Pantomime, Part 2
Authors: methylviolet10b (odd-numbered rounds) and monkeybard (even-numbered rounds)
Of course the Superintendent wanted a private debrief after the press conference, not only to go over how the conference went, but also to review the details and progress on the case so far. He had some pithy things to say about Lestrade's decision to bring Holmes in on the case from the get-go. The Superintendent was not a fan, but as long as Lestrade kept getting results, he didn't complain too much. And Sally surprised them both by voicing her support of Lestrade's decision.
"Thanks," Lestrade muttered as they left the room.
"Let's just hope the Freak gets results."
Lestrade made no comment beyond the lift of an eyebrow that challenged her choice of words. Sally didn't apologise, but neither did she continue.
"Detective Inspector?" The new voice was that of Gareth. Sally had set him the task of background checking Chiswick reporters per Lestrade's instructions. Lestrade's senses were immediately on the alert; if he'd found something this quickly, it couldn't be good.
"Gareth. Talk to me."
"I think I've got something. Charles Farnsworth. Arts and entertainment freelancer, lives in Chiswick, and he used to work at the V&A."
"Dismissed under some dodgy circumstances. See for yourself."
"Huh." Lestrade scanned Gareth's notes. His eyes widened as he saw that Farnsworth used to be an assistant curator for visiting exhibits. A weak accusation of 'inappropriate distribution of information to the press' had cost him his job before being subsequently disproven, but Farnsworth had not been rehired.
"Good work, Gareth. This is very detailed. How'd you get this information so quickly?"
Gareth blushed. "My girlfriend works at the V&A, and put in a word with the head curator."
Lestrade grinned. "A good investigator always makes use of his contacts."
And speaking of... Lestrade opened his phone to text Sherlock.
Check CF for medical background. SH
Lestrade glared at the return text. There was no point demanding elucidation. "SH" would only skewer him for failing to grasp the so-called obvious right off the mark. Then, of course, he did grasp it and was glad he'd not texted back. "Gareth, I need you to do some more digging. We need to know if Farnsworth has a medical background or connections with someone who might be able to get their hands on curare."
"Curare?" Gareth wasn't privy to the autopsy reports, but Sally understood where he going.
"I'll give him a hand."
Lestrade blinked. Sherlock was almost never wrong with his suggestions. "Really?"
"Not that we can find." Sally, too, looked disconcerted. "There's nothing in his background that suggests medical or chemical expertise. Which doesn't mean he couldn't have known about it anyway, but no proof."
Sighing, Lestrade texted the news to Sherlock, anticipating a variation on "you're all idiots" response. He could be a terror when one of his theories didn't play out.
His actual reply was entirely unexpected. Lestrade felt a frisson of fear as he read the words.
John not answering mobile. Imperative to locate CF immediately. SH
"Have we got a photograph of Farnsworth?"
"Here." Sally handed over a print-out of a low-res photo. "Not great, but it's current."
Lestrade frowned. He recognised the fellow from the press conference, the brazen bastard. "So much for our three-day window," he snarled. Then it hit him. It was still the twenty-seventh. "Christ! Send this out to all units. And get me a list of known contacts and addresses for Farnsworth." There'd be no mercy for John at that psychopath's hands.
"But why take John?"
Lestrade froze. How had none of them thought of it? "Oh God. He's Sherlock's blogger."
Stupid, stupid, stupid! Sherlock raged at himself. Unforgivably stupid, Yard stupid, to have not seen it until now, when any idiot should have realized that it was still the twenty-seventh, the start of a new cycle with the conclusion of the old! Culpably stupid, to think that they'd had time, and thrice-damnably unforgivable to send John, a blogger, alone after one of the suspects!
He could feel failure, fear, and fury crawl over his skin like ants. His entire body shook despite all his attempts at control. There was no time for this, and he forced his fingers to dial.
"Awake, are you? Good."
Groggy as he was, John recognized Farnsworth's voice. He turned his head. Or, he tried to. The face he sought appeared directly above him, blocking the dull but preferable view of the water-stained plaster ceiling.
"I was afraid Leo over-did the knockout. Wouldn't want you to miss out on the full experience." He vanished and John made a futile attempt to move. He knew what it must be, of course. Curare.
"I like a quiet subject when I work, see. Although--" Farnsworth reappeared. "You'd never sob and plead, would you? Not a soldier like you."
