(BBC Sherlock series) Something rather odd has occurred in London and now our favourite consulting detective and his associates need to learn how to cope in a city filled with people suddenly able ...
All thoughts of murderers and puzzles were knocked quite forcefully from his brain moments later when a car materialised out of the purple haze and, having been going far to fast given the limited visibility, slammed head on into the front, right hand side of the cab. Fortunately for Sherlock, he was sitting on the left and was spared a great deal of the impact. Unlike the unfortunate cabbie, who took pretty much all of it. Dazed and bruised from his sudden and involuntary collision with the door, Sherlock groaned and rolled his abused shoulder. This was just what he needed, as if putting up with the imbeciles on Lestrade's team wasn't painful enough on its own. Grunting in pain and irritation, he shoved the door open and climbed out of the cab. He froze as the purple fog curled around him. No, wrong again, he thought, wrinkling his nose slightly, it was more of a smog. There was a distinctly polluted quality to it that he could taste in the back of his throat, and a smell not unlike burnt plastic. It was altogether quite unpleasant. Drawing his coat closer around him, he walked around the cab to the driver's window. Placing his hands on the crumpled bonnet of the car that hit them, he leaned over it to peer in. As he suspected, the man was beyond help. Quite clearly dead. Drawing back again, he turned his head to the cracked windshield of the other car. Letting out a sigh that created an interesting swirl in the smog, he walked over to look in through the passenger window. He really shouldn't bother; it was entirely this reckless fool's fault the accident happened, after all. As he looked in, the young man inside let out a pained groan and wriggled feebly. Snorting, Sherlock stood up again. Typical that the one most deserving of being the only casualty should survive while an innocent man is killed. Though, to be fair, he wasn't entirely sure if there was such a thing as an innocent man. He made a quick call to the emergency services and then walked away, pushing past the small group of pedestrians who had stopped to gawk at the accident. He was thankful that it was late evening and not midday, otherwise the gathering would have been significantly larger and someone might have tried to stop him leaving, insinuating that he might have neck injuries or some other such nonsense. As if he wouldn't notice.
Rounding the corner, he kept his eyes open for another cab, not that he'd actually be able to see one in this weather until it was right on top of him. Realising this, he stopped. The crime scene was too far away to walk, unless he didn't mind turning up after everyone else had packed up and left. But he was already halfway there, which meant it was just as far to walk home. Stupid, inconvenient weather and idiotic drivers. Pulling out his phone, he bashed in Lestrade's number and scowled as he waited for an answer. He hated the thought of travelling in a police car, but if he wanted to get to the crime scene, he needed picking up. His mood was not improved when the phone went through to Lestrade's voicemail. Hanging up, he wrote out a blunt text and sent that instead. Pulling his coat closer again, good God was it cold tonight, he continued walking while he waited for Lestrade to respond. He only made it another two streets before he was forced to stop once again. The smog, which moments before had only been foul smelling and slightly irritating to his throat, was now taking on a rather viscous quality that made breathing disturbingly hard. Spluttering and wheezing in a way that made him very thankful there was no one else around, he staggered sideways and braced his hand against a wall. He had a feeling he probably shouldn't be outside in this…whatever it was. Nothing about it felt natural. He was just considering ducking into the next shop or café he found when the world tilted sideways and the bottom of his stomach dropped out in a way that would have made anyone who had actually eaten that day throw up. Yes, time to get inside, definitely. Only his legs wouldn't work properly when he tried to walk and he found himself on his knees, one arm still braced against the wall and the other flat on the pavement to stop him pitching head first into it. There was one more crazy world tilt, followed by some rather clichéd spinning, and then, mercifully, he passed out.
Sounds started to come back first, the wind rustling through one of the lonely trees planted in a tiny square of dirt in the pavement, distant cars, an aeroplane. Once he was able to process what these sounds were, he cracked open his eyes, only to find he could see nothing but blue. Then he realised that was the sky and he was lying on his back on the pavement. Groaning, he pushed himself up onto one elbow and looked around, trying to remember where he was and how he got there. He could see no people, but that wasn't too surprising, given the fact that it didn't look like the sun had been up very long and both he and the ground were soaked from a rain shower that had only recently stopped. Oh, yes, that was it. He'd received a call from Lestrade, caught a cab, crashed and then been attacked by smog. Not too weird a night compared to some he'd had, really. He winced as he pulled himself to his feet. His shoulder was throbbing painfully and there was a sharp stabbing pain pulsing from one side of his head to the other. Forcing his stiff legs into action, he made his way back out of the small back street he'd collapsed in to find a main road and then a cab.
