Inherent

Elementary

"Why, brother dearest, to what do I owe this great pleasure? Especially on this most auspicious of days?"

"Mycroft, you can shove..."

"Ah, ah, ah, little brother. This call may be recorded for safety and training purposes."

"When AREN'T you recording my calls, you... you... ugh!"

Ashamed at his lack of a truly scathing insult, Sherlock pulled the phone from his ear and glared down at the contact picture of his older brother. It was the worst picture Sherlock could find of Mycroft, and the face that grinned pompously back at him still dripped with proper English gentleman.

He just couldn't take it.

"Not worth it!" Sherlock shouted in the general direction of the phone in his hand. He disconnected the call.

Honestly. Ending an angry call by mobile had proven completely unsatisfactory, repeatedly, and was quickly becoming the bane of his very existence.

"URGENT. Procure an old landline phone. With the cords and buttons. No rotary dials. And a proper, sturdy base that can withstand abuse. SH"

"A black one. SH"

"With the stretchy spiral cord. SH"

"For science. SH"

"Also, we'll need a landline. I'm sure even you figured that out. SH"

"JOHNNN. SH"

As nimble fingers fidgeted, poised to continue the text assault on one Captain John H. Watson, MD, in absentia, an incoming call rang in. Sherlock fumbled and nearly dropped the phone, and with great expectation answered the call.

“Where are you?” Sherlock hoped his voice portrayed just the right amount of angry venom combined with a hint of concern. Not too much concern though, it would never do for John to think Sherlock had gone suddenly sentimental.

Because he had most definitely NOT.

“Hmm, you do realize there is no need to deduce phone calls now? Your mobile has a lovely feature, caller I.D. isn’t it? It really is a marvel of modern technology.”

Sherlock exhaled deeply in frustration. Stepping over the coffee table he flopped onto the sofa. “What do you want, Mycroft? I’m really rather preoccupied with a case.”

“If recollection serves, you called me first, brother.” Mycroft’s petulant tone grated on Sherlock’s every last nerve. “You weren’t, by chance, calling to inquire into the significance of this particular date in history, as it pertains to one John Watson?”

Sherlock growled. “Out with it!”

“Temper, brother,” Mycroft warned. He paused and cleared his throat. When next he spoke, he had taken on more gentle tone. To the uninitiated he would have sounded caring, compassionate even. Sherlock knew better. This was Mycroft’s I-am-only-saying-this-once-and-for-your-benefit-alone-so-do-not-even-think-about-interrupting voice. Sherlock sat up a little straighter, as if the elder Holmes were actually in the room with him (despite their best efforts, Mycroft was always a step ahead of John and Sherlock when it came to hidden cameras in the flat; it was entirely likely Mycroft had eyes on Sherlock during this entire exchange, so for all intents and purposes, he was indeed in the room).

“Have you looked at a calendar today, Sherlock?”

“As a matter of fact, I have. Your little cameras miss that? I fail to see…”

Mycroft interrupted, “Ah, you SAW a calendar, but you failed to observe.”

“I swear on all that you hold dear, if you do not get to the point…” Sherlock was working himself into a rage now. How dare Mycroft use his own words against him? But threatening Mycroft only ever ended poorly for Sherlock. Who knew what God awful "errand" Mycroft would send him on if he became too belligerent. Through clenched teeth he decided, for the sake of gathering information, and self-preservation, to go a different direction.

“Of course I observed. John’s calendar is full of appointments and events. Except for today. Today is blank, with the singular distinction of being highlighted in red.”

“And what might we gather from that data?” Mycroft asked, with that same not-compassionate-because-I-know-what-you-do-not tone.

“What data? There. Is. No. Data. Unless… No.”

“Unless what? Could it be? Perhaps Dr. Watson did not want you to see what he was planning for today?” Mycroft supplied.

