This was written well before the final draft, so it has been neither beta'd nor Brit-pricked. I also wrote by having Sherlock's speech relatively coherent, and then going back repeatedly to make it more realistic, until I felt I had the right balance of true to life, but not hard to read. So, this is a middle edit, and Sherlock's speech is better than it should be. I stole bits and pieces and put them in the final version, so some of it may be familiar.
About 3,500 words and has some blood and corpses in it.
Lestrade didn't have anything for Sherlock right away, but the next day he called to ask him to come to a crime scene. The call happened while John was still asleep and thus he was awakened by Sherlock bellowing his name up the stairs and banging on the wall with his cane. He couldn't explain how nice it was to have Sherlock dragging him out of bed for a case again.
Lestrade met them outside the crime scene. “Bit of an odd one,” he explained.“The victim is Victor Majewicz. Forty-one years old, single, lives in the basement flat. Stabbed to death sometime last night or early this morning. No sign of forced entry, no sign of a struggle in the flat, but he definitely fought back. All the doors and windows were locked. At this point we don't know how the killer got in or out.”
“Who... uh... found?” Sherlock asked.
“A neighbour,” Lestrade said. “Well, his dog. The body is at the door and his blood seeped under the sill.” He pointed down into the stairwell, where a small pool of dried blood could be seen at the base of the door. There were a few paw prints in blood from where the dog looked to have walked through it. “The dog smelled the blood and got excited. The neighbour tried knocking and yelling, but there was no response, so he called 999. The body is blocking the door—we had to saw through the bars and go in through the window. We've got an entry through from the upstairs now, but it's a bit roundabout. Can you do stairs?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“All right then, follow me,” Lestrade said.
They went up the front steps to the ground floor of the building and into someone's flat, where there was a stairway to the basement. It looked like the door had been painted over to make it blend into the wall better and was now reopened. The stairway was dusty and damp smelling. The stairs were narrow and steep and had no handrail. Sherlock put his hand on Lestrade's shoulder to keep his balance and they went slowly and he got down them safely.
John thought Sherlock might be a bit nervous to be a crime scene again. Mostly thrilled, of course, 99% thrilled, but 1% a little nervous. He blew out a breath when they stepped into the flat and everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and turned to look at him.
There was a brief moment when it was all silence, then everyone broke into whispers. It had been over six weeks since anyone there had seen Sherlock and he had certainly changed since then. Seeing how he was now was always jarring, but John wished they weren't so obvious about it.
“God, it's like baby school,” Lestrade muttered. “Oi! You lot! Back to work.”
Everyone went back to what they were doing, some people looking a bit sheepish.
John was surprised, for a group of people who really didn't like Sherlock, how much consideration they made for his injuries. The SOCO unit member who handed out gloves quickly saw that Sherlock was struggling with them and held them open, so he just had to stick his hand in, like a surgeon prepping for an operation. Someone cleared their equipment out of the way when he limped over to the body so he had a safe path to walk. And even Anderson held out a hand while Sherlock found his balance in a crouch by the body, ready to intervene if he fell.
“Is he up for this, really?” Lestrade asked.
“Who knows?” John said. “He's made up his mind, so you know what that's like. And last night he informed me he would commit mass murder for a cigarette and no one would sell him any because he's blackmailed them all, so he thought he might steal some but even with a good disguise, his limp would be easily recognizable. So yeah, I think it's about time for some cases again.”
Lestrade laughed. “Fair enough,” he said. He lowered his voice and leaned in. “Look, I've made it clear that there's no be no mean spirited teasing or jibes or anything. If there's a problem, let me know. They will be removed immediately.”
John nodded, grateful. For the first time, he had the impression that it might not be a good idea to cross Lestrade. He had a fierce sort of parental air to him today. John suddenly understood why everyone in the room was being so considerate.
Lestrade went off to talk to some of the SOCO team and John followed Sherlock over to the body. He was crouched, his bad leg extended outwards and all the weight on his good leg, his cane set like a tripod for balance. Anderson was staring at him, looking uncomfortable.
“Time... of...” Sherlock started, very, very carefully. He paused and looked blank. Anderson shot John a questioning look and John held up a hand, telling him to wait. Sherlock struggled for a moment and shook his head. “Can't.”
“Try,” John encouraged.
Sherlock's eyes flicked to Anderson and then back down to the body. “Can't,” he repeated, more firmly.
John sighed. “Death,” he filled in. “Time of death.”
“Oh.” Anderson nodded. “I—”
“Not you,” Sherlock snapped. “John. Ask John. You don't... need. Go. Smell like... Donovan. Shampoo.”
