew she had an adventurous life, she used to tell him stories about romance and travel. She told him that when she was a young mother she used to rinse both her own and her children’s hair with dead champagne, as was the custom of the day. The mothers were told it would lighten the hair, ‘to keep its’ gold’ she said. He laughed. Mamie was so charming.
He did not see his brother or Mummy all summer. He burned through money. Mycroft sent him an angry letter. Mycroft was always angry. He did not know how to have fun. His Gran-mere gave him money. His brother did not have to know everything.
He did call Mummy once. He thought she sounded good. Her voice was clear. She told him he had a post and should she forward it on to him. Someone from the US, she said.
“Bin it.” he told her.
Chapter 2: The Biggest Cocaine Dealer in Germany
Sherlock tries to drown his sorrows as he is wont to do.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
While in a bar in Paris, Sherlock ran into one of his very distant cousins, Eric. Eric lived in Germany with his family, but was in Paris for a few weeks to visit some classmates. Eric knew Sherlock from a small child and was tolerant and maybe a bit protective of his cousin’s idiosyncrasies. Eric’s friends spent considerable time at the discotheques -drinking, smoking and dancing. Sherlock loved dancing. That summer he also found that he loved cocaine.
All summer, he had no work to do and felt very idle. Eric invited him for a weekend in Germany with the group to go club hopping. He decided to go, fearful that his brain was rotting but mostly to get his mind off of Victor. Both Sherlock and Eric stayed with Eric’s friends. Eric called it the ‘Der verband due verfugbaren sofas.’*
Sherlock attempted to stave off boredom by sorting out the dynamics of the group. Who was sleeping with whom. Who secretly hated whom. Who wanted to sleep with whom. There were enough people passing through that it kept him almost entertained. He did not sleep with anyone. Despite ample opportunities. He could have just thrown himself into a physical relationship with another person, but just could not do it. He did not want to be touched.
All summer, Sherlock tried to stay one step ahead of his brother, even if he was only in France and Germany. He was not sure he achieved it, but was giving it a good try. He could not stay long in one place, because Mycroft would be sure to figure it out eventually.
And then there was his alcohol and drug use. How many times could he pass out this summer and in how many countries ? He was planning to give it his best effort. Sherlock actually felt like he may have eluded his brother this time, unless he had people following him. He doubted Eric was being paid to spy on him, although he seriously considered it. Everyone has a price, but if Eric was being bribed by his brother, he would not be likely to give him drugs and bring down the wrath of Mycroft upon his head.
While in Berlin with Eric, Sherlock was dragged along with his friends to party in the clubs. Luckily his German was passable. If you can’t speak German you are not likely to get in. The bouncers were ruthless. He did not think it would matter, he was with Eric. He just would be quiet and go along with the group. The music was brutal. All the clubs seemed to be large empty buildings like empty power plants and factories. The clubs went on and on, there were so many stairs, so many rooms, it was a labyrinth.
In one room, Eric pointed out the biggest cocaine dealer in Germany.
“Who the fuck are your friends Eric? And Mycroft thinks I have bad judgment.” But then, Sherlock wanted to meet him.
Eric thought Sherlock was crazy. He pointedly corrected his cousin, explaining that he did not really know him, he knew who he was. Sherlock insisted. Eric wanted to leave, he did not realize what he started. Sherlock took a look at the man, sizing him up.
The dealer was indeed very large-he was an older man, with a receding hairline, he was dressed all in white—a nod to his profession, Sherlock reckoned. A great crowd surrounded him, mostly very young pretty girls, although there were a few blokes there, too. All well dressed, all laughing at the dealer’s jokes. A few people were vying to get his attention, both with funny anecdotes as well as gratuitous sycophantic behavior.
As the dealer sat in a low settee with his legs extended in front of him, Sherlock noted that the man’s abdomen was very protuberant, and out of proportion to his thin extremities. So, ascites he reckoned, liver failure- just not bad enough to have jaundice-yet. his sclera were clear. Also, when he moved his legs, he saw some open sores where the trouser leg did not quite reach down to the socks. So, diabetes also, with the poor circulation that goes with it. This would not last long, he had at the top, only a few years to live, at best. If he did not die of an overdose or if people did not kill him, given his line of work.
On closer inspection, it looked as though the people closest to him were the ones getting the cocaine, their proximity afforded that they were the ones that the mirror was being passed to. When the few lines that were doled out were gone, the mirror got passed back up to the man. The people farther away could just watch and pine.
Sherlock was on the farthest side of the eliptic. Not getting any.
That would need to be remedied.
Sherlock made his move. He knew he was being stupid. He calculated how to get closer to his intended target. He started to chat with the people at the periphery. The night was young and he had time. Eric bolted, he was outclassed at Sherlock’s boldness. Sherlock did not care.
As he chatted, he tried to be charming. He smiled, he told jokes. He was not entirely sure if he was funny, but the people in this room were in a good mood. He got up to buy drinks twice for the people he spoke with. When he came back he made sure he moved closer. He was now two rungs away.
The dealer got up- fuck- he was leaving. He was going to lose his chance. As the dealer moved past him, Sherlock ‘accidentally’ backed up right into him.
“Oh, I am so sorry, how stupid of me! How can I apologize! Can I get you a drink?” he offered, smiling and wide-eyed.
He was lucky the man was not at all angry. He looked closer at Sherlock's face-squinting, as if he was wondering if he recognized him. Sure, he could get him a drink, after all this man was used to being waited on. By everyone.
Jovially, he told Sherlock he was going to the rest room, and would be right back. He was flanked by several large men on his way there. Bodyguards? Most likely.
Sherlock got him the drink, he was starting to doubt that he would come back, but he did. It would be difficult to get close to him again, it was like being a famous celebrity with an entourage.
When he did come back, he handed him the drink and fell into the crowed surrounding the man.
Eventually he was where he wanted to be. Three people away. He would have to start from there, he could get no closer.
He started to compliment him from where he sat. He had good taste in shoes, Italian and a very certain brand, he observed. The brown a much better choice than the black. At this he was passed the mirror. Success.
He did only one line, although there were 4 on the mirror. He did not want to offend his host. He passed it back. A student of cocaine etiquette.
This was not Sherlock’s first line of cocaine, of course, he was using a bit earlier this summer in Paris with Eric. That was how Sherlock was certain that his cousin was not on the payroll of his brother. Yet anyway.
Sherlock loved the way cocaine made him feel. As if life was one big party. It provided him with a clarity he never experienced in real life. He came to love the burn he felt as it went up his nose. The more cocaine he did, the more he refined his technique, making sure he aimed the fine white powder towards the inside of his nose where the mucous membranes were, rather than straight up, which would cause the more inexperienced users to sneeze. He was a professional.
Next he observed that the dealer had nice taste in jewelry—the watch he wore was also Italian. This time he was beckoned forward to sit next to him. There were a few faces made in his general direction. Now next to the man, he did 2 more lines.
He waited on the drip. When you could feel the cocaine drip down the back of your throat. Nose, mouth and most of his face was numb.
"Ah, I can tell you are a professional. You have brought your own straw." while the dealer could have seen this as presumptuousness, he laughed uproariously.
Sherlock blushed a bit, he did carry his own small plastic straw in his pocket. He did not want to share with the general public. And rolled up bills were dirty. And a bit vulgar.
Now that he had done more coke, Sherlock found that he could not stop the deductions. They rolled off his tongue with a lightening speed of which he had no control. He told the man about the ascites and the diabetes and poor circulation in rapid fire. Sherlock did so much cocaine, his jaw would occasionally clench involuntarily. He tried to counteract this with alcohol, that would do it, he thought, the alcohol would be certain to counteract the cocaine. He didn’t remember exactly when during the party that he passed out.
When Sherlock woke up he did not know where he was. He had been placed on a upholstered chair and he was sitting up. He was fully clothed. He had his coat on. There were people everywhere. Everyone was asleep. He was not in the club anymore. Where was he? How did he get here? He looked around at the people lounging on the furniture. Beds, couches, chairs, floor. He recognized the young people from the club. He heard and saw breathing. It was very cold. Everyone had coats on inside the house.
He got up and walked out of the room he was in. It was apparent they were all on the first floor. It was the early morning, the sun was just coming up and peeking through the closely drawn curtains. He walked to the front door. Still no one awake. He found the front door and walked outside. He walked through the hard dry snow to try to find a bus. No, too early for buses. He walked back to Eric’s flat on the outskirts of Berlin.
Sherlock would find out that his behavior had earned him a visit from Mycroft. As it turns out, Eric called his brother when he went missing.
*the association of available couches (sofas)
Chapter 3: The fall after the snow
Sherlock made his way much slower than he wanted, walking in canvas trainers the 2 hours in the snow to Eric’s flat in Berlin. He slowed his pace and became cautious when he approached Eric's street. When he noticed a long black car parked there, he immediately turned on his heel and walked to the train station. He still had some money left. He bought a train ticket and hopped on a train to Paris, before he could be manhandled into a black car at the behest of his brother.
But Mycroft had other plans. As soon as Sherlock got to Mamie's flat, he noticed the lack of a black car on the street. Mamie welcomed him with open arms and a kiss on each cheek.
“Sherlock darling, so nice that you are back. And look here is your brother for a visit.”
Sherlock searched her face. Mamie did not seem alarmed, her demeanor was the usual, her face calm, so his brother had not told her of his adventures. Mycroft was saving her from worry.
He found Mycroft in the sitting room, “Well Sherlock, I will give you a choice of where you want to have our confrontation, but not if.”
Sherlock knew he had lost this battle. It would not do to have Mycroft berate him in front of Mamie, so he settled to have the discussion in the car.
“What the hell have you been doing?” He did not expect Mycroft to be so heated.
“I have been hanging with my cousin Eric.” Sherlock tried to sound non chalant. No use in copping when he wasn’t certain how much Mycroft really knew.
“I didn’t know you left France, Sherlock”
“And whose fault is that?” Sherlock snipped, clearly it was Mycroft’s fault. If he cared to know, he should have made a better effort.
“I want you to know you have been socializing with very dangerous people.”
Oh. He knew.
Sherlock sunk down lower in the seat of the car and folded his arms across his chest. He refused to look at his brother and looked out the car window instead. “Mycroft I can handle myself.”
This is where Mycroft laughed longer and harder than Sherlock ever remembered. It was a bit scary. At one point, he had to wipe his eyes with his handkerchief.
“Honestly Sherlock this could be funny if you were not such a fucking arse!!” Mycroft never, ever swore.
When he had finished laughing, he put his hand up to shield his eyes, and said with a very measured tone, “Sherlock need I remind you that you are 17 years old. The fact that we are having this discussion right now is due only to plain dumb luck and not at all to any skill or sophistication on your part. You show appalling lack of good judgment.”
Despite all the fun Sherlock had, Mycroft was right.
He had been monumentally stupid.
Sherlock had to conceded defeat. He said, “I’m sorry Mycroft.” got out of the car dejectedly, went up to the flat and went to bed.
Chapter 4: Montague Street
Sherlock moved back to college at the beginning of the term. His freedom was to be severely curtailed by his brother. Mamie was expressly forbidden to give him any extra money. He had planned to live in off campus housing, alone, but Mycroft would not allow it.