"I have to admit I could hardly believe my luck. I'd hoped to find someone at the conference, but I never expected it to be you. And honestly, from your writing on your blog and your reputation, I'd anticipated a lot more trouble. Leo was ready with all kinds of counter-measures, but you succumbed like a lamb."
Farnsworth couldn't be any more scornful of John's performance than John himself was. He'd fallen for it, and now he was in deep. If he only had a second crack at this...
Farnsworth vanished, and a second later, John smelled something familiar.
Damn. That was step two. He remembered well from the bodies at the museum. First depilation, then the high-priced, honeysuckle-scented moisturizer, then the white make-up, and then-- He stopped the thought train. It wouldn't come to that. Sherlock and Lestrade wouldn't let it come to that. He could feel his silenced mobile vibrate beneath his hip. His captors hadn't noticed and taken it! It must be Sherlock, aware by now that something was very wrong.
If not for the drug paralysing him, he could have kicked this sick-o's ass, and his unseen cohort's, too, whatever "counter-measures" this Leo had planned.
Another smell reached John's nostrils, much sharper, almost like matches. He felt a flutter of panic at the thought of fire, of being burned --
A cool touch against his right cheek. The smell grew worse, but this was cold and sticky spreading over his face, not hot. Depilatory cream, he realized, remembering the smell from a former girlfriend. Apparently they were on step one.
"This'll burn a bit, probably, but I really must have a smooth canvas to work with. And I'll need more space this time."
John felt the hands leave his face and start tugging on his shirt.
This wasn't the way John enjoyed being undressed by someone else.
"Well, I see this won't take long," said Farnsworth once John's shirt was open.
If he could've, John would've rolled his eyes.
Hang on. He could roll his eyes.
While Farnsworth smeared cream over his bare chest, John tried wiggling his toes inside his boots. Success! He next tried twitching his fingertips. Again, success. He mustn't get excited, mustn't give Farnsworth, or Leo, cause to be suspicious. Patience was key. If they thought they'd underdosed him, his chance was shot. It was imperative he keep perfectly still. For now.
John wasn't sure what was worse; listening to Farnsworth drone on in that perfectly reasonable, sane-sounding voice; or struggling to remain absolutely still while the other man gently scraped away every bit of hair on John's face and chest. It was unexpectedly ticklish, and John didn't even dare clench his jaw against the sensation, lest his would-be killer noticed.
Without warning, Farnsworth smashed John's hand hard against the table he lay upon. Somehow John kept himself from reacting.
"Oh good, you're still under. Didn't want to lose another to asphyxiation, but we can't have you moving, either. Spoils the lines."
It was a relief when Farnsworth switched to the honeysuckle lotion. In fact, were it not for the present circumstances and the gruesome memory of his first encounter with it, John would have called the stuff quite nice. In other words, even if he could afford it, hell would freeze over before he touched that lotion again.
His hand ached. His mobile vibrated again. But like everything else he felt, he forced himself to ignore them. He focused instead on listening for Leo, gauging Farnsworth's progress, and hoping against hope that help would bust down the door very, very soon.
"There. Smooth and white. A perfect canvas. The blood will show up beautifully." Farnsworth loomed into John's field of vision. "I imagine you know about the beauty of blood, don't you, Doctor? I doubt you've ever seen anything like this, however. I think I'll leave your eyes alone until the very end, so you can witness it. My gift to you." He grinned, then gave one of John's nipples a savage twist.
Involuntary tears sprang to his eyes, but John remained motionless. He still couldn't move worth a damn. Unless he got a lucky break soon...
Farnsworth raised a knife.
The knife appeared astonishingly clean and exceptionally sharp. As he watched its descent, John tried to appreciate the psychopath's attention to hygiene and care for his tools.
It didn't help.
It was an impossible catch-22. If John tried to fight back before he had proper control of his body, he was doomed. Yet if he just laid there and let this horror show happen to him, he was doomed. Either way, it would be painful and ugly.
He felt the tip penetrate his skin. Felt the blade sink in. Saw blood well up around it.
Farnsworth made his first slice.
Reflexes took the decision of when to fight back out of John's control. His entire body jerked at the searing pain as Farnsworth ran his blade from the center of John's sternum down to his belly-button. The madman jumped back, and John attempted to lunge for the knife.
He only managed to fall off the table, failure and pain blazing through him. He landed on his bad shoulder.
"Naughty! You need another shot." Farnsworth ignored John's twitching, sprawled form and reached for another item on a nearby tray.
