[Fic] Why They Actually Do Get On: Chapter Four - The Yellowed Mask

Title: Why They Actually Do Get On
Chapter Title: The Yellowed Mask
Fandom: Sherlock
Word Count:3,300ish
Summary: Paperwork is never fun
A/N:Apologies again for the massive delay! :( My life went a little stress filled, but I'm trying to get back into writing. And I was rediscovering TV and basically gorging myself on marathons of recent TV dramas. But, hey at least I am now mostly pop culturally literate again. I promised myself I'd get something out by the end of the month, and here we go. ^^;

Chapter 4: The Yellowed Mask

It was too late, by then, to investigate the body itself, but Sherlock decided to check out the crime scene, knowing it was likely useless at this point, but that there might be some small something still left. And so they went.

"Nothing. Everything's completely been cross contaminated at this point," Sherlock said in irritation after less than fifteen minutes. "This isn't going to tell me anything," he grumped, and John just shook his head.

"You couldn't get anything else from the pictures, then?" he asked as they headed back to the main street.


John winced internally at Sherlock's tone. That tone didn't bode well at all for their flat remaining relatively undamaged.

"I wonder where someone gets American mistletoe. I mean, honestly, why bother?" John thought aloud. "Mistletoe is mistletoe. European's just as deadly. You'd have to order that special from somewhere, wouldn't you? And that spider for the first girl, too.  Not something you can just order up off Amazon," John mused, and Sherlock went still.

"Not off Amazon, no," Sherlock said with a sudden grin. "But a specialty import store? Perhaps. Why would someone order mistletoe especially from America in the middle of December just for a mistletoe murder, when there is mistletoe everywhere? Especially for a murder designed to tie into a European god?"

Sherlock really looked like he wanted John to answer that, specifically with the answer Sherlock had already come to, but John's mind was a completely blank as to what it was Sherlock wanted to hear.  "Because he's mental and has money to burn?"

The look Sherlock gave him was withering. Or would have been, were John not more or less immune by that point.

"No," he said. "It's because he's mental and has easy access to it," he said, pulling out his phone and beginning to type into it quickly. "Come on. We've legwork to do," Sherlock said, raising his hand for a taxi. "Someone's let go of an employee, or has a thief in the family so can't."


By the time they got to the third specialty flower import shop, John found himself wondering why exactly it was that London had so many bloody specialty flower import shops. It seemed to be rather a niche market, and the internet was something of a thing, so he would have expected at least one or two or perhaps all of the bloody places for have gone out of business.

Sherlock had apparently decided to amuse himself as he investigated by putting on a different persona for each specialty shop, and this one seemed to be "breathless plant enthusiast."

John suspected he had been cast by everyone around as "long-suffering boyfriend," which tended to somehow be par for the course no matter what he said or did.

"Hello, now, what's this?" Sherlock said, still in character as he examined some green plant thing with leaves that looked more like tentacles. "A spider!"

The clerk let out a faint swear. "Oh, not, not another one that hitched a ride! Border Forces usually catches them, but lately..." she said, shaking her head. "That's how tiger mosquitoes got all over Europe. One bad batch of tyres from Texas and boom! Asian tiger mosquitoes all over the place!" she said in irritation.

"No, I think this is a local, but wow," Sherlock said, sounding impressed, and John had to bite the inside of his cheek. "And oh, my! John, why did you let me dither on in here so long? The appointment's in ten!" Sherlock said, and John just rolled his eyes.

"Like you'd have listened anyway," he said, taking that as the sign Sherlock had everything he needed and was ready to go. "If we leave now, we'll make it."

Sherlock turned an utterly fake smile on the clerk. "Thank you for letting me look. I'll definitely be back later!" he said cheerfully, and gave her a little wave, then headed for the door.

As soon as they were out the door, the facade dropped, and the fake-cheerful was replaced with what looked like almost glee.

"Now this makes far more sense," Sherlock said, as he raised his hand for a cab. “Border Forces will have much more access to both animals and plants than an import store."