By the time he got home, he was shivering uncontrollably and the pains in his shoulder and head had trebled. Staggering into the bathroom, he raided the medicine cabinet and took enough painkillers that John, if he'd been there, probably would have yelled at him. He didn't care, he just wanted the pain to stop. Once he'd done all he could about that, he turned his attention to warming up. Stripping off his coat, he reached into the shower and turned the hot water on. Steam started to drift lazily past the shower curtain as he pulled off the rest of his frozen clothing, curling around him and filling the room, dragging up unwanted memories of purple smog and choking. Shaking himself as though he could physically dislodge the thoughts, he climbed into the shower and let the blissfully hot water chase the London chill from his body.
He awoke, much later, on the couch wrapped in a thick woollen blanket that he'd stolen from John's bed. The pain in his head had dulled to a low throb, he noted with satisfaction, and his shoulder just felt stiff. Rolling onto his back, he allowed himself a few moments of comfortable warmth, then pushed the blanket off and retrieved his phone from where he'd dumped it that morning. He had three new messages. He assumed that one of them at least would be from Lestrade, answering his text from the night before. They were, however, all from John. The first asked him 'how he was getting on' and had been sent last night, some time after he had passed out. The second had been sent this morning and asked the same thing, but with undertones of concern. The third had been sent about an hour ago and consisted mostly of a threat to ring Lestrade and have him come round and see if Sherlock was still alive. Rolling his eyes at his flatmates mothering, he sent a reply detailing his exploits last night, then threw his phone onto the cushion next to him and headed for the door with the intention of yelling for Mrs Hudson. He only made it halfway across the room before his phone started ringing. Abandoning his thoughts of tea, he rushed back over to pick it up, fully expecting it to actually be Lestrade this time. But no, John again. And he didn't sound particularly happy.
"You were in a car accident and you passed out in the middle of the street?" Was what his ear was greeted with when he answered the call, "Please tell me you at least let someone check you over before went gallivanting off across London again?"
"John, please, you needn't be so dramatic" he made no attempt to keep the boredom out of his voice, "I banged my arm on a door, that's hardly something a paramedic needs to look at."
"Sherlock, for God's sake…"
"…What?" He prompted when it became clear John wasn't going to continue his sentence.
"Nothing, just…nothing." There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the line, "I'll tell Harry I'm leaving early. She's got a meeting and some job interviews tomorrow anyway, so I'm sure she won't mind."
"John, there's no need to-" He started, a little annoyed that John was overreacting.
"Oh shut up. I'll be back in a few hours." And with that he hung up, leaving Sherlock to frown at his phone. Shaking his head slightly, he let it go for now and keyed in Lestrade's number. Again, he went through to his voicemail. He left a message this time, telling him in no uncertain terms that if he wanted this case solved, he'd better start returning his calls.
Great, the pain in his head was getting worse again. Grabbing the blanket, he flopped back onto the sofa, pulled up his knees so he could rest his chin on them, wrapped himself back into his woollen cocoon and stared moodily at the opposite wall.
This is how John found him when he returned 3 hours later. Ignoring the obvious and catastrophic damage to the TV (their third this month) with an almost painful effort of will, he made his way over to the sofa and prodded the woolly lump to get its attention. He was ignored the first time, so he prodded again, harder.
"Sherlock, sit up" he ordered, grabbing the blanket and wrenching it off his flatmate. Uncoiling like a snake, Sherlock half sat up, grabbed the other end of the blanket, wrenched it back out of John's hands and curled up underneath it again, facing the other way this time. Burying his face in his hand for a moment, John counted to ten in his head and then cleared his throat.
"Sherlock, can you sit up and talk to me please?" He tried again.
"Unless you're holding a phone with Lestrade on the other end, go away" was the muffled response from the depths of the blanket.
"Wha-? You do know I just left my sister's early to come back here and check you were ok, don't you?"
"I didn't ask you to" Sherlock snapped, throwing the blanket off with a dramatic sweep of his arm and lurching off the couch to stomp over to his laptop. John watched him with his arms folded and his lips pursed and waited for him to settle in front of the machine before he tried again.
"So, care to elaborate on 'car accident'?"
