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Fallen Through Time

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Greg felt as though his mind had been squeezed through a garlic press. All of this was way beyond his ken, but Chris had the patience of a saint. Time travel and the paranormal had never interested Greg, so the jargon was all new to him. But if Chris was willing to take the time to walk him through the desert, Greg owed it to him and to Sherlock to make it to the Holy Land. As it were.

 

They had relocated their research to the Central Library of Imperial College, where Chris was a student. Thankfully, the library was open twenty-four hours, so even though they had passed into the wee hours and were closer to dawn than dusk, they had the luxury of a full-service library at their disposal. 

 

“Alright,” a heavy sigh preceded Chris’s arrival back at their table and he dropped a large atlas-style book down in front of Greg. “Maps of ley lines around the globe.”

 

“And ley lines are where weird stuff has happened,” Greg confirmed, trying to remember all that he had learned with Chris in the past day.

 

“Right. Points all over the world where supernatural events have occured, connected by straight lines across the map.” He flipped through the pages until he came to a map of London. “This is just a possible theory ‒ I don’t know if any of the points line up.” The map was crossed all over with red indicator lines and a few large red dots that formed triangles over the city. A few of the points were familiar to Greg, spots where stories of weird events had taken place.

 

“The first place is Tower Bridge,” Greg leaned in, cursing himself for having left his readers sitting on his desk back at the Yard, and examined the spot through squinted eyes. “The line doesn’t cross exactly through the tower where Sherlock fell, but one does go through the bridge itself.”

 

“And there are a few lines that surround the area,” Chris said encouragingly.

 

“How exact does it have to be?”

 

“I’m not sure,” he answered. “But I’m sure there’s some room to… wiggle. We’re talking about energy, not guided missiles. I’m sure there’s a possibility for a flow or even a pool .” Greg chewed his lip in thought. “Where else?”

 

“Gower Street,” Greg said, running his finger along the map. “Again, it’s between three lines.” He paused, thinking as hard as he was able.

 

“Has it only been those two places?” Chris pressed.

 

Greg sighed, feeling defeated. “So far. And they were ages apart, so it’s difficult to determine a pattern.”

 

“When were they?” Chris sat down across the table and gave an exhausted stretch, arms over his head, and cracked his back against his chair.

 

“Erm…” Greg flipped through the notebook he kept in his jacket pocket for making case notes on the fly. “Twenty-second September and twenty-first December.” They were both growing tired and Greg could almost feel the drowsiness wafting off of Chris. He fought a yawn as Chris leaned forward again.

 

“Wait…” Every thought and sentence came so slowly. “The equinox and the solstice?”

 

“The what?”

 

“Many civilizations celebrate festivals at the turning of the seasons.” Sitting up straighter, Chris grabbed a book and pulled it forward, flipping through until he came upon an illustration of planets and their movements. Apparently it was some sort of calendar. “The Celts have Lùnastal and Samhain ‒ the first days of fall and winter. Their calendar is a bit earlier than ours, but the idea is the same.”

 

Greg was definitely in over his head. “What idea?”

 

“That at certain times of the year, supernatural events are more likely to occur because of an imbalance in the forces of the universe.” If Chris weren’t so nice and helpful and obviously intelligent, Greg would swear he was a lunatic. “The earth is either closest or farthest from the sun in its revolution.”

 

“What does that have to do with anything?”

 

“No one really knows,” Chris admitted with a shrug. “The earth is made of magnets that are constantly pulling and pushing things. Maybe when the earth is more or less magnetized, something happens.” Jeez, it’s all so vague , Greg thought. “Maybe the veil between this plane and another is made thin. Or even torn.” Chris gave Greg a look that suggested he really didn’t know, but believed it all the same.

 

Why not?

 

Pulling the map of ley lines close again, Greg started looking for places of significance to Sherlock, anything where the lines crossed or converged or even formed a little triangle. He didn’t care for any of the tourist sites ‒ except Big Ben. Greg had had to talk officers out of arresting Sherlock for climbing up behind the clock face twice since he’d known the man. But he only went there to annoy people. To annoy Greg.

 

There was a bridge in Lambeth he liked to skulk under, but there were no ley lines there.

 

He actually loved St. Nicolas church in Deptford. Greg had been stunned to learn that, in addition to giving gifts at Christmas, St. Nicolas was also patron saint of thieves, the falsely accused, students, prostitutes, and pirates. Facts which Sherlock loved to shout at people who were trying to have a quiet prayer or two. The thought made Greg grin because, no matter what the belligerent detective said, Greg knew he actually loved Christmas and felt a very specific kinship to Nicolas and all he protected. 

 

But the church fell wide of any ley lines, so Greg dismissed it.

 

Following that train of thought, Greg started searching for other churches and otherwise peaceful places. Sherlock liked to disrupt his surroundings. Then he spotted it ‒ a cemetery on Old Brompton Road where Sherlock often went to… think. Or, in previous years, get high and hide away from the world. Three lines met up there and Greg knew in an instant that he had found what he needed.

 

Chris offered to come along and help Greg if necessary. But Greg could see the relief on Chris’s face when Greg insisted he go home and get some sleep. With a promise to update the other man as soon as any developments were made, Greg phoned for a taxi.

 

At four in the morning, Greg would have thought that sneaking into an old cemetery would actually have been a lot easier. However, the wrought-iron fence was dastardly tall and a new lock had recently been added to the gate. Looking at the setup, Greg tried to imagine how Sherlock would get in. Probably just slip between the bars, skinny git.  

 

Well, that wasn’t an option for Greg. So after much pacing and cursing, Greg awkwardly climbed a tall tree on the outside of the fence and dropped ungracefully onto the ground inside the cemetery. “A copper breaking into a graveyard at four AM,” he mumbled to himself. “The things I let Sherlock get me into….”

 

‒‒

 

The lock on the gate was laughable. Amazing that even the least-inventive class of criminals would be deterred from breaking in, Sherlock thought as he slipped inside Brompton Cemetery.

 

He couldn’t be sure why he was even there. Sherlock used to sneak into this particular graveyard to be among some of the greatest forgotten minds, thinkers and composers and philosophers who hadn’t managed to earn a place at Highgate. That was how he felt. Great, but bound to be forgotten. The last time he had been here had been after….

 

No. Don’t. Don’t even think it.

 

Sherlock made his way between the overcrowded headstones and effigies until he came to an old Rowan tree. It was exactly where he remembered and even a hundred years younger, it was impressive in size. Seeing it made Sherlock impossibly sad in a way he hadn't expected. He was already sad ‒ wasn't that enough?

 

It was unbearable. All of it. Sherlock wanted to be home, but the word held a different meaning now. Baker Street would never be the same without John in it, but he couldn't stand to go back and face the man, spend what little time they had left in the same room. 

 

He couldn't breathe. His arms itched. His heart was pounding. Something wet touched the back of his hand and he finally realized that he was crying. God, I just want it to end! Sherlock slid down the trunk of the tree until he came to rest on the frozen ground and pounded his curled fists into the hard dirt. It stung but it was good, so he did it again and felt a vague crack in the vicinity of his right-hand exterior metacarpal. Once more and the sting turned into an outright burn and at least it was something.

 

You don’t need that. You need to escape.

 

No ‒ I don’t want to escape. I want to feel .

 

Feeling ‒ dull.

 

It was anything but dull. It was complete and utter anguish and Sherlock wanted to wallow in it. The alternative was floating, disappearing, and it sounded so good but he knew better now. He wanted to be better now.

 

For what? John? He’s gone. 

 

Fuck off!

 

His head was throbbing because he had been banging it against the trunk of the tree. Reaching back, Sherlock felt a knot growing at the back of his parietal bone, but was more astonished to see blood on his fingertips. Not from his head, it would seem, but from the pads of his fingers. He looked down and saw claw marks in the frozen dirt. Not good . He was losing control.

 

Why had he even come here? To this place where he had felt so lost? It certainly wasn’t helping things, but it was the only place that had come to mind. Back pressed against the cold trunk of the Rowan tree, Sherlock reached up with his right hand, seeking blindly at a hollow he knew was there from years of stashing illicit goods. He and Victor would come here sometimes when the world was too much and they would escape…

 

Something thin and papery touched his sore fingertips and Sherlock furrowed his brow. Was someone else using this same place to hide something from prying eyes? Had this always been a place to disappear and Sherlock and Victor had merely been dots in a long line of refugees? He removed a sheaf of folded paper and stared, dumbfounded, at the message scrawled there: Is there anyone there?

 

Cheap, thin paper, torn from a pocket notebook. Blue, ballpoint pen in the familiar harried block script. Ballpoint pen. Impossible.

 

Sherlock scrambled for a pencil and found one in his inside breast pocket. Under the original message, he wrote, I am Nobody! Who are you? Are you ‒ Nobody ‒ too?

 

He folded the paper and placed it back in the hollow. He was on his knees, barely breathing, his steepled fingers pressed against his mouth. He waited.

 

Then he heard it. The softest rustle like leaves though there was no wind. Sherlock reached forward and pulled out the paper again. Beneath his own scratchy penmanship was another message from Lestrade.

 

Sherlock? Is that you?

 
 

Who else would it be?

Can you prove it?

 
 

Please, Graham, don’t waste my time.

That’ll do.

 
 

How did you manage to get in touch with me?

That geeky kid, Chris Melas, from your case a few months back. He gave me some info about something called ley lines and this spot crossed one. Thought you might re-visit.

 
 

Lucky guess.

Sure, let’s go with that. Are you alright?

 
 

Of course I’m alright. Why wouldn’t I be?

Just checking. The last time you came here, you weren’t doing so well.

 
 

I haven’t relapsed, Lestrade.

Had to ask. Have you figured out how to get back, yet?

 
 

It seems you’ve made more progress on that front than I have.

Wow. That was almost a compliment.

 
 

Don’t get used to it.

I guess you’ve figured out about the solstice?

 
 

Obviously.

Spring Equinox coming up. You going to try coming back?

 
 

Unclear.

Unclear?! What does that mean? 

 
 

Need more data.

Jesus, Sherlock. What are you even doing back there? Talk to me.

 
 

Case.

Christ on a cracker ‒ a case?! That’s no reason! Do you even want to come back?

 

 

That gave Sherlock pause. For reasons he absolutely did not want to examine, he thought that, no, perhaps he didn’t want to go back to his own time. But what choice did he have? If he stayed in the past, he’d have nowhere to go. John was only tolerating him in the flat because there was an expiration date on his current stay. And he was so unbearably good, so kind and so generous. It really was infuriating.  

 

I’ll be in touch if I need anything.

 

He shoved the final note into the hollow and stood upright, grimacing at the ache in his knees from kneeling on the cold, hard earth for so long. Sherlock sighed and pressed his forehead against the tree trunk. What was he going to do? Go to a hotel, that’s what he was going to do. Go to a hotel and collect his thoughts and figure out a way to go home. Figure out who was killing the time-traveling bodies and put a stop to them. Find the connection with Moriarty ‒ how had he managed to go back in time and where was he from in the first place? Figure out…

 

“Sherlock?”

 

He flinched, instantly recognising the voice and instantly not wanting to hear it. “I told you not to follow me.”

 

“Yeah, well, I didn’t listen.” John stepped closer and Sherlock could not find the energy to move away. “Sherlock, will you just… come home?”

 

A pathetically sad laugh escaped Sherlock’s throat. “Home?”

 

“Please, Sherlock… I won’t…” John reached out, but quickly let his arm drop back down by his side. “I won’t see… her anymore. I won’t… I want to help you with the case and ‒ and getting back.” Sherlock risked a glance and immediately regretted it. John looked destroyed. Purple shadows marked his tired eyes and two more lines had appeared on either side of his mouth. He swallowed and stared at John in the moonlit night, surrounded by death and darkness and somehow still a shining beacon.

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, John,” he said, barely more than a whisper. “I think ‒ I think it best if we… take some time apart from‒”

 

“No.” The firmness of John’s voice took Sherlock by surprise. Just an hour or two ago, John had been furious. Now, he was insistent that Sherlock not leave? “I don’t think it would be best for either of us to be apart from one another.”

 

“Oh, John, what good will it do?” Sherlock threw his hands up in frustration.

 

“For starters, I could mend that hand of yours,” John pointed to Sherlock’s right hand, which was held gingerly away from his body and obviously beginning to swell. He extended his own hand, palm up, waiting, and Sherlock reluctantly placed his hand in John’s. “Jesus, Sherlock, what did you do?” John drew his own fingertips over Sherlock’s torn and bloodied ones in a gentle caress.

 

Sherlock swallowed and took a shallow breath, his skin tingling at John’s proximity. “I… hurt my head, as well,” he said lamely. John looked a bit like he wanted to smile with benevolent exhaustion, but he did not.

 

“Come on, then,” he said softly. “Let me fix you up and we’ll talk no more of this, hmm?”

 

God, but that sounded marvelous.