Fic: : “The Familiar Stranger” Chapter 2/? WIP
Rating: Overall NC-17, this chapter PG
Spoilers: All 3 seasons and Arthur Conan Doyle Canon
Tags: fic, rating: nc-17 category: slash, category: het, John/Mary, Sherlock/OC, Sherlock/John
Pairing: John/Mary, Sherlock/OC, Sherlock/John Current het, eventual Sherlock/John
Characters: Sherlock, Mycroft, Moriarty, John, Mary, Eva Blackwell (ACD Canon)
Warnings, kinks and contents: drug use, domestic violence, emotional abuse, torture, rape, kidnapping, drowning, nightmares, sex, violence against a child, unhealthy sexual practices. Much of this is discussed as happening in the past.
Summary for the chapter: Agent Eva Blackwell reminds everyone of someone, but who?
*This WILL be Johnlock, but not right now, we have to work up to it. In the coming chapters, there will be more NC17 stuff, but I have to build the case first.
“Perhaps we should have called ahead to make an appointment,” mutters John as the trio approaches a locked door to the small community gallery. “Can we catch another cab before someone decides my head would look great on their mantel?”
“This is the East End John,” Sherlock looks in the barred window before trying the door again. “People around here don’t have mantels. Besides your skull is too round, it would make a better candy dish.”
“Can’t believe you said that,” John muttered.
“Don’t worry, a fair number of my homeless network operate around here, we’ll be fine.”
“Pity I left my bag back at your apartment, I have a lock pick set in there,” Blackwell bends down to examine the handle. “Gift from my first boyfriend.”
“Interesting,” rolls Sherlock.
“He wasn’t.” Blackwell stands and swiftly kicks the door directly below the knob. The wood splinters and the door gives, but it doesn’t swing open. “Chain lock, shit.”
“Where did you learn to do that?” John says, thinking that he only knows one other person with the audacity to do that. Sherlock. Or himself, if Sherlock asked him to.
“Standard training. Come on, I’m going to need some help to get this chain lock to budge. Mr. Holmes, kick in the center of the door. Dr. Watson, be prepared to catch one of us if we fall back and deliver medical attention if needed. Prepare for that one of us to be Mr. Holmes. Ready? One, two, three.”
Together, Agent Blackwell and Sherlock manage to snap the chain and the door swings open. Sherlock only stumbles a little bit, not needing medical attention. “That was easy,” says Sherlock.
“Oh sure, easy as pie.” Blackwell turns around. “I’m going to find the office.” She disappears into the dark of the room.
Sherlock begins walking towards the gallery space, occasionally glancing at the walls to determine where the location of the now-missing painting was.
“She’s strangely familiar, Agent Blackwell,” remarks John. “Almost like she looks like someone famous maybe?”
“Ah ha, here,” Sherlock stops in front of a blank area of the wall, completely ignoring John’s question. “There is a nail and small card that reads A Woman in Red. This is where it was.”
“It went missing days ago, why didn’t they hang something else?” John reads the card. “Painted by unknown American artist, portrait of young woman.”
By the light streaming from the large windows, Sherlock squats down and wipes his fingertips against the floor, bringing them up to his face and rubbing them together. “Dust. A place that won’t even replace a missing painting and of course they don’t do the sweeping on a daily basis. John, footprints. Look for prints.”
John turns around and looks at the floor. “There are dozens.”
“Pattern,” Sherlock stands and points. “See how the shoeprints all go in a general pattern passing this painting? None of them go closer than mine. The police didn’t bother dusting for prints.”
“Yes, but Sherlock,” John reaches his arms out towards the wall. “I couldn’t reach the painting without getting closer than the prints.”
Sherlock reaches his arms out and touches the wall. “I can. Agent Blackwell can tell us how big Flack is.”
“Unless it wasn’t Flack who took it. What if it was Moriarty?” John puts his arms down. “What if Agent Blackwell came all the way here to chase a ghost?”
“I’ve got a name,” Agent Blackwell walks quickly from the dark towards the men. “There was a bill of sale in the office, sitting in the copy machine. Must have made a copy for the police.” She holds the paper up to the light. “Sold to the gallery two months ago for three hundred pounds. Shit, no address. But I have a name.”
“What is it? Asks Sherlock.
“Ah…John Smith. Shit.” Blackwell crumples the paper and shoves it in her pocket. “Figures. Find anything?”
“Was Donald Flack a tall man?” Sherlock squats back down on the floor and searches the ground.
“Uhm, yes, tall…” Blackwell shifts her weight and crosses her arms. “Strong, broad shoulders, not heavy but not skinny. Uh, yes, tall.”
