A Study in Derp
Scottie sat up with a gasp and immediately threw himself back down onto the pillow. He couldn't tell if his eyes were closed or not, it was so dark in his room, but he supposed it didn't matter either way. The blackness acted as a blindfold as effectively as his eyelids would've, and as long as his eyes were not burdened with the task of seeing, his mind was free to make shit up in place of that lost sense. He was sure he was staring up at his familiar blank ceiling, but he couldn't shake off the sight of writhing tentacles and a suit sleeve reaching out for him.
"Wonder if Slender Man wears Westwood," he said to the room.
Something shifted on his left. He could hear it moving.
Scottie waited about five seconds to make sure his heart wouldn't explode, which he knew was very naive of him because he had passed health science in high school, before he launched himself out of bed. He expected to meet a wall close on his right, because unreasonable curfews had long since forced him to memorize the layout of his own bedroom in the dark, and he remained under the delusion that that was where he still was. Instead, he tripped over a table and nearly killed himself.
Scottie flailed around a bit in surprise and somehow managed to keep from knocking anything over. The echoes of the racket he'd made dispersed, and the Thing shifted again, then went silent. Scottie searched the top of the table in the dark by smacking the stuff on it with his open palm until he found a small lamp and turned it on.
The lamp was a piece of shit, to be honest. Its dull glow barely lit up the outlines of objects not more than ten feet away, but it was enough for Scottie to see that he had no idea where he was. It looked like a cheap hotel room, with ugly wallpaper and half-heartedly matching furniture, and a second twin bed pushed against the opposite wall with something already in it.
When Scottie noticed that, he peed a little. He calmly assured himself that he was about to be disemboweled by a psycho kidnapper and dumped in a river somewhere, probably in pieces.
The teenager approached the lump curled up in the other bed and poked it, then dove back under his own covers. The lump grunted at him and didn't move. Scottie tried again. This time, the lump spoke.
"Hhhnngggghhh," it groaned. "Five m're min't's, mom..."
"Emily?" Scottie called. He got up and pulled the sheets back away from the lump's familiar face, just to be sure. "Emily!" he said, happily.
"G'way," the girl mumbled and rolled over. She snatched the covers back and shoved her head under her pillow.
Annoyed, Scottie jumped up onto the mattress with his friend and, bracing his foot against her lower back, kicked her into the small space between the bed and the wall. She went, with a yelp and a wild grab for his ankle, which he easily shook off.
Scottie went back and sat cross-legged on the edge of his own bed to put some distance between them in case she decided to throw something at him. Emily emerged from behind the mattress moments later, struggling to disentangle herself from her sheets that had somehow gotten twisted around her legs, and she squinted into the shadows.
"What the hell, man? Who... Who are you and what are you doing in my room?" she demanded. Emily turned to her left and screamed at the top of her lungs, "MOOOOOOOOM!"
Scottie belatedly realized that he was crouched and staring at her all creepy-like, with the lamp behind his head so that she couldn't see his face. Oops. He stood and made to turn on the lamp on her bedside table a couple of feet in front of him, but when he moved forward, Emily flinched and brandished a pillow at him.
"Don't make me kill you," she warned.
"With a pillow?" he asked.
"Especially with a pillow," Emily said, and raised the instrument of murder over her head.
Scottie ignored her and turned the lamp on anyway. He was promptly smacked so hard that he saw stars for a moment. Emily reared back with the pillow again and paused.
"Scottie?" The boy raised his hands to be level with his face in a please don't shoot me kind of way. "Scottie!" Emily squealed and vaulted over the bed. She threw her arms around him, spun in a circle until he was dizzy, and then shoved him back in a way that implied she expected him to keep his feet. Scottie plopped down on the edge of his mattress and tried not to throw up. "Are we actually talking to each other, face-to-face?" Emily asked, looking delirious with joy.
"It seems like it," Scottie said with a queasy smile. "That, or one of us is a very convincing hologram."
"Oh my gosh this is so awesome!" Emily was practically vibrating up and down. "I can't believe I'm finally meeting you in real life! Now I can actually tacklehug you instead of just typing it out and pressing 'send!'"
Scottie laughed and stood again when he felt stable enough. "I know, right? You look weird when you're not on the other end of a webcam." He glared suspiciously at the top of her head. "Also, taller..."
"Aaaw, thanks!" Emily said and hugged him again. This time, she kept an arm around his shoulders. "So what about the others?"
"You are taller than me," Scottie said, outraged. "How did this happen?"
"Are you hiding more of our internet friends somewhere?" Emily looked around and squatted to peek under both beds. "Soul? Ryn? Nat?"
"I was supposed to be the Sherlock in this relationship, how the hell are you taller than me?"
"Shelby? Blaise?" Emily walked over to a large cabinet not far away and pulled it open, as if expecting someone to be in there. "Oh, Scottie. Please tell me you brought Blaise with you. I just really really really wanna see her creep on someone in person."
"I am so short," Scottie mumbled in despair. He looked up at Emily, confused. "Wait, what? No, I... I didn't bring anyone with me. I'm not even sure how I got here."
Emily froze and turned to stare at him. "So... you mean you didn't drug me and take me from my home in the middle of the night to a shady hotel?"
"No," he said. "But now I feel like I should've thought of that first."
"Then... who did?" Emily asked. "And where the heck are we?"
"I was hoping you would know..."
They both sat back on their respective beds, facing each other. Emily rubbed her forehead. "The last thing I remember... You, me, and Shelby were staying up late watching Sherlock together, chatting..."
Scottie giggled. "Oh, yes. And freaking out about everything that happened." He affected a high-pitched valley girl voice. "Aaah oh my Goooood it's the purple shirt, aaah! Look look look, his buttons are about to pop off! Aaah!"
Emily hit him with her pillow again, but otherwise ignored him. "Then Shelby had to go to bed early," she said. "Somewhere around one. Right?"
"You say 'early' like it's completely unacceptable for anyone to fall asleep before then," Scottie said. "And due to time zones, it was much later for me, thank you very much."
He was ignored some more. "Oh, that's right!" Emily said, jumping up. "She had church or something in the morning, didn't she? And after she left, we watched Reichenbach again, and uh..." Emily squinted, struggling for words.
"Aaand that's when I fell asleep on my keyboard," Scottie said. He rubbed the greenish-purple bruise on his temple that was starting to sting, and Emily laughed at him.
"I was already in bed with my laptop," she admitted. "Guess I fell asleep, too."
Scottie hummed. "Weird."
"Yeah..." Emily turned and spotted a few bags piled up by the door of their room. "Hey, is that our stuff?" She ran off to investigate, while Scottie wandered towards the only window he could see. Heavy curtains were pulled closed over it, but a little bit of light managed to slip its way through the gaps. "Well, there's a suitcase here full of my clothes and bathroom things," Emily said as she dug around in a mess of her shirts. "And I think this duffle bag is yours."
"Um, Emily?" Scottie had pulled the curtains aside out of curiosity, and the glow of the early morning illuminated the room far better than both of their measly lamps could do combined. "I think you might wanna come see this."
"What is it?" Emily joined him at the window and gaped. "Oh, my."
Big Ben stared back at them from a distance, partially obscured by a wave a fog.
"This definitely isn't Tennessee."
"Man," Emily mumbled. "Isn't SoCal, either."
The two of them discussed this recent discovery at length as they inspected the rest of their room. The place itself was fairly standard, exactly what you might expect from an average hotel, but the real puzzle lay within their bags. Someone had left them about a week's worth of their favorite clothes, toiletries, personal electronic gadgets, and three hundred pounds (which Scottie claimed was worth about five hundred US dollars).
The duo found the attached bathroom and took turns getting dressed out of their pajamas, bickering about what to do the entire time. Eventually, it was decided that Emily would go interrogate the clerk at the front desk because Scottie was too shy to do it, and then they would leave and find some nice place to have breakfast and blow their money.
"But what happens after that?" Emily asked. "We'll still be stranded in England somewhere, miles from home."
"We can play it by ear," Scottie said, and shoved her out into the hallway. "Then it'll be even more impressive when we don't die!"
By the time Emily came back five minutes later, Scottie was hanging upside down off the edge of his bed with his laptop open and balanced on his stomach.
"We were right," Emily said. "The clerk confirmed it, we're in London, England. Gave me a weird look when I asked that. Apparently, we're paid up for one night, and seeing as it's already ten... we have to be out of here in two hours. What are you doing?"
"This isn't my laptop," Scottie said without looking up.
"Pardon?" Emily came to stand beside him. "Then whose is it?"
"I mean, it is a very convincing replica of my laptop," Scottie said as he sat up and turned the machine around for Emily to see. He rubbed his fingers over the strange symbols carved into the plastic beside the touch pad. "But I am relatively sure my laptop didn't used to have ancient curses placed upon it."
"What on Earth are you talking about?" Emily asked.
"Eh... nothing. Nevermind. It doesn't matter." Scottie turned his attention back to his computer and continued typing as if he'd never been interrupted. "It's just that one of the characters in this book I'm writing made her laptop into some kind of dimension-hopping TARDIS machine or... whatever. I haven't actually watched Doctor Who. Don't worry about it."
Emily sighed and fetched her own laptop from her suitcase. "Are you on the hotel's wireless internet connection?" she asked.
"Yeah," Scottie said. "Their password is the phone number for the front desk, which I found taped up beside the door. That's usually what hotels and restaurants do, so no one forgets it. And anyway, I've been talking to a couple of the guys on tinychat. Not many of them are still up. It's apparently somewhere in the three AM range back home."
"Have you told them anything about... y'know?" Emily asked.
"Yes. Shelby's mostly pissed that she didn't get to come, too." Scottie's lip twitched. "I told her it was her fault for going to bed so early."
"Sleep is for the weak," Emily agreed. She sat down on her own bed and opened her laptop. Thankfully, hers didn't have any crazy symbols scratched into it, or else she'd have to kill something. She quickly got online and went to their club's chatroom, where Scottie was unsuccessfully trying to explain their situation to a couple of their internet friends. To settle the argument, Emily got on her webcam and showed everyone Big Ben outside their window, and then she sat back down beside Scottie. "So, yeah. We're here," she said.
"Halp," Scottie said, and then he waved at the camera like a dork. "HI MOM! Look, I'm on TV!"
Willow and Nat immediately responded that they were very proud of him.
"Anyways. Back to business," he said and threw his arms in the air. "And Another Note Productions is still in existence. Yay!"
"Um. Yay!" Emily replied. "Why would it not be?"
"Dimension-hopping TARDIS machine, remember?" Scottie said. "It makes sense, I swear."
"Okay, I lied." Scottie shrugged and nodded in the direction of Emily's cell phone lying on the bedside table. "I called my home phone number, and it's been disconnected. Hope you don't mind. Also, I tried emailing my dad, but his email address doesn't exist anymore, apparently. You, uh. You might wanna try calling someone yourself, just to see if your family is still alive and stuff."