Anderson's lips were set hard, but he didn't say anything. He simply stood up and stalked away, muttering under his breath. John shot Sherlock a scolding look, but Sherlock was smiling, very pleased with himself and John couldn't help but laugh.
“A bit not good, Sherlock,” he said.
“Yes,” Sherlock agreed, happily. “Come... down. Time of... cold.”
John crouched down beside the body and looked it over, poking a little with his gloved fingers and examining the wounds. “I'd say...six hours? Between six and eight.”
Sherlock looked at his watch and counted up to eleven. “So, eleven, twelve...one, yes?”
“Yeah, somewhere in there,” John agreed.
“Has... has... sense,” Sherlock said. “Janitor, so... work done and... and... home. Janitor at night. After... closed buildings. Late work.”
“How do you know he's a janitor?” John asked.
“Shoes and hands and... and... and... smelling,” Sherlock replied. “Very... clear. Pay attention.”
“Sorry,” John said.
Sherlock fell silent, his eyes flicking around the body and the area surrounding it. “Surprise,” he said. “In door and... stab. Waiting.” He started to stand up and lost his balance. John caught him under the elbow and helped him the rest of the way. Sherlock shrugged him away once he was on his feet and pointed. “Stand. Going... uh... uh... stab you.”
“Okay.” John moved over to where he was pointing, just inside the door to the flat, but to the side so he was clear of the body.
“Up,” Sherlock said. He frowned. “High... feet...” He made an annoyed sound and mimed a little, but John couldn't figure out what he meant.
“Just relax,” John said, seeing the frustrated building. Sherlock was excited and he always had more trouble when he was excited.”What do you need me to do, Sherlock?”
Sherlock blew out an angry breath. “Be... more tall,” he ordered. “Make... feet high.” John stood on tip-toe and Sherlock nodded, looking relieved that he knew what was trying to say. “Need someone... has hands.”
“Don't think you'll have trouble finding someone,” John joked, earning a glare from Sherlock.
“You, First Twin,” Sherlock called, pointing to one of the CSEs. “Come.”
There were two men who worked in the forensic unit who were identical twins and when they were in their full crime scene regalia, they were impossible to tell apart. John knew one was Alastor and one was Andrew, but couldn't tell which one was which. Sherlock knew which was which, but never bothered to learn their names. He called them Twin One and Twin Two, but apparently his aphasia had switched it up.
“I'm Alas—” the man began.
“Shush,” Sherlock interrupted. “Do... do... do...” he stop himself and reset. “I say... you... you... you...” He looked to John here, a bit desperately.
“Just do what he says,” John interpreted, then added, “please.”
Alastor shrugged and nodded. Most people who worked with Sherlock regularly knew to just go along with him and the younger ones, the ones who had come after Sherlock first started working with the police, had little experience working without Sherlock, so they tended to be more cooperative and less resentful. John gave him an apologetic smile.
“Stab... John,” Sherlock ordered. He pointed to his upper chest, indicting where the stabbing should be aimed.
Alastor obligingly mimed stabbing John in the chest. “Hey,” he said, while Sherlock looked on, thoughtfully. “Long time, no see.”
“Yeah,” John agreed. “How are you?”
“Good,” Alastor replied. “You?”
“Yeah, m'okay,” John said.
“A—a—again,” Sherlock said, and Alastor made the same stabbing motion. Sherlock looked to John. “Dark... tired. You... uh... uh... act... how?”
“Me as me or me as him?” John said. “Because me as me would probably try to disarm him. Maybe—swing out?” He threw a weak punch toward Alastor, who intercepted his arm. “Probably not aiming very well. I think the adrenaline would keep him upright for a bit after the knife went in. He wouldn't feel it.”
Sherlock nodded. “He... prison,” he said.
“He was in prison?” John asked.
“No,” Sherlock said, waving his cane dismissively. “Wrong word. He... he... prison.”
“Guard?” John tried to help. “Security? Uh...” he searched for more things that went with prison, but he knew that Sherlock's dysphasia didn't always have obvious logic to it.
“Police officer?” Alastor chimed in. “He worked at a prison?”
“No!” Sherlock said.
“Try singing it,” John suggested. “Use what Violet has been teaching you.”
Sherlock hesitated, his eyes darting over to Alastor.
“I won't laugh,” Alastor promised.
“Not rowied,” Sherlock snapped. It was clear that he was, in fact, worried about that. He hummed softly, two beats, and did it again. “He... past box -ing.” The word was whispered, half-sung with the first syllable in a higher range than the second one.
“That's neat,” Alastor said. “That you can sing it when you can't say it. Sorry, that's probably rude.”
“No,” Sherlock said, looking surprised. “Fine. But not... uh... uh...ad rem. So shush.”