"Well do it anyway." Sherlock dragged his eyes up from the laptop, the bluish glow from the screen highlighting the bags under his eyes wonderfully, and stared hard at John.
"…I was in a cab, another car hit it, I was as far away from the impact as I could be and therefore was not harmed beyond a slight knock to my left shoulder. Satisfied?"
"And what about passing out on the street?" John persisted, his arms unfolding so his hands could rest on his hips.
"It was the smog" Sherlock sniffed, waving his hand dismissively as his eyes returned to whatever was currently displayed on his laptop, "Nothing to do with the accident at all." His concentration now focused back on his laptop, he didn't see John crossing the room towards him, and the first indication he had that his flatmate had moved was when his chair was suddenly swivelled to the side. "John what are you do- Stop that!" He slapped the Doctor's hand away as it began probing his shoulder.
"I'm making sure you haven't broken yourself and it'll go a lot quicker if you just let me."
"How many times do I have to tell you I'm fine?"
"Oh like you'd tell me if you weren't? You're like a bloody cat. One of these days I'm going to come back and find you dead under the radiator because you got hit by a car a week ago and didn't bother to tell anyone."
"Don't be ridiculous John, I'd never fit under the radiator, it's barely two inches off the floor."
John snorted and went back to probing Sherlock's shoulder, and was allowed to continue this time. Once he was satisfied that it was just bruised, he reeled off a stream of questions to check for concussion, which Sherlock mumbled disinterested answers to while stealing glances at his laptop. Finally done with his fussing, John collapsed into his chair. Sherlock immediately swivelled back to face his desk.
They stayed like this, Sherlock tapping away at the keys on his laptop and John dozing off in his chair, for almost an hour before Sherlock let out a frustrated "Bah!" and slammed the machine shut. John jolted awake with a very undignified snort and squeak combo that made him very glad his roommate's attention was elsewhere.
"This is intolerable" Sherlock complained, pushing himself up out of his chair with such force that it skittered back across the room on its wheels. Ignoring it, he bounded across the room and snatched up his coat, turning back towards the room as he pulled it and his scarf on. "Come on, John! Don't just sit there."
"Where exactly are we going?" John blinked, pulling his coat on with markedly less enthusiasm.
"Lestrade should have contacted me by now!" Sherlock called over his shoulder as he took the stairs fast enough to make John wince slightly. Realising that was all he was going to get, he ran to catch up and made it outside just as Sherlock was opening the door to a cab. They slid inside and Sherlock instructed the driver to take them to Scotland Yard, confirming John's suspicion that they were about to go and pester the poor, overworked DI. The trip was a silent one, Sherlock too deep in thought to remember that he wasn't alone and John trying to decide what they were going to have for dinner tonight. By the time they got there, he'd narrowed it down to lasagne or chicken pie. Climbing out of the cab, he shoved some money at the driver then jogged to keep up with Sherlock's long strides as he stalked towards the building. John frowned as they walked across the lobby. Something didn't feel right, it was too…quiet? Yes, that was it. They were usually met with the humming of computers and the clicking and whirring of printers and the air conditioning or the heaters, depending on the time of year, when they walked into the building, but there was none of that this evening, and the officer on reception was writing things down by light of a torch in the growing gloom. She glanced up at them as they passed her and tiredly informed them that the lifts were not operational, so they would have to take the stairs. John thanked her and continued after Sherlock, who had been heading for the stairs anyway.
When they reached the right floor, they walked into a sea of very unhappy people. It was quite clear at this point that there had been a power cut of some kind; there were battery operated lamps and torches scattered everywhere you looked and, again, that noticeable lack of computer noise. Most of the people milling around looked completely lost, obviously not sure how to cope without technology. John couldn't help but be slightly amused. Sherlock was definitely amused. As they crossed towards Lestrade's office, they felt something crunching under their feet which, upon closer inspection, appeared to be glass. While John blinked down at it, Sherlock glanced at the ceiling.
"Wha-" John started, shuffling to an area where the glass seemed to be less concentrated.
"Up" Sherlock stated before John could complete his question. Blinking again, John looked up and could just about make out what Sherlock meant in the fading light. All the light fixtures looked like they'd exploded. Taking another look around the room, he noticed for the first time that a lot of people were sporting small cuts on their faces and hands. He turned back to Sherlock to ask if he could tell what had happened, only to find that he was no longer there. Slightly irritated, but not surprised, he continued on to Lestrade's office where his friend was no doubt already making a nuisance of himself.