They weren't. Even Julia, Emily's little sister who was also a part of their AAN group, was nowhere to be found. It seemed like all of her accounts on the websites they visited regularly had been deleted.
"So all of our responsibilities in America have just poofed," Scottie said. "No parents. No family. No friends. I bet if I emailed my English teacher, he'd never remember having me in class. I wonder if my doggies still exist."
"No baby sisters," Emily said and threw her phone down onto the bed. "I actually miss her now, the little twit. This is like a lonely, friendless wonderland."
"On the other hand," Scottie said, "I think it's the best vacation ever. No one around to bug us except for our rockin' online buddies! Hooray!"
There was an extended silence between the two teens and the chat room. Obviously, no one else was as excited about the idea as Scottie was.
"Hey. Let's go find a place to eat breakfast. Then we'll figure out how to survive in London with less than five hundred dollars between us."
Emily and Scottie said goodbye to everyone at AAN and ventured out of their hotel for the first time, walking in search of a "posh little cafe" that the clerk at the front desk had recommended to them. Scottie kept a firm grip on Emily's jacket sleeve for the entire trip and jumped every time another pedestrian came too close.
"Look," Emily said. "I know we've only known each other in person for about an hour, and I know it's like your 'thing' or whatever to be the awkward shy nerd, and I know we somehow crossed the Atlantic Ocean in our sleep last night, but... you're being exceptionally weird right now."
"My life sucks," Scottie said confidently.
"My family consists entirely of rich but otherwise stereotypically redneck assholes. I've spent most of my life in mansions in the middle of the woods surrounded by married cousins who isolate me from society and try to buy my love with roadkill steaks. I'm never allowed out of the house. I've only been to the mall without my mom once, and the longest I've been left at home alone for is three hours." Scottie narrowly avoided bumping into an older lady and ended up almost tripping Emily with the force of his overcorrection. "Cities and people make me nervous."
"Yes, I can see that," Emily said as she wrenched her jacket away from him.
"I assure you, none of my awkwardness has anything to do with it being my 'thing.'"
They could see the cafe now, not too far away. They concentrated on getting to the front door in silence.
"Well, I grew up in Southern California..."
"Fuck you, Emily."
The food was a bit overcooked, but otherwise wonderful. They practiced talking in "British speak" and giggled about their waiter's accent, and then they had to ask for change for a one hundred pound note (or rather, Emily did). The two of them paid and got back to the hotel just in time to gather their belongings and get kicked out. They (smartly) decided to wander around town at random and look for something to do, while Emily taught Scottie all there was to know about city life.
"...every single one of these cabs you see here can and will run you over and leave you for dead in the middle of the street," she said. "And when the cops finally scrape your mangled corpse off the asphalt, not one of these jaywalkers will admit to having seen anything. Not if it means wasting a second of their lunch breaks. Now, as for subways-"
"OH MY GOD LOOK IT'S A PIGEON!" Scottie screeched.
It wasn't a pigeon. It didn't even vaguely look like a pigeon, but in all fairness, Scottie had never really seen a pigeon before. The Bird That Was Not a Pigeon was pecking around a spilled box of french fries with its brethren, and they all seemed mildly unconcerned with Scottie running towards them flailing. They didn't even fly off until the teen almost trampled them in his excitement.
Scottie waved at them as they disappeared behind a building. "SEE YOU LATER, MR. PIGEON AND FRIENDS!"
Emily walked up behind him. "Aw, look. You scared them."
"With my intense, burning love for their adorableness, maybe."
"Most likely, yeah."
"Oh hey, look. That's a familiar sight, innit?" Scottie hefted his duffle bag over his shoulder and motioned towards a fair haired man in a sweater limping away from them with the help of a cane. "Best. Vacation. Ever. Free trip to London, and a sneak peek at Dr. Watson's backside. Now all we have to do is stalk a random stranger who looks like Sherlock, and we'll be-"
"Scottie!" Emily gasped and slapped at his upper arm, but she missed and caught his face. "Looklooklook!"
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Scottie squinted in the direction Emily was pointing and then looked back at her, confused. "Scottie, where the hell are your glasses?" she demanded.
"Oh! Right," he said, smiling sheepishly. "I wear those, don't I?" Emily groaned and scrubbed her hands over her eyes. "I'm sorry, I forget sometimes!"
"I don't care, just shut up and put them on or you're going to miss it!"
Scottie dug his glasses out of his bag with a grumble and shoved them on to his face. "Okay, now what am I looking at?"
The blonde man Scottie had pointed out earlier was stopped at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change so he could get through without being squashed by the traffic. As the teens stared, the man sighed heavily, shifted his weight around, glanced at his watch, and then moved to lean against the nearby pole to relieve the stress on his leg. The man then glanced back over his shoulder as if worried that someone would protest his position, and Scottie got his first good look at the man's face.
Scottie knew that face. In fact, he'd likely spent more time than would be considered healthy attempting to memorize that face.
"No way," he said. "Does Martin Freeman live in London? He probably does. All British actors live in London, right?"
"But if that is Martin Freeman, why is he dressed up like John?" Emily asked. "And he's walking with the cane, too. That doesn't make sense."
"God, he's ten times cuter in real life, even if it is from behind at a distance. Or rather, especially from behind."
"Don't make me hit you again," Emily warned.
"Do you think they could be filming a new Sherlock episode in which John's limp comes back?" Scottie asked.
"But then where are the cameras and crew? And why would they be filming him acting shifty at a crosswalk? I guess he could be on his way to the set... But that doesn't explain the cane, then. Or why Martin Freeman isn't being swarmed by fangirls right now. He's famous enough for that, right? Scottie?" Emily glanced back at her friend only to find him gone. The teen was tottering towards the man at the crosswalk, looking both terrified and hopeful at the same time. "Scottie, what are you doing!"
"I am going to say hi," Scottie said, jaw set.
"Oh no you aren't!" Emily latched onto his arm and dug her heels into the concrete. "What happened to being shy, huh?!"
"I can be embarrassed later. Right now, I'm running on fangirl joy."
"Think about this logically-"
"I don't have enough blood in my adrenaline system for that."
Emily sighed and let go of him. She crushed her suitcase to her stomach in his arm's place and hurried along beside him. "Okay. Whatever. Just... please tell me you're not going to be too big of a creep, alright? I don't want to get a restraining order against me on my first day in London."
"No promises!" Scottie sang. "Hey! Mr. Freeman? Excuse me, Mr. Freeman!"
The light changed and the man hobbled to the other side of the street before they could get there, and Emily and Scottie had to jog to catch up. The man didn't acknowledge his name being shouted. He was seemingly trying to run away from them, with his head down and collar up, walking at a pace that was just a little too fast to be believable for someone with a cane. Despite his best efforts, the man was still limping, and Scottie and Emily were a lot younger than him.
"Excuse me, sir?" Scottie tapped his elbow, and the man finally stopped and turned to look at them. "Um, hi! You're Martin Freeman, right? I'm gonna try not to be too obnoxious here, but I j-just wanted to say that I-think-you're-totally-rad and stuff, so... A-Also I very much like your face. Like, a lot."
"Erm," Emily said. "Hello. I'd really like it if you'd sign my laptop. But you don't have to if you don't want to I guess."
The man stared at them both. "Sorry? Do I know you two?"
It was definitely his voice.
"Uh, no," Scottie said. "But we're really big fans of yours!"
"He is," Emily corrected. "I'm just... an average-sized, not-creepy one."
"Look, I think you kids have got me confused with another bloke," the man said kindly, but with a hint of weariness in his voice. "I'm not this, uh... Morgan Freeman, or whoever."
"What," Scottie said flatly and glanced at Emily. "If it looks like a Martin Freeman and sounds like a Martin Freeman, chances are it's a Martin Freeman. He's even dressed like John and everything!"
"Sorry, did you say John?" the man asked. "Because that's me. John Watson. But I'm not famous or anything, and I certainly don't have any fans. Maybe there's been a mix up?"
Scottie and Emily stared at him for a very long time, making Not-Martin-Freeman shift uneasily.
"I don't geddit," Scottie said.
"Maybe Martin cosplays as his own characters and wanders around town just to mess with people?" Emily offered. "I mean, that's what I would do if I were a famous actor."
"I told you, I'm not this Martin fellow," the man said in annoyance. "My name is John Watson. I'm just a regular, unemployed doctor. Look, are you kids lost or something? Where are your parents?"
"They're dead, we ate them."
"We think they're trapped in an alternate dimension somewhere in America."
"The states?" Not-Martin-Freeman's eyebrows shot up and nearly hit his hairline. "Oh, don't tell me you two are here all by your lonesomes!"
"This is impossible," Emily said. She was rubbing her eyes again. "He can't be John Watson. Because if John Watson is here, then that must mean that we..."
Emily and Scottie glanced at each other. John fucking Watson made a confused sort of noise, just a few feet in front of them.
A car door slammed and all three jumped and turned to look. "Thank you," a baritone voice rumbled as its owner handed the taxi driver a bill and then started towards the trio. "Oh, John! Hello!"
"Oh my God oh my God oh my God it's him," Scottie squeaked and threw his arms around Emily.
"Scottie, you're crushing my-"
John stepped towards the newcomer with a pleasantly surprised smile. "Ah, Mr. Holmes!"
They clasped hands and the second man grinned at him. "Please. Just Sherlock." Scottie choked and buried his face in Emily's shoulder, which attracted the men's attention. "Who's this?" Sherlock asked, suspicious.
"I don't know these kids," John said. "They approached me."
"You're Sherlock Holmes, oh my God," Scottie squealed.
"Ah! Fans of my website, I see," Sherlock said and puffed out his chest.
"Yes! That's it! Your website," Emily said. "We, uh. We love it. Big fans. It's great, with all the... the Sherlock-y things on it, and... yes. Scottie, let go of me."
"Even with the coat and scarf and everything," Scottie said as Emily pried him off of her. "Jesus Christ, look at him, he's perfection. With those eyes and cheekbones and hair and lips-"
John stiffened and tugged on Sherlock's coat sleeve. "Mr. Hol-er, Sherlock. Maybe we should get going? What about that... that flat you were telling me about?"
Sherlock didn't respond, but his eyes narrowed with interest. He gave the two teens a once-over.
"Oh, look! He's deducing me!" Scottie said. "This is so exciting!"
Both of the teens had seen the word-vomit Sherlock was prone to when making a deduction, but being the focus of it in person was a much different experience. More violent. Less like vomit and more like an explosion, unless you're talking about an infant with pyloric stenosis.
"Two minors from the US," Sherlock blurted. "Been wandering around lost, I can tell by the scuffs on your shoes. So you haven't been in London long enough to familiarize yourself with it, nor are you intending to stay for an extended period of time, judging by the size of your luggage. Got a bit of money on you-crumbs from breakfast, there-though I'm assuming it's not nearly enough, otherwise you'd have a place to go-somewhere to live. I'd say you were running away from home, if not for your relationship..."
"Their relationship?" John interrupted. "Oh, er. Sorry, continue..."
