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Title: The Phantom Chase (1/10)
Universe: BBC Sherlock
Pairings: John/Sherlock
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Mycroft Holmes, Jim Moriarty
Word Count: 1,293
Rating: R
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: Moriarty launches a series of kidnappings that have Sherlock Holmes at wits end, desperate for evidence, motive, and sanity.
Notes: Huge thank yous to alpha/betas/britpickers [livejournal.com profile] annietalbot , [livejournal.com profile] dickgloucester , [livejournal.com profile] machshefa , and [livejournal.com profile] sc010f for your advice, insight, and support. 

(Additional Notes: Any and all HP plot bunnies are being petted and well fed. Keeping the muse happy with Sherlock at the moment.)

Sherlock's mobile rings out four times before John badgers him about answering it.

“It's just Mycroft,” Sherlock grumbles.

“He's called four times, Sherlock.”

“So?” Sherlock says, twisting into a more comfortable shape on the couch and shoving his toes underneath John. John shifts, unsure how to respond. Since the pool, they've reached a sort of impasse. John won't meet his direct stare for more than a second most days, always redirecting his line of sight somewhere else. There's something there, something unacknowledged in the chasm between them. Sherlock delights in taunting him from the other side.

Attempting to ignore the toes, John responds, “Well, it's obviously important.”

Sherlock raises an eyebrow at that. “To him, perhaps.”

“Well, you were just whinging about being so bored that you were reduced to watching EastEnders with me,” John points out. Sherlock notes the way John's mouth tightens before he says the word 'watching.' So Sherlock's running commentary has got under his skin. Good. Perhaps they could turn this drivel off sooner rather than later.

The phone chirps again, and Sherlock heeds John's glare and finally answers it. “I'm not interested, Mycroft.”

“Oh, you'll b-be interested in th-this, Sh-Sherlock.”

Mycroft hasn't stuttered since he was eleven. Sherlock's face goes slack and he nearly drops the phone. He yanks his feet out from under John and stands, beginning to pace his familiar circuit.

Across the room, John eyes him suspiciously and switches off the telly.

“Mycroft, you bloody idiot. You are better protected than the Royals. How... HOW have you managed to get yourself kidnapped by him?” Sherlock demands.

“Oh, this one was m-much m-more f-fun to t-take than th-that idiot s-sidekick of yours. I a-always l-like a ch-challenge. K-keeps me f-from g-getting b-bored. Although th-this one's stu-stuttering is a bu-bit m-maddening. N-no w-wonder you're su-such a pa-prick if-f you grew up-p w-with th-this.”

Sherlock's jaw clenches. For a half-second he's torn by a stab of pity towards his brother. His stuttering's growing worse by the word, which indicates increasing distress. Something more than explosives and laser-guided rifles then.

Sherlock doesn't think about how his stomach twists as he tries to keep Mycroft, or rather Moriarty, talking. He tunes out the specifics of his brother's voice, tries to filter out the stuttering. Moriarty brags for a moment about how easy it was to redirect his brother's travel plans. How Mycroft just accepted that the car that looked like his car was his car. Sherlock can hear, in his mind anyway, Moriarty's laughter as his brother says, “Aren't-t ch-child locks w-wonderful?”

By the end of the conversation, Sherlock doesn't hear his brother's voice. His ears are translating for him, delivering Moriarty's whining, slithering, high-pitched warble. “Your clue will come in the post, Sherlock. Oops, tomorrow's Sunday, isn't it? I suppose you'll have to wait until Monday to find out whether or not my package will tick.”

The mobile goes dead in his hand. Sherlock stares at it before sinking onto the couch, his head cradled in his hands, trying to contain the rapid-fire bursts of thought hammering him from every direction. His eyes dart over the detritus that the two bachelors have scattered across the room in between Mrs Hudson's cleanings. Over the worn paths in the rug that he's made since he moved in. Over the stack of periodicals tilting against the wall.

