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Bern the heart out of you (3/3)

BBC Sherlock

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

Summary: John's last hope of clearing Sherlock's name for Mycroft's murder is Anderson.

Betaed by the wonderful Warriorbot

Part 1, Part 2

"I don't know what the Kriminaltechnische Dienst think they're doing," Anderson complained, when he finally turned up at the cafe where he'd arranged to meet Sally and John.

"What do you mean?" Sally asked.

"The lab has a good reputation; I've read research papers written by some of their scientists. And yet they've made a complete mess of this case. Samples lost, incomplete records, can't answer half my questions. They seem total incompetents."

"You're sure–" John began.

"You think I don't know what I'm talking about? You think I can't tell good work from bad?" He was so thin-skinned, even when Sherlock wasn't around, that it was painful.

"Of course not," John said hastily."I believe what you're saying. But what went wrong? Did they just have an off-day with the case and they're covering up? Are they over-worked?"

"Switzerland's murder rate is 60% of the UK's," Anderson replied promptly. "It's...it's as if they were just going through the motions. They haven't even done some of the most basic things, like a proper cross-check of the medical and dental records."

"What?" John demanded. "Then how did they identify the body?"

"DNA, of course, how do you think?"

"Just DNA?" An impossible idea had suddenly occurred to him.

"Well, Mycroft had a distinctive watch, as well–"

"But he was burnt...beyond recognition, wasn't he?" John said. Anderson nodded and for once there was a hint of sympathy in his face. I have to phrase this next question right, John thought.

"Has anyone...have you or anyone you heard of ever been approached by someone trying to bribe you?" he said. Anderson's face went very still. "Forensics isn't that well paid a job, is it?"

"The lab scientists get more than scene of crime officers," Anderson said. "But Switzerland's an expensive place to live."

"You're implying it's not Mycroft's body?" Sally broke in. "How can that be possible? There was somebody in that car."

"Every morgue has unclaimed bodies," Anderson said. "It's possible, I suppose, but it would be very difficult..."

"With enough money and contacts?" John asked.

"I wouldn't take a bribe to fake evidence. There is no sum that Sherlock could offer that would be enough for that."

"But what about Mycroft?" John said.

Anderson stared at him agape for a moment and then croaked: "Are you suggesting–"

"–that Mycroft faked his own death?" Sally burst in, almost shrieking. "And framed Sherlock for it? Oh. My. God. No, it can't be."

"What did you say about the man who pulled this stunt?" John demanded. "Clever, well-organised, a weakness for the dramatic. Look at the photos from the car park and tell me that tall thin man couldn't be Mycroft?" Sally was fishing the copies out of the file, screwing up her eyes.

"Mycroft and Sherlock, after all," she breathed, "but the other way round. But why?"

"I have no idea," John said, "but we're going to find a man who can work it out. Sorry, Anderson, we're going to have to go to prison."


The guards at Thorberg didn't have a chance, of course, against Watson, Donovan and Anderson, the dream team of stroppy persistence. It took them an hour and a half but they finally got a meeting with the deputy prison director, who was small and bald and harassed-looking.

"If you come back tomorrow at the approved time, we can arrange a meeting for you with the prisoner Holmes," he told them. "That can be allowed, as a concession." He didn't add "for difficult foreigners", even though he was clearly thinking that.

"Sherlock's innocent of the crime he has been convicted of," John repeated, for at least the twentieth time.

"Dr Watson, there are no guilty men in Thorberg, or so they would have you believe. They have all been the victims of tragic miscarriages of justices. But there are systems in place to determine such matters and I cannot allow you to bypass them. Can you please understand–" Someone was knocking at the door of the office, yelling something. When the director opened the door, a guard came in and unleashed a torrent of German. Somewhere lurking in it John thought he heard the words Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock's just ridden a motorbike out over the barbed wire, John thought, and realised he'd seen too many World War Two films.