"Hmm, yes. Relationship. The boy-gay, obviously, so not boyfriend and girlfriend-"
Scottie raised a finger. "Um, technically-"
"Not siblings, either," Sherlock continued. "Brands of clothes and shampoo are on entirely different ends of the manufacturing spectrum, so not from the same household..."
"When did he sniff our shampoo?" Emily whispered to Scottie, who shrugged.
"I wonder," Sherlock said with a dangerous glint in his eyes. He took a step forward, towering over both of them. "How did you get to London, then? You obviously didn't take a plane or a boat, looking at your hair. And as for how much you seem to know about my person, far more than what one would find on my website-"
"That's brilliant," John breathed.
Sherlock jumped back and turned to look at him. "Pardon?"
"Er, nothing," John mumbled. "Just... I mean... How do you do that? It's like you can read people's minds!"
"Oh!" Sherlock smiled. "Ha. Well, no, not exactly like that..."
"You guys are hot."
"Scottie!" Emily clapped a hand over her friend's mouth and started backing away. "Um, I'm so sorry for bothering you two gentlemen. We should be going now. Come on, Scottie..."
John tried to look like he wasn't concerned, but Sherlock noticed. "Uh, okay. Bye, then?"
"Actually," Sherlock said. "We can't very well let a couple of poor, lost children wander the streets of London all alone with no money, can we?"
Everyone looked at him in surprise, and he affected an expression of innocence on his face.
"Oh! Er, yes," John said, relieved. "I'd feel right bad about that, I would. What do you propose we do, Sherlock?"
Sherlock smirked. "The flat you came here to inspect, Doctor. There's another one available within the same building, 221c. Perhaps these two could stay there? At least for the time being."
"Wait, really?" Scottie said.
"Is this serious?" Emily asked. "Are we being punk'd?"
Both of them glanced around, looking for hidden cameras.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," John said, then paused and bit his lip. "Well, I mean. As long as it's no trouble, of course?"
"Certainly not!" Sherlock said. "And the landlady would be delighted. She loves young ones, taking care of them and all."
John released the breath he was holding and smiled. "Great. Great! So uh, where is this flat you're talking about again?" Sherlock pointed in amusement at the door not far up the street from them that read 221b, and John blushed. "Oh. Right. Well, don't I feel embarrassed..."
"How did we not notice that there," Emily said, horrified at her own lack of perceptiveness.
"You see, but you do not observe," Sherlock replied loftily and led them towards the famous flat, coat swishing.
"This is the place, then?" John asked over Sherlock's banging on the door. "It's quite the prime spot. Must be expensive."
"Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, has given me a special deal. Owes me a favor. A few years back, her husband got himself sentenced to death in Florida." Sherlock sniffed and tried to look nonchalant. "I was able to help out."
"Sorry, you stopped her husband being executed?" John asked with raised eyebrows.
Sherlock, Scottie, and Emily said at the same time, "Oh no, I ensured it."
All four of them stood in panicked silence for a moment.
"Er," John began. "What?"
"MINDMELD," Scottie shouted happily.
"I think what he means is... we'd be delighted to take the flat under you guys," Emily said.
Sherlock looked like he was about to say something, but that was when Mrs. Hudson answered the door and shooed them all inside. Everyone was properly introduced to each other-Mrs. Hudson was ecstatic about having children in the house, as predicted-and Sherlock took John upstairs while the teens were shown around 221c. Unlike in the TV show, the bottom flat held a dusty table, a few chairs, and two twin beds that Scottie greatly enjoyed bouncing on.
"Really, we insist."
Mrs. Hudson scoffed and shoved the money back at Emily. "Oh, don't worry about it, dears. We'll discuss the rent with Sherlock later. Now, just leave your things here, you can get settled in some other time. Let's go see how the boys are faring!"
Scottie flopped off the bed he'd claimed as his own and excitedly went to follow the older woman upstairs, but Emily grabbed his elbow and trailed behind.
"Don't you think it's a little weird?" she whispered.
"How everything's just... smoothing itself over. I don't like it. It's making me paranoid."
"It's called good luck, Emily. Don't question it."
Sherlock was awkwardly shuffling loose papers around on his desk when they entered. "Um, well. Obviously I can, uh... straighten things up... a bit," he was saying. He shuffled more papers without actually sorting any of them.
John looked like he was trying not to laugh. His eyes landed on the skull on the mantel and he pointed at it with his cane. "That's a skull."
"Friend of mine." Sherlock stabbed some letters into the wood of the mantel with a knife. "Or, well. I say friend..."
"I wonder what your skull would look like on my wall," Scottie whispered with an airy Irish accent.
"Scottie, no. Stop that," Emily said, glancing around. "They're going to become suspicious if we keep quoting them and their future selves..."
"What do you think then, Dr. Watson?" Mrs. Hudson asked with a pleasant smile. "There's another bedroom upstairs, if you'll be needing two bedrooms?"
John turned around and frowned at her, confused. "Of course we'll be needing two..."
Sherlock hid his smirk behind a box he was moving.
"Are you sure, Dr. Watson?" Scottie asked innocently.
"Oh, don't worry dear, there's all sorts around here," Mrs. Hudson said as she wandered into the kitchen. "Mrs. Turner next door's got married ones, you know."
"What? We're not..." John motioned towards Sherlock helplessly, and the other man just shrugged and continued rearranging things. "I've only first met this guy yesterday!"
"Oh, my," Emily gasped. "You sure do move fast, Dr. Watson."
"Sherlock!" Mrs. Hudson shouted from the kitchen. "Oh, my boy. Look at the mess you've made."
John threw himself down in the nearest armchair and glowered at them all in silence for a moment. "I looked you up on the internet last night," he told Sherlock with a tense smile.
"Anything interesting?" Sherlock asked, attempting to look like he wasn't listening intently.
"Found your website. The Science of Deduction."
Sherlock perked up. "Really? What did you think?" John raised an eyebrow at him, and Sherlock frowned back.
"You said you could identify a software designer by his tie... and an airline pilot by his left thumb?"
"Yes," Sherlock said with a nod. When John gave him a look, he elaborated. "It's the same way I can read your military career in your face and your leg, and your brother's drinking habits in your mobile phone."
"How?" John pressed, leaning forward.
"What about these suicides, then, Sherlock? Thought that'd be right up your street," Mrs. Hudson said as she stepped back into the living room with a newspaper. "Three of them, all exactly the same..."
Scottie suddenly gasped and ran to the window to peek down at the police car parked under it. "Oh my God yes. I am uber excited for this part, you have no idea."
"Four." Sherlock's voice came from over Scottie's shoulder. "There's been a fourth, and something's different this time." Scottie skipped back to Emily's side and waited, bouncing from foot to foot, as Lestrade stomped up the stairs and into the flat. "Where?" Sherlock asked him.
"Bridgestone, Lauriston Gardens." Lestrade noticed Scottie and Emily and smiled at them. Scottie squeaked back. "Why d'you have a couple of brats in your place, Sherlock? Never thought you'd be one for kids."
"Ignore them," Sherlock said with a wave of his hand. "What's new about this one? You wouldn't have come to get me unless there's something different."
"You know how they never leave notes?"
Lestrade's face hardened. "This one did. Will you come?"
"Yes," Emily said.
"No," Sherlock told her, and then turned back to Lestrade. "Who's on forensics?"
Sherlock groaned. "Anderson won't work with me!"
"Well he won't be your assistant," Lestrade said, scowling.
"But I need an assistant!"
"I CAN BE YOUR ASSISTANT," Scottie shouted.
"Will you stop-"
"Sherlock!" Lestrade said loudly. "Will you come or not?"
"Yes!" Emily said again.
Sherlock sighed. "Not in the police car. I'll be right behind."
Lestrade let out a breath and nodded. "Thank you." Sherlock waited until the DI was safely out of sight before he exploded with words again.
"Brilliant! Yes! Oh, four serial suicides and now a note! Ah! It's Christmas!" Sherlock did a blissful piruet across the room to grab his coat from where he left it. "Mrs. Hudson, I'll be late. Might need some food."
Mrs. Hudson rolled her eyes and wandered back into the kitchen. "I'm your landlady, dear, not your housekeeper."
"Something cold will do! John." Sherlock turned to his new flatmate and tied his scarf around his neck. "Have a cup of tea, make yourself at home. Emily, Scottie, behave. Don't wait up!"
"Yes, Mom," Emily replied, but the detective was already jogging down the stairs.
"Aw, I wanted to go," Scottie mumbled and flopped onto the couch.
"Look at him, dashing about!" Mrs. Hudson patted John's shoulder. "My husband used to be the same."
"He's not my-eh, nevermind."
"You're more the sitting down type, I can tell," she said. "I'll make you that cuppa, you rest your leg."
"Damn my leg!" John shouted. Everyone jumped and looked at him. He sighed and stared at his shoes, rubbing the offending appendage. "Sorry, so sorry... It's just that sometimes, this bloody thing..."
"I understand, dear, I've got a hip."
"A cup of tea would be lovely, thank you," John said as he picked up the discarded newspaper.
"I'll have one too please, if it's not too much trouble?" Emily said.
"Just this once, dears," Mrs. Hudson said as she walked back downstairs. "I'm not your housekeeper."
"And a couple of biscuits as well, if you've got them..."
"Not your housekeeper!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson!" Emily called.
"Heehee, look. Sherlock has one of these sudoku Rubik's cube things," Scottie said and got up to pluck the toy off of the detective's desk.
"Scottie, you might not want to touch that. No way he'll not notice, and who knows what he'll do to you if you mess it up," Emily warned.
"But I wanna be a smarty-pants too," Scottie whined and started twisting the sides seemingly at random.
Emily made a disgruntled noise. After a pause, she walked over and sneakily began to reach for the violin case lying on the desk.
"You're a doctor," Sherlock purred from the doorway, having slunk in without anyone noticing. Emily guiltily jumped back and wound her fingers in her hair. "In fact, you're an army doctor..."
John stood in surprise and straightened his sweater. "Ahem. Yes."
Sherlock stalked towards him playfully. "Seen a lot of injuries, then? Violent deaths?"
"Bit of trouble too, I bet."
"Of course, yes. Enough for a lifetime. Far too much."
"Wanna see some more?" Sherlock asked, looking like an excited child.
"Oh, God yes," John replied just as eagerly. Sherlock started back down the stairs, and John pulled on his jacket as he followed. "Sorry, Mrs. Hudson, I'll skip the tea! We're going out!"
Scottie put the cube back on the desk and he and Emily hurried after them. "Hey, we wanna come too!"
"Yes, take us with you," Emily said. "We can help you with your case."
"Absolutely not," John replied from the bottom of the stairs. "A crime scene is no place for children!"
Sherlock paused in the front doorway to pull on his gloves. "Babysitting would only get in my way, and I don't want anything slowing me down right now," he drawled. "Come along, John."
