DRAFT MATERIAL: NOT FOR PUBLICATION
ARTICLE TITLE: A Study In Scarlet
AUTHOR: Jane Watson, M.D.
- A short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.
- A Fabrication; A lie.
In retrospect, my reaction to the unwelcome flattery of a colleague was a little more unorthodox than what other women in my very same situation would have done. Perhaps, as I had no drive to engage in the frivolous of human interaction at the time, he was simply more than I could bear. Or, being a recent returnee from the War in Afghanistan had made me cynical to the point of desiring solitude. Whatever the reason, I found myself in the midst of a fable and there was nothing to do, except continue it.
Dr. Jane Watson missed the war
However, clarification is needed for she most certainly didn’t like war. No, she abhorred it, all those lives lost and all those tears shed - but she did miss the excitement. She missed never knowing what the day would bring, the mystery and challenge of the task at hand. That was what the war had demanded of her, a never-ending list of improbabilities that she was only too eager to tackle.
In comparison, civilian life was mundane and unbearable.
She clenched the metal cane at her side, her right leg seeming to echo the tumultuous thoughts rummaging around in her brain. She knew that it was at least partly psychosomatic. While her leg had indeed been bruised during the original trauma, she’d actually been shot in the left shoulder. But try as she might, the pain wouldn’t stop, and neither would the tremor in her hand that threatened to spill her coffee all over her boring attire.
No, she was definitely not in the mood to be chatted up by one of her previous peers. Jane spared the man a glance, unsure of how exactly to rectify the situation. There was already so much damage done – namely allowing him to steer her into the bench beside him and then allowing him to start this endless ramble of flattery. She wasn’t interested in a relationship. Any that she’d had after the war had ended badly, and she had no desires to repeat those experiences.
“Would you like—”
“Look Mike,” she cut him off, doing her best to remain civil. “You’re a great guy and all, but I’m really not interested.”
“Oh c’mon,” he flustered. “Don’t be like that.”
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Did he think that just because they knew each other from uni that she somehow owed it to him to accept his offer? For a moment, she didn’t know what to say, and then it was slipping past her lips before she could stop it. “I just bat for the other team, I mean.”
Probably not the best excuse she could have come up with. But it worked, sort of.
“But I thought—” he said, furrowing his brow in confusion.
Play the lie.” She relaxed, allowing a soft laugh escape her. “Garrison?” she finished for him. She took a breath, if nothing else but to buy her mind time to come up with an explanation that he’d believe. “It was nice, for a while, but then I was more drawn to women,” she continued with a casual shrug. “It didn’t happen instantly, of course. There was some experimentation but…” she trailed off pointedly.
He picked up on it and nodded, his eyes wide. “I see,” he said swallowing and he looked jerkily away for a moment. She let him gather his thoughts, a smile quirking about her lip as she saw the lie accepted. It was gone the instant he turned back to her.
“Well, it’s not really surprising what with Harry and all. And she experimented too.” He paused. “Does she know?” he asked, dropping his tone.
“No.” She paused. “And don’t tell her, either. I don’t think that’d be very good for… well, either of us,” she said delicately. God, if Harriet found out it would be a disaster. Mike seemed to agree for he was nodding again.
“So, do you live around here?”
Jane stared at him. “I can’t afford London on an Army pension,” she scoffed. Nothing descent anyway.
“And you couldn’t bear living anywhere else.”
She smiled. “Something like that.”
“Maybe you should get a flat-share or something.”
“I tried,” she said, her expression darkening. Apparently ex-military scared a lot of people away, and the nightmare filled nights did little to persuade them otherwise. “After all, who’d want me for a flatmate?”
He laughed, looking thoughtful. “You know, you’re the second person to say that to me today.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Who was the first?”
“He’s actually at the morgue, right now.”
“He’s a bit peculiar, but decent enough I think.” Mike looked far too excited. He got to his feet as he spoke. “Come along, I’ll introduce you.”
Jane however remained seated. “But—” she started to say, but Mike interrupted her.
“Oh don’t worry. I’m sure he won’t care at all about your orientation. I’m not entirely sure what’s up with him, as a matter of fact. Never seen him with another woman – casually, I mean but one never knows.” Mike was now helping her to her feet, almost dragging her behind him.
Jane had to bite her tongue. Well, if this small fable got her a place in London for a decent price she could hardly protest. It was keeping it up that worried her. She sure wasn’t intent on an actual relationship now, but what happened when she had an itch that begged to be scratched? Even so, women and men didn’t just casually live together—did they? Maybe she’d been abroad too long, after all gay and lesbian ideals certainly seemed to have become more accepted. With a sigh, she relented and allowed Mike to steer her toward a cab.
“So, this is where he works?” Jane asked as they walked through the hallway. Every right step was a painful one, but none of it showed on her face. Nothing betrayed the swirl of chaotic thought within, a furious debate as to whether or not she should correct her lie that instant, or be thankful that it was spouting hidden fruits. She would have to be careful – she knew that. She would have to give herself entirely over to the part, and on that thought she glanced down at her attire.
So far so good. She’d dressed in rather plain clothes. Simple, but could be easily read as almost tomboy in nature. But the list of tasks was steadily growing. She would have to look attracted to women and see men as potential rivals. She felt a flutter of panic somewhere deep inside and took a breath, calming herself.
Treat it as a game, nothing more. She’d faced so many more daunting and horrible things. This would be a good way to make sure she was still in the game, still sharp.
“He doesn’t work here,” Mike said, interrupting her frenzied thoughts. “He just utilizes the lab on occasion. And examined the bodies. Not entirely sure what he does.” He smiled. “Molly will be very pleased that you won’t be competition.”
“She works down in the morgue.” He gave a knowing wink. “She’s far too easy to read, poor girl.”
Play the game. “Is she pretty?” Jane asked, letting a smile tug at her lips.
Mike laughed. “I’d say so. In an innocent way, though. Maybe you’ll help her see that he’s a lost cause.”
It had not escaped her notice how he carefully avoided the man’s name. Her eyes narrowed a fraction before assuming their natural blank position. Mike was acting as though he was about to show her something that fascinated him, like a rare strain of bacteria he’d managed to cultivate. She was about to ask what was the name of the gentleman she was about to meet, when Mike stopped abruptly. He pushed open a door on her left. At his nod, she entered first and was immediately greeted with a familiar sight.
“Well, it’s a bit different from day,” she remarked softly, and she came to a pause near the end of a set of tables all holding scientific instruments. In her initial sweep she’d found only one person. He was sitting near the back, absorbed in his microscope. Now, she took the time to critically observe him – while his gaze was otherwise occupied. Dark hair with a hint of curl, dark clothes though not black. Even sitting she could see a regal posture, one of confidence but also bordering on arrogance.
Without looking up he asked, “Mike, can I borrow your phone?” he had a deep silky voice. And then he looked up, allowing her to catch a glimpse of his features. Somehow, she knew immediately that this man would require every ounce of her ability in order to fool. She regarded him with calculation, labeling him as neither handsome nor ugly. Distance would be her ally.
“There’s no signal on mine,” the man continued.
“What’s wrong with the landline?”
“Oh, I prefer to text.”
Jane caught a half-hazard glance in her direction, like he was only vaguely interested in her. But in that single moment, she knew he was. He was reading her. Judging her just as she attempted to do the same. His cold blue eyes sparked with intelligence and she found her curiosity growing.
“Sorry,” Mike said and she glanced toward him, narrowing her eyes. “I left it in my coat.”
She wasn’t entirely sure she believed him, but no matter. After a brief pause of silence, she rummaged in her coat pocket. It was just a clumsy hand-me down, after all. She hardly cared who used it. “Here,” she said holding it out. “Use mine.”
The man glanced at her again, this time more obvious observation in his light gaze. “Ah, thank you,” he said getting up from his chair and taking it from her.
“This is an old friend of mine. Jane Watson.”
The man didn’t even nod in acknowledgement. Instead he shot, “Afghanistan, or Iraq?”
Jane blinked. “Sorry?” she asked by way of covering up her startled expression.
“Which was it, Afghanistan or Iraq?” He was texting something into her phone now, his long pale fingers moving quickly.
So he knew then. How did he know? She wasn’t wearing a military uniform, nor any pins or distinguishing marks. She narrowed her eyes very minutely, surveying him with all the more interest.
“Afghanistan,” she replied in an even tone. “Sorry, how did you know?” She heard the door open behind her and he turned toward it immediately. He set her phone back onto the table while greeting someone behind her. Jane turned, seeing a young woman with dirty blonde hair and a rather shy smile.
“Ah, Molly, coffee,” the man said, taking a mug from her. “Thank you.” Then he paused, his eyes narrowing. “What happened to the lipstick?”
Jane looked the girl up and down. She wasn’t a ten for sure, but she had her qualities. Molly gave a small shrug, flushing as the man met her gaze. Mike had been right; the girl was far too easy to read. She worked her smile away.
“It wasn’t working for me,” Molly answered, her voice small but sweet.
“Really?” the man turned, walking back to his station. “I thought it was a big improvement, mouth’s too small now.”
If Jane weren’t working so hard to keep every single muscle of her face under careful control, she would’ve gaped at him. She couldn’t stop the widening of her eyes though, and shot him a glare. That was just unbelievably rude! Molly seemed shell-shocked. She uttered a small, “Okay,” before turning to leave.
“Molly,” Jane called after her, causing her to pause. “Don’t listen to him,” she said with a smile. “You look beautiful without it.”
Molly blinked before nodding, casting a glance in the man’s direction. “Thanks,” she mumbled and she quickly exited the room.
“How do you feel about the violin?”
Jane turned. “What?”
“I play the violin when I’m thinking, sometimes I don’t talk for days on and would that bother you? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.”
Jane paused for a moment, glancing at Mike before returning her gaze back to him. She had been with Mike the entire way, and he hadn’t notified this stranger of her coming—and yet, he behaved as if he had completely expected her arrival.
She opened her mouth, but immediately closed it afterward. Maybe it was better if he didn’t know that she’d worked it out. He regarded everyone else as though they were somehow less than him. He could—would underestimate the abilities of someone who didn’t understand. It would put her lie in peril if he knew she possessed an ounce of competency.
So she lied.
“Who said anything about flatmates?” The confused tone of a person who had failed to figure out how he had known.
And he gave a small smile, standing and donning on his coat. “I did. Told Mike this morning that I must be a hard man to find a flatmate for.” He said it all so casually, as if she should’ve known but knew that she could’ve never realized it. He put on a navy blue scarf. “Now here he is, just after lunch with an old friend, clearly just home from military service in Afghanistan. Wasn’t a difficult leap.”
Jane stiffened slightly, somewhat offended by the obvious insult to her intelligence. But she pretended that it was for a different reason. “How did you know about Afghanistan?” she asked but he completely ignored her.
“I’ve got my eye on a nice little place in central London. Together we ought to be able to afford it. We meet there tomorrow evening at seven o’clock.” He smiled at her, though it didn’t seem to quite reach his eyes. “Sorry, gotta dash. I think I left my riding crop in the mortuary.” He was almost to the door when Jane spoke, and this time she wanted answers.
“Is that it?”
Even if he had deduced several things from the short five minutes they’d interacted, most people wouldn’t just stride into this. And, she wanted to know exactly how much he had figured out.
The man paused, turning back to her. “Is that what?”
“We don’t know a thing about each other,” she countered. “I don’t know where we’re meeting, I don’t even know your name.”
That was what she wanted the most. Who was this man? At the very least, she could rest easy knowing that she’d never betray a single ounce of attraction toward him. He was dreadful, in behavior and manners. And so proud! A fact only proved when he gave the smallest of smirks and then started off, without drawing breath.
“I know you’re an army doctor and you’ve been invalided home from Afghanistan. I know you’ve got a brother who’s worried about you but you won’t go to him for help because you don’t approve of him, possibly because he’s an alcoholic, more likely because he recently walked out on his wife. And I know that your therapist thinks your limp’s psychosomatic—quite correctly, I’m afraid. That’s enough to be going on with, don’t you think?”
Surprise. Master of deduction indeed! How he had managed to figure all of that out in the space of a few minutes—even if some of the facts were slightly twisted—it was really amazing. He seemed to like the look of surprise on her face. She saw it briefly, in his eyes before he was striding out of the room again.
