Chapter 1: New Scotland Yard — 5:00 pm
“I’m telling you, everyone’s gonna be there.” Greg waved his hands about to accentuate his point, while he, John, and Sherlock strode through the DI’s area of Scotland Yard. John was the only one paying attention to Greg; Sherlock had already deemed this conversation boring sometime before it had started. Until…
“Sherlock, you’re not getting out of it this time,” Greg informed him with a grin on his face that Sherlock would classify as borderline-malicious. He was having too much fun saying this. “I already told the Chief Super you’d come, and I can’t disappoint,” he said, still making use of that overly cheerful tone, “I’m counting on you, John. He’s got to come.”
Sherlock wasn’t to be dissuaded. “I refuse to go, Lestrade. You’ll just have to tell your boss that. Terribly sorry.” If the smile he flashed Greg was any indication, Sherlock wasn’t sorry in the least bit.
“Come on, Sherlock,” said Greg, “It’s not like you’ll have to give a speech or anything. Just show up. You can leave after thirty minutes, but you’re going to be there for thirty minutes, okay?”
“Jesus,” John sighed before his flatmate could act any more childish, “Why don’t we just go for half an hour, like Lestrade said. They are having this party because of the case you solved. How bad can it be, Sherlock?”
“Very,” Sherlock replied, “It can be very bad.”
“We’re coming,” John told Greg, dragging Sherlock out the door before he could protest.
“Great,” Greg called after them, “See you at the pub at seven, then.”
Chapter 2: 221B Baker Street — 7:00 am
Greg groaned, rubbing his eyes blearily to wake himself up. Where am I…? He wasn’t in his bed at home, that was for sure. Blinking his eyes open, Greg caught a brief glimpse of a ceiling and familiar wallpaper before deciding that keeping his eyelids open was too much effort. A hand rose groggily to his head, and he suddenly became aware of a throbbing pain behind his temples. He recognized the symptoms immediately: hangover.
Damn! What did I do?
The more pressing problem at the moment, however, was his original one. Where was he? A part of his brain could locate that wall he’d seen, but that part was having trouble connecting to the rest of his head. He decided to focus on figuring out what he was laying on first and take it from there. It was something hard and smooth, raised off the ground—his hand found an edge to the thing—and rectangular. What fit that description? A table, his brain supplied. Specifically, a coffee table. His elbow connected with a discarded magazine, sending it flying towards the wall and him tumbling off the edge.
“Aaack!” It was not Greg who spoke. “Get off—who are you!?”
Greg—still asleep for the most part—did not immediately register that the thing he landed on was a person. It just wriggled a lot.
It wasn’t until he threw Greg off him, and Greg hit his head hard on the floor, that he woke up enough to realize where he was. He could also fully appreciate the long, pointy object that was currently pointed at his head: an object that looked suspiciously like… an umbrella?
“Mycroft? Is that you?”
It was. Mycroft Holmes was lying sprawled on his back underneath the coffee table in Baker St. pointing his umbrella at Greg Lestrade’s head.
“How the hell did we get here?” Greg said.
Unfortunately, life was not done shocking him yet. Woken by the noise, a head emerged from the voluminous duvets covering the couch, and it squinted blearily at the pair on the floor. “Greg,” John mumbled, “What are you doing with Mycroft?”
Greg suddenly realized just what this would look like out of context. They both turned pink and leapt to their feet far from each other, hastily mumbling excuses and “this isn’t what you thinks.” Mycroft straightened his tie and pretended to look nonchalant about everything, and Greg had the strangest urge to laugh at the sight. He blamed it on the alcohol.
Meanwhile, John was still staring at them sleepily, slowly coming to the realization that Greg and the British Government were standing in his living room after being caught in a rather compromising situation, and… “Why am I on the couch?”
John then promptly rolled off the couch, though the reason why wasn’t apparent until a second head wormed its way out of the covers. This head was dark, curly, and looked just as bewildered as John’s.
Completely oblivious, John popped his head above the coffee table again to see Greg and Mycroft’s identical looks of openmouthed shock. He narrowed his eyes, turned around to see what they were staring at… Sherlock turned beet red and John started babbling.
“This is NOT what it looks like!” John shouted, “I’m not—we weren’t—I swear—”
“John, why were you on top of me?”
John seemed to be too freaked out to do anything more than stutter, and Sherlock scrambled to the far end of the couch. The part of Greg’s brain that wasn’t still preoccupied with his own compromising position idly wondered how much money was in the office betting pool by now.
“Sherlock,” Mycroft suddenly growled, “What is on your face?”
Greg’s and John’s heads snapped around to stare at Sherlock. Sherlock frowned and touched a finger to his cheek, where a suspiciously white powder was spread across the entire bottom half of his face.
