Chapter 1: Prologue
John Watson was a quiet man, his neighbors would say. Friendly when spoken to, and never one to turn away children selling cookies or candies for their school. He was away for stretches of time quite often, sometimes for days on end, and he told people he was just on a business trip. And that wasn't a lie.
There are three things you should know about John Watson.
1. He has three rules. Never change the deal, no names, and don't open the package. Ever.
2. John Watson was not a soldier anymore.
3. If you betrayed him, the consequences were dire.
John Watson was a transporter, a man skilled at delivering packages from point A to point B with no complications and no delay. He was punctual, precise, and the best at what he did. His black car was modified with a keypad that started the engine and reinforced bodywork to sustain more damage. People from all parts of the criminal underworld had enlisted his services at one time or another, though John never asked exactly what he transporting.
Frankly, he just didn't care.
Then one day the package moved. On that day, everything about John Watson's quiet, simple life was blown apart by the force that was Sherlock Holmes.
It started like everything worth mentioning in John's life started.
With a deal.
Chapter 2: It started with a deal
John checked his watch, straightening his suit jacket back over it with perfunctory movements. Sixty seconds.
The parking garage was quiet and dim, the air stuffy and cool. Few people parked this far up in the parking garage, and the few that had were hard at work in their meaningless little jobs.
Sixty seconds were up. The alarm on his military style watch sounded, and John flexed his fingers in anticipation. His driving gloves molded to his fingers perfectly as they trailed over the steering wheel, his right hand making its way to the keypad that started the car. He type in the code, and the engine roared to life. The roar dulled to a purr and John put the BMW in gear. He had never understood the appeal of automatic transmission. It was just lazy, in his opinion.
He pulled up at the curb at 3:59.
At 4:01, four men all but threw themselves into his car. John managed to contain his annoyance at the way the men seemed to disregard the leather of the seats with their frantic scurrying.
"Drive!" The one in the passenger seat yelled, still high off the adrenaline of robbing a bank. They had chosen the time of day when the armored truck came to move the money, John remembered. But he didn't ask about the bags each man clutched. It was against the rules.
"You're late." John said lightly, making no move to start the car.
"Just go!" One of the ones in the back said breathlessly.
"The deal was three men, four bags, four o'clock precisely. There are four of you, and you are late. That wasn't the deal." John kept his hands resting, relaxed, on the steering wheel.
"What the fuck does that matter? Just drive!"
"One of you has to get out," John instructed. His passenger placed the gun against his temple.
"New deal. Drive or you get your brains painted on that window and I drive!" The man was spitting slightly with force of his words. John releasedd a huff of amused laughter.
"Awfully hard without the code," He said, gesturing to the keypad. "As I see it, you have two choices. Shoot me, spend the rest of you free life trying to start a car that never will and get caught by the police when you try to make it on foot. Or, you can lose one man, split the money three ways, and get away with this little plan of yours. It is up to you."
The next few seconds were spent in silence save that increasing volume of police sirens.
The next day, John was listening to the news as he made himself a cup of tea and slice of toast.
"Four men robbed an armored car yesterday, injuring the driver and two security guards. One man was found shot a block away from the crime scene, and witnesses say the man was shot and pushed out of a black or dark blue car, which then left. The police gave chase but unfortunately the remaining robbers were able to get away with an unspecified amount of money."
The perky reporter kept talking, but John wasn't interested. He already knew the story.
In the fireplace, the ashes of the temporary license plate he had used to hide his real one were settling. John sat in his small kitchen with his laptop, reading news stories and celebrity gossip while munching on his toast.
A phone sounded.
He checked his cellphone, but there was nothing. He checked his other phone, the disposable one.
A time and place.
No rest for the wicked, John thought wryly.
The location was a small hole-in-the-wall. John sat at the bar, sipping at cheap gin and tonic and avoiding the advances of various scarcely clad women. The floor was sticky and the bar itself was run by an old man with the tattoos and hard, weathered eyes of a man that had gone to prison for more than just a minor offense. It was the exact kind of place that people who wanted to be forgotten as soon as they arrived went to make business deals.
Just once couldn't they take him to a classy place? John mused as he grimaced at the taste of his drink, waiting impatiently. His contact was late. It was always dangerous to take on new clients. The repeats were easier. They knew the rules and what to do. John wouldn't say he trusted them, but he supposed they were easier to predict.
There he was, sticking out among the lowest rung of society. John had spotted the well-dressed man with his bodyguards as soon as he had walked in, but the contact was trying to scope him out from a booth as if John couldn't see him.
Finally, a man slipped onto the bar stool next to him.
"Sorry I'm late," He said with an oily voice. John just stared ahead. "My name is-"
"No names. Rule number two," John said, finally turning to look at his companion. "No names, only the deal."
"Good, good. You have rules. I like that," The man laughed. John did not. "I need a package delivered."
"Weight?" John asked, pulling out a pad of paper.
"Does it matter?"
"Details matter. The heavier the package, the heavier the car. The heavier the car, the fewer miles per gallon of gas." John ticked off the points in his head as he said them. "So again. How much does the package weigh?"
"I would say...around 180 pounds?" The man said speculatively. "No more, at least. The package will be about four and half to five feet long. Should fit in the back of you trunk."
"Pickup time?" John asked, scribbling his notes, slightly annoyed at the lack of precision.