“No,” Sherlock said slowly. “John tells me everything. And what he doesn’t tell me, I deduce. The man is an open book.” Sherlock ran his free hand through his hair in dismay. “John doesn’t keep secrets from me.” He had a growing sensation in the pit of his stomach. It couldn’t be sadness. No. Most definitely not. Nor could it be loneliness; specifically the kind of loneliness that comes when one is left on the outside looking in. No. Because those are emotions, and emotions lend themselves to sentimentality, and Sherlock Holmes and sentiment do not even exist on the same plane.

Mycroft cleared his throat in order to draw Sherlock from his thoughts. “Brother dearest, while I am inclined to draw this out for as long as possible, I simply do not have the time to continue this emotional torment. I’m going to send you a link to CCTV footage of your doctor from earlier this morning. Watch it all the way through, will you? And keep in mind today’s date. You do know the date?”

“I didn’t... actually notice the date,” Sherlock’s voice was small. He felt defeated. Even Mycroft was in on the secret. That meant this date was of the utmost importance. Sherlock’s mind raced. Certainly he would remember his own birthday. Right?

“Today is May 4th.” The hitch in Mycroft’s voice would have been imperceptible to anyone else. Sherlock heard it immediately.

“Mycroft?”

“I’m late for a meeting. Just, watch the video, and try to avoid doing anything reckless. And Sherlock…” Mycroft hesitated as if he were considering his words carefully. “Ahem, yes. Happy Anniversary.” The call ended abruptly.

Sherlock, dumbstruck, stared at the mobile in his hand. "What does that mean?" He screamed at the silent phone.

Not only had Mycroft successfully goaded him into an internal torrent of emotion, he had distracted him from his original intent. All he had wanted was to ask about the business card in John's coat pocket.

Sherlock roared and kicked at the coffee table, causing the cold tea to swirl and slosh over the rim of the mug.

"JOOOHNNN. I. Hate. Everyone. SH"

"You especially. SH"

"Mycroft most of all. Mycroft. Then you. Lastly, everyone else. SH"

In a shockingly agile move, Sherlock jumped to his full height and stood trembling in the middle of the couch. In full blown tantrum, he continued to rage. "Why have I allowed myself to be surround by completely useless, and utterly..."

The electronic ping of an incoming e-mail silenced his tirade and ceased his mad stomping. With perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm, he sprang from the couch, stepping to the coffee table, and stumbled to the floor. With minimal flailing of his arms he managed to stay on his feet, righted himself, and straightened his suit. Glancing around the room to make certain no one had seen the ungraceful dismount, Sherlock spotted one of Mycroft's hidden cameras tucked into the bookshelf. He made a rude gesture in the general direction of the invasive device, implicating Mycroft's mother in a rather obscene manner; the insult made all the more offensive by the fact that they happened to share the same maternal genetic coding.

Snatching John's laptop from the table, Sherlock opened the e-mail, clicked on the link, and with a sigh flopped, rather too dramatically, into his chair. The skull on the mantle stared back at him, unimpressed. "Who asked you?" Sherlock snapped.

After a moment of buffering, a grainy view of Baker Street filled the laptop screen. Sherlock considered the location of the camera, as it revealed their front door from above and slightly to the side, with the front of Speedy's fully in view. "Hm, that's a new angle." Barely had he calculated the exact location of the camera when their front door opened and out stepped John.

Sherlock quickly took stock of his flat mate. Grey button up cardigan rather than his coat, a fact Sherlock had already established. Pale blue button up shirt, the one that accentuates John's eyes so well. Ahem. Yes. Nice khakis. Boring. Hideous brown loafers. Sherlock had insisted John never wear them when they were in public together. But they didn't require tying, so the logic behind wearing them was sound. Black tie... No, navy. The quality of the image made it hard to differentiate the slight color difference.

Wait.

"A tie John? SH"

He would come back to that. A tie was important. John Watson in a tie meant business.

Continuing his assessment, Sherlock noted John had a backpack slung over his left shoulder only. The sling was absent from his right arm.

"Seriously, John? It's evident you are still in considerable pain. Why didn't you wear the sling? SH"

"I know you are a very proud man, but there is absolutely nothing shameful in asking for help. SH”

"I don't actually hate you. SH"

The knuckles on John's left hand were still bandaged. At least he had the sense to keep them wrapped.