"I don't think you understand, Mr. Holmes." Emily pushed her way around John and approached Sherlock. "We could legitimately speed up this case, if only you'd let us-"
"It's not like we're retarded toddlers," Scottie said. "We're old enough to sit quietly in the corner and not cause any trouble."
"I said no. I don't want you there, John doesn't want you there. End of discussion." Sherlock turned to sneer at them. "Go find a permanent place of residence while we're out, will you?"
"Ouch," Emily said with a wince.
John hesitated. "Um, I have no clue how long we'll be gone. If we're not back by dinner, ask Mrs. Hudson? Order some take out, or help yourself to whatever's in the fridge-"
"That's probably a bad idea, considering," Scottie mumbled.
"Yes, yes. We're not completely helpless, John," Emily said and rolled her eyes. "We do know how to feed ourselves, I promise we won't starve to death in the next three hours."
"Jooohn, let's goooo," Sherlock whined. "We are not signing up to be their mummy and daddy!"
Mrs. Hudson came out of her own place next to 221c. "Are the both of you leaving?"
"Possible suicides? Four of them?" Sherlock said and grabbed her by the shoulders. "There's no point sitting at home when there's finally something fun going on!" He kissed her on the cheek, making her giggle and swat at his arm.
"Oh, look at you, all happy. It's not decent."
Sherlock scoffed and swooped towards the door. "Yesss, not decent. The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!"
The remaining four watched him pop outside to call a taxi, slamming the door behind him. Mrs. Hudson muttered something about her boys running all about making a ruckus and retreated into her own flat.
"Um," John said. "Well, bye. Try not to burn the building down while we're gone, okay?" He awkwardly patted both teens on the head and then followed Sherlock out.
"...let's chase them," Scottie said.
"No. I think this is for the best," Emily muttered. "This is their first real outing together, the one where they start forming their bromance and whatnot. We shouldn't interfere with that. Besides, they're just going to check out the body of the pink lady..."
"And meet Mycroft," Scottie said, his annoyance rising. "And go dumpster diving for her case. Man, I really wanna chase them now..."
"They'll be back in a couple of hours," Emily protested.
"But what will we do until then?"
They both looked at each other. "Internet!"
The two teens curled up on opposite ends of the couch in 221b with their respective laptops and sent each other silly pictures for a while, but then Scottie got distracted by some fanfiction and Emily started doodling in her sketchbook. The next thing they knew, Sherlock was stomping in with a dirty pink suitcase in his arms and setting it in his chair.
"Oh hey, that's Jennifer Wilson's case!" Scottie said with a grin. "Can I touch it?"
Sherlock twitched in the middle of unzipping the suitcase's front pocket, but he quickly regained control and began rifling through the dead woman's things.
"We really would like to help you, Sherlock," Emily offered. "I think you'll find we know a lot more than you'd believe."
The detective froze and stared at her over his shoulder with wide eyes for one tense moment. Scottie reached across to poke the case but Sherlock swatted his hand away, and then the older man was investigating again with a renewed determination to ignore the both of them. They watched him struggle with the woman's blouses for a while until Sherlock groaned in frustration, slammed the case to the floor, and began pacing. He paused in front of the couch and reluctantly addressed the two teens.
"Does either one of you have a mobile I can borrow?" he asked.
"No," Scottie said.
"Yes, but it's not on me right now." Emily glanced around the flat. "In fact, I'm not quite sure where it is, exactly. I always seem to magically lose it in the weirdest ways..." She looked up to examine the ceiling, as if expecting it to be floating there.
"Mrs. Hudson!" Sherlock yelled. Pause. There was no answer. "MRS. HUDSON!"
"Oooh, okay," Emily said. "Everyone screech out their anger all at once, alright? One two three, go!"
All three of them took deep breaths and shouted, "MRS. HUUUD-SOOOOON!"
"Just the yawps this time!" Scottie said. "One, two, three-"
"What?" Sherlock asked, glancing between them.
The two teens yelled together as loud as they could, "YAAAAAWP!"
Sherlock sighed and crammed himself onto the couch between the two teens, inadvertently shoving his head into Emily's crotch and his feet into Scottie's gallbladder.
"Sir, I don't think I know you well enough for this," Emily said.
"One of you go fetch me my nicotine patches," Sherlock mumbled as he closed his eyes and threw an arm over his face. "They're somewhere on my desk."
He obviously meant Scottie, but Emily shoved the detective's head off her lap and let it hit the arm of the couch as she stood. Seconds later, a pack of nicotine patches smacked Sherlock in the chest.
"There you go," Emily said sweetly.
Sherlock glared at her and proceeded to cover his forearm in way too many patches before tossing the package aside and going limp with a satisfied sigh.
Scottie cleared his throat. "Actually, if I could get up as well, that would be-" Sherlock's feet nestled comfortably into Scottie's kidneys. "...or y'know, whatever. That's okay too."
After a moment Sherlock fished his cell phone out of his pocket, texted John, and then went back to his quiet thinking. Emily decided she wanted to sit down again, so she and Scottie rearranged the limp Sherlock into a more comfortable position, with his head on Scottie's stomach and his feet on the armrest so Emily could use his shins as a table for her sketch pad. Sherlock didn't seem to mind Scottie playing with his hair as long as the boy allowed him to look up long enough to send some texts.
After a few minutes of silence, Emily whispered in a horrible Australian accent, "and now we observe the elusive consulting detective in his natural habitat."
Scottie choked out a laugh and tried not to move his stomach too much. It didn't work; Sherlock grunted at him to keep still while he was trying to think. "Aye," Scottie whispered back in an accent that was just as bad in its accuracy. "Tha's a rare beast roigh' theah. One'a th'only known specimens in th'wold."
"Unfortunately, the consulting detective is an endangered species. Their lack of adaptability has caused their numbers to dwindle in recent years."
"This'll be th'very first documented sightin' of a consulting detective in the wild, so we hafta be extremely careful not ta startle 'im..."
Sherlock made a face at them without opening his eyes and steepled his fingers under his chin.
"Oh, look!" Emily whispered excitedly. "He's retreating into his Mind Palace to hibernate!"
The detective's eyes snapped open, but he tried to cover it by flipping open his phone again and staring at its screen. He hesitated before sending John another text.
"Now he's calling his mate back to their territory so they can gather resources in preparation for the long winter ahead," Scottie said knowingly. Sherlock glared at him but kept quiet.
"I wonder if they'll snuggle to keep warm."
"Yes. To keep warm. Riiiiight."
This continued for a while, and it only seemed to get more amusing the longer the teens kept at it. Eventually there were footsteps on the stairs, and then John was standing frozen in the doorway, staring. "What are you doing?" he demanded.
"Narrating Sherlock's life like it's a bad nature show," Emily said.
Scottie smoothed the detective's hair back from his face. "Crikey, look at 'im! Ain't he a beaut?"
"What? No," John said and pointed at Sherlock. "I meant him."
The detective's arm dropped off the edge of the sofa from where he had been rubbing the crease of his elbow. "Nicotine patch," he mumbled. "Helps me think. Impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days. Bad news for brain work."
John's inner Nazi doctor fluffed up his feathers indignantly. "Yes, well. Good news for breathing," he hissed.
"Ugh, breathing. Breathing's boring," Sherlock droned.
"Is that three patches?" John demanded.
"Three patch problem," Scottie, Emily, and Sherlock said in harmony. Another awkward silence followed.
"Right. Whelp, you asked me to come," John said with a sigh. "I'm assuming it's important?"
Sherlock's brow furrowed, and then he gasped. "Oh! Yeah, of course. Can I borrow your phone?"
John's eyes narrowed. "My phone?"
"Yeah. Don't want to use mine. Always a chance the number will be recognized, it's on the website."
John pinched the bridge of his nose. "Mrs. Hudson has a phone..."
"Yeah, she's downstairs," Sherlock said. "I tried shouting, but she didn't hear."
"All three of us at once, it was great!" Scottie said happily.
"Technically, you and I were yawping," Emily corrected. "Either way, Mrs. Hudson needs her hearing checked..."
"You two couldn't have helped him out?" John asked through gritted teeth.
"I don't have a cell phone."
"And mine's... somewhere. Useless things, phones are."
"We didn't want to get up, either," Scottie said.
"I was on the other side of London!" John shouted.
"It's okay, no hurry," Sherlock said soothingly.
"No rush," Scottie sang in an Irish accent, and Emily elbowed him.
John sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. He took his cell phone out of his pocket and threw it at Sherlock, who caught it without looking. "There. Is this about the case?"
"Yes, her suitcase, obviously," Sherlock mumbled. "The murderer took her suitcase, first big mistake..."
"Huh? Okay, he took her case. So?"
Sherlock hummed to himself. "No, it's no use, there's no other way. We'll have to risk it. John!" The detective threw the phone back, making John fumble and almost drop it in his panic. "On my desk, there's a number. I want you to send a text-"
"You brought me here to send a text," John said flatly.
"Text, yes, the number on the desk." Sherlock finally cracked his eyes open and turned to look at his flatmate, who kept glancing out the living room window. "What's wrong, John?"
The doctor's mouth twisted up and he began rifling through the papers on Sherlock's desk in search of the phone number he was supposed to find. "I just met a friend of yours," he said after a while.
"Friend?!" all three on the couch asked in alarm.
"Oh!" Sherlock breathed a sigh of relief. "Which one?"
"Your archenemy, according to him. Do people even have archenemies?"
"Did he offer you money to spy on me?" Sherlock asked, staring at the back of his flatmate's head.
John hesitated. "Yes..."
"Did you take it?"
Sherlock made a disappointed noise. "Pity. We could've split the fee. Think it through next time, John."
The doctor huffed and turned to look at Sherlock. "And just who is he, anyway?"
"The most dangerous man you've ever met and not my problem right now. On my desk, John, the number."
John sighed and began reading off the paper on Sherlock's desk. "Hold on, Jennifer Wilson? Wasn't that the dead woman?"
"Yes, that's not important, just enter the number," Sherlock snapped. "Are you doing it?"
"Have you done it?"
"Not yet, hang on!"
"These words exactly," Sherlock said. "'What happened at Lauriston Gardens? I must've blacked out. 22 Northumberland Street. Please come.'"
"You blacked out?" John asked, eyebrows furrowed.
"What? No. No!" Sherlock jumped up, nearly kicking Emily in the face. "Title and send it, quickly." He began rummaging through a pile of things beside his armchair. "Have you sent it?"
"What was it again?" John asked as he slowly typed the message with one finger.
"Oh, for goodness's sake, give me that thing!" Emily stood, snatched the phone away from John, banged out the correct words in a matter of seconds, pressed send, and then handed the cell phone back to its owner. "There. It's done."
"Good!" Sherlock pulled the suitcase up onto the coffee table and crouched in his chair, staring straight ahead intently.
"That's Jennifer Wilson's missing case, then?" Emily asked.
"Can I go through her crap now?" Scottie whined and stepped forward.
John's eyes widened and he grabbed Scottie's elbow, pulling him away from the detective. "Scottie..."