“Ad rem?” John asked. “Is that Latin?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“God, if you're going to start in with Latin, I'm going to need a new app on my phone,” John said. “I can barely keep up with the French and German.”
Sherlock shrugged. “Not fault... if... uh... un... uh... not schooled.... right,” he said. “Stop... distracting. Work.”
“Right, he's a boxer,” John said, bringing them back to the matter at hand. “Well, then he'd probably try to bob back a bit and get out of the way?” He stepped back and hit the wall. “Would the door have been open?”
Sherlock shook his head. “Blood... uh... spray in, not out,” he said, pointing to the door. “Door close, then... attack. Not want hear or see... outside— walkers... pass.” Sherlock frowned. “You not... hands right.” He seemed to know this wasn't correct and tried again. “Wrong-hand. Hands wrong.”
John took a moment to compute that. “Do you mean I'm left-handed?” he asked. Sherlock nodded. “Oh, I see. I punched with my left-hand first. You think he would have punched with his right. So, yeah, if the attacker had the knife in his right-hand and blocked the punch with his left, it still would have been free to stab him.”
Sherlock glared at him again. He didn't like when John put words into his mouth or spoke for him without permission. It was hard, when he knew where Sherlock was going and that it was going to be hard for him to get there, not to skip ahead and help him out. It was hard to be ahead and wait for him to catch up. John imagined that's what it must feel like for Sherlock most of the time—waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with his cleverness.
“Sorry,” John said. “Was I right, though?”
Sherlock nodded, once. “Do right now,” he said.
John and Alastor went through the scenario a few times, until Sherlock felt like he knew what happened. There was an anomaly between where the body was and where the body should have been. Sherlock was quite pleased about this.
“Go 'way,” Sherlock told Alastor, when they were done.
“Thanks for your help,” John added.
Alastor gave him a sort of salute. “No worries,” he said. “Happy to help.
Welcome back, Mr Holmes.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock said, distractedly.
Alastor went back to what he was doing previously. John got down from his tip-toes and pointed and flexed his feet a few times to stretch them out. Being tall was hard work.
Lestrade came over a few minutes later. Sherlock was still lurching around, examining things, while John stood back and waited to see if he needed help with any of it.
“How's it going?” Lestrade asked.
“You tell,” Sherlock told John.
“No,” John said. “You tell him.”
Sherlock made a face. “Slow,” he complained. “More... fast you.”
“I have plenty of time,” Lestrade told him, in a firm, parental voice. “So you tell me, Sherlock. We both know John won't do a proper job of it and you'll interrupt anyway.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he said.
He made his way carefully through the report, stumbling frequently and sometimes having to make convoluted pathways around the words he couldn't find, miming to help out and once or twice needing to sing or write down the words. John didn't step in unless Sherlock asked him to and Lestrade nodded and took notes, very patient and encouraging. It was slow and John found it excruciating to watch Sherlock force his way through what would normally one long, hard-to-follow ramble.
Some of the people at the crime scene stopped what they were doing and watched Sherlock's report. John had to keep his temper in check not to shout that it wasn't a performance. There were one or two smirks, but most people seemed more curious about it than malicious and there were a few faces that showed sympathy or horror. John moved surreptitiously around to help block Sherlock from view. He wasn't really tall enough to do much, but standing next to Lestrade made a bit of a shield. Sherlock was either concentrating too hard on speaking to notice the looks or simply didn't care.
“So if he was killed over there, why's he at the door?” Lestrade asked, when Sherlock finished. “F'he stumbled around, he would have been more likely to end up on his front than his back, right? If you're hunched over, your momentum is forward. And why isn't there any sign of a struggle on the rug or blood from where he was actually stabbed?”
“Yes, yes!” Sherlock said, excitedly. “Wrong place. Wrong... pose. Wrong...clean. It has... not sense. Will... will... will... solve. Need dog. Where is... the dog?” John hid a smile, realizing that Sherlock had learned that properly phrased sentence from watching children's telly.
“The owner had to go to work,” Lestrade explained. “We've got the dog in the back garden. It's the first time I've ever had to write out a receipt for a dog. The owner wouldn't leave him unless we promised we'd take care of it.”
“Want see,” Sherlock said. “Also... carpet pieces... ess-perment and door photo and blood... blood drops.”
“Samples and photos,” Lestrade said. “You got it. The dog is out back, up the way you came and down the hall to the garden. You good to get there?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “Come, John.”
John followed him. It was a bit tricky getting back up the stairs, but they managed and made it out to the small garden behind the flats. There was a Great Dane, a very big Great Dane, looking forlorn, lying on the grass by a constable. He raised his head hopefully when Sherlock and John arrived.
“Dog found... cold?” Sherlock asked the constable.
“Huh?” she said.