John turned in the direction of the camera, and winced in pain as he had obviously momentarily forgotten about his shoulder and reached up with his right hand to close the door with the knocker. He switched tactics and reached for the doorknob. Sherlock frowned. It was a minor injury really, a mere inconvenience, but he had gotten it defending Sherlock. Always the soldier. One of these times John was going to get into a situation he couldn't get himself out of.

Maybe it was time to rethink their strategies for apprehending suspects.

But being careful is soul crushingly boring. Sherlock was certain John would concur.

Sherlock turned his attention back to the screen as John turned on to Baker Street and headed in the direction of the tube station.

"How do you tolerate the tube? All the people, and noise, and germs, and people. Ghastly. SH"

Assuming the next several minutes would be footage of John walking to the tube, entering the station, boarding the tube, riding the tube, exiting the tube, leaving the station, and walking to Bart's, Sherlock pressed rapid play on the video to speed things along.

Ever the unpredictable variable, John stopped short, ducked into Speedy's, emerged with a disposable coffee cup (based on the time stamp, 7:03 am, John would've ordered a tea), stopped to chat with the perky blonde and her shy brunette friend sitting outside the shop. "Oh, come off it. They're entirely too young for you!" Sherlock sneered as he glanced up at John's chair.

Right. No John.

"You probably reminded those girls of their fathers. You're a sick man, John Watson. SH"

"I thought I told you to destroy those loafers. SH"


On the screen John stepped away from the young ladies, and winced in pain (eliciting yet another frown from his flat mate) as he raised his right hand to summon a cab. He briefly glanced up at the camera and then ducked into the waiting car. Even in rapid play, it was almost as if he had intentionally made eye contact with Sherlock.

"Knew I'd be watching. Clever, Doctor. SH"

The next several scenes were simply footage of John's cab making its way through London traffic to St Bartholomew's Hospital. With an exasperated sigh, Sherlock declared the footage boring and skipped completely ahead to John entering the hospital. Though he knew patient privacy laws were being broken, he was grateful to Mycroft for tapping in to the hospital security system. He narrowed his eyes in frustration as he watched John bypass general registration, the emergency unit, and radiology. "Where are you going, John?" Sherlock set the video to play at standard speed in order to more carefully observe John's movement.

John's stride was casual, unhurried. He struggled a few times with keeping the backpack over just one shoulder. The shoulder strap was clearly uncomfortable on his old war wound, but there was no way his right shoulder could withstand the pressure of the other strap. He still carefully carried the paper cup, indicating that he had not yet sipped from it. He passed unit after unit, until Sherlock finally recognized where he was headed. The pathology lab.

With a timidity Sherlock did not recall ever witnessing before, John entered the lab. Molly Hooper was bent over a microscope, completely absorbed in her work. She was visibly startled when John approached her. The two looked at each other awkwardly for a moment, and then John thrust the paper cup forward to her. Molly accepted the offering with some trepidation. John lowered his head, and turned slightly away, completely obscuring Sherlock's view of his face.

Pounding the arm of his chair with his fist, Sherlock growled. The worst part about spying by CCTV was the lack of audio content.

"Mycroft, I'm shocked. I spend enough time in the lab at Bart's, I would have thought you would have microphones present as well as cameras. SH"

"Ah, dear brother. Conduct a search, I think you will find what you are looking for. However, in this instance, the good doctor and Miss Hooper needed a moment. MH"

"They needed a moment. How magnanimous of you. SH"

"You're supposed to be on my side. SH"

"Mycroft? SH"

"Mr. Holmes wishes to inform you that you are being utterly ridiculous, and he can no longer justify expending the effort to respond. Anthea"


Shoving the phone into his pocket, Sherlock looked back at the screen. Molly was still holding the cup, clutching it tightly with both hands. She had tears in her eyes, though her countenance did not appear to be one of hurt or sorrow. She seemed almost relieved. John's face was still turned away, but his stance was not one of anger or malice. No, this was the posture of a man seeking repentance, attempting to make amends. A small smile crept onto Sherlock's face.