Mycroft let him rent a flat on Montague street. It was larger than most college flats, with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, a large kitchen and a large reception room. It was expensive. His brother was paying for it. His brother had rules, though. Although he did not have to live any more in the residence halls, he could not live alone. The fact that he had to have flatmates put his teeth on edge. This was a huge disappointment, he was so looking forward to being alone.
Sherlock ended up sharing the flat with Mike Stanford and Will Allen, another student pursuing a medical degree, but Sherlock insisted to Mycroft that he would not share his bedroom, and Mycroft relented.
The flat was not far from campus, but there were entirely too many college pubs on the street. Almost every night of the week there would be college revelers and loud music. Sherlock's room was toward the back of the building, so he was not subjected to the worst of the noise and he could play the violin there undisturbed. However, he often retreated to the library as was his habit in the past.
The first week of Sherlock's third year at uni started uneventfully. Classes were boring. Sherlock decided to read both chemistry and biology in honors college. This would add an extra year to his university career, but he did not mind. including this year, it would mean he had one more year to go before completing. Mycroft was agreeable, and he hoped this would keep his little brother busier than last year.
“Hey Sherlock, someone is here to see you.”
Sherlock walked out of his room to see Greg Lestrade walking in to the reception room.
“What are you doing here?” Immediately Sherlock was on the defensive, as he stood in front of Lestrade.
“I’m here to speak to you.” Lestrade looked around the flat, Mike and Will were studying at the kitchen table, books spread about.
“About?” Sherlock wondered if his brother could have sent Lestrade to check on him.
Lestrade looked serious. “Can we speak alone?”
“Sure, I’ll get my coat.” The only private conversations were to be had away from prying eyes and listening ears.
They walked outside and went to one of the nearby shops, where Lestrade bought him a tea. Lestrade drank a coffee.
“I see you’ve had a promotion.” Sherlock inclined his head at Lestrade’s new badge.
“Yes, I am Detective Inspector now.” He stated.
“Very impressive.’ Sherlock smirked behind his Styrofoam teacup. “Was that due to your impressive ability to find the fire setter?” “And how’s the home life--better? Kids, wife?”
“Must you always be so sarcastic?” Lestrade was not irritated, yet.
“Who says I’m being sarcastic? Just an inquiry as to your state of being. And a compliment, didn’t you hear the compliment, I’m sure it was in there.” He feigned innocence.
“Things are fine, thank you. Better than fine, really. I feel like I owe you, Sherlock, in more ways than one.” Lestrade was quite sincere. He thought maybe his sincerity would jostle Sherlock out of his snit.
“I think we can change the subject now.”
Sherlock was much nicer when placated.
“OK—So, how are you?”
Sherlock laughed, “That is not why you are here. You aren’t here to check on me. We both know that this is not just a social call.”
“Well the question was sincere.”
“I’m fine. Moving on.” Sherlock waved his hand as if he was waving away the subject.
“Good. I think I need your help.”
“I need your help.”
“Last night a university student was found dead. Autopsy still pending. But it looks like a drug overdose?”
“Is that a question or a statement?”
“I’m not sure, really.”
“And you think somehow I can help you with this?”
“Well, I know you are perceptive…” he began, saying the words very carefully.
Sherlock laughs and sits back far in his chair.
“Sherlock, please hear me out.”
“You go to uni. You care about what goes on there. I think it's possible that this is a murder, rather than a boring old drug overdose. Something bothered me about the…body?”
“Do I really care? What makes you think I care?”
“You are such a child.”
“As I am reminded every day. That is very perceptive of you inspector, but I’ll be 18 this January.” Lestrade spoke to Sherlock as a colleague, a consultant. It surprised him that he forgot that Sherlock was just a kid.
“Who was it?” Sherlock did not recognize the name. “I’ll help you on one condition.”
“You let me see the body.”
Chapter 5: At the morgue
Lestrade felt acutely the situation was getting out of hand. This was a bad idea. He is a detective in a very large city, he should not be here, asking the opinion of a college kid, no matter how intelligent. “I don’t know, Sherlock, that would be highly irregular. And against procedure.”
“And sitting here talking to a 17 year old university student is highly…regular.”
“Fair point.” Lestrade rubbed his eyes. “Well if we are going to the hospital morgue, we have to leave now.” They both got up to leave.
Lestrade drove Sherlock to Bart’s morgue to see the body. While en route, he explained that they could not be certain that the autopsy was not currently underway. Sherlock was willing to take the chance.
Lestrade got clearance to go up to the morgue from the hospital supervisor on duty, he showed his police badge and signed a record book.
Sherlock did recognize one university student when he got inside the big white room.
“Molly what are you doing here?” Sherlock was very surprised.
“Do you 2 know each other?” Lestrade handed Sherlock a pair of rubber gloves.
“Yes"—Molly said pleasantly, “I’m a student lab assistant here this term, it’s nice. But Sherlock, what are you doing here?”
Uncharacteristically Sherlock started to stammer out an answer, “Oh I’m….working- not working…doing a..a chemistry…”
Lestrade cut in, “Sherlock's with me doing a student-police project.”
“Oh.” Molly's eyes were wide, she would never get used to being surprised by Sherlock. He was chaos on two feet.
He looked at the body-it as not anyone he knew. The student was older, likely in his last year or maybe a graduate student. The clothes were still on the body. Sherlock lifted the sheet. No blood. No wounds that were obvious. Shoes were not on the feet.
“Where’s his shoes?”
“Yes. That is what I said, Where. Are. His. shoes?”
It had been a very long day and Lestrade was tired. “Sherlock, he was found in his own flat. I’m sure you don’t always have your shoes on while in your flat.”
“I want to see his shoes. Get me his shoes.”
Lestrade shook his head.
“And let me know the autopsy and toxicology results when they are done.” He took off the rubber gloves, tossed them in the bin and walked out the door.
Molly looked helplessly from Lestrade to the door. “Who was he talking to?”
“Me, I guess.” said Lestrade.
“And who does he think is taking him home?” Lestrade thanked Molly told her to tell the supervisor they were done and followed Sherlock out the door.
Chapter 6: A Victorian Turn
A murder, right here on campus. Sherlock felt as if it was Christmas. This was much better than pyromania. He had an excited feeling in the pit of his stomach that would not go away. His brain was on fire. He had a thrill in his veins. And Lestrade asked him to help. Him. This was almost as good as cocaine.
No, no, it was better, better than drugs.
No, it was a tie.
A few weeks went by as uni life hummed along. Classes and periodic meetings with Lestrade in coffee shops took up most of his time. Sherlock was going to class, he really needed to get a handle on honors college if he wanted to stay at uni. He felt he had a good handle, and as it usually turns out, classes were not at all difficult.
Due to the fact that Sherlock was a university student and not on the payroll of the MET, he could not participate in the murder investigation in an official manner. He had plenty of meetings with Lestrade and as the police obtained information a better picture unfolded. At one of their meetings Lestrade explained that the victim was David Anderson age 24, grad student. He was reading graduate business. Pretty good student, no prior arrests, no run-ins with the law. Worked part time at a nearby pub. Had a steady girlfriend. Lived close to campus.
The death due to asphyxia.
"Asphyxia?" Sherlock took a gulp of too hot tea. Not enough sugar.
"Yes." Lestrade was drinking coffee.
"Toxicology results showed marijuana, cocaine and strychnine in the bloodstream." Lestrade did not ever bring any official police paperwork to Sherlock.
"Strychnine? Rat poison? It’s a neurotoxin-an alkaloid-plant based-it’s been known for centuries-in the same group as caffeine, morphine, nicotine, cocaine---" This was interesting and sooooo Victorian. So the murder is an artist. How romantic.
"Official cause of death was asphyxia due to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest."
"Ok, the cocaine was contaminated, but at small doses strychnine is not always fatal," Sherlock remembers that at one time long ago, it had been used even as a supplement for athletes, but at larger doses it is fatal. "Who would put strychnine in the cocaine, have there been other deaths?-"
"No. this is an isolated event." Lestrade also noted that the Met had put out more undercover people in the college community. Sherlock doubted they could be of any use.
"So, only this one bloke." Sherlock noted---so far.
"An isolated case, did he have enemies? Friends---who did he get the cocaine from?" Sherlock wondered how many more people were in danger.
In addition to classes, Sherlock spent considerable time in the library. He did a lot of research to augment his already considerable font of academic knowledge about cocaine.
And of course, there was his practical knowledge.
Chapter 7: The Blonde Tennis Player
In order to make sure he was getting all the information he could, Sherlock went to the medical school library. It opened at 8 am. He had not joined, so he would be unable to take any books out. No matter.
For years the people of South America chewed cocoa leaves in religious ceremonies, for an energy boost, to dull the pain of headaches or tooth aches or to suppress hunger. It also can be consumed in tea. Hmmm.
Cocaine hydrochloride is the purified chemical, the hydrochloride salt is injected, snorted. Surgeons have used cocaine to block pain. Cocaine can be cut down with many other chemicals, some inert and some have active properties of their own. Additives such as cornstarch, amphetamine, flour, caffeine, glucose, benzocaine, phenacetin, even paracetamol. Adulterants are not only used as bulking agents or fillers but can also enhance the effects of the drug.
So benzocaine, caffeine or amphetamine can augment the effects of cocaine. Benzocaine being a dental anesthetic would be numbing and caffeine and amphetamine being stimulating. If the added agents have similar properties, the user may not be able to tell the difference. Especially if they were doing lots of cocaine at one time.
Sherlock sighed aloud at his desk and put his head down in the book.
Cocaine produces its euphoric effect by blocking dopamine transporter protein so there is more dopamine available in the brain. A more recent research article indicated that current English cocaine is about 20-30 percent pure.
Wow. This was surprising. Sherlock thought back to the summer and remembered how much the cocaine in Germany differd from the cocaine he used in France with his cousin Eric.
He left the medical school library. He stopped in the library tea room and got himself a tea and a package of biscuits for the walk to Montague Street.
Living on Montague street was usually very convenient. It was close enough to the college when the weather was bad. And far enough away that Sherlock did not have to eat in the dining halls. When he did eat.
Upon his arrival at the flat, he found he had a visitor. It was not unusual for people to drop by or ring the phone to ask for Sherlock. The occasional student asked for help with homework or even a professor would call from time to time and have a question for him. Mike and Will got used to this.
“Hi Sherlock.” Seb walked in to the sitting room, and removed the ear phones from his ears.
Sherlock did not want to admit just how happy (and relieved) he was to see Sebastian. The way they ended the last school year had him wracking his brain with doubt all summer. Despite his intelligence and perceptiveness, Sherlock was often in the wrong about his own interactions with others and how they felt about him. He could not pick up on the cues directed to himself that he could so easily do with others. And often he gave people the wrong impression.
That made his life very difficult.
When the current semester started, Sherlock was trying to keep himself busy and distracted. In truth, he was still smarting from Victor. All summer he argued with himself about not getting too excited or seeming too eager to start another relationship so soon. Sherlock had indeed been avoiding Sebastian. If Seb wanted him, he would have to find him.
“You know, you are a very difficult person to track down.” Seb had a very wide smile as he entered the room.
“You won’t find me unless I want you to.” Sherlock looked at Seb and raised his eyebrows.
“Is it that you don’t want found?” Seb sat on the sofa on the opposite side of Mike.
“You found me today.”