“His arms would be long enough to reach for the painting from this distance,” Sherlock replies. “No close tracks in the dust.”
“There’s no monitors in the office, so no CCTV. I need to talk to the people who run this place.” Blackwell nervously tucks her hands in her pockets, only to immediately pull them out.
“How are we going to convince the owners of the gallery to answer a few questions when we’ve already broken the door down?” John says, turning to Agent Blackwell. “See, this is why he needs me. And you need me too, apparently.”
“No need,” replied Sherlock. “And I don’t need you, you like this.”
“If they are this complacent about security chances are they don’t know much,” says Blackwell. “However, it would be worth a try, perhaps they saw someone who was overly interested in the painting. I saw a sign on the front window, they are having a gallery showing tomorrow night.”
“They won’t answer questions about at theft when the place is full of potential buyers,” John crosses his arms. “Goodness, it’s like dealing with two of you.”
“Two of who?” asks Sherlock, not paying attention to the conversation.
“We don’t come asking questions about at theft, we come asking questions about the art. The artists. We could pose as journalists wanting the details about the theft of the blood painting.” Blackwell says, reaching a hand to her forehead to wipe a slightly sheen of sweat.
“Wrong,” says Sherlock. “They may be more likely to expound upon the truth for the sake of free press.”
“Mr. Holmes, we can separate the truth from the sensational. I’m a federal agent, I’ve done this before.”
“This time would you please try to make your cover story more convincing?” Sherlock’s voice rolls.
“For the record,” Blackwell walks around the men, “I have done a total of one year, six months, four days and thirty six minutes undercover and only once has it ever been blown…by you.” She closes her eyes as if in pain, swallowing hard.
“Agent Blackwell,” John rushes to her side. “Are you alright?”
She nods before opening her eyes. “Yes, just a bit exhausted. The most sleep I’ve had since that painting was stolen was while waiting for the two of you. I need my bag.”
“Right, we should get you some sleep. We can take you to a hotel. A nicer neighborhood.” John pats her arm. “We can stop and get your bags from Sherlock’s flat, or at a chemist sooner if you need something now.”
“No time for that,” Blackwell smiles and stands a bit straighter, the sweat still glistening on her brow. “We need to find Flack. For all we know he has another girl, somewhere. Lot good a headache and exhaustion when there is a woman being bled to death. We can pick up my things, though. It would be nice to have my lockpick set just in case.”
“So where should we look? Sussex? No, he’s too smart for that, that would be the first place he knows we would look for him,” Sherlock answers his own question. “We need more to go on.”
“He doesn’t know you are looking for him, as far as he knows, the FBI thinks he’s gone. Dead or in jail for something else. My assistant director has been very clear about not actively pursuing him until there is more evidence, there are plenty of current cases with hotter leads.”
“Must be nice, to choose which serial killer to stop and which to let keep killing,” says John.
“It’s a hard job, what we do,” Blackwell replies. “Either we chase this one who we think we can catch now and risk the other one killing a few more in the meantime.”
“You are a criminal profiler,” states Sherlock. “I’ve seen the way your eyes read people. Pity.”
“Yes I am, and why the pity?” Blackwell turns towards the door, yelling over her shoulder. “You can deduce what people do, I can tell you why they do it, which I argue is the better of the two.”
“If it’s that much better, than why did you come to my flat?”
“Because, Mr. Holmes, your reputation precedes you.“ Blackwell continues to glance behind her as she walks through the gallery. “You know the little clues, you look for things that even seasoned agents don’t bother with. Your ability to see those physical clues are what I need to interpret what they are going to do. Not to mention that I haven’t lived in London for more than a few months at a time since I was about eleven, and you have connections. So, while I need you, my work is the stuff that will get them caught.”
“Seriously,” John whispers to Sherlock as they follow Blackwell out of the gallery. “Doesn’t she remind you of someone?”
Sherlock hums. “Someone, no. Something, yes. Annoying. Arrogant.”
“Exactly,” replies John, shaking his head.When the men reach the street, they are greeted by an officer putting Agent Blackwell in the back of a car while another points a baton at them.
“Hands in the air!”
John complies. “I’ve started to lose count how many times this has happened.”
“Well, if you count the stag night…”
“Can it, Sherlock.”
“Which one of you would like to explain what you were doing first?” Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade sits behind his desk, with John, Sherlock, and Blackwell seated on the other side. “That will be all officer, thank you,” Lestrade nods to the officer who brought them in the room and he leaves.
“How did we miss a hidden alarm?” Blackwell turns to Sherlock, ignoring Lestrade’s question.
“There wasn’t one,” Sherlock says. “I don’t miss things that aren’t there.”