“The name is Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221B Baker Street.” He nodded, offering a wink. “Afternoon.”
And he was gone.
Jane Watson stood there, stunned for a moment before glancing at Mike who was looking smug. “Yeah. He’s always like that.” His grin broadened.
She jerked her head back to the closed door, where the mysterious Sherlock Holmes had just disappeared through. Holmes. Holmes. Now why did that name sound familiar to her? This man was horribly clever and worse, he knew it. But he was so interesting that she knew she would meet him at 221B Baker Street. It was a glimmer of excitement and intrigue that she knew she wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Even if it was all built on one small fable.
DRAFT MATERIAL: NOT FOR PUBLICATION
ARTICLE TITLE: A Study In Scarlet; Cont.
AUTHOR: Jane Watson, M.D.
Perhaps, I should’ve corrected this mess the instant I created it. If I had been a stronger woman or if I had realized that this pathetic excuse was no way to bat off a man’s affections, I might have. Even now, I cringe as I recall the words that so thoughtlessly fell from my mouth. But, at the same time I find it difficult to regret the chain of events that followed.
Meeting Sherlock Holmes, being the most important.
With a strangled yell, Jane sat bolt up right in bed. She gulped for air, gasping and wheezing, trembling hands rising to her throat in order to pry phantom fingers away. Face glazed with sweat, the wild look in her navy eyes was not yet gone as the dream fought to remain in control for a few seconds longer. Her shoulders heaved, tremors wracking her frame, gunfire and the sigh of death still screaming into her ears. Jane shuddered, but no tears fell. After a few minutes of steady breathing, the woman calmed and she put her face in her hands. She could still see the images, stark and vivid behind her eyelids.
Someone shriveling as she assaulted their mentality.
No. Jane threw off the covers and got up. She wouldn’t let those thoughts occupy her, not unless she had no other choice. No, instead she’d let the prospect of tonight’s meeting fill her mind.
And so it was that Jane Watson arrived several minutes early to 221B Baker Street. The place was a prime spot in town, close to everything and not meager in size. She assumed it would be highly expensive, even between two tenants. She frowned, but decided to wait for the offer to be said. Besides, she hadn’t even seen inside yet.
She didn’t have to wait long. The man, Sherlock Holmes, pulled out of a cab a few minutes later looking – if possible – even more smug than their first meeting. She resisted the urge to glare at him, and instead tightened her grip on her cane. “Hello Holmes,” she greeted.
He waved the name away with his hand. “Just Sherlock will do.” He strode forward, rapping on the door.
“It’s a very prime spot.”
“Indeed. I got a discount from the landlady. Her husband was put on death row a few years back and I was able to help out.”
Jane blinked. “You stopped her husband from being executed?”
“Oh no,” and here he smiled. “I ensured it.”
Before she could reply to that statement – the door opened to reveal an older woman with kindly features. “Oh, come on in Sherlock,” she said with a hearty smile, which Sherlock returned.
“This is Dr. Jane Watson,” Sherlock introduced, and he entered first. Jane shook the lady’s hand.
“Pleasure,” she said.”
“Oh, nice to meet you. I’m Mrs. Hudson, the landlady.” She gave another kind smile and shut the door. Sherlock lead the way through the main entry point and up a flight of stairs. Jane glanced at Mrs. Hudson before following him up and entering what appeared to be the living room.
Jane took one sweep of the room, opinion quickly formulating. It was cluttered, but had a certain homey appeal. Someone was either moving out or moving in, judging from the boxes and haphazardly thrown items in every direction. But, she wasn’t supposed to be observant. Immediately, she started scanning the room again – slowly. She walked the length and peered into the open kitchen, whose table was completely buried beneath scientific equipment.
Moving in then.
“This could be quite nice,” she said simply, giving it another look over.
“Yes, my thoughts exactly.” Sherlock was unfastening his coat and slinging it over the armchair.
“So, this all yours?”
He paused and glanced at her, as though surprised she had figured it out. “Yes. I could, ah, clean it up a little,” he said quickly grabbing a few papers off the buried table.
“Right.” She was itching to tell him that this would probably take more than a little, but resisted. Strangely enough, the clutter was calming. It was interesting. There was so much to look at and examine. She had a feeling that he thrived in chaos. On the mantle piece was a skull – a real one at that.
She pointed it out. “That’s a skull.” How did Sherlock do when someone stated the obvious?
“It’s a friend.” He paused. “Well I say friend…”
“Is his name Yorick?” she deadpanned, perfectly serious. From the blank expression on his face she realized several things. One, he was not familiar with classical literature and therefore did not understand the Hamlet reference. Meaning, that he was likely insane or else a man with no actual friends. She was going to assume the latter. Two, whatever education he had received had either been very poor, or he simply had not paid any attention to the subjects that meant little to hm. And three, he was completely and utterly uninterested in pop culture.
“No,” Sherlock said, giving her a peculiar look before turning and striding toward the window.
“So, what do you think Dr. Watson?” Mrs. Hudson asked. “There’s another bedroom upstairs, if you’ll be needing two bedrooms.”
Jane turned to her. “Ah, yes. We will.” She cocked her head to the side, as if to suggest that this was obvious.
“Oh, I’m not one to judge,” she said with a laugh. “Most start living together before marriage nowadays.”
“But we’re not—”
“It’s a mutual living arrangement, Mrs. Hudson,” Sherlock interrupted. “Void of relationship.”
Mrs. Hudson chuckled. “Whatever you kids want to call it.” Jane opened her mouth, wanting to say something, before changing her mind. No, this lady could believe whatever she wanted to. Jane had never let the opinions of others bother her. Perhaps that was why she didn’t care much for fashion.
“What about those suicides, Sherlock?” Mrs. Hudson asked, seeming to sense a need for a change in topic. “Thought that’d be right up your alley. There’s been three already.”
“Sorry?” Jane turned, looking at him. He was peering through the window curtains.
“There’s been a fourth, only there’s something different this time.”
If Jane were to guess, he wasn’t really talking to her at all but merely thinking aloud. Footsteps told her that someone was scaling the staircase and she turned. The man’s brown hair was laced with grey, though he appeared only a few years older than Sherlock and herself. His face was ordinary, easily forgotten, but not unpleasant to look at. The man didn’t even need to speak.
“Where?” Sherlock asked.
“Brixton, Lauriston Gardens.”
Jane remained silent, watching the two men interact. From what she could see, the latter was familiar enough with Holmes to find it completely normal that Sherlock knew exactly what he was talking about. It was interesting. The man had the posture of a law official, rigid if tired – as though he spent too many nights doing paperwork. That, and from what she gathered about their conversation, he was asking Sherlock to accompany him to a crime scene.
It was practically shouting at her. Sherlock Holmes was a detective. And it seemed, he was good enough that the police came to him regularly for help.
“I’ll be right behind,” Sherlock said and the man nodded before striding away. There was perhaps a few seconds of silence before Sherlock leapt into the air. The sudden shift of behavior startled Jane to the point of jumping, which she hoped he hadn’t noticed.
“Brilliant!” he said, much louder than necessary though not quite a shout. “Four serial suicides and now a note. Oh, it’s Christmas!” He was positively gleeful! Jane could only stare as he whipped around, grabbing his coat and scarf. “Mrs. Hudson, I’ll be late. Might need some food.”
“I’m not your housekeeper,” the lady replied, though she seemed too amused to be truly annoyed.
“Something cold will do,” Sherlock continued. “Jane, have a cup a tea, make yourself at home. Don’t wait up!”
And the door shut after him.
Jane stood, frozen for a moment before sighing and flopping down into one of the couch chairs. The pain in her leg had vanished the entire time that Sherlock had talked – something that she hadn’t noticed until his exit and the pain’s return. It wasn’t a solution she liked. Yes, the flat was nice but Sherlock was someone that—well, she knew it would be only a matter of time before he figured her out.
Or he already knew and didn’t care. Somehow, she doubted that though. Not because she doubted his abilities – she was already very impressed – but because he didn’t appear to be interested by relationships in the slightest. He would therefore pay less attention than the average man when a woman tried to make a move.
As if she would ever make a move on him.
“Look at him, dashing about,” Mrs. Hudson was saying. “My husband was just the same.”
Jane grunted. Apparently nothing would persuade the landlady otherwise. Jane grabbed the newspaper sitting on the coffee table and flipped to a random page.
“I’ll make you that cuppa, you rest your leg.”
“DON’T!” Jane shot, the anger flaring unexpectedly within her. She could get her own damn cuppa if she wanted to. Her leg wasn’t even injured. Mrs. Hudson stumbled and she immediately regretted her outburst. “Sorry, I am so sorry. Just sometimes this—” she hit her leg with her cane—yeah, as if that would fix it.
“It’s okay dearie, I’ve got a hip.”
“Tea would be lovely,” Jane said turning her attention to the paper. Whatever the landlady said next, she missed. She’d opened to the page regarding the very suicides Sherlock had talked about. There was a picture of the man that had come to talk to Sherlock, the name below reading Detective-Inspector Lestrade.
“You’re a doctor.”
Jane looked up. There, standing casually in the doorway was Sherlock, looking for all the world as if he’d never left. Which might be true. Had he seen everything?
“In fact you’re an Army doctor.”
It seemed that Sherlock didn’t mind it when someone stated the obvious. He liked to do it himself. Jane got stiffly to her feet, leaning on her cane. But it wasn’t obvious, was it? She wasn’t a medical doctor. “Yes,” she said slowly.
“Anderson won’t work with me.”
“Very good,” she replied, keeping her face perfectly impassive.
“Seen a lot of injuries then? Violent deaths.” He took a step toward her.
“I need an assistant.”
“But of trouble too, I bet?”
He was giving her an interview. Making his way toward a question that she already had an answer to.
“Yes. Far too much. Enough for a lifetime.” A lie. An obvious lie, one that Sherlock saw immediately. He smiled.
“Want to see some more?”
“Oh god, yes.”
And she was following him out the door.
The cab drive was quiet, the world outside lit with artificial light as night fell. Her hand clenched the cane at her side, every now and then glancing at the man beside her. He was busy rummaging through his phone, but as he felt her eyes on him, he paused and glanced at her.
“Okay, you’ve got questions.”
A million of them. Each more unsayable than the next. “What is it you do, exactly?” She asked, deciding to start with the simplest.
“What do you think?”
Well, if he was giving her the chance to display some morsel of intelligence, she wasn’t about to disappoint him. “I’d say private detective…”
“The police don’t go to private detectives.” No, they didn’t. But it seemed that in this man’s case, they valued his opinion enough to bend that rule. So, what was his title called? She glanced at him and she caught the ghost of a smile on his face.
“I’m a consulting detective, only one in the world.” He paused. “I invented the job.”
“Really?” Jane said. “Well, that explains a lot.”
Sherlock glanced at her. “Like what?” he asked.
Jane shrugged. “Well, It explains why you knew I was in the military.”
She wasn’t sure what to make of the look he was giving her at the moment. She prided herself on her ability to read people, but Sherlock was as impassive as he was expressive. She could clearly see the cogs ticking in his brain, but his emotional state escaped her more often than not. He had walls built high around his mind—which was something he wasn’t alone in.
After another moment of silence, she added. “But, that doesn’t explain how you knew it.”
There we go. The glimmer of a smile. As long as he could show off his brilliant genius he wouldn’t spend too much time thinking about how observant she was and pretended to be.
“I didn’t know, I saw. The way that you held yourself as you entered the room, your remark on the equipment. An old friend of Mike’s from Barts, so you’re a doctor. Your face is tanned, but no tan above the wrists. You’ve been abroad, but not sunbathing. Your limp’s very bad when you walk, but don’t ask for a chair when you stand like you’ve forgotten about it, so its at least partly psychosomatic. That says the original injury was traumatic, wounded in action, then. Wounded in action, suntan… Afghanistan or Iraq.”
How much he saw, and how much he didn’t see. The rest of the ride passed in a similar fashion, her playing the ignorant child and he explaining everything at a speed many would find difficult to follow. He wasn’t completely right – like regarding her sister. But from one simple sentence in his long stream of ramble, she realized he had successfully accepted her lie.