"Sherlock. We are not breaking into a government agency. Not again!" John yelled.  "Besides, Mycroft confiscated and cut up that ID card, remember? Like he was cutting up a credit card. He even took the pieces with him. Along with all the other IDs you'd nicked."

Sherlock made a face. "I've others," he said. "...now. Oh, shut up. If neither he nor Lestrade can defend themselves against a little pickpocketing..."

John groaned just as a cab pulled over. "I don't want to know, I do NOT want to know. Do not make me an accessory after the fact, Sherlock! And regardless, no. Just ask Mycroft for access. Or at least tell Lestrade!" he said as they got in.





John was not a stupid man - and he knew Sherlock. So the next day when he was at work, he pulled out his phone and made a phone call, for all it pained him to do so.

"A pleasure to hear from you, John."

He bit back the "whatever" that he really wanted to say.  "I need a favor, Mycroft."

"Does my little brother know you're asking me for help?"

"Of course not," John said, rolling his eyes.

"Stop by my club after you have finished your shift. Or before, if you can leave early. You know how my brother does so love to time things."

"Yeah, fine, I will. Good-bye," he said, trying not to be annoyed by the smugness in Mycroft's voice. Sherlock would sulk like a toddler when this came out, but John had no urge right then to get them on some terrorist watch list or whatever again because Sherlock felt the need to be clever

Besides, he had been in the military. He knew that sometimes calling in favors was the quickest and easiest route, and he was pretty sure Mycroft was never expecting him to call in this one--or even to recognize it was owed.  Or,  he thought, realize that this was not a one-time-only calling of this one in; Mycroft had cocked it up enough with this one that John figured Mycroft owed them far bigger than this one favor of keeping.


"I'll just save us all time and assume you know about the case we're working on for the Yard," John said after he sat down in the ridiculously comfortable overstuffed chair in one of the few rooms were talking was allowed in Mycroft's antisocial little club.

"Now John," Mycroft said, his voice faintly chiding. "Despite what my brother may tell you, I do not spend my days spying on his every move."

"No, you just try to hire people to do it for you,"John said, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. 

Mycroft let out a slightly annoyed sigh. "While I worry about and yes, prefer to keep a close eye on him, especially given some of his past...recreational choices, surely you have noticed that I do not interfere in anything he does unless there is a compelling reason. Such as breaches of national security," he said, giving John a very pointed look.

Well, John thought, now that's an easy intro.

"Perfect. Then you'll be willing to help me now before your brother creates one. Again."

Mycroft got a slightly pained look on his face, one John was pretty sure he only got when Sherlock was involved.

"There's a chance the serial killer we're after worked at Border Forces or somehow had access there.  We need access to records to see if we can find records of the imported spider and mistletoe the killer used as his calling cards."

"Oh, how very exciting," Mycroft said with a small smile, and John reckoned Mycroft found it anything but - that was his "I'm humouring  you" smile. Then it morphed into something else.   "I can, certainly, get you access to the paperwork you need. However, you would, of course, owe me a small favor in return if I were to. You are aware of this, of course. And that I'll not ask for anything...excessive, later on down the road. Maybe a bit of legwork from you both, should the need arise."

That little smile Mycroft had on his face was one that John found he really rather hated.  Well, then, time to make that go away, he thought.

"One name for you. Irene Adler," John said flatly, and was overjoyed to see that smile slide right off Mycroft's face with an almost audible thud. "You owe him more than a favor for that mess," he said. "And me for having to deal with the train wreck she made him."

Mycroft was making a face now as if someone had shoved a lemon in his mouth, and John knew he'd won. Winning against a Holmes, either of them, didn't happen very often, and he cherished the few and far between moments when it did. Irene Adler had become a sore spot for both Holmes brothers, and while John would have rather shoved bamboo shoots up his own fingernails than use her against Sherlock, he had no compunction at all against using the fuck-up she represented against Mycroft.

"Besides, if you don't get us in or the information, Sherlock will get it himself," John said pointedly, and Mycroft let out a sigh Sherlock would have been proud of at that.

"I've already had the second card he...acquisitioned...cancelled."

"So, great, you've given him challenge. He'll love that."

"...I will have copies of missing and destroyed items sent to you by morning, with items of suspect flagged. Since just prior to last Christmas will be sufficient, correct?"

So much for him not keeping tabs on everything Sherlock does, John thought, but just gave Mycroft a grin and said "Ta," and Mycroft made a face so similar to one of Sherlock's when he got thwarted that it was all John could do not to laugh.


He no longer felt like laughing at all when Mycroft made good. Instead, John just stared wide-eyed at the piles of papers Mycroft's people were bringing into the flat.

"This is a joke, right?" he said.  "You're not telling me this many things went missing from what the Border Forces confiscated or were impounded in a six-month time frame? What am I saying, of course it was this many; it's the government," he said, dropping into his chair and putting his face in his hands; sudden visions of all the sleep he wouldn't be getting any time soon flashing in his mind.

"You went to my brother," Sherlock said, looking torn between annoyed and wanting to dive into the boxes.

"No more breaches of national security, Sherlock. I do not want to be put on any watch lists. Again. No," he said, remembering right after Baskerville. 

Sherlock made a face.  “We weren’t on it long.”

“That’s not the point, Sherlock.”

“You needn't have involved Mycroft,” Sherlock said, still looking needled. “Don’t do it again."

John barely resisted the urge to throw his hands in the air. “Fine, fine, let’s just look through the files."

“Don’t contact him again, John,” Sherlock said, his voice sharper. “He doesn’t give any help without a price.”

“You don’t think you’re being a bit paranoid?”

“No,” Sherlock said, his voice cold. “Mycroft traffics in information and quid quo pros and manipulation. No favors from him are for free, John. Why do you think I hate taking on his ‘cases’?”

John sighed. “All right, all right. I won’t ask his help again. But since we’ve got all this now, let’s just see what we can find. And I thought me and Harry didn’t get on,” he finished under his breath.

“Well? Start looking,” Sherlock said, dropping down to sit in front of one box.

“For what, exactly?”

Sherlock didn’t answer, and John fought the urge to grind his teeth.

“Right, right, sure I’ll know it when I see it,” he said with a sigh, and picked up a file.

It felt like hours passed, and John was pretty sure his eyeballs were about to fall out of his head. He’d been through about a month’s worth of files, not altogether sure what exactly he was looking for, and it was worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack. He’d tried to stick with looking for some mention of mistletoe or spiders, but god only knew what other trickstery things he ought to be keeping an eye out for.

He sort of found himself wishing Donovan were there, because she at least would have had more of a clue what to be looking for.

Sherlock suddenly went so still he was almost vibrating from it. "Shipment destroyed after signs of...oh, oh, this is bloody fabulous!" Sherlock said, his whole face lighting up. "Found the spider," he said with a grin. His eyes were practically gleaming. "He's not looking for items to match his tricksters, he's taking the items as a sign of what trickster! He found African spiders, so Anansi

He looked up, face completely gleeful. "Look for mistletoe, if you haven't been. The important thing now is to find that file! The name is sure to be there! Separate the files as you go through them by names of the agents even as you discard them. Our man is in these files! Well, don’t just sit there, look!” Sherlock snapped, and John reached for a file.


“Sherlock, we’re taking a break,” John said three hours later. 

Sherlock started to open his mouth, but John cut him off. “No. A break. It does not have to be a long break, but we are taking a break. If nothing else, for hydration,” he said dryly. He’d been getting up regularly for something to drink, but Sherlock had ignored the glass of water then cup of tea John had put by him in the vain hopes the man would drink.  “Fifteen minutes for something to drink and at least some toast,” he said, pulling himself up from where he’d been sitting on the floor.

“I’m don’t need to--“

“Yes, you do,” John said flatly. “You may have missed it, but your stomach growled. I don’t press you during a case except for when your transport makes it clear it needs a break, and it just did. Fifteen minutes,” he said, and crossed his arms. “Give your brain some reboot time."

Sherlock made a face. “Your analogies are deplorable.”

John ignored him. “Toast, sandwich, or delivery?” he asked instead. Sherlock tended to do better with choices when he was being stubborn. Drop a piece of toast in front of him when he was in a mood and it would be ignored; force him to make a choice and stand them implacable until he did, and he’d eat under protest. 

“Sandwich. And the fifteen minutes starts now,” Sherlock said grumpily, but put the file he was looking at down and leaned against the couch and closed his eyes.

“Fine,” John said, and headed to the kitchen. He could get a sandwich and something to drink done in less time than that, and he knew they had ham and cheese in the fridge. And eggs, he remembered. That would do. Sherlock would eat maybe half a sandwich, so John figured he’d best load it with calories. Scrambled egg, ham, and cheese would do nicely.

It took ten minutes to get it ready, but he put it the sandwich down in front of Sherlock with five minutes to go, and said “Eat” with a smile that was all teeth.

Sherlock made another face, but ate.


The moment the fifteen minutes were up, Sherlock dropped what was left of the sandwich back on his plate and picked up more files. John ignored him and kept on eating his very late lunch. But, in a sop to the annoyed look Sherlock gave him, John picked up the nearest file in his pile of unsorted ones, and opened it. And stopped short. 

“Sherlock. Sherlock!”

Sherlock looked up. “What? I already stopped and ate s--you found something,” he said, perking up.

“I think I might have just found the mistletoe.”

Sherlock pulled the file out of his hands and his eyes started flicking over it quickly. “Yes, might have done,” he drawled, trying to keep a grin down.

John gave into his immature side and broke off a piece of crust from his sandwich and flicked it at Sherlock’s head.

Sherlock managed to block it with a lazy wave of his hand as his grin grew, and reached for a file behind his head on the couch.  He smoothly opened it as he pulled it to him, and he held both files in front of him.

“And there we are,” he said. “Gotcha.”

“You’ve got the name?"

Sherlock’s happy grin almost split his face as he held the files out to John.

John looked over both, and paused. “Wait. There are two names on here that are the same, Sherlock," John said, frowning. "John Hebron and Monroe Jackson."

"And one of them is our killer, John. We need to find if there's been anything recent that would have caught his eye," Sherlock said. "Every file with their names, we have to check."

"Fabulous," John said, meaning the exact opposite. "I can keep working for a few more hours, but I do have work tomorrow, Sherlock."

Sherlock scoffed. "What's work compared to catching a serial killer?"

"It's what pays the bills. You know, the boring stuff that lets us swan off and do the fun, non-paying jobs from time to time."  John suddenly grinned. "Besides. Sally knows a lot more about tricksters than me. I'm sure she'd be much more valuable to you tomorrow when I'm out earning food money."

Sherlock got a look on his face like he had swallowed lemons, and John savored it as he reached for another file.


John was about ten minutes from calling it quits for the night when Sherlock went very, very still.


Sherlock ignored him and instead grabbed his phone.  


Sherlock continued ignoring him, but his eyes went wide as he read whatever he’d pulled up on his mobile.  “Kitsune….trickster fox spirits. John,” Sherlock said, finally looking up. “He’s found another trickster symbol. A kitsune mask,” he said, and held up a picture of an old mask with pointed ears and a faint muzzle. It had obviously once been white with red markings, but the red had faded and the white changed to a faint yellowed eggshell.  “Stolen antiquities, from three days ago. Inside the shipment was a Noh mask. Of a kitsune fox spirit. A trickster. But that mask isn’t in this inventory list yesterday," he said, pulling out another file and waving a paper in John's face.

John felt his own eyes going wide. “So that means…”

“That means he’s one the hunt again,” Sherlock said. “We have to find him, and soon."

John picked up his phone and texted Lestrade as Sherlock lunged for his laptop.