Why Mycroft? Moriarty has to be aware that Sherlock barely tolerates his brother. Considers him a pest. Someone who must be humoured. Getting him out of Sherlock's hair is very nearly a favour.

True, there was the challenge of Mycroft's circumstances, but Moriarty was the man who'd saved the trainers from the first case Sherlock ever noticed, from the first case, perhaps, Moriarty had caused. Switching out Mycroft's car was hardly a solution clever enough to be worth bothering.

Is Moriarty chaffed over Mycroft's intervention at the pool? Is it simply a matter of killing two birds with one stone?

Surely not. No, that was too obvious. There must be something else. But what?

Sherlock startles when John's hand settles on his back. John's hand doesn't budge.

“I don't understand...” Sherlock says, still cradling his head.

John's voice is quiet and calm. Cautiously optimistic. Soothing. The way it always is. Well, the way it always is unless Sherlock's got under his skin. “You'll figure it out. You always do.”

John's hand is heavy against the small of Sherlock's back. Sherlock leans into the touch. John continues, “Though I suspect you won't have much luck figuring things out until Moriarty sends whatever package it is he's put in the post.”

Sherlock lifts his head from his hands, turns to look at John. “What is it you think I'm trying to understand?”

His brow crinkles in that way it does when he's thinking hard, trying to figure out where he dropped the plot, what exactly he's missed for which Sherlock is about to chastise him. Only Sherlock hasn't chastised him in a long while. Not since the pool.

And yet, John still hasn't moved his hand.

“You're trying to figure out where Moriarty has stashed Mycroft,” John says, half statement, half question.

“Much as you might believe, I'm not omniscient, John. I hardly have enough to go on to deduce that at this stage.”

Sherlock watches John swallow his frustration, his jaw shifting from side to side before he says. “Right then. What is it you're trying to understand?”

“Why it is he bothered to take Mycroft.”

“He's your brother, Sherlock. Moriarty probably figures it's the best way to get at you.”

To his credit, John doesn't wither under the look Sherlock gives him. He doesn't maintain eye contact, no surprise there, but he doesn't cower.

“He did threaten to burn your heart out. It's... reasonable that he would do that through your sibling.” John's jaw is tight now, his movements controlled, and Sherlock knows he's thinking of Harry.

“Yes, but it's Mycroft. Surely he's brighter than to think I'd get fussed over Mycroft.

John's eyes narrow. He pulls his hand away.

Before John can lecture him on what Sherlock ought to be feeling, Sherlock continues, “My relationship with Mycroft is nothing like yours with Harry, and you know it, John. And I'm sure Moriarty does as well. Which is why it doesn't make sense that it was Mycroft he kidnapped.”

“The list of people you even keep in your acquaintance is limited.”

“Yes...” Sherlock says with scepticism. Where is John headed with this? Other than stating the obvious as he so often does.

Exasperated, John runs a hand through his hair. “Sherlock, if he wants to hurt you, there's only so many people he can choose from.”

John's posture goes rigid, reverting to near military form. Sherlock cannot tell whether John's still upset over his perceived indifference to Mycroft's plight – Sherlock isn't indifferent, really. It just... doesn't make sense. Or perhaps John's imagining his own kidnapping, wondering if Sherlock would be speaking so unemotionally if his own fate were up in the air.

“Yes, John. There's only so many people he can choose from,” Sherlock parrots back, the words spilling out quietly as he shoves his feet into his shoes and bends down to tie the laces.

“So who is it you would have expected, then?” John asks, his voice quiet through clenched teeth.

Sherlock grabs his phone as he launches himself from the sofa. He stalks towards the door, stopping to grab his coat. “I should think that fairly obvious, John,” he says, shrugging into his coat.

John looks at him blankly. “Where are you going?”

“To where Mycroft was abducted, of course,” he says, already dialling Lestrade as he descends the stairs.

“Hurry up if you're coming with me,” he shouts up the stairs.

Chapter Two
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