“—Maybe you liked his wife, maybe you don’t like his drinking.”
The truth was, she didn’t like how Harry had gotten hitched and then dumped Clara with little ceremony. Her sister started so many things, and never finished any of them. No commitment, and the wasted pleasure filled life made her dislike Harry. But, if she really wanted to ram this home, make sure he had accepted the lie…
“I never said I liked Clara,” Jane said slowly, the words chosen so carefully in her head sounding only slightly suspicious aloud.
Beside her, Sherlock was looking smug once more. “Shot in the dark, good one though. When you walked into the laboratory you only paid me the smallest of attention. Even when I came closer to take your phone, you showed little to no physical attraction whatsoever.”
“Maybe you’re just not my type,” Jane countered evenly.
“Perhaps, but when Molly came in you gave her your utmost attention. When you thought she wasn’t looking, you trailed your eyes down her and gave a smile. That says you are more interested in her than me. When I gave that comment remarking her lipstick, you took action and tried to make her feel better.” He smiled again, “I can get you her number if you like, she doesn’t seem to pick up on any of the social cues that I’ve attempted to give her.”
Well. He certainly had no idea how a woman’s brain worked. But, that was definitely in her favor. She only nodded jerkily and looked straight ahead, pausing for a few moments. “That,” she said simply, “Was amazing.”
Whatever reaction, Sherlock had been expecting, that didn’t seem to be it.
“Yes, it was extraordinary. Very, brilliant.” Why she saw the need to inflate his ego, she had absolutely no idea. But, she found herself paying him the respect of his deductive skills. Because, he had known about the drinking, the war, and her limp, and she could forgive the inaccuracy of her orientation. After all, that had been the entire point, hadn’t it?
“That’s not what people normally say.”
“What do they normally say?”
Jane smiled and turned to look out the window. “I can’t imagine why,” she said with only the barest hint of sarcasm hanging in the air.
The ride came to an end soon after that, and she awkwardly climbed out of the car wincing as she put weight on her leg. Sherlock paused a moment, as though he was waiting for her – which it seemed he was. He kept pace with her as they walked toward a building closed of with caution tape and several police cars.
“Did I get anything wrong?” he asked as he pulled his coat closer.
Jane glanced at him, moving as fast as she dared. Well, since he’d asked… “Harry and Clara split up about three months ago, they’re getting a divorce.”
“Spot on, then.”
And here was the kicker. “Harry is short for Harriet.”
Sherlock came to a dead stop. “Harry is your sister.” She turned, a smile tugging at her lips once more.
“So, what am I supposed to be doing here?” She continued, glancing up at the building.
“Sister!” He was walking again, this time a little faster. She followed after, letting him lead the way.
“Yeah, it gets people every time. But seriously, what am I doing here?”
She was hardly a police officer or forensic specialist. Granted, she knew what talents she had to offer the department, but there was no way she would be able to do so. She didn’t particularly want to give them that power over her either. And, Sherlock had been wrong about one other thing. She wasn’t a medical doctor. She was a psychiatrist and there was only so much she could do with a corpse. Cause of death would really be the only real thing she could offer him.
But Sherlock didn’t answer her. He might’ve been about to – she wasn’t sure – when another woman stopped them right before the caution tape. Dark skinned, she had some beauty about her. But, in Jane’s opinion, it was lost with her rude attitude.
“Hold on, Freak.” She clicked her tongue, regarding him with distain. “What are you doing here?”
“I was invited. By Detective-Inspector Lestrade.”
“Why?” Uncouth and aggressive. Jane found herself liking the woman less and less.
“I think he want’s me to take a look.”
“Yeah? You know what I think?” she shot at him as he pulled up the tape and stepped under.
“Always, Sally,” Sherlock said fluidly. He paused though, turning his head a fraction. “Even know you didn’t make it home last night.”
Sally shot him another glare, and turned her attention to Jane. “Hold up, who’s this?” she said glancing back at Sherlock.
“A colleague of mine.” He nodded to Jane. “Dr. Watson, meet Sergeant Sally Donovan. Old friend.”
An interesting title, but Jane could work with it. It spoke of distance and yet closeness at the same time. Jane gave the woman a curt nod, which seemed to go completely unnoticed by the intended recipient.
“A colleague?” She sounded all sorts of skeptical. “How do you get a colleague?” She turned back toward her. “Wait, did he follow you home or something?”
“Maybe I should just go wait—” Jane started to say, unsure of exactly how much longer she wanted to be near this woman, but Sherlock interrupted her.
“Nope,” he said and to her surprise, he held up the tape for her. Jane sighed, but limped under all the same, following him as Sergeant Sally Donovan called ahead on her talkie. Already, she could see him casing the place. He was looking down at the pavement, in the front lawn, in the places that normal people would never think to look.
Jane looked toward the building, just in time to see a man in a blue jumpsuit striding down. Immediately, she knew she was going to like him even less than Sally. He held his head a higher than normal, looking as pompous and haughty as Jane knew he would sound. Sherlock glanced up as well.
“Ah, Anderson. Here we are again.”
Well, she certainly wouldn’t want to work with this man. He glared at Sherlock just as Sally had done. Maybe her colleague had pissed them all off with his deductive skills.
“It’s a crime scene in there. I don’t want it contaminated. We clear on that?”
God, he sounded like the girl at recess staring at a puddle of mud and her new shoes. Jane resisted the urge to snap back with some scathing remark, but it was a very close thing. Instead, she tried to distract herself by looking at the other people inside. There were several lab techs, going in and out with little bags of evidence. Some had cameras on their necks and others seemed to be there for security purposes. She glanced toward Sally and saw her watching not Sherlock, but Anderson with an expression of pride.
Wasn’t that curious?
“Quite clear,” Sherlock was saying. “And is your wife away for long?”
She turned, puzzled. What was he talking about? Anderson apparently knew, because he stiffened. Though, he attempted to cover it up by disregarding the deduction involved. “Oh don’t pretend you worked that out,” he said. “Somebody told you that.”
“Your deodorant told me that.”
“It’s for men.”
Jane would’ve laughed, but she didn’t want to cause a pause in the conversation. Instead she only smiled, turning a small chuckle into a clearing of the throat.
“Of course it’s for men!” Anderson was indignant. “I’m wearing it.”
“So is Sergeant Donovan.”
As Anderson glanced to back to look at Sally - who Jane noted with pleasure was looking thunderstruck – Sherlock sniffed. “Oh, I think it may have just evaporated. Can we go in now?”
“Now, look. Whatever you’re trying to imply—”
Jane looked at him. A bead of sweat was on his brow, his voice a fraction higher and more aggressive, not to mention that unmistakable stutter in his words told her all she needed to know. She glanced back at Sally and noted the woman looked much more uncomfortable than she had only seconds before.
Anderson was just digging his own grave now. And Sherlock knew it.
“I’m not implying anything,” he said ever so casually. He strode past him, pausing by Sally as he did so. “I’m sure Sally came round for a nice little chat and just happened to stay over. And I assume she scrubbed your floors, going by the state of her knees.” He gave that little smirk he so often did and entered the apartment. Jane, giving one last fleeting glance at Sally – if nothing but to enjoy the look of fury and horror on her face – followed him in.
Her general dislike of Sherlock was slipping away, faster than she could blink. Her brain was changing its list of preconceived notions. Faced with characters like Donovan and Anderson, it was very easy to see why he adopted the attitude that he did. He had to fight for dominance among them, or at least he felt like he needed to. And, he probably didn’t take kindly to the nickname of Freak. She certainly wouldn’t.
“Pissed off?” She said and Sherlock glanced back at her. “I think that puts it a little mildly.”
Sherlock gave a faint smile, not the gloating smirk from before but a kinder expression. It was the smile of agreement, and gratitude that she understood and did not feel the same way.
“You should put one of these on,” Sherlock said as they went through a doorway, gesturing to one of the blue suits that lay on a table that had been brought in. They were at the bottom of the stairwell, the rustic nature of the building evident in aged wood. Jane glanced up the stairs, ignoring the knot in her stomach. Hopefully they wouldn’t have to climb terribly far. Lestrade was there, slipping into one of the suits as well. He glanced at her, before turning to Sherlock.
“She’s with me.”
“Yeah, but who is she?”
“I said she’s with me.”
Jane blinked, glancing at Sherlock but he had turned the other way, grabbing a pair of gloves from the box stationed there. It was odd, his behavior. It wasn’t what she expected, and almost impossible to understand. She pulled off her coat and started slipping her bad leg into the blue jumpsuit. It was a little large, but that was all right. It didn’t escape her notice that Sherlock wasn’t putting one on. How he managed to get special treatment was beyond her. Lestrade didn’t even question him, or ask him to don a suit.
“So where are we?”
Jane grimaced, but nodded. Switching her cane to her other hand, she gritted her teeth, trying to slip her other leg into the suit. She didn’t miss the look that Sherlock shot her, like he was formulating a plan in his head. She pretended she didn’t see it though. She didn’t think any normal person would have. Instead, she zipped up her suit, and nodded for Lestrade to lead the way.
Jennifer Wilson was on the second floor of the building, in a room with peeling wallpaper. Jane was the last to enter the room, her breathing a little strained after the stairs. When she saw the woman on the floor, she took a moment to collect herself.
It’d been a while since she’d seen a dead body.
From a quick scan she noticed several things. First and foremost, the woman loved the color pink. From her coat, to her skirt, to her shoes, all were the same brilliant shade of pink. And everything was clean, like she took a lot of notice of how she presented herself to the world. This woman cared a lot about what other people thought of her. Her posture in death was extremely interesting as well.
Stiff as a board and just as straight, it looked almost odd. Her arm was extended beside her, something etched into the floor by her hand. If it were suicide, why would she feel the need to scratch a message as she died? Suicide implied planning. A note written before hand, an acceptance of death—so why did it look like she had fought to stay alive?
“Shut up.” Jane jerked her head to Sherlock. He was looking at Lestrade.
“I didn’t say anything!”
“You were thinking. It’s annoying.”
Lestrade looked blankly at Sherlock before glancing toward her. In that single look he seemed to ask her how in the world she put up with him, why he put up with him. But Jane didn’t have any answers, so she returned her gaze to the body before them. And, as she watched Sherlock crossed the room, bending down by the corpse. He gazed at the scratching on the floor and ran a hand over the back of her coat. He looked at her umbrella, her collar, her hands. He looked at her ears, her neck, her ring. Then he smiled and took a step back.
“Got anything?” Lestrade asked.
“Not much,” was the reply. But Jane knew he was lying. It was never not much for Sherlock Holmes. Instead, he pulled out his phone and rapidly started searching something.
From the doorway came Anderson’s voice. “She’s German,” he was saying with the air of someone who knew everything. Oh, she really didn’t like him. “Rache,” he continued. “German for revenge. She could be trying to tell us something.”
As he spoke, Sherlock crossed the room, heading for the door. “Yes, thank you for your input,” he said as he shut the door in the man’s face, never once looking up from his mobile. Jane resisted the urge to smile.
“So she’s German?” Lestrade asked.
“No. She is from out of town though. Intended to stay in London only one night before returning home to Cardiff.” Jane looked back at the body. How he had figured that out was completely beyond her. “So far, so obvious.”
Jane blinked. “Sorry, obvious?”
“What about the message though?” Lestrade asked. Jane was fine with being ignored – she wanted to know what the message meant as well after all. But then Sherlock surprised her once more.
“Dr. Watson, what do you think?”
Jane stared at him. “Of the message?” I haven’t the faintest.
“Of the body, you’re a medical doctor.”
She winced. She wasn’t. Before Jane could reply, Lestrade spoke. “We have a whole team, just outside!” He sounded indignant, almost as if he felt that Sherlock was insulting the abilities of his men. But Sherlock only shook his head, remaining unmovable on the point. And suddenly, she felt caught in the middle of their conversation again.
“They won’t work with me.”
“I’m breaking every rule letting you in here.”
“Yes, because you need me.”
“Yes I do.” A heavy sigh. “God help me.”
“Dr. Watson?” But this time she heard it. He said it differently now. He’d noticed. Oh, bugger it all. Jane hesitated, glancing toward Lestrade who rolled his eyes.
