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The Framed Award

Chapter Text

The call came when John had just sat down and opened up a newspaper in his chair by the fireplace. Another unsuccessful date today, leaving him lonely on this glum evening in London.

He had known the end was coming the second time he forgot which flowers Serena had liked instead of Ashley's favourites. The damn roses and carnations were practically the same! Couldn't he get a moment's reprieve? He grumbled to himself as he reached for the mobile his sister had given him, and read the caller ID. He sat back as he answered,

"Ah, Lestrade, is it another case? Sherlock's a bit... busy, right now."

The blonde looked over his chair to the kitchen as he said this, watching his friend hang clumps of different hair types over a science set-up that sparked to life whenever it made contact. John shook his head as he listened to the response on the phone.

"Well, it's not much of an unusual one but we did get a call from uh, you know, the other Holmes, that he wants this one cleared up immediately. I thought Sherlock would want to know and get involved." Lestrade sounded tired on the other end. John turned to look into the kitchen again.

"Sherlock, it's Lestrade, he says Mycroft wants a case solved by the police quickly. Bit weird right? What d'you think? Oi! Oh, bloody hell."

At the mention of the older Holmes, the younger was rushing toward John and ripping his phone from his hand.

"We're on our way. Do NOT touch anything, do not investigate and don't let any of Mycroft's men in either. Text me the address. Goodbye." Sherlock announced, before promptly hanging up. He tossed the phone to the doctor, grabbing his coat and scarf before John had finished getting up.

"One mention of Mycroft and you're running out the door, I don't see why you aren't just working with him by now."

John shook his head again as he pocketed his phone and followed the taller man out of their shared flat. At the front door Sherlock answered him, hand on the door handle and eyes alight in anticipation.

"It's nothing about doing things for Mycroft, it's all about showing him up of course. He needs someone else to solve a problem and I'm there to remind him who the detective is between the two of us." He smirked, pulling the door open in a flurry of coat tails and dark curls, he stepped out to the damp streets of London's night.

"God, he's so dramatic." John rolled his eyes as he closed the door and got into the taxi Sherlock had hailed.

 

*

 

When they arrived, Lestrade was waiting outside the block of flats for them. He led them up three sets of stairs; the elevator had stopped working, Sherlock noted. The three of them ended up outside an apartment with police tape already set up to turn away others who lived in the block.

"No sign of forced entry as of yet, but we haven't really begun a serious investigation as per your and your brother's requests, Sherlock." The DI explained, lifting the tape for Holmes and Watson to enter the apartment.

Why had Mycroft wanted an investigation, only to tell them to wait? Alarms went off in Sherlock's head. The entry hall and kitchen appeared normal, and as Lestrade led the way the real problem presented itself: the bedroom.

Sherlock scanned the room briefly, and already knew what to do with the crime scene he had been called to. Block off the exit. Tell Anderson to stop thinking; God, would he not shut up? Why was Anderson on a Mycroft case anyway? Next, move Lestrade to the window of the bedroom, then make a bit of noise and don't say anything about the wardrobe. That was most important.

John and Sherlock began to inspect the body, and John rattled off the signs of the cause of death.

"Right, so, damage to the skull with a sharp object, but over all looks like the poor fellow bled to death. Probably wasn't quick because the wound isn't deep enough for it, but he probably didnt move after his attack. Shock, I'd say. Trauma, shock and then blood loss."

John stood from his place by the victim, his need for a walking stick gone for a few cases at this point. He turned to Sherlock to see what he had gathered in the meantime.

The body was situated on the bed, fully clothed in business attire besides the untied shoe falling off the dead man's foot. Mid twenties probably, fresh out of university judging by the certificate proudly framed on the bedroom wall. Business student Jeremy Fishern, graduate of Birbank University of London.

Clearly he wasn't expecting any guests, or he'd have rushed to the bathroom upon returning instead of straight to the bed. Certainly the case as he was a well kept man who presented his best side to the world, evidenced by his pristine attire at the end of a long day shift.

He kept himself refreshed through the day, possibly anxious to impress. Suggestive of being a new employee or intern, and the small trim of hairs behind his ears and graduate position solidified this idea. So the killer followed him in, or was already on the scene, no forced entry tells could be picked up on his way through the apartment.

The detective took note of the angle the weapon had come from. Hailed from above in such a way that the victim would have just been looking up from his shoes, but clumsily aimed, suggesting this wasnt a professional hit and run job.

In fact, running hadn't taken place at all.

Sherlock paced up and down the room. The floor creaked beneath his feet with every step, and he continued in front of the wardrobe as he looked about the room further.