Upon his return nearly six months ago, Sherlock had assumed John would be overjoyed that he hadn't actually died. He had not counted on the anguish and pain that his departure had caused his friend. And he certainly did not expect John to be angry.

No, not angry. Outraged. Resentful. Bitter. Offended. Betrayed.

In the throes of his understandably passionate response to Sherlock's weak attempts at explaining himself (which John kept demanding he do), John had interrupted him long enough to punch him in the face. Twice. Sherlock neither faulted him nor held it against him. He just wanted to come back home, to London, to Baker Street, to his life, and to John. He would have let John beat him within an inch of his own life if it would have helped the doctor cope.

John's method of coping had proven to be far more devious than any physical assault could ever be.

He avoided Sherlock for a full week after. Even when they were both in the flat, John made certain they never occupied the same space. He actively ignored any attempt Sherlock made at speaking to him. Sherlock could see John's mind at work, weighing his options, making plans. He was in torment, and once again it was all because of Sherlock. And that knowledge caused the consulting detective no end of suffering.

Until one day John just simply wasn't angry any more.

It was disorienting and sudden. And true to John Watson's form, simple.

John came home from the clinic one day, not even sparing a glance for Sherlock huddled in his arm chair, overcome by the growing desperate need for his friend to just acknowledge his presence. He headed directly to the kitchen and started the kettle. After several minutes John returned to the sitting room and offered Sherlock what was, in his mind, the most lovely and appropriate peace offering imaginable. A cup of tea. John took his place in his arm chair, nodded ever so slightly at Sherlock, broke the silence with one syllable, "Right," picked up a dog-eared paperback and settled in for the evening. They didn't speak that night. They didn't need to. The companionable silence was more than enough.

When John came to realize Mycroft had been involved in Sherlock's faked suicide and two and a half year absence, his response had initially been much the same. Mycroft had let himself into the flat unannounced. John had rushed him and taken a swing. Somewhere during the three steps it took John to reach Mycroft from his seated position at the table, a horde of men in black suits had flooded into the residence, and pinned the enraged ex-military man to the floor before his right hook could make contact.

The subsequent tongue-lashing Mycroft received from the restrained Captain was vividly vulgar, offensive, and well deserved. John's rant was a masterful diatribe of obscenities and expletives woven poetically together with curses, not only in English, but a handful of other languages he had picked up during his time in Afghanistan. It was a thing of pure beauty, as far as Sherlock was concerned. And it lasted five whole minutes. Five minutes, eleven seconds, to be precise. Sherlock timed it. He still lamented the fact that he had not recorded it for posterity's sake.

John had ended the abuse with a pant and then a demand to be allowed to stand. A stunned Mycroft nodded, his face was stained crimson. No one besides Sherlock had ever attempted to put him in his place, verbally or otherwise, and here this invalided, emotionally distraught, former soldier had done just that. And succeeded.

At the first sense of being released, John forced himself up and away from Mycroft's men, stood to full military height, marched directly up to Mycroft, stared him in the eye until the taller man actually shrank away, slammed his right shoulder into the distressed dignitary's shoulder, causing his umbrella to clatter to the floor, and proceeded to stomp down the stairs and out the front door.

And then John Watson slashed all four tires of Mycroft's car.

No one could actually prove it at the time, since the entire security team, including the driver, had been upstairs in the flat. John never mentioned it. Mycroft later watched the tapes, promptly had them erased, and never reported the crime. Sherlock recognized the fact that the cuts had been clearly made with a pocket knife by a left handed man of average height in his late thirties. He had never been more proud of anyone. Ever.

It took two months for that relationship to return to something resembling normal. Sherlock observed that Mycroft and John maintained their mutual disdain for one another. Looking after him seemed to be the only thing they had in common. And quite frankly, he felt that was as it should be.

Then there was Molly.

It wasn't the fact that Molly had known Sherlock's secret that hurt John. Nor was it the fact that she had sat with him for hours on especially hard days after he had watched Sherlock jump, and they had mourned together. Or, he thought they had. No, what truly angered John about Molly's involvement was quite possibly, if you asked Sherlock, the single most trivial part of the whole matter. The death certificate.

