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Caught Early

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"I do not appreciate the way you manage my business, brother," Sherlock grumbled as they waited for the elevator to bring them to the right floor.

"I know you don't. However this is the condition - if you can't find a flatmate that would stand your presence for more than three weeks - and the minimum I gave you was three months - you come and work for me. As the last three attempts failed in a spectacular manner, here we are. You will show up every day, unless you call me beforehand and the DI confirms you are on a case. You will show up between nine and ten in the morning and stay full eight hours on the premises, available for your coworkers to reach you. You will not slink away for a cigarette and claim you were here all that time - I will know. You will cooperate with the men I had assigned to the team."

He groaned internally.

As usual, Mycroft heard that, too.

"And you will behave. These are military men, decorated officers, experienced in combat and very highly skilled. They will not tolerate your antics and you will find them... not that responsive to your normal intimidation techniques."

"What do they need me for? Why can't you work with two uniformed... thickheads."

Because if Mycroft even suspects...

"I am needed on a slightly higher level of the problem. These two have some unique observations to provide and they need your analytical skills to put these elements together. Who knows, there may even be a field trip for you in that, too."

The door pinged and opened. Long corridor led to offices he knew - meeting and conference rooms, mostly - and one big auditorium. The last door was where Mycroft led him, so he steeled himself and prepared against the onslaught of signals... find the table covered by paper, but only two men standing over it.

One on the left of the table was at least three inches taller than Sherlock, with stern face and wide shoulders tightly covered by his uniform shirt, sleeves rolled over his elbows, exposing rather impressive muscles of his forearms.

The one on the right was his complete antithesis - as much as he could be and still be a soldier - a head shorter, with round face, sharp nose and huge blue eyes, and while he also was rather pleasantly muscled, where the taller man's hands looked like small shovels, the shorter one had much more delicate fingers and... ah, a tattoo. Interesting.

The two men looked at him and Mycroft and he felt their gaze on him. Of course, they already knew his brother, so he, as the new element, was more interesting. However the way they looked...

He blinked.

The two soldiers glanced at each other.

Shorter one raised an eyebrow. He smirked.

The taller one minutely rolled his eyes.

The shorter one opened his left hand slightly.

The taller one pursed his lips and nodded, just barely.

"Ah, Mr Holmes," said the taller soldier - major, Sherlock could now see his shoulders properly.

"Major Sholto, Captain Watson," Mycroft introduced them with a nod. "This is my brother, Sherlock. He is one of our analysts and he will be helping you with the... investigation."

He frowned as the two again exchanged glances.

"I hope he will be able to move this forward," Sholto tapped the box. "We are stumped."

"Just tell me what you know and what you need from me," he sighed. "I can't say I have any idea why I'm here."

"Someone is trying to kill us," major answered plainly.

Sherlock looked from one to another.

"I thought you were in an active combat zone."

"We were, correct."

"Well, then, isn't it the point of war that one side wants to kill the other?"

The shorter soldier snorted and smothered a giggle.

"In a manner of speaking," Sholto barely glanced at Watson. "However it does seem a bit of a coincidence when during the same night someone tries to kill me with John's service Sig and to kill John with... well, not to beat about the bush, my own private Browning."

"And the army...?"

Watson rolled his eyes so expressively Sherlock was afraid he was going to suddenly sprain an eye muscle.

"No trace of anything out of ordinary, case closed, we got additional weeks off at home. For nerves. Seriously."

"Well, they do tend to take it seriously when a man reports he had seen a ghost," Watson's voice was nice, rather high for a man, but not squeaky. "Just not seriously enough to investigate and make us feel safer."

"As safe as an armed man in a zone of war," Sholto provided with a smirk. "But you can imagine that when the CO and the second in command suddenly get home leave for health reasons, the rest of the company isn't very happy either. They feel threatened and they are not sure whether anyone else will be endangered now, or was it only limited to us..."

"Or if maybe there is a chance we two are just loonies and they'd be better off with a new command," Watson finished sourly. "Anyway, that's the summary, here we have the documents, details, exact timings, photos of where the weapons got discarded, what was moved, what was left alone, I hope you can work something out."

"Medical corps?" Sherlock turned to Watson, who frowned.

"How...? Ah," his glance dropped to the partial tattoo visible from under his sleeve.

"In arduis fidelis. A noble calling, doctor... trauma surgeon then, I suppose..." he stopped and backtracked. "'John's service Sig'? You have doctors armed with Sig Sau... ah..." he turned to the shorter man with a small smile. "I see..."

And he saw, indeed. Especially when the smiling, blue-eyed Watson straightened again and turned fully towards him, maintaining that same wide stance and suddenly all of his musculature was being nicely exposed by the way his uniform shirt stretched on the well-defined chest and strong shoulders, the way the camo-print trousers encased his thighs and calves and...

Sherlock managed to tear his eyes away from the enticing little package the doctor-soldier presented and turn to the evidence spread in front of him.

"I'd like..." he cleared his throat. "To-to hear your stories first, tell me what happened. Any detail is important."

The way Watson was smiling as they sat down to discuss their recollection of the events was positively indecent.