A knife, the murder weapon, had been dropped on the floor in a rush of emotion, most likely. A foolish move that helped the detective unravel the "how" of the case. There was no blood trail or particular spatter that suggested the attacker was touched by the spray that came from the attack itself, so, they had retreated suddenly from the attack.

"What's he doing?" Anderson's annoying interjection came from the doorway, and Lestrade hissed in response.

"You know he wants silence so would you please, just?" The Detective Inspector waved his hands in a dismissive gesture to the other man.

Sherlock huffed a breath from his nostrils and stopped his deductions despite himself.

"Yes, if you could just remove yourself from the scene maybe the intelligence of the whole building would come back up to an acceptable level, Anderson."

Sherlock had stopped pacing and his glare swung around to the offending man in question to halt his protest. Anderson begrudgingly turned away and stayed silent for the sake of the case. John coughed quietly in a strangely laughter-esque manner.

The consulting detective sighed and reconstructed the events again, catching up to where he left off. His pacing began again.

The attacker was short, or at least shorter than the victim, based on the advantage taken from the fact his head was bent over and the angle the knife came from.

Suggestive of a woman, or a short man, but statistically more likely a woman in the London and Birbank University area in particular. As well as the fading hint of perfume on this side of the room. It didnt appear as though Mr Fishern was keeping women's items in his apartment, so no girlfriend or companion to leave the scent behind.

So what would a woman that wasn't in a relationship with the victim want a fresh graduate man in a new job, dead for? There was hesitation in the kill, so, possibly, she didnt want him dead at all.

An emotional cause, which sherlock groaned to himself for. Sentiment. Sherlock looked to the award on the wall again. It was unsettlingly crisp and clean in it's glass and frame. He turned to John and gave him a look.

"What? What's that look. Did you figure something out?" John prompted him when Sherlock had stared for a moment, and it was what he needed to start talking out loud.

"Open and shut really, John. The attacker knew the schedule of the Mr Fishern here, and used it to her advantage in seeking justice in some way," he announced, turning to Lestrade. "You'll probably want to look around outside, I have a feeling she didn't go very far in her own shock of her crime."

Lestrade nodded, and ordered his team to head out and with him to search the area around the block of flats they were currently in. John turned to Sherlock, amazed but quiet in his awe.

"How do you know the killer is still around?" John questioned when Sherlock began checking everyone had left, noting the single officer stood on guard at the door. Easily distracted by conversation judging by the lingering smell of alcohol on his clothes. Sherlock walked back in to the apartment as he replied,

"This wasn't a well planned murder, John, her aim was shoddy and her uncertainty is so obvious in her singular attack. She probably panicked and tried to escape. The elevators are out of order, she must have heard other residents coming up the stairs; there's no other explanation for why she would stay..."

"'Her?'" John asked the taller man, and walked up beside him when Sherlock stopped pacing again, finally facing the wardrobe.

The consulting detective reached to the doors and opened it, looking down at the fainted girl in a heap at the bottom of it.

"Yes," he breathed out, "'her'."

Chapter Text

John was too much in shock at the sight before him to continue his awe at his friend's deductions.

"Wait. Is this the... what? You knew she was in here. Is that why everyone is currently outside and not arresting this woman? What are you thinking, Sherlock?! My God." He said in a hushed manner, getting onto his knees to check the woman's condition.

Her hair was plastered to her forehead and her face had lines running down from her eyes. Her skin was clammy to the touch and she was out cold.

"What's her condition?" Sherlock asked the doctor, looking out the window at the police below. Something to do with this case was on Mycroft's radar, and he needed the girl to help him figure it out. And yet, he couldn't bring himself to deduce her in the state she was in; she had to leave the crime scene as soon as possible.

"She's asleep. Can you believe that? The whole time the police were here and she was asleep in the bloody closet! Probably because of stress, she's clearly been crying and there's bile on her shirt."

Sherlock nodded, "so we can move her? No injuries then?"

John shrugged. "Yeah sure, she's in a fine condition... Wait. What are you even on about? We can't get involved like this Sherlock!" John insisted, annoyed that he didn't catch on sooner.

"Mycroft is interested and this girl is part of the case. I think there's more here than it appears. Let's go, you distract the officer guarding the door and I'll make my way to the other set of stairs down the hall." Sherlock was pushing John to the door before he had finished, and John gave up his protest half way there.

The consulting detective rushed back to the bedroom, around the corpse and to the wardrobe. There, the girl was still asleep, and Sherlock didn't hesitate to abduct her from her hiding place.

She wasn't particularly breathtaking, he thought, but there was a beauty that all humans carried that Sherlock tried to ignore. Admiration would not sneak this girl across the streets of London. He lifted her carefully so as not to awaken her, so she'd be quiet in their escape.