A door crashed open, and John heard a well-known voice shout "Stop!"
John's mouth tasted bitter with bile, yet relief flooded his drugged body. He could see nothing but feet scuffling on the hard-wood floor. It was chaos from that angle. His abused sense of self-preservation urged him to shift, get out of the line of fire, at least cover his head to protect it from a misplaced kick or incautious tread. He wished he could.
Suddenly, familiar hands were on him, lifting him, turning him, pressing a cloth against his bloody torso. It stung, but John didn't complain. Sherlock pulled him close, shielding him from the commotion until it subsided.
John felt the thud of a falling body shake the floor. A keening wail, abruptly cut off. Someone -- Donovan -- snarled a curse. "Scene's secured. Get the paramedics up here, stat! We've got a man down!"
Who? John wondered muzzily.
"Christ!" Lestrade. "Can't you stop the bleeding?"
"Not with a scarf," Sherlock bit out. "Where are those medics?"
Oh. I'm the man down. John's vision blurred. Shock. I'm going into shock.
"Coming up the stairs now. John, if you can hear me, relax. We got him. You're safe."
Him. Not them. John tried to speak, but couldn't make his mouth move.
John blinked and managed to focus his eyes on the speaker. Sherlock. Right.
Them. Not him. Them. Needed to say they'd missed one.
A new face swam into sight beside Sherlock's. Woman. Medic. Crisis team. Right.
Missed one. Which one?
Sherlock arguing, scared, not giving way.
There'd been two. Two.
"John?" Sherlock's eyes were huge, centimetres from John's. His hands framed John's face even while the medic tried to do her job, staunch the blood, treat the wound. "What was that?"
"Probably involuntary," the woman explained.
"No! He said something. John? What are you trying to say?"
It was no good. John couldn't make a sound. Then again, if he could, he might scream, and that would be a shame. The increased pressure against the wound down his chest hurt worse than the initial cut.
Sherlock continued to pat John's face, clearly desperate for any sign, any word. John couldn't talk... but he could blink. With immense effort, John squeezed his eyes shut, held it for a second, then opened them, then repeated the process.
Puzzlement, then startled comprehension. "There were two of them?"
The medic spoke up. "We need to move him now."
John's eyes squeezed shut at the pain of being lifted from floor to gurney.
"Careful!" Sherlock barked at the medics, and on the same breath shouted, "Lestrade, there's another one!"
Lestrade's order to his team was immediate. "Secure the building and start a search."
"No. He's still here in this flat. Donovan missed something. Look for a false panel or somewhere else obvious that a man could hide."
Sherlock met John's gaze one more time with a reassuring nod. "You're safe. I'll be right behind you." With that, he let the medics get his friend out of that nightmarish place.
He'd been so sure John had been attempting to communicate, that the blinks had been deliberate. Ten minutes into the search, Sherlock was forced to re-evaluate his theory. There was no hidden room, no place for a second man to hide. Had emotion led him to error?
Half an hour after John had been carried away, Sherlock knew he'd been right. There had been a second man involved -- but not in the killing, not directly. He snarled, feeling murderous rage welling up. What kind of monster turned a psychopath loose on others as a deliberate screen for his own crimes?
Lestrade felt like he was coming down with what his old gran used to call one of her "sick headaches." The more clinical term was "Sherlock" or "migraine." Some days the two were indistinguishable.
"Slow down!" he insisted, although he knew the plea was futile.
"We've been too slow from the start!" raged Sherlock, racing down the stairs. "I've been too slow!"
Lestrade shot Donovan a pained look, which she answered with a nod of understanding before he shot off after Sherlock. He caught up at the curb. "We'll take my car."
"We'll use the siren. It'll be faster."
"So you're saying that someone set Farnsworth off, gave him operational support, sent a psychopath on a rampage -- as a diversion?"
"Yes, do pay attention, Lestrade." The retort wasn't one of his best, but Sherlock was distracted. Part of his mind was racing ahead, but another, large part remained focused on John. Brave John, gallant John, injured John, who came so close to a horrible death. Even with Mycroft's help in tracing John's phone, they'd almost not been in time.
He wanted to be at the hospital. He needed to be here. "It all comes back to the paper company."