"Oh." Seb wrinkled his forehead in mild confusion.
"Really Seb, sorry. It's just I’ve been really busy when the term started and over the summer….well," he sighed and hung his head ever so slightly. "I’ve been trying to stay out of trouble."
“Well, how long has it been?”
“Since?” Sherlock asked.
“Since you have been in trouble.” Seb seemed sincerely concerned.
“The summer.” Sherlock answered.
“Tired of it yet?” Seb wondered with a small smile.
“Yes.” Sherlock laughed.
“Hey if you are not doing something right now, would you want to help me with a project?” he looked out of the side of his eyes at Mike who seemed engrossed in the telly.
“It depends on what kind of project.” He did not look up from a book he picked up and was now feigning to read.
“I can tell you on the way to the pub.”
Sebastian was as brown as a berry from the summer spent playing tennis and his hair was light blonde, lighter than Sherlock remembers it. It glinted in the sun and it was still long down to his shoulders.
“You don’t really have a project.” Sherlock pointedly observed as they walked.
Seb smiled. “No really, I do have a project. You are my project. I also wanted to tell you I got some really good pot in. And...."
“So, business as usual, Sebastian?” Sherlock cut him off as they crossed the street.
“Well I am an entrepreneur. My dad does not give me spending money. He will just pay for essentials.”
“You could get a work-study job.” Sherlock suggested.
“Where is the fun in that?’ Seb said lightheartedly.
“Do you have any cocaine?”
“Well that was direct.”
“I usually am.”
Chapter 8: The Prize
Sebastian's thoughts were a jumble now that Sherlock was walking down the street with him. But he did know exactly how he felt. Excited. As they were walking down the pavement to the pub, Seb kept stealing glances at him as they talked. Sherlock was really great-looking, even if he was only wearing jeans and a t shirt. He was tall and fit, and his t shirt was slightly tight across the chest and his jeans really fit him well across the.....well. Seb could tell that Sherlock's clothes were well made. He was not even sure that they were any English brands that he could recognize. His father would never buy clothes like that for him.
They strode at a leisurely pace. Seb tried to keep up his end of the conversation, he was nervous and did not want to bore his companion. He didn't want to ramble on either. His throat was dry.
Sebastian couldn’t believe someone like Sherlock would even want to spend time with him.
He felt like he stared at Sherlock from afar all of last year. If he saw him on campus, he would just watch him walk. Seb watched Sherlock and Victor. He watched the way he spent time with Victor and thought they were friends because they shared a similar upbringing. Seb felt that Sherlock would probably get along better with someone like Victor, rather than someone like him. Someone with more of the same type of background and similar interests. He knew Sherlock’s family had money, plenty of money. Seb's father had money, however he was not generous. He wanted his son to work as hard as he had. A lesson that his father thought would help him in life.
Seb's father sent Seb to public school. He wanted his son to have a fine education with well educated moneyed well connected people. Seb went to the same type of public school Sherlock went to, but not the same one. Of course, he spent the standard amount of time at secondary school, unlike his friend who left at 15. Everyone who knew Sherlock knew this fact, even people who didn't know him were aware. This alone made him a minor celebrity on the campus.
Sebastian also thought his father would be happy if he knew he was friends with someone like Sherlock.
There were lots of kids like that at uni. Kids whose families had money, as well as power and influence. Sebastian felt out classed at his college and especially with people like Sherlock. It only solidified his feelings when they walked into the pub and all eyes turned in their direction.
It was not apparent that Sherlock noticed, as he did not seem to show any discomfiture. For all he knew, Sherlock was a descendant of royalty or something.
Sebastian’s father was a self made man. He had a very successful business. His father did not go to public school. He had come from near poverty and never let Seb forget it. Even though his father became successful, he often still felt his father resented those whose upbringings were more comfortable. He passed some of those subconscious feelings and ideas to his son. So even though Seb had many similar experiences as the students in his school, he never really felt they were cut from the same cloth. Because of his father, Seb always felt like a pretender, an imposter.
Until now. He looked at the tall, dark man-boy sitting across from him in the pub and felt like he had just won something.
Chapter 9: A Call to Arms
The closest pub to the Montague street flat was The Arms, so that’s where they went.
“I’ll pay, after all- I asked you out.” Seb offered, as they sat down. London was very expensive, even the student pubs.
“You didn’t ask me out, Seb, we are just getting a pint at the pub.” Sherlock looked around to see who was in the pub, then looked into his drink.
“Oh no, of course, sorry-- I didn’t mean that—just out—outside-to the pub.” He smiled nervously, of course he didn’t want to presume anything. He knew he would have to tread lightly here, this venture was just too important.
“Are you hungry? We could get something to eat.” Sebastian wanted to be polite, but he really did not know Sherlock very well at all.
“No, it’s fine.” Sherlock shook his head.
“So…How was your summer?” Seb just could not think of anything else to say.
This made Sherlock laugh, despite the fact that his getting into huge trouble with his brother still stung a bit.
Sherlock wanted to like Sebastian. Here he was, in a pub, with a boy, sitting across from him, who was—interested? In him? Still not sure. Seb did say as much at the end of the last school term, but maybe he had changed his mind. Sherlock wanted to give Seb a chance, but he wondered if there was anyway to avoid what happened with Victor.
Mamie’s words about love and adventure came back to him just at that moment.
Sherlock took inventory while he mused.
Sherlock knew that Sebastian was pursuing a business degree, perhaps to take over his father’s business. Sherlock also knew it was likely that although Seb’s father was moderately or very successful in his business, the family either did not have money to spare or maybe his father was miserly. Seb’s clothes always looked a bit threadbare and worn. So, not spending money on clothes, then.
Seb was one of those people who was good looking but did not know it. He was very close to being as tall as Sherlock, but his shoulders were broad and his arms were much bigger and muscled from playing tennis. And maybe lifting weights, Sherlock thought appreciatively. He also had about 2 stone on him compared to Sherlock.
Sherlock also knew, that despite the cachet that followed Seb from being a drug dealer on campus, he was a bit shyer than he let on. He sold drugs rather than getting another type of job, so he was looking to impress the other students, as well as make money. And making sure he had his own supply of drugs for his own use could not hurt.
Sherlock decided he would not be hard on Seb. He decided right then he would be willing to take a chance if Seb was really interested.
Sherlock grabbed his drink and stood up. He touched Seb on the shoulder, smiled and looked directly into his eyes.
“Let’s play darts,” He suggested.
Seb and Sherlock played darts for this pint and the next one. Sherlock was a pretty good shot and this gave Seb another thing to be impressed by.
Sherlock asked again about the cocaine. Although he was genuinely interested in Seb, but he was not going to waste his connection to either drugs or the murder case.
“Oh yeah, I don’t have anything right now. But if you wanted…” he looked at Sherlock with an open willing expression.
“No, it’s ok, I got in trouble remember?” Sherlock laughed.
“Oh yeah, you said. Was that what it was about---cocaine?"
“Yes---So please don’t go to any trouble on my account.” He put a hand up.
Seb suddenly looked to the door and turned white as a sheet. This made Sherlock look. He saw a group of about 5 very well dressed college age kids come in and one bloke in particular looked at Seb immediately with an intense, dark, pupiless stare.
“Who’s that?” Sherlock asked. He did not recognize the beautifully dressed group at all.
“Um.. nobody, a- a friend, well, I say friend….” Seb seemed to look for a word and then dropped his voice very low. “Um….Sherlock, we may need to leave.” He downed what was left of the second pint.
Just as Sherlock said, “That’s fine.” The bloke with the very dark eyes waved his friends toward a table and broke from the group and made it straight for Sebastian.
“Well, if it isn’t Sebastian, hello Seb, my old friend.” He clapped him on the back and Seb visibly flinched. “Haven’t seen you yet since the term started.” the guy with the very dark eyes was certainly of college age, but dressed in a light-colored business suit, which was out of place here.
Seb seemed instantly nervous at the sight of the guy.
“Who’s your friend?” the new guy gestured toward Sherlock.
“Oh, this is Sherlock.”
“Hey.” Sherlock managed casually as he finished his pint and pushed his chair in.
“Oh Sherlock, -Holmes, isn’t it? Well now, I’ve heard of you.” He said, silkily and made a point of looking Sherlock up and down.
Sherlock was used to hearing this from everyone, so looked right at him and did not bat an eye.
“I’m Jim, by the way. Jim Moriarty.”
Chapter 10: Sebs Flat
It did not take long for the boys to extricate themselves from Jim’s company and exit the pub. Seb was relieved to get out of there.
On the walk home, Seb discussed the situation with Sherlock. Seb explained that Jim was only one of the higher level dealers he used to get drugs to sell. Seb didn’t like Jim, and did not prefer to deal with him after some things he heard. He refused to elaborate.
When they got to Seb’s flat, he shared that his flat mates were not home. He offered to have Sherlock come in. The flat was sparsely furnished. Seb’s room had a bed, a desk and a chair.
“Hey, here- this is for you---“ Seb handed him an eighth-he smiled, “No charge-“
“Oh, no way--I can’t---I can certainly pay you.” Sherlock protested.
“No, I won’t take your money, please consider it a gift.”
Well, this was awkward.
“No look, I’ll take just half, if you insist.” Sherlock looked around the flat for another plastic baggie. “I’m not that fond, really, it makes me feel dull, but I do use it to sleep, when I can’t sleep. So, ok, thanks.”
This seemed to make Seb happy. Sherlock divided the pot and handed Seb the other half.
“Hey Sherlock, I had fun tonight.” He smiled.
“Thanks Seb, so did I.” Sherlock turned toward the door. His mood had soured a little by the visit from Jim at the pub. He was unsettled now.
“Hey, um... Can I see you again?”
“I guess so." Sherlock sighed, it just occurred to Sherlock that he may be getting in over his head. "I have something tomorrow- so, how’s Friday?”
“Ok, I’ll call you.” Seb caught a little of Sherlock's reticence and this made him feel slightly insecure. He raised his hand in a small wave.
Sherlock left. He made sure to go home a different way, to make sure he would not run into Jim Moriarty leaving The Arms.
The next day, Sherlock had a list of things to do. The first of which, was to contact one Greg Lestrade and tell him that under no circumstances was he to show up unannounced at Montague Street. He explained to the detective only part of what was going on, the part where he was very likely going to be able to have access to some more information about the college drug dealers. The DI warned him not to get deeply involved and to leave anything dangerous to the MET. Lestrade reminded Sherlock that this was not at all his responsibility and if things went wrong, they could both get into very serious trouble. Sherlock did not explain that he may very well be embarking on a relationship with one of the lower level drug dealers. After all, Sherlock could not be sure that the relationship part was inevitable. Sherlock also recommended to Lestrade that their meetings should happen in private now, not in cafes where they could be seen together. As Sherlock explained the situation to the DI, he was justifiably concerned.
“Sherlock are you sure you know what you’re doing?” the DI asked.
“No.” Sherlock said as he left the office.
The second thing was to answer the summons of his brother.
Chapter 11: Sherlock's New Job
On the way to see Mycroft, Sherlock's thoughts turned to the murdered grad student. the case seemed to go cold and there had been no new developments. Who would want to kill David Anderson? He mentally ticked off the facts of the case.
-Lestrade had let him see the shoes, nothing there.