For a moment, everyone stood frozen. Then…
“Jesus, Sherlock!” John snapped, “You—” He cut himself off with a groan, clearly not trusting himself to continue.
“But…” Sherlock said, confusion etched in his face. He brought his fingers up to his nose and sniffed.
“What are you—” This time when John stopped talking it was from the shock of seeing Sherlock lick the powder off his fingers.
“Powdered sugar,” Sherlock said.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Mycroft snapped.
“Do you want to taste it? It’s powdered sugar,” Sherlock insisted, “Besides, would I really be stupid enough to snort cocaine with you three in the same building?”
“Right. Yes. Well…” John said, “What are you doing here?”
Greg looked at Mycroft. Mycroft opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. He looked at Greg. He frowned. “You, ah, you have a…” He pointed at Greg’s eye.
Instinctively, Greg reached up to touch his eye and winced when it stung. He rushed to the mirror above the mantlepiece. Not only did it show his eye in all its purple, puffy glory, it revealed a cheap plastic shower cap on his head. “Shite,” he muttered, pulling the shower cap off, “How the hell did this happen?”
“So I’m not the only one who has no clue what’s going on?” John said.
Through the mirror, Greg saw Sherlock pull a pair of trousers from the crack between sofa cushions, sniff them, then fling them violently across the room.
“As much as it pains me to say this,” Mycroft said, watching the arc of the trousers through the air, “no, you most certainly are not the only one.”
“There’s no need to panic. There has to be a logical explanation for all of this,” Sherlock said, “Can anyone remember what happened last night?”
“We must have been drugged, surely,” Mycroft finally said.
“All of us? All at once? What for?”
Again, everyone stayed silent.
“Hang on,” John spoke up, turning to Greg, “We had that… that thing at the pub, didn’t we? I had to drag Sherlock there.”
“For closing the Montgomery case? That was last night?” Greg said, still investigating his black eye in the mirror.
“But what reason would I have to attend a Scotland Yard event?” Mycroft asked.
Greg barely heard him. His eyes had caught on something on the mantelpiece that definitely shouldn’t have been there. A open jar of jam was perched on top of the mail pile, tilted slightly against the knife that skewered the letters, and stuffed inside it, barrel-first, was a handgun.
“Uh, John…” Greg said.
“These are not my sandals,” Sherlock said.
“John, is this your gun?”
John made a strangled noise and leaped over the coffee table in a very Sherlockian manner. Greg handed him the gun between two fingers, and he quickly inspected it for damage.
“There’s three bullets missing,” he said, checking the magazine. He swiped a finger inside the barrel, and his eyes widened. “It’s been fired.”
“Okay,” Sherlock said slowly, “I’m sure there’s a perfectly normal explanation for that as well.”
“Are we sure it’s not time to panic now?” John hissed.
A sudden noise drew everyone’s attention to the coffee table, where Greg’s phone sat ringing. He snatched it up and swiped the screen. “Lestrade,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady.
“Hey. We’ve got a body in the morgue,” said Sally’s voice over the speaker, “Meet me at Bart’s in ten.”
“You got it,” Greg said. He patted his pockets for his keys and came up empty. “Uh, make it twenty.”
She hung up, and Greg relayed this new information to the group.
“We should go too,” Sherlock said immediately.
“I agree,” Greg said, “Has anyone seen my keys?”
They spent the next ten minutes searching for his keys, even enlisting Mrs. Hudson for help. She shed no light on the mystery of what happened last night and could only say they were “really very loud” when they arrived late and that “some of us were trying to sleep.” Privately to Greg she added, “I know I’m not one to judge, but really, dear, you can do better than that one,” which left Greg speechless for several minutes.
Finally, after they found the keys at the bottom of the jam jar, they made their way to the street, where they discovered yet another casualty of last night.
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Hudson said, “That’s not good.”
John swore softly. Greg could only stare.
They stood bleary eyed in front of Speedy’s looking at the wreckage of Greg’s car. The front end was crumpled, the windshield was cracked, and the roof was caved in. The back right wheel was up on the curb.
“Nice parking job, Lestrade,” Sherlock said. Greg felt the sudden urge to grab John’s gun and beat Sherlock over the head with it.
He settled for kicking the back right tire repeatedly and screaming, “Oh my god! Do you see my car? Do you see my fucking car? I can’t believe this. I can’t fucking—”
“I’ll call one of mine,” Mycroft said. He reached into his jacket for his phone, and his face paled. “Never mind your car, Detective Inspector, my phone is missing.”