Sherlock, eager to get on with the case, was more than a little annoyed when he found Lestrade's office empty of it's owner. Turning to the desks nearby, his eyes settled on the back of Donovan's head.
"Where's Lestrade?" He demanded, taking some satisfaction from the fact that he'd startled her, the darkness and commotion having concealed his arrival.
"Go away." She didn't even turn to look at him.
"No. Where's Lestrade?" He repeated, walking around to the front of her desk. She looked up at him and wrinkled her nose slightly.
"Working." She looked down at the file in front of her again.
"On the Hyde Park case?"
"That's none of your business."
"Why do you persist in hampering my efforts to help? Do you not enjoy catching murderers?"
"Not if it means working with one to do it, no" she said defiantly, snapping her eyes back up to meet his. His expression revealed nothing as he stared back, waiting. Eventually, inevitably, her gaze wavered and she scowled as she went back to reading. Smirking ever so slightly, he turned away and came face to face with John.
"Lestrade's in a meeting, he should be back in about twenty minutes, which you would probably already know if you tried asking someone nicely, like I did."
Sherlock rolled his eyes and went to sit on the couch in Lestrade's office. John followed and they sat there for a few minutes in companionable silence. This case was starting to get very irritating, which wouldn't be too bad if it was just the frustration of trying to solve a puzzle, but this was the frustration of dealing with the police and all their many failings. There was no fun in that at all. And then there was John, bailing out on his sister halfway through what was supposed to be a visit to reconnect, just because Sherlock banged his shoulder. Obviously it hadn't been going too well if John had been that desperate to leave. He glanced at his flatmate curiously, and then down at his hands when he saw that he was focused on something. He was fiddling with his phone. A new one, apparently. John looked up and smiled slightly.
"Harry changes her phone more often than a teenager, and since mine was on the fritz she made me take her old one" he explained, fully aware that Sherlock had most likely already figured that out. "The internet works much better on this one, I can actually read my emails, which is quite handy. Harry said it streams videos quite well too." He carried on fiddling with the buttons while Sherlock, bored with waiting, stared at the phone with slightly glazed eyes. "Ah, here we go, do you want to watch Miss Marple or the News?"
Sherlock fixed him with a cold stare. He knew perfectly well how much he detested Miss Marple. Chuckling, John selected the News channel and put the phone on the couch between. The anchor's tinny voice started bleating on about Iraq and Sherlock rolled his head back to stare at the ceiling. He stayed that way through the next three items and would have continued until Lestrade arrived, but as the anchor started in on the next story, John poked him in the shoulder. Not impressed, Sherlock sat up straight to tell him as much but John cut him off before he could start.
"They're talking about that foggy stuff" he said, pointing at the phone unnecessarily. Interested now, Sherlock looked down at the tiny face of the woman reading the report.
"- the mysterious cloud that moved through parts of central London yesterday. There have been several confirmed casualties as a direct result of the phenomenon, though they all appear to be road traffic related and not due to some toxic property of the cloud."
"Smog" Sherlock muttered irritably.
"While the long term effects of exposure to the cloud are, as yet, unknown, there have been several reports of people having adverse reactions to it. Many claim to have suffered agonising headaches for hours after exposure, and some even claim to have passed out. Anyone experiencing any ill effects is advised to seek medical attention immediately."
Sherlock didn't have to look up to know that John was giving him a 'look'.
"There are a range of theories as to the clouds origins, the most popular at the moment being that it was some kind of industrial accident, but we won't know for sure until the investigations are complete. That's all for now, over to you George."
The camera switched to a rather pompous looking man with far too much gel for the amount of hair he had. "Thanks Jill. Weird weather seems to be a theme today, as a large section of Tower Bridge mysteriously iced over earlier this afternoon. The 30ft section froze without warning as motorists travelled home from work. Several cars collided in the suddenly treacherous conditions, but luckily there were only minor injuries. No one is-"
They were broken out of their TV trance as Lestrade opened the door to his office and strode in. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the two men on his couch.
"You've been ignoring me" Sherlock accused, standing up as John fumbled his phone back into his pocket.
"I've been busy" he said vaguely, continuing across his office to sit down, "I know I asked you to help but some other stuff has come up and we're all rushed off our feet at the moment." Sherlock glanced out of the office at the zombie like police officers still wandering around mourning the loss of their computers, and raised an eyebrow. "Alright, I'm rushed off my feet at the moment" Lestrade corrected, "and since I'm the only one who'll work with you, that means you're gonna have to wait with this one."