-body was found flat on his back on the floor of his living room. Fully clothed, no shoes.
-there were no other deaths, so –suicide? No, better ways to kill yourself besides strychnine--an uncomfortable and unnecessarily painful way to die.
-not wide spread contamination-no other deaths.
So, the contamination occurred after he bought the drugs?
So deliberate, thought out, intentional, not to mention, psychopathic.
Murder--likely a person who David trusted. Possibly the person who was in the same room with him when he died.
The last person to see David Anderson alive, was his girl friend. Her name is Sarah, she was out of uni, not a grad student like her boyfriend and she too, worked at the pub where David worked, that’s where they met.
Lestrade told him the MET had already interviewed Sarah and determined that she was not a suspect. Sherlock realized he is going to have to talk to Sarah.
He can’t just go up to Sarah and ask 'hey I heard your boyfriend died'.
He decided to get a job at the pub where she worked.
Sherlock started to see his brother at the new club he joined. It was a big white building in central London, full of business men who worked in the city. It was usually very quiet there and they could speak in peace.
Sherlock now made sure to see his brother about every 4 weeks. Sherlock assumed if he made regular pilgrimages to Mycroft’s to keep him regularly informed, he would stay off his back, instead his abrupt change in behavior and sudden unexpected cooperation made Mycroft all the more suspicious.
'I see that you have decided to get a job. How industrious of you. And in a pub no less. I guess you are frequenting pubs these days."
"It's for fun Mycroft, but I guess you don’t know anything about fun, do you? and to supplement the paltry allowance you give me." Sherlock spat.
"Well Sherlock, don’t let your additional income lead you down the wrong path again."
"Don’t worry Mycroft, it does not pay that much."
"Thank the heavens."
"Besides, you can consider it a social experiment. A building up of tolerance." Sherlock stood and headed towards the door.
"For what?" Mycroft asked.
"Idiots." he said over his shoulder and walked out of the club.
Chapter 12: Not a party trick.
Sebastian and Sherlock started to see each other regularly over the first term. At least every few days. By the time the first semester ended, they were spending most weekends together. Sherlock turned 18 over Christmas break without any fanfare. The first week of the new semester was quiet, classes were boring and Sherlock's flatmates scarce as well.
Friday night after a trip to the pub, the boys walked towards Seb's flat. When they got there, he asked Sherlock to come up to get high. Seb told Sherlock that he did not know where his flat mates were, but they were not home right now.
They got up to the flat, took off their coats and sat on the sofa. Seb got out his bag of pot, and filled the bong. They passed the bong between them. They talked about classes and projects and laughed themselves silly.
The boys were sitting close on the sofa side by side. Their thighs were almost touching as they sat. Seb passed Sherlock the bong, their fingers touching briefly. Sherlock placed the bong on the table and leaned back. Seb turned his head, looked at him and then dropped his eyes.
"Hey Sherlock, I--"
“I like you.”
“I like you too, Seb”, Sherlock smiled patted his left shoulder affectionately. He sat up again. They were face to face. They were both quiet. They looked at each other. Seb glanced down at Sherlock's lips and leaned in..
The door opened and both of Seb's flatmates busted in hooping and hollering.
The boys jumped a mile and shot to the opposite ends of the couch.
Luckily both of his roommates were drunk. They were both very happy to see Sebastian.
“Hoo Seb!! Just the right bloke! Thank God you are here. Do you have an eight I can buy?”
Seb got up and went to his room red faced and shaking a bit.
Sherlock was sitting on the far side of the sofa away from the door, and he put his feet up on the table in feigned non-chalance.
“Hey!!” the dark haired flatmate turned to him, ‘You're the bloke who can tell everyone’s secrets, right?” he was slurring his words a bit. Seb had told him previously that both his flatmates were on the football team and a couple of real tossers.
Sherlock regained some of his composure. “Well, not it’s not a party trick.” He said seriously.
“Ha, I thought as much.” He sneered. He was a slight bit unsteady on his feet as he crossed the room. He seemed to be looking aimlessly for something around the flat. “Christ, where’s my wallet.”
Seb came back from his room and handed him a baggie, “Seb, I can’t find my wallet, spot me ‘til tomorrow?” The flatmate cringed comically and shrugged.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” Seb said and smiled.
“Hey Seb”, he slapped his upper arm and said conspiratorially, “Come back to the pub with us. We met some birds and are going back to their flat to party. I know you had some sweet bud this week, that I think they’ll like.” He waved the baggie.
"No, I’m tired and I've had enough to drink." Seb explained
"Never enough to drink!!" the other flatmate who up until now, hadn't said anything.
"Next time we go to my place." Sherlock said.
Chapter 13: The First Time
The boys had a bad scare. They would make sure this never happened again, no matter how high they were. Seb locked the door after the flatmates left. He sat down next to Sherlock on the sofa. "Well, that was scary." Seb said shakily.
"Yes it was." Sherlock looked at him.
"Hey Sherlock, you know, if you don't want to..." Sebastian started.
Sherlock put his hand up. "No, that's not it. We just have to be more careful. Is the door locked?"
"We could go to your room."
They walked into Seb's room, locked the door and sat on the bed. Sherlock felt he needed to take the lead, because Seb was too nervous. They had not yet really talked about where this was all going or previous experiences or relationships in the past. Suddenly, Sherlock thought of something. He got up, went into the sitting room and got his coat. When he got back, he locked the door and walked to the window and looked down. Right under the window was a large blue garbage bin. He could jump from here--if he had to.
Seb said,--"What are you doing?"
Sherlock laughed, "Planning for contingencies."
Sherlock realized this was Seb's first time with anyone. Despite his inexperience, he was an eager learner. Sherlock really loved kissing and he was pleasantly surprised that Seb did too. Sherlock let Sebastian lead the way, unless they were stalled, then he took over. He took off his shirt and helped Seb out of his. They laid on the bed chest pressed against chest, kissing for quite awhile until he could not take it anymore and had to get rid of the rest of their clothes. He took some time to appreciate Sebastian's hard muscled arms and broad shoulders. Because of their earlier scare, he was nervous that the flatmates would come back, so at one point, he paused and listened.
Seb whispered, "What's wrong?" he looked up at Sherlock who was now up on his elbows above him, looking toward the door with a serious expression.
"Absolutely nothing. " Sherlock said, equally seriously. He looked into Sebastian's eyes, dark and serious. The front of the flat was still quiet. No sounds at all from the rest of the building. The only noise was in this room, rapid heart beats, breathing, occasional gasps and some soft moans.
Despite the fact that Seb did not have any lube, this was not going to take long. Sherlock had not been with anyone for about 7 months and this was Seb's first time.
Afterwards, they laid there just resting. Sherlock had his head on Sebastian's stomach. He was smoking a cigarette, and Seb had his fingers tangled in Sherlock's long dark curly hair.
"Sebastian, I can hear you thinking." Usually, Sherlock had a very deep baritone voice, but at times like this, his voice was softer.
"You have such pale skin. It’s nice, really." Seb put their forearms side by side. "Look at the difference." Seb was most definitely brown, compared to Sherlock.
"I am not fond of the sun. I was never involved in outdoor sports. Fencing, martial arts. And well, I swam a bit, but indoors as well."
Seb looked at him and said, "I play tennis all the time-- all year long in and out of doors."
"Tennis is a great game."
"And your eyes--are so light-colored, you know, they look grey sometimes or light blue, like the sky. With sparkles."
"Sparkles?" He laughed, "I think you are looking at me too much, Sebastian."
"I could look at you all day." he moved his hand from Sherlock's hair to his chest and let it sit there.
"You know, with the way you look, you could be a vampire."
"Nah—vampires don’t exist, just a myth, legend, a superstition that has been turned into popular culture." Sherlock was nothing if not evidenced-based.
Sherlock took a drag of the cigarette and blew out the smoke overhead as he answered, "Emetic."
"What?" Seb asked.
“Emetic- blood is an emetic.” Sherlock explained.
“It means it causes you to vomit, so if a person swallows enough blood, they vomit. Humans can't digest blood.”
Sherlock sat up laughing and threw a pillow at him.
This was the first time Sherlock spent the night. He did not have to jump out the window in the morning--the flatmates did not come home.
Chapter 14: The White Heart
Sherlock did not like his job at The Blind Heart Pub, but he was trying to make the best of it. He had to cycle through all the jobs in his training, dishwasher, waiter, bartender. He memorized all the drink specials and all the types of liquor served. He got really good at mixing drinks-that was maybe the one aspect of the job he did like. He was there a few weeks before he got scheduled to work with Sarah regularly enough to have a few conversations with her.
He got hired by a kindly woman named Mrs. Hudson. Her husband owned the pub. Where Mr. Hudson, a tall heavy set man from America, could be brusque and loud, his wife had a gentle demeanor and was a bit of a mother figure to the university kids who worked at the pub. Mrs Hudson was often in the back of he pub, doing the books and typing. She regularly did the schedules and tried not to work the kids too hard, in fact she would admonish them if she found they were trying to ‘out do’ each other by getting too many overtime hours.
She took an immediate liking to Sherlock. ‘You’re too thin young man!” she had told him a few times, even offering to bring him up some chips from the kitchen. She told him she did not mind him eating while he worked. Sherlock knew that she had never had any children of her own, getting married late in life. He also knew that she had a bit of a wild past.
Another of the employees was a college student named Sally Donovan. She was a hard worker and was often in charge if the Hudsons were away from the pub. She was reading economics and took an immediate dislike to Sherlock. This did not bother him. He was used to people not liking him whether they had reason to or not.
“You are a show off--you know that?” She said to him one day when he was behind the bar mixing multiple drinks at a furious pace to the delight of a few young tourists sitting there.
"Sally you are a show off too, but only in bed." he said loudly as he tossed ice cubes into a high ball glass from the far side of the bar. Sally would learn to hold her tongue.
It did not take Sherlock long to realize that the pub was a front for drug selling. This was apparent to him the first week he was there. What surprised him though, was that all the employees were not aware of this fact. Idiots. He was also fairly certain that Mrs. Hudson was not aware that her husband was dealing drugs. Among those who were in the know, the pub became known as 'The White Heart'.
Sebastian was not happy that Sherlock had a job. They usually spent Fridays together, as Seb balanced tennis and classes. Sherlock still kept his meetings with Lestrade and his brother from Seb.
"A job? What for?-- you have plenty of money and I can get you anything else you need." he held Sherlock around the waist. "You don’t have to get a job. Aren’t your classes enough? I can’t understand why you need to be busier than you already are? I’ll never get to see you anymore!!" there was more than a little haranguing from Sebastian.
"Well, come see me at the bar." Sherlock suggested.
"You know that’s not what I meant." he rolled his eyes and pouted.
Sebastian really wanted this Sherlock thing to work. This is his third year at uni and he is almost finished. He is doing well in classes and he is keeping his drug use, as well as his drug selling well away from his father. his grades are fair. He has friends of some sort. Everyone knows him. Tennis team mates. He can count some people who buy drugs among his friends. No one he would consider special. No one who make his heart beat faster. He had not dated anyone while at uni because he was still so uncertain of himself, until he met Sherlock.
Fear has never stopped Seb in the past. He does lots of things he is afraid of. This is just one more thing. Sebastian is afraid of his father, the kids at uni, Jim Moriarty and himself.