John loudly acted out his distraction to ensure Sherlock was aware, giving him his queue to leave the apartment. He caught sight of John ushering the intoxicated officer down the stairs they entered by.

When Sherlock found the other stairs he paused, noticing the outside pathway leading to its twin building that led even further from the scene. He made his way through and out in sure time.

John would forgive his being left behind.

 

The night was cold as he moved through the alleys and shortcuts of London's streets, careful to remain unseen by the night life of the area. Mycroft had many informants prowling the night, just as Sherlock himself had in the homeless network. No one was a safe witness to have.

His arms began to tire halfway to his objective, and he slowed his pace to a careful walk. The human in his arms shivered at the night air, beginning to stir in his grip. He came to a halt at the corner of a closed coffee shop and lowered her to the ground.

She was disoriented to start with, and balked at the sight of him when her senses came around and the little puzzle in her mind came together.

It was not the first time someone had reacted badly at his being around, but it irked him nonetheless. He introduced himself as she fought her tears.

"My name is Sherlock Holmes - Consulting Detective. I'm aware of your situation and am here to... help. But this isn't a good place for our chat, can you stand?"

He was doing his best not to be brash, but his words were clipped as he looked around the area.

She nodded, getting up and following him dazed as he took off towards Baker Street.

 

*

 

"So, boyfriend or kidnapper?"

"Huh?"

The woman had not yet introduced herself when Sherlock began his investigation. As they walked the night side by side he asked her more expressly,

"The one who made you do it. Boyfriend or kidnapper? No. Kidnapper wouldn't leave you behind, but boyfriend wouldn't get you involved. And yet..."

"I didn't do it."

Her eyes were haunted when he glanced, but he pressed the question.

"Who was the man with you? Even with your perfume I can smell the cologne on you that's different from Fishern's. And you're wearing a men's shirt that isn't at all flattering or 'fashionable' on you. So. Who else was there?"

She was slightly shocked at the things he noticed, and she looked down at her clothing with disdain, asking herself the same question.

"He was... Well, a bit of both? We were on a date. We were at a bar down Harland's and I started to feel woozy, then we ended up at that place - he said it was his apartment. And then the other man came in... And Jamie just... I hardly remember, my head hurts thinking about it." Her face twisted in a fresh wave of nausea. Sherlock restrained his eye roll. This wasn't his favourite kind of case but there had to be something in it for Mycroft to notice. He had to know what it was.

"And what was "Jamie's" work? His appearance? Last name? Anything you tell me will be of use." He urged.

She shook her head and wiped her face, itchy with dried tears.

"Sorry, I had only just met him so I didn't get that far into knowing him, but yeah, his appearance, he had pale skin and dark hair - a bit shorter than you maybe? Sorry, everything is a bit muffled at the moment."

Sherlock huffed to himself at the scant description as they rounded the corner leading up to the flat he shared with John.

He could smell the alcohol when he had carried her, but it made sense as to why she slept so heavily with police noise around if she had been drugged on her date. But why would her kidnapper take her to someone elses apartment? It wasn't the way most criminals worked, and by her condition he could cross off the usual daterape drugs.

This lead Sherlock to thinking the murder was definitely more planned than he originally thought, but what place did a drugged up witness have in this case?

He didn't reply to her until they reached the door, where she asked him,

"Your place? Or secretly someone else's? I'd be grateful to know in advance."

He quirked an eyebrow at her attempt to placate herself with cheap humour, but appreciated it when considering the alternative would likely be tears. Sherlock Holmes didn't do tears, but his interest in Mycroft's business had brought him this far.

"Shared flat with my partner in not-so-crime, John, and owned by a nice drug lady downstairs. Nothing too nervewracking from your experience I'd say." He put on a smile as he opened the door and led the way.

She chuckled awkwardly as she closed the door and followed.

 

"Is your boyfriend out at the moment?"

 

"Partner in crime solving exclusively, you'll be delighted to hear. Please don't suggest that in front of John - it tickles him in a bad way."

 

"Oh sorry, it was your wording... Never mind. So John isn't home?" She asked, taking the seat on the sofa that Sherlock had gestured to.

He took his coat and scarf off as he moved methodically around the flat.

 

First to the kitchen to put the eyes he was experimenting on in the cupboard, it'd do no good for his guest to see gore so soon after the incident.

 

"He'll be back in about an hour I'd guess, first to come up with an excuse as to why I've gone missing and then to make his way back on foot. No wallet for a taxi - he spent his last on his failed date tonight, he'll be pleased to make your concious acquaintance."

