Rating: PG-13 for some language. And to be safe.
Summary: After the standoff at the pool, and with some help from Mycroft, Sherlock's determined to disappear from England with John in tow, and work to bring down Moriarty's entire operation in secret.
Characters: John, Sherlock, not-Anthea.
Disclaimer: All the cool things like characters and references and anything resembling coherent thinking belongs to ACD and the BBC/Moff/Gat. All mistakes, of which I am sure there are several, I claim as mine.
Spoilers: The Great Game
A/N: Takes off from the end of ep. 3, The Great Game, so yeah...some SPOILERific stuff. As promised, things are beginning to happen! Feedback is love, and if there's a mistake that's really obvious/annoying/detrimental/etc. please don't hesitate to let me know and I will attempt to fix it.
As if John’s attempt at self-regulated physiotherapy was a prediction of things to come, their days in Zürich rapidly fall into a bewilderingly monotonous routine with sharp, cookie cutter edges.
The tenants do the best they can to avert the onslaught of boredom, but it presses relentlessly against them. Mornings find the house steeped in silence. By 8am the resident PA has showered, breakfasted, and left for the city centre which she returns from every night precisely at 5:30pm. Only on weekends does this vary with her disappearance for any number of hours without pattern. She never reveals how she passes this time, and John (with ample amounts of his own) frets that she might be informing on them. He mentions her suspicious behaviour to Sherlock once, only to have him dismiss the possibility outright.
“She’s working a full-time temp job as a receptionist,” he says. “Regular hours filled out with trips to every tourist location Zürich has to offer, with repeat visits to the Lindt factory, if I’m not mistaken.”
“You know that how, exactly?”
“Typical 9-5 shift, with at least a half-hour buffer in the morning even with public transit – she’s prompt if nothing else. Can’t be anything too demanding since she’s expecting to leave at moment’s notice. She’s trimmed her nails recently, maintaining them carefully. Not short, but she can’t have them long, interferes with typing, you know. She’s done that before, of course, but she’s not texted Mycroft in a while, and repeated games of Brick Breaker and Word Mole can’t be that stimulating.
“Wardrobe’s not much help, since she’s dressed for an office even when she’s cooking supper. More tellingly, she’s got a new prepaid cell phone which she actually answers on occasion, and extra money to spend. She’s not bought anything lavish, but every weekend when she leaves her handbag is empty. Hours later she returns, practically exhilarated, and with little gift shop purchases peeking out of her bag.”
That, he continues, combined with the proximity of the Lindt shop and the extra pound and a half she’s packed on in the last two months indicates that not only is she bored out of her mind, but she can’t stand the alternative of spending entire days locked in with them. This is something that Sherlock emphatically declares a mutual feeling, bristling visibly when John sighs in mock relief that finally they’ve found a patch of common ground.
Time not spent pondering the affairs of housemates, is usually put to use in close conference over the documents in Sherlock’s study, his resolve to keep John out of it having faded in the face of idle, empty days. He outlines Moriarty’s history as best he can to John, following him from his youthful exploits in criminal behaviour, including the death of little Carl, up through his time in the IRA, after which he appears to have evaporated utterly. Sherlock manages to pull together bits and pieces speaking to his involvement in several other crimes, both big and small, but the evidence remains largely inconclusive.
“He’s as good as I am,” he says. “We have to wait for him to make a mistake.”
“And when will that be?”
“With me out of the way? Any time now.”
John soon realises just how broad a statement “any time now” really is. Months later and the Moriarty case has yet to break. Sherlock becomes despondent, rarely eating, speaking, or sleeping as far as John can tell, drawing strength purely from the excessive overuse of nicotine patches. From his position draped over the sofa, he can conjure just enough energy to obsessively check the world news on his computer.
For John, recovery has been steady, if slow, though circumstances have prompted a minor resurgence of psychosomatic pain, sleepless nights, and tremors. Seeking to prevent a full relapse of symptoms, he begins taking an active interest in household affairs, hoping to motivate and distract himself. Chopping vegetables doesn’t incite quite the same level of excitement as chasing a criminal over London rooftops, but it does seem to endear him to not-Freya. As do his continued attempts to guess her name. His list of failures becomes extensive, cycling through titles pulled from literature, myth, and the hazy memories of girls he danced with on nights out a whole lifetime ago. None of them fit. Apparently.
It’s five months before anything of note happens, and then it all comes down at once.
One uncommonly agreeable day in September John steps out into the small garden at the rear of the house with tea. The PA is crouched in the back corner armed with a trowel and thick gloves. Sherlock’s been disagreeable all afternoon, and the promise fresh air and fresh company appeals to John’s sorely tested patience.
She hasn’t noticed his presence. Despite being at a loss for anything else to say he still wants to kick himself when the only thing that comes out of his mouth is an embarrassingly idiotic, “Mistress Mary, quite contrary.”
She whips around to look at him, something resembling both chagrin and amusement warring for supremacy in her features.
“Is that a guess?” she asks.
“Erm,” he fumbles, laying out the tea things as she approaches. “It’s as good as any I suppose.”
“A fair sight better, I’d say,” she allows.
His agitated movements are brought to an abrupt halt.
The back door slams open behind him, splintering slightly as it impacts the brickwork protruding from the bay window.
Sherlock’s alive with excitement. He leaps down the three steps, balancing his laptop precariously in his hands, and runs up to the table. Nudging the service away none too delicately, he slams the computer down.
“John,” he says again. “I’ve found it.”
“Found what?” John says, feeling that he can only handle so many revelations at one time.
“It’s happened again.”
“I told you already, he made a mistake in repeating himself, but it seems our friend just can’t resist.”