They drove in silence except for the wailing police siren. Lestrade considered prodding Sherlock to expand on his statement, but something made him hold his tongue. He could handle the verbal abuse that would accompany any explanation, and he knew Sherlock loved showing off, but for now, Lestrade judged it best to save his questions. The look of horror that had flashed across Sherlock's face when they'd found John was etched in his memory. Lestrade still wasn't accustomed to shows of emotion beyond disdain, boredom, or impatience. Right now, Sherlock's demeanour suggested he needed some time to process the incident.
Remaining silent didn't stop Lestrade's brain from buzzing with questions. What was the connection between Farnsworth and the paper company? Who was the second man? Sherlock knew, obviously, but Lestrade couldn't think of a candidate. And how did this person find someone willing to brutally murder three (almost four) people? It wasn't like the telephone directory had entries for mass murderers, people willing to desecrate churches, and the like, however much it felt like it some days.
"Oh hush; you're thinking too loudly. Did you know Farnsworth has a great-nephew? Leo Ferguson. He's the CFO of Southron Paper and Fibre."
Lestrade bit back an automatic apology and took the next turning. Damned if he was going to apologise for thinking when that was what Sherlock so often snapped at him to do.
"We're after this Ferguson fellow, then? What the hell could he be so desperate to cover up that he'd be willing to hand people over to Farnsworth to be butchered?" The possibilities were myriad, although the connections present in the case narrowed them considerably. Ferguson was proving to be both ruthless and desperate. Lestrade frowned. They were facing an enemy without remorse or conscience. Those were the worst.
"From what I've been able to discover, I believe Ferguson has been using Southron Paper and Fibre's delivery system and financial structure to conceal his ventures into the narcotics trade. Marijuana, mostly, although I suspect the money-laundering aspect is quite a bit more extensive."
"Wait -- this is a major drugs operation? Sherlock, we're going to need backup, warrants..."
"All that can come later. Right now, you're just informing Ferguson that his uncle has been arrested, and asking him down to the Yard for a voluntary interview." Sherlock's voice dropped to a whisper. "And keeping me from wringing the bastard's neck."
Lestrade could see any number of ways Sherlock's plan might go awry, not the least of which was Lestrade failing to stop a homicide. Not that that one wouldn't be deserved.
Hardly an appropriate thought for an officer of the law, and one he studiously kept to himself.
"Just let me handle things when we get in there, all right?" Silence from his companion. "Sherlock? Let me run the interview. Understand? The last thing we need is a technicality--say an attempted strangulation by the Yard's consulting detective--that gets the whole thing thrown out of court in the end."
As it turned out, Sherlock's agreement -- or not -- with Lestrade's plan was a moot point.
Lestrade identified himself to Ferguson's secretary, and merely said that he needed a word; all very standard procedure, no need to storm the castle. The young woman used the phone intercom to announce his presence and ask if Ferguson would see him -- again, standard.
What was not standard was the unmistakable sound of a fire escape being lowered. Sherlock darted forward and burst through the office door, Lestrade at his heels.
Seconds later, they dove for cover as the fleeing Ferguson fired wildly at them.
Ferguson scrambled for the window and the fire escape beyond, still firing wildly. Lestrade drew his own weapon and aimed, only to have Sherlock block his shot as he dove after the fleeing suspect.
Cursing under his breath, Lestrade dashed out and down as Sherlock followed Ferguson directly. Hopefully, Lestrade could cut Ferguson off outside, although truth be told he'd be just as happy if the bastard fell from the fire escape and broke his bloody neck.
He pelted around the building and spotted Ferguson trying to scale a stone wall. "Freeze! Police!"
He didn't expect the order to work.
Shockingly, Ferguson did pause -- but only to brace himself against the wall and turn his gun directly at his pursuers. Even as Lestrade tried to find a decent line in order to take a shot, Ferguson fired.
Sherlock flinched and stumbled, a pained grunt escaping his lips. One long-fingered hand flew up to clench his left arm above the elbow. Still, he kept after Ferguson.
Lestrade thought he'd been angry before, but now anger shifted to rage. He fired two quick shots, careless of accuracy, no longer caring about anything but distracting the bastard from putting another bullet into Sherlock.
The first shot ricocheted off the stone, scattering shrapnel into Ferguson's face. He flinched and stumbled. The next bullet hit home, nailing him in the shoulder. He fell back, his weapon knocked from his grasp.
Lestrade pelted towards him from one direction as Sherlock came from the opposite, still clutching his arm.
Lestrade's aim now was steady, unwavering. "Go for that gun and you're a dead man."
Ferguson glared at him in pained disgust, but made no other move.
"Sherlock? You all right?"