“Is this the dog that found the body,” John translated.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “His name is Czar. He's a real sweetie, aren't you?”
Czar rose in enthusiastic greeting and started to lick John's hand. He was almost as tall as John's hip when he was upright. John crouched down and petted his head. “Hey there,” he said. “How are you? You have a beautiful coat. That's very nice pattern.”
“Har—harlequin,” Sherlock declared. He was fumbling in his pocket for his miniature magnifier. “Harlequin... pattern.”
John looked up at him. “You keep dog breeds in your hard drive?” he asked.
“Yes,” Sherlock replied. “Murder... dog show. Keep memory. Very... neat. All hate all. Fun.”
“You don't hate anyone, do you?” John cooed to Czar, who was nuzzling his face. “No, you're a good boy, I can tell.”
Sherlock made a derisive snort from above him. A few moments later, he landed on the ground next to John, hitting his good knee painfully. He winced, but shook off John's concerned look. “Fine,” he assured him. “Meant down, just more... more... fast than meant.
Czar turned his attentions to Sherlock now, panting happily. He sniffed at Sherlock's face and gave him a lick on his nose before Sherlock pushed him away.
“Sit,” Sherlock said. Czar obediently plopped his backside down. “Paw. Paw. Uh... sh—sh—shake?” Czar lifted up one of his front feet. Sherlock took it in his hand and bent over to look at it with his magnifier. Czar started sniffing at his hair, apparently unperturbed by the examination.
Czar whimpered and stuck his nose where Sherlock's scar was, sniffing anxiously at it. He whimpered again and tried to lick it.
“Stop,” Sherlock said, flicking his head away.
“I think he's trying to lick your wound,” John said.
“Aww, that's sweet!” The constable said. “What a good boy!”
“Silly, just... tongue,” Sherlock scoffed. He put Czar's paw down and picked up the other one. “Random, not meaning.”
“I dunno, Sherlock,” John said, just to bother him. “Dogs can detect Cancer and know when someone is going to have a seizure or has low blood sugar. I bet they can tell if someone has a head injury.”
“Silly,” Sherlock repeated.
Czar continued to try and get at Sherlock's head while he worked, whimpering and whining. Sherlock insisted was just because he didn't like what he was doing, but John wasn't so sure. He helped Sherlock take swabs of Czar's paws. Czar was very cooperative and seemed eager to please his new friends.
“You're such a good boy,” John said, giving him a scratch behind the ears. “What a nice boy, yes. So smart, too.”
“Sound like... speech doctor at... hospital,” Sherlock complained. “Always...'good try', 'good job'. Annoying.”
John jolted upright, his memory triggered by Sherlock's words.”Oh, crap.” He looked looked down at his watch. “We forgot about Violet. You have a session with her in an hour.”
Sherlock frowned. “Work, can't speech,” he said.
“You better call and tell her then,” John said.
Sherlock looked surprised. “Not yell?” he asked. “For... miss?”
“You told me to back off, remember?” John said. “I'm not going to tell you what to do. If you want to skip the session, it's your choice. I think it's a stupid choice, but it's your choice.”
Sherlock frowned and thought for a bit. “Will call,” he said. He pulled his mobile from his pocket and got carefully to his feet, moving away from John and the constable to make the call.
“He's really bad,” the constable said, when Sherlock was out of earshot. “They said he was bad, but I didn't know he was that bad. Is he still... you know...?” She tapped her head. “All there?”
“He's fine,” John said, with a glare. “He's the same as he was before, he just has trouble speaking.”
“Sorry,” she said. “I didn't mean...”
“It's fine,” John said. “Sorry. I'm a bit... He's my friend.”
She nodded and looked beyond John, straightening up a little in her chair. John turned to find Lestrade approaching. He stood up out of his crouch and Czar looked sad that there were no more scratches.
“We wanna move the body so we can stop having to trudge through Mrs Carson's flat,” Lestrade said. Czar greeted him too, nuzzling his hand until Lestrade absently pet his head. “Is Sherlock done with it?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said, rejoining them. “Move fine.” He was trying to close his magnifier back up, but fumbled with it and it fell to the ground. Czar obediently picked it up in his mouth and handed it back to Sherlock. “Thank you.”
John wondered why Sherlock could thank a dog, but not a human.
“You coming back to the scene?” Lestrade asked.
“No,” Sherlock said. “Going to... school.” He started back across the garden toward the house.
Lestrade gave John a questioning look, expecting a translation.
“Nope, me neither,” John said.
Lestrade shrugged. “Sherlock? You know how the killer got in and out yet?” he called.
“Yes,” Sherlock called back.
“How?” Lestrade said.
Sherlock turned back and smiled. “Used... door.”