Sliding into next to Sherlock in the taxi, John could hardly contain himself. He sat on his hands, pressing his knees close together. It was like it had been before. Not much, just a little. Just enough.
“You look pleased,” Sherlock said between giving the address to the driver and sending a text.
John awkwardly tried to rise up and see everything out the window, he hadn’t been in a car for a while and it made his stomach a little stroppy. His dad wasn’t allowed to drive and his mum never wanted to. He didn’t really start driving until he was driving his own car. John worked hard for that car. He turned his head to look at Sherlock eyebrows lifted in his little grin. His journals were filled with his notes and long distance polaroids, to get to actually participate again would be… wonderful, “Well yeah, it’ll be like before, only I’ll actually get to hear what you’re saying.”
“What?” Sherlock stilled.
John’s eyebrows came together and it was an odd expression, children’s faces were always new and elastic, each expression exploding onto a new canvas. Children’s lives usually lack the time to carve a practiced look into the way they tilt their heads or lick their lips. It was an expression with decades of practice behind it, the sort that made adults laugh at how adorable a child was when they appear accidentally grown up. It was a hint but was disregarded immediately like everything else a sane person observed about John because it made no sense. He’s head tilted, his shoulder up around his ears, a little stretching gesture like one made by a kitten. It was clear to whoever looked that John was comfortable in his body, that he knew it well, that he lived in it the same way he lived in his shoes. “You said you looked at my journals.”
“Medical journals,” Sherlock said and he stopped mid-text to look at John, eyes snapping back and forth like he could read words, paragraphs, written all over John’s skin, and maybe he was. “What else?”
John was suddenly embarrassed and pulled into a defensive posture making himself even more impossibly small.
“There’s no point in nondisclosure John. What are you afraid of?”
John looked back at him.
“You don’t need to be concerned about my interest waning,” Sherlock hadn’t been this way before, he was gentled somewhat. “And my temper is quite precise. I have no interest in disciplining you. I won’t act out in anger. There is absolutely nothing to fear from me. You can tell me whatever you want. I want you to.”
“There was a sketchbook in your bag, with papers in it,” he punched his thigh with one fist. “Why didn’t I check?”
“If you had asked me before going through my things I would have shown you. Something more to be said for asking permission.”
“What was it?”
John blushed, uncomfortable, feeling a little ridiculous, “I followed you on your cases and took pictures and notes. Since right after the Study in Pink.”
“Study in Pink?”
“Pink lady, pink phone, pink case,” John repeated with only a vague sense of deja vu. “I thought it was clever,” he said weakly.
“But you weren’t there, not in the room, not in the house, not in my flat. Someone would have seen you.”
“I wasn’t,” because it was the truth, he didn’t exist in this place (universe? Timeline? Right tragic horror?) until Sherlock had been chasing a cab. “I saw the last bit from the rooftop. No one ever looks up.”
Sherlock didn’t seem to know what to say. He looks utterly and completely stunned. John had just utterly shattered his world view and he needed the time to resort and realign. It made John curl up as tight as a nautilus and turn to look out the window. Over these few months John had become aware that acting as one of the few combat pediatricians and stalking the world’s only consulting detectives probably wasn’t a great way to come across as a little odd. He just thought.
“John,” Sherlock said. “I think I want to peel you open and see what’s underneath; if it were possible I would pick you apart bit by bit. You are simply impossible, you are too much. And W, W is perfect. No one ever looks up?”
Reflected in the window pane was John’s little face blinking and shifting from solemnity to shock. “Really?”
The cabbie was giving them some very concerned looks.
“Don’t be concerned,” Sherlock waved him off before turning back to John. “Have you been reporting to W then? No, I’m sure he has his own ways. Have to to stay so far ahead. Information shifts in the wrong direction. Does he watch me?” He smiled to himself, fingertips pressing to the cat’s curl of his mouth. He looked utterly thrilled bone to his bones at the prospect, John didn’t know why, he regularly groused royally about Mycroft pulling Big Brother on them. “But how? He must be good, very, very good. Questions can wait, we’ve arrived.”
John had spent enough time as Sherlock’s skull, listening to his internal monologue was calming. Sherlock head was elsewhere, marching toward the crime scene with a concerned cabbie loitering behind. Sighing John jogged up and pulled Sherlock up short by quick jerks on his coat, stuffing his hand into Sherlock’s pocket. “The cabbie Sherlock,” he pulled up Sherlock’s wallet and jogged back to pay the cabbie.
When he got back Sherlock was waiting for him, hands in pockets, “What a lovely assistant you are. Were you wanting to assist at the crime scene too?”