Chapter 3: St. Bartholomew’s Hospital — 8:15 am
“You said twenty minutes,” Sally said the moment Greg rounded the doorway into the autopsy room, “It’s been—” She fell silent as, one by one, Sherlock, John, and Mycroft followed him into the room. Grabbing her boss by the arm, she dragged him aside and hissed, “What are they doing here?”
“It’s a case,” Greg said.
“And the other Holmes?”
“It’s a… long story.”
“And—why are you wearing sunglasses to an autopsy?”
“Also a long story,” Greg muttered, “Look, can we just get on to the victim already?”
Sally looked like she wanted to protest, but instead she sighed and led him back to the autopsy table, where Molly was giving Sherlock a cryptically significant look.
“Right,” Sally said, “We’ve got a male John Doe: Caucasian, mid-forties, found floating in the river at around five this morning by a couple of dock workers. Cause of death: three bullet wounds to the chest.”
“Uh…” John said, “How many bullet wounds?”
“Three. Is that significant?” Sally asked.
“I’m sure it isn’t,” Sherlock said, “Let me see the body.”
Molly obligingly pulled back the sheet to reveal a man just past middle age with balding gray hair, week-old stubble, and, most notably, three perfectly placed bullet holes just over his heart. While everyone else was busy looking at the body, Sherlock surreptitiously pulled his phone out of his pocket and began texting John under the table.
Did you kill this man? -SH
A phone buzzed, but it wasn’t in John’s pocket; it was in a plastic evidence bag at the body’s feet, one of many similar bags. Sherlock frowned.
“This, down here,” he said, placing his hand over the bag containing the phone to hide the fact that its screen had lit up, “These were the man’s possessions?”
“Clothes, coat, everything in his pockets, yeah. And before you ask: no wallet. We looked,” Sally said, “What’s odd is he had three separate mobiles on him, all different models. Any clue what that means?”
“Of course. That explains it,” Sherlock said, mostly to himself. He held up John’s phone for everyone to see.
“Could be… an affair? Three different lovers, three different phones?” John suggested.
“John, use your eyes.”
“Right.” John squinted at the phone. “Hang on… that’s—”
“Yes?” Sally said.
“No. Never mind. It’s nothing.” John gave Sherlock an imploring look, but Sherlock simply dug through the pile of bags until he found the next phone, a sleek, high-tech model that could only belong to one person. He held it up. Mycroft’s eyes widened alarmingly, but, unlike John, he said nothing.
“Which makes this…” Sherlock held up the last phone. “Our John Doe’s phone.”
Sally glanced at Greg in hope that he would make Sherlock explain, but Greg just shook his head. She sighed. “We also have a watch and a pair of shoes which aren’t even in the victim’s correct size.”
Sherlock glanced down at the too-large sandals he’d found himself wearing, then at the faint tan lines on the victim’s feet, and kept his mouth shut. When he looked up, he saw Sally staring at him again.
“His feet shrank?” he suggested with a flippant smile.
“Sure.” Sally scowled. “Lestrade and I are needed in court in a few hours, so we’ll just—”
“Oh! Oh, yeah, that. Uh…” Greg scrambled to remember what the court case was about. “You know what, you can do the court thing. I don’t need to be there, really. Gets this lot out of your hair. ‘Sides, I should stick around, make sure the Holmes brothers don’t murder each other, that sort of thing.”
Sherlock and Mycroft shot him identical glares.
“Seriously?” Sally said.
“Dead serious.” Greg blinked. “I—yes. No. I mean, yes, there is a dead man here, and it is very serious. Tragic. Awful.”
Mycroft made a small hand gesture like a conductor cutting off an orchestra. Greg cleared his throat and shut up.
“Okaaay,” Sally said, narrowing her eyes at Greg, “What exactly is going on? Why is he here?” She pointed at Mycroft, who flashed her one of his customary little smiles that never reached his eyes. “And will you please take those sunglasses off?”
“You put some sunglasses on!”
Sally’s mouth fell open.
“I’m… sorry,” Greg muttered, running his hands down his face, “Just tired, is all. You go ahead and take care of the court case. I’ll run things here.”
“You don’t know anything about this case you’re not telling me?”
“No,” John said a little too quickly.
She turned her suspicion on John, but a warning look from Greg made her back down. With a sigh, she turned around and walked out the door.
A small cough brought everyone’s attention back to Molly at the head of the table. “Um, Sherlock? Could I talk to you?”
“Hm? Oh, of course.” Sherlock looked expectantly at her.
With a nervous glance at the others, she led him out into the hallway. After making sure the door was closed and there was no one around the corner, she turned to him. Hesitantly, she asked, “What just happened in there?”
“Gavin totaled his car, and he’s being dramatic about it,” Sherlock lied.