"I'm shot." The "idiot" was unspoken but obvious.
"Your own fault for trying to play the hero."
"Don't be absurd." Sherlock's disdain could have been used to cut steel.
"How bad is it?"
"Just a graze."
Lestrade hoped Sherlock was telling the truth. "Can you cuff Mr. Ferguson?"
"If he's not too stupid." Sherlock sauntered forward, deftly extracted Lestrade's handcuffs from his jacket pocket, and approached Ferguson, careful to not get between Lestrade's gun and the motionless man. "You see, Ferguson, I really want Lestrade to blow your brains out. I'm rather hoping you'll give him the excuse. So please, do consider trying to resist me as I handcuff you. You'd be doing the world a favor."
Ferguson didn't take the offer. Sherlock cuffed him, none too gently judging by the man's pained grunt. "Dear me. Shoulder a bit twingy, is it?" asked Sherlock with false sympathy. For good measure, he gave a sharp tug on the restraints, hard enough to make a point. Ferguson gasped and blood drained from his face.
Lestrade pretended not to notice. With the suspect secure, he stood down and traded his firearm for his phone. "I don't suppose those warrants I mentioned earlier will be a problem to acquire now, do you?"
Sherlock's only reply was a wicked and satisfied smile.
It didn't take long for additional officers to arrive on the scene and take Ferguson away. Normally Lestrade would have accompanied Ferguson to the station, then gotten a jump on the paperwork. Not this time, however; not with Sherlock growing steadily paler beside him, not with John in hospital, status unknown.
"Come on, Sherlock. Let's go to A&E and get your wound looked after."
"I told you, it's trivial. Just a graze."
"Maybe so, but you can still have it checked out while we wait for word on John. And you'll be close at hand when he's approved for visitors."
Sherlock relented and climbed into Lestrade's car without comment.
Lestrade considered offering to run the siren again, as a joke of course, but Sherlock's tight expression and tense demeanour warned him off. Still, he pushed the speed limits all the way back.
Sherlock was silent as the ride progressed. He sat without moving, eyes closed as if in thought or sleep. More likely it's pain management, thought Lestrade.
He pulled up and shut off the engine. Sherlock made no move. Worried, Lestrade reached out to rouse him.
Pale eyes flashed open. "Don't touch me."
Lestrade withdrew his hand. "We've arrived."
Getting Sherlock admitted on a priority basis proved easier than Lestrade expected. For one, A&E was fairly quiet. For two, even an organization as much a slave to paperwork as the NHS expedited when the soon-to-be patient was dripping blood.
One look from Sherlock told Lestrade that he'd better not even think about accompanying him into the exam room. Taking the hint, he went instead to the admittance desk.
"Excuse me. I'm looking for information on a patient. John Watson?"
A guarded expression flickered across the woman's face. "Are you family?"
Lestrade produced his warrant card. "Police. And a friend."
The woman wasn't quick to trust. She pursed her lips and reached for his ID. He relinquished it and waited as she examined it. Finally convinced, she handed it back.
"Wait here." She rose and went in search of the attending.
Soon a woman in a white coat arrived and greeted him. "DI Lestrade? I'm Doctor Chatterjee."
Lestrade skipped the pleasantries. "John Watson. How is he?"
"The curare made things tricky, but he'll be fine. Your friend has friends in high places."
"He's not religious." Or was he? Lestrade was suddenly unsure.
"That's not what I meant."
Of course. Mycroft.
And speak of the Devil... An exquisitely-suited figure emerged from the exam area, a pair of Blackberry-wielding assistants in tow. "Ah, Inspector Lestrade," Mycroft greeted him calmly, as if he'd expected to see him. Knowing him, he probably had. "I see you've resolved the situation with Ferguson. Well done."
How the hell...? Lestrade didn't finish the thought. It wasn't worth asking. However, thinking of Ferguson reminded Lestrade of Sherlock -- and his brother's likely reaction to Sherlock in less than pristine condition. "Mycroft, Sherlock..."
"Judging by the particularly vicious curse with which he greeted me, his damage must be entirely superficial."
"He said as much. I didn't entirely believe him."
"A wise decision where my brother is concerned. This time, however, he's proved quite truthful. It will take more than a maniac's ill-aimed bullet to incapacitate the great Sherlock Holmes." The comment came with Mycroft's most sardonic smile.
"Have you seen John?"
"I have not." His tone implied it was by choice, not directive. "I've no doubt he is receiving excellent care." He nodded once to Chatterjee who returned it, pleased.