 

Next he made his way to the window where he checked the streets for any sign of Mycroft's meddling. So far it seemed his brother was slow, and he smirked at the time it took for his men to show up at the flat.

Twenty-four seconds later than usual so far, and counting. He made his way back to the kitchen.

"Concious? So he helped you with me? I'd like to thank him."

Sherlock went through the kitchen making three cups of tea, not asking his client's preference as he did so.

"Yes yes you're a nice woman, mid twenties, polite to a fault suggesting a good upbringing perhaps middle class with your date location being a bar. No pets, no siblings, and no need for niceties here but it is appreciated that you don't give trouble. You finished university recently and moved out of your family home too, and you have one, no, two roommates to split rent with in Birbank. Now, here we are." He finished, placing the tray of tea in front of her and taking his own. He settled into his chair with a quietly pleased look on his face.

She stared at him blankly for a moment, and then burst into laughter.

He stared back at her and frowned as she tried to recover.

"What is it? Did I get something wrong?"

She shook her head and reached down for a cup of tea.

"It's just, this has been the strangest most awful night of my life, and I think I'm a bit hysterical, but that was amazing!" She told him and calmed down as she blew steam from her drink.

"You can work all that out, but you don't know my name. I'm (Y/n). Thank you for this chance of help, Mr. Holmes."

He hummed, content to mull this over for the last thirty minutes of peace before John returned.

Chapter Text

The two of them had sat in a comfortable silence, neither filling the space with mindless chatter, which went appreciated by Sherlock. He had no time for it. Especially not when his flat mate was about to return with some form of message from his brother. He had deduced this from the lack of contact over the first half hour of his being home, and then the fact that John was taking longer than expected to return.

To only Y/n's surprise, John returned with a stormy look upon his brow, a small parchment in hand and the exasperation of having spoken to a Holmes for twenty minutes.

"Sherlock, when will your damn brother just get a postman instead of coercing me into suspicious vehicles late at night?" His voice carried through the hall to the open front door and he paused to take in the scene.

The suspect of a murder and his closest companion sipping tea together in silence, but no sign of animosity in the air. An extra tea on the tray between them. An almost, dare he suggest, pleasant mood in the room? No, it was simply the lack of Sherlock's ranting and glares that gave the faux pleasantries to the air.

"Hello, you must be John? I'm Y/n, thank you for helping me out of that situation."

The woman on the sofa outstretched her hand to him, and he took it carefully with a polite shake.

"Yeah I - sorry, yeah, I'm Doctor John Watson. Um, Sherlock, what's the situation here?"

John moved the usual client chair closer to the sofa and took a seat. His tea was cold when he took it but it was made the way he liked. Sherlock glanced and replied,

"She was on a date with our missing murderer and he drugged her, bringing her along for his crime. I'm certain this woman is innocent but don't you find it curious, that she was made to come along but left as a witness?"

"Sherlock, did you make this tea?"

"Yes. John, were you listening? This girl was left behind, drugged and witnessed the whole thing, likely on purpose."

"You. You made tea? Mrs Hudson is out as far as I recall."

Sherlock let out an exaggerated sigh and stomped his feet as he pulled himself into a forward leaning position in his seat.

"Yes John, I made the tea. I even went through the strife to make it the way you have it albeit cold no thanks to my brother. Now listen to me. Murder. Witness. Strange drug. Mycroft's interest. Why was Ms. (L/n) left behind?"

"Well, most killers are a bit mad like that right? Y/n, you're lucky to be here. But as a doctor, do you mind if I examine you a bit? Any idea what you were given?"

"Its an off market drug that makes your senses docile, what it is exactly I haven't figured out - report your findings. Oh, and I believe this is for me." Sherlock stood in a huff and whirled around to take the forgotten paper from John's lap before heading to the window.

"Is he always..."

"Like that? Yeah, unfortunately, but really - if you don't mind I think itd be good to see how you're coping physically."

Y/n nodded and let the doctor inspect her vitals and condition more thoroughly. Her hands trembled and her skin was still clammy.

"Are shakes and sweat usual for you?" He asked, checking her pupil response with a small keychain torch.

"No, I hadn't even noticed it, though. I was a bit lightheaded when I woke up and my meories are a bit cloudy from when I left the bar."

Her anxiety at the thought was clear in her voice and he gave a smile that he hoped would soothe her.

"Well, I'm an army doctor so rest assured that I'll keep an eye on you whilst you're here."

The sudden sound of a knife stabbing wood cut through their conversation. Both jumped in their seats and looked at Sherlock by the fireplace; Mycroft's note had been stuck into the mantle with the letter opener. Sherlock walked away with a thoughtfully brooding expression.

