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Bern the heart out of you (1/3)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (implicit slash, major character death, swearing, angst)

Note: I’m assuming that Series 2 will end with Sherlock’s supposed death at Reichenbach, after which he will then eventually return.

Summary: a trip to Switzerland goes horribly wrong for Mycroft and Sherlock

Betaed by the wonderful Warriorbot

Part 2, Part 3


Afterwards, John wondered if it had been a premonition or just common sense that got him panicking about Sherlock's trip. Eighteen months before they'd gone to Switzerland and Sherlock had almost died there. Had shammed dead for nearly a year, in danger of his life. And now Mycroft wanted Sherlock to come and meet him in Bern. Alone.

"Moriarty's networks are still out there," John protested.

"But Mycroft sees a way of destroying them with my help. And, before you ask, I have spoken to him myself, confirmed the message."

"Might still be a trap. He could have been captured, threatened."

"We have signals for that," Sherlock replied, starting to pull books off the shelves, in what John recognised as his idea of packing for a trip.

"Right," John said. Surely he'd get used to Sherlock eventually. But his lover still frequently managed to demonstrate what were either charming quirks or just complete bloody weirdness.

"Can you stop panicking and find me some clean socks?" Sherlock asked.

"You could find some yourself."

"Laundry's not my department, it's yours. Socks, underwear, but no need for my walking boots this time because Mycroft won't be shifting his lazy arse anywhere. I'll sort out the shirts."

***   

It was just after three a.m. and John's phone was ringing. Only Harry or Sherlock would phone at such an impossible time and when John blearily stared at the number he was relieved to see it was Sherlock. He hoped his brain was sufficiently in gear, because he really didn't appreciate getting yelled at for idiocy before breakfast.

"John here, what's up?"

"John, I'm in Bern," Sherlock said. There was something wrong in his voice, a slurring that rang immediate alarm bells.

"Are you hurt?"

"They tricked me. Been doped. I'm on the outskirts of Bern, I think."

"I can try and get a GPS trace."

"It's OK, I'm OK. Not dead yet. But they got Mycroft too. He may be dead. Not sure. Burned out car twenty metres away and someone in it. Maybe I should take a look. See if they burned Mycroft. Burned in Bern."

"No!" John yelled. "You need help." Why the fuck had he agreed to let Sherlock go without him?  "Find someone's house, phone the police! If you've been drugged you need to get seen to immediately."

"Maybe they drugged Mycroft too. Poisoned the fondue. I was in the hotel talking to him and I felt so bad, just had to lie down. Might be him in the car."

God, what was best to do? "See if anyone's alive in the car, moving, breathing, but don't touch anything otherwise. And take a photo, so we've got some evidence." Whoever they were, they might be organised enough to remove a whole car from a crime scene. "Then get yourself somewhere safe and call the police. I'll get onto things this end. Don't do anything stupid. Do you want me to stay on the line while you find help?"

"No, I'm OK. Don't worry, John, Mycroft'll have it all under control. Love you, bye." He must be under the influence to be talking about 'love', John thought grimly. Then he scrubbed at his face, and decided he had to have some coffee before the next phone call. It wasn't going to be easy breaking the news to Lestrade that something terrible might have happened to his husband.

*** 

"All the Swiss police are telling me so far is that there's been a serious car accident," Lestrade reported back a few hours later.

"Sherlock's waiting to make a statement to them, there's a badly-burnt body been found in Mycroft's hire car, they're running tests on it to see who it is. Was."

"Foul play?"

"Must be, though they're not confirming it. I've got a flight booked out to Bern for later this morning."

"Do you need me to come?"

"Not yet." Lestrade's voice had the rigid control it got in the middle of a complex operation. "If it is Moriarty's old lot, you know what they're like for multiple operations and distractions. I don't want us all rushing over to Switzerland only for them to start picking off people in the UK. Have you warned all the target list to be on their guard?"

"I've talked to Anthea, Mrs Hudson, Mrs Holmes, your brothers, Harry and my parents. Anyone else? I don't think Sarah's a target anymore, and you've presumably contacted Sally and the rest of your Met team."

"Warn Molly Hooper as well."

"Are they likely to attack Barts? It's a fairly remote connection."

"Mycroft's got quite friendly with her recently. I think it's probably just a way of irritating Sherlock, but she ought to know, at least. And make sure you and Mrs Hudson move out of Baker Street, because that's the most likely target of all."