John had made an oath to uphold certain standards when he became a doctor. As a Captain in the military, following the rules was engrained in him. And one thing John Watson simply could not tolerate was falsification of legal documents. Especially medical records.

It happened every day. He was well aware. John also resigned himself to the fact that Sherlock had used the tactic to corner a suspect on more than one occasion.

But Molly was different. Molly was sweet, and caring, and had integrity. Not to mention the fact that she was a medical professional.

She of all people should have understood.

Falsifying a death certificate was wrong. Illegal. Devious. It made her a liar and a fraud. And wasn't it funny, John had reasoned, that this whole mess happened because Moriarty had convinced the world Sherlock Holmes was a fraud. But that had been a lie. No, when he really thought about it, the only frauds John Watson could come up with were James Moriarty and Molly Hooper.

And he told her so.

Because he couldn't bring himself to hit her. He was no monster. And even though he was livid, propriety dictated he keep his foul mouth hidden from a lady.

But he could tell her the truth, as scathing as it was. So he did. He had turned his back to her sobbing, stormed from the lab, and had not spoken to her since.

Until today. May 4th. The mystery day.

That is the reason Sherlock Holmes found himself grinning stupidly at the hospital security footage in front of him. Molly was vital to his work, and John's avoidance of her had created several difficult situations, consuming valuable time. Finally, John had come around, as Sherlock knew he would (he had to, this was John Watson, and John Watson is compassionate, empathetic, and forgiving). He cared very little that his friends were reconciling, no, but he was overjoyed that he could return to his work as usual.

Maybe this day, whatever it was, wasn't so bad after all.

Sherlock watched Molly nod and smile slightly as John's shoulders slumped in relief. They stood awkwardly another moment, until John noticed the clock on the wall, 7:29 am. He embraced her, being careful of the cup in her hand, kissed her on the cheek, and dashed to the door, saying something over his shoulder. Molly giggled and raised her hand in a wave goodbye.

Taking out his mobile, Sherlock desperately wanted to text John something snarky about being forced to grovel for Molly's forgiveness, but he hesitated. There was something very pure about the few moments he had witnessed. Maybe Mycroft wasn't such a moron after all, perhaps they really had just needed a moment. He decided to let this one go.

Nah.

"You're lucky Molly is so patient. And that I am so reserved. SH"

The scene on the screen changed as John burst out of the lab and rushed to the nearest elevator. He selected the top floor, and tapped his foot impatiently, this time avoiding looking directly into the onboard camera. He was hiding something, and he assumed Sherlock would be watching.

Just as Sherlock picked up his mobile a text alert buzzed. "Mycroft," he sighed, more disappointed about that fact than he had ever been about anything else.

"Brother, what you are about to watch is highly personal. That I am showing you this without John's permission is inexcusable, and may cause irreparable damage to the already fragile relationship between he and I. I implore you, do not succumb to sentimentality. Or rage. MH"

Sherlock gestured once more at the camera on the bookshelf behind him, and turned his attention to the laptop. John had disembarked from the elevator, and with a glance around to make sure no one was watching, made his way to the stairwell. The screen went black briefly, and when the footage started back up Sherlock was alarmed that he was not seeing the stairwell. This was an external camera.

He couldn't quite place it...

The image shuddered a moment, as something below it moved, and the top of a door came into view. Then the top of a slightly greying sandy blonde head. And the top of the head materialized into John, who took a few steps out from the door, stopped, slid the backpack off his shoulder and clutched it in front of him, and looked around slowly.

Oh God.

No.

No no no no no.

May 4th.

Details that had been long deleted suddenly found their way back to him.

May 4th, 2012. The day John Watson watched him jump from the roof of St Bart's.

Three years ago today.

God. Why was John on the roof.

Sherlock held the laptop in both hands and pleaded with the man on the roof. "Turn around John, come back home. Please. Please. What are you doing?"

Helplessly he watched, transfixed by what he was seeing. John walked slowly to an area of the roof just at the edge of the screen. Sherlock willed him to not go any further. He didn't. Instead he paused once more, looked up at the sky thoughtfully, and to Sherlock's great astonishment, John spit on the roof below him. John was talking now, though no one was there with him; his countenance was calm, but there was fire in his eyes. He spit once more on the same spot, and with more purpose strode to the ledge of the roof. Running his hand along the ledge, John walked slowly, contemplating every step. With a sudden stop he sat his backpack down, and leaned to peer over the ledge, with his back to the camera.

Heart racing and head pounding, Sherlock fought a wave of nausea. Breathe. He couldn't breathe. He had to set the laptop on his knees as his hands had begun to shake too badly to support its weight. "John," he whispered as he watched the other man sit down on the ledge and bury his face in his hands.

"John, I'm back. I'm not dead! John, please... don't... don't do this..." Sherlock begged. Horror coursed through him as he watched John gingerly swing his legs over the ledge so that he was sitting with his back to the camera, his feet dangling over the street below. He was seated in the precise spot from which Sherlock had jumped.

John just sat, unmoving. Sherlock followed suit, his eyes attempting to bore into the mind of the man on the screen. So focused on John's back was he, that he was actually startled when the rooftop door opened once more, and a shock of salt and pepper hair came into view. Lestrade, carrying two disposable coffee cups stepped quickly to the same spot, almost at the edge of the screen, John had gone to. He paused only a moment, said something clearly angry, and spit twice in the same spot John had spit.

Sherlock paused the video. He had nearly forgotten he was watching a recording. His heart slowed down measurably. If John had done something foolish, someone would have called him. Right? He groaned. Or not. He ran his hand through his hair.

He wouldn't think about that now. Not yet.

He scanned the frozen image. Based on the angle of the camera, and the limited view of the skyline, Sherlock decided John and Lestrade had figured out the spot where Moriarty had shot himself, and this was their way of desecrating his memory. Sherlock hummed in approval. He might have to pay the spot a visit soon as well. Though he doubted John would let him anywhere near a roof anytime in the near future.

Wait. John.

Sherlock returned his gaze to John's back, and watched as Lestrade approached the ledge. He set the coffee down to John's left and clamped his hand down on John's left shoulder. They exchanged a few words, and Lestrade grinned as he carefully sat on the ledge and turned his back to the camera as well. The two sat in apparent silence for some time, until Lestrade picked up the cups and handed one to John, who laughed at something Lestrade said.

"What is this, a bloody tea party?" Sherlock shouted. He was still shaking, but the fear was slowly being replaced by anger.

On the screen John and Lestrade chatted casually. After a few moments they raised their cups and toasted something. John sat his cup down and dug something from his backpack. Sherlock couldn't quite make out what it was, until John handed the small package to Lestrade who expertly shook out some of the contents, struck a match, inhaled, and lit up a cigarette.

Make that two.

He then handed one to John, they each raised their cigarette in tribute, and then took deep drags. Sherlock couldn't tell if it was because John didn't actually smoke, (good Lord, what was happening right now?), or a combination of the deep breath with damaged ribs, but something threw John into a violent coughing fit. Which threw Lestrade into a violent laughing fit. That led to John snuffing out the cigarette, which he threw at Lestrade.

John then motioned to Lestrade, who obliged, lit two more, and handed John one. They sat in silence for a moment, Lestrade expertly puffing away, and lighting up a third, as John amatuerly tried to keep pace. Another coughing fit came over John, but this time he lost hold of the cigarette and it tumbled over the edge of the roof and down out of sight. Both men froze, and John leaned entirely too far over the edge of the building for Sherlock's liking, in order to peer down below. Lestrade shouted something. The two men stared at each other and burst out laughing. Lestrade offered another cigarette, but John waved him off.