“If you want, I am a doctor,” he held up the wallet to be shoved back into the pocket of Sherlock’s greatcoat.
“It should be alright, there’s no body on this one.” Sherlock turned, shoulders slanted in a familiar come with me, you temporarily have my exceedingly valuable attention, so please do take advantage. It wasn’t meant to be conceited. Sherlock’s attention really was valuable.
“I’ve seen bodies before.”
“But won’t it,” he made a vague gesture through the air. Sentiment popping up again. All those idiot feelings.
“It’s sad. But it won’t scare me,” John looked all the way up, was Sherlock always that bloody tall? “You know I’ve seen dead bodies before anyway. We just went over this last night. By the way, thank you for taking those two to hospital last night. I really appreciate-”
“Freak!” shouted a voice and Sally was there interrupting him. Sherlock looked slightly irritated, but let it go. John didn’t know this Sally, even though he did. He should have no reason to know anything about her. Although in hindsight her body language screamed aggressive ambition. He should have no reason to know that Sally and Anderson had an affair. In this world, the world that was nearly without John, after Sally finally broke it off with Anderson she didn’t approach John because he was kind and she was drunk, at the Yard pub night. He never had to say no because even though she was fit and she had a way about her, he couldn’t quite forgive her for how she treated Sherlock. It would sit like betrayal in his gut all the way down. Not counting all the other thousand things he knew about her. He didn’t know about this Sally’s life, or he shouldn’t, the way that work mates did. And since he couldn’t, or he shouldn’t, he kept his mouth shut and stayed close to Sherlock. “Freak! Is that a kid?”
“I see your powers of observation are not as dismal as I had previously feared.”
“Where did you get a kid?”
“I didn’t kidnap him,” Sherlock snapped at her, every centimeter the offended cat.
“Who would let you watch their kid?”
John bristled, “I’m perfectly safe with Sherlock. Even with his limited experience he knows enough not to let me get hit by a bus or starve to death,” Sherlock would probably forget about eating, he usually did while on a case, but he was good at ordering food, and if he had to John could feed himself. He had managed it for thirty some odd years. “There’s no reason why Sherlock shouldn’t watch me.”
“He’s a psychopath!” Sally snapped. She wasn’t quite looking at him, more looking down through him.
John suspected Sherlock simply had Asperger’s and a bad physiatrist, but that’s not what Sherlock seemed to want to believe, “He’s a high functioning sociopath if that.”
Sherlock went still and looked down at John who smiled up at him, trying to show him how much he was on his side. How determined John was going to be in this.”
“I know he’s very exciting,” Sally said crouching down to get closer to John’s eyelevel. “But this isn’t like on the telly. Crime scenes are scary. I can call your parents for you if you like.”
“I’m a doctor, bodies don’t scare me.”
“Yeah,” Sally said in the universal voice of adults humouring children. He never really liked her that much anyway. “Okay but-”
“I’m smarter than I look. Besides I doubt there is much room for deep life altering psychological trauma, no body on the scene. If there were the forensics van would be here, no pst ambulance crush of whispering neighbors so likely no assault took place either, and then the victim died in hospital. Which they’d have to for Lestrade to come here. It’s just a couple of PCs, not even yellow tape. So the crime probably didn’t even technically take place here it’s just something like a theft,” or what else? What else would have a crime scene to disturb? “Or blackmail.”
“He’s like a mini-Sherlock,” Donovan said with some horror.
“Only cuter, moving on. Adequate John. Sound logic,” his fingertips touched against John’s thin coat and lifted his hand in a quick effortless gesture when the muscle of John’s shoulder and back, so unused to guiding touches, stiffened. John flushed, embarrassed at his tensing, resentful at being treated like a child, anxious not to show any more embarrassment and knowing it only made it worse. Sherlock obviously didn’t care, because of course he observed, but he decided to ignore it. There was tightness around his mouth though, an extraneous observational sweep. “But you missed a few things, if there had been a theft the house would have still been a crime scene. Yellow tape, good observation. But only partially right, Lestrade only covers serious crimes, but although this was the place the police have come to, it’s not the actual scene of the crime. So a serious crime, but one with something delivered. You deduced that,” Sherlock looked all the way down at him, speaking in that rapid fire way he got when he was pinning things together into a whole picture.
“So someone sent something to the lady of the house that has to do with a kidnapping or murder. It could be either; someone sent her a box with ears in it. Two to be precise,” he flashed John a picture of the ears that Lestrade must have taken originally. John pulled a face. “What?”
Sherlock looked down at his phone screen, “What about them?”
“Well, they used to belong to someone. It seems an oddly mean thing to do.”
