It wasn’t often that Molly was puzzled by an autopsy. She’d seen quite a few in her years at Barts that had been strange or unusual, and heard many more stories from the various mentors she’d had over the years. There was not very much to make her consider calling in Sherlock before the detective inspectors called him in themselves, if they hadn’t already, but this…this one was quite puzzling. It almost appeared as if the victim had drowned, but there was no indication that she had been held underwater in any way.
She picked up her tape recorder and was about to speak into it when the doors to the morgue opened and Sherlock walked in. He looked rather annoyed, and that did not bode well. He might not appear annoyed to the world at large at this precise moment, but she could read his moods well and saw the small indications in his stance and expression on his face that showed she was going to get a tirade at any moment. She decided to stop him before he started. “How do you drown someone without forcing their head underwater?” she asked as he was about to speak.
He had his mouth open and then closed it, thinking. She had to smile at that. After knowing each other for seven years and dating for two she knew him better than anyone else on the face of the earth, it seemed. Except possibly for Mary. Mary had this uncanny ability to read Sherlock almost as well as she did, and she greatly enjoyed stumping her husband with that. And it was always fun when she and Mary compared notes. It made it much easier to surprise Sherlock, she realized, when they put their heads together and plotted. Mary had been the one to suggest diverting Sherlock’s train of thought before he got into a long winded rant, and it usually worked like a charm. He made his way closer to the body. “Drowning was her cause of death?” he asked, looking at the woman’s open chest cavity.
Molly nodded. “She wasn’t found in a loo or anywhere near water, and there’s n o signs she struggled or was forcibly held down.” She pointed to the woman’s neck, and Sherlock leaned in, moving her head slightly. There were no telltale bruises, and no foam at her mouth. “Is she your victim?”
He shook his head. “I’m on a silly kidnapping case,” he said. “I’d much rather have a good murder any day, but no one can figure out how the security system was tampered with for the child to be taken.”
“Well, maybe you can handle both,” she said with a smile. “This is one of Greg’s cases.”
“Anything to get me away from Dimmock,” he said. “It’s been I don’t know how many years and he’s still overly fascinated by me.”
“Well, you are a fascinating man,” she said. “I’m quite fascinated by you, at least.”
“You have been for quite a long time,” he said.
“And I will continue to be fascinated by you for even longer,” she said. She motioned for him to lean over and then gave him a quick kiss. “Did you have a reason for coming down here if this wasn’t your case?”
“I wanted to see about taking you to lunch. Or rather, taking you home and to bed for your break and then watching you very quickly eat the lunch waiting for you in the kitchen.”
She chuckled. “That is quite tempting. Can it wait until I’m done with this autopsy?”
“I suppose,” he said. “How much longer do you think it will be?”
“Forty-five minutes or so?” she said after some thought. “I can run the tests after lunch, but since I’m elbow deep in the body at the moment I’d like to finish that first.
He nodded. “I can wait in your office so I don’t disturb you, then,” he said.
“You don’t have to,” she said. “I don’t mind if you’re out here. Just don’t distract me too much.”
“I have some things I should take care of,” he said. “I can do it better in your office.”
“All right,” she said. “Can I get another kiss first, though?”
He nodded and this time came around and stood next to her as he kissed her. She didn’t pull him closer, much as she wanted to, because her gloves were covered in blood and bodily fluids and she was fairly sure he wouldn’t want them on his clothes. Still, it was a rather enjoyable kiss, and he gave her a small smile when he pulled away before he headed towards her office.
She went back to work, a sense of anticipation running through her. She knew that the tabloid rumors about Sherlock had been false, that all the things Janine had said had been utter tripe, so when they had begun a relationship a few months after he was supposed to have left on a one way trip to Russia she was worried that he wouldn’t be comfortable at all with physical affection. But their first kiss had taken her breath away, and he had admitted it had felt different then when he had kissed Janine. When they became intimate it was a learning process for him, but nearly a year later she had to admit he had certainly exceeded her every expectation in that department. Even a quick shag in the afternoon was something to look forward to.
She finished the autopsy as quickly as she could and stripped off her gloves, depositing them in the medical waste bin before taking the samples to the refrigerator to save until she needed to run them. When she was done with that she went into her office and saw Sherlock keying something in on his mobile, a frown on his face. “Sherlock?”
“She’s back,” he said, his tone flat.
“Who’s back?” she asked, coming around to the chair he was sitting in.
Molly’s eyes widened slightly. “I see,” she said quietly. She knew the truth of the situation with Irene Adler, that the woman was not really dead and that she had been infatuated with Sherlock. “Why is she back?”