“Repea – ? You mean the poison? The botulinum toxin?”
“Precisely. Look here,” he says.
John drops down beside him. On the screen before him, Sherlock has pulled up a news article lamenting the death of a Greek civil servant.
“Sherlock, it says here he died of a stroke.”
“He didn’t die of a stroke. They just don’t know what they’re looking for.”
“But how can you –”
“I know who he is.”
“He’s got a profile on LinkedIn. He added me.”
“Is that so uncommon?” he asks. Then, “Why do you have a profile on LinkedIn?”
“He added me today. The body was discovered yesterday. Does that strike you as odd in any way?
John refuses to dignify Sherlock’s sarcasm with any form of response, instead, keeping his eyes fixed to the screen.
“Look,” Sherlock continues, “Moriarty has to find his contacts somehow, right?”
“Right,” John agrees warily.
“He has to build and maintain them, and link them together so that when a museum curator comes to him wanting a bit of art fraud to be ‘fixed’ for her, he can put her in touch with the right people. How else do you think one finds Dear Jim?”
“Okay, but don’t you have to have a mutual connection on LinkedIn? How do you find these people if you don’t know who you’re looking for? It’s not like they can openly advertise their services.”
“He’s a LION,” The PA says, intrigued enough to break the deadlock between her and Sherlock.
The two men stare at her, surprised that she’s still there.
“Sorry,” she says.
“No,” says John, recovering quickly. “But he’s a what?”
“A LION,” Sherlock confirms, back to his work. His fingers are jumping across the keyboard as he pulls up his own profile, and then the LION’s. “It means a LinkedIn Open Networker. Someone who accepts connections even from people they’ve no prior relationship with, allowing them to link into his network as a secondary connection. He is a prospective client’s first point of contact. A sort of gatekeeper to the larger organisation – in this case, to a piece of Moriarty’s criminal empire, and our ticket in,” Sherlock explained, his voice crackling in restrained excitement.
“And he added you?”
“Couldn’t this all be a trap though? Enticing you to come out and return contact?”
“It could be,” he says, grinning. “But it’s not.”
“How do you know?” John asks, falling easily into his role once more.
“If it was a trap, then why is he dead? Why add me if it forfeited his life? And why rely on me making a confirmation of contact when it’s something I can easily circumvent?”
John shrugs, relenting under the weight of Sherlock’s confidence. Perplexed, he shakes his head and turns back to the woman behind him, unable to move past their conversation before and focus on the new information Sherlock’s brought to light.
“Sorry, but is your name actually Mary?”
“John,” Sherlock warns.
She laughs, clearing the tray into the house.
“Alright,” John says. “But to be fair, we were in the middle of something before you came barrelling out of the house.”
Sherlock looks directly at John for the first time since he shoved the laptop in his face.
“What kinds of things?” he asks, a noticeable amount of dread in his voice, as if he doesn’t dare contemplate the things John might have been in the middle of with The Missus.
“She just – ” he begins, “I thought I might’ve guessed her name, is all.”
“Oh,” Sherlock says, at once relieved and disappointed. “Dull.”
“As if you haven’t wondered, even a little bit.”
“But you did guess it.”
“Anyway, John,” Sherlock says. He speaks quickly, determined to return John’s attention to the somewhat more important matter at hand. “This man, Kratides, is exactly what we’ve been waiting for.”
John’s silent, waiting for Sherlock to open things up a bit more for him.
“Think about it –”
“I am,” John insists.
“No, think about it really. Kratides is killed and then he adds me.”
“So...someone else was on his profile?”
“Possible, but he may have just set a delayed invitation of some sort. It’s not that difficult to arrange, and even if someone else has been on his computer, they may not have known they’d trigger it,” he says, physically brushing past John’s suggestion with a wave of his hand. “But that’s not the point. He was killed before he contacted me, so even if he planned to let me into his network, it wasn’t going to be until after his death. From that we can infer that he was at least expecting to die since he arranged the invite. It doesn’t matter though because what’s important is that he was killed for something he was planning that didn’t involve me at all.”
“He was going to give them up.”
“All of them? Moriarty too?”
“No, obviously not.”
“Obviously,” John interjects.
“Moriarty’s practically untouchable. No, but he was going to reveal something that would have a significant effect on the business dealings of the well-oiled machine that is Moriarty’s syndicate – something that would draw enough attention to Jim that Kratides had to be taken care of by someone right near the top.”
“Okay, so he’s killed before he can go public.”
“Yes,” Sherlock says, leaning on the syllable and using it to push John to the same conclusion he’d already reached.
“Well, if he never made it to the police then...what happened to the evidence he’d gathered?”
“Exactly!” Sherlock crows triumphantly.
“But couldn’t his assassin have just picked it up on his way out? Regardless of where he died, the murderer would have searched him and his flat.”
“He was clever. He wouldn’t have just one copy. He called on me from beyond the grave. Those are pretty drastic lengths to go to only to tell me that he’d fluffed things and lost any information that could be of use.”
“So you think he still has it. Hidden somewhere.”
“Somewhere he expects it will be found.”
“But we don’t even know what we’re looking for,” John says, sensibly. “It could be hidden in anything. A notebook, a flash drive, a floppy disc –”
“Or behind the walls of a sandwich shop three blocks east of his flat.”
“No,” Sherlock says. He closes the laptop and swings it under his arm. “He wants us to find it, so chances are it’ll be in his flat still.”
“Okay, so what do we do?” John straightens his shoulders, waiting for Sherlock to issue his orders, and finally feeling the stirrings of excitement playing across the strings of his muscles and tendons.
“How do you feel about Greece?”
Link to Part 6