"I'll see to it," John said. "Let me know if you need me to do anything else. It's bloody frustrating just sitting here."

"I know. But we've got to work out what's going on or we'll just run into even more trouble. I'll speak to you soon."

***

"Any news?" John demanded when Lestrade finally phoned that evening.

"Mycroft's dead," Lestrade said. "I haven't seen him, he's so badly burned they said it wasn't advisable. But they've done DNA tests, and there's no doubt."

"Oh Christ, I'm so sorry, Greg." In the last few years John had come almost to expect his premature death or Sherlock's, they'd been living on borrowed time for so long. But not Mycroft. How could anyone kill the British government?

"I...I hope at least it was quick and painless," Lestrade said and hastily added. "But I still can't get a proper handle on what happened. It's a complete bloody mess, not helped by the fact that there are two sets of police involved and they seem to have decided to have a turf war."

"How's Sherlock?" It seemed selfish to ask, but he had to know.

"I don't know that either. I haven't been able to trace him. He's not at the hotel and his phone's switched off. Maybe he ended up needing medical treatment, but I've been phoning round hospitals, and no-one seems to know about him. And he's pretty bloody memorable. Have you heard from him, John?"

"Not since that first phone call. I...perhaps he's just decided to appoint himself a consultant to one section of the Bern police and he's too busy with that to bother about the rest of us." It'd probably be Sherlock's preferred way of dealing with Mycroft's death, and he suspected Lestrade would understand.

"Oh sod it, that's probably what happened," Lestrade replied. "Yeah, well if they've got Sherlock on their backs no wonder the Kripo or whatever they're called, don't want to tell me anything. They're probably panicking we're trying to take the case over. But I might see if any of my old Interpol contacts are any help."

"Is there anything I can do?" John asked. He was going almost crazy with worry himself just sitting around, heart pounding whenever his phone rang.

"I was thinking...maybe Anthea can handle the London end and you can come over here? Because I need..." Lestrade came to a halt. Someone to talk to, thought John, someone's shoulder to cry on? "I need someone I can rely on here."

"Don't know if I can get a flight tonight," John said, making rapid calculations, "but I'll be over as soon as I can tomorrow morning."

"Let me know your flight and I'll meet you. Someone's got to sort out this godawful mess, and it might have to be us."

***

Lestrade looked old when John saw him in the arrivals lounge, a man who hadn't slept properly and didn't expect to ever again.

"I still can't get anyone to tell me how it happened," Lestrade said, as he drove them off to the hotel. Not Mycroft and Sherlock's fancy palace, of course, but a cheapish chain. "If I just knew that, it'd help."

"Sherlock said he was in the hotel and he started to feel ill," John said. "And Mycroft was with him then."

"Yeah, that bit's clear enough, I checked with the staff there. Mycroft met Sherlock at the airport, took him back to the hotel, and then went off on his own again. Came back about 10 p.m., and they had a meal in the hotel’s restaurant. Then back to Sherlock's room and that's the last anyone saw of them. Till the police got a call and found the car on the outskirts of the city...and the two of them."

"Doesn't make sense," John said automatically. "Why take Mycroft out there to kill him rather than do it in the hotel? If it's a kidnapping and it went wrong, why did they..." – Oh God – "Why is Sherlock still alive and not Mycroft?"

"I have no fucking idea," Lestrade said, and John saw his hands tighten on the steering wheel. "My insisted he'd be OK coming to Switzerland, he said he knew what he was doing. But I should have known that this was sodding legwork, and it would go wrong."

After a moment, he added: "The first thing we do is to find Sherlock."

"I thought he was with the police?"

"I presume he still is, but why hasn't the fucker been in contact?  And the police aren't telling me anything.  I...there is something else up, I know it, but I don't know what."

"So what do we do? Do you want me to come along to the police? I'm still not officially Sherlock's next of kin, but..."

"No, don't think you're going to get any further with them than me. What I want you to do – and I know this is going to sound crazy – is wander round Bern."

"Doing what?" John demanded, frowning across at Lestrade.

"Just keeping an eye out for stuff. Weird stuff. Something is going to happen, someone is controlling this, whatever it is. I know it. There's another shoe waiting to drop. I just hope to hell it's not got a bloody flick-knife in it."