“My brother had need of her,” he said. “She sent me a text, asking to have dinner. I am not an idiot, I know what her invitations to dinner mean.”
“Did you tell her no?” Molly asked.
“I said when hell froze over,” he said.
She smiled at that. “Good.” She moved to his side and then sat down on his lap. “If you want, I can take an extended lunch. I only have one more body left today, and the tests to run on the woman I was just autopsying. I could help take your mind off of this turn of events.”
He nodded before leaning in and kissing her. She reached up and framed his face in her hands as he reached for her waist. This time she got close and deepened the kiss, savoring every moment. It was almost with reluctance that she pulled away to catch her breath. He rested his forehead against hers, moving his hand to the small of her back. “Marry me,” he said.
“Sherlock?” she asked, surprised.
“I have a ring, it’s at home. I was going to ask at home but…now seemed a better time. And I mucked it all up because it wasn’t, was it? My timing was horrible,” he said, sighing.
“Yes,” she said.
“I knew it,” he said glumly.
“No, Sherlock. Your timing is fine. My answer is yes. Yes, I’ll marry you,” she said, a wide smile forming on her face before she leaned in and kissed him again. This kiss was much quicker, and then she wrapped her arms around him. “I honestly thought you’d never ask.”
“I actually almost asked after our first date but I was told that was too soon,” he said, relaxing as he embraced her back.
“To tell you the truth, I probably still would have said yes,” she said. Then she kissed him again. “I’m definitely taking a long lunch now. And I’m going to make sure this is the best shag you’ve ever had.”
“You promise?” he asked.
“Oh, I solemnly swear to it,” she said, her smile so wide she was afraid she might split her mouth open. This had to be the best day of her life, in all true honesty. There was absolutely nothing that could make this day any better, she realized.
She woke up the next morning and stretched languidly until Sherlock pulled her back against him and nuzzled her neck. She smiled and put her hands over his as she snuggled against him. “Good morning,” she said.
“Yes, it is a very good morning,” he said, pressing a kiss to her neck. “You agreed to marry me yesterday.”
“Why yes, I did,” she said with a laugh, turning in his arms to face him. She reached up to caress his face. “I think it will be the best decision I’ll have ever made, to be honest.”
“Even better than agreeing to date me in the first place?” he teased before nudging her onto her back and hovering over her.
“Probably,” she said, pretending to consider it. “But possibly not more than the decision to shag you the first time.”
“Well, there was alcohol at play that evening,” he said.
“And Mary not so subtly encouraging the both of us to share a cab home, and then giving the driver just your address,” she said with a laugh. “If she hadn’t done that I don’t think either of us would have ever gotten up the nerve to do anything more about what was going on between us.”
“I would have, eventually,” he said as he leaned in. “Though probably not until after we’d already been dating for at least a little while in my head.”
“That wouldn’t have gone over well,” she said with a chuckle, running her hands over his bare shoulders.
“Then we should be glad things worked out the way they did,” he said quietly before he captured her lips with his. She eagerly returned his kiss, starting to slide her hands down his back as he ran a hand along her thigh when his mobile went off. He pulled away from the kiss and hung his head slightly. “I thought I’d turned the blasted thing off.”
“You could always ignore it,” she said.
“I could,” he said, looking down at her. The mobile continued to ring as he dipped his head back down, moving to her pulse point instead of her lips, nipping at the skin there. She shut her eyes and tipped her head back, running her fingers through the curls in his hair as the ringing stopped. After a moment he began to move his lips, leaving kisses on her collarbone and the hollow of her throat before moving down to the valley of her breasts. Things were just about to get interesting when the ringing started again and he hung his head with a sigh before picking his mobile off the nightstand. “You better have a damn good reason for interrupting my morning,” he growled to whoever was on the other end of the line.
He sat up in bed after a moment, the sheet and duvet settling around his hips. Molly did the same, clutching the sheet to cover her breasts with one hand as she tucked her hair behind her ears with the other. She watched as the irritation vanished from Sherlock’s face, replaced with the eagerness that always came with an intriguing case. He had the look of a boy whose come downstairs Christmas morning to find a huge pile of gifts, and each one is exactly what he’s wanted. She gathered that it had to be Lestrade on the other end of the conversation. Finally he nodded and hung up. “New case?” she asked.
“Overkill,” he said in a slightly gleeful tone, throwing back the bedding and getting out of bed. She took a moment to admire the rather lovely view of a stark naked Sherlock before he went to his dresser for a new pair of pants. “A man was beaten with at least five different blunt instruments, kicked and stomped, had the back of his head bashed in and was then stabbed in the back. Someone went to great pains to make it appears as though many people were responsible for the beating, when in reality it was one. Two at most.”
“That sounds right up your alley,” she said. “But what about the kidnapping?”
He waved his hand slightly. “There isn’t much more to do on it. I deduced how the perpetrator broke in while you were finishing your autopsy yesterday and Dimmock said he’d handle the rest so I’m letting him handle the rest. If he desperately needs me and I’m not engrossed in something else I’ll see if I can make myself available.”
“Ah,” she said with a nod.
He studied her for a moment. “I know that you relish your chance to linger in bed but I would appreciate your opinion on the body. Since John is otherwise occupied…”
She gave him a warm smile. “Well, I suppose I can leave this nice, warm bed and go out into the cold, not even sunlit morning because my fiancé has a dead body he’d like me to see. But only if he promises to let me get coffee first.”
“Not a shag?” he asked.
“As much as I would love one, and as much as you would as well, obviously,” she said as her gaze drifted to the lower part of his anatomy, “it’s not fair to keep Lestrade waiting.”
He pondered things before abandoning getting his pants. “But we do both need a shower,” he said, moving over to her side of his bed and offering her his hand.
Her smile got wider. “We do, I suppose,” she agreed with a nod as she took his hand. “And if we were to take one together that would save time.”
“It would,” he said as he helped her up, pulling her close. He ran his thumb over her engagement ring for a moment. “And you do enjoy it when I wash your hair.”
“Mmm, I do,” she said, stepping closer. She gave him a soft kiss. “Go start the shower, Sherlock. I’ll go start the coffee.”
He grinned and gave her one last kiss before pulling away and going to the back of his door to get his dressing gown. Once it was on he headed to the loo. She shook her head and got her own and went to the kitchen to go start the coffee. She supposed she would get used to morning like this one she became Mrs. Molly Holmes, she thought to herself. Not that she minded. She wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life like this, with that wonderful man, the love of her life, and if this was what a typical morning was going to be like, then so be it. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
After they showered, got a quick bite to eat, and had their coffees sorted, Sherlock and Molly caught a cab to a derelict warehouse near the docks. The area was lit in the pre-dawn hours with flashing police lights and bright spotlights on the actual crime scene. The body was still there for Sherlock to examine, and Molly could see one of her colleagues nearby giving her a strange look. Lestrade moved over towards her. “Koops keeps giving you the evil eye,” he said, stifling a yawn.
“I think it’s because he thinks I’m going to come in and steal the body out from under him,” she said, giving Lestrade an amused smile. “Which I’m not, by the way. I am here solely as support to my fiancé.”
“Fiancé?” Lestrade asked, his eyes wide. Molly’s grin grew wider and she held out her left hand to show Lestrade the ring, a princess cut diamond flanked with two small amethysts and small diamonds dotting the band. He let go of her hand and pulled her into a hug. “Now that is a nice ring. Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” she said, hugging him back. “I didn’t think he’d actually ask, but I’m glad he did. There’s no one I’d rather spend the rest of my life with, to be honest.”
“It makes me even gladder you didn’t settle down with Tom. You two would never have worked out,” he said, pulling back.
“No, we wouldn’t have,” she agreed. She glanced over at Sherlock. “He had it all planned. He’d gotten me lunch from Speedy’s at Baker Street, and he was going to bring me home and…you know…during my lunch.”
Greg chuckled. “Yeah, I know.”
“Well, anyway, afterward, before I got out of bed, he was going to slip the ring on my hand and give me this heartfelt proposal he’d been working on for weeks.”
“Didn’t happen that way, I take it?” he asked, tilting his head.
“Nope. He was sitting in my office chair and pulled me onto his lap and kissed me and just asked ‘Marry me.’ Then he explained the set-up and was worried he’d mucked it all up and I accepted his proposal but he thought I agreed he’d mucked it up but I assured him I was saying yes, I’d marry him and he got very happy.”
“And then I’m assuming at that point you went home and took a very long lunch,” he said knowingly.
Molly laughed. “Yeah, pretty much. It certainly beats my last marriage proposal.” She sobered slightly. “You know, I don’t even know if Tom really wanted to marry me or if he just thought I was expecting it and so he did it because he thought it was what I wanted.”
“Well, at least there’s one thing you know for sure this time,” Greg said. “This time, the man proposing is madly, utterly, head over heels in love with you and he really does want to spend the rest of his life with you.”
“Yeah,” Molly said with a smile, turning to look at Sherlock with a warm smile on her face. “You should have seen him when you called. He looked so excited for this crime scene, like a kid at Christmas.”
“Are you sure I shouldn’t be alarmed?” Greg asked.