“Oh, do whatever he says.” And he left the room, giving instructions to Anderson to leave them be for a few moments.
Jane didn’t meet Sherlock’s eyes and instead and limped her way over to the body, bending down beside it with some difficulty. He joined her, crouching. “What exactly am I doing here?” she asked, looking up at him. He knew. Why had he wanted her opinion at all, anyway? He seemed perfectly capable of forming his own conjectures.
When he spoke, it was in an undertone. “Doctor of what, then?”
She raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure you can deduce that.”
“Ah,” he clamped his lips together. “Psychiatry.”
“Yes, with more emphasis on psychoanalysis than actual medicine.” To put it mildly.
Sherlock nodded, glancing down at the body. For a moment, Jane worried that he had changed his mind. He was going to ask her to leave – to find a different flat mate. She held her breath.
“What do you think?”
“Oh.” Jane paused, glancing down at the body before looking back up at him. Well, as the cat was out of the bag now, she might as well stop paying dumb. “I don’t think it’s a suicide.”
He raised his eyebrow, inviting her to explain.
“Suicide suggests depression, but look at this woman. High heels, makeup, manicured nails and the brightly colored attire – combined we can assume she had enough energy to keep up appearances, which those suffering from depression statistically don’t have. The color too – bright and happy - not the depressive’s first choice. And then there’s her posture,” she turned back to the body, moving slightly back to better take it in.
“Suicide is planned, most often far ahead of time. They want death, and yet she looks as if she’s trying to escape it. Crawling to safety, as it were. And this note,” she pointed at it. “Why write it after she was already dying? It’s not uncommon for suicide victims to write notes, but it’s always before they make the attempt. What if something went wrong and she’d died before she could finish it? No, this looks more like a message someone leaves when they’re trying to name their killer—”
She fell silent at the look on Sherlock’s face. It was open. He looked like he’d just found a new toy, surprise and excitement coloring his expression. He hadn’t expected that.
“What?” Lestrade must have returned.
Jane looked quickly away from Sherlock and got gingerly to her feet, turning toward the detective-inspector. She couldn’t explain how she felt—special? She didn’t want to think about it. Distance. Sherlock still didn’t know about the orientation lie. He couldn’t know. “You heard me,” she told Lestrade.
He appraised her for a moment before turning to Sherlock. “Is she right?”
Jane chanced a glance at Sherlock. He was still looking at her with wonder, but then the walls returned and he snapped toward Lestrade. “I believe so. The victim’s in her late thirties. Professional person, going by her clothes; I’m guessing something in the media, going by the frankly alarming shade of pink. Traveled from Cardiff today, intending to stay in London for one night. It’s obvious from the size of her suitcase.”
Lestrade blinked. “Suitcase?”
Jane glanced around the room, but she didn’t see a pink suitcase. She frowned. What was Sherlock talking about?
“Suitcase, yes. She’s been married at least ten years, but not happily. She’s had a string of lovers but none of them knew she was married.”
Lestrade glanced in her direction, and shook his head. “What suitcase, Sherlock?”
But he wasn’t listening. “She must have had a phone or an organizer. Find out who Rachel is.”
“She was writing ‘Rachel’?”
“No, she was leaving an angry note in German,” Sherlock said sarcastically, “Of course she was writing Rachel; no other word it can be. Question is: why did she wait until she was dying to write it?” and here he looked at Jane. “I agree with Dr. Watson, if it was actually a suicide then she would have written it before taking the drug – on a piece of paper, no less.”
“Okay,” Lestrade said slowly.
“Now, where is her case? What have you done with it?” Sherlock asked as he crouched down over the corpse again.
“There wasn’t one.”
Jane cocked her head to the side. That meant something. Sherlock had frozen. He turned slowly toward Lestrade, frowning. “Say that again.”
Lestrade folded his arms. “There wasn’t a case. There was never any suitcase.”
Sherlock jumped to his feet, opening the door and striding through it. “Suitcase!” he shouted, running down the stairs as he did so. “Did anyone find a suitcase? Was there a suitcase in this house?”
Jane followed Lestrade onto the landing, peering over the balcony.
“Sherlock, there was no case!” Lestrade called down.
“What does that mean?” Jane asked. “Did the killer take it?”
Sherlock paused on the stairwell, clapping his hands together. “Yes. They’re all killings—serial killings.” He looked delighted. “We’ve got ourselves a serial killer. I love those, there’s always something to look forward too.”
“But she could have checked into a hotel, left her case there,” Lestrade suggested, his frown deepening.
“No, she never got to the hotel. Look at her hair,” he waved his hand. “She colour-coordinates her lipstick and her shoes. She’d never have left any hotel with her hair still looking—”
Sherlock smiled more widely, “Serial killers are always hard. You have to wait for them to make a mistake.”
“We can’t just wait!” Lestrade protested, but Jane shook her head.
“He’s already made one,” she told him softly. Lestrade stared at her, looking bewildered.
“Get on to Cardiff: Find out who Jennifer Wilson’s family and friends were,” Sherlock shouted from the bottom landing. “Find Rachel!”
“Of course, yeah—but what mistake?!”
Sherlock came back onto the first step, looking up at the pair of them. “PINK!” he shouted before vanishing from view.
Lestrade sighed in frustration and turned to her, surveying her critically. “What does he mean?”
Jane paused, glancing back over the bannister. “Well,” she looked back at him. “The killer allowed us to come to the realization that these are not suicides. Which means we won’t be treating them as such and may therefore find evidence that leads us to a suspect. I’m not entirely sure what Sherlock meant by pink though,” she shrugged. “I’ll hazard a guess he’s off to look for her suitcase.”
“Ah.” Lestrade didn’t tear his gaze away from her for several moments. “Right.” He looked frustrated. “You understood him.”
“Um,” Jane felt uncomfortable. “Sure, if you can call it that.”
Lestrade snorted. “I suppose,” and he sighed. He turned and slipped past her back into the crime scene. She supposed that meant their conversation as done. The three or so forensic technicians didn’t pay her any heed as they past her, with their boxes of finger print dust and DNA samplers.
She had ceased to exist.
Fine. Jane began her descent down the stairs, hampered by people passing her on their way up or down. Getting out of the stupid suit took another few minutes, the pain in her leg – so wonderfully muted before – now returning in full force.
Was she miffed that Sherlock had just left her there, all alone? Yes. She understood why – she wasn’t up for traversing alleyways looking for a pink suitcase. At least now she had a moment to consider how much damage she had done. She’d revealed her competency. How would that change things?
And where was she supposed to hail a cab? Jane watched people bustle to and fro, unsurprised to find that Sherlock wasn’t waiting for her outside. Sally Donovan was directing people, standing next to the tape again. With a grimace, Jane approached her.
“Sorry?” Jane was a little taken aback that she had started the conversation.
“Sherlock Holmes, he’s left.”
“Right. I can see that for myself.” She was doing her best to remain civil. It was hard work. She couldn’t forget the rudeness displayed by the woman earlier.
Donovan gave her a searching look. After the silence started to drag, Jane cleared her throat. “Sorry, where can I get a cab?” she asked.
“Ah,” Donovan lifted the tape for her. “Try the main road.”
Jane nodded and limped forward, but stopped when she was called back. “You’re not his friend.”
She turned, meeting Donovan’s gaze evenly.
“He doesn’t have friends,” she went on. “So who are you?”
The innocent question sounded like an insult. Jane stiffened, and then smiled. “I’m nobody,” she said, much too casually and then she started walking away. But it seemed that Donovan wasn’t done yet.
“Bit of advice. You should stay away from him.”
And then Jane had had enough. She turned, her navy gaze turning frosty cold. “Advice, from you?” She gave a harsh laugh, the sound void of any amusement. “This coming from a woman who is having an affair with a married man, who calls another a freak despite no longer being in primary school, and lacks an appreciation for something simply incredibly useful just because your secrets have been seen and your repulsive personality revealed?” Jane rolled her eyes. “Thanks, but I think I’ll form my own conjectures regarding Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Have a good evening.”
She walked away without another word, with no one to call her back again.
DRAFT MATERIAL: NOT FOR PUBLICATION
ARTICLE TITLE: A Study In Scarlet; Cont.
AUTHOR: Jane Watson, M.D.
Quite unlike his younger brother, Mycroft is one that does exactly what I assume and expect of him even if such actions are not, by any means, appreciated. When I first had the opportunity to meet the both of them, albeit not together, I was immediately struck by the startling similarity and difference between them. For, while both exhibit the cold aloofness of men detached from emotions, only Mycroft seemed to be truly so.
The first time it happened, she regarded it as a fluke and continued on her way down the street. The second time, she paid the incident a great deal more interest. But the third time she was convinced that someone was trying to contact her.
Via telephones lining the main road.
Of course, Jane could only think of one man that would go to such ridiculous lengths in order to set up a meet. She’d often remarked that he had a flare for the dramatic—all he was missing was cape and he’d be the perfect anti-hero. But she wasn’t going to stand for this obvious display of paranoia. If he wanted to talk to her, he would have to do it the normal way.
And so she limped past the red telephone booth, ignoring the phone inside. She glanced up at one of the cameras on the roof above her, and very pointedly rolled her eyes. She had hardly taken another step when a sleek black car pulled up beside her, the back window rolling down.
“Get in, Dr. Watson.”
“There must be easier ways to organize a meeting,” she said but she got in all the same. She glanced at the woman across from her. She was pretty, with long wavy brown hair and a low cut top. She was completely engrossed in her mobile. As usual.
And that was the end of the conversation.
When the car stopped, Jane didn’t bother waiting for Noel. She knew the secretary wasn’t invited to this little chitchat. She got out and started her progression toward the man standing in the center of the warehouse. He wore a suit – posh, new looking – and leaning casually upon a black umbrella. As she came closer, he gave one of his disconnected smiles and pointed at the chair before him.
“Have a seat, Jane.”
She did not sit. “You know, you could just phone me. On my phone.”
“When one is avoiding he attention of Sherlock Holmes, one learns to be discreet—hence this place.”
Jane raised an eyebrow. “Mycroft, I’m not entirely sure what you think discreet means but a black government vehicle just screams Special OPS.”
Mycroft smirked. “Well, you would know, wouldn’t you?”
Her gaze narrowed, her back straightening. Her posture became more regal, superior, seeming to grow in height. The change from her daily countenance was remarkable. “I thought I made it perfectly clear that I was on extended leave. For an indefinite amount of time.”
“Oh, I’m not here to talk about that,” Mycroft said smoothly. Her sharp eyes caught the glance toward her cane, the smallest flex of facial muscles that screamed the unsaid sentence, not this time, in any case.
“What are you doing with Sherlock Holmes?”
“I’m not with him—” She started to say before she fell short. Holmes. “Oh my god.” She took a step back, staring at him.
“Oh, so you didn’t know? Jane dear it seems you’re slipping.”
How had she missed that? She was slipping. “Funny what trauma can do to a person,” she snapped, growing angry with herself. She should have realized the instant Sherlock had introduced himself. Should never had showed up at 221B Baker Street, and should have found a different flatmate. But it was too late now – she was hooked. She wanted to figure him out. Fuck.
“And what about this rumor I’m hearing?” Mycroft asked, his smirk growing wider. “Did you honestly lie about your orientation to avoid going out for coffee with someone? Or do you need to tell me something?”
Jane groaned. “Yes, Mycroft. Sorry to reveal that I am only human and can make mistakes.” She ran a hand through her hair, messing up her overgrown bob of light brown. “You can’t tell him.”
“It is your intent to continue this little charade, then?” he raised an eyebrow.
“Please, do you really have to ask?”
“I see.” Mycroft flicked his tongue, breaking eye contact her for a moment. It was almost silly she hadn’t seen the connection between he and Sherlock sooner. They both boasted of superiority, flaunting their intellect and power. Only Sherlock was more childish, more okay with revealing his glee when confronted by a worthwhile puzzle whereas Mycroft remained icy and detached.
Her mobile chirped.
Baker Street. Come at once if convenient.
“So, are we done here?” she asked, glancing up from the text.
“Not quite.” Mycroft shifted his grip on the umbrella. “How are you doing?”
Jane stared at him. “My god, you almost sound like you care,” she said, a tease in her voice. She knew that Mycroft had emotions, but they were different. He valued different things, thought sentiment silly.