Sherlock rolled his eyes at them. "Oh. Perhaps I should mention that I didn't kill her."
"Never said you did," John mumbled as he took a step back.
"Why not?" Sherlock sneered. "Given the text I've just had you send and the fact that I have her case, it's a perfectly logical assumption."
John hesitated before letting go of Scottie's arm. The teen cheerfully bounced over to the case and began poking through it. "Do... Do people normally assume you're the murderer?" John asked.
Sherlock looked at his shoes. "Now and then, yes."
John sat in the armchair across from him. "Oookay. And, uh, how did you get this again?"
"By looking," Sherlock responded.
Sherlock stood and began pacing. "The killer must have driven her to Lauriston Gardens, he could only keep her case by accident if it was in the car. Nobody could be seen with this case without drawing attention, particularly a man, which is statistically more likely. So obviously, he felt compelled to get rid of it the moment he noticed he still had it. It wouldn't have taken him more than five minutes to realize his mistake. I checked every backstreet wide enough for a car five minutes away from Lauriston Gardens, and any way you could dispose of a bulky object without being observed. Took me less than an hour to find the right skip."
John raised an eyebrow at him. "And you got all of that because you realized the case would be pink?"
Sherlock looked at him like he was retarded. "Of course, it had to be pink. Obviously."
"Obviously," Emily said.
"Obviously," Scottie repeated.
John shifted in his seat. "Why didn't I think of that?" he mumbled.
"Because you're an idiot," Sherlock replied. John looked offended. "Oh, no no no. Don't take it like that. Practically everyone is!" Sherlock jumped back into his chair and perched there. "Now, look. Do you see what's missing?"
"From the case?" John asked. "How could I?"
"Her phone," Sherlock said. "Where's her mobile phone? There was no phone on the body, no phone in the case. We know she had one, that's her number over there, Emily just texted it..."
John shrugged. "Maybe she left it at home."
"She has a string of lovers, and she's careful about it. She never leaves her phone at home," Sherlock corrected.
John gasped in realization. "Oh, no. Why did you just have Emily send that text?"
"Well, the question is, where is her phone now?" Sherlock asked with a mischievous grin.
"She could've lost it," Scottie suggested after a pause.
"The murderer," John said. "You think the murderer has her phone?"
"Maybe she left it when she left the case. Maybe he took it from her for some reason. Either way, there's a good probability that the murderer has her phone."
"Sorry, what are we doing?" Emily asked. "Did I just text a murderer?"
"Did she just text a murderer on my phone?" John demanded. "What good will that do?"
"A few hours after his last victim, and now he receives a text that can only be from her," Sherlock muttered. "If someone just found the phone, they'd ignore a text like that. But the murderer?" As if on cue, John's cell phone began ringing. "He'd panic," Sherlock said with malicious glee.
John placed the phone as far away from him on the coffee table as possible and stared at it until it stopped ringing. "Have you talked to the police?"
"Four people are dead, there's no time to talk to the police!"
"Then why are you talking to us?" Scottie asked.
Sherlock pouted in the direction of the mantel. "Mrs. Hudson took my skull..."
John frowned. "So we're basically filling in for your skull?"
"Relax," Sherlock said with a wave of his hand. "You're doing fine." He stood and began putting on his coat and scarf, then looked at John expectantly. "Well?"
"Well, you could just sit here and watch telly..."
"What, you want us to come with you?" John asked in surprise.
"I like company when I go out, and I think better when I talk aloud. A skull just attracts attention, so..." Sherlock shrugged and looked away. John smiled at him, opening his mouth to speak.
"Well, I'm convinced," Scottie said and jumped up. "Come on, Emily, let's go!"
"Right behind you!"
Sherlock groaned. "Oh, for God's sake-"
"Scottie, Emily. What did I say?" John asked, scowling. "Dangerous serial killers. You're staying home."
"Aw, but mooooom," Emily whined.
"We'll just follow you in a taxi, we already know where you're going," Scottie said.
"Okay, look." Sherlock took a menacing step towards the teens. "I can't stop you from tagging along on our investigations, but rest assured, if bullets start flying-as they usually do-I will be using you as a human shield."
"I can live with that," Scottie said.
"Deal!" Emily stuck out her hand. "Shake on it?"
"No!" John stood and waved his cane at them. "I will not have a couple of kids running off after murderers, especially not ones that I am now unofficially responsible for! You're not following us, and that's that."
"So you will be coming, then?" Sherlock asked with wide, innocent eyes.
"Oh, uh... I, well." John swallowed. "Yes, I suppose I will."
Sherlock smiled. John didn't smile back. "Problem?" Sherlock asked, face carefully blank.
"Eh, yeah... Sergeant Donovan-"
"What about her?" Sherlock snapped.
"She said you get off on this," John mused. "That you enjoy it."
Sherlock sniffed. "And I said dangerous, and yet here you are." He swooped out of the room with a dramatic swish of his coat.
"Dammit," John muttered, limping after the detective.
"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE MISSING!" Emily shouted at their backs.
"Whatevs. This is the part where they go running around London after a cab," Scottie said. "We'll catch the next adventure, one that involves less exercise."
"But they're going to go meet Angelo," Emily protested. "This is their date we're missing. The famous moment where, for the first time in history, a Holmes and a Watson openly discuss their sexualities with each other!"
"Yeah," Scottie said. "But also, running."
Emily sighed. "Okay, fine. Internet?"
"Internet!" Scottie crowed.
And then they went back to their respective positions on the sofa. Fifteen minutes into the first Find the Cutest Kitten Picture competition, Emily suddenly sat up and whipped her head around.
"What was that?!"
"What was what?" Scottie asked.
Emily turned to look at him. "You didn't hear that?"
"Obviously not," he said.
"I... think it was a knock at the front door."
Scottie raised an eyebrow. "Who do you suppose it is?"
"Not John and Sherlock. They wouldn't have knocked, it's their place."
"Maybe it's the pizza man."
"This is serious, Scottie."
They somberly exited the windows with kittens, put their laptops away, and ventured downstairs. Whomever it was at the door knocked again, and Mrs. Hudson started banging around in her flat.
"Now who could that be, knocking down my door..."
"We'll get it, Mrs. Hudson!" Emily yelled.
"Oh, God," Scottie said and clung to Emily's shirt sleeve. "What if we messed up the timeline and now Moriarty's come to kidnap and torture us?"
"Calm down, don't think like that!" Emily petted his shoulder soothingly. "Mycroft is a far more likely option."
Scottie groaned and hid his face behind his hands; he stayed close to Emily's back as she prepared to turn the doorknob. "We're gonna die," he whispered.
"Shh," she said and cracked the door open. The only thing they could see was a dark jacket and silver hair.
"Well, doesn't look like he's home," the man was saying. "Anderson, go fetch the spare key out of my car, will you?"
Emily opened the door a couple feet farther to reveal an entire drug squad on their doorstep. "Um, hello?"
Lestrade turned around and raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Oh, hey. You're those kids Sherlock had with him. You're still here?"
"Er... yeah," Emily said. "We live in the flat under him now."
"Oh, great," Donovan whispered not-so-quietly. "The freak's got a couple of minors on a leash. Wonder what experiments he's been doing on them."
"He'll probably be dragging the brats to crime scenes with him," Anderson whined.
"Think we could get him for neglect and reckless endangerment? Eeh?"
Lestrade could see Scottie fluffing up his fur and readying himself for a catfight. The DI stepped forward and attempted to block the two officers from the children's sights. "Nevermind that," Lestrade said sweetly with a smile. "Where's Mr. Holmes now, loves?"
"Oh, um," Emily began. "He's not-"
"Just upstairs," Scottie said. "Chilling out in his Mind Palace. 'Fraid he didn't hear you knocking, sorry about that."
"Oh, no worries." Lestrade flapped a hand at them. "Could you go fetch him, please? I'd like a word with him."
"S-Sorry, Inspector. No can do," Emily said. "He... threatened to experiment on our laptops with acid if we bothered him."
"Yeah. You know how he can get sometimes," Scottie said with a sigh.
Lestrade grinned too wide with teeth that were too white. "Mhmm. You kids'll make fine liars yet." He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his badge to waggle it in their faces. "I respectfully suggest you let us in."
Scottie turned to Emily, scandalized. "Can he do that?"
She shrugged. "I dunno. Apparently."
Turns out he could. Scottie and Emily didn't make it easy for them, though.
"You probably shouldn't touch that," Scottie said as he followed Donovan around the kitchen. "Sherlock really doesn't like it when his things are-"
"Oooooh," Emily cooed as Anderson bent over an open drawer. "Sherlock is going to murder you when he finds out you moved his-"
"Are you sure you want to pick that up? Looks like something's growing on it."
"I have no idea what that machine is, but I heard John and Sherlock talking about it before, using words like 'fatal' and 'agonizing'..."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you. Sherlock was telling us about his boobytraps earlier today..."
"Guys, I'm pretty sure there's a live rattlesnake in there. But no, you're right, you have to check everywhere. I understand. Go ahead, open it."
Eventually, Lestrade yelled at them to go sit outside on the landing until the drug squad was done.
"This is bullshit," Emily said.
"Shut up, Scottie. 'Hindering an investigation' my ass."
"Speaking of asses, let's talk about Detective Inspector Lestrade-"
"No. I don't want to talk about his ass. I want to punch him in the face."
"He'd probably arrest you."
"I know. Ugh... I have no idea why this is bothering me so much. I didn't even blink at the drugs bust in the episode! It's just... half of Scotland Yard is in there rifling through Sherlock's underwear drawer, y'know?"
"Seems more personal, now that we're living with them," Scottie agreed. "They could probably start going through our stuff too, if they wanted."
"I'd rather not think about that."
The two teens fell silent. After a while, Scottie began, "I spy with my little eye, something..."
Emily humored him. She shouldn't have.
Ten minutes later she was saying, "That is not teal."
"It so is."
"That is cyan, Scottie. Idiot."
"No, cyan is bluer and brighter than-"
The front door banged open and Sherlock and John stumbled in, panting heavily between hysterical giggles. They collapsed against the nearest wall and clutched their stomachs.
"...most ridiculous thing I've ever done," John was wheezing.
"And you invaded Afghanistan," Sherlock blurted, and another wave of giggles attacked them.
"That wasn't just me, y'know!"
Sherlock snorted at him.
Scottie waved from the top of the stairs. "Um, guys-"
"Why aren't we back at the restaurant?" John gasped, struggling to regulate his breathing.
"Oh, they can keep an eye out over there. It was a long shot anyway."
"Guys," Scottie said, louder.
"Then what were we doing there in the first place, Sherlock?"
"Oh, just passing the time," Sherlock said. He turned and grinned at John. "Also proving a point."
Emily trotted down the stairs to stand in front of the detective. "Sherlock, there's-"
"What point?" John mumbled.
"You," Sherlock replied, leaning back against the wall with a dreamy sigh. "Mrs. Hudson?" he called. "Dr. Watson will be taking the room upstairs after all!"