"Did the fireplace say something rude again?" John teased.

Sherlock seemed to be unhearing rather than ignoring, and John let out a breath as he turned to Y/n again.

"I think you'll be staying with us tonight, there's a spare room upstairs if that suits you, or you can take my room and I'll go up so you're not alone. Sherlock will answer if you knock for him or if anything happens. Right now though, he's in his 'mind palace' I think."

Y/n nodded in consideration as the doctor returned her hand to her at the end of his inspection.

"What's a mind palace?"

"It's a way of remembering things, you imagine a place and put information around the house so to speak. But of course that guy calls it a 'palace'." John snickered and looked to his friend, who hadn't reacted at all.

She nodded once more, and made to stand when Sherlock actually responded to John's words.

"No, John, you stay in your room. Y/n will take mine. I won't be able to concentrate tonight so you're our watchdog this evening. I doubt anything will make it's move this night though."

He stood slowly, still in thought as he moved to take the upstairs room. John raised a brow and showed Y/n the way to Holmes' room.

"I suppose something has him upset, usually happens when his brother leaves him a message."

"There's two of them?"

"Unfortunately, and the other one is high in the government."

"Oh my."

"Right? I'm glad you sympathise, I have to live with this one. At least you'll be here to save me for a while." He winked jokingly to the woman as he opened the door to Sherlock's room.

"This is you. My room is just there" he pointed, "so if you need anything, even just a chat after all that happened, come knock alright?"

"Thank you, John. Goodnight." She smiled as she closed the door to him, and he walked back to the front room.

On the mantle lay the note, and John inspected it. Sherlock wouldn't leave it if he didn't want snooping to happen. But, to his surprise there was only one word on the page, handwritten. He hadn't seen Mycroft write the letter, only been the carrier pigeon between the ever suspicious Holmes brothers.

In a meticulous cursive hand there was one word.

"Play."

John frowned. The game was on, but the players were quiet. As he walked back to his own room he considered that Sherlock might hide something from him, or already had. But John would trust in the silence hardly ever given.

Chapter Text

They stared firmly at eachother, neither man backing down. The tension rose with every second of dead air between them. The shorter man spoke.

"I won't."

"Oh, come off it, John. This is hardly a preposterous request after allowing you to document our adventures."

"Allowing? Please, you barely made it through Christmas without me and need I remind you of the work I do for us too? I was out in the fields while you were dressed in sheets. Bedsheets. On your arse in Buckingham bloody Palace, dressed in nothing but bedsheets to save our decency."

Sherlock squinted.

"Then I shall take it upon myself to do it."

"No, wait-"

It was currently eight in the morning, and they had not gotten home until at least three. Their hushed argument concerned their new resident's current activity; sleeping. Sherlock marched through the hall in his dressing gown and unceremoniously opened the door to his room with a loud creak.

Y/n sat up straight in a panic, looking to the door through bleary, sleep filled eyes. She held the covers around herself though she wasn't indecent. Sherlock paused, though only for a half second, before continuing with his mission.

"Y/n. Good to see you're awake then. I need you to come with me today, so get up and get changed. John has spare clothes for you; I'm sure at least one of his ex-girlfriends was your size. Thirty minutes. Tea will be waiting for you and we'll feed you when we're out."

The woman in his bed stared at him incredulously.

"Are you quite sane, Sherlock?"

That was another reaction from this woman that he had received plenty of times before, and yet he was spluttering slightly as he retorted,

"I beg your pardon?"

"You just came into the room of a lady without even knocking! I could have been in nothing but the clothes I was born in dude. And then the demands..."

"'Dude'?" He looked scandalized. Y/n huffed out a short laugh in response.

"Get out. I will be there, but the tea better be good!" The woman had a glint in her eyes, though more humorous than threatening. Sherlock promptly turned and shut the door before returning to John and sitting in his chair. He sat with his fingers steepled, trying to deduce his wrongdoings that he couldn't see. Why were people so easily upset by things? John was very entertained and provoked Sherlock further.

"Hey dude, are you going to make that tea or what?"

The brunette's eye twitched.

"MRS HUDSON!"

 

*

 

Y/n and Mrs Hudson chatted happily while they drank their tea, not in any kind of hurry - much to Sherlock's anguish. The kind landlady had taken to the younger woman nicely, and recounted tales of her own criminal entanglement and regular life alternatively. Y/n appeared relieved at the lack of judgement.

She shifted in her seat, adjusting the clothes John had given her; he had been embarrassed but Y/n assured him that she had a few ex lovers' clothes at home too, and it wasn't as weird as he feared. The clothes were fitting well enough but the style was slightly different from her usual go-to since they were from women older than herself. She tried to rock it the best she could.