Sherlock-does he need to add Sherlock to that list? He put that thought far back in his mind.
Seb did have a girl friend a very long time ago, in secondary school, briefly. But he knew that a girl friend was not what he really wanted. And now he met Sherlock. He thought Sherlock was attractive when they first met, but by the time he realized Sherlock was gay, he was already with Victor. Seb felt like he had no chance. He had resigned himself to just pining from afar. When he realized that Victor had gone back to America, he decided to take a chance.
Sebastian could not help himself, he tried to keep him self busy with tennis, classes and drug selling, but all he thought of was Sherlock. Seb knew they were very different. He could not comprehend Sherlock. Sherlock was cut from a very different cloth.
Chapter 15: The Night Shift
Sherlock was asleep in his bed alone. Seb did not meet him as they usually did after Sherlock's shift at work. He was not particularly worried, this happened occasionally. Sherlock was sure he'd call or just show up at the flat later. Sherlock fell asleep with all of his clothes on--on the top of his duvet. He was startled awake in the middle of the night by screaming. Lots of screaming. Lots and lots of screaming. He bolted out of bed and ran, sliding into the sitting room in his stocking feet to find Mike and Will standing there, wild-eyed in their pajamas. The boys all look at each other, then realized that the screaming was coming from either the hallway or the flat next door. They all three ran to open the flat door and rush into the hallway, pounding on the door to the flat next to them.
The door opens and they see 3 girls, all in pajamas, one still screaming hysterically, "There was a man in my room! A man in my room!"
It was Molly Hooper.
"Molly?" Sherlock stared at her, he was confused.
"Oh, Sherlock!" Molly was surprised but thankful to see him. She actually ran and put her arms around his waist.
"When did you move in here?" Still confused, he patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. Molly was sobbing and shaking.
"Where was I?" he asked, mostly to himself.
"Working-- you are always working now--everybody-sniff- tells me." her sobbing was quieter now. >
Molly continued shaking and crying.
"Molly, can you tell us what happened?" Sherlock said gently, prying her arms from his waist./p>
"I was studying here in the sitting room and I fell asleep. I woke up to go to my bed and when I walked into my room, there-there was a man, dressed all in black, standing in front of the window."
"Are you sure?" Will asked.
"Molly, have you been drinking?" Mike cut in.
"Mike!" all three girls scolded.
"No Mike, she seems perfectly lucid. Some physician you’ll make." Sherlock disengaged himself fully from Molly's arms.
"No, I haven’t! He was there! I swear it! I swear it!" She was shaking her head and crying, tears streaming down her face again.
"I saw him-he went out the window!" She wiped her face with her hand and pointed toward her room.
Sherlock walked from the sitting room into Molly's room. He went over to the open window to the back garden and looked out. A long, 2 story ladder was propped up against the side of the brick building underneath Molly's window. "Looks like our intruder left his ladder." He mused. "Idiot." Sherlock reached down and pulled it into the flat.
He smiled, "Well, it’s my ladder now."
All three of the boys put on their coats and shoes to look all around the flat and outside. It was a cold, clear night and the streets were quiet.
"Molly, we’ve searched the house and grounds-- there no one here now." She was sitting with her flatmates on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, drinking a hot cuppa.
"Are you feeling better?' Sherlock asked. /p>
"Yeah a bit, thanks." she had a weak smile.
"Do you feel like you need me to stay?" Sherlock asked.
Will and Mike exchanged wondering looks.
"Well maybe, yeah." she was calmer now, not crying. "Sherlock?" "Yes?" "Do you usually sleep fully clothed?" she asked. "Um no, not usually." he looked down and realized he did not change after work. "I can kip then on your sofa-don’t think I’ll be sleeping much anyway, after all of this." Sherlock said, taking off his coat.
"We've done this before." Molly observed.
"Yes, we have." Sherlock smiled at Molly and went to get his duvet.
Chapter 16: Sherlock's Ladder
Sherlock took the ladder with him when he left the next morning. Sherlock was very unsettled by Molly’s night visitor. Could it be a just a random event? He and Molly and her flatmates would have to be vigilant. Not sure if it was anything to worry about, he informed Lestrade.
“Thanks Sherlock, I would recommend that Molly fill out a report and we can have some plain cars circle ‘round there a few times each night.”
“Um not certain yet.” He found that the MET already knew that The Blind Heart owner was involved in drug trafficking, but they had no hard evidence yet. No witnesses. Because of the high volume of drugs that they thought went through the place, they were proceeding carefully.
“Oh.” Sherlock was surprised they already knew.
“Well, we are the police after all. What do you think we are doing with our time?” Lestrade threw up his hands.
“Not sure, actually.” Sherlock intently looked at his fingernails.
“By the way, Sherlock don’t do anything stupid. These people are hardened criminals. They will not hesitate to kill you, and anyone you know.” Lestrade was very serious.
“Stay in your place, just tend the bar. Talk to Sarah like you intended. Let me know what you think and just get out of there. Don’t poke your nose in anywhere else. Understand me?”
Sherlock's next step was to see Sebastian. They hadn't seen each other in a few days, Sherlock thought he may be angry that he had been scarce lately.
"Hey Seb, I have something for you." he made sure to try to go over to his flat in the early morning to catch him before he woke for class.
"What?" Seb looks at the ladder.
"Is that for you or me?" Seb laughed. OK, maybe not angry, then.
"Well, I feel it can benefit us both."
Much better than jumping onto a bin in an early morning getaway.
Sherlock took to showing up late at night and throwing small stones at Seb’s window. When he opened it, he lowered the ladder and Sherlock climbed up. They pulled it up into the room. It fit pretty good under Seb's bed—just a tiny bit peeked out.
Chapter 17: Molly's Date
Another typical Friday night at the pub. The pub is packed. Lots of college students and other groups of young people, few business types. Sherlock thinks the cocaine draws some of them from the city. Sally Donovan is working tonight doling out the jobs. Sebastian is here, he bought Sherlock a pint, but he's not supposed to drink at work.
But people are doing cocaine in the back. This is also a typical happening. There are empty rooms in the back of the pub. Mr. Hudson the boss is here, in a 'meeting'. Sherlock knows when the coke is gone, they will all troop back out, but the cokes not gone yet.
Sherlock did get a chance to talk to Sarah a few times over the last few weeks. From the conversation and her reactions, Sherlock realized that her boyfriend was abusive. David Anderson did hit Sarah a few times and she was planning to break up with him. She did not kill him. But Sherlock thinks she knows who did.
At the pub, Molly shows up with her two new flatmates. Among this new group is Jim Moriarty and the 'beautiful people' that he is usually seen with from uni. Regrettably, they happen to sit in Sherlock's section and has to wait at their table.
Molly is bright and chipper. 'Sherlock! Hi! Have you met Jim? He is in my organic chemistry class!" She touches him on the shoulder. Sherlock realizes this is a 'date'.
"Yes, I have met Jim, Molly." All the people in the group are very well dressed. Molly and her flatmates are smiling and chatting.
Things start out calmly enough. Sherlock walks to the bar to get their drinks. No matter how happy she is 'acting', he's going to keep a close eye on Molly.
Sherlock realizes they have already been to a few pubs before this and they all have been drinking. That's fine, Sherlock has been drinking too. He has already had the pint Seb bought him and a shot of tequila that he snuck behind the bar. It was just that kind of night.
While Sherlock is at the bar getting the drinks, he sees Mr. Hudson walk over to talk to Jim at the table. They appear to have a serious conversation, then Jim then goes with Mr. Hudson to the back.
Sherlock makes a bee line to Molly with all the drinks on a tray. He sets the drinks down on the table and takes her aside.
"Molly! Why are you with here with him?" Sherlock says in a harsh low whisper.
"And what of it--Sherlock, you're not my dad!" She is frowning and pulls her arm sharply away from Sherlock. Her voice is a little too loud now and she is a little unsteady on her feet.
"No really, Molly I-I don't think he is a very nice person." Sherlock's voice is quieter now, kinder and more concerned.
"Well Sherlock, he likes me and he is fun! You can't tell me what to do!" Jim comes back from talking to Mr. Hudson. He sits next to Molly and puts his arm around her shoulders.
Sherlock has to go in the back now to get more clean glasses to stock the bar. In one of the back rooms a few people are still doing lines.
And some sod just was cutting the cocaine--lots of cocaine-- into lines right on the table, which would have been OK, but the table was a bit wet. Fuck, the coke is wet now, not too wet, more damp.
Seb is smiling conspiratorially, "Want to do some lines?"
Sherlock looks at all the coke on the table. The way this night is going, the temptation becomes too much. "Did Charlie want to go to the chocolate factory?" Turns out the coke was not too wet. Just like wet money, it spends the same.
When Sherlock gets back to his section, things have deteriorated with Jim and Molly. Predictable. He said as much. Girls.
Jim is slimy and handy with Molly and won’t stop. Molly, although visibly uncomfortable, is making excuses for him and Jim is much more wasted and soppy than he had been when they got there earlier.
Sherlock's tone is dark, "Jim if I were you, I would stop touching her like that. I don't think she likes it." Sherlock warned.
"Well, you are not me. And that's a good thing. And she does like it. And it's not about love, is it Sherlock? You should know." Jim gets up from his seat and walks over to Sherlock, glaring.
Suddenly, Sherlock belts Jim, hitting him squarely in the jaw and Jim is out cold, on the floor, flat on his back.
The pub is silent. Everyone looks at them.
"Sherlock! Oh my God!"" Molly says, running over and bending over Jim.
"Is he breathing?" someone says from the crowd.
"Yeah, I think so." is the response.
"Wow." Seb says. He is at Sherlock's elbow, holding a pint. He looks at Sherlock. " I didn't know you could throw a punch like that."
“Well, I have boxed-- a bit.” he looks Seb out of the corner of his eye and then at Jim- laying on the floor.
As everyone is standing there looking down at Jim, Mr. Hudson shows up at Sherlock's side and says. "Sherlock, you have to go. You can consider this your resignation. '
Sherlock looks at him blankly.
"Now. Turn in your apron."
He takes it off and hands it to Mr. Hudson.
Will, Mike, Sherlock and Seb leave the pub together.
Molly goes home with her roommates.
Now out in the cold air of the alleyway, the four boys practically ran all the way back to Montague street in the cold bright air.
“Sherlock, why did you punch Jim?” Mike asked.
“It was rather horrifying to watch. He went down like lead.” Will added admiringly, smiling and laughing.
"I think I've been trying not to punch him since I met him. He was particularly awful tonight, the way he was treating Molly and…” Sherlock was explaining.
"Did he say anything to you?” Seb asked.
"No…” Sherlock whispered, mostly to himself.
How’s your hand?” Mike the medical student asked.
Oh not broken I think. Just bruised.” he looked at his hand, flexing and extending his fingers.
All 4 of them got to the flat. It was very late. the events of the evening left all of then exhausted,
"Here Seb, you can kip here on the sofa. It’s late, you don’t want to walk home at this hour." Sherlock suggested.
Sherlock brought out pillows and blankets and tossed them on the sofa in a show of hospitality.
Both Will and Mike knew Sebastian was not going to sleep on the sofa.
Late in the night, Seb and Sherlock were laying in Sherlock's bed talking quietly. Not certain what time it was, they were laying in their usual positions, Seb on his back, Sherlock with his head on Seb's stomach. The night was quiet and they were both looking out the window.
"Can you find the constellations? Look, there is the plough." Seb pointed.
"Constellations are asterisms. Ursa major--if I'm recalling correctly. No, I’m not interested in looking at the stars, as they have no practical use. If I ever knew it, I must have deleted it."
"Well, that’s why we have the constellations right? They are just pictures people made up-Because humans are always looking for patterns-for meaning." Seb wondered aloud.
"Not all humans, Sebastian, I don’t know anything about the stars, but I do know about patterns."
Chapter 18: The Wrath of Molly
Everyone was angry with Sherlock.Molly was angry, Mycroft was angry, Sherlock was sure Jim was angry. Sherlock woke up in a foul mood. He had lost his job and almost blown his cover because he let what Jim said get to him. Damn, he was going to miss Mrs. Hudson.
And he always had negative moods when the drugs wore off. Not to mention the nosebleeds, the runny nose and hoarse voice.
Sherlock and Molly had a horrific row the next morning in Sherlock's flat when she came over to confront him, banging on the door to his flat in rightful indignation.
“Molly, you should not be dating Jim!" Sherlock was serious and adamant. He was standing there with his arms folded across his chest in his dressing gown and track pants.
“Why, Sherlock? Why did you hit him? So, he had a little too much to drink! So what? You are lucky he decided not to press charges!"
“I can’t tell you.” he did not know how to protect her without telling her too much.
“Well that's not much of a reason!” she laughed, almost hysterical.
“Why can’t you just believe me? Why can’t you just do as I say?” he was getting really angry and shouting, despite his headache.
“Because I am an adult and you are not my mum. I can make my own decisions.”
Now Sherlock knows how Mycroft feels. Shoe on the other foot properly now.
"Because --Well, you should be afraid of him.” he said very carefully, Sherlock's headache was bad. He started to look for paracetamol in various places around the flat.
"Afraid? Why?" Molly was confused by how he was acting. /p>
"Well, he is fucking psychotic, that’s why.” after the yelling, Sherlock's voice is very hoarse.
“How do you know?”
“I just do.” His voice is quieter now, softer. Sherlock pinched the upper part of his his nose between his eyebrows and closed his eyes. The room was just too sodding bright.
"Do you even know him, Sherlock? Do you know anything about him?"
"Well no, I don't know him, not really. I know people who do know him, though."
"What's he reading in school? Where is he from? What's he like to do in his spare time?" Molly fired the questions at him, she had enough of Sherlock in the last few days.
"Hobbies? Oh, I don’t know, vivisection, maybe?"
Molly left, slamming the door.
After Molly left, Sherlock walked back to his room, where Seb was just getting up and dressed. He had found the paracetamol and swallowed 2 pills with water.
"Seb-- you know there was not much cocaine in that cocaine we did last night."
"How do you know?"
"I just do. There is a real danger if you don’t know what is in what you are buying...." Sherlock tossed an inferred query at him.
"Well, we weren't buying," Seb walked over to Sherlock smiling and grabbed the waistband of his track pants. Sherlock's dressing gown fell open.
"Well--how can anyone know? Unless you get it from Columbia and cut it yourself. No one knows what they are buying-the coke here is maybe 22-25 percent pure per ounce. As far as I know, Mr. Hudson cuts his coke with mannitol, but it can get stepped on after that, lidocaine, baking soda, baby powder, powdered sugar, powdered milk. Purity drops along the supply chain-everyone knows that." He put his hands around Sherlock's waist, touching his soft flat stomach and reaching up under his dressing gown to feel the smooth skin of his back.
"Well, it's great if he uses something inert.' Sherlock says as his dressing gown falls off his shoulders and is now on the floor.
"In- what?" Seb asks---kissing his soft lips.
"Inert-- no drug activity--- of its own." Sherlock explains as they move slowly to the bed.
"And" Seb says with more kissing, "I've heard he works directly---with the Colombian---wholesale dealers." track pants are now down to knees.
"Using small boats and---light aircraft to avoid customs---" more kissing, "or in the post and--ahhh---I think the main docks are Felixstowe, Liverpool and South--ham---hampton." falling into bed.
"Fuck, is the door locked?"
Chapter 19: My Brother's Keeper
After taking abuse from Molly, Sherlock had to move on to the next in line, Mycroft. It was time for Sherlock's monthly 'check in' anyway. He met him at the club, as per usual.
Sherlock expected Mycroft to rail at him, but found his brother quite pensive, instead.
This ended up being a much longer visit than usual.
Sherlock knew he was in trouble when Mycroft got out the biscuit tin, unbidden. He knew that should be taken as a serious warning.
Mycroft's words were carefully and slowly said. His tone measured.
"It takes alot to surprise me but so far, Sherlock, you are doing a very good job of doing just that. Perish the thought that you would just go to classes and not do things with careless disregard for your safety and the safety of those around you."
Sherlock shifted uncomfortably in his seat, biscuit in hand.
"Sherlock, for someone so gifted, you have done some remarkably stupid things. You will have to grow up sometime."
"Oh, and is that what you are-- Mycroft--a grown up? That’s what you call it? Secluding yourself in this office? Just observing life-- rather than participating in it?" Sherlock 's acerbic tone does not rattle his brother.
"I know that you have been working with the MET, of all things. And that you have been in the company of very unsavory associates-in your bed, I might add." Mycroft looks at his little brother pointedly and has raised eyebrows.
This elicits a laugh from Sherlock. It's short-lived.
"I guess I could take up the harpsichord. Or, maybe tatting." Sherlock rolls his eyes, chafing under his brothers admonition.
"Sherlock, It may surprise you, that while at uni, I had a friend who was a drug addict."
Yeah, well so do I, Sherlock thought.
"I often wondered if people use substances to cover up pain. The pain of despair. Thinking that they will have a small respite from the aching realization that there is something they’ll never have, a chemical solace, a plaster for the soul. But while the salve is blissful, regrettably, it does not last long. It’s just another type of prison. You are just trading the one for the other." Mycroft looked at Sherlock, steepling his fingers, his elbows on the desk in front of him.
"Have you ever asked yourself what pain are you blocking?" Another small rueful laugh from Sherlock.
"I could ask you the same question." Sherlock says as he crunches the biscuit, rolling his eyes and sliding down lower in his chair, arms crossed in front of him.
Mycroft ignored him, "Well my friend from uni, while we were not close.... "
No surprise there, Sherlock thought.
"--I did know quite a bit about him. They said his father was a big shot in Venezuela and sent him cocaine in the post. No one was sure who his father was, that information was kept very quiet, but some people said he was a high ranking Venezuelan politician. Or maybe just a successful businessman. My friend always had people around him. Crowds of people, really. He had lots of people, girls...boys. Pretty ones and plain ones too."
Another pause. Points for dramatic effect, thought Sherlock. "Is there a point to any of this, Mycroft?" Sherlock sighed. "Why yes, if you'll indulge me." Mycroft said, pleasantly, smiling. "Many of us lost touch after uni. Last I heard, he died in a Venezuelan prison, his big shot father not able to help or ameliorate his sentence at all. Please be aware that from the position I currently have, I will only be able to do so much for you. If things do go wrong."
"You're right, Mycroft."
"Sorry?" Mycroft blinks. "Are you agreeing with me?"
"And---while I like the harpsichord just as much as the next bloke, I'm not the tea, biscuits, cake and a good natter type. I'm more the hands-on type." sighing, Sherlock got up to leave.
"How can I stop you, Sherlock?"
Chapter 20: A Visit From The Lizard King
Sherlock awoke in the middle of the night in his own bed. He was laying flat on his stomach, with only track pants on. Opening his eyes, he knew he heard a noise. He looked over at sleeping Sebastian, who did not stir. He wasn’t sure if he heard a floor board creaking, a rustle of curtains or just the steady breathing of someone who should not be here, in his flat.
He carefully got out of the bed so as not to wake Sebastian and walked into the corridor.
The hallway was dark, the moonlight peeked in through the curtains, just casting enough grey light through the sitting room to barely make out solid objects. He stood in the semi-darkness of the corridor, in front of the bedroom door, listening.
As his eyes adjusted to the grey, he saw a figure at the end of the hall. He realized just who that was. He could tell by the cut of the suit. The cut of the suit.
“Hello.” Jim said quiet, lilting.
“Hello yourself. How did you get in here?” Sherlock's voice was rough.
“tsk, tsk, You are not really whispering, Sherlock. Are you sure we’re not going to wake your boyfriend?” Jim said in his silky way.
He giggled. “Sherlock, I thought I’d come up and look for my ladder. I know you have it.”
“I don’t have it.” And the truth was, it wasn't here. it was at Seb's.
Then Sherlock saw the grey glint of metal. Jim was holding a gun. He looked down at it, turning it, considering it. “You know, I don’t like guns, really. I find them vulgar, but they do get your point across, don’t you think?” He pointed it at Sherlock.
"And I have a silencer, too. You’d be surprised at the toys I have access to."
He continued very quietly, as he walked toward Sherlock, “I don’t have many adversaries. I don’t tolerate having adversaries. So, I want you to consider this- a warning. To stop interfering." Jim rubbed thoughtfully at the left side of his jaw-where Sherlock had landed the punch to Jim's face. "And I want you to know that I mean it. This is no bluff.”
“I am not afraid of you, Jim. It’s one of my faults.”
Jim walked right up to Sherlock in the hallway, pointing the gun right at his chest, almost touching his skin with the metal. Their height difference highlighted as Sherlock looked down at him with a steady, even gaze and did not back up.
“Hey—you know what?” Jim said with wide eyes. “I think I could put a pretty big hole right here." he pointed at Sherlock's chest. "And after that, I’d have to shoot Sebastian, because-- I hate witnesses--- and then you would-not-be-able-to play-the-hero.”
He paused between his words. Tipping his head side to side with each word.
“Because you’d be dead." His voice lowered an octave. Sherlock acknowledged the psychotic shine in his eyes. “And don’t tell Seb, you know, that I was here. Because he isn’t as good at keeping secrets," he whispered a bit louder, conspiratorially, his eyes wide, "Not like you and me.” He waved the point of the gun between them.
“And you know, you do look great with no shirt, but I can’t stay, sorry, I best be off.”
“Remember my words, Sherlock Holmes.”
Jim walked past him and went out the door. Sherlock sat right down in the hallway, his back against the wall. He was shaking.
Chapter 21: Discussions at Dawn
Of course, he didn’t sleep after Moriarty’s visit. He needed to think. He was still sitting in the hallway with his head in his hands, when he looked up and saw Sebastian in the doorway of the bedroom. The sun was just coming up, and the light coming in through the windows was making it easier to see.
“What are you doing sitting there?” Seb asked.
“Sorry, um…sitting, thinking. Bit of a headache.” He managed to say as he stood up.
Seb gave him a quizzical look, “I wanted to remind you—I have a match this afternoon. It's away at another school. So, I won’t be back until later this evening, OK?” Seb was getting dressed as he spoke, Sherlock followed him into the bedroom.
“Ok.” Sherlock said absentmindedly, not listening.
“Sebastian—why do you think Jim is dating Molly?” he asked as he sat on the edge of the bed.
“How the hell should I know?” Seb said irritably from the loo.
“Well you know him.”