Emily turned to the other man instead. "John, listen. In your flat, there's-"
"Says who?" John interrupted.
"Says the man at the door," Sherlock told him with a mysterious smile. Just then there was a knock from out front, and John looked amazed.
Emily, far more used to Sherlock's antics, crossed her arms and cocked her hip to the side. Well. Guess she wasn't going to get a word in edgewise until they were done having their moment.
John sent Sherlock a curious glance and answered the front door at the same time Scottie came down the stairs to join Emily. "Okay look," the boy said. "I know you two just got back from your it's-fine-if-you-like-blokes-because-we'll-always-be-besties chat at Angelo's, but listen. After you guys left, at the door there were these-"
Sherlock shushed him.
"Did... Did you just shush me?" Scottie asked indignantly. "Did you see that? He just shushed me!"
"Sherlock texted me," Angelo told John, holding out the man's cane. "He said you'd left this."
"Oh," John breathed. He took the cane and stared at it in his hand for a while. "Yes. Yes, thank you. Thank you!" John practically slammed the door in Angelo's face and whirled to stare at his flatmate with bright eyes. "Oh, Sherlock, I-"
"SHERLOCK," Emily shouted in the man's ear. "I AM SORRY TO RUIN YOUR ROMANTIC MOMENT WITH DR. WATSON BUT THERE ARE POLICEMEN UPSTAIRS MESSING WITH YOUR EXPERIMENTS."
Sherlock and John jumped and looked at Emily as if they hadn't seen her there before.
"What," John said.
"Upstairs," Emily replied, motioning for them to hurry. "You might wanna, y'know, go see for yourself."
Suddenly, Sherlock paled and dashed up the staircase. "Not my experiments!" John was close behind him, with Scottie and Emily following at a safe distance.
"Sorry, Sherlock," Scottie said. "We tried to keep them out, but Lestrade is sexy when he starts his Detective Inspector act, and I am weak-"
Sherlock skidded to a halt in the doorway. "What are you doing?" he demanded.
Lestrade, flopped over Sherlock's chair with the pink suitcase open beside him, stared back at the detective with a raised eyebrow. "Well, I knew you'd find the case. I'm not stupid."
Sherlock drifted into the middle of the living room, tugging at his own hair as he saw the damage the drug squad was doing. "But... But you can't just break into my flat!"
"And you can't withhold evidence," Lestrade replied testily. "Besides, I didn't break into your flat."
"Oh, really? Well, what do you call this then?" Sherlock asked, flailing one arm out to indicate the other officers milling about in his kitchen.
Lestrade beamed at him. "It's a drugs bust!"
John barked out a laugh, leaned his cane against the wall, and came to stand beside Sherlock. "Are you serious? This guy? Have you even met him?"
Sherlock winced. "John..."
"I'm pretty sure you could search this flat all day, and you wouldn't find anything you'd call 'recreational'!"
"John," Sherlock hissed. "You'd probably want to shut up now."
"Yeah but, come on..." John turned to face Sherlock, and his smile dropped. "...No."
Sherlock furrowed his brow. "What?"
"You?" John asked, eyes wide.
"Oh, shut up," Sherlock snapped and looked away. "I'm not your sniffer dog, Lestrade!"
"No," Lestrade agreed. "Anderson is my sniffer dog."
"What?!" Sherlock whirled to face the kitchen. Anderson, having heard his name being called, leaned through the doorway and wiggled his fingers playfully. "Anderson! What are you doing here on a drugs bust?!"
"Oh, I volunteered," Anderson said and ducked back into the kitchen.
"They all did," Lestrade mused. "They're not strictly speaking on the drug squad, but they're very keen!"
Donovan stumbled past with a plastic container, holding it between two fingers and as far away from her body as possible. "Are these human eyes?!"
"Put those back," Sherlock ground out between his teeth.
"But they were in the microwave!"
"It's an experiment!"
"Keep looking, guys!" Lestrade shouted. He returned to smiling pleasantly at Sherlock. "Or you could start helping us properly, and I'll stand them down...?"
Sherlock clenched his fists. "This is childish!"
"Yeah, well, I'm dealing with a child." Lestrade stood and approached the other man, reaching out as if to put a worried hand on his shoulder. "Sherlock... this is our case, and I am letting you in, but you do not go running off on your own like that! Are we clear?"
"Or what?" Sherlock sneered. "You set up a pretend drugs bust to bully me?"
Lestrade's hand dropped back to his side. "It stops being pretend if they find anything."
Sherlock puffed out his chest. "I am clean," he said loudly, glancing at John out of the corner of his eye.
"Yeah, but is your flat?" Lestrade asked with a skeptical eyebrow raise. "All of it?"
Sherlock ripped his shirt sleeve open with a huff and shoved it up to expose his forearm-and a nicotine patch. "I don't even smoke," he said.
"Neither do I." Lestrade did the same with his own arm. "See? We're in this together..." Sherlock rolled his eyes and went to stomp off into his bedroom. "We found Rachel," Lestrade called after him.
Sherlock paused and glanced over his shoulder. "Really? Who is she?"
"Jennifer Wilson's only daughter."
Sherlock made a distressed noise, spun back around, and began pacing. "A daughter. But why? Why would she write her daughter's name? Why?"
Anderson walked into the living room, snapping his rubber gloves off. "Nevermind that! We found the case. And according to someone, the murderer has the case. And we found it in the hands of our favorite psychopath!"
Sherlock made a display of rolling his eyes. He said, along with Emily and Scottie, "I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research."
Sherlock continued pacing, Emily and Scottie innocently sat on the couch, and every Yarder within hearing distance stopped and stared.
"Yeah, they just do that sometimes," John said.
Sherlock stopped and faced Lestrade. "You need to bring Rachel in," he said. "You need to question her-no, I need to question her-"
"She's dead," Lestrade said flatly.
Sherlock gasped. "Oh, excellent! How, when, and why? Is there a connection? There has to be!"
"Er, well. I doubt it, seeing as she's been dead for fourteen years. Technically, she was never really alive." Sherlock stared at Lestrade uncomprehendingly. "Rachel was Jennifer Wilson's stillborn daughter fourteen years ago," Lestrade explained.
"Oh," Sherlock mumbled. "Oh, that's not right. Why would she do that? Why?"
"'Why would she think of her dead daughter in her last moments?'" Anderson chimed in. "Oh yeah, sociopath, I'm really seeing it now."
Sherlock looked like he was trying very hard not to smack Anderson over the head with something. "She didn't think about her daughter," he ground out. "She scratched her name into the floor with her fingernails. She was dying. It would've taken effort. It would've hurt."
John cleared his throat and raised a hand. "You said the victims all took the poison themselves, that he makes them take it. Well, maybe he, I don't know... 'talks to them.' Maybe he used the death of her daughter somehow?"
"No, that was ages ago! Why would she still be upset?" The room fell quiet. Sherlock noticed everyone looking at him and glanced toward John. "What? Not good?"
John scrubbed a hand over his face. "A bit not good, yeah," he sighed.
Sherlock danced anxiously from foot to foot for a moment before he lunged at John. "Look, if you were dying-if you had been murdered... In your very last few seconds, what would you say?"
John stiffened and averted his eyes. "'Please, God, let me live.'"
Sherlock scoffed. "Oh, use your imagination!"
John's jaw clenched, and he glared at Sherlock. "I don't have to."
Sherlock's face screwed up in a strange mix between annoyance, concern, and pain. "Yes, but if you were clever. I mean, really clever. Jennifer Wilson, running all those lovers? She was clever. She was trying to tell us something!"
Mrs. Hudson toddled into the living room. "Is the doorbell working? Your taxi's here, Sherlock."
"I didn't order a taxi, go away!" Sherlock said and began pacing again.
"Oh, goodness. They're making such a mess in here! What are they looking for?" Mrs. Hudson wondered aloud as she glanced into the kitchen.
John came and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "It's... It's a drugs bust, Mrs. Hudson."
"Oh, dear! But I just hurt my hip, you know, they're herbal soothers, not-"
"Shut up! Everybody shut up!" Sherlock's hands hovered over his face, twitching, as if he didn't know whether to cover his ears or claw out his own eyes first. "Nobody move! Don't speak, don't even breathe! I am trying to think! Anderson, face the other way, you're putting me off."
Anderson gaped. "What? My face is?"
Lestrade sighed and waved his hands. "Alright, everybody quiet and still, please. Anderson, turn your back."
"What? For God's sake-"
"Anderson. Your back. Now, please."
Sherlock was muttering to himself. "Come on, come on... Think, quick..."
"But what about your taxi?" Mrs. Hudson asked.
Sherlock practically growled at her. "MRS. HUDSON-!" The landlady jumped and hurried downstairs, but Sherlock was back in his mind already. "Oh! Oh... Oh, yes, she was clever! She was clever, very clever, yes... She's cleverer than you lot, and she's dead! Do you see? Don't you get it?" A grin spread slowly across Sherlock's face. "She didn't lose her phone, she never lost her phone! She planted it on him! When she got out of the car, she knew she was going to her death. She left the phone in order to lead us to her killer!"
"But how?" Lestrade asked.
Sherlock froze, confused. "What? What do you mean how? Rachel! Don't you see? Rachel!" Sherlock glanced around the room and realized no one else was following him. He huffed out a disbelieving laugh. "Oh, look at you lot. You're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing. Rachel isn't a name!"
"Then what is it?" John snapped, beginning to get annoyed with Sherlock's insults.
The detective opened his laptop on the desk and started typing furiously. "John, on the luggage, there's a label. An email address."
John sighed, feeling around the edge of the suitcase until he found the correct keychain with an identifying sticker on it. " .uk."
"Oh, I've been too slow," Sherlock muttered. "She didn't have a laptop, which means she did all her business on her phone, so it's a smart phone, it's email enabled. So there's a website for her account. The username is her address, and-all together now!-the password is..."
"Rachel," John said, realization dawning.
Anderson crossed his arms. "Okay. So we can read her email now. So what?"
"Anderson, don't talk out loud, you lower the IQ of the entire street," Sherlock called over his shoulder. "We can do a lot more than read her emails. It's a smart phone, it's got GPS. Which means if you lose it, you can locate it online. She's leading us directly towards the man who killed her!"
"But what if he got rid of it?" Lestrade asked.
"We know he didn't," John said.
Sherlock's leg bounced up and down as he impatiently waited for the online program to track the phone's location. "Come on. Come on. Quickly!"
Mrs. Hudson ventured back into the living room. "Sherlock, dear, this taxi driver is-"
Sherlock grunted at her. "Mrs. Hudson, isn't it time for your evening soother?" He jumped up and approached Lestrade. "Get vehicles, get helicopters... We've got to move fast. That phone battery won't last forever."
"But we'll just have a map reference," Lestrade began.
"Well, it's a start!"