The attention of the room finally came back to Sherlock when Y/n addressed him.

"So where are we headed and why do you insist I come? I have no problem with it, just curious."

Sherlock was pleased to be involved again but kept it on the low with a small smirk.

"I have business to attend to and it's unsafe to leave you here. Your case will be one best solved if you arent kidnapped or arrested by anyone whilst me and John are out. And I'm sorry to say that there are powerful people who would like to speak to you and likely know you're staying here."

John raised his eyebrows at this and asked,

"You mean Mycroft, don't you? Is this why he was interested?"

"His brother?" Y/n looked to John, and he nodded.

"Mycroft told the police not to investigate really. I suppose it kept you safe from arrest until Sherlock arrived. But how would he have known...?" John continued his questions.

Sherlock was standing and smiling at John's last sentence.

"An excellent enquiry, John. I think you're learning - that is the precise thing I'd like to know. But for today we are needed somewhere else, so let's be off. It is a dead good find and I wouldn't want to miss my appointment." He said and headed to the door, coat and scarf ready for the taking.

"Oh I haven't seen that Mycroft in such a long time. He was rather unpleasant to me the last we met! I hope he doesn't pop round today." Mrs Hudson had a small frown as she collected the tea cups from each person in the room. Y/n pat her arm sympathetically.

The landlady went down to her own rooms, wishing the youger woman luck and patience for her outing with the boys. Y/n chuckled as she and John said their goodbyes to Mrs Hudson.

Outside, Sherlock had already flagged down a taxi, and Y/n sat between the two men as Sherlock revealed their destination by telling the driver,

"St. Bartholomew's Hospital, please."

 

*

 

Sherlock payed for and exited the taxi while John and Y/n thanked the driver, not waiting for them to catch up to him. Early in the morning hours he had called in and asked Molly Hooper for her help. Molly worked in the morgue, and he needed someone he trusted to get a hold of their victim so he could answer some of his theories. As kindly as ever she obliged to his law bending, and though he did not thank her, he knew she understood it was important to him.

John and Y/n made their way through the hospital and caught the detective at the hallway that lead to the morgue.

"Don't you think you could have prepared Y/n, Sherlock? She had a traumatic experience with dead people..."

"Haven't we all John. Now, I'm almost as late as our victim so come along!" Sherlock pushed open the doors in an unnecessarily dramatic fashion, causing the registrar to jump from her seat with a small yelp.

"Oh, Sherlock, you're here!" Molly spoke, coming forward to greet the group, "And John. And... Sorry, I don't think we've met. I'm Molly. Molly Hooper? I work here. Sorry, what's your name? And how do you know Sherlock and John?"

Y/n smiled patiently at Molly until she finished and shyly stepped from beside John to take her hand.

"I'm Y/n L/n, and these two are... Business friends I suppose? It's nice to meet you, though I wish we'd had a more lively atmosphere to meet than this place."

Molly stared for a second before she giggled quietly as the girls exchanged smiles. Sherlock groaned. John was pleased to see Molly getting along with Y/n, even if at the cost of more morgue puns, both intended and accidental.

"It's a bit of a dead recepetion but that's my job! Oh, right, um this way Sherlock, I have everything you asked for."

Molly parted with Y/n to lead Sherlock to a desk with a monitor, leaving John to stand by Y/n as the two experts discussed something on the screen.

"Hey business friend, you seem to be taking this well." John chuckled as he spoke to her. "But you don't have to stay here if things get tricky, okay? Just let me know and we can stand outside." John informed the woman, putting a comforting, almost brotherly hand on her shoulder.

Y/n nodded and smiled appreciably at him. "I suppose it's easier for me to laugh about things than let myself get caught in that stress. But it does happen, and I'll let you know if I need a break. Thanks John, you've been really helpful and we've only just met." She laughed, and returned the gesture with a couple pats to his hand.

A squeak of suprise from Molly and a small thudding noise drew their attention as Sherlock slapped his hand on the desk and a tight voice.

"Show me the body. I need to confirm what you've found out."

Molly nodded to Sherlock's request. She opened a large drawer that held a corpse, which was thankfully out of Y/n's view. The detective looked through the dead man's pockets, untouched by nosy officers and other morgue technicians through Molly's interventions. He pulled out a feminine wallet from the inside blazer pocket.

"And you're sure of the data on the substance analysis?" He asked Molly, and she nodded sincerely as he opened the wallet.

"Of course, you asked me to look for those kind of results and it is what I found in the end. And I checked thrice like you asked me to, I swear"

Inside the wallet he confirmed what he deduced to be true last night, when he had found the police report an hour after he had gone upstairs to think. He turned to John and Y/n, who stood by the door chatting amicably.

