"Let's review, shall we?"
To the uninitiated, the tone of voice with which Sherlock Holmes made this proposal would have chilled a person to the very core, leaving even the bravest of men paralyzed with fear. To those who knew him, no further evidence need be supplied to substantiate the claims of "high functioning sociopath," also resulting in chilled cores, paralyzing fear, and so on. Sherlock, however, felt he was conducting himself in a manner most appropriate for the situation at hand.
Especially since the one to whom the statement was made was under the impression that he was not in the presence of the world's only consulting detective, but a radiantly beautiful, albeit alarmingly tall, angel who exuded light and all manner of swirling colors, the likes of which no man had ever seen. Everything the angel touched, and every place his foot fell, rainbows of unnamed colors spread out like running water. His voice was deep and rumbling like thunder, but not the frightening kind, the mid-summer afternoon kind that is delightful and refreshing. And when the angel spoke, oh wonder of wonders, he could see his words. SEE them! He wanted nothing more than for the angel to keep talking.
"Ok, angel," the man giggled. His words tasted funny. And the angel said "we," which was hilarious. "We. We we we we we. That's a good word, angel. It tastes like... blueberries. Do you have any blueberries?"
Sherlock closed his eyes and sighed. "Please try to focus." The other man continued to giggle, but had stopped babbling about blueberries and rainbows. Sherlock took that as an indication to continue.
"My name is Sherlock Holmes..."
The man giggled and began chanting, "sher-luck-olmes-sher-luck-olmes-sher-luck-olmes-sher... Odd name for an angel ain't it?" This, too, was hilarious.
With a roll of his eyes, Sherlock continued. "I'm Sherlock Holmes, and you are Duncan Ross..."
"Oi!" Cried the other man. "You can't say that name... It's a... a secret. Besides, Duncan. Pshhh... A stupid name. I hate it. It tastes like... peas." Mr. Ross made a disgusted face.
"Why is that name a secret?" Sherlock played along. Obviously he knew why, but any confession he could get from the man would help his case.
"Shhhh..." Duncan Ross shushed Sherlock. "So they don't know what I done."
This was taking too long. Sherlock needed to hurry things along. "What is it that you've done, Duncan?"
"No!" the other man roared, his saccharine temperament instantly falling away in a fit of sudden rage. This Sherlock was familiar with, rage he could work with. "My name's not Duncan anymore!"
"Then what?" Sherlock replied coolly.
"John," the other man snapped. "Name's John Clay. Only John Clay." Of course, Sherlock had already known the man's alias, but there was something threatening in the way he spewed the name John that made the detective's stomach clench. There was no possible scenario in which Sherlock could possibly fathom calling this criminal by the name that represented all that was right in his life.
"John's a good name. A man's name. Not Duncan... that's a pansy name. I'm no pansy." And with that, the rage ebbed away, and a wave of sorrow overtook the man. "You're no angel," Not-Duncan blubbered. "Angels make people happy, not sad. You're a devil!"
"Hmm, been called worse. That's enough from you then." After a moment of digging in his coat pocket, Sherlock found a rather worse for wear handkerchief. He shook it out once, shrugged, and wadded the whole thing into the now weeping man's mouth as a gag and covered it with a piece of duct tape. "I'll take the narrative from here."
"You are Duncan Ross," Sherlock began, eliciting a feral growl from the other man. "My apologies. You are the criminal formerly known as Duncan Ross, and you're a Jack of all trades, so to speak. Using your alias, John Clay," here it was Sherlock's turn to growl, "you have built quite the impressive resume, making powerful friends along the way. I must admit, even I was shocked to learn of some of your connections, and the highly influential individuals who have employed your services. You run your crime network like a business, and as such, your business plan is impressive. You keep only yourself and your stepson, who you hope to one day pass the family business to, on staff, and contract out your jobs to temporary talent. A rotating crew allows for no two people knowing all of the details of any given job at any given time. It's brilliant, really," Sherlock nodded with appreciation.