John slipped into the desk chair and looked at the map on the laptop screen. "Um, Sherlock-"
"Now it's not just anyone in London anymore," Sherlock said excitedly. "This is the first proper lead we've had!"
"Yes?" Sherlock crouched behind John, looking over his shoulder. "Yes, where is it?"
"It's... here." John pointed at the map. "See? 221 Baker Street."
Sherlock straightened in shock. "Wh-No! How could it be here?"
Lestrade shrugged. "Maybe it was in the case when you brought it back, and it fell out somewhere."
"What, and I didn't notice it?" Sherlock snapped. "Me? I didn't notice?"
"Anyway," John said. "We texted him, and he called back."
Lestrade turned toward the drug squad. "Okay, guys, we're also looking for a mobile here somewhere..."
John glanced over his shoulder at Sherlock, who was frozen in place, staring out into the dark landing with wide eyes. "Sherlock? Are you okay?"
"Huh?" Sherlock tilted his head in John's direction but didn't move his gaze. "Uh, yeah. Yeah, I'm fine."
John raised an eyebrow at him. "So... how can the phone be here, then?"
John sighed and turned back to the laptop. "I'll try the GPS again."
"Yeah. Good idea." Sherlock drifted dazedly toward the door, grabbing his coat and scarf on the way past.
"Where are you going?" John asked, his brow furrowed with concern.
"Fresh air. Just popping outside for a moment. Won't be long."
John bit his lip. "Sherlock? Are you sure you're alright?"
"I'm fine," Sherlock muttered, and then he slipped out the front door.
"That," Scottie said, "was the most intense five minutes of my entire life."
Emily let out a breath she had been holding. "I think my heart stopped for a while there."
The two teens casually bumped their fists together, John let out a nervous laugh, and the drug squad went back to searching. After a few moments, Emily and Scottie went to the front window and pulled the curtains aside.
"Hey, John!" Scottie called. "He just got in a cab!"
"Sherlock just rode off in a taxi," Emily said.
"What?" John joined them and watched the cab drive away from Baker Street. "Seriously? Right when we're in the middle of...? Ugh, that man."
"I told you, he does that," Donovan said with a sympathetic frown. Then she raised her voice unnecessarily loud for speaking to Lestrade, who was right beside her. "See? He's left again. We're wasting our time here!"
The other Yarders began to grumble in agreement. John pulled out his phone, dialed, and held it up to his ear. "I'm calling her phone, it's ringing right now."
Lestrade paused to listen. "Well, if it's ringing, it isn't here."
John sighed and hung up. "I'll try that search again-"
"Does it matter?" Donovan snapped. "He's just a lunatic! He let you down, and he'll always let you down. You're wasting our time-all our time!"
John's jaw and fists clenched as the Yarders started grumbling louder. Scottie elbowed him in the side.
"Y'know," he said. "Technically, not punching someone in the face because she's a woman is pretty sexist."
John gave him an appreciative smile and focused on relaxing all his muscles, one by one.
"Alright, alright," Lestrade conceded. "Everybody pack up then, I guess we're done here." The DI watched his team put things back the way they had found them and file out until it was just him, John, and the two kids. "Why did he do that?" Lestrade asked with slumped shoulders. "Why did he have to leave like that?"
John shrugged and gave him a weak smile. "You know him better than I do."
Lestrade looked John over with narrowed eyes. "I've known him for five years, and no, I don't."
John's eyebrows nearly hit his hairline. "Wh-Then why do you put up with him?"
"Because I'm desperate, that's why," Lestrade sighed. "Because, well... Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man. And I think that maybe, one day-if we're very, very lucky-he might even be a good one." Lestrade shrugged, seemingly embarrassed, and saw himself out with a wave goodbye.
"Later, Inspector Sexy," Scottie called after him.
John collapsed in his armchair and buried his face in his hands. Spotting Emily and Scottie still staring at him through his fingers, he looked up with a groan. "What?" he said. "You, uh... You two hungry or something? Should've brought back take out with us while we were gone." They kept staring. "What? I'm not Sherlock, I can't read your minds. If you want anything, you'll have to use words."
"I hope Sherlock's okay, wherever he is," Emily said loudly.
"Yeah," Scottie agreed, just as loud. "Hope he isn't trying to chase down a serial murderer all on his own or anything."
They continued staring.
"Sherlock is a grown man," John said, sitting up in his chair. "He's been taking care of himself for years before I came along..."
"And what if today is the day he needs protecting?" Scottie asked.
John stared back at them for a moment, silent. "Are you two-I mean. You guys aren't...?" He raised his eyebrows and motioned uselessly with his hands.
"I strongly suggest you check the GPS on that phone again," Emily said.
John hesitated before hefting himself out of the armchair and into the desk chair again. "Just for the record," he huffed. "Today has been the weirdest day of my life."
"Yes, it is," Scottie said. "But it's about to get weirder. Where does it say the phone is now?"
John squinted at the screen. "Um, I dunno. It looks like it's inside a building a little while away from here... But that doesn't make sense, it was just-"
"Wait, inside the building?" Emily did a wonderful impression of Scottie flailing. "Oh, crap. They're already at the college!"
"John's running behind," Scottie said, face blank. "Guess we really did fuck up the timeline."
Emily grabbed one of John's arms and unsuccessfully tried to heave him out of the chair while Scottie attempted to shove his other arm through the sleeve of the man's jacket.
"John, don't ask why or how we know this," Emily said. "But you need to go find that phone right now. Sherlock is in deep trouble!"
John easily shook the two kids off of his arms. "What the devil are you two going on about? Honestly, Sherlock just got in a cab five minutes ago and-Oh!"
"Yes, oh," Scottie said. "Now that we're all caught up, can you start saving the day please?"
John didn't argue with them anymore. He shrugged his other arm into his jacket, grabbed the laptop and his cellphone, and jogged down the stairs.
"Hey!" Emily shouted. John turned around, and both teens were right behind him, staring back innocently. "We're coming with you."
"What? No, I..." Scottie's lower lip trembled. John sighed. "...God. Ugh, okay. Okay, let's go."
Scottie was so excited he couldn't stop doing his happy dance the whole way out the door. Emily grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him a few feet away.
"Should we really go with him?" she whispered. "Haven't we meddled enough already?"
Scottie scoffed. "Well, we tried keeping our noses out of everything, and look where that got us."
All three of them piled into the first empty taxi John jumped in front of. Scottie was squished in the middle with the laptop, Emily was charged with telling the cabbie where to go, and John was busy yelling into his cell phone.
"No! Detective Inspector Lestrade, I need to speak with him! It's important! It's an emergency!"
"Left here, please," Emily said. "Then a right on the next street."
They arrived at the college in record time, thanks to Scottie hinting that a hefty tip would be in order if the cabbie ignored all traffic laws. John was throwing the door open before the taxi even began to slow down, but he paused with one leg hanging out of the cab.
"Shit," he said. "Shit shit shit. Er, sorry. Don't use that word, it's bad."
"John, we're sixteen. We don't say shit. We say cuntbag and asswipe and picklefucker and chickenfaggot-"
"Nevermind," John said. "There are two buildings. Which one am I supposed to go in?"
Scottie looked closely at the map. "Er, it doesn't say. I think he left the phone in the cab... and it's parked between them."
"Well, aren't you supposed to know?" John snapped. "Psychic demon children, or whatever you are?"
Emily pointed at the building on the left. "That one. Just go, we'll take care of the taxi and the laptop and stuff. You go save Sherlock."
"Thank you," John breathed, and then he was out and running. "Don't get into trouble!"
As soon as John was out of sight inside the building, Emily smacked Scottie's arm. "Come on, let's go get into trouble."
"I think I'm rubbing off on you."
They paid the cabbie well and took the laptop with them into the other building. While they didn't know the layout of the college or exactly which room Sherlock would be in, they saved a lot of time by skipping the first floor entirely and running past any double doors that didn't have circular windows.
Somewhere in the middle of the third story, Scottie stumbled to a halt. "Do you hear that?"
"...this is wot... really addicted... anyfin' at all..." Emily followed the faint noises to a room on their right and carefully cracked the door open. "...to stop bein' bored. You're not bored now, are you?" Jeff Hope was saying. "Innit good?"
"Oh, man," Emily whispered. "Oh man oh man oh man oh man, hurry up, John..."
"What?" Scottie crowded in beside her, catching a glimpse of the scene inside through the crack in the door. He flailed when the pill, held in Sherlock's shaking hand, touched the detective's lips. "John isn't going to make it," Scottie hissed. "We have to do something!"
"But what? What can we do?"
Scottie sat cross-legged by the door, balanced Sherlock's laptop on his knees, opened it, and began clicking and typing.
There was a brief instrumental of cheerful music including a xylophone, and then the lyrics to Bullet by Hollywood Undead began blasting from the laptop's speakers at top volume.
"MY LEGS ARE DANGLING OFF THE EDGE! THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE IS MY ONLY FRIEND! I THINK I'LL SLIT MY WRISTS AGAIN-AND I'M GONE, GONE, GONE, GONE...!"
Emily glared at him. "Scottie, no."
"What? I thought it was fitting..."
"MY LEGS ARE DANGLING OFF THE EDGE! A STOMACH FULL OF PILLS DIDN'T WORK AGAIN! I PUT A BULLET IN MY HEAD-AND I'M GONE, GONE, GONE, GONE...!"
Sherlock jumped and fumbled with the pill, nearly dropping it. Unfortunately, he didn't. "What was that?" he asked, eyes wide and turned toward the door.
Jeff cursed. "Er... probably just the cleaners messin' around, yanno. Never ya mind it." The cabbie took a step closer, reaching out as if to take the pill back and shove it down Sherlock's throat. "Now... where were we, Mr. Holmes?"
Sherlock looked less sure. He opened his mouth to say something, but he was cut off. At the same time Jeff lunged at him, a bullet tore through two windows and the man's shoulder.
"Oh, shit!" Scottie jumped and slapped his hand at the laptop, attempting to cut the music off.
"...SO IF I SURVIVE, THEN I'LL SEE YOU TOMORROW! YEAH, I'LL SEE YOU TOMORROW! OH, MY LEGS ARE DANGLING OFF TH-"
Their ears rang in the silence that followed.
"...We should probably get the fuck out of here."
The two teens didn't stick around. They ran all the way back down to the first floor and then set up camp in the front lobby of the next building over, waiting. After a few minutes, John came jogging by and shooed them out into a dark back alley just as a police car turned onto the street. They crouched together in the darkness for what seemed like an achingly long time.
"I'm having Amnesia: The Dark Descent flashbacks," Scottie whispered.
Emily put a hand on John's arm, making him twitch. "Are you okay?"
"What? Me? Yeah. Never better." John peeked around the dumpster they were hiding behind. "Okay. Okay, let's go look inconspicuous. Ready?"
The trio waited until the sidewalk was flooded with policemen and EMTs before they casually strolled around the yellow caution tape and came to stand as close to Sherlock's ambulance as was legal. Then they proceeded to pass around John's phone and take turns snapping pictures of Sherlock wrapped in an orange shock blanket, pouting.