"What are they saying?" he demanded, turning to Anderson.

"I'm not sure," Anderson said, looking tense, "it's the bloody Bern dialect, very hard to follow. And I'm not sure what Geisel means."

"Hostage," the deputy director said hoarsely. "We have a hostage situation, involving your friend Mr Holmes. One of the other English prisoners has a knife, is threatening him."

"For God's sake!" John yelled, "why are we just standing here, then? I...we–"

"I'm trained in hostage negotiation," Sally said. "We can help."

John could almost see the deputy director waver between Not standard protocol and Someone to pass the buck to. Passing the buck obviously won out.

"Follow me," he said, as he led them off down a corridor.

"Are you really a hostage negotiator?" John asked Sally in a low voice.

"Sort of," she said. "Well I went on part of the course. Look, this is bloody Sherlock, we just need to distract the other bloke and he'll pull some stunt."

Probably true, John thought, but from the roar he could hear up ahead they might already be too late.  The last door opened, and fuck, yes, there it was. A long hall with two ranks of galleries on either side, its style familiar from years of watching TV. And on the top gallery, up against the railing, a very familiar figure, grappling with a large, bearded opponent. Trust Sherlock not to bother waiting to be rescued.

Everyone else, prisoners and guards were just crowding around, watching, as if they were stunned. Probably taking bets on the outcome, as well, John thought, looking frantically round for the stairs.

"You don't have a gun by any chance, do you?" Sally asked. "They're legal in Switzerland."

"Smuggling them out of Britain isn't," John replied. "Can we get up there?"

"Leave it," she said. "If we get too close he might try and take the Freak over the balcony with him. Didn't you teach Sherlock unarmed combat?"

"Yes," John said, "but the tosser never listens to a word I say." He yelled up, futilely, into the uproar. "For fuck sake's, Sherlock, just disarm him, it's not bloody performance art!"

Almost as if he'd heard him, Sherlock did a complex little wriggle, slipped through the other man's grip. A knife fell from the balcony, almost impaling the deputy prisoner director's foot. Amid the roar from the crowd, Sherlock's opponent charged him and was lifted neatly off his feet and tipped over the balcony...to fall smack onto a couple of large and luckless prisoners below.

John stared at the men lying screaming and cursing on the ground, and then up at Sherlock, panting and punching the air triumphantly. And then a firm hand curled round his arm.

"Now, this is more like home," Sally Donovan said cheerfully. "If you go and sort out the blokes on the floor, I'll make sure the Freak hasn't pulled any muscles."


They ended up in the office of the prison director this time, with Sally, Sherlock and Anderson all trying to explain what had happened simultaneously.

"Be quiet, everyone please," the director pleaded, with the look of a man wishing he was in a nice peaceful cell of his own. "Is there someone here who is in charge, who can explain what this is all about?"

"I'm Detective-Sergeant Donovan from the Metropolitan Police in London," Sally announced, producing a warrant card. She held it extremely tightly, obviously worried Sherlock might try and steal it. "We have reason to believe that Sherlock Holmes is not guilty of the killing for which he is currently imprisoned."

"Well that is very good news for him," the director said. "Indeed, for us all here at Thorberg. But this is not something that I can deal with, it is a matter for the Untersuchungsrichteramt."

"Of course," Sherlock broke in, "but you need to hear one important detail now. That is if my overprotective idiot of a brother is not hastening to Switzerland even now, having realised his dreadful oversight. The man who attacked me is not Fredrick Starr, as he claimed, but Fred Porlock, the last of Moriarty's henchmen still at liberty. Well, when I say at liberty, what I mean is that he deliberately got himself arrested in Bern a week ago in order to be able to attack me–"

"Does this statement have a point?" the director broke in. "I am trying to run an orderly establishment here, and you are saying that some foreigner deliberately broke the law to get sent to prison? When we are so overcrowded anyway? That is not helpful."