“Oh, well then,” Blackwell mouths in a mocking gesture.
“He’s right, the sod.” Lestrade stands up. “An old woman saw three people kicking the door down and called the police. Good think I have your name tagged in the booking system so if you are arrested I know about it immediately. Well, not me. Mycroft. And the Queen.” Lestrade turns to Blackwell. “Agent Dr. Eva Blackwell, I presume.”
She nods. “I see you had time to glance at my records.”
“Doctor?” asks John.
She nods. “Psychiatrist, specializing in behavioral science. Most of my doctoral research was on brain patterns predicting violent behavior. I studied sociopaths on the side, very fascinating.”
“It took them almost an hour to bring you here so I had the time,” Lestrade sits back on his desk in front of her. “Care to tell my why, when I called your assistant director to inquire about your identity, that he said you were not working a case?”
“I’m on leave, he wouldn’t pursue this one so I decided to go solo.”
“Hence why you hired Sherlock and didn’t ask for the assistance of local law enforcement. However, that’s not all he said.”
“Detective Inspector, what my director said has absolutely no bearing…”
Both John and Sherlock look to Eva. She takes a deep breath. “I’m not acting in official capacity and from what I gather Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson are not officers so what difference does that make?”
“Sherlock Holmes is currently under the employ of the Queen searching for the most notorious criminal in all of England, the last thing we need is for him to get arrested breaking into small dirty galleries in the East End searching for some missing painting.” Lestrade stands. “Now give me one good reason I shouldn’t tell your director what you were found doing and have you sent right back to America.”
“Moriarty,” says Sherlock. “I believe the case is related to Moriarty.” He stands. “Its location was not publicized prior to the newspapers after it was stolen. I looked.”
“Well, isn’t this one big coincidence?” Blackwell asks. “You researching my case while I’m falling asleep in your flat waiting to hire you.”
“This morning. I was already looking into the case before your arrival. I found it odd that such a peculiar piece was to go missing, when much more valuable artwork was readily available. The painting in blood, I figure, was a message from Moriarty. The last time I saw him, his blood was pouring onto the roof.”
Blackwell stands up. “Mr. Holmes, on the way back to your flat to fetch my things, you will fill me in on this Moriarty case.”
“That’s classified,” says Lestrade. “I should know, I’m one of the few who is permitted to know.”
“If Moriarty is involved in my case…”
“It’s not your case, you are on suspension.” Lestrade sits back behind his desk and picks up his phone. “If this is what you do on holiday, I can only imagine what you were put on suspension for. I’m calling your director. I’ll send a car to pick up your things and take you straight to the airport.”
“Is that your name?” Sherlock shakes his head. “Agent Blackwell has information about Donald Flack that may be pertinent. She is a profiler, she knows Donald Flack’s case very well. Why else would she be here if she was not personally invested in the case?”
“Sherlock,” John says. “Is it possible Moriarty picked this painting simply because it’s done in blood, and knows nothing of the artists and his crimes? Is it possible this is a coincidence?”
“Anything involving Moriarty is not a coincidence,” Sherlock says before leaving the room.
John turns to Lestrade. “You also know that you are authorized to give Sherlock anything he needs to track down Moriarty. If he wants Agent Blackwell…I mean, if he wants her to work with him…”
“Agent Blackwell,” Lestrade turns his attention back to her. “Look, if you promise to stop breaking into art galleries, I can keep my mouth shut regarding your assistant director. I’ll tell him you got a speeding ticket or something, you are on holiday afterall.”
Blackwell smiles. “Thank you, Detective Inspector.” Her eyes wink very subtly and she quickly bites her lip. “Greg Lestrade? Nice name.”
“Are you, do you, would you like to get a drink? Have a drink, with me? Get away from these guys for a little bit?” Lestrade smiles shyly. “I know Sherlock Holmes can be impossible if you spend too much time with him all at once, and I think Dr. Watson wants to get back home.”
“Detective Inspector, as much as I like to talk through a case over a few pints, it’s still rather early in the day.” Blackwell reaches for a pen on Lestrade’s desk, writing on a pad of paper next to his phone. “I wouldn’t mind taking you up on the offer if I am not busy later, in fact, I hope you call around seven.”
As Blackwell and John leave Lestrade’s office, John cannot help but laugh. “He just threatened to have you shipped back home for working under suspension, and you are going on a date with him?”
“Not really. I find it always to one’s advantage to keep locals happy. On my side, especially when he can send me home.” Blackwell smiles. “Besides, who is to say that I won’t have a little time for myself after we get Flack? I am on suspension. Now can we please get me my bag, I could vomit I feel so disgusting.”