"Y/n. Come here if you would." Sherlock requested, leaving both Y/n and John unsure and wary.

"I don't know if I want to be near a body... Can't you just talk to me from here?" She asked with a wary glance to John. This wasn't her grounds and she looked like she might need that out he had offered.

Sherlock threw the wallet at the two of them instead of answering.

John caught it as Y/n flailed to defend her face in the sudden action, and he peered inside.

"Oh God." Was all he said as he turned the open wallet to Y/n. With widening eyes Y/n looked at it and then reached out to take it. She cautiously stepped forward as she asked Sherlock,

"This is my stuff I lost last night! Where did you find this?"

Sherlock gestured to the bed bay, saying nothing more so he could get the answers he wanted from his client's reaction instead.

John put a hand on Y/n's back and they walked together to the open body bag. Y/n's face took on an angry, confused and mortified expression all at once.

"That's... This is him! This is Jamie... What? I don't get it, what happened? He was alive just yesterday, I..." She held onto John's arm as Sherlock finally spoke up.

"It's a fake name. Jackson Bard, an assassin actually, he was found dead a few hours after you and I got to Baker Street, less than a mile from here. When I read the report it was too suspicious not to be true, and his description matched that you gave, though vague. He wasn't clearly a murder victim so it's been marked as a suicide, which I believe to be part of the game. John, I think a friend of ours is popping up again. And I haven't yet figured out what game he is playing..."

John held onto Y/n firmly as he nodded to Sherlock. He was starting to understand, and he worried what it was that Sherlock had understood from it all.

Mycroft had told him to play, but why? Molly pushed the drawer back into it's place and Y/n let out a breath of relief.

"Sorry everyone, that's all the time I can give you, I hope it helped?" Molly asked, looking to Sherlock.

"Yes Molly. You've been a valuable asset to this case so far." Sherlock walked out of the morgue, leaving John and Molly shocked at his compliment. Molly was slightly red faced.

"Thanks Molly. Still up for lunch this weekend? Er, I suppose Y/n will be there too." John told her, and Molly nodded dreamily as he and Y/n left to chase down Sherlock.

Chapter Text

Sherlock had turned to look out the window of the taxi, appearing anti social after their discovery at the morgue, but his gaze was concentrated on the reflection of the woman next to him. She exchanged words with John, who comforted her with reason and friendly touches.

The body being confirmed as the kidnapper and murderer was no surprise to Sherlock. When he had gained access to the police insider's updates in those early hours of the morning, he had reasoned that it could be the man "Jamie" himself. He was a pawn, of course, who closely matched a certain criminal enough to get Sherlock's attention. He knew that this was what was expected of him, and against his own wants, he played along. Mycroft would not warn him otherwise.

Everything made sense so far. Everything except her place in it all. He knew about her of course. He could deduce her as with any other he encountered. He focused on her image and tried to confirm his deductions again, even though she had all but praised him for what he uncovered the first time he brought his conclusions to her.

Somewhere from her mid to late twenties, lived a lot of her more recent life at least in London, studying at one of the Universities - potentially Birbank, the same as the victim in her case, suggesting an academic background that matches with her middle-class lifestyle. The victim had been a Business graduate, so the likelihood of her being the same was high due to her connection to the case, but she hadn't known the victim, which could have a number of reasonings.

No siblings - he could tell from her nature alone, needless to add on the fact that she was spoiled from head to toe in parental gifts when he first saw her. Fresh graduates moving from home don't have the money to spare on new clothes and items and yet she had been decked out in new jeans, shoes and perfume from a new brand with high cost.

When John's hand came to take hold of hers in a comforting gesture, Sherlock frowned. She was a very open minded person, from her friendliness with near stangers to her jovial probing of Sherlock's orientation last night, but that probably made it all the more easy for her to be kidnapped the way she had. She was trusting.

He knew about her, but he didn't know why she was the one here in this taxi between him and his closest companion.

"Pull over."

Sherlock's voice was troubled when he instructed the cabbie, but appeared simply nonchalant to anyone who didn't know him.

The party of three walked down the street for a while before Sherlock, still silent, stopped in front of a take away shop. He cleared his throat and put on a kinder voice.

"I believe I promised our house guest's food would be delivered on our outing, so, here we are. After you."

Y/n smiled at him as she entered the shop which he found himself beginning to return easily but John caught Sherlock's arm at the door before going in.

"Alright, what's the matter? I know that face. Why are you being so nice when you're clearly pissed at the case?" John asked, tilting his head toward the distracted Y/n ordering her food. Sherlock frowned further.

"Can I not just be nice?"

"No, not really."

"You wound me John."

"Talk, Sherlock."

He sighed.

"I need to find out more about her connection to him. She was hand picked, I know, but..." he hesitated to admit, "I don't understand why."

John stared at his dear friend, and nodded in understanding.

"Okay, why don't you just ask her some questions?"

Sherlock looked back at John as if he had grown another head and replied instead with,

"Let's get food."

 

*

 

Back at 221b Baker Street the trio sat together (that is to say, dotted around the living room) to eat breakfast. Brunch? It was half past ten: "we are past second breakfast but it's not quite elevenses," Y/n mused to John, who nodded solemnly at the reference that went over Sherlock's head. Jibberish to his criminally uncultured ears.

John and Y/n seemed to have formed a friendly banter style of friendship so far, with both taking jabs at each other's love lives over their meals. Sherlock put on a mask of distance as he took in as much information as he could from their conversation.

"Really John, I think a workplace romance could work for you - you just need to find the right receptionist!" Y/n giggled as John laughed, shaking his head.

Ugh. Nope. Sherlock really didn't want to listen to this gossip. The perfect time to ask his own questions, no matter how inappropriate the timing was to his company.

"And do you often find yourself enamored by men on dates at the pub, Y/n? I'd have thought you more of a romantic than that."

"Sherlock..." John had a warning tone to his voice, but Y/n didn't seem to take it as poorly as she could have.

"Actually, I wanted to go to the cinema, but the pre drinks turned into a kidnapping so, you know how it is."

Sherlock raised a brow at the reply and continued his probing.

"And have you spoken to your parents yet? I'm sure they miss their darling daughter by now, you haven't called them yet, and your housemates would have surely told them of your absence."

A guilty look crossed Y/n's features.

"On second thought, it's best you dont contact them. I'm sure Mycroft has already worked something out for you."

"What do you mean? I can't contact them?"

"It's safer for everyone involved."

Sherlock stood suddenly, his food untouched and forgotten. He prowled toward Y/n in her seat, yet another question on his tongue.

"What do you know about James Moriarty, Y/n?"

John sat up straight in his chair.

"Sherlock-"

The detective raised his hand as a sign to stop, cutting off John's words as they fell from his mouth. Sherlock's stare was locked on Y/n, who had gone pale, a chip halfway brought to her lips.

"How do you know James?"

Her words sent a chill through Sherlock's chest; he didn't like where this was going. The use of the first name alone was a sign of having known him personally, and the bewildered look on her face told him she didn't know who he and John did. The same man, yes, likely, but not the same Moriarty that revealed himself at the pool that dreadful evening to taunt Sherlock. The voice of the old woman as she described the villain burned into his head.

The memory sparked a desperation in his actions. He lunged forward to put his arms on either side of Y/n's chair, towering over her as she dropped her chip in fright, and he realised in some useless part of his brain that this was the closest he'd seen her since he carried her home last night. She let out the tiniest squeak of surprise as she pushed herself back for some personal space.

He was close enough to tell she had used John's shampoo this morning. A lack of hairbrush in the flat had left her hair untamed when it dried. Her eyes looked between his own, flickering to each stormy blue and trying to sink into her chair further. His stomach twisted with a foreign feeling he wasnt used to yet. Regret began to rise when his anger dispersed.

He took a breath before slowly standing back up again. John had grabbed his shoulder harshly sometime during his short staredown, his words going over Sherlock's head.

Until now.

"Sherlock! You complete ass, I know it's serious but Y/n is under our CARE not some prisoner you can intimidate and interrogate!"

All that had happened during this one sentence, and Sherlock frowned at his own distracted mind for feeling as if he'd been there forever.

Y/n opened and closed her mouth while she composed herself again. Before finally taking her fallen chip and eating to have something to do, though her appetite was lost.

"It's important that I know your connection to him. Please."

She nodded but was unhappy with what had just happened. She knew he could tell, but put on a controlled look as she revealed their connection.

"I suppose I'm in some trouble, if that was anything to go by. I met James a few times while interning for my father at his law firm - I'm a Law student. James is a good friend to the company as far as I know, and we had him over at home for tea a few times-" Her words faded to his ears.

Sherlock was seething. Law. Somehow, he believed Moriarty had the gall to invest in a mediocre law company (or blackmail them) just to see Sherlock squirm for one small moment. Perhaps he chose Y/n just so she would reveal this to him. And yet he doubted that to be the case, no matter how much it pissed him off. He took another breath and began talking again.

"I'm afraid I've got some bad news about the James Moriarty you know..."