***

The text came late in the afternoon, when a footsore John was just psyching himself up for the next trek, off to a theatre in a cellar. (There was something Sherlockian in that, worth investigating). Except he didn't need to anymore:

Sherlock's been arrested. Meet me back at the hotel ASAP. GL

He supposed it wasn't surprising. Sherlock got up Lestrade's nose enough sometimes, and a bunch of foreign coppers would probably be even more unhappy about an arrogant Englishman telling them they were idiots. But the situation was bad enough as it was without Sherlock idiotically stirring up another hornet's nest. Still, at least Swiss police cells were probably kept clean and tidy. He hurried back to the hotel, wishing he was more use.

And then he saw Lestrade sitting wearily in reception, and he knew somehow things had got even worse. There was a defeated slump to his spine that John had only ever seen a couple of times before.

"What's happened?" John demanded, hurrying over to him. "What has Sherlock done now?"

"Been arrested, like I said," Lestrade. "For murder, John. They're saying he killed Mycroft."

***
Horaz Rumpolt was the best defence advocate in Switzerland, Anthea had told them, but he didn't look much: squat and balding, with a bulbous nose in a face whose high colour suggested too many years of drinking. But the moment he started talking, John felt reassured.

"The examining magistrate at this stage just has to show that Mr Holmes – Sherlock – is a serious suspect and that there's a risk of flight or collusion. I can appeal against the arrest warrant if you like, but it would be a waste of your time and money. The more important thing is finding some evidence in his favour, so we can put up a proper fight."

"I still don't understand why they arrested him," John said. "Did they...I mean he was drugged at the hotel, wasn't he?" Sherlock's phone call kept replaying in his head. Could he have faked that? Had it all just been a lie? But why would he have done that?

"Yes. They did tests on him when they first found him and he had traces of flunitrazepam in his blood. Good Swiss drug that. Intended as a treatment for insomnia."

"Marketed as Rohypnol," Lestrade added wearily. "Not just for date rape, it's been used a lot for robberies as well. So, the presumption was his drink was tampered with."

"Yes," said Rumpolt. "You must understand, the police took this crime very, very seriously. Bern is a very safe city, but we had this horrendous attack on two visitors, one a respectable government official, staying at a top hotel. The initial assumption was that it was some robbery or attempt at extortion gone disastrously wrong."

"So why did they change their mind?" Lestrade demanded. "There was something wrong with Sherlock's statement, wasn't there?"

You forgot at your peril, John thought, that Lestrade was a bloody good detective. He suspected Lestrade was obsessing over clearing Sherlock to avoid having to think about losing Mycroft, but that was fine by him right now.

"Sherlock said he felt ill after returning to his hotel room with his brother. They had eaten in the hotel restaurant and he had not ingested anything subsequent to that. Flunitrazepam is a rapidly acting drug, so it must have been administered during the meal. Now, it is one thing to put something in someone's drink in a crowded bar, but in a restaurant – and it was not very busy, they were among the last there – it would be much harder. The police checked all the waiting staff, could not find anything suspicious. And besides, these are clever, observant men, are they not? How easy would it be to slip something into a glass right under their noses?"

"Could it have been administered some other way?" John asked.

"It is normally administered orally," Rumpolt said, "though I believe it can also be administered via..." He hesitated. "I am not sure of the word, but in your...in your bum, bottom."

"Suppositories," Lestrade said. "I think he'd have noticed that as well. And no signs of any injection marks? The police checked for that?"

"Yes. But there was something else at the restaurant. The staff said that the pair – Sherlock Holmes, and his brother Mycroft – were drunk. Or Mycroft Holmes certainly was. Not incapable, but a little loud. They were quarrelling with other, and they left before they had finished their meal. And they were still arguing when they went through reception. They went back to Sherlock's room – the keycard confirms Sherlock's statement on that – and then the trail goes cold. Is that the right phrase?"

"It doesn't sound like My getting drunk," Lestrade said, frowning, "but maybe he'd been given something as well? I think roofies and alcohol interact, we'll need to ask an expert on that."

"It does sound like Mycroft and Sherlock quarrelling though," John added. "They're bad enough stone cold sober, if they were both high on something, it might..." It might have turned nasty, he thought. You never knew with Sherlock and Mycroft how much was just habit and how much was genuine bad blood between the pair.

"So what happened when they got back to the room?" Lestrade asked. "Sherlock collapses. Does Mycroft?"