"Eight in the morning. The package will be placed in your trunk. You don't even have to get out." The man offered. "Be at this address by the front door tomorrow, and drive to the second address."
John took the scrap of paper the man handed him and slipped it into his pocket. He looked over his notes quickly, and satisfied by what he saw, he showed it the other man.
"Tomorrow at eight AM I will be at the provided address. Your men will place the package in the trunk, and I will drive it to its destination four hours away. With one stop for refreshments and rest, around 180 pounds in the trunk, this will cost you $40,000. Half now, half upon completion. This is the deal." John paused. The man considered the price, then nodded his assent. "This deal is final. No changes, alterations, or cancellations."
The he used a lighter to burn the piece of paper, laying it the filthy ashtray near him. Had anyone ever asked, not a single person remembered seeing the men talking strange business that night.
In a dark room miles away, the "package" shivered with cold and dread.
Chapter 3: Never break the rules
It is worth noting that I have decided to make Sherlock quite a bit younger than John. This makes it easier to keep to the story.
John didn't sleep well. He never did, but he had learned to flourish with the bare minimum of sleep. As he stood in front of the mirror the next morning, the numbers on the clock were just turning to 6:30. He studied his appearance. Even as he neared forty years of age, he had to admit that he had never been in better shape. His strict exercise regiment and attention to his diet assured that.
He began to dress, pulling a crisp white shirt on over his broad shoulders and buttoning it up over his well-defined stomach. As he reached the top buttons, the shirt closed and hid the old scar on his shoulder. A black tie was fastened around his neck in a perfect knot, and a black jacket was settled of the white shirt.
By the time John Watson had finished donning his "uniform", it was past seven, and time to leave. As his garage door opened, a woman jogging past gave him a distracted wave which he returned. What was her name? John couldn't remember. In the garage, everything was just as neat and orderly as the rest of his house. The BMW was there as usual, gleaming in the light streaming in through the open garage door. John ran a hand over the smooth paint.
Time to go to work.
The first location was a large mansion. It had an impressively carved front door and immaculate lawns and flowerbeds. John sat outside in his car, engine silent. At precisely 8:00 two men carrying an impressively large black bag came out of the front door and made their way to his car. The man who had made the original deal stood in the doorway watching the whole proceedings. He smiled at John when the trunk slammed shut, and there was nothing kind about it. More like a snake smiling at a mouse right before it struck.
John was glad to get of there. Those people gave him a bad feeling, and that took a lot. John didn't listen to music when he drove, preferring to be alone with his thoughts in silent. The scenery he drove past was typical. Buildings, towns, open road, he had seen it all.
An hour into his drive, a knocking sound came from the right side of his car. The sensor on the dash alerted him to a flat tire. John sighed.
"Of course," He muttered. He pulled over to the side of the road, and waved a curious lady on her way when she slowed to ask he needed help. John took off his jacket, laying it carefully on his driver's seat. He rolled up his sleeves and opened the trunk. The large black bag was right on top of his spare tire. John hesitantly reach out to push it out of the way. The package was surprisingly warm, and moved on its own as soon as John touched it. John gritted his teeth.
But he continued to push it out of the way and retrieved the spare tire and jack. Changing the tire took only a few minutes, and John hauled the flat tire back to his trunk, again pushing the bundle out of the way. A small sound came from the bag, a questioning sound. John ignored it and got back in the car.
An hour later, he was eating a sandwich in a rest stop and wrestling with his instincts.
On the one hand, it was completely against his third rule to open the package. He didn't need to know what he was transporting as long as he got paid. Most his clients preferred it that way anyways. There were times when knowing what he was transporting probably would have gotten him killed upon delivery.
On the other hand, John had no idea how long ago the package had ate or drank, and it had to be hot inside the bag. Was it better to stick to his rule and possibly deliver a dead person?
On the way out of the rest stop, a John paid for a bottle of juice and a straw. He nodded at the cashier as he left and drove away until he found a shoulder on the deserted road. It was quiet outside, and no cars were coming.
"What are you doing, John?" John muttered to himself as he got out the car. "Never break the rules."
The trunk popped open and the package began to squirm again. John rested a hand on the heavy zipper and pulled it down slowly until it was about a foot from the top. He pushed the sides apart and found himself looking into two scared grey eyes seated in the angular face of a young man, most likely in his mid twenties. He had black curly hair and duct tape stuck to his mouth.
"I'm not going to hurt you," John said slowly. The man studied him closely, but flinched away when reached out to move a stray lock of hair from his eye. "Hey, I said I'm not going to hurt you. Now hold still."
John took out his knife and carefully poked a small hole in the tape, not missing the way the man's eye was ringed by an old bruise and his lip was freshly split. He was certain he would have found more bruises on the man-the package-had he the desire to look. The man in the bag sucked in a deep breath through the hole in the tape, and he lifted curious eyes to John's.
"Here," John held out the bottle and let the man watch him break the seal and put the straw in. This must have satisfied the man that the drink wasn't drugged, and he allowed John to place the straw through the hole in the tape between his lips. John held the bottle as its contents were early sucked down by his 'cargo'. John pulled the bottle away when it was half empty. The man tried to say something, but John pushed his head back in the bag and zipped it up.
John got back in the driver's seat and started the engine.
He had just broken his rule. Never open the package.
Now the look in that man's eyes, scared and in pain, was floating before him whenever he blinked.
He was in trouble.