More companionable silence, as Lestrade smoked away happily (hadn't he quit? Sherlock was sure of it) and John sipped from his cup. Lestrade appeared to ask John a question, to which John launched into a very animated answer. Lestrade laughed throughout the account, and when John pushed back the sleeve on his right arm to reveal a watch, Lestrade nearly collapsed backwards off the ledge in hysterics. He smacked John on the back then, and quickly shrank away when John visibly winced. Lestrade pointed back to the door with his cigarette, and John nodded in agreement but motioned Lestrade to wait a minute.

Digging through his backpack again, John pulled out an envelope and a legal pad. He unfolded the tattered paper from the envelope, and gingerly handed it to Lestrade. After a moment John turned to face Lestrade, swinging his left leg back so he had one foot planted firmly on the roof (Sherlock released a breath he hadn't realized he was still holding), and he was straddling the ledge. Lestrade followed suit, in order to face John. They were deep in conversation, and as they spoke, it appeared John was taking notes of the conversation. After a few minutes, John read over what he had written and handed the pad to Lestrade, who also read over it, and nodded. John handed him the pen, and Lestrade scribbled something on the page, and then John did the same. He then ripped the page from the pad, folded it carefully and placed it in the envelope.

The two men looked at each other seriously and John nodded to the other ratty page. Lestrade lit another cigarette, raised his hand again in tribute, and then lit the corner of the paper. It was so worn it burned up quickly, and they watched the resulting embers glide away on the breeze.

Then, to Sherlock's disgust, both men spit into their left hands, clasped hands as if settling a business deal, and shook heartily. John motioned in the direction of the camera and Lestrade grinned. They both turned to the camera and with much gusto, flipped it off. That resulted in much raucous laughter.

Sherlock was not impressed. "Children. I am surrounded by imbecilic children."

They were still laughing as Lestrade dug in his pocket and fished out his mobile. He answered it and suddenly stiffened, as he held a finger to his lips. John grinned, and tried to get Lestrade's attention. The D.I. tried to ignore John, but John was having none of it. Very precariously, John reached over and punched Lestrade in the shoulder.

Oh.

Lestrade had been giggling like a school girl when Sherlock had called him earlier. And then he had said "ow!" Sherlock seethed. Lestrade had been with John, and had withheld the information.

"Lestrade, you are going to pay dearly. You won't know when, nor how, but you will pay. SH"

"Calm down. John is fine. GL"

"Figure out the mystery? GL"

"I hate you. SH"

"You say that a lot, but you always come back. GL"

"Imbicile. SH"

"Apprehended the suspect yet? SH"

"Not yet. Following a lead. Know anything about train yards? GL"

"Of course I do. What do YOU know about train yards? SH"

"I'll e-mail the info we have. GL"

"John really is ok. Went down to be examined after we finished. I left him there with a doctor. GL"

"He has yet to return. SH"

"That was a while ago. I'll keep an eye out for him. GL"

"Lestrade... thank you. SH"

"*gasp* Did Sherlock Holmes just THANK me? GL"

"I mean it. Thank you for making sure he went to the doctor. You know how he is. SH"

"That I do. Stubborn fool. He's my friend though, one of the best I've had. GL"

"You're welcome. And, I'm glad you're not dead. Really. GL"

"Me too. SH"


Sherlock dropped the phone into his pocket as he watched John and Lestrade make their way from the roof, down the stairwell, and through the hospital halls. They stopped in front of a suite of offices, and John turned to Lestrade. They shook hands briskly, and Lestrade strolled off towards the elevator. John entered the office, and as the door closed, Sherlock could make out the name on the sign, "Dr. Matthew MacGregor, Oncology."

"Oncology?" Sherlock whispered. John had a dislocated shoulder and a few bruised ribs. Why was he going into an oncology office?

He could no longer restrain himself. He dialed John's mobile number, and it came as no surprise when the line went directly to voice mail. "John, I demand to know what is going on. Right now. How dare you keep secrets from me. The roof of Bart's? And why an oncology office? And. Where. Are. You?" Sherlock tried not to think about the fact that he couldn't disconnect the call with enough force, it just served to make him even angrier.

He glanced at the video, and saw John sitting patiently in a waiting area. He let it play as he placed the laptop on the table and began pacing the sitting room. He took out his phone again and dialed Molly.

"Hello, lab," Molly chirped sweetly.

"No time. Yes, I know what day it is. I also know you and John made up. Have you seen him since then?" Sherlock demanded.

Molly sighed, "No Sherlock, I haven't. Greg just texted me you were looking for him. He was asking after him too. Is something wrong?"

"Is something wrong? He was injured during a brutal attack last night, he spent part of the morning traipsing around the rooftop of St Bart's, he won't respond to my communications, I believe he has been in contact with an estate lawyer, and I know for a fact he visited an oncology doctor earlier today. You tell me if anything is wrong!" Sherlock had worked himself into a full roar.

"Let me look something up. I hope I don't get fired for this," Molly was whispering, and Sherlock could hear her typing. "Ok, looks like he saw Dr. MacGregor. Oh. Ohhh. He is one of the oncology docs. Um, hm. He had some standard x-rays, but no other testing. Nothing to indicate..."

"One visit hardly eliminates an entire possibility," Sherlock interrupted. "Is he still there?"

"No, checked out a while ago it appears. Ok, I can't look at anything else. Privacy laws, you know. Are you okay, Sher..."

He didn't wait for her to finish. Sherlock had hung up his phone and was drawn back to the video on the screen. Apparently the footage ended with John sitting in the waiting room, and the video restarted on a loop.

"Mycroft, where's the footage of John after he leaves the hospital? SH"

"Construction crew damaged a line, took out CCTV for a twelve block radius. We lost sight of him immediately after he entered a cab. System still down. We're looking. MH"

"Notify me immediately. SH"


Sherlock returned to the video. Something had caught his eye now that he was seeing it in standard speed. He slowed it down to see more details.

He watched as John walked in the direction of the tube. Suddenly John stopped, and he ever so slightly cocked his head to the left. Sherlock paused the video and squinted. He couldn't tell what John was looking at without being able to see his eyes. He pressed play. John ducked past the two girls sitting at one of the outdoor tables, and in to Speedy's. The two girls were whispering, and the brunette pointed towards their flat, and motioned into the diner.

Ah. He hadn't been flirting. They had recognized John. At that moment John stepped cautiously from the diner, Molly's cup in hand, and glanced up and down the street. He noticed the two girls watching him, and strode up to them, even as he glanced back in the opposite direction. He spoke with them a few moments, and allowed them to take a picture with him. He then reached for the brunette's phone, and pretended to admire the photo, but Sherlock could tell he was angling the screen so he could see behind him.

He said something obviously charming to the girls, as they both giggled; he waved quickly and stepped away. Facing the street so he could watch to his left with his peripheral vision, he kept his right hand down to his side. Sherlock realized John was tapping only his index finger on his pant leg.

Old Morse code.

Sherlock dove into the chair at the table, backed the video up, tore a page from John's case notebook, and dug around frantically until he found a nub of a worn out pencil. It would have to do.

He played the video back as slowly as he could. Once. Twice. Five times. He got the same message every time. He tugged at his hair with both hands.

"Vatican Cameos."

John abruptly raised his right arm to hail a cab, and when he turned to look into the camera he ever so slightly indicated back over his right shoulder with his eyes and a nod of his head, and then scrambled into the cab. Sherlock paused the video once more and strained to see what John was trying to show him. The quality of the video was horrendous.

It took only a moment to figure out what had spooked John. Sherlock shuddered and put his hand to his neck. There, attempting to mix in with other pedestrians, but failing on a spectacular level, was the suspect from last night. The man who had attacked Sherlock and then gotten away when John had thwarted his cohort. He had found them. Sherlock pressed play once more. The giant man watched John's cab pull away, shoved people out his way, and ran to the curb with his phone to his ear. The footage switched to views of John's cab.

"NO!" Sherlock slammed the laptop closed, and pounded the table with both fists.

"Mycroft, I need all of the CCTV video from Baker Street this morning. From the time John got into his cab. SH"

"Whatever for? MH"

"John is in very real danger. SH"

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