"We do not know," Rumpolt replied. "That is the problem, that we do not know what occurred then. No-one else entered the room, we know that much from the keycard monitoring system."

"They could have let someone else in. And the keycard systems can be spoofed," John said. "Sherlock knows a man who can do it."

"Perhaps. But the police searched the room, and found no-one's prints there that should not have been there. Sherlock's and Mycroft's and those of the chambermaids."

"Gloves?" Lestrade said.

"You would expect scattering – no, that is not the word – smudging. No unexplained prints or smudges on Mycroft Holmes' car either, though that was so badly damaged you would not perhaps expect much useful evidence. But there was one other thing that they did find in Sherlock's room. Hidden inside a sock, there was a partially used pack of tablets."

John very carefully didn't look at Lestrade. Perhaps a bit too carefully.

"They were flunitrazepam tablets," Rumpolt said. "I must know about my client, if I going to help him. Does he have any legitimate reason for having those? Is he a drug user, and if so, of what kind? Please, it will not disturb me if I know about him, but I need to know."

"He's not an addict," John said instinctively.

"He's an ex-addict," Lestrade added firmly. "He used a lot of cocaine when he was younger, possibly amphetamines as well. He's been clean for a number of years, but..." he paused and looked apologetically at John, "I think he still sometimes acquires illegal drugs, to use in experiments or as bribes. It's not out of the question that he might have a pack of roofies on him to give to someone or use on someone. I'm not saying he did, mind you, but it's not impossible."

"Any prints on the packet?" John asked.

"No," said Rumpolt. "That does seem to have been handled with gloves on."

"So they could have been planted."

"Yes. But the police think that Sherlock faked his own drugging, doping. That he took the drug himself later on, to make it look like an outside attack. Or even that he took it in order to calm himself before carrying out an attack on his brother."

"They think he attacked Mycroft in the hotel?" Lestrade asked.

"They are not sure. There is no sign of a struggle in Sherlock's room, but if Mycroft Holmes was drunk or doped, there would not necessarily be. I need to ask something..." Rumpolt came to a halt. "I know this must be distressing, Mr Lestrade, but I need to ask this."

"Fire away," Lestrade said stoically, and John wondered if he'd ever imagined being on the receiving end of this kind of awful discussion.

"If, and you note I say 'if', Sherlock Holmes did attack his brother, what would you expect the outcome to be? They are both healthy, strong adults, aren't they?"

"Mycroft's seven years older than Sherlock." Lestrade forced the words out. "Sherlock's a lot fitter and he's been trained in unarmed combat by an expert." – John could feel his own throat tightening – "Mycroft wouldn't have stood a chance."

"But it didn't happen like that!" John found himself shouting. "It can't have done! Sherlock wouldn't have killed Mycroft. Someone must have doped both of them, then come to the room and...and somehow got them out of the hotel and into Mycroft's car." He tried desperately to calm himself down, think, rather than just panic. "Is there CCTV footage from the hotel? Or someone who saw something?"

"There are blind spots in the CCTV coverage and a way out via the goods entrance," Rumpolt said. "A clever man, a man who knows about these matters, could do it. There is also supposedly some CCTV footage from the car park; they are trying to enhance it, because the image quality is so poor that the figures are not easily distinguishable."

"So it doesn't have to be Sherlock," John said.

"No, someone else could have done it," Rumpolt said. "But it would be twice as hard leaving the hotel with two bodies. If somebody wanted Mr Mycroft Holmes, why did they take Sherlock Holmes along? If they wanted to kill Mycroft, why did they let Sherlock live?"

"So they could frame him," John said.

"But who and why?" Rumpolt said, shrugging. "This is the problem, Mr, Dr Watson. You are saying that the crime was committed by an invisible man. He was not seen drugging the brothers in the restaurant. He got into the hotel room without being seen, he got out again without being seen. The police have no fingerprints, they have nothing. If there was another suspect, we could investigate, we could make a case. But at the moment it is just chasing shadows."

"One of the other guests?" John asked.

"I've got Anthea tracing them all," Lestrade broke in. "I can try talking to the hotel staff again as well. Maybe one of them will give me something.  But there's one thing we have to do first."

"What's that?" John asked.

"I need to speak to Sherlock myself. Find out if there's anything he remembers that might be helpful."

"Why haven't they let us see him or have calls from him, anyhow?" John demanded.