“Well, it’s certainly telling of the murderer, can you tell me what it says about him?” There was something slightly professorial in the way Sherlock asked him.
“That he’s oddly mean?” John shrugged.
“Sherlock! What the blo-” Lestrade’s eyes darted to John and he cut off mid curse. “What are you doing?”
“The Freak’s stolen a kid,” Donovan shouted, “and he’s weird too.”
“You can’t take a kid onto a crime scene Sherlock,” Lestrade looked about a second from crossing his arms at them, like they were misbehaving children.
“He’s smarter than the average child. And he’s acclimated to violence.”
“What?” he started. “Not this much, not this sort even if he was that’s not something you want to expose him to. The world’s awful enough without ruining him early.”
“I’m right here, I’m not a child, and I’m a doctor,” John interposed before he could be talked over too loudly.
“You’re a doctor?” there was the sort of disbelieving surprise he always got from adults, which alright, he could understand. But it made the whole ordeal no less frustrating
“I’m a quick study,” John put in as explanation for his degree. Escaped experiment seemed to be Sherlock’s current theory, which was really no less improbable than ran foul of a mad scientist. John would really rather not add to the confusion. “I’m very good too.”
“Sure you are, did he put you up to this?” Lestrade was a good man, but he wasn’t the man that John drank pints with. That he complained about Sherlock with. Who quietly stressed about the fact his wife lived in Dorset with their daughter because the reason she was in Dorset was that she claimed to love him but not the loneliness of a cop’s wife. Added distance, a whole county of it, he wasn’t sure was the thing that would keep his wife in his bed. John wasn’t supposed to know about Greg, or be a friend or know any of those things. At least he liked Greg better than Donovan.
“No sir,” he tried playing the respect card, “But I can prove it. You could ask me how to do an appendectomy, or how to run an IV or treating a bullet wound. I’m good at bullet wounds, its trickier when they’re abdominal. No one likes a perforated bowel.”
Lestrade gave him a funny look.
“You’re not even going to let me prove myself are you?” John scowled at him.
“This isn’t a playground.”
“I never said it was!” maybe this was a bad idea; John twisted his face away, as if he could hide from the shame of being made useless. “A parcel isn’t going to frighten me Detective Inspector, no matter what’s in it.” He turned his head to look up at him, up at the inspector with his marriage worries and his daughter in Dorset and his trust in Sherlock. “Dead bodies will not frighten me. It will be sad and it will be terrible, but it will not be scary or scar me, I am a professional, trained to be a professional. I can deal with a little sorrow, it’s better to see and to know and to bring justice than to let-” he stopped a bare second, had to, and only could hope it didn’t show.
“The victim pass away, slip through and be forgotten, like they mean nothing, like they are nothing. Because that’s not true. People are special, they’re important and they deserve to exist, they deserve to be seen. Everyone goes through life and walks by thousands of different people on the street, each individual and irreplaceable orbiting and shifting and affecting the world, leaving tie lines everywhere but no one looks. No one sees it and so they’re gone and it’s like they never were. I look, I’ve seen, and so does Sherlock, Sherlock sees everything, and so because of that. Because you’re a good man and you know inside that someone needs to, someone has to pull back everything and see what the world is what it all means. Because you need him, you’re desperate. I don’t even have to do anything or touch anything, I’ll only speak when spoken to, you can make me stand with my back to the corner if you want. But I’m staying with Sherlock. So you are going to let me in. You are going to let both of us in and we’re going to solve this crime and you can tell yourself and your superiors anything that will make you feel satisfied that you’re a good boy and heel when told. But you will not treat me like I’m a child and I don’t know what things are about. Because I’m not, I’m a doctor. And so Detective Inspector may we come in?”
“I-” said Lestrade with wide eyes. They kept tracking back and forth seeing the war and death and the sort of bullheaded determination that would walk up to the gates of hell and kick them down. “Um.” He scrubbed his face hard with one hand. That meant surrender, John knew that much, “I’m getting fired for this, I know it. Come on then. Try not to make yourself a nuisance.”
“That was,” Sherlock said very carefully, not looking at John. “Very eloquent.”
“Yeah,” John shoved his hands in his pockets; small face pulled into a fierce little scowl, “I should write a blog.”
THIS DOCUMENT IS CONFIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT PROPERTY BREAKING OF THE SEAL MAY RESULT IN IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL AND/OR LIFE IMPRISONMENT
I did the search myself and told no one as requested; I also followed the other perimeters you set out. This is everything, absolutely everything. There might be a few issues with the CIA and French, but I routed through Jones. Just fair warning.
Zero facial recognition prior to 7th February
Notable list of associates below.