"Well, then, it's time to let me out," Sherlock said. "Because the man I'm supposed to have murdered isn't even dead. I'll prove it to you. John, Sally, does either of you have Lestrade's number?"

"What?" said John, hastily dragging himself out of the exhausted stupor he'd thought he might be allowed to succumb to.

"Lestrade's not at the Met anymore." Sally said. "He's on sick leave."

"So John told me," Sherlock replied. "He's in France, I know. But what I want is his telephone number there." Sally glared at him. "The number, Sally." She pulled out her mobile and handed it to him.

"Prisoners are not allowed to use mobile phones," the director said with resignation. Sherlock brushed past him, reached for the man's phone, and promptly started dialling. This isn't happening, John thought in a daze. I have now officially gone cuckoo.

"I've put it on speakerphone," Sherlock announced. "I just hope they're in, because I have things to say that would be wasted on an answering machine. Lestrade!" he bellowed down the line, as the phone rang and rang. "Answer your phone, blast it."

Suddenly a very familiar, if rather weary voice said: "Allô, qui est à l'appareil?"

"Lestrade, in English, s'il vous plaît," Sherlock said, grinning. "Can you tell my gros con of a brother to get his fat arse on the line and explain that he is not dead?"

"Explain to who?" Lestrade said. "What are you up to now, Sherlock?"

"Explain to whom. The director of the prison in which I am currently sitting for Mycroft's murder. Go and get my brother."

"Good afternoon, Sherlock," Mycroft's voice broke in smoothly. "Nice to hear from you. Is Herr Henker there with you? If so, I'm happy to explain the situation as necessary. As you will realise, the reports of my murder have been exaggerated..."


"Of course, it's all your fault that Porlock took me hostage," Sherlock announced to John the next morning.

John gave him a hard glare. He was tempted to thump him, but that probably wasn't a good move with the prison guards watching. They hadn't been able to get Sherlock out of Thorberg immediately, of course, not until Mycroft turned up in person to prove to the Bern police that he wasn't dead. And John suspected that even then Swiss bureaucracy would take a little while to process the matter. But they were letting him have an all-day visit to Sherlock, and it surely wouldn't be long now...

"Normal visiting ends at half-past ten and resumes at one." said Sherlock. "They'll let us stay in the visiting room on our own over lunchtime. I hope you've brought some toiletries for me. The right kind of toiletries." He smiled a wicked smile.

Switzerland was pretty liberal about gay rights; at least the cities were. John had checked that carefully. He hoped there was nothing in the Swiss penal code prohibiting sex during prison visits; he couldn't find a copy in English and he really didn't want to ask Anderson what the German terms were. He tried to look at his watch surreptitiously.

"8.55 a.m.," Sherlock said cheerfully. "Try to restrain yourself from either throttling or dry-humping me for a little while longer."

"You deserve the first more than the second, I reckon," John said, hoping that none of the guards were listening. "Why is what happened yesterday my fault?"

"You all rushing excitedly into the prison told Starr the game was up, and he panicked. I'd been biding my time, waiting for a chance to unmask his little game. If you'd just come and visited me as normal and told me what you knew..."

"We'd found evidence of your innocence and you wanted us not to make a fuss?" John demanded. He wondered if there was a criminal offence of aggravated talking, because Sherlock was certainly heading in that direction.

"I...you did surprisingly well. I was impressed," Sherlock said, and John decided he was going to overlook the surprisingly bit. "I wasn't expecting you to solve the case, let alone Donovan and Anderson. It suggests traces of my technique have finally rubbed off on all three of you."

Trust Sherlock to give such a backhanded compliment. Still, staring across at him, knowing he could get his hands on him in – he looked at his watch again – just under one and a half hours was some comfort. He might even kiss the bastard first before thumping him.

"Well clearly none of my common sense has rubbed off...affected you," he replied. "Why the hell didn't you just tell me what you were planning to do?"

