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whatever remains

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Somewhere in London, Connor Murphy and Evan Hansen were having afternoon tea.

Somewhere else in London, Jared Kleinman was stealing the crown jewels. But we’ll get to that bit later - first, let’s focus on the afternoon tea.

Connor was dropping a sickening quantity of sugar cubes into his tea. Evan was wrinkling his nose in disapproval.

“I don’t know how you drink it without sugar,” Connor retorted, raising the teacup to his lips. His voice was annoyed, but the twinkle of his eyes from behind the teacup told Evan that he was messing with him.

Evan could hardly remember the days when Connor was a mystery to him - now, he joked and made fun of him like they’d known each other for forever. And, in a sense, they had known each other forever. A year in the world of detectives and criminals was like ten years in the normal world.

“Then you clearly don’t understand tea,” Evan replied, taking a sip of his tea (no sugar, the way it was supposed to be drunk).

“And you don’t understand my need for caffeine.” Connor had already finished his cup of tea and was reaching for the scones. “It’s beyond me why you don’t just drink coffee like the rest of the world.”

“I don’t think my anxiety needs more fuel, thank you.” That was another thing that Evan couldn’t have imagined doing before he’d met Connor: joking about his anxiety. Talking about it. He still had therapy, only those sessions were getting fewer and further between. And he still wrote that blog, the one that Connor hated. But the point was that he was getting better.

“Do you remember,” began Evan, “when we were in Dartmoor, and you thought my tea was poisoned?”

Connor took a huge bite out of his scone. Whatever he said next was rendered incomprehensible by his mouthful of scone, but it sounded a bit like, “Shut up.”

Evan smiled to himself at the memory. It was the only time, to date, that he’d ever witnessed Connor being wrong about something. They’d been called to Dartmoor, where their client had witnessed the murder of his father by a giant bloodhound. Their investigation had led them to the military research base, Baskerville, where a mind-altering drug was being produced. It was the same drug that had created images of the hounds in the client’s mind.

There had been a period where Evan and Connor had stayed in the inn a few miles away, thinking. Or, rather, Connor had been doing most of the thinking. He’d been trying to figure out how the drug was being administered. For a moment, he’d thought that it was in the water, and the moment that Evan raised his beer to his lips, he knocked it out of his hands. “That could be poison!” He’d yelled at a nonplussed Evan.

Connor turned out to be wrong; the drug was being pumped into the air, to look like the mist on the moors. They’d cracked the case; locked up the criminals; got home in one piece. But Evan still didn’t let him forget that he’d been wrong once.

“Aren’t you going to knock it out of my hand?” Said Evan now, waving the tea in front of him.

“Sshhh.” Connor was shaking his head and laughing quietly. “The number of times you’ve embarrassed yourself, and I never bring them up.”

“Like what?” Evan gave him one of his rare grins. Connor loved that grin: it was like a kid’s, all teeth.

“Like the time we tried to get into Irene Adler’s house.” Connor closed his eyes for a second, and let the images come back to him. He didn’t think he’d ever have this many good memories to draw on. It was like Christmas. “And we had to pretend that I’d been beaten up, remember? I told you to punch me in the face.”

“I did punch you in the face.” Evan didn’t want to admit it, but it had been fun. Connor had been annoying him at the particular moment, so.

“And you broke your own hand. I came off without so much as a scratch.”

Evan reached out and nicked a piece of Connor’s scone. Connor let him. “You can’t say I didn’t try.”

“Gold star for effort, Hansen. As always.” Connor stole his piece of the scone back with lightning speed.

This was what it had been like. Ever since that night when Connor had nearly got murdered by a cab driver (and Evan saved him, except Connor still insists that he could have saved himself), this had been their life. Solving crimes together. Getting into danger, then getting each other out again.

Evan had been from the back alleys to Buckingham Palace; he’d had a bomb strapped to his chest, and been kidnapped by a criminal ring. He’d been put in more life-or-death situations than in the battlefield, but he’d never felt happier. Maybe it was because, after all the destruction and madness, he always had someone to go for dinner with afterwards. Maybe it was because, when he sat in his armchair at 221B Baker Street, there was always the other armchair opposite him.

But enough of the sentimentality. All you need to know is that Connor and Evan’s afternoon tea was about to be interrupted soon, and it had something - no, everything - to do with Jared Kleinman and some priceless sapphires.

Somewhere in London, Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca was playing, but only one person could hear it.

After all, Jared Kleinman couldn’t hear anything else: he had AirPods.

He felt like a king. More than a king: he felt like the king of crime. He was dancing like no one in the world was watching, the frenetic speed of the music the soundtrack to his greatness. This was only the beginning.

His first task was just for fun; he was doing it for the sake of it, just because he could. It was easy to shut down the CCTV cameras and dismantle the laser sensors. Those things didn’t belong here, anyway; technology was out of place in a building so old, so great. The Tower of London. It had seen royalty, but had it met the king of crime before?

The sceptre felt strangely light in his hands, as if it wasn’t quite real. He grinned lazily at the gleam of what was around him: diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other shiny things he couldn’t name.

Then there was the fancy robe, and the crown. Those were heavy. He turned his head this way and that, catching his reflection in a pane of glass. Then he got bored and headed over to the throne on display, stepping up into it and reclining back.

It felt amazing. But what was a crime without someone to share it with?

Jared lifted the crown off his head - he was sorry to leave it, but didn’t have much use for it - and bought out a can of spray paint from his bag. On the wall, he sprayed the words Get Murphy. He surveyed his handiwork with satisfaction, and decided it was time.

He set off the alarm. Almost immediately, security guards came pouring in, rushing towards him and seizing him by the arms. Jared smiled to himself as he was led away in handcuffs and jewels.

A few miles away, Connor Murphy’s phone began to ring