“Not well.” this was a firm statement from Seb.
“He’s gay, Seb.”
“How do you know?” Sebastian frowned.
“I just do.”
“Well," Sherlock contunued, "I think he is dating Molly just to irritate me.”
And this is where Sebastian laughed really loud. ‘So, Jim Moriarty is dating Molly Hooper just to irritate you? Sherlock, why is everything always about you? What is it with you and Molly, anyway?”
Sherlock had a dumbfounded look. “Honestly, Sebastian--There is nothing with me and Molly—I don’t know what you are talking about. I've know her since first year”
Sebastian turned to him and just looked at him. There was something in his facial expression that made Sherlock worried. There was a very long silence before he spoke.
Sebastian sighed, “Look Sherlock, I know you don’t love me.” Sherlock looked surprised and opened his mouth as if to speak. “No stop, don’t talk, I know. I’m not a genius, but I’m not stupid. And you know what—it’s OK, really. I know you are still in love with Victor. Maybe you always will be. I-- just want you to know, I do…love you, and…I-- I’m not mad at all.” He put his head down and continued, quieter, “I hope maybe you’ll grow to love me, somehow. Whatever you want to make of this,” he gestured with this hand, waving it between them, “us.”
Sherlock noticed that Sebastian’s eyes were wet. He did not know what to say. He cleared his throat.
“Sebastian, I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant, obnoxious asshole anyone could have the misfortune to meet. I tend to rub people the wrong way and I don’t have a very good track record with relationships. I wouldn’t blame you, really, if you left. You don’t have to stay, there’s no commitment or promise of any kind.” Sherlock crossed his arms as he stood there, and put his head down, looking at his bare feet on the wooden floor. “I-I understand. It’s OK.”
Sebastian walked over to him and reached for his hand. “I’m not going anywhere, unless you don’t want me.”
Sherlock's voice was very low and soft. “No, I do want you. But we are going to have to move the ladder and I can't tell you why."
Chapter 22: Guess What's in My Pocket
After Seb left for class, Sherlock paced around the flat, trying not to wake Mike and Will. There was no way he was going to get to the bottom of all of this by himself. Sherlock hadn’t worked at The Blind Heart long enough to sort out anyone’s possible motivation for killing David Anderson or to get any overwhelming evidence on Mr. Hudson to help the MET. He knew that David Anderson was an arse and a girlfriend beater. He was sure there was more---- but what was he missing?
Sherlock realized he would need help. Of the most irritating kind.
“Mycroft, I’m going to have to ask for your help, as much as I don’t like you, I mean—it--it. Having to ask for help, I mean.” Sherlock sat down across from his brother. He did not ask for a biscuit, this was business.
“Ahh, the prodigal son returns.” Mycroft was smirking across the desk.
“I need everything you have on David Jacob Anderson.” Sherlock stated.
“Why?” Mycroft asked as he moved papers into piles on his desk.
“Well the murder as very heinous. Why aren’t you involved with this anyway?”
“Well, he wasn’t anyone important..” Mycroft began quietly, looking up from his papers.
“You didn’t think it was a suspicious murder? Done in an unusual way? That it might be meaningful?”
“Hmm? Meaningful? In what way?” Mycroft maintained his very bland expression.
“You’re impossible, Mycroft.” Sherlock got up to leave. “The file, Mycroft, and I’ll need it today.”
He stood in the doorway looking back at his brother and added, “Please.”
It did not take long, Mycroft called Sherlock at the flat and he went right back over to talk to his brother.
“Sherlock, this file you asked me to get does not have very much in it. David Anderson, age 22, Bristol, reading graduate business at university, small time drug dealer, very small, not worth anyone’s notice, really. Part time worker at a pub. In a romantic relationship with Sarah Moriarty. I don’t think you’ll get anything out of this, really.” Mycroft shook his head.
Sarah Moriarty. Oh, there’s always something. And Sherlock knew Sarah did not do it. Sarah did not murder her boyfriend, although she may have had a motive. Sherlock thinks he knows who did.
He was going to have to speak with Jim Moriarty.
Sherlock jumped up, very excited. “Thanks, Mycroft!” he said and bolted to the door and ran out of the office.
Sherlock had no idea how to get in touch with Jim. It was almost late afternoon and the sky was very grey and cloudy. Sherlock walked through the rainy streets aimlessly without a destination. Then he realized his best bet would either be Molly Hooper or The Blind Heart pub. He looked at his watch. Molly was likely in class at this hour. No time. The pub it was.
He walked in the door of the pub. It was empty except for Sally Donovan who spotted him immediately.
“Hey, Sherlock,” she almost shouted from behind the bar-“You're not allowed back in here---you know that---you’d best leave.”
“I will not stay long.” He smiled and spoke as if he was talking to a child. “Sally, have you seen Jim?
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “It’s OK Sally, I’ll just use the loo and be off.” He planned to walk into the back and look for Jim himself.
Sally seemed OK with this plan and went on wiping down the bar.
Sherlock went into a stall in the men’s. He reached into his pocket and felt---plastic-it had a very familiar feel. He took it out of his pocket and looked at it. This was the remainder of the coke he did with Seb a few nights ago. He laughed that there was any left. But then he remembered why. They were alone in the flat, having just come home from the pub and had done about 2 lines each and then got-- distracted. Things were much better when he was not aware he still had this cocaine. Fuck.
Just about 2-3 lines left. No straw.
Sherlock knows how to do coke without a straw. He’s seen plenty of kids do it with no straw. He reviewed his options. Eat it? No. Would rather avoid a numb mouth and or vocal chords. He’s seen people put it in their eye. Just touch a bit to their finger and then touch the eyeball. No-there is too much here for that unattractive option. Rub it against the gum line in the mouth. Again, too much here. And the more he looks at it, the more he wants to do it. That old familiar sting. Sherlock becomes aware that his mouth is salivating and his heart is beating fast, and he’s not done any coke yet. He should probably just put it away. He and Seb could do it later at the flat.
It becomes too much. Looking at the bag, he tips it sideways so all the coke slides to the opposite side. It’s a lot of fun to cut it too. On a mirror, with a razor blade or a credit card. Putting it into small neat lines. No option for that. He takes the empty side and pinches off a bit of the plastic, leaving a small hole. He tips the bag the other way, so the coke runs toward the hole he made. He puts a bit in the hollow between his thumb and forefinger and snorts it from there. Oh fuck—this is great. He pauses, standing there, just breathing. He leans his forehead against the cool stall wall. This was clearly the best idea he’s had all day. Clearly. He does it again and waits for the drip, heart pounding. He does the last bit of it, then turns the bag inside out and licks the rest.
How long has he been in here? He wonders. Best go out. He still is looking for Jim, they need to talk.
He walks out of the stall, no one here. A bit paranoid, he looks in the mirror, mostly to make sure there is no coke on his face. That would be awkward. Well, for Sally mostly, he thinks and laughs.
Coming out of the loo into the corridor, he sees Molly Hooper.
“Hi, Sherlock.” She is sitting at a table with a friend whom Sherlock does not recognize, having a pint.
“Hi, Molly!! How are you?” he is smiling. He feels great.
Molly looks at him, with a crinkled brow. “Are you OK, Sherlock?”
"Ok? Yes, fine-- never been better." Molly offers to buy him a pint, but he didn’t want to interfere with his high. Not now. He needed to think. Clearly. More clearly. More clearly. More clearly.
Suddenly, Jim Moriarty comes from the back of the pub in his impeccable suit. “Well, Sherlock, I hear you have been looking for me. What a coincidence. Looks like you have found me.” He smiles. "Molly, do you mind? Sherlock and I have something to discuss in the back and we’ll be just a mo.”
“Sure,” Molly says as she smiles and continues to talk to her friend.
Sherlock gets up from the table slowly.
“After you,” Jim waves his hand in the direction of the corridor in the back, which Sherlock had just come from. When he was in the loo, he was almost certain he did not hear anyone else back there, otherwise, he would be fairly certain he would be walking into an ambush.
Sherlock wants to talk to Jim. But, he is reluctant to go in the back with him, alone or otherwise.
Once in the corridor, out of view of Molly, Sherlock takes a swing at Jim, who ducks. Sherlock loses his balance and falls forward.
“Ha!- not going to fall for that again, Sherlock. Fool me once, you know.”
Sherlock feels hands on his back as he’s dragged into a back room by roughly by people he can’t see and just as he thinks he should yell for help he, feels a punch to the side of hi face and everything goes black.
He realizes he is sitting and someone in splashing his face with something wet—water.
“Hey, Sherlock,” he can hear a sing-song voice, that he is sure is Jim’s.
Fuck, he has a headache. He can open his eyes a bit, but the world is too bright.
“You like to think your special, but your ordinary, Sherlock, just a drug addict, look at you, your sodding high, aren’t you? Look at your eyes. But when the pricey white powder is gone? Oh, whatever will you do?” Jim says in a fake worried tone, looming over him because Sherlock is sitting.
“David Anderson,” Sherlock manages to say, thickly, rubbing at the side of his face, where he got punched.
“Well yeah- he was stealing from me, that’s why. Using the product. And he hit my baby sister, and no one does that. He was weak- just like you. The weak link in the chain. And he underestimated me-- just. like. you.”
“You sell it, you don’t use it!” he practically shouted.
Then Jim was quieter. Sherlock was getting used to the psychotic gleam in his eyes. “You know, Sherlock, you have been monumentally irritating to me. First Sebastian, then Molly. Sebastian was my right hand man and we were going to have so much fun. He won’t deal with me anymore—was that because of you? You know, I had him right where I wanted him, well-- not like you did.” he snickers.
Sherlock looked around for the goons that had likely both punched him and dragged him back here, but there was no one else in the room.
Jim seemed irritated, “What are you looking for? Oh yeah, I had help. You’re a big bloke-- I can’t drag you myself.” But my helpers are still here and I have this—he took out the gun with the silencer. "If I shoot you-and drop your body in to the Thames, even Molly won’t look for you. I will tell her you just left out the back-because you do things like that, don’t you Sherlock. Always so unpredictable. So changeable.”
Boom! Boom! Both the front and the back doors flew open simultaneously and someone shouted, “Police! Drop the weapon!” a large group of military-outfitted police came in from both doors.
Jim looked surprised and dropped the gun. “No fair!” he shouted as he put his hands up in the air.
Sherlock looked at DI Lestrade, “What took you so long?” He asked.
It took a considerable number of police put Jim Moriarty in the police wagon as a horrified Molly Hooper looked on.
“I can explain Molly, but maybe tomorrow. This pub is too bright and I can’t think” Sherlock said and handed her a handkerchief that he always has in the pocket of his coat.
Sherlock sat down at a table in the pub. Lestrade sat down with him, and put a hand on his shoulder. “Hey Sherlock-I know you're high.” he looked at the young man with a mixture of concern and bemusement.
“Yes,” Sherlock said nodding, “I am properly fucked up now. I am still so high." he looked around at the confusion in the pub, policemen everywhere. "Can someone get me a glass of water?”
Lestrade was very serious, “Listen, Sherlock-- you need to dry out and come down from this, I could take you to Bart’s and-“
Sherlock's response was very clipped and abrupt, “No, I refuse, I’m fine, really. Because, you see, I’m a ‘grown up’ now and I can refuse any and all treatment.” he took a gulp of water, elbows on the table.