"Because it wasn't my plan," Sherlock said.


"Did you not work out that bit? Surely it was obvious?"

"Mycroft and you cooked up this scheme–"

"No!" Sherlock broke in, face shining with glee. "It was Mycroft's plan, that was why it was so hopeless. Why you were able to work it out. I'd have been much more ingenious if I'd wanted to frame myself."

John had thought the headaches would stop now, but he'd obviously forgotten what Sherlock was like.

"So, when you said...no...what?"

"Mycroft's plan was that I would be safely kept out of harm's way while he was able to go undercover for a few weeks and round up Moriarty's old lieutenants. I suppose it made sense in a way: he had to have some excuse why I wasn't able to solve his murder. And I suspect he wanted to prove he could fake his death as successfully as I had done mine."

"Oh Christ! You mean this whole thing has been nothing but a competition between you and your bloody brother?" John demanded.

"No," said Sherlock. "Mycroft's strategy was sound, but his tactics were flawed. He thought I'd be more convincing as a suspect if I didn't know what was going to happen, but he was confident I'd be able to work out very soon it was him that had set this up."

"And you did?" said John, thinking: How is it even when I solve the case, I end up looking like an idiot?

"As soon as I could smell straight," Sherlock said, grinning.


"My coat. I couldn't smell it near the car, the smell of burning masked it. But as soon as I was away from there, and my head had cleared a bit, I realised it. My coat smelled of Mycroft, I'd recognise his shampoo anywhere, and I even found one of his hairs on the collar. He'd been wearing the coat, so he must have been disguised as me at some point. But someone who'd snatched both of us would have no need to do that.  Therefore it must have been Mycroft himself who organised it, in order to fool CCTV cameras. He has no hope of masquerading as me normally, but in a poor-quality video with his collar turned up he might just pass. Though I wonder if he was able to do the buttons on it up or not?"

"Sherlock, does all this have a point?"

"The point, John, is that Mycroft disguised himself as me, and that therefore he was up to no good. Once I spotted that, it was easy to work out how he'd put the drug in my wine. That was ingenious, by the way. Mycroft may be hopeless at legwork, but he's quite handy at sleight-of-hand."

"He put it in when he covered your glass with his hand?"

"Yes, relying on me refusing to look at him by that point in the meal."

John sniggered. "It was dangerous, though. Someone might have spotted him."

"Or indeed when he took me out for a spin in a wheelchair and then his car. I suppose he felt he couldn't trust anyone else with the scheme. Other than the pathologists, of course, who were the one essential element for this."

"Who provided Mycroft with a spare corpse and then rigged the DNA testing?"

"What I'm not sure of yet," Sherlock said, "is whether it was a Swiss body or an English one. Molly Hooper was Mycroft's entree into the world of surplus bodies, of course, but I don't know whether she arranged for one to be flown out from England under the guise of repatriation or merely put him in contact with suitable medical staff over here."

"Molly was involved in this?"

"Obviously," said Sherlock. "When a man starts hanging round a morgue, he's always up to no good. My brother does occasionally show a certain flair, I suppose. The hire car had deeply tinted windows. I thought it was merely pretention on my brother's part; I didn't realise he was planning to drive round Bern with a corpse and an unconscious man as passengers. I must admit, he did fool me initially."

"So when you phoned me in the middle of the night, you really thought he was dead?" John asked.

"Yes. I...what else did I say? I was not entirely myself."

"It doesn't matter," John said hastily. "But if you realised Mycroft had framed you, why didn't you say something?"

"I didn't know exactly what he was planning, how long he needed to be dead for. So I did the best I could to assist him. I kept my mouth shut and I sent him Lestrade."

"You told Lestrade what had happened?"

"Not the details, they didn't matter. I told him that I'd been framed and there was only one man living clever enough to do that. And that if he could break off contact completely with the rest of you, Mycroft would be likely to come and find him, realise he couldn't manage alone."