“But I’m assuming you didn’t bring me out here to discuss Graham’s idiosyncrasies?”
“Do you mean—never mind.” Molly worried at her lip. She took a deep breath. “We need to talk about last night.”
“Yes,” Molly said, “Your phone call?”
Sherlock blinked. Whatever he’d said last night clearly made Molly anxious, but beyond that he could deduce nothing of any importance. “My—of course. My phone call. I called.”
“You said you had something important to say,” Molly said, “to me. About me.”
Sherlock wracked his memories, but everything from the night before came back in a disjointed blur. Even his mind palace couldn’t help him now. Could he have needed help on a case? But he hadn’t had a case since closing the Montgomery murder for Lestrade. Unless, of course, it was a case he’d picked up last night.
“Well?” Molly said, her eyes wide with painfully obvious hope.
“I…” Sherlock said, “think I hear John calling me. I should—”
Molly seemed to deflate. Her shoulders slumped; her eyes cast downward; and she bit her lip again. Despite himself, something in Sherlock’s chest clenched at the sight.
“Obviously, we do need to talk about this, though. Once my… case… is resolved, we can continue this conversation. Does that sound… alright?” he said slowly, hoping—and, given his obviously drugged state, somewhat dreading—that he would either remember or rediscover the reason for his call last night.
“Okay. Alright, yes,” Molly said, a nervous smile flickering across her face, “I’m off at six, if you’re free then.”
“I should be finished, yes,” Sherlock said.
A pause, then: “I’ll just get back to work,” Molly said.
“Yes. So should I.”
They said their awkward goodbyes, and Sherlock backed his way through the morgue door, flashing Molly what he hoped was a reassuring smile, but which turned out more strained-looking. The moment the door swung shut, he spun around and dropped the smile.
“What did Molly want?” Greg asked.
“Nothing,” Sherlock said quickly, ignoring Mycroft’s narrowed eyes.
John stood with his back to the others, his head bowed and his hands braced on an empty morgue table. “Right,” he said, finally turning around, “I’m going to turn myself in.”
Mycroft scowled. “What, for spooning with my brother? Don’t be ridiculous.”
“We weren’t—!” John hissed in a breath and let it out through clenched teeth. “No, for bloody murdering a man, that’s what for!”
“John, I’ve no doubt if you did kill this man it was for good reason. You’re not turning yourself in,” Sherlock said.
Greg groaned and buried his head in his hands. “Oh god, I’m gonna get fired for this. No, forget fired, Sally’s gonna bloody well arrest me as an accessory.”
“Nobody is getting arrested, Detective Inspector,” Mycroft said, a little harsher than necessary.
“What, you’re gonna get me off, then?”
Mycroft raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t you start,” Greg muttered, unable to look Mycroft in the eye even through his aviators.
“Anyway,” Sherlock said, glancing between his brother and Greg, “The only way to find out what happened last night is by solving this case. Obviously.”
“Good thing we’ve got you, then,” Greg said, “I bought us a few hours by sending Sally away, but we’ve got to move fast on this, otherwise she’s gonna get suspicious. So what’ve you got?”
Sherlock mumbled something inaudible.
“What was that?”
“He said he’s got nothing,” John said. He threw his hands in the air and started pacing along the foot of the autopsy table.
“I don’t have ‘nothing,’” Sherlock snapped, “I know he plays the clarinet from the callous on his right thumb. I know he owns a calico cat—no, tortoiseshell—from the hairs on that hideous Hawaiian shirt and the scratches on his arms. I know—”
“Nothing useful, in short,” Mycroft interrupted.
Sherlock glared at him. “Lestrade, look into the membership lists of all the local orchestras.”
“You won’t find him there,” Mycroft said, still staring down his brother, “If he played professionally, he would have invested in a better thumb rest.”
“Can we not do this, for once?” Greg sighed, “The last thing we need right now is you two fighting.”
“I’m merely suggesting—” Mycroft said.
“No you’re not. Cut him some slack. He’s just been drugged.”
“So have I, but you don’t see me making elementary mistakes,” Mycroft snapped, “I’ve never lost control of my faculties before in my life. God knows Sherlock should be used to it by now.”
“Mycroft!” barked both Greg and John.
Mycroft shifted his shoulders and lifted his chin. He didn’t apologize, but his expression softened ever-so-slightly, which Greg supposed was the best they could hope for right now. If this had Greg—who considered himself fairly go-with-the-flow on the best of days—on the verge of panic, he could only imagine how Mycroft felt with his pathological need to be in control.
“Alright, first thing’s first: we need to figure out what we were drugged with,” Greg said, “Time for everyone to pee in a cup.”