“Refuse? ha—why don’t I just arrest you, then? I think 'public intoxication' would work. Lestrade sighed. “Why don’t you go home and just go to sleep. Ok? What did you take--how much?”
Sherlock told Lestrade what he took, how much and when. Lestrade considered it for a moment, then says. “Ok, since it's been awhile, I will drop you off at your flat.”
“Hey Inspector, what made you burst into the pub now? Did you complete the investigation into the drugs trafficking?”
“No, I got a very scary phone call from someone at M16-ordering me to get here immediately with a whole team to rescue you.”
“Oh, my brother.” Sherlock shook his head, very quiet.
“You have a brother?” Lestrade looked positively stricken. “Is he anything like you?”
“No, he’s a dick.” Sherlock said, finishing the water and setting the glass on the table.
Chapter 23: Moriarty's Parting Shot
...and if any chapter gets me into trouble, it's this one.
Sherlock gets into the passenger seat of Lestrade’s car. He’s still fairly twitchy and can’t find anything to do with his hands, so he takes to tapping his foot and rubbing his thighs up and down, then playing with the window. Up, down, up, down.
“Sherlock, stop that.” Lestrade scolds. The other officers were certain he’d get sick in Lestrade’s car.
“What?” Sherlock says frowning and looks at him, surprised.
The ride was short, but when they get to Montegue street, there are ambulances and police cars in front of the flat.
Lestrade pulls up to the kerb. “What the..” He wasn’t paged, oh- now he hears it, must’ve just happened. “999 call to building on Montegue street. Send ambulance, back up. Possible overdose.”
“Oh," Sherlock says quietly, "Moriarty’s parting shot,” He gets out of the car and jogs to the front of the building.
“Sherlock, wait!” Lestrade calls after him. “the police are in there!-- wait!” But Sherlock does not hear him.
Molly meets him at the door. She has tears in her eyes. “—Sherlock,” she chokes on her words and manages to put both of her hands on his chest, pushing him back slightly. Molly looks him right in the eyes as he searches her face. She can see that he knows, he just needs the details--but she is afraid to tell him. “Wait, don’t go in there, please, let me talk to you. Sherlock, I’m sorry-it -it’s bad-- I have some bad news.”
“Please tell me, Molly, just tell me.” he says quietly, still a bit unsteady on his feet.
“It’s Sebastian, Sherlock---they found him tonight-- he’s dead. The police and ambulance workers are in there now."
“I need to see him.” He says firmly.
“Oh Sherlock, I’m so sorry-“ she lets him past to get to the flat. She gives Lestrade a doleful look as he follows. Lestrade shakes his head. The chaos of the scene starts to fall away, as the workers start to trickle away, heads down.
Lestrade stands by Sherlock's side, as the ambulance drivers are pulling a white sheet over a gurney. It is obvious that a body is under the sheet.
They stop what they are doing and look up when they see Sherlock and Lestrade in the doorway.
“Please- let me see him” Sherlock says hoarsely to the men as he walks towards them.
Lestrade nods his head at the men. “It’s ok. DI Lestrade, Scotland Yard.” He flashes his badge. The men step back respectfully.
Sherlock very gingerly pulls back the sheet to see. Sebastian is laying there, eyes closed, skin very pale with a slight blue tinge. Sherlock touches his cheek gently with the back of his hand. He’s cold.
Sherlock can feel hands on his shoulders. Lestrade is standing behind him. “Sherlock, do you want to sit down?”
“Yes,” he says.
The ambulance drivers left with Sebastian’s body. Sherlock is sitting in a chair, staring into space. He has a water glass in his hand, but is not drinking. Mike, Will, Molly and Lestrade are all still here clustered in small groups, whispering to each other.
Lestrade takes Molly aside, inclining his head towards Sherlock. He has his hands crossed over his chest. He clears his throat, frowning. "Molly," he begins, tentatively.
Molly looks up at him with big eyes, red and puffy from crying. She pushes a stray hair from her face.
He hesitates again, not knowing what to say, "The kid that died, um....Sebastian, that wasn't just a flatmate, right?---was Sherlock... were they..?" He looks at his feet. "Was he... is he...?" Lestrade looks helpless.
Molly rescues the detective. She shrugs. "Well, we don't know, really. They never said." she whispered. "Sherlock... well, Sebastian and Sherlock... well, they kept it pretty quiet. But they were together alot and we all think so." She says. "Well, I think so." she says more firmly, nodding.
"Oh." Lestrade realizes more fully the more serious impact of the situation.
All of a sudden, Sherlock speaks, his deep baritone voice cutting through the flat, “They will say it was an overdose, but I think you’ll find it wasn’t. It was murder. Strychnine.” He wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular.
Everyone turns. No one disputes him, no one says a word.
Chapter 24: The Dead Poets
Everyone debated about whether or not they could leave Sherlock alone for the night.
After a bit, Sherlock seemed more like himself, although subdued. Lestrade was reassured that he had mostly come down from his high when he told everyone he was going to bed.
Although he had a severe shock, Sherlock assured Lestrade that he did not feel the need to immediately call his brother and would do it the following morning.
Lestrade was comforted that Mike and Will would be in the flat all night and he made them promise to sleep in the sitting room. He recommended taking shifts, staying up to make sure Sherlock did not do anything rash. He felt good about his plan when he left them.
Sherlock retired to his room laying down on his bed, fully clothed. He could not get the image of Sebastian lying on the gurney out of his mind. He wondered where they had found him. In here? In his bedroom? On the floor? in the bed? Who had found him? He had not asked, it had all happened so fast. The front room grew quiet. It was late. There was no noise from the street.
Sherlock got out of bed, put on his coat and got some supplies he kept hidden in his sock index. He reached down and pulled the ladder from under his bed and climbed out the window.
He wandered the streets for hours. Walking, sitting on benches. Cursing himself for not being more careful. How had Jim gotten to Sebastian? Shelock had warned Sebastian to be careful. Why was he doing coke with out him? That wasn't like Seb, he would usually wait for Sherlock. He finally decided on a plan. He knew lots of drug dealers over the years and of course had his favorites, but there were only a few that he knew who were up at 4 am.
He went to look for Raz. Raz lived in a bad part of town. He was about 15. Sherlock found the address, and tried to hit what he thought was his bedroom window with a few small rocks. He had gotten quite good at it in the last few months.
Raz opened his window as Sherlock threw the last rock, “Oi!” he yelled. “I was comin’! Sherlock! Long time-no see! What can I do for you, lad?”
“I need something.” Sherlock called up. “What do you have?”
“I’ll be down.” He shut the window.
He met Raz in the alleyway behind his house. Raz kept his wares in a tackle box. He looked around cautiously and opened it for Sherlock in the early morning light. “I’ve got it all, what do you want?”
Sherlock pulled a large roll of money from his coat. ‘I want it all.”
Sherlock did not really take it all, but he had a recipe he planned on following. He decided the best way to dull the pain would be to replicate the Brompton’s cocktail. A palliative recipe for the dying. A sedative, not fatal in and of itself. Without a ready reference, he would have to recall from memory alone. Cocaine, morphine, alcohol and syrup, taken orally. Amounts varying. Dose based on body weight, meters squared, kidney and liver function. Well, he would have to improvise due to the limitations of Raz’s tackle box, no matter what he said about ‘having everything.’
Sherlock was glad he had planned ahead.
He paid Raz and bid him goodbye. “Bye,” said Raz, “Don’t be a stranger. I usually don’t do business at 4 am in alleyways, mind.” He laughed and shook his head. “Nah, I do.”
Sherlock walked to the grotto on campus, he sat there looking at the statues and pulled the drugs from his pockets. Visitors to the shrine had left various articles there such as braces, crutches and the like, proof of their healing. Sherlock wondered what he’d leave. All he felt was guilt and despair. He blamed himself fully for Sebastian's death. Moriarty wanted to punish Sherlock for getting in the way, just like he punished David Anderson. He did not know how it could have been prevented. He knew Seb did not trust Jim, but that was not enough to save him. Jim did not kill Sherlock, he just removed his heart.
Sherlock had told Raz what he wanted and Raz cooked it up for him and gave it to him in a sterile (he said) syringe. He trusted Raz, because he did not deal with Jim or Mr Hudson at all. Raz got his stuff elsewhere, he knew for certain. Sherlock pulled the small bottle of tequila from his coat pocket. The original recipe calls for gin. Sherlock hates gin.
Sitting on the bench in the grotto, he emptied his pockets. Taking his arm out of his coat, he looked for a good vein. This was not the first time he injected drugs, maybe his third time over the last year. Sherlock still had good veins, he would not likely need the tourniquet he brought. He sat there, drinking the tequila straight out of the bottle. He just didn’t want to think any more. Thinking was just too hard. Once feeling a little buzzed, he injected the drugs. It took a few minutes for the drugs to take effect, and he closed his eyes.
Sherlock woke up in a hospital with his brother standing at his bedside. He had not one, but two IV poles attached to him, dripping fluids.
"Ahh, back from the dead I see. The Brompton’s cocktail, how poetic. You always were so dramatic, Sherlock. But you misjudged, you see, that's what happens when one estimates and doesn't calculate."
Sherlock just looked up at him rolling his eyes, too exhausted to scowl.
“Just so you know, you were rescued by the university gardener, luckily, who called 999 and an ambulance brought you here. As you were not breathing, you were intubated for a few days. And you missed Sebastian Moran’s funeral.”
Sherlock turned away from his brother.
“You are out of university and on your way to rehab, Sherlock. 3 months. If you do well, you will be allowed back to uni, provisionally, as I have spoken to the college master for you already.”
School is over. Sherlock does not fail, but will have to finish his classes in the next term. The exact details of what happened were kept from the school by his brother. But everyone else knew.
Sherlock got out of rehab in 3 months. He did well, despite his terrible attitude. The staff was very happy to see him 'graduate' from the program. Sherlock had to go to Florida to testify about the drugs case, ensuring that Mrs. Hudson’s husband could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, both in the US and in the UK. Not only was he prosecuted for the drugs trafficking, but for involvements in the deaths of both David Anderson and Sebastian Moran, as well as 'blowing the heads' off of a few lower level dealers in Florida.
After Mrs. Hudson returned to the UK from Florida after the trial, she sold the pub. She moved into a building on Baker street, resolving to rent out 2 flats and live in one. When Sherlock got out of rehab, she offered him a flat at a reduced rate for students. As expected, Mycroft then reduced his allowance further and required Sherlock to get a job. Mycroft also again recommended a flat mate, mostly for surveillance.
When Sherlock got out of rehab, he spent some time packing all his things from Montague street. He decided to try to continue some of his chemistry research and was spending a good bit of time in the lab at school, as well as the one at Bart’s. Lestrade asked him for help on occasion, but seemed to treat him cautiously, as if he were delicate or fragile somehow.
Over the summer he still saw Mike, Will and Molly, often running into them at Bart’s finishing up projects or at part time jobs. Occasionally they went for coffee, they knew that Sherlock was trying to stay away from the pubs. Sherlock still complained about his brother and the restrictions on his life. Mike recommended looking for a flatmate, per his brother’s suggestion.
Sherlock responded, “Mike, you-of all people know what a difficult man I can be. And who would want me for a flat mate?”