"I'll let you both know when he's fit for visitors," she said.
"Better be soon," said Lestrade. "I hear Sherlock."
Indeed, it was hard to ignore the voice exclaiming vociferously against wearing a sling. Mycroft raised one hand to his brow. Lestrade wasn't sure -- the expression came and went so quickly -- but he thought Mycroft looked weary.
"Sherlock, do humor the man, if you please. If only to please John."
Sherlock ignored the remonstrating physician and focused on Mycroft. His coat hung over his good arm, and his shirtsleeve was cut away, revealing a blood-spotted bandage on his bicep. "John's awake?"
"It's hard to be sure," Chatterjee hedged.
"Nonetheless, if you behave, I'm sure the doctor will allow a visit."
Lestrade had never seen someone simultaneously pouting, demanding, and obsequious. Leave it to Sherlock to be able to express all three at once.
"Doctor, I'd like to see my friend. Please."
Chatterjee eyed him, Lestrade, and Mycroft, and then came to her own decision. "Come with me. Only you. I won't have the room cluttered with all of you at once."
She ushered him in, waved the attendant nurse out, and said, "I'll be outside." Reassurance or warning? Both, determined Sherlock.
John's eyes were closed. They'd washed away the white make-up, but his face remained pallid and, without eyebrows, incomplete.
Sherlock pulled the one visitor's chair close to John's bed. The sling made everything doubly awkward. Finding a tolerable way to sit and hold John's hand (to monitor heartrate and autonomic responses, of course, just in case John wasn't yet able to respond verbally) nearly defeated him, but at last he managed.
"John?" he called softly, once he was settled.
He could feel John's heartbeat thudding regularly, reassuringly, but his friend's recumbent figure remained motionless. There was no change in pulse.
"You'd better look quickly," he continued on. "I'm following doctor's orders. Wearing a sling and everything."
John's eyelids fluttered.
98. Giggle (or Ass)
"You're going to miss it if you don't look now."
Slowly, so slowly, John's eyes opened. He turned his head on the pillow. Such a small movement yet so gratifying that Sherlock had to suppress a manic giggle of relief.
"I knew that would get your attention," he went on smugly.
John rolled his eyes in reply.
Sherlock grew serious. "We got them both, you know. Farnsworth and his nephew Leo."
John's eyes tracked along Sherlock's damaged arm, questioning.
"Just a graze. Nothing really. I told Lestrade..." He shrugged dismissively and winced.
John snorted an almost-laugh and whispered fondly, "Ass."
99. Mitigate (or Gaudy)
"Really, John. Is that the best you can come up with?" Sherlock mocked gently, hoping to provoke another smile. John looked so weak, so small among all the monitoring equipment and other paraphernalia. A gaudy tangle of IVs snaked over his arm, one saline, one blood. Both would mitigate the effects of the drug, but they also stood as a stark reminder of Sherlock's own failure.
"No." John's voice was scarcely audible, but nonetheless drew Sherlock's attention like a magnet. Understanding, knowing eyes met his own. "Not... your fault."
Sherlock swallowed, then gave John a determined grin. "Of course not."
100. End (or Poodle)
Even in his injured state, John could see through Sherlock's fašade. Behind the self-assurance and bravado, there was a lost look in his eyes, like someone had kicked his pet poodle or stolen his favourite toy.
Hm. John didn't like his own role in those analogies. He blamed the drugs and exhaustion. He'd been up since 3:10 that morning!
"Late. I should go. Let you sleep." Sherlock didn't stir, hand still in John's despite the obvious evidence that his friend's vitals were strong.
"Awfully long day."
"But... good end... to it."
Sherlock smiled. "Yes. I suppose it is."
*When we got to 96-100 "Author's Choice", we started giving each other words. Wicked fun!
Authors' Notes: We wrote this fic as a response to Challenge 21 over on Watson's Woes, which is a round-robin challenge. Specifically, the challenge states that 1) either the first or second prompt table must be used*, 2) the fic must feature the friendship between the characters, and 3) the fic had to be authored in the round-robin style, where one writer writes a bit, then the next, and so on in turns until the story is complete. Apparently the two of us really like this kind of challenge, because we wrote this fic using the entire first prompt table. Um. Yeah. Or, you know, we're both insane. In either case, we wrote it, we're submitting it, and we hope you like it. :-) Oh, and needless to say, no beta.