"Oh, bless him," Scottie said. "Isn't he adorable?"
John laughed. "He looks about twelve years old sometimes, y'know? He's so... lanky. Pale. And excitable."
"And he's... what? In his thirties?" Emily asked. "Oh, yes. Adorable is a word that applies."
"Look at those cheekbones. No seriously, look at them."
"He has such pretty eyes. They never seem to be the same color!"
"What with all these flashing multi-colored lights around and such a perfect subject, God help me, these pictures are starting to look artistic."
John hummed. "He is kind of dishy, isn't he?"
Emily and Scottie pretended not to hear, but they secretly high fived when John started staring off into space.
"...I'm in shock," Sherlock shouted. "Look, I've got a blanket!"
"Sherlock," Lestrade shouted back, crossing his arms and trying to look stern.
"And I've just caught you a serial killer!" Sherlock glanced at the other ambulance, where he knew a dead body was lying. "Er, well. More or less."
Lestrade pulled Sherlock close by his lapels and muttered something to him, wagging his finger like an irritated parent. Sherlock nodded, Lestrade released him with a pat on his shoulder, and Sherlock made a beeline for John without looking back.
"Er," John said. "Just overheard Donovan explaining everything. Two pills? Dreadful business, isn't it? Just dreadful..."
Sherlock's lips twitched upwards. "Nice shot."
John sent him a bemused smile. "Ha. Yes, must have been... Through that window, was it?"
"You would know," Sherlock retorted. John's mouth tightened, he cleared his throat and looked away, and Sherlock touched the back of the soldier's hand. "You really need to get those powder burns out of your fingers. I don't suppose you'd serve time for this, but... let's avoid the court case." Sherlock's hand dropped. "John?" he asked lowly. "Are you alright? You are alright, aren't you?"
John glanced up at him. "Yes, of course I'm alright."
"We're fine too, thanks for asking," Scottie said.
"Are you sure, John?" Sherlock said. "You have just killed a man..."
"Yes, I'm-Well. That is true, isn't it?" John let out a breath and stood a little taller. "But he wasn't a very nice man."
"No," Sherlock mused. "No, he wasn't really, was he?"
"And frankly, a bloody awful cabbie," John mumbled.
"That's true, he was a bad cabbie," Sherlock laughed. "You should've seen the route he took to get us here..."
John seemed to explode with giggles. He clapped a hand over his mouth and turned to bury his face in the crook of his arm, trying to stop himself. Sherlock didn't bother holding back his mirth, and Scottie and Emily quickly decided that the joke was a lot less funny in real life.
"Stop," John chuckled breathlessly, slapping at Sherlock's arm. "We can't giggle, it's a crime scene. Stop it!"
"You're the one who shot him, don't blame me," Sherlock said with a grin.
"Shhh!" John giggled once more before putting a hand over Sherlock's mouth. "Would you keep your voice down? Sheesh." John caught Donovan staring at them like they were idiots. "Er, sorry, sorry," he said as he started to drag Sherlock away by the elbow. "Just, uh, it's just nerves, I think."
"Sorry," Sherlock repeated with a smirk.
They only continued giggling once they were at a safe distance.
"The phrase 'overgrown manchild' springs to mind," Emily observed calmly, jogging along behind them with Scottie.
"You were going to take that damn pill, weren't you?" John asked with a tight smile.
"Wh-No! Of course I wasn't!" Sherlock sniffed and adjusted his scarf. "I was... biding my time. Knew you'd turn up."
"No, you didn't," Emily said and was ignored.
"That's how you get your kicks, isn't it?" John asked. He rounded on Sherlock at the end of the street and put a hand on his chest to stop him. Scottie almost smashed his face into the detective's shoulder blade. "You go about risking your life to... prove you're clever!"
Sherlock raised his eyebrows innocently. "Why would I do that?"
"Because you're an idiot," John said, scowling.
Sherlock just barely suppressed a smile. "Dinner?"
John grinned. "Starving."
"Down on Baker Street, there's a good Chinese restaurant that stays open until two," Sherlock offered. "You can always tell a good Chinese place by the bottom third of the door handle..."
"Are we allowed to come too?" Scottie asked petulantly.
Sherlock glanced back at him and sighed. "Oh, yes, fine. I suppose so." His lip twitched. "After what the two of you did today, I have-"
"Sherlock!" John gasped and ducked his head. "That's him, that's the man I was talking to you about!"
Everyone followed John's gaze to the nondescript black car parked on the other side of the street, a tall man in a suit with an umbrella climbing out of it. Sherlock's face twisted strangely.
"I know exactly who that is," he growled and started stalking straight toward the man.
Scottie made a strangled squealing noise, threw his arms around Emily, and forcibly dragged her along behind Sherlock. "I don't know if I should be excited or terrified," she said.
The man stepped forward to meet the detective. "So," he purred. "Another case cracked. How very... public-spirited. Though that's never really your motivation, is it?"
"What are you doing here?" Sherlock demanded.
The man hummed and inspected the tip of his umbrella. "As ever, I'm... concerned. About you."
Sherlock glared. "Yes, I've been hearing about your 'concern.'"
"Always so aggressive," the man tutted. "Did it ever occur to you that you and I belong on the same side?"
Sherlock put on an exaggerated thinking-very-hard face. "Hmm. Oddly enough, no."
"Oh goodness, he's both scarier and more attractive in person," Scottie mumbled against Emily's shoulder. "I feel faint. Catch me, Emily."
"You're a weirdo," she said. "Don't drool on my shirt."
The man looked Sherlock over disapprovingly. "We have more in common than you would like to believe, Sherlock. This petty feud between us is childish. People will suffer." He sniffed and examined his fingernails. "And you know how it always used to upset Mummy."
"Upset her? Me?" Sherlock snapped, readying himself for a fight. "It wasn't me who upset her, Mycroft!"
"No, wait," John said and held up a hand. "Mummy? Who is 'Mummy'?"
"Mother," Sherlock corrected with narrowed eyes. "Our mother. This is my brother, Mycroft. Putting on weight again?"
"Losing it, in fact," Mycroft said with a tense smile.
"What? He's your brother?" John asked, eyebrows raised.
Sherlock glanced at him. "Well, of course he's my brother."
"His extremely handsome brother," Scottie said, sidling out from behind Emily. "Hello there."
John grabbed the teen and pulled him back with a scowl. "So... wait. You mean he's not-?"
"Not what?" Sherlock asked, brow furrowed.
"Um, I dunno. A criminal mastermind?"
"Close enough," Sherlock muttered.
Mycroft scoffed. "Oh, for goodness's sake! I occupy a minor position in the British government."
"He is the British government," Sherlock said with an eyeroll. "When he's not too busy being the British secret service, or the CIA on a freelance basis... Good evening, Mycroft. Try not to start a war before I get home, will you? You know what it does for traffic." Sherlock pulled his coat around himself, turned with a dramatic twirl, and marched off in the direction of Baker Street.
"You're hot," Scottie said, and Emily threw her arms around his face.
"Scottie!" she gasped. "You do not talk to the British government like that!"
"So... when you say you're concerned about him," John said slowly. "You actually are concerned?"
Mycroft gave him a puzzled look. "Yes, of course."
"It actually is just a childish feud?"
Mycroft sighed. "He's always been so resentful. You can imagine the Christmas dinners."
John watched with a smile as Sherlock sauntered away. "Ha. Yeah... wait. No. God no." John turned back to Mycroft with a shake of his head. "I better, um..." He motioned after the detective awkwardly, and then he spotted Anthea leaning against the trunk of the car. "Oh. Hello again."
The woman barely looked up from her phone to give him a bemused smile. "Hello."
John paused, waiting for her to recognize him. "Er, yes. We met earlier this evening?"
She squinted at him and then gasped. "Ohhh!"
John winced. "Yes, yes, okay. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Dr. Watson," Mycroft said with a smile.
John nodded, shoved his hands into his pockets, and slumped off after Sherlock. Emily and Scottie jogged to catch up with their new flatmates. "Well, we made it through the first episode," Emily said. "We're not dead yet. We haven't killed off any main characters."
"Barely," Scottie muttered. "We haven't destroyed the space-time continuum, so I guess that's something. I wonder if we'll disappear back to our old lives when this episode ends?"
"What about when the series ends?" Emily asked, and they glanced at each other.
"...yes, I can always predict the fortune cookies," Sherlock said with an amused smile.
"No you can't!" John laughed.
"Well, almost can," Sherlock admitted. "You did get shot, though?"
"In Afghanistan. There was an actual wound?"
"Oh, yeah!" John nodded. "In my shoulder."
"Hmm, shoulder. Thought so," Sherlock mused.
John gave him a look. "No, you didn't."
John pouted. "Lucky guess."
Sherlock smirked. "I never guess."
"Yes, you do." John glanced at him and smiled. "What are you so happy about?"
"Moriarty," Sherlock sighed with a grin.
John squinted at him. "What's a Moriarty?"
"I have absolutely no idea," Sherlock said, and turned the corner onto Baker Street.
The tension between Scottie and Emily rose steadily as the group made its way closer and closer to the Chinese place. Finally, just as Sherlock pushed open the door of the restaurant, Scottie exploded.
"Oh my GOD," he yelled. "WE STILL EXIST IN THIS DIMENSION I AM SO HAPPY." Everyone stopped to stare at him. "Sorry. I just really really really don't want to go poof."
There was a brief awkward silence, and then Sherlock said, "It might be a bit too late for that."
John stared at him. "Was that a joke?"
"No," Sherlock said, blinking back owlishly. He held the door open and half-bowed in a very gentlemanly fashion. John shook his head, amused, and walked inside. Scottie and Emily followed with Sherlock looming over them. "So," he drawled. "Moriarty. I know you know what that means."
"Yep," Emily said.
"And you aren't going to tell me."
Sherlock huffed. "Nothing at all?"
"Well... there is one thing," Scottie said. "The devil wears Westwood."
"And occasionally very gay underwear," Emily added.
Sherlock hummed. "Really? Fascinating. What will the two of you be ordering?"
And then Scottie tried Chinese food for the first time in his life.
"Sir, should we go now?" Anthea asked, motioning toward the car.
"Interesting, that soldier fellow," Mycroft mused. "He could be the making of my brother... or he could make him worse than ever. And as for those two children..."
"Sorry," Anthea said, glancing up from her phone distractedly. "What children, sir?"
"I am unsure who they are," Mycroft admitted sourly. "And it is disturbing me. Did you notice? They both seemed to... recognize me, especially the boy. 'Scottie,' was it?"
Anthea hummed and continued typing.
"Either way, we better upgrade their surveillance status," Mycroft sighed. "Grade three, active."
Anthea looked at him, confused. "Sorry sir, whose status?"
"Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson... and the two teenagers living with them. Scottie and Emily, surnames and relations unknown. Possibly unstable."
Mycroft turned and got into the car, slamming the door behind him.