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holmes john coffee
Title : The Case of the Disappearing Dancer
Author : burntcopper
Fandom : Sherlock
Genre: Casefic
Characters: Sherlock, John, Lestrade, Mycroft, OCs
Rating : No sex and very little violence. :sigh:
Summary : Lestrade's snitch's girlfriend has gone missing. And of course there's issues that mean going to the police might be a little awkward.

Ao3

The door goes when John's making a cup of tea. It's been a quiet few days. Patients at the clinic have been remarkably sniffle-free. It's mostly been jabs, prescriptions and strained ankles. The population of London's been very clumsy recently. Sherlock's absorbed in experiments he's been putting off during his cases, and has been refusing to even get up to make his own tea, so the doorbell is definitely not worth moving for.

"Mrs Hudson!" Sherlock yells.

"She's at the shops, Sherlock, remember?" John says, before tripping down the stairs. The bell goes again. "Hold your horses, will you?" John says, checking the peephole before opening the door to Lestrade. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

"The pleasure of your face, of course." Lestrade says. There's someone with him, who is... probably not a fellow copper. He's mid-twenties, good-looking and wearing a suit that looks at least as expensive as Sherlock's gear. With something about that him just screams hard bastard. Sometimes John wishes that his life hadn't become the sort where this kind of thing was practically normal, and the only time he saw hard bastards, they were dressed in uniform and headscarves.

Once in 221B, John goes back to the kettle, giving Lestrade an inquiring look.

"Cheers. Milk and one for him." Lestrade says, gesturing to his companion. John fixes the teas, handing them out. Lestrade blows on his to cool it down a bit, before turning his head a bit. "Sherlock, got a client for you. I had to persuade him to see you, so don't kick him out on his arse."

Sherlock looks up, giving the suit a once-over before going back to his petri dish. "He has one minute."

"Nice." The man says, blowing on his tea, before looking at John. "He always like this?"

"Sadly, yes." John says, shrugging. "You get used to it. Sherlock, in this house we look at our guests."

Sherlock sighs. "Fine." He straightens, putting the pipette on the bit of kitchen towel John and Mrs Hudson have insisted on to make cleaning the table easier. "Name?" He pauses, giving the man a once-over. "No, don't tell me. Bespoke clothing. Too flashy for a banker but too sober for fashionable, which means you dress to be taken seriously. At your age I'd normally say you were trying to impress, but you hold yourself like a man used to being obeyed, and physically at that. Which tends to mean gangster. However, add the good looks and the fact that you're comfortable in the presence of police, and I know for a fact that Lestrade isn't corrupt - that adds up to Ben Cooper. The gangster's copper."

"Gangster's copper?" John asks, interested, taking a sip from his tea. Still too hot. Bugger. They've had a fair few criminals as clients before, but this one's new. And it's not normally Lestrade who ushers them over the threshold.

"Mmm." Sherlock replies, warming up to his theme. "Keeps them in line. Murders not good for business, cases unrelated to his work, snitches on rivals, that kind of thing. Useful for Lestrade, granted, but does make things a little too neat."

"Bloody good at getting us rock-solid evidence, though." Lestrade says. "Messy doesn't hold up so well in court, for all that you like it. Finished performing?"

Sherlock sighs, leaning against the table, irritated that Lestrade has brought in someone of sufficient interest to distract him from his experiments. "Fine, you can have two minutes."

"Cheers." Ben says, taking a sip of his tea, doing a good impression of Lestrade's studied nonchalance. "My girlfriend's gone missing, and Lestrade says you'd be good to help."

"Boring. Details." Sherlock says, making a dismissive gesture.

"Keira Brennan, hip-hop dancer. It was reported in the paper, since they just started a stint at the Peacock and it was a big show. Went on stage, never came home. It's been three days now, and no word."

"Nerves. Boring."" Sherlock replies. "Lestrade, why do you bring me these things?"

Ben snorts. "Never met her, have you? And never fucking dealt with my lot." He glances at Lestrade. "Dunno if you need to hear this."

Lestrade looks rueful. "Let me guess, bit less than legal? Why doesn't that surprise me." He raises his mug. "I promise to turn a blind ear to anything said in this room."

"The policeman has spoken, you have permission to give me useful details." Sherlock says, steepling his fingers.

Ben takes another sip of his tea. "She's also a thief. Had a job the night she disappeared. Hence why it's not something I can take to the police." He glances at Lestrade. "No offence."

Lestrade shrugs. "None taken."

Sherlock's eyes narrow, and John can practically see the thought bubble of 'interested' appear above his head. "Does she practice freerunning?"

"Yeah. Loves treating the city like an adventure playground."

Sherlock stands up and starts pacing. "Of course! It makes sense now, I'd been convinced those robberies were connected, but couldn't figure out how it was being done, but a dance company's touring schedule..." He shakes his head. "And to think I'd dismissed the cliché of a circus as being too obvious." He settles back in his chair. "Who was her employer?"

"Freelance, and I don't sodding know, else I'd've been on them myself. She's a fucking professional, she doesn't give out that info." Ben says, looking half proud at her professionalism and half irritated, presumably because he can't track them down himself. John really wishes his brain didn't add 'with thumbscrews' to that. He's seen too many gangster films for his own good.

Sherlock shrugs. "No matter, I'll figure it out without that."

"So you'll take the case?" Lestrade asks.

"This is actually interesting." Sherlock says, leaning against the table and clenching his hands in front of his mouth, tapping his thumbs together. "Why don't you bring me more like this, Lestrade?"

----

Sherlock's analysing a pair of Keira's trainers that her boyfriend brought round for his perusal when the door goes. "Mycroft's here." John says as he lets him into the flat.

"He's only here because I removed the latest batch of his bugs, so he's forced to visit to keep tabs on me." Sherlock says from the kitchen.

"It kept him busy for half the afternoon, thanks for that." John says, putting a cup in front of Mycroft. " 'Fraid we've only got bourbons, and I know you're not too keen on those."

"The thought is appreciated nonetheless, thank you John." Mycroft says, sipping delicately at his tea. "So how are you?"

"Keeping busy." John replies. "We've got a new case, it's that dancer who disappeared last week."

"I would have thought Sherlock would consider that kind of thing beneath him." Mycroft says.

"Lestrade brought the case to us." John shrugs. "He knows her boyfriend."

"And it comes with a ready-made title for your blog post." Mycroft observes.

John grins, holding up a finger, mouthing 'wait for it'. On cue, the yell comes from the kitchen area "You are not going to call it 'The Disappearing Dancer', John!" Mycroft and John share a smirk at the response.

---

Sherlock's going over all the reports of the robberies Keira's done recently. Her boyfriend can't provide any confirmation, but the hallmarks are all the same. Difficult to get into buildings, small items - papers and the like - relatively inconsequential, but kept in rooms with all the latest security gadgets. None of them showed any sign of entry on the lower floors, and the only cameras obscured were on the upper floors. So, given that there are certainly very few candidates able to do this kind of work, and a very narrow market for the goods, it's likely they traced her and kidnapped her to trace the goods she stole. Or at least draw out her employer. The question is which of her victims has the most to lose. Enough to go to the trouble to kidnap her. If it'd been drugs, this would be more obvious, but this is more difficult. Good.

John leans forward to examine one of the sites of the robberies on one of the printouts. An ambassador's home in Mayfair. "Chances she did a runner with the loot and is holing up somewhere until the heat dies down?" He asks.

Ben snorts from where he's sitting, cross-referencing times and dates for Sherlock. Apparently it's part of what makes him good at his job. "She's a professional. She steals to order, it's not a bloody Bond film, she's not going to put up a coded note on a messageboard that she's got the microfiche and it's up for the highest bidder."

"What about if she looked at what she'd stolen and had a sudden moral whatsit?" John asks.

Ben's unimpressed look is nearly as good as Sherlock's. Only less haughty. More on the level of someone suggesting Man U would lose to Acrington Stanley. "Professional." He repeats slowly.

"Precisely." Sherlock says. "Clearly a kidnapping. Are you quite sure there's been nothing remotely like a ransom note?"

Ben turns the unimpressed look on Sherlock, only this one's more along the lines of someone impugning his competence. "I'd've fucking said."

"So kidnapping to either steal something similar to order or to find who she sold it to." Sherlock says. "Either way, I suspect it would be the same individuals."

----

Interviews with her company prove... interesting. She's quite clearly well-liked and they're very worried. "We gave all this to the police." One black guy, who appears to be seven feet tall in John's estimation, points out.

"Who are clearly not getting anywhere." Sherlock says.

"Fuck." The dancer replies, shaking his head. "We knew he was going to get her into deep shit one of these days. It's not like we all don't know someone who's a bit dodgy, but he's bloody off the scale."

Sherlock looks interested. "Clarify 'he'." This might be actually getting them somewhere.

"You know who her boyfriend is, right?"

"And back to square one." Sherlock huffs. "This would be a quite logical assumption if he'd actually been contacted with a ransom note or similar. As it is, he's not heard anything, so the link is sadly tenuous."

----

Sherlock leans back, staring at the ceiling from his position on the sofa. Ben sips his tea from his position in the doorway. "What's he bloody doing, meditating?"

John shrugs. "He calls it his mind palace. I call it 'he's got all the data, now it's just settling and sifting.' In a minute he'll probably start playing the violin or something."

"Mind palace." Ben snorts. "Christ almighty. Time's ticking away here."

"People are talking when I am trying to *think*." Sherlock says, annoyed. "You did your part, I am now trying to do mine. Now drink your tea and shut up."

"It's like he's never got the point of a mother's meeting." Ben says. "Fuck it, I'm going downstairs. Call me when he's rejoined the human race." He gives John his mug, turning to leave.

When the downstairs door closes, Sherlock's quiet for a while, before speaking in a thoughtful tone. "He started as a policeman but didn't last his probation. It's common knowledge amongst both sides. Most of the police despise him for turning."

"Does that make a difference to the case?" John asks.

"It makes a difference in what he thinks is important to tell us." Sherlock says. "Now shush, you're talking too much and I need silence."

"What about white noise?" John asks. "Have you ever tried that?"

"If I wanted white noise, I'd go and sit with Mrs. Hudson while she listened to 'You and Yours'." Sherlock replies. "Quiet, John."

-----

Sherlock's staring at the pins in the map. He's cross-referencing properties owned by the people who technically owned the items stolen. Owned being the technical term. Had in their possession. Or perhaps 'were tasked to guard' in some cases. "These are the ones who had the most to lose." Sherlock says, tapping the guarding list. "Implication being that they need to get it back. If we focus on the property they own. Preferably the out of the way or easily sound-proofed."

"That's next to a meth lab." Ben says, pointing at one. "And there's a women's refuge by that one."

"So?" Sherlock asks.

"Too many exes stalking it, too much attention in general." Ben shrugs. "Thinking like a copper or a criminal might be useful on occasion. Just saying."

"On occasion, perhaps." Sherlock harrumphs. "John, pass me the soil reports."

Sherlock's whittling down soil reports against locations while Ben's staring at his phone, frowning. On occasion his thumb moves. Back and forth. Sherlock looks up. "Your incessant flicking is proving exceedingly distracting." Sherlock says. "Stop checking twitter."

"It's the places." Ben says. "The places, I know these bloody names. But I don't know if it's useful in this context."

Sherlock's head jerks up, and he stalks over. "Think! Were they something she said in passing? A location? A business?"

Ben switches his screen to blank. "Nothing to do with her. Case. Two - no, three months ago. Some businessman, got chucked in the cells for being rat-arsed and rowdy in Sunset Strip." He shakes his head. "Like I said. Useless. Just a distraction."

"Was he local? Out of town? This is important." Sherlock says, going to the board.

"Consultant. Out of towner." Ben says. "Boasting about how he could earn more money in three months from one job and he'd not pay taxes."