"He has a reputation," Rumpolt said, "Actually, you do as well, Dr Watson. That you can both escape from anywhere, play all sorts of strange tricks on people. Bend their minds, get them to do anything. But they might let you see him, Mr Lestrade. If...if you are sure it wouldn't be too painful."

"No," said Lestrade. "I have to know what happened, and Sherlock's my only hope of that. And if the bastard is innocent, I need to help him clear his name."

If, John thought. He doesn't believe in Sherlock anymore, he's already halfway to accepting that he killed Mycroft. My love killed Lestrade's love. It had a horrible, smooth plausibility about it. If Sherlock had been drunk – if for some bizarre reason he'd taken some of the roofies – and Mycroft had been being particularly patronising? Sherlock was impulsive sometimes, dangerously so.  A blow in the wrong place...no, it had not happened, it would not have happened. He trusted Sherlock.

"Please, see if you can arrange for me to see him as well," he said, and he knew how desperate he sounded, from the pitying look he got from Rumpolt. "Just for a few minutes."

"I will see what I can do for both of you," Rumpolt said. "And if there is anything further I find out...I have certain contacts within the city, some of the men I have previously helped to defend. If I find anyone who might be able to help, who might know of someone who had been hiring accomplices, say, I will let you know."

"Thanks for all your help," said John.

"I will get him back for you, if I can, Dr Watson," Rumpolt said, getting up. "But I'm afraid I'm just a lawyer. I can't solve this puzzle for you."

***

Rumpolt had somehow fixed it for Lestrade to visit Sherlock, even if they still wouldn't let John near him. He didn't go with Lestrade to the police station; he was worried he would end up trying to plan a break-out. He simply didn't know how to go about tracking down the gang who had done this. It had to be a whole gang of these "invisible men", he was convinced, people who could somehow move through Bern without being spotted. Sherlock would find them if he could only get him free. Or if he could just tell John where to go, what to look for. He was lost without his detective genius. Why was Sherlock just sitting in his cell and not solving this?

Well, maybe he didn't trust Rumpolt to pass on his messages. But when he had a visit from Lestrade, they could get things sorted...

***

John was still sitting in their hotel room, staring at the map of Bern, wondering if there was some significance to the route the car had taken on that night, when Lestrade came back. He came in and sat down heavily on his bed and stared at the floor. At the floor, not at John. Oh God, John thought. This is bad. This is beyond bad.

"What did Sherlock say?" he asked eventually, into the dull silence of the room.

"The truth," Lestrade said, still not looking at him. "That the last thing he remembered in his hotel room wasn't feeling ill. That it was standing next to the window and seeing Mycroft lying on the floor. And when he checked he was dead."

"Is he saying...he can't be saying?"

"He thinks he killed Mycroft, but he's not sure," Lestrade said, in the dead tone of someone reading out a tedious press statement. "The Rohypnol's scrambled up his memories of that evening so much. He can remember arguing with Mycroft, he can remember Mycroft being dead. He doesn't remember taking the Rohypnol or how he got out of the hotel, or anything else."

"Is he sure that he took the Rohypnol himself? Could there have been someone else there? Someone who came in when Sherlock and maybe Mycroft had collapsed and carried out the killing?"

"Another bloody invisible man? John, we have to face it. It was Sherlock who did it. He says he's going to plead guilty."

"To murder?"

"There's some lesser charge, killing or something. And if he pleads guilty they'll probably give him a reduced sentence, drop the charges about taking the car and attempting to destroy the body. Might not have to serve too many years."

"But why–"

"I don't know why!" Lestrade yelled. "I don't know what the fuck Mycroft thought he was doing."

"What do you mean?"

"I've seen what Sherlock's like when he's high or drunk. If Mycroft started needling him then..."

"You think it was an accident?" John said with sudden hope.

"I don't know, and it doesn't bloody matter. What matters is that My's dead and Sherlock's responsible for it. And that it's over. Everything is over." He stood up, rubbing his neck. "I'm going home, back to London. I'll see if I can get a flight tonight."

"Greg–"

"It's over, John. Sherlock's admitted it. Nothing more to be done."

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Dec. 13th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
Dude! Horaz Rumpolt! ;D

You're one of my favourite authors in this fandom and here's another rollicking read! I love this! Thank you!
marysutherland
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Glad someone spotted that - I liked the thought that there are variants of Rumpole of the Bailey wherever you find defence lawyers.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )