His steps echoed, the weight of them bouncing off the bricked walls around them. Nighttime fell on his shoulders like a blanket, wrapping him up in gifted anonymity for as long as her cold fingers could hold him, until he stepped into the sight of the beast that could spring at any moment. The beast that would spring, if it followed its nature. He just hoped it wouldn’t spring at him.
“I know who it is”, Sherlock announced his presence, watching as the beast turned his way, fire in its eyes.
“Tell me”, it growled, bloodlust dripping from its lips.
The dark eyes widened, pupils dilating, the white and brown swallowed by a deep, dead black. It made the cold bury in his bones to see, cold and a never-ending thrill. A chase, a hunt, a game. And for the first time in his life, he was the hunter. He was sailing the open seas and he was hunting a monster, burying his sword in its gut, the advocate of death never to be seen again.
“Tomorrow, at nightfall”, the beast growled, “I want him to see who will be taking his place.”
“As you wish”, Sherlock nodded curtly, his heartbeat in his ears. According to plan.
“Be here, boy.” With a final pronouncement, a final order, the sea monster walked away, back into its cave, hidden in plain sight.
The pirate, the hunter, the genius stepped back slowly, falling back into the darkness, moving through it as a shadow. How interesting, the art of playing both sides, moving the pieces along for a single goal as if it were a brilliant game of chess. Leading the criminal under the cloak of darkness, just to feed the angels during the light of day. Exhilarating, really, the most wonderful game he’d ever played. And he was so very close to winning too. So very close.
June 11th, 9:30 am
Detective Amelia Novak leaned back on her chair, a pen held tightly between her fingers. She eyed the young man before her carefully, more than painfully aware he had no business sitting across her desk, and she was beyond rationality in having put him there. Well, if she wanted to get indulgent, she supposed she could pat her own shoulders with the knowledge it had been powers from on high that had sent the boy her way; still, she had been the one to allow his stay. Had it been anything else, she wouldn’t have. But Frank Hudson, it seemed, ran deeper than her team had originally realized. Oh, they had heard of him before, of course, even kept an eye on his territory, contrary to what Holmes believed. And yet, the drug lord had set roots, and a foreign boy with too much time on his hands and no sense had dug them out for the world to see. It would be stupid not to use him, not to use the advantage he represented. It would also let her sleep better at night.
“Nightfall?”, she confirmed.
“Yes”, the boy crossed his legs, a petulant brow raised, “as I’d already mentioned.”
“Would you rather we skew the details for the sake of avoiding repetition?”, she retaliated and enjoyed a deep sense of triumph when the brow fell back down.
She sighed, leaning forward and evaluating her contact, her trojan horse. He was young, too young, to be involved in something like this. But then again, so were most people in Overtown that got caught in the crossfire of the illicit business of chemical substances for the sake of recreation and, eventually, premature death. There was enough of that in her life thanks to the poison running wild in her city. Amelia didn’t want any more of her own doing.
“This is your last chance to back down kid”, she said, jaw tense as Holmes straightened his back as if burned.
“I’m not a child, and I’m not backing down.”
“Twenty-three is a child as far as I’m concerned.”
“Not in my case, you are aware my responsibilities already exceed those of an average individual my age.” She was. Standing back as the evacuation of a toddler was arranged had come as quite a shock for them all. Holmes acknowledged her train of thought with a tilted chin, “and even if they didn’t, you need me there for the final act.”
Novak rested her elbows on her desk, hands over her face as she let out a long breath. God help her, but she needed him there, needed to throw the young father of a young child to the wolves, “yeah, we do, but once you’re in we won’t be able to protect you until it’s done.”
“I’m aware of the risks, it is my plan after all.”
She didn’t know what bothered her more, the obvious lack of worry or the poorly hidden excitement in the grey pools the boy had for eyes. Or maybe it was the knowledge that somewhere in England, there was a little girl that would be left without her dad if Amelia messed this up. Because it was her case, whatever Holmes thought, and if it went to hell, it would be all on her. Her life would have been a lot easier if she had never met one Sherlock Holmes.
“As you know, you’ll go in at eight pm, officers will be around the area keeping an eye on you”, she recounted, “once it’s done, the officers will alert the patrols that will have been waiting two streets down, back-up will arrive soon after that and Frank Hudson will be under arrest.”
“And you will have your key witness.”
“It’s a good plan, Detective Novak, it will work.”
“I suggest you pray to God it does, because if it doesn’t, you might find yourself on a slab.”
Sherlock Holmes merely curled one corner of his lips, “it is the inevitable fate of humanity to die.”
June 11th, 10:20 am
He sat down on his kitchen floor as the phone rang, waiting for his brother to pick up. Now that there were no criminals or detectives, he happened to find himself something akin to nervous. Not exactly that, of course, why would he be, he’d made the plan after all. But it was undeniable that his pulse quickened at the anticipation of what would happen that night and his mouth was abnormally dry.
Blast Mycroft, pick up the phone!
He dialed two more times before his brother deigned to answer.
“Holmes”, the older man greeted.
“Took you long enough”, he muttered through gritted teeth.
“Yes, well”, Mycroft took a deep breath, “your child was having a bit of a spell.”
“What do you mean?”, he jumped to ask, his mouth suddenly drier.
“Nothing to be concerned about, I assure you, I have heard tantrums are common in children.”
It wasn’t much of a reassurance. Beth simply did not have tantrums, not badly enough for a caregiver to be out of breath, at least.
“What was it about?” Mycroft proceeded to bite his tongue, to his endless annoyance, “Mycroft!”
“It’s nothing, honestly”, a touch of condescension colored his brother’s words. Divercion.
“Tell me what is wrong with my daughter, now”, he drew out his words, coolness seeping into each of them.
“I hadn’t realized you had come to possess the stereotypical parental voice”, Mycroft teased, smugness coming out of every pore.
“Oh, sod off.”
“Well, the effect is certainly gone now”, his brother sighed, a deep pause between his carefully picked out words, “it appears Young Bethany misses your presence greatly, that’s all.”
At his loss of words, Mycroft picked up the conversation, “I’m assured it’s to be expected, and she is fine now, not to worry.”
To be expected… perhaps. However, he knew better than anyone Bethany was not prone to tantrums at all, least of all about him. To be expected, but worrisome all the same. If he ever found himself another case (as he hoped he would), he’d have to find some way to involve the child. Sending her away every time was not viable, at any rate.
“Is Mrs. Hudson with her?” She would know how to keep Beth calm, entertained, perhaps even content.
“Not at the moment, your friend stepped out early in the morning to take care of some private business, it seems”, it was not difficult to tell Mycroft had been greatly annoyed by this, “I was told to keep out of her… womanly duties.”
“As you should”, he snorted, commending Mrs. Hudson in his mind. Not that Martha’s abilities at evading meddling men and Bethany’s emotional instability had been the reasons for his call, sadly. No. He had called to deliver what he knew would be received as terrible news, “I’ll be going in tonight.”
“I see.” His brother kept quiet for too long, his rapid-going mind loud enough to be picked up over the phone; when he did speak up, it was with a sense of foreboding, “and everything is in order?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t that be the case”, he assured, ignoring the dark coil in his stomach, “tell Beth it should be over by morning.”
“Yes, of course”, the older man’s voice cut mid-sentence, backtracking and changing direction, clearly. Sherlock would never know what Mycroft had intended to say that morning, he would, however, remember the last words he heard from his brother’s lips on June 11th, “be careful, little brother.”
“Careful Mycroft, I would almost think you’re worried about me”, he spoke against the growing knot that stopped any oxygen from reaching his lungs, or so it felt.
Sherlock found it hard not to smile, his throat growing shut.
June 11th, 18:47 pm
Sherlock could hear his blood rushing in his ears, the rapid heartbeat beating against his ribs almost painful. He had been walking outside, in a bit of a stroll to make time before heading to the Hudson house. Not that he should have bothered, it appeared Frank Hudson had decided to demonstrate Sherlock’s growing rank by sending a car to fetch him, one of his runners in the driver’s seat. Alicia Romero, a bit green still, but terrified of her boss. She existed in the limbo between fear and obsession that ensured her loyalty to the drug lord that ensured her daily dose of ecstasy. There was no way she would listen to him if he asked her to delay, Frank’s hold was too tight on her.
The man had said nightfall, which meant eight by this time of year; there was light outside, an hour left before the plan would be set in motion at the station. Before the patrol cars would be in position as the stakeout began. Would the undercover officers already be there? Probably not.
Well, this was more than a bit not good.
Salvageable, but not good. He would have to keep Frank talking, not that it should be too difficult, the man certainly liked to indulge in the occasional egocentric monologue. But if the drug lord hurried, if he found himself a bit trigger-happy and jumped to kill like a lion at a prey… well, he would have to hope the police got there in time, before everyone died there and then. Regardless, Frank had proven to be easy enough to manipulate, that should remain the case. Keep him busy, that’s all he had to do, delay the plan.
The old and beat-down car hurried past the streets of Miami, guiding him to the white house he had come to know so well, the blurs of people and pedestrian lives flying past him as the hunt came to an end. He wondered if Amelia Novak would be too inconvenienced by this unexpected change of plans; probably. The thought made him smile. At least he wouldn’t be the only one forced to skip a few steps of their battle strategy.
Tall, white walls appeared on his left, the car stopping directly in front of the wooden door he hadn’t crossed in months. Alicia Romero nodded at the house, encouraging him to exit, and waited until he was stepping towards his destination before stepping out herself and following him to the door. His eyes traveled his surroundings quickly, taking note of any inconsistency; there were no officers that he could spot, but no drug runners either, which was certainly an advantage. With his head held high, he went up the steps and rang the doorbell, squaring his shoulders when a set of footsteps neared the door and a woman in her late forties opened it, her dark hair in a messy bun at the top of her head. Housekeeper, it seemed. Well, even cartel leaders had to clean their homes, he supposed.
“Name”, she demanded.
“Shezza”, he gave his alias, sure he would be allowed entry without any trouble. And that proved to be the case when the woman stepped aside, opening the door wider for him, and started walking away, leaving Alicia Romero to stand outside the door. A guard, it seemed, but a sloppy one. Detective Novak would have a field day with her.
“Follow”, the housekeeper barked at him, leading Shezza to the office he had seen cordoned off the first and only time he’d been inside Hudson’s home. His steps were heavy on the wooden floors, bouncing off the walls as if battle drums were being played on a hill looking down at the field he found himself in. “Mr. Hudson’s waiting for you”, the housekeeper pointed at the door and promptly returned to whatever she had been doing. With a deep breath, Sherlock knocked on the door.
“Shezza, my boy, is that you?”, the raspy tone of the drug lord was muffled by the barrier between them, an inconvenience he was quick to be rid of, opening the door into what, in all honesty, looked like the most common of offices, if not for the stack of drugs wrapped in white paper that rested on the desk.
“It’s a bit earlier than I had expected”, he said coolly as he entered the room, taking note of the nervous buzzing emitted by the older man that sat across from Frank, his hair messed up after having passed his hands through it repeatedly over the last hour. Erick Henson was pale and clearly nauseous.
“Our friend here was in a bit of a hurry to go back to Ireland, weren’t you, Erick?” the sharpness of every word cut deep into Henson’s flesh, who squirmed on his seat under Frank’s gaze.
“I told ye already, Frankie, I’m just to see me mum”, the man all but begged, definitely not helping his case. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
“Of course, there are some things to clear up first, is all”, the drug lord turned to Sherlock, eyes more alert than he’d ever seen them and ablaze in what was most certainly a dangerous lead-up to getting ‘angry’, and Martha had so often put it, “Shezza, please, take a seat.”
Following Frank’s hand, he sat on the black plastic chair next to Erick Henson, who was now shaking as sweat rolled down the back of his neck, the smell of fear from the losing side making the young father’s nose itch. With a pleased smile, Frank cleared his throat as he stood, a hip resting against his desk.
“Do you know what keeps a business running, my friends?”, the man extended his palms, as if he were praying, “trust. Trust keeps us alive in times of need, trust allows us to function where most don’t live to see the sun, trust is our only guarantee. But… when that trust is gone, when it rots and turns to poison, it becomes an infection, and the bad weed must be ripped out. It must.” Hudson's eyes shone in mock apology, a sad smile decorating his lips as he looked down at whom he thought of as his sequitur much like a disappointed owner would their pet, “Erick, my old friend, we have been through much together, you and I.”
“Yes F-Frankie”, the man stuttered, trying for an unsuccessful nonchalance, “lots we’ve seen, us.”
“Hm, yes, lots”, the same edge that a predator held as it watched its food squirm and whine in a desperate attempt to survive its inevitable demise appeared on Frank’s lips, his eyes turning to dead and empty black pools, “and yet, you still found it in your heart to repay my trust, my love, with betrayal.”
“N-n-no!”, Henson nearly jumped out of his seat, the collar of the shirt now damp, “of course not, I love you Frankie, you know I do.”
“Then how, exactly, did Shezza see you with Martel?”, the murderer and abuser asked, towering over his latest victim.
“Is he? Because he’d never seen Martel in his life, and yet he perfectly described the bastard to me”, Frank’s voice had turned to a gentle whisper, as if attempting to shush Erick as he sentenced him to death, “how could he have managed that?”
“He must be one of his, he’s playing you, Frankie!”
“Do not take me for a fool, you piece of shit!”, Hudson slammed his fist on the desk, the drugs staking down as they shook, Henson all but falling out of his seat, “do you think I didn’t have my own look after Shezza here ratted you out? Do you think I own Overtown by being stupid? I am a king!”, Frank leaned forward slowly, his lips shaking as they formed the now again whispered words that must have felt like the kisses of a siren’s promised death against his skin, the drug lord’s nose touching Erick’s, “I am your king, and you betrayed me, there is only one sentence for betrayal, Erick.”
“Please Frankie”, the man pleaded, his lips nearly on his murderer’s, “please.”
Frank Hudson sighed slowly, almost painfully, his eyes gleaming in their disappointment. He straightened back up and sat down on his desk, Sherlock’s eyes following his every move in careful consideration while Erick Henson whimpered and cried on his seat.
“Traitors, everywhere I look, Shezza here has been a Godsend”, the drug lord smiled at his trojan horse, receiving a nod in return, “however, I will accept we’ve written quite a story together, my friends. And it will take more than just the three of us to tell it.” Frank walked to the door Sherlock had been let in through minutes prior, his mind racing as he attempted to decipher the meaning behind his opponent's words. They had been the only players, he’d been sure of it. Unless this Martel intended to get a hit on his poorly versed spy. Hudson opened the door, partially stepping outside the hall and signaling someone forwards. Not having been sure on what to expect, Sherlock’s heart jumped to his throat when one Martha Hudson stepped into the room, face blank, and brown eyes pinning Sherlock down.
Well… this wasn’t part of the plan at all.