"Cross reference with the fact that those particular flats have fresh lawns in front of them and we have it." Sherlock says triumphantly, finger resting on the left hand corner of the City on the map.

Which means John Watson finds himself standing outside a horrendously nice set of flats in St Katherine's Docks, full of rich young couples and empty flats kept by City businesses for visiting contractors. He looks up at the window of the floor Sherlock's pinpointed, then turns his attention back to his phone.

"What'm I supposed to say, I'm from the gas board to read the meter?"

"You do house calls now." Sherlock replies, "Stop dawdling and get in the lift."

John looks up and down the corridor before taking a breath and knocking. The door's opened cautiously by someone who looks like he probably hangs out with their client. "Who're you?"

John decides to go with grumpy. "Someone called for a doctor. What kind of amateurs are you?"

They blink, confused. "What?"

John huffs, hitching the bag on his shoulder up. "Don't ask me, some fucker asked me to haul my arse from South Ken. At the very least I want cab fare. Now have you got a patient for me or not?"

The man pushes the door to a bit, turning his head to exchange words with someone else in the room before opening the door again. "I... yeah. You'd better check on 'em, can't hurt."

John gets ushered through into the living room, where a taller man's just closing the door on the bedroom. "Who's this, then? Thought I said we weren't to be disturbed."

"He said some fucker called for a doctor."

"Probably checking she's still alive." They snort. "Paranoid bastards, we bloody know how to do our job."

John gets ushered through into the bedroom, where a girl's tied to a chair. Specifically, the girl in the photos in the Metro and Evening Standard and on the front of the Peacock, so Sherlock was correct on that front. She tilts her head back. Aside from some bruising on her jaw, she doesn't look too bad from first glance. "Who're you, then?"

"Someone sent a doctor to check on you." The taller man says. "Clearly you're valuable."

"Well, yeah." She snorts. "Else you'd've dumped me in the river days ago."

John steps forward, tilting her head back and fishing out his penlight. He does have some of his check-up equipment in his bag, thank you. "Okay, miss, follow my finger. Got to check for tracking. Where's it hurt?"

"When I laugh." She replies, rolling her eyes.

John checks carefully, and she's about right. Bruising to the stomach judging by careful probing, but not much. It's mostly rough handling. She raises an eyebrow once he's looking back up at her face - fortunately no damage to her hands, that would be a right bugger in either of her professions, and stage make-up can cover the bruise on her jaw - and he mouths 'Ben', tracing it on the back of her hand as well.

Looking up at the heavies, John sighs. "I'm going to need these snipped if you want me to check how much damage you did to her arms and shoulders with the dislocation, not to mention her knees." He says, tapping the zip ties they've used to secure her. They grudgingly do it - after all, they've still got guns if John starts acting funny. As soon as her limbs're undone, John makes a show of twisting her shoulder and she plays along, making a pained gasping sound. John covers her shaking it out to prepare to make a break for it by pulling out his phone and saying irritatedly "Yes? Look, I'm on call, that can wait. Yes, of course I'm aware of the timing -"

John wanders over to the window, shaking his head and sighing with put-upon sigh #3, 'someone in the surgery didn't restock the biscuits'. Well, at least his acting skills have gotten practice since he took up Sherlock. One of the guards moves to check on the prisoner while he's apparently distracted, at which point she jumps on the chair from seated, and kicks him in the head, somersaulting to land on her feet, and bouncing back up again to get the other one in the balls, then the head as he doubles over, making him drop like a stone. At which point John's reminded of what an old girlfriend who did ballet used to say. Dancers kick like mules.

Keira straightens, wincing slightly at the muscle use, turning to open the window, leaning out slightly to check outside. "Ta for the rescue, now let's go."

John blinks. "...Out the window?"

"Well, unless you want to explain to their mates why they're unconscious and I'm gone when they come to see why no-one's come out after a few minutes." She pauses. "Look, we just have to get to the next balcony, okay? I'm not asking you to do trapeze."

Her definition of 'just' is a bit like Sherlock's definition of the word. Presumably easy if you can somersault through the air with ease and balance on nothing. Unlike Sherlock, however, she makes sure to swing out to grab him so he doesn't need to jump as far as she did. Ten seconds with a bit of wire she keeps in her hair, and the yelling in the flat next door starts when their absence is discovered. By then they're bundling through a very surprised couple's probably umpteenth viewing of Bridge on the River Kwai, John would know Alec Guinness' moustache anywhere, out the door and into the lift.

In the lift, John leans against the wall, getting his breath back. Keira is going through some painful looking stretches.

"Who sent you, then?" Keira asks, leg halfway up the wall. Which implies she was expecting possible multiple parties.

"Your boyfriend came to us with a case."

"I didn't know private detectives did rescue too." She pauses. "That really could've gone tits up if I hadn't kicked their heads in."

"We pride ourselves on value-added service. And he said you could defend yourself in a pinch, not to mention do backflips when you had enough muscle strain to fell a normal human being."

She tilts her head, then pulls it over on one shoulder to stretch her neck out too. It's beginning to look like advanced yoga. "True."

The sound of feet going pell-mell down the stairs above them greets them as the lift doors open, and they dart out the front doors, Keira turning to slam her foot into the keypad. "Should bugger the opening mechanism a bit." She explains, then looks round. "You don't even have a car waiting? This really is an amateur production, isn't it?"

"If you must know, it's coming round the corner now." John says, pointing. The yelling on the other side of the door just increased as her captors discover the door's jammed.

"Wonderful." She says, bouncing on the spot slightly. "You do know my muscles could've been completely buggered from sitting tied to a chair for the past few days, right?"

"It was a chance I was willing to take." John says as the cab draws up in front of them and Sherlock holds the door open. "And you just kicked two peoples' heads in from sitting, so that point's moot."

"Dancers get injuries all the time, mate, just so you know." She says as they pile in.

"John, I've told you, no bickering with the clients." Sherlock sniffs as they buckle themselves in. "If you could be on your way now." He says, rapping on the dividing window.
----

Mycroft drops by. John suspects that if it'd been dark and raining when they finished the case, he'd have loomed out of the rain. The Holmes sense for the dramatic demands it. "The case was a success from the report in the paper. Young love reunited, and the troupe has its dancer back. Well done, Sherlock. The nation thanks you, it seems."

"The nation?" Sherlock asks, brain set spinning.

"Indeed."

John cocks his head once Mycroft's driven off. "Did Mycroft just thank you?"

"The ways of my brother are beyond comprehension." Sherlock says grumpily.

John tilts his head thoughtfully. "He'd only thank you if he had a personal stake in the case."

"Yes, yes, bored now." Sherlock says, dismissively, picking up the paper.

"You said the items taken in the robberies were relatively inconsequential, but they were all from places connected with embassies and politicians." John looks at him. "She's his personal thief, isn't she?"

"Shut up, John." Sherlock says, gritting his teeth.

John grins, folding his arms. "You just did your brother a favour."

"Shut up, John." Sherlock says, sounding a bit more on edge and twitching.

"Without him even having to lift a finger to ask for your help." John continues. There's nothing like watching Sherlock squirm.

"I am deleting this and we are never speaking of it again." Sherlock scowls, picking up his violin and tuning it.

"But *I'll* remember." John grins. "It's one for the diary."

Sherlock huffs. "Your views are inconsequential and I am ignoring your wittering."

"Oh, trust me, I'm so not forgetting this." John says, sitting on the sofa and picking up the paper Sherlock discarded. Sherlock starts up a complicated tune, and John turns a couple of pages, then adds "I don't think Mycroft will, either." There's a very distinct off-key sound as Sherlock's bow goes the wrong way.

END

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
thesmallhobbit
Mar. 13th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC)
I read this on the train the other day and enjoyed the plot and the characters. Couldn't comment at the time, but thank you for entertaining me on my journey.
celievamp
Mar. 15th, 2013 08:45 pm (UTC)
much love for this
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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