"You dabble in the theft of very high end cars, art forgery, black market antiquities, and trading exotic weaponry. Very recently you've expanded into the cyber realm, finding great success in credit card, corporate, and insurance fraud. But perhaps your most lucrative endeavor is the manufacturing of designer drugs for wholesale. You have set yourself up as a veritable one stop shopping experience for your high profile customers. How am I doing so far?"
The crime boss grunted in response.
"Quite. Now, for someone who offers such impressive services as yourself, it must have been quite inconvenient, not to mention embarrassing, to have to conduct business from a place like this," Sherlock looked in disdain at the cramped space inside the freight container. "While I'm sure hiding in plain sight in the train yard where your stepson... Vincent Spaulding is it?"
At the mention of his stepson, Mr. Ross-turned-Clay began grunting in an effort to communicate.
"What? What is it?" Sherlock shook his head. "No, I can't understand what you're saying. Oh, just a moment." Savoring the moment, Sherlock ripped the duct tape away, "Quick is better, wouldn't you agree?" The other man cried out in pain, dislodging the handkerchief.
"I said we call him Archie, you sadistic..." his words were muffled as Sherlock reinserted the handkerchief and applied fresh duct tape.
"I sincerely hope surrendering your own son's alias was worth all of that," Sherlock sneered. The other man hung his head and groaned.
"As I was saying, I'm sure a train yard where your stepson holds a day job offers some advantage, especially in the shipping and receiving of goods. But we both know uninsulated freight containers are no place to store the types of items you deal with. The extreme temperature fluctuation alone could destroy entire shipments of artwork. And the conditions don't exactly lend themselves to the safe cooking or cutting of whatever drug it is you're manufacturing at the time. A climate controlled storage unit, or cheap flat would have served your purpose. But you needed something with less foot traffic. And that is how you came to be the owner/operator of a run down, hole in the wall pub." Sherlock patted the other man on the shoulder. "Not to worry, we're almost through with this part."
"I've already spoken with an associate of yours, a Mr. William Morris, or as he is known in the banking world, Mr. William M. Merryweather, Bank Manager of the City and Suburban Bank located conveniently near your own little establishment. You had used William before on jobs, taking advantage of his banking knowledge. In an effort to stay in your good graces, when you mentioned your storage dilemma, William had just the solution for you. The previous owners of the pub had defaulted on their loans, and City and Suburban Bank had seized the property. 'Mr. Merryweather' accompanied the bank appraiser on an inspection of the pub, and that is when he discovered the access to the tunnels. A quick search of the city planning maps revealed the tunnels had been long abandoned and spread out for miles. As an added bonus, they run directly under the bank."
"Under your legal name, Duncan Ross, you purchased the pub for a ridiculously small amount, and began modifying the tunnels to suit your purposes. While you were still in the remodeling process, young Archie took it upon himself to expend quite a large sum of your organization's funding into an ill-advised new venture. How did that family dinner go? When he revealed to you he wanted to try his hand at counterfeiting money? He failed spectacularly, didn't he? The equipment he bought, for an exorbitant amount, was shoddy. And the printing plates he obtained were poor at best. He was printing play money, all the while you were hemorrhaging real money in an effort to clean up his mess, keep a dive of a pub open, and finish modifying your tunnels. That was when William Morris came to your rescue once again. So far, so good?"
There was dejected grunt from the other man. He dared not make any other noises, in fear of having his gag ripped away once more.
"Now this part, this part is my favorite. Really, the solution to your problem was so simple. The City and Suburban bank, as a member of the Bank of England, had been rounding up old and damaged currency from all of its branches, and storing them in the vault of their most trusted manager, 'Mr. William M. Merryweather.' At the end of this week those old bills will be traded out for new, transported by armored vehicle to an undisclosed location, and incinerated. We're talking no small amount either. Multiple millions. William's proposal to you was that Archie print up enough of his counterfeit currency to make an equal exchange. He would help you gain access to the vault through the tunnels, and you could trade the fake stuff for cold hard cash. Of course, all of the bills had been documented, so you'd have to be extremely careful how you dispersed them, but 'Mr. Merryweather' of the City and Suburban Bank was more than happy to help you with that problem as well. He had only two requests in return. He wanted to be a vested partner in your organization, alongside yourself and Archie, and he was in need of a substantial supply of very pure, very high grade cocaine."