“Come now, old friend,” Mycroft sighed. “I was there—remember?”
A desert pavilion, underground base, hot wind sapping oxygen from their air and replacing it with grit and sand. Sweat, discomfort. An interrogation gone wrong, a mistake and a price. The images flashed before her eyes, panic and pain recalled to the surface of her mind.
“I remember,” she whispered.
“You refuse to go to a therapist.”
“Yeah, well,” she cleared her throat, jerking her neck. “They’re all idiots.”
Mycroft smiled, “aren’t they,” he agreed. He sighed, “Well perhaps this arrangement will benefit both you and Sherlock.”
She liked Mycroft. He didn’t waste time talking about feelings. That’s all therapists wanted to do. How are you feeling? And didn’t help when she saw the false concern written plainly in their eyes. She was just a paycheck, a broken toy that needed repairing. She couldn’t talk about how she felt. She couldn’t let anyone see her mind for the twisted thing it was.
If inconvenient, come anyway.
“I imagine it would be complicated if he knew,” Mycroft continued, his eyes knowing.
“For both of us,” she countered. She wasn’t going to let him use this as blackmail. “I won’t spy on him for you.”
“I didn’t think so,” he rocked on the balls of his feet. “But I can count on you to look after him, can’t I?”
Jane looked away. “Don’t ask questions you already know the answer too, it doesn’t suit you.”
Mycroft chuckled, “Indeed.” His eyes flickered to her hand and she realized that it wasn’t shaking at all. Her leg didn’t even hurt.
Could be dangerous.
“Welcome back to the war, Jane.” And with a final smirk, he strode away, swinging the umbrella on his arm.
Noel took her back to the flat, but not before stopping by her hotel room and removing the semi-automatic pistol from the drawer. She’d slipped it under her shirt, the cool metal resting against her back. Protection. She felt calmer with it there. Maybe one day she would buy a gun holster to stash it under her arm.
When she reached 221B she took the stairs as fast as she was able. The pain in her leg was coming back. When she entered the room she saw something she hadn’t expected.
Sherlock was lying on the couch, but that wasn’t what was odd. It took her less than a second to figure out why. “What are you doing?” she shot, gesturing toward the arm he was holding. She already knew, though.
“Nicotine patch,” he pulled up his sleeve slightly to give her a better view. “It helps me think. Impossible to maintain a smoking habit in London these days.”
“It’s a three-patch problem.” He closed his eyes.
Jane rolled her eyes. What a letdown. She had hoped for something more exciting. “So?” she prompted when he didn’t speak. “You asked me to come.”
“Oh,” he opened his eyes. “Right, can I borrow your phone?”
“There’s always a chance the number might be recognized, it’s on my website.” He held out his hand expectantly. Jane bit her lip, fighting back the swell of frustration. He was a child. She dug in her pocket and pulled it out, slapping it into his open hand. He didn’t even open it, opting instead to just hold it. Jane shook her head and crossed to the window, glancing through the curtains. Mycroft’s car had left.
“Something wrong?” Sherlock asked.
He would expect Mycroft to ambush her, right?
“I just met your brother.”
She heard movement and turned to look behind her. Sherlock had sat up, looking at her. She folded her arms. “It wasn’t a difficult leap,” she justified, daring him to say otherwise. “Is he always so dramatic?”
“He usually is.” Sherlock was giving her that look again. For a long moment he didn’t say anything, but he never tore his gaze away from her. Jane didn’t budge. What was he expecting to see? Could he see that she was lying? That she had a history with Mycroft and that her involvement in Afghanistan hadn’t been strictly military, even if it had been a military operation?
She decided to speak first.
“What does he do?”
“You already know.”
She smirked. “Do I?”
“Yes.” He placed his hands in a steeple formation, still observing her. “You observe, but only people—facial ticks, body language?” It was a rhetorical question. “Fascinating, so while you are completely ignorant of the details that fit together in the puzzle you can still draw important conclusions just by observing people.”
“And you see the whole picture, all the little details that reveal much more than a face ever could.” She raised her eyebrow, at his blank expression. “Sorry, was it my turn to state the obvious?”
He smiled. “Here.” He held out her phone. “I need you to text something. There’s a number on the desk.”
Jane nodded and took the phone, crossing to the desk. “Is his about the case?”
“Yes, a case.”
“Did you find it?” She asked as she typed the number in.
Sherlock got to his feet, stepping on top of the coffee table as he crossed to the other end of the room. “Did you do it?” he asked, ignoring her question.
“Type this exactly: What happened at Lauriston Gardens? I must have blacked out. 22 Northumberland Street, please come.” She glanced up to see him pulling a pink suitcase out from behind the armchair. “Have you done it?”
“Uh—yes,” she sent the text. She looked up. He had placed the case on top of a chair, opening it and sitting beside it in the armchair, peering inside. “So, where did you find it?”
Sherlock glanced at her as she came to sit in the chair opposite him, glancing down at the pile of clothing and toiletries. “The killer must have driven her to Lauriston Gardens,” he began. “He could only keep her case by accident if it was in the car. Nobody could be seen with this case without drawing attention to themselves, particularly a man, which is statistically more likely. So obviously he’d feel compelled to get rid of it the moment he noticed he still had it. It wouldn’t have taken him more than five minutes to realize his mistake.”
Jane nodded, eager to hear the rest.
“I checked every back street wide enough for a car five minutes from Lauriston Gardens and anywhere you could dispose of a bulky object without being observed. Took me less than an hour to find the right skip.”
“Brilliant.” He gave her a double take. “Sorry,” she added, hoping he didn’t mistake that for flirting. She turned her attention to the case.
“Do you see what’s missing?”
“Not really,” she admitted, looking up and frowning.
“Her phone. Where’s her mobile phone?” He waved his hands as he talked. “There was no phone on the body, no phone in the case. We know she had one. That’s her number there, you just texted it.”
Her eyes widened. “The murderer.” She didn’t miss the smirk on Sherlock’s face, the smugness. “You think the murderer has her phone? I just texted a serial killer?” That wasn’t something one commonly heard in passing conversation. Then her mobile began to ring, the number withheld.
“A few hours after his last victim,” Sherlock said, glancing down at it. “And now he receives a text that can only be from her. If somebody had just found that phone, they’d ignore a text like that. But the murder—would panic,” he shut the pink case with a flourish, getting to his feet once more.
“Have you told Lestrade?” Jane asked, getting to her feet too. She knew he hadn’t before he opened his mouth. “Why?”
“Four people are dead. There isn’t time to talk to the police.”
Jane frowned. “So, why are you talking to me?”
Sherlock had put on his coat. “Mrs. Hudson took my skull,” he replied, glancing toward the mantelpiece in a forlorn sort of way. Jane looked at it too.
“So I’m just filling in for your skull?” She had not intended to sound so sulky. Sherlock smirked, now wrapping his scarf around his neck.
“Relax, you’re doing fine.”
She shook her head, her tongue flicking the roof of her mouth.
“What?” she asked.
“You could just stay here and watch telly.”
Jane paused. “You want me to come with you,” she realized.
“I like company when I go out,” Sherlock shrugged. Somehow the phrase sounded too casual. He didn’t want company. He wanted her company. “And I think better when I talk aloud. The skull just attracts attention so—” Jane looked away, chuckling.
He couldn’t ask her. Not really. He was more like his brother than she’d realized. “You enjoy this,” she said grabbing her own jacket.
“And I said dangerous,” he gave her a knowing look. “Yet here you are.”
He led the way out of the flat. Jane winced as she descended the staircase, but didn’t complain. It didn’t hurt as badly as before, anyway. Outside she looked up and down the street. “Off to Northumberland, I assume?”
She wasn’t exactly pleased when he ignored the cabs coming their way, opting instead to cross the street. It was at a pace she could keep up with though. “It’s only a five minute walk from here.”
“You think he’s stupid enough to go?” she asked. She would have chucked the phone immediately.
“No, I think he’s brilliant enough.” Okay, not her first thought. “I love the brilliant ones,” he continued. “They’re always so desperate to get caught.”
“Why?” She would assume the brilliant ones capable of never getting caught.
“Appreciation. Applause. At long last: the spotlight. That’s the frailty of genius, Jane, it needs an audience.”
She wanted to counter, not always, but something stopped her. She looked across the pavement, at the other civilians making their way through life. Sherlock needed her audience. He needed someone to appreciate his genius. She sighed, as soft, “Yeah,” escaping her.
“This is his hunting ground,” Sherlock continued, making her unsure if he had heard her or not. He gazed around them, his head rotating as if on a swivel. “Right here, in the heart of the city. Now that we know his victims were abducted, it changes everything. Because all of his victims disappeared from busy streets, crowded places, but nobody saw them go.”
He paused, and Jane considered the problem. “Think!” Sherlock snapped. “Who do we trust, even though we don’t know them? Who passes unnoticed wherever they go? Who hunts in the middle of a crowd?”
“This serial killer, apparently.” Jane smirked and Sherlock shook his head.
“Apparently.” He glanced up the road. “Hungry?” he didn’t wait for an answer though. Jane opened her mouth, then closed it again. She wasn’t hungry. They were on a mission right now. She frowned, but realized the place had a window with a full view of Northumberland Street.
Sherlock greeted the waiter by name, and Billy gestured to a table right in front of the window. Reserved. Either Sherlock had planned this ahead of time or he frequented here enough to know the owner well. She sat down with her back to the window, knowing Sherlock would prefer to sit so he could face it.
“22 Northumberland Street, keep your eye on it,” he remarked, turning his gaze toward it.
“He’s not just going to ring the doorbell. He’d have to be mad,” she protested, rolling her eyes.
Sherlock’s gaze never wavered from the window. “He has just killed four people,” he reasoned.
Jane glanced halfheartedly at the menu but she didn’t intend to get anything. How could she eat when her stomach was in knots? The anticipation? A different man approached them and Jane looked up. The owner.
“Sherlock,” the man said with a smile, and he shook Sherlock’s hand. “Whatever you want free. On the house, for you and your date.”
Jane made an odd chocking sound. “I’m not his date.” Why was everyone so blind? Why didn’t they use their eyes? She frowned and glared at Sherlock as he asked if she wanted something to eat.
“This man got me off a murder charge,” the owner went on, completely oblivious to her lack of interest.
“This is Angelo,” Sherlock offered. “Three years ago, I successfully proved to Lestrade that at the time of a particularly vicious triple murder that Angelo was in a completely different part of town house-breaking.”
“He cleared my name!”
Sherlock tilted his head. “I cleared it a bit.”
“But for this man, I’d have gone to prison.”
“You did go to prison.”
“I’ll get a candle for the table. It’s more romantic.”
Jane didn’t even bother correcting him this time. Angelo was walking away already. She sighed, picked up the menu but changed her mind at once and put it back down. Instead she looked at Sherlock. Just stared at him, trying to figure him out. He didn’t notice though—or maybe he didn’t care. Jane glanced at Angelo as he returned with the candle, glared at his retreating back and promptly blew it out.
Sherlock didn’t move. Good for her, she supposed. Let her observe him in peace. He was amazingly aware of the world and yet missed so much. A paradox. Maybe that’s why she found him so fascinating.
Time to play.
“So, do you bring girls here often, then?” she asked, a smirk dancing about her mouth.
“Sorry?” Finally, he looked at her.
“I’m flattered, but I was fairly certain we sorted this all out hours ago,” she continued shrugging and putting on an air of exasperation.
Sherlock didn’t say anything. He looked loss for words. So he didn’t bring girls here often then.
“No…” he said slowly, turning back to look out the window. She would’ve laughed, but that would’ve ruined everything.
“So, I take it no girlfriend.”
“No, not really my area.” Again, with the odd low trail off.
“Really? Boyfriend then?” she asked, sounding even more interested. She sat up a little straighter.
“What?” he turned sharply back to her. “No.”
“It’s fine.” She knew he didn’t. It was fun teasing him. “I can hardly judge,” she shrugged.
Sherlock paused again, looking out the window for a second before clearing his throat. “Look—” he glanced at the table. “Your interest is—touching, but I think you should know that I consider myself married to my work,” he elaborated.
“I know.” And she smiled broadly.
He tilted his head again, looking unsure of what to make of her statement. He turned slowly back to the window and Jane sighed, slouching in her seat. This was boring. She tapped her glass of water, wondering if maybe she should order something to eat just so that she could poke it.
“We might be here awhile.”
“Yup.” Jane clicked her tongue. She twisted around in her seat so that she could stare out the window too, leaning her elbow on the back of the bench.
She didn’t mind the silence. At times she even welcomed it. Words deceived, exaggerated, hurt. She found that people often grew uncomfortable in silences. They couldn’t be with another human and not speak. The longer she refused, the more uncomfortable they grew, until they were stammering and looking for an excuse to escape. But why? When alone, people didn’t talk to themselves.
To do otherwise meant madness.
She watched as a taxi pulled up the street and came to a stop.
“I see it.” She looked back at him.
“Why a taxi?” Sherlock looked confused. “Oh, that’s clever. Why is it clever?” she turned to watch the taxi. She couldn’t see the occupants within. “Jane, stop staring.”
“You’re staring!” she protested.
“We can’t both stare,” he said, frowning and getting to his feet. He was going after the cab. She knew it. Without pausing to think, without really realizing it, she got to her feet and followed him out the door at a run. It would be much later, after a race through alleyways, side streets, and building roofs that she would realize. After they’d caught up to the taxi only to find a dead end, and had jogged back to the flat. She wouldn’t realize it until she inside 221B Baker Street, leaning against the wall and laughing.
She wouldn’t remember she’d forgotten her cane at the restaurant until Angelo was at the front door, returning it to her.
She glanced back at Sherlock, at that smug smirk on his face. This was the result of that look of calculation that she’d seen him give as she awkwardly dressed in that stupid blue jumpsuit. He’d managed to snap her mind out if it.
“Just proving a point.”
DRAFT MATERIAL: NOT FOR PUBLICATION
ARTICLE TITLE: A Study In Scarlet; Cont.
AUTHOR: Jane Watson, M.D.
The frailty of genius is a fickle and ultimately unpredictable aspect of the personality. I have yet to determine precisely what circumstances will cause whatever illusion of careful calculation I possess to collapse. Neither can I begin to consider the outcomes, for I am as erratic as I am controlled. Sherlock on the other hand seems to have already reached that point of mentality. And, had I not realized that fact, I fear what madness he would’ve committed, as he had nothing to lose except his life.
Her limp was gone.
Miraculously, spectacularly gone, and she had no one to thank except the man standing by her side. She was surprised he had attempted to help her at all. Sherlock didn’t strike her as the type to go out of his way to help someone with a problem, especially one so seemingly insignificant. It was interesting, curious that he would orchestrate this for her. But was it gone forever? Would the pain return after this adventure?
She wasn’t sure.
“Sherlock.” It was the worry in Mrs. Hudson’s voice that gripped her attention. Immediately she and Sherlock looked at the Landlady. “What’ve you done?”
Sherlock glanced at Jane, and within seconds had scaled the staircase—she hot on his tracks. The sight was definitely unexpected. The entire forensic team was combing though their flat. Lestrade stood in the middle of the room, regarding the pink case still open on their cluttered coffee table. In a single sweep, she recognized their search pattern. They were looking for something—but the case was right there!
“What are you doing?” Sherlock shot, making his way to Lestrade.
“Well, I knew you’d find the case. I’m not stupid.”
Jane glared at him. From the corner of her eye, she noticed Anderson digging inside one of their kitchen cabinets. Donovan had to be close by, and wondered for the first time what might be the aftermath of their earlier conversation.
“You can’t just break into my flat,” Sherlock said angrily, waving his hand.
“You can’t withhold evidence—and I didn’t break in.” Lestrade glanced her way before flopping down into one of the couches.
“What do you call this then?”
Lestrade shrugged. “It’s a drugs bust.”
She looked at Sherlock so sharply that her neck cracked. He wasn’t repulsed by the idea that he could possess drugs, nor even annoyed that Lestrade had used such a poor excuse. Meaning, at one point or another he actually had possessed them. Bloody fantastic. She never would have pegged him for a junkie. Then again, the three nicotine patches should have given her a clue.
“On what grounds?” Jane snapped at Lestrade. “According to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 you need reasonable grounds for believing it necessary to search our home. You need that to get the warrant to search our flat.” She folded her arms, her eyes narrowing. She had a serious problem when someone rummaged around with her property.
Lestrade actually looked a little dumbfounded, and had she been paying attention, she would have seen the way that Sherlock looked at her. “I-I know how to go about a drugs bust,” Lestrade finally managed to say, having the decency to look upset that she had accused him of not.
“On what grounds?” she repeated stiffly. “I highly doubt we have been under surveillance for the amount of time required, and since we haven’t even exactly moved in completely I find the intrusion rude.” She glared at him. “Stop wasting time and ask Sherlock your bloody questions.”
Thick tangible silence fell in the room.
“We, ah…” Lestrade fidgeted, keeping eye contact with her even though he was talking to Sherlock. “We found Rachel.”
“Excellent, who is she?” If she hadn’t been listening for it, she would have missed the amusement layering his voice. He was standing a little straighter, a smirk trying to take over his face.
“Jennifer Wilson’s only daughter.”
“Her daughter?” Sherlock repeated. “Why would she write her daughter’s name?”
“Never mind that,” Anderson piped up. “We found the case. According to someone the murderer has the case and we just found it in the hands of our favorite psychopath.”
“No—he’s not,” Jane said, turning to him.
Anderson spluttered. “A sociopath, then!”
“That’s exactly the same thing.” It wasn’t the first time she’d heard the terms used incorrectly—though she’d never been so annoyed by it. The two terms were synonyms of each other, both used to describe the exact same type of person. And Sherlock didn’t fall into that category at all – he wasn’t emotionless, cruel, and he had a conscience! Yes, his logic made him appear cold and detached, but that didn’t mean actually was.
“Who the hell even are you!” Anderson shouted, and he gestured toward her as his eyes went to Lestrade. “Really—”
“If you’re going to insult me then at least have the decency to look at me!” Jane interrupted, her fist clenched by her side. She wasn’t going to let this Anderson belittle her. He was going to listen. Realize that spouting bullshit didn’t make him worth listening to.
She felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Anderson, shut up.” Sherlock’s tone had changed; it was dark, cold, missing the excitement the case had brought him. But it wasn’t flat, like the way his brother would sometimes speak – missing emotion. No, this was a threat, thick with feeling that revealed the fury writhing just beneath the surface of his mask. His grip tightened slightly on her shoulder, as though asking her not to speak.
Anderson took a step back from them, finally lost for words.
“Okay, that’s enough,” Lestrade cleared his throat, getting to his feet and coming to stand between them. He glanced at Anderson, “Get out.”
“All of you!”
There was a sudden rustling as the team began packing up. Lestrade sighed, running a hand over his forehead. “Sorry about that,” he whispered and Jane looked at him. The apology had been just for her. She wasn’t ready to speak yet though, so she nodded curtly in reply.
She relaxed, and the hand suddenly lifted from her shoulder.
“Rachel’s dead,” Lestrade went on, now looking at Sherlock.
“How, when and why?” His voice had returned to normal. “Is there a connection? There has to be.”
Lestrade shifted, looking skeptical. “Well, I doubt it, since she’s been dead for fourteen years. Technically she was never alive. Rachel was Jennifer Wilson’s stillborn daughter, fourteen years ago.”
Jane blinked. “But—” she shook her head. “No, that doesn’t make sense. There has to be a different connection.”
Sure, thinking of your daughter before death was normal—but not scratching their name into the floor. She stood by her original observation. It looked more like a clue toward her killer, but how—that was the million-dollar question.
“She’s trying to tell us something,” Sherlock mused, moving about the room as though it would give him clarity.
Mrs. Hudson came into the living room, looking at the mass of people and the forensics team slowly making their way outside. “Isn’t the doorbell working?” she asked. “Your taxi’s here, Sherlock.”
Sherlock wouldn’t be distracted. “I didn’t order a taxi. Go away.” He started pacing.
“I’ll take care of it,” Jane said coming beside Mrs. Hudson and smiling at her.
“Oh, dear.” Mrs. Hudson was scanning the room. “What are they looking for?”
“Nothing,” she stepped through the door. “Just a misunderstanding.” Jane scaled the staircase quickly, the sound of Sherlock shouting at Anderson carrying down to her. She felt twisted pleasure in it, and was almost sad she wasn’t there to witness it.
She didn’t bother putting on her coat. Outside was brisk but tolerable, and there – parked right in front of their flat – was a taxi. But the cabbie was standing outside, leaning against the side of the black car. There was something odd about his expression—
She closed the door behind her with a snap.
“We didn’t order a taxi.”
“You’re not Sherlock Holmes.” The cabbie had a true cockney accent. He was older too, with grey and white hair visible from beneath his cap.
“He didn’t order one either.”
“Oh, I assure you he did.” He didn’t smile—not really. He looked amused, but there was something off about it. It didn’t look right. “Would mind fetching him for me?”
Jane didn’t move.
One who hunts in a crowd. Moves without being seen.
“Its you.” She realized, her eyes widening. “You’re the one.”
That hadn’t been part of the plan. The pleasantries slid from the Cabbie’s face so quickly it was like they’d never been there in the first place. It hadn’t been the passenger, but the cabbie of the taxi that’d stopped outside 22 Northumberland Street. He was the serial killer!
And she had a gun.
Without pausing to think, she reached behind her shirt and grabbed it, cocking the pistol as she whipped it around to point at him. “Don’t move!” She shouted, taking a step back. “Sherlock!”
“He didn’t tell me about you.” He actually looked annoyed.
He didn’t respond.
“SHERLOCK!” she yelled again.
“Something wrong, Jane?” But it wasn’t Sherlock. Panicked, Jane turned to tell Mrs. Hudson to go back inside—to get Sherlock and Lestrade, but she’d made a fatal error. The instant she’d broken eye contact, the cabbie moved. It was over in a manner of seconds – he’d grabbed her gun, twisting it around to point at her head.
“Get Sherlock,” the cabbie agreed. “If I see police, she dies.”
He had disregarded the idea that the woman could possess an ounce of deductive reasoning – after all, he’d yet to encounter another who had. Except Mycroft, of course, who managed to best even him with his cold calculations. But Jane, a recent returnee from Afghanistan had boasted no such talent. She was plain yet unyielding, perfectly ordinary but too guarded, as though she walked in constant fear of being discovered.
She had peaked his interest.
The fact that she appeared to harbor no physical attraction to him, or males in general didn’t lessen his intrigue. It did little to increase it as well. The prospect of love held no interest for him; in fact he found the idea laughable. How could he stand it? How would they? He saw everything. They would be unable to hide anything from him, whether it be an affair or a trip to the grocery store. But he didn’t decline relationships for their benefit—this was about him. The work, the thrill of the chase, how could any relationship compare to the adrenaline shooting through his veins as he stalked a killer? Love—love was boring. Just chemicals in the mind. Love—sentiment made people stupid. More likely you’re killed by a loved one than a stranger.
Jane would just be another idiot—albeit, perhaps one he could stand to live with.
Oh—Oh! But wait. She wasn’t a complete idiot after all, was she? She could see, could deduce, though granted not to the extent he could. But was a start, was it not? How could he pass up this chance, to teach someone? She hadn’t turned her nose up at his showing off—okay, maybe a little—but she had appreciated his genius! He hadn’t thought he’d ever desire such a thing. He had seldom received it. Even Mycroft had scoffed at him, although their conversations had made him believe he was an idiot himself until he’d encountered others.
But Jane! She’d figured it out. She’d noticed the details, albeit not the same ones. It was a start! She could learn to see much more, couldn’t she? He might have the opportunity to converse with someone closer to his intelligence. She was a four-leaf clover. And so complicated. He loved puzzles. Mysteries. She presented a wonderful one, but he didn’t want to crack it too quickly. He wanted to savor this, meeting a human on his end of the spectrum.
Not that she was perfect.
She spoke too familiarly of his brother. She had tried too hard to be casual. She knew what Mycroft did, but his brother was dramatic. He would never have told her. To suggest she had worked it out on her own was almost laughable, especially as some facts were not in fact deducible without greater context. So what was it then? She hadn’t let him see—she!
Perhaps it wasn’t surprising Mycroft had put her on his radar before now.
He’d made sure to address her psychosomatic limp as soon as he could. She knew it was psychosomatic herself, but had been unable to trick her mind out of it. He couldn’t very well have a cripple as his partner, now could he? They’d never catch anyone. And the plan worked beautifully.
When Anderson attempted to proclaim him a suspect, he was furious. This imbecilic fool, incapable of forming even the simplest of conjectures, how had he ever become a forensic scientist?
Ah, Jane. He’d never had anyone defend him before. Not in this sense. Yes, people had defended his deductions, just as they attacked them, but his person? He’d never had anyone who would.
Anderson looked shocked. He had never been contradicted before—at least, besides by Sherlock. He spluttered, his expression revealing the search for a retort that would prove Jane wrong. “A sociopath, then!”
“That’s exactly the same thing.” Jane snapped back. Her navy eyes were full of fire, disgust. She didn’t appreciate the inaccuracy. Sherlock didn’t either, but he loved that he wasn’t the only one. He smirked, his posture screaming the smugness of a parent watching his toddler say their first articulate sentence before anyone else’s.
“Who the hell even are you!” Anderson shouted, his voice surely carrying down the stairs to Mrs. Hudson. He gestured rudely toward her, batting her away like a pestering fly. He had the gall to look at Lestrade, asking him to validate his words. “Really—”
“If you’re going to insult me then at least have the decency to look at me!” Jane interrupted, rage and malice dripping from her words. She’d turned her back to Sherlock and he could not see her face, but he could see the way her shoulders shifted and tensed, the quivering that reverberated down her small frame to her right fist—which clenched.
Anderson had offended her, deeply. The way he attempted to disregard her words, ignore her fact correction, treat her as unimportant—it had awoken something in her. He could see her, a young girl ignored despite speaking the truth and silenced when she tried to make herself heard. Sherlock was no stranger to Anderson’s insults, learned to quip back with ones of his own. But Jane—
Anger. Not hers—his. How dare Anderson do that to her? She deserved to be heard. She was right, after all. She was well versed in psychology, had bothered to check her facts while this idiot spouted fallacies. And just because he didn’t like what she had to say, wanted to live in his bubble of ignorance, he saw the need to throw her words away? To throw her away?
Not if he could help it.
He put his hand on her shoulder, feeling the bone through the fabric of her sweater. She’d lost weight. Recently. Stress?
Sherlock met Anderson’s eyes. He didn’t bother pretending. He was angry. And he wanted Anderson to know it. The idiot could insult him anytime he wanted, but not Jane. She didn’t deserve that. “Anderson, shut up.”
Fear. Good. He’d scared him. He had always intimidated Anderson; the aggression was a coping mechanism. But this—ah, this was true fear. He saw the realization spread across the man’s face, the realization that Sherlock could be dangerous if he wanted to. It wasn’t like he’d never considered taking a life before—
He felt Jane shift and he tightened his grip, though careful to not hurt her. He wanted to defend her this time. Allow him that. He didn’t know how else to thank her.
“Okay, that’s enough,” Lestrade said, stepping between them. The detective-inspector look turned to Anderson, “Get out.”
No one moved.
“All of you!”
Sherlock felt an enormous surge of gratitude toward him. He’d known Lestrade five years, but their relationship was still difficult. Partly his fault, he knew. Partly Lestrade’s—though he didn’t know. He couldn’t understand how Sherlock thought.
Lestrade turned back to them, running a hand over his forehead. The apology was written in his brow. “Sorry about that,” he whispered, but it was just for Jane. Sherlock didn’t need it. She did. She was still tense, still stressed. She would never like Anderson—predictably.
After moments pause, Jane nodded. She’d accepted Lestrade’s apology. He felt her muscles loosen from beneath his hand and he lifted his grip at once. He wasn’t sure she had appreciated it.
Ah, the case!
“How, when and why?” Forget Anderson, this—this was interesting. “Is there a connection? There has to be.”
Lestrade didn’t think so. “Well, I doubt it, since she’s been dead for fourteen years. Technically she was never alive. Rachel was Jennifer Wilson’s stillborn daughter, fourteen years ago.”
Jane spoke in time with his thoughts. “But—no, that doesn’t make sense. There has to be a different connection.”
Yes. Why would Jennifer still be upset? Death of a loved one, sure but after fourteen years? And the effort it would have taken to scratch the name into the floorboard?
“She’s trying to tell us something,” he mused aloud. He stepped away from them, pacing the small space of the living room. Moving his legs was good for brainwork. Sometimes.
Mrs. Hudson came into the living room, saying something about a taxi. He was busy. What taxi? “I didn’t order a taxi. Go away,” he snapped. The sounds of everyone moving about muddled his thoughts. He heard Jane leave—good she could sort out the taxi business. But god, the noise!
“Shut up, everybody!” Sherlock shouted. “Don’t speak, don’t breathe. I’m trying to think. Anderson, face the other way. You’re putting me off.”
For once, he didn’t protest. The forensics team froze, glancing at one another as though unsure if that meant they should still be packing up. And then it hit him. Finally.
“Rachel!” he shouted, causing Lestrade to jump.
“She didn’t lose her phone, she never lost it. She planted it on him. When she got out of the car, she knew she was going to her death. She left the phone in order to lead us to her killer!” He would have to repeat this all to Jane when she came back. She’d appreciate his line of reasoning. The blank stares he received from Lestrade and everyone else was such a letdown.
“Look at you lot. You’re all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.” He straightened, ready to deliver. “Rachel is not a name.”
“Well, what is it?” Lestrade lifted both his eyebrows, nodding for him to continue.
“There, on the luggage, there’s a label. E-mail address. Read it out.” He swept over to the laptop on the table, opening it and pulling up the Mephone’s website. “Yes?” he prompted impatiently.
“Uh, jennie dot pink at mephone dot org dot uk.”
“I’ve been too slow. She didn’t have a laptop, which means she did her business on her phone, so it’s a smartphone, it’s e-mail enabled.” He quickly typed it in, the anticipation growing. He was so close. “And all together, the password is—”
“So we can read her emails, so what?” Anderson was speaking again. Well, nothing lasted forever.
“Anderson, don’t talk out loud. You lower the I.Q. of the whole street. It’s a smartphone, it’s got GPS, which means if you lose it you can locate it online. She’s leading us directly to the man who killed her.”
She was clever, wasn’t she? He smirked, and after a series of clicks a thinking bar appeared on the screen. In a few moments they would know where he was. But time was of the essence.
“We need to move fast. This phone battery won’t last forever.”
“We’ll just have a map reference, not a name,” he frowned and Sherlock felt terribly unappreciated.
“It narrows it down from just anyone in London! It’s the first proper lead we’ve had.” Ping. It was done. “Where’s Jane?” he asked turning back to the computer and looking at the map. He knew every street in London, every main road, back alley and sidewalk. But there was he one he knew better than all the rest.
“Here?” he took a step back, casting his eyes blankly around his apartment. “How can it be here? How?”
Lestrade shrugged, looking around as well. “Maybe it was in the case when you brought it back and it fell out.”
Sherlock scoffed. Ridiculous. “What, and I didn’t notice it? Me? I didn’t notice?”
Lestrade sighed. “Okay guys, start looking for a mobile phone, belonged to the victim.” The forensics team bustled off to work, searching the crooks and crannies of 221B Baker Street again. But Sherlock didn’t help them. He didn’t move.
Who do we trust, even if we don’t know them?
The first victim, he’d vanished from the railway station. He had taken a cab and then—showed up dead. James Phillimore, the second victim had been out on a rainy night and no umbrella had been found with him—yet the photos had revealed he wasn’t soaked to the bone. He would have taken a cab—and then the first woman. Beth Davenport. She had been at a club; her chaperones had lifted her keys, so she would have flagged a cab to take her home—and Jennifer Wilson. Clever, clever, Jennifer had arrived from Cardiff at the London terminus, where she would have grabbed a cab to take her to the hotel—
A cab. The cabbie. The one that had driven the cab hours earlier, stopped outside of 22 Northumberland Street. How had he forgotten about the cabbie? The serial killer was a taxi driver! They were looking for—
“Where’s Jane?” he asked again, louder this time. He whipped around, searching Lestrade’s face. But he already knew. Mrs. Hudson had said there was a taxi waiting for him but he hadn’t called one.
“S-Sherlock.” Mrs. Hudson appeared in the doorway again, white as a sheet. With shaking fingers she pointed back down the stairs. “Jane—he’s—”
“What’s going on?” Lestrade called, coming to stand next to her. “What’s wrong?”
“He has Jane,” Sherlock muttered. He met Lestrade’s eyes for a moment before turning and grabbing his jacket. “Stay here. If he sees you, she dies.”
It was paramount that Lestrade understood that.
“Got it? No one follows me,” he glanced back at Anderson and the rest of the forensics team. “Mrs. Hudson?”
“Out front,” she sobbed, and Lestrade gently guided her toward the couch. Sherlock flashed her the softest look he could manage at the moment and swept down the stairs. Oh, Jane. He hadn’t figured it quickly enough to stop her, to realize what the taxi had meant. It would be his fault if she died tonight.
“There is no way you can win.”
Jane Watson watched as Mrs. Hudson vanished from view, leaving her alone with the serial killer. She could see the gun out of the corner of her eye, hovering beside her head.
“You think so?” She couldn’t see his face.
“You won’t pull that gun. It’s not your style.” All his victims had died without a single drop of blood spilled. The drugs had all been self administered, so he preferred to psychologically manipulate his victims or else threaten them with the death of others.
“No. I won’t.” She heard a chuckle and something sharp hit her neck.
Jane gasped, her hand automatically shooting toward the spot but it was already too late. He grabbed her wrist as everything went fuzzy, thick exhaustion rushing smashing into her like a violent tidal wave. “What—” she spluttered, her legs losing all strength.
“Just a mild sedative,” the cabbie said, catching her around the middle before she could hit the ground. He swam in and out of focus, confusion preventing her from forming a coherent thought. “Can’t have you spoiling everything.”
Movement. He was moving her. Where? Not far. She couldn’t walk—not really. She slid and stumbled, helpless as he dragged her behind his car and popped the trunk. Her head dropped.
She couldn’t see. It was black, but she wasn’t unconscious. Why couldn’t she see? Eyes. Eyes—open! But it was so hard; they just wanted to stay closed. She just wanted to sleep, to sink. She managed to blearily open one of them, just in time for her clogged brain to figure it out.
He’d put her in the trunk.
The door slammed shut and she was plunged into darkness. Not eye darkness. Real darkness. Her eyes were open. Weren’t they? She couldn’t lift her head. God, sedatives. Sed-da-da-dativesss. Drugs were better. Proper drugs. Alcohol was better. Fuck, anything was better. Not a real high. Didn’t feel like it. She felt too heavy. To heavy to move at all but—fuck the case! The pink case. Pink. Not a nice color. Too—pink.
She couldn’t think.
Voices? Were those voices? She thought she could hear them. She tried to lift her head but it felt like a dead weight. Nope. That’s not happening. No moving at all—not for a few minutes. Had to be Sherlock. That vibrato was recognizable anywhere. Hm… silky and deep. Smooth like silk. Like something made out of silk. Scarves. Scarves could be made out of scarves. Snort. Scarves. Sherlock wore scarves.
She shook her head, flopping pathetically from side to side. Come on, get it together. Don’t loose it. There had to be a way out of here. Most trunks had safety hatches now and could be opened from the inside. Move! Her hands didn’t feel attached to her, just floating. Cool.
Movement. Whoa. They were moving. The floor vibrated beneath her, her form shifting as the cab turned a corner. Where were they going? Hold up—had Sherlock just gotten into the taxi? What about her? Where was the police? She frowned. It felt strange. Her face muscles were moving strangely. Like putty. Or clay. Nah, putty. But hey, Sherlock was supposed to arrest him and get her out of the trunk. What the hell was this?
Oh right. Gun. But Lestrade was in their fucking flat. The police was already there. Just shoot him out of the window. This wouldn’t have happened if Mycroft were here.
Okay. Where were they going? What was by her feet? They’d turned again and something hit her foot. Tire wrench? No—didn’t feel like it. Move! No, the paralytic was still too strong. Sedative. Whatever. Was it a sedative? Did sedatives do this? She should know—she was a doctor. Sort of. Well, no. She read people. Liars. Yeah, took a liar to read one, didn’t it?
She closed her eyes, concentrated on her breathing. She couldn’t do anything right now. It didn’t matter. They were still driving. The fuck were they going? Probably some abandoned thing. Place. So that he could convince Sherlock to kill himself. Snort. Yeah, sure. No—wait, maybe. Could it be done? Well, sure, if the guy was a genius. Proper one. He could manipulate him into doing it. How would she do it?
She was too out of it to actually come up with an idea.
Jane was nearly asleep when the cab finally shuddered to a stop. She jerked awake, and immediately discovered she could actually move this time. Brilliant. She couldn’t hear voices anymore. They’d probably gone inside.
“Sherlock!” she shouted. She sounded like she was plastered! What the hell was in that syringe? She turned with difficulty and kicked the roof, trying to open the trunk. “Sherlock!” she shouted again. Who had the cabbie been talking about? He?
Oh, right there was a lever.
Jane lifted it and the back swung open, the cold night air striking some clarity in her. Okay. Get out. She struggled out of the trunk, sliding onto the pavement and resting against the back bumper. Breathe. Just breathe. She could think well, better than before. She fumbled in her pocket and pulled out her phone. The bright screen forced her to look away for a moment, blinking owlishly before she could actually focus on the number pad.
“I need Lestrade,” she said when the call connected. She knew she sounded off. Her words slurred horribly. “Tell him—it’s Jane. Sherlock—the cabbie’s got him in—”
Where was she?
“Mam?” she heard the person on the line ask.
“I need Lestrade, okay? Inspector-detective Lestrade. His detective, Sherlock Holmes,” she said, more urgently. “He was in the bloody papers!”
“I know who Lestrade is,” the person finally said, sounding exasperated.
“Then get him!” Jane shouted. “Sherlock’s with the serial killer. Back up. Everything.” Right, location. “Um…” she turned around, looking at the building in front of her—two identical sister structures. There was an identifying plaque.
“Roland-Kerr Further Education College. Yeah. That’s where I’m at.”
She didn’t care what the lady said next. There wasn’t time! Or at least, she had to go and try to make some. Jane slipped the phone back into her pocket, dimly aware that she hadn’t dropped the call, and tried to get shakily to her feet. She used the back of the car for support, but as she turned—looked inside the trunk—she saw what her foot had kicked before.
It wasn’t a tire-wrench. It was her gun.
What did that mean? With unsteady hands she picked it up, staring at it. The cabbie hadn’t used her gun? So that meant he didn’t intend to shoot Sherlock at all—course not, that wasn’t how he did things. He manipulated people. He was going to manipulate Sherlock into taking his own life!
Now there was definitely no time to wait for the police.
She stuffed the gun back into her shirt, and made her way unsteadily toward the buildings. Which one? God, flip a coin. That one. She ran forward, stumbling and unsteady, knowing that she would have failed every sobriety test. What on earth was she supposed to do in this condition?
Yeah. Panic. Maybe the adrenaline would help her fight the sedative off.
“Sherlock?” she called again, throwing open the doors and stumbling inside. She ran as fast as she could down the hallway, looking in every room, looking for some glimmer of light that would tell her Sherlock and the cabbie were there. Her chest heaved, her hands touching every door handle as she passed.
She saw it through the door. It was unlocked and she took three steps inside before her triumph vanished. It wasn’t there at all, not even close. She was in the wrong building. She could see Sherlock talking to him, standing across from the cabbie in what looked to be a large classroom. Just standing there.
“SHERLOCK!” She screamed but he couldn’t hear her.
She ran to the window, colliding into desks and chairs in her haste, knocking them over but still somehow managing to stay upright. The adrenaline was working, she could think more clearly now. She could see what was happening.
Sherlock had something in his hands, something small. The drug—it must be. So did the cabbie. What? Probably a game. Sherlock would risk his life for a game, in order to prove his cleverness. Course he would. The idiot.
So what to do?
Jane stood, frozen. She could hear her heart pumping, blood racing though her ears. She still felt weak and sluggish, the sedative still fighting to control her system despite the adrenaline providing clarity. She held up her hand, but was pleased to see it didn’t shake. She felt tired, like sinking into a puddle on the floor and never getting up. But could she make the shot?
She didn’t have a choice. She could see it—see the situation playing before her like a script from a play. She knew it would happen, Sherlock would put the drug in his mouth—ever the addict. She was going to kill him herself later. Making her drag her sorry ass up here to save him.
She opened the window. Better that the bullet only went through one pane of glass. She took a deep breath, pulling out the gun and settling into position, staring down the barrel. Sherlock was a little too close—he needed to move. Just a little. She was terrified she’d hit him. She shouldn’t be shooting at all. She couldn’t do it. She almost changed her mind completely, lowered her arms when she saw Sherlock ready to drop it into his mouth.
She gritted her teeth.
Somehow it missed the detective and hit her mark, sending the cabbie to the floor. She couldn’t stay here though. She had just shot someone. She groaned and turned to leave the room. Her foot snagged on one of the scattered chairs and she went sprawling on the ground, cringing as the gun slid several feet away from her. Laughing stock of the Special OPS she was. Couldn’t even exit a room properly.
Fighting the urge to stay there, she crawled forward and grabbed the gun. She couldn’t just leave it; the police would find it and easily tie her to it. Sure, it was done to save someone else but she’d rather avoid a legal dispute. So, she stuck it under her shirt again and fled. She must have only moments before the police arrived and she needed to be at the taxi when they did.
She barely made it.
She collapsed, winded against the side door of the cab when she saw the first sirens turn the corner, followed by half a dozen more. The first officer ran toward her, but she waved him away.
“In there!” she pointed toward the other building. The right one. “They’re in there.”
It was Lestrade. He had come in the next car. “I’m fine—” No she bloody wasn’t “—Sherlock’s in there.”
Lestrade nodded curtly and lead the way inside. Everything would be fine. Jane smiled and leaned her head back against the taxi, letting her eyes close. Everything was fine.
“What?” she jerked awake, looking wildly around for a moment. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep. Sherlock was there, crouching down in front of her and surveying her with a surprisingly soft expression. He usually only gave Mrs. Hudson that look. It wasn’t warm but it was trying.
He definitely knew.
“You’re okay, then,” she said, getting slowly to her feet. He stood with her.
“You knew that,” he said quietly, glancing at Lestrade who was standing a few paces away.
She nodded jerkily, looking away from him.
“You all right?”
She met his eyes. “Course I’m all right.”
“You have just killed a man.”
He was searching her face. She shook herself. “That’s true,” she smiled. “But he wasn’t a very nice man, was he?”
“No—” Sherlock stuck his hands in his coat pockets. “No, he wasn’t was he?” He smiled too.
“And a bloody awful cabbie.”
Sherlock chuckled. “That’s true, he was a bad cabbie. Should’ve seen the route he took to get us here.” She saw his eyes zero in on her neck. “You might want to get that looked at.”
“I’ll be fine. Just a mild sedative.” She felt tired though. Like she could sleep where she stood, but she wouldn’t. “It’ll wear off.”
“I’m sure.” He tilted his head and started walking through the police cars. She walked with him, glancing back at Lestrade.
“He doesn’t need you?”
“No, I’ll come in tomorrow.” He glanced at her. “You need to get the powder burns out of your fingers.”
Jane stuck her hands in her pockets. “Sure, first thing.”
“And perhaps I should take…?” he trailed off meaningfully.
“Please.” She glanced back at the police squad. “Though perhaps not until we’re out of sight.”
“I thought that was implied.”
His look of confusion wasn’t genuine. He was teasing her! Jane laughed, though her attention was quickly drawn by a car parked just ahead of them, just beyond the police line. She knew that car. Sherlock followed her eyes and slowed his pace at once, leading them toward it. As they neared the door opened and out stepped Mycroft.
“So, another case cracked. How very public spirited…though that’s never really your motivation, is it?” He had a sneer hiding just out of sight.
“What are you doing here?” Sherlock asked dismissively. Jane noticed how he seemed to place himself between her and Mycroft. She glanced at the elder Holmes brother, narrowing her eyes as if to ask the same question.
“As ever, I’m concerned about you.”
“Something funny?” Mycroft shot, turning to her and raising his eyebrow.
“No, please go on,” she said, a grin taking her face. Must be the sedative.
“Perhaps you were more worried about your asset,” Sherlock said softly, holding his head a little higher.
“Your asset,” Sherlock repeated and he opened the circle to Jane, inclining his head in her direction.
Fuck. He knew. She thought she’d been so careful and yet he knew. How did he figure it out? But she wasn’t spying on him or anything; she wasn’t here cause Mycroft wanted her to be. She wasn’t his asset. Sherlock knew that right—right?
Mycroft appraised Sherlock for a moment before sighing. “Sorry, Jane dear. It seems you’ve been discovered.”
“Of what?” she snapped back, looking between the pair of them. “I’m not your spy.”
“No, course your not,” Sherlock said turning to her. “But you have worked with him before.” He was waiting for her to confirm. He saw it, but he wanted her to admit it.
“I didn’t realize you were related, at first,” she told him. She wasn’t going to lie. She glanced at Mycroft. “Not until he summoned me last time.”
“Slow,” Mycroft smirked, glancing at the sky as if expecting it to agree with him.
“Well it’s not like you talked about him,” she grounded back. She closed her eyes. “By then though I’d already come to like the idea of sharing the flat, so I didn’t want to mention it.” She opened her eyes again, looking at Sherlock.
“What did you do?”
“For Mycroft?” She saw the affirmative in his face. She shook her head, smiling again. “You have more fun figuring that out on your own.”
He returned her smile. “Good evening, Mycroft.” He turned back to his brother. “Try not to start a war before I get home. You know what it does to the traffic.”
Mycroft rolled his eyes, and Sherlock walked away. Jane hung back for one second longer.
“Keeping a weather eye, aren’t you?” she asked, her tone dropping to a bare whisper.
“Of course,” Mycroft looked bewildered.
“Then next time don’t wait so fucking long,” she spat, glaring at him. He had eyes and ears everywhere. If he had gotten here so quickly, than he had been monitoring the pair of them. He should have acted when things started to go wrong. He should not have let them figure it out. What if the sedative had been stronger? What if the cabbie had decided to keep her gun? She could have missed the shot! Could’ve shot Sherlock!
Mycroft didn’t really nod. He stared at her before giving a very fake smile and a grunt. Good enough. Jane walked away without looking back, quickly falling into step beside Sherlock.
She hadn’t really been starving, as she’d said. Sherlock assumed she’d agreed because she noticed that he was hungry and hadn’t seen the point of arguing. Or she had been hungry at the time, but the hunger had left her after they’d arrived at the Chinese restaurant at the end of Baker Street. He was personally willing to bet that she’d finally been unable to fight the exhaustion caused by the sedative any longer, even to satisfy her hunger.
She’d fallen asleep in the booth, resting her head on the back of the seat, her legs folded beneath her. It couldn’t be a comfortable position, which further suggested her sheer exhaustion. And so she should be.
But was she really okay after killing someone?
Sherlock had never killed before. Despite considering it, even plotting it, he had never succumbed to the temptation. Not even when his life had been in danger, for he could always see the alternate solution. How to defeat someone without killing them—he had some hand-to-hand combat training. Knew how much pressure to apply. Not that he wouldn’t shoot someone if the situation called for it.
She shifted in her sleep, and slid off the back seat. She started awake, catching herself before she hit the table with the side of her head. Almost comically she smacked her lips together, rubbing at her eyes with her hands. He’d forced her to go to the bathroom first thing—wash the powder burns from her fingers. Couldn’t have evidence tying her to the death of the cabbie. He’d taken her gun too, of course.
Though he’d probably hang on to it. Lestrade might actually find it in a dump or washed up on the shore of the Thames otherwise. Jane propped her head on her arm, watching him as he ate. He watched as her eyes slowly fell, her posture slipping until her face resting against the table.
Oh, for goodness sake—