Sherlock let out a strangled snort. "I cannot wait, Lestrade, it is imperative that I see the body now. The case hinges on it."
"That's a bit dramatic" Lestrade said, shuffling papers together on his desk.
"Perhaps, but it's true."
"Well, the body's over at Barts now, if you want to see it, but I haven't got the time for an investigation at the moment."
"I'm sure I can manage without your…assistance" Sherlock said, voice dripping with sarcasm as he motioned for John to follow him out the door.
"Wait, hang on" Lestrade called before they got very far, "Why didn't you show up last night?"
"He got caught in that weird fog and passed out" John chipped in. Sherlock glared at him and muttered something that sounded like 'smog'.
"Oh, right, yeah, we got a bit of that too" Lestrade nodded, "No one passed out though" he added with a grin. Sherlock flashed him a sarcastic smile in return then stalked off towards the stairs. John lingered in Lestrade's office.
"Do you have any idea what that stuff was?" He asked hopefully. Lestrade shook his head and leaned back in his chair.
"We're all clueless. And we can't exactly do research right now…" he gestured vaguely towards the shattered lights and his own dead computer.
"Oh, yeah. Right. So…what exactly happened" John made the same gesture to indicate what he meant. Lestrade grimaced and stood up.
"Anderson…plugged in a fax machine and managed to blow out the whole building. We still don't know how. He got thrown clean across the room, and that wall's going to need a new lick of paint. Or five."
John's eyebrows shot up in alarm. "My God, is he ok?"
"Yeah, he's fine. Shock more than anything, no pun intended, but he's up the hospital getting looked over anyway."
"Good, good" John said absently, "Well, I'd better go before he leaves without me. Hope the workload eases up soon."
"So do I," Lestrade smiled weakly.
Fortunately, Sherlock was still there when he made it back down to the lobby. He was standing by the door typing furiously into his phone. He stopped when he saw John approaching.
"Ah, you took your time. Come on," he snapped, throwing the door open and stalking off again.
It was fully dark by the time they got to Barts, and John really hoped this wasn't going to be an all nighter. He hadn't slept well the night before and was quite looking forward to sleeping in his own bed. Providing Sherlock hadn't decided to use it for some un-Godly experiment, of course. By the time they got down to the morgue, John had managed to talk himself into feeling incredibly tired and was having trouble stifling the yawns. He was only half listening as Sherlock located Molly and, manipulating her in a way he wasn't entirely comfortable with, convinced her to stay and show them the body even though her shift had just ended. She led them over to one of the tables and pulled back the sheet so Sherlock could look for whatever it was he was looking for. She started chattering as he studied the corpse, despite the fact that he didn't seem to be paying any attention to her at all.
"Aha!" He said suddenly, standing up straight and making both Molly and John jump, "I knew it. Honestly, the intelligence of the average police officer these days is frankly alarming."
"You're all done here then?" Molly said wistfully, "I can go home and sleep now?"
"We are" Sherlock confirmed, starting to turn away and then turning back when John spoke for the first time since they'd arrived.
"Double shift" Molly said, grimacing slightly.
"Honestly John, that's obvious, you're hardly better than the police," Sherlock snorted. He rolled his eyes when both John and Molly stared at him blankly. "The bags under her eyes? The slight tremor in her hands from far too much caffeine? The sweat marks under her arms from over exerting herself? And that's just the surface. You really don't see any of that?"
Molly's lip trembled slightly and John stared at him in disbelief. "Jesus, Sherlock, do you even know what manners are?"
"Of course," he scoffed, "I just don't see the point."
"Uh…how about not upsetting people?"
"Oh please, she cries herself to sleep every night anyway, me being 'nice' to her wasn't going to stop her getting upset."
Molly's face crumpled. Taking a step forward, she swung her arm back and slapped him. John immediately leapt away from her and swore rather loudly.
Not because Molly had finally snapped and slapped Sherlock, even a blind man could see that was coming. No, he was shocked because instead of stumbling slightly, which is the most John expected to come of the slap, Sherlock flew across the room, over three tables and slammed into the bank of metal coolers the bodies were stored in, leaving a sizable dent in his wake. He stared dumbly at his clearly unconscious friend for a moment, and then turned to stare at Molly who looked, if possible, even more shocked than him.