"You were happy to oblige, it appears," Sherlock gestured to the tables laden with bundles of the drug. "As it turns out, Mr. Morris is loyal to no one but himself, and was more than willing to tell me about your plans for the tunnels. As a matter of fact, he is down at Scotland Yard as we speak, reciting all of this to detectives from every department imaginable, from the Fraud Squad, to Narcotics, and everyone in between. They're all very interested in what he has to say about you, Duncan."
The crime boss began to squirm, literally, and despite the gag, Sherlock could tell he was being vehemently cursed.
"Do calm down, Mr. Ross. None of that is why I am here. The only reason I am here has to do with what happened in your pub last night. Yes, initially my associate and I were in the tunnels because I had heard talk that there was to be an attempted bank robbery. At the time we were not aware of your connection, we were simply laying the groundwork for the case. That is when we happened upon the trap door in your storage closet. As you witnessed firsthand, young Archie did a fine job of manhandling me. And your hired thug, Mr. Jabez Wilson, did quite a number on my associate, Doctor John Watson. Now, you and I were both there, and despite Mr. Wilson's size advantage, you'll agree, my friend, the former military man, was the definite winner of that match."
"Mr. Wilson has also proven to be quite cooperative, despite being unable to speak at the current time, especially once we pieced together the fact that you had misrepresented his necessity to your organization. When he realized that his purpose was to guard the tunnel entrance until such time as the bank heist would be completed, and then he was to be disposed of, well, he was really rather forthcoming. He shared quite a bit of information about little side projects young Archie has taken on in exchange for favors for your organization. All quite revealing in regards to Archie's character, and his tendency towards violence."
At this point, Sherlock paused for dramatic effect. In the far distance the men could hear the sound of police sirens. "Hm, this really has taken longer than I anticipated. I'm going to have to rush this last part," Sherlock explained apologetically. He pulled John's service weapon from his pocket. He would have to have a serious discussion with the doctor about carrying the weapon with him any time he left the flat, though it was going to serve his purpose very well in this instance. He would add that to the growing list of grievances for the day. Sherlock made a show of pulling the clip from the gun, checking it closely, and reinserting it. He waited a beat, and flicked off the safety. He pressed the barrel to the back of Duncan's head; the other man stiffened and began whimpering.
"And now, for the real reason we find ourselves in this ridiculous situation. I observed your stepson, Archie as you call him, a man wanted for several counts of assault, known and feared for his rage, stalking my friend, Doctor John Watson (you'll pardon me if I refuse to call you John, but you are in no way deserving of such an honorable designation) as he was on his way to have his wounds, administered by your hired thug, examined this morning. That was just after 7:00 am. I have not been able to locate or make contact with Dr. Watson since that time. While there may be any number of reasons we have not been able to connect today, the most glaringly obvious is that a violent man, employed by a career criminal, has been tracking him all day."
As Sherlock spoke, Duncan slowly began shaking his head as to say "no," and had begun to frantically try to speak through his gag.
"Shut. Up." Sherlock pressed the gun with more force to Duncan's head. "I have searched your pub, the tunnels, your home, and Archie's flat. Those sirens? Officers are now searching this entire train yard. None of us will rest until we find John Watson. So I will ask you this once. WHERE. IS. HE?"
Duncan was sobbing now, pleading through his gag. Sherlock ripped the tape away to allow him to speak.
"Idontknowidontknowidontknow. I haven't seen Archie since he left the pub last night before your police friends arrived. He hasn't returned my calls, and he didn't..."
At this Sherlock roared in anger. "LIES! Tell me where he is! He's your son for God's sake!"
"I DON'T KNOW!" Duncan wailed. Glancing to the entrance of the freight container, knowing Lestrade wouldn't be long in arriving now, Sherlock scooped up a handful of white powder in his gloved hand and pressed it against Duncan's mouth and nose. The crime boss froze, eyes wide, as he held his breath.