Sherlock leaned back in his chair. "And I was, of course, right."

"You told Greg you'd been framed, but not me?" John could feel the pain grow inside his stomach.

"You didn't need to be told, did you? You trust me, and I trusted you would." For a moment, Sherlock's artifice had gone, leaving only the honest core that he occasionally let John catch a glimpse of. He had to respond to that, be honest as well.

"I didn't...I wasn't sure," he said. "There were times when I thought, maybe...why did you plead guilty?"

Fire sparked back into Sherlock's eyes. "Because if it had come to trial, any competent defence lawyer could have torn the case to shreds! If Anderson spotted there was something wrong with the forensics, don't you think someone competent would have done so?"

"Anderson helped me, Sherlock. You may want to forget it, but I'm not going to." John's voice was firm as he gazed at Sherlock.

"I...I am grateful for what he did," Sherlock said, at last, flushing a little. "Once I get out of here, the third thing I will do is write a letter expressing that gratitude. I can probably do it more effectively than face-to-face with Anderson's...face."

"Right," said John. "And the first two things?"

"I will need your help for those," Sherlock said. "The first, well, I hope is obvious." The smile on his face had John flushing now, and shifting slightly uncomfortably in his chair.

"And the second?"

"Mycroft's coming to Bern, to prove the authorities he's still alive. And when's he done that, you know what we're going to do?" Sherlock said, and his grin looked wicked now. "We're going to put our heads together and work out how to murder that smug bastard."


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2011 09:35 am (UTC)
Watson, Donovan and Anderson, the dream team of stroppy persistence... yes indeed!

very glad to hear that the reports of Mycroft's murder were exaggerated - I hoped they would be.

and I like John's exasperated "For fuck sake's, Sherlock, just disarm him, it's not bloody performance art!"
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
I'm just too predictable in not being able to kill off people permanently. But then I tell myself that ACD was the same. As for Sherlock's fighting, canonically it's always rather showy and not necessarily effective.
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
I had to wait for part 3 to show up before reading this, because I didn't want to be cliffhanging, but it was all delightful. Well done!

And Mycroft deserves a good kicking - from John, I think!
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
I'm still playing with various post-Reichenbach possibilities, and it always seems to end up with both Holmeses oblivious to the impact their behaviour has on normal people (well, to the extent that John and Lestrade are normal).
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
Well, those three can come and rescue me from prison any time! Wonderful Sally and Anderson. I knew Mycroft's sudden friendship with Molly must mean something, but I hadn't worked out what.

I hope their solving the case didn't obstruct Mycroft's operation too much, and I'm relieved that he didn't leave poor Lestrade in the dark for all that long, though I trust Lestrade gave him an earful when he found him.
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
I suspect Mycroft may have learned a whole new set of swearwords on the day Lestrade found him. Because, notoriously, Lestrade can swear in English, French *and* Hungarian.

I did enjoy not only having Sally do some good detective work, but figuring out how to rope Anderson in plausibly as well. Because Anderson is irritating, but every office has someone like him and part of being a team-player (as I imagine both John and Lestrade are) is learning how to handle people like that.

I feel sure that Mycroft had not only a Plan B for this operation, but Plans C to Z as well, so he probably still got his men/women.

Glad you enjoyed the fic - thanks for the corrections, as well, which have been applied.
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
This was CHARMING! (And funny, and hot, and suspenseful, too!)

...now I want to see Sherlock thanking Anderson. Face to face, because for some reason he couldn't do it with a letyter.
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think words would be adequate for that Sherlock/Anderson scene. Well, not my words, at least. In fact I'm not sure any medium is. But glad you enjoyed the fic.
Dec. 16th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
Loved it. Watson, Donovan and Anderson, the dream team of stroppy persistence made me laugh like a crazy person. Those poor Swiss prison guards, what did they ever do to deserve that?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )