Chapter 1: A Day in the Life
By all outward signs, Brenna Ryan was a perfectly ordinary young woman. She worked at Scotland Yard in the White Collar Division. The cases which came through the division included art theft, insurance scams, and fraud. Brenna was especially gifted in cases of this nature, which was why she was such a great asset to them. She had an uncanny knack for finding a missing link in a case that no one else was able to see. Her experience made her invaluable to the White Collar unit or so she liked to think.
Like most other, normal people, Brenna had a life outside of her day job. She had a beagle named Lily, who was always there to welcome her home. She was also an amateur artist, with painting and sketching taking up a good deal of her time when she was not in the White Collar office. Indeed, on many of her walks with Lily throughout the parks of London with Lily, she would often find herself pausing to take a quick sketch of something which had caught her attention, whether it was something as minute as the way the sunlight was hitting a leaf, or as vast as the fog encircling Westminster Abbey.
Brenna also did not possess the kind of looks that people would have called stunning. Her hair was dark blond in color, with light green eyes and a dusting of freckles over her cheeks and nose. There was nothing about her which really made her stand out amidst the crowds of people which walked the pavement every day. In a way, she almost preferred it that way; being unmemorable could sometimes be an advantage, if one knew how to use it properly. And over the years, she had learned that where looks failed to entice, personality had to take over.
So, by all appearance, Brenna was a perfectly normal person, living in London. But then again, appearances could be quite deceiving. In fact, Brenna was as far from normal as could be imagined. There was a reason why she knew so much about white collar crimes: she had committed many of them herself.
Once, in another life, Brenna had been a criminal. She had been a thief and a forger, and she had been good at it, leaving a trail of crimes behind her across Europe. For four years, she had kept the authorities on a chase. Brenna had simply been too good to be caught. But, two-and-a-half years before, that had all changed. Brenna had become tired of running and she had had wanted it to end.
Detective Inspector Alice Bennett, the head of Scotland Yard's White Collar Division, had been one of the many agents of law enforcement who had chased Brenna over the years, and she had proven to be the most astute and persistent of her pursuers. More then a few times, Brenna had been close to getting caught by her. Because of this, Brenna had acquired a grudging respect for Alice, a feeling which proved to be mutual. In the end, Alice had been the only one who Brenna would surrender to.
There were many crimes which Brenna was suspected of having committed, but it turned out that forgery was the only crime that she could be charged conclusively with. She had been resigned to spending five years in prison. But then, the very person who had arrested her, had been the one to offer her a release. Alice had come to her in prison, saying that she was prepared to make a deal: Brenna could get out, but she would have to help the Yard track down criminals like her, people who were often guilty of far more serious things than just stealing a valuable painting. She would also have to wear a tracking anklet that would track her movements. If she proved that she could become a functioning member of society again, there might be a chance that she could be free. However, any attempt to run and she would be back in prison, with no chance of getting out for a very long time.
Brenna had not needed a lot of incentive. Being cooped up in a prison was not her style, and she gladly took the anklet for the chance at being free.
And so had started a very unlikely, and yet strangely successful partnership. Alice and Brenna found that they worked surprisingly well together, and it hadn't been long before the two of them had become friends. Alice was something of a legend in the Police force. Possessed of an indomitable will and a fierce devotion to her calling, people quickly learned never to get on her bad side. She could be frightening, especially when she turned that gray-eyed stare on people who displeased her. Intimidation was further compounded by Alice's height of 5'9".
She could sometimes be exacting and stern with her team. However, for those who had earned her trust, she was fiercely protective. Brenna quickly fell under her protection, and Alice's reputation was such that no one ever thought to openly question her sanity about allowing Brenna to work with her.
It was always Brenna that the questioning glances followed. There were few people who trusted Brenna in the Police Department. It was hardly surprising, though. Their whole careers and lives were built around keeping criminals off the streets, not free to roam. Granted, Brenna had never killed or even harmed another person during her thefts. But, she had still broken the law. Having a criminal like herself in their midst couldn't have been an easy thing to accept, and most of them didn't. The most she ever got from most of the men and women on the police force were cold silences or curt replies. Over time, Brenna had steeled herself to these reactions. If she was going to get them anyway, she refused to let them bring her down.
This was Brenna's life, and despite struggling with the consequences of her past, she found that she wouldn't have traded where she was now, for anything in the world.
It was on one such ordinary day in her life, around 5:30, when Brenna was finishing up the report on the latest case that she and Alice had solved, when her phone buzzed. When she looked down at who was sending her the text, she didn't know whether to be annoyed or excited. True, a call from him always broke up the regular routine of the day, but then again, it could also lead to nothing but trouble. It was only fitting, though; only someone like her would have been able to have a relationship with Sherlock Holmes.
She briefly wondered if she should ignore the text, but then thought better of it. Sherlock was most likely madly excited or dreadfully bored. Ignoring him in either circumstance wouldn't be smart.
What are you doing? SH
I'm working, Sherlock. BR
Of course you think it's boring. You think almost everything is boring that doesn't involve dead bodies. BR
Which there have an appalling lack of recently, except for those suicides, which Lestrade isn't letting me get near. SH
Poor baby. Have you had your moan now? I need to get back to work. BR
You're not working right now, and I'm not moaning. SH
Yes, you are and what makes you think I'm not working? BR
The very fact that you're taking time out of your busy schedule to text with me shows that you must be at a good stopping place. You also just got off a case, and you always try to get the reports out of the way because you find the paperwork boring. It's also nearly 5:30, and since I'm picking you up at 6:00, you want to be done as soon as you can. It's obvious. SH
Brenna frowned, and then looked at her computer screen. She really did have only a paragraph left, so Sherlock had been right again, but she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that. She finished the report before returning back to her text conversation. Wrong on all counts. BR
You took two minutes to type the last paragraph. SH
I'm not going to answer that. Just why are you texting me, Sherlock? BR
I told you, I'm bored. SH
Which no doubt means you want me to help you stir up some sort of mayhem. BR
It's not mayhem. I want you to help me give Lestrade a wake up call. SH
By doing what, exactly? BR
Sherlock managed to explain that Lestrade was holding a press conference regarding the string of suspicious suicides that had been occurring across London over the past few months. There had been three bodies so far, all of them turning up in remote areas, dead from some sort of poison that they had taken voluntarily. Naturally, this was all more than a little suspicious and the public, being what they were, were starting to get a little restless. Lestrade was using the press conference to try and calm the ignorant masses, to use Sherlock's phrasing.
Brenna already knew Sherlock's feelings on this matter; she had heard it all from him frequently during the last few weeks. What he actually wanted her to do in this instance was another story.
You want me to help you text the word 'wrong' to the cell phones of everyone at the press conference, at the same time? BR
I did just tell you that, didn't I? SH
I know I'm going to regret asking this, but why? BR
Because Lestrade is on the wrong track, and he will be until he consults me. SH
Brenna resisted the urge to text back the first thing that came into her head.
What makes you think I can or even want to help you? BR
Sgt. Donavon is giving the press conference with him. SH
Would you stop appealing to my lower impulses? BR
Sherlock was well aware of her dislike for Sgt. Donovan He had used that as leverage on more than one occasion. Of course, it didn't help that she normally didn't need much persuasion to commit mischief where Sgt. Donovan was involved.
Does that mean you'll help me? SH
I think that you already know the answer to that. I'll get you in, but you owe me, Sherlock. BR
It only took her a few minutes to get past the fire walls and password encrypted safeguards that the Yard had put up. Having gone in and out of the Yard's infrastructure for the past two years, it was no challenge for Brenna to hack into the system.
You should be free to spam them whenever you wish, Sherlock. BR
You're invaluable, Brenna. Be sure and turn on the live feed. I would hate for you to miss the show. SH
Brenna had to admit that she really didn't want to miss anything either, if only for the sake of seeing Donovan’s reaction. She looked up the live feed of the video conference. Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade and Sgt. Sally Donovan had just finished explaining the case of the multiple suicides.
Of course, the press was all over the case, and like hounds on a scent, they were eager to get the juiciest story that they could. They were quite ready to label these mysterious deaths as something other than suicides if it meant that they could get a better account out of it. Namely, labeling them as serial killings.
Lestrade, to his credit, even in the face of their clearly inflammatory questions, still managed to exude some calm. "As I say, these suicides are clearly linked. It's an unusual situation. We've got our best people working on it."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth, then all the mobiles in the room went off simultaneously, all of them with a single word on their screens: Wrong.
Why do I get the feeling that you are enjoying this far more than you should? BR
Well, it's obvious that he's wrong, isn't it? SH
Is it? BR
This mysterious message caused a furor amongst the reporters and irraitation on the part of Sally Donovan "If you've all got texts, just ignore them."
"It just says wrong." said one puzzled reporter.
"Yes, well, just ignore that." said Sally, who was clearly trying to bring the conference to an end before it could get even more embarrassing. "If there are no more questions for Detective Inspector Lestrade, I'm going to bring this session to an end."
The last question asked was whether or not these suicides were the work of a serial killer. The last thing Lestrade wanted was for the public to start panicking about an unseen killer. He knew that the media would be all over this, blowing it all out of proportion merely for the sake of getting a good story. "I know this is a frightening time for people. But all anyone has to do is exercise the proper precautions. We are all as safe as we want to be."
The mobiles in the room rang with word Wrong. Only this time, it seemed that there was a much more ominous tone to it. Brenna also saw that Lestrade received a different text, presumably from Sherlock, one that no doubt ran along the lines of how Lestrade was powerless to solve the case until he consulted him.
The press conference broke up rather ignominiously. No doubt Donovan would start complaining to Lestrade, who would let the whole thing slide. Brenna suspected that it wouldn't be long before Sherlock was brought in on the case.
Of course, she wasn't going to tell Sherlock that.
You enjoyed that didn't you? BR
And you didn't? SH
Brenna was about to text her reply, when she suddenly saw that Alice Bennett was approaching her desk.
Look, Sherlock, I'm going to have to let you go. BR
Is Bennett coming? SH
Yes, I would prefer that she didn't guess that I hacked into the Yard's main frame. BR
Why not? It was splendid work. You should take credit for it. SH
I'll think about doing that when I don't have a tracking anklet. See you in a few hours, Sherlock. BR
Before he could say anything else, Brenna hung up, and for good measure, put the phone on silent. She couldn't really afford to have any more of her work taken up by Sherlock, no matter how much she might have enjoyed it.