"You have to breathe sometime!" screamed Sherlock. "It's evident you aren't a user, by the trip you experienced with the last dose. This dose? This is enough to drop you. I certainly hope, for your sake, it's as pure as Mr. Morris hoped it would be. I would hate to see what an amount this large from a dirty batch could do to you. Is your heart strong? Because you can basically count on having a heart attack." Sherlock kept his hand firmly in place. Duncan was clearly struggling to hold his breath as tears streamed down his cheeks and he pleaded with Sherlock with his eyes. "I recommend you inhale through your nose," was the only response.
Unable to hold out any longer, Duncan inhaled deeply through his nose, gasping and choking on the white powder obstructing his airway. Sherlock pulled his hand away and brushed it against his pant leg. What a waste.
"Sherlock? You in there?" A shout came from outside the container.
"I'm here, Lestrade. You and your team need to make sure you have masks and gloves on before you come in here."
The sight that greeted Lestrade, Donovan, and the others as they made their way into the freight container was surreal, nearly beyond comprehension. A dozen or so tables lined the walls of the freight container. Each table was buried under stacks and stacks of packaged white powder. In the center of the container, in the middle of clear signs of struggle, lay a very dazed Duncan Ross, hands and feet bound with duct tape. Sherlock, having quickly stowed John's gun in the interior pocket of his suit jacket, sat square in the middle of Duncan's back with his knees bent up to his chest, a position he had mostly maintained since the moment he had knocked Duncan off his feet, in an effort to pin the much larger man in place. Both men were coated head to toe in white powder.
"Judas priest, Sherlock. What happened in here?" Lestrade made no effort to cover the shock in his tone. "Is that... is that cocaine? God Sherlock, you didn't..."
"No, of course not, Lestrade. Give me some credit will you. Not that I wasn't tempted. But now is not the time."
Lestrade's shoulders slumped in relief.
"I cannot say the same for Mr. Ross here. Being face down in the stuff, he's ingested quite a large amount. I worry for his safety. That much could trigger an overdose or a cardiac event," Sherlock blinked innocently.
"You... You're worried for his..." Lestrade shook his head. "Nope. Never mind. Here, let me help you up."
"WAIT!" Donovan shouted, as she began snapping pictures.
Sherlock groaned. "What ARE you doing?"
"For evidence, freak. Calm down," Donovan snarled as she snapped another. "Except that one. That's going to be my Christmas card."
"Lestrade, get her away from me, or I swear..."
"Knock it off you two!" Both Donovan and Sherlock jumped when Lestrade barked the command. "Sally, get some medics in here for Mr. Ross. I'm going to get Sherlock out of here." Lestrade helped Sherlock stand on wobbly legs, took him by the elbow, and nearly dragged him from the container, swearing under his breath the entire time.
Out in the daylight Lestrade looked Sherlock up and down. He had wrapped his scarf around his face several times, to serve as a mask, had fastened his greatcoat tightly around himself, and was wearing black leather gloves. "We're going to need all that," Lestrade waved his hand up and down indicating Sherlock's getup, "for evidence. We'll clean it all and get back to you in a few days." Sherlock sighed and began to slowly remove his beloved Belstaff.
"Did you really intend to end up coated in cocaine today? Is that why you wore your scarf and gloves? Because it's not exactly cold out, quite the opposite, actually."
Carefully placing his coat in the evidence bag Lestrade held open, and unwinding the scarf, Sherlock shook his head no. "I always wear the scarf. Pay attention, Lestrade. And I keep the gloves with me for crime scenes. Being coated in cocaine was purely incidental. He engaged in hand to hand combat. Being larger in stature, he had the advantage. I ducked under one of the tables, wrapped myself up just in case, and jumped back up swinging a brick of cocaine at his face. I was hoping the weight of the package would help me deliver a more solid blow to his nasal cavity (a trick I learned from John, by the way). I wasn't really anticipating the package exploding in my hand. Though it did the trick, and stunned him long enough for me to secure his hands and feet."
Sherlock had place his scarf, gloves and shoes into the evidence bag, attempted to shake the powder from his hair (unsuccessfully) and had accepted a wet nap to wipe his face. "Oh..." He and Lestrade both looked down. From his knees down, Sherlock's trousers were also coated in white.
"You know what, it's fine. I'll take you back to Baker Street now, and you can give them to me there. It's fine. It'll be fine," Lestrade was rambling.
"It's Monday, correct?" Sherlock asked as he began unfastening his belt.
"Yes," Lestrade yelped. "What are you doing? I said it's fine."
"Nonsense. Your forensics team is in need of my trousers, so have them they shall. You confirm it's Monday. That means it's boxers day. There," Sherlock stepped out of his trousers, making certain to remove his wallet, keys and mobile from the pockets, revealing purple boxers with little white polka dots. He stood there in his black socks, boxers, suit jacket and shirt, holding his trouser out in offering to Lestrade, with a devious sort of hateful grin on his face. "I warned you that you would pay."
Lestrade's face flushed crimson. "Oh my God, Sherlock. Get in the car. Get in the car now. Now." Every officer in the area had stopped what they were doing and stood gawking. There was a moment when no one moved. Then simultaneously Donovan squealed and snapped a dozen photographs, Anderson whistled, and D.I. Jones from Narcotics and D.I. Dimmock from the Fraud Squad led the charge in the wolf howling.
Pandemonium reigned for two full minutes as Lestrade stood stark still, petrified and unblinking, and Sherlock remained steadfast, grinning at his discomfort.
It wasn't until the medics charged from the freight container with Mr. Ross on a gurney, shouting about cardiac arrest, did everyone snap out of it and turn back to what they were doing.
"Car. Now." Lestrade hissed as he snatch Sherlock's trousers from him and stomped away. Sherlock strutted along behind him, demonstrating absolutely no shame.
It wasn't until he was in the car did Sherlock let his confident mask slip off, and he ran his hand over his face. Still slightly in shock, Lestrade started the car and headed to Baker Street. "No word from him?"
"Nothing. It's late afternoon now. I could almost understand a few hours of silence. But not this long. Something is wrong, Lestrade. Just, turn back. I want to help search the train yard. He's got to be there. It makes the most sense. Turn around."
"Sherlock, take a breath. I still think John is fine. Who knows, he could be back at home now. You've been out for a few hours. Maybe he got home, and decided to have a nap? You know, pain meds and all? And besides, we've got every officer we can spare, including our K-9 units, out there. If there's even a hint of John Watson at that train yard, they'll find it." He looked sideways at the now visibly distraught Sherlock who was staring down at his mobile, willing it to ring.
"What you need is a hot shower and some trousers. I'll drop you at home, and I won't even come up to take your full statement. I'll get back out there, and check every place I can possibly think of. If he isn't home by the time you're showered, you call me, I'll come get you, and we'll go back out together. Both of us together, yeah?"
Sherlock nodded, and mumbled, "Together. Yes, good."
Lestrade parked the car in front of 221b. "You uh, you want a blanket or something? To cover up with?"
"No, I'm fine. It's nothing anyone in this neighborhood hasn't seen before," Sherlock shrugged, the corner of his mouth quirked up slightly. He slid out of the car and slammed the door.
Lestrade rolled the window down to call after him, "John's fine. Text me if he's up there, okay?" Just then his phone rang. "Lestrade. What? Where?" Sherlock, wide eyed, leaned down to listen in the window. The police radio started to crackle to life, and Lestrade quickly shut it completely off. "Right, okay. I'm on my way. Thanks Sally," he hesitated. "Uh huh. Yeah."
"What? What is it? Did they find him?" Sherlock moved to open the car door.
"It's just an assault in progress. I have to go Sherlock, I'm closest to the scene. Go upstairs, text what you find. When I'm done with this, I'll come right back. I promise." Lestrade avoided eye contact as he started the car.
"I have to go!" Lestrade shouted as he turned on the lights and sirens and sped off.
Sherlock very nearly broke the door off its hinges trying to get in the front of the building. He sprinted up the stairs to the flat, conducted a hurried search, and found the place empty. He sat down hard in his chair.
"Lestrade he's not here. Come get me now. I can help. SH"
Steepling his fingers under his chin he waited, unmoving, for a response he didn't expect any time soon.