“Well, after having to deal with Dimmock and a kidnapping, having me say yes and then this pretty much was Christmas for him,” she said as Sherlock looked over at them and signaled for them to come closer. The two of them moved closer to Sherlock and the body. “Yes?”
“I know this is your day off, Molly…” he began.
“Oh, you’d owe me the most immense of favours if I go in on my day off and do this autopsy for you,” she said, the smile dropping off her face.
He stood up and leaned in, his lips towards her ear. “I promise to be your virtual slave in whatever means you wish to employ my servitude for the next three days if you do the autopsy,” he murmured.
“Week,” she countered.
“Done,” she replied. “You can start by making sure the flat is spotless when I get back. And when I say spotless, I do not mean conning Mrs. Hudson into doing it.”
“Homeless network?” he asked, straightening up.
She considered it. “Only if Wiggins supervises them. Him I completely trust.”
“And,” she said, holding up a hand as Sherlock turned to go back to the outside of the warehouse, “if Mariesala is around, tell her that if she’ll do the laundry I have a tin of Turkish delight that she’s more than welcome to have all to herself on top of the refrigerator. And if Wiggins tries to steal any to tell me and I’ll stab him in the foot. He got some the last time he was there helping you with a mad science experiment. When he can get the laundry done as perfectly as she can then he can have a tin all to himself. Until then, hands off.”
Sherlock gave her a grin. “I’ll pass that message along.” He paused and then gave her a lingering kiss. “I knew I made the right choice in marrying you.”
“Because I tolerate your choice in acquaintances?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, without much complaint,” he said with a nod. “Preference for lunch?”
“Greek,” she said. “And not brought to the morgue. Make time to take me somewhere, and no later than…” She looked down at the body. “Half past one. I think this is going to be a tricky one.”
Sherlock nodded as he headed off. “I’ll be there no later than one, I promise,” he called behind him.
“If you break your promise I add a day of indentured servitude!” Molly called back. She glanced over at Greg, who was shaking his head with the widest grin on his face. “What?” she asked.
“I think that you two are absolutely perfect for each other, that’s all,” he said with a laugh. “Should I break the news to the pathologist he got up for nothing or should you?”
“I suppose I will,” she said with a sigh. “The things we do for love.”
“Oh yeah,” Greg agreed with a nod. “I’ll go along anyway and lend moral support.” With that, the two of them headed off. She had the feeling it was going to be a long day, but if she could help Sherlock out then perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad.
She was right in that it had been a rather tricky autopsy. The estimate of the number of weapons used that Sherlock had gotten over the phone was wrong, for a start; Molly had realized there had been at least seven. There had been a sharp edged instrument as well, used to bash the head in and there had been signs that, at some points, the victim had been trussed with thick ropes tied tightly around his midsection as well as his wrists and ankles, and he had been drugged as well. Quite heavily sedated, at that, and the injuries to his person had been sustained over a matter of days, if not an entire week, before the killing blow to the back of the head had been inflicted.
Dr. Koops had been upset that she had swooped in on this case but when she had said that she’d arrange for him to have the entire day off and still receive his pay he’d been appeased. It was nice to be able to pull strings like that occasionally. If she couldn’t arrange for it officially she’d try to arrange for it unofficially, from the slush fund available to her from Scotland Yard for her consulting fees. It did help to be seen as a consultant in her own right, apparently, a position she had taken on once tom had left the picture and Sherlock had realized that, with John being preoccupied with a baby, he rather needed a new one.
That was how their whole relationship had come about, really. Once the mess with Magnussen and Moriarty’s “reappearance” had been settled, Sherlock had his life back, but it had been…different. And her life had been different as well. The two of them were both lonely, both a bit lost, and they had gradually decided that maybe two lost people could spend time together, work together, build a better friendship together. And she enjoyed the work of being a consultant’s assistant. There had been a thrill in it that she didn’t get from what she did at Barts, being an active part of the casework. She had quite a knack for it, she’d found.
And then one case had led to her having to pretend to go out on a date with a potential date rapist named Franklin Bishop and it had gone awry. He’d managed to figure out it was a trap and he’d tried to hurt her but Sherlock had taught her well, taught her how to defend herself, and while she had gotten just a little bit injured in the process she’d delivered a wallop to him and gotten him to confess to drugging and raping the other women on threat of chemical castration at her hands. She had him so thoroughly terrified that he told Lestrade any number of sins he’d committed, including some things they hadn’t even guessed.
That evening Sherlock had taken her home and was tending to her relatively minor wounds, dancing around telling her that he didn’t want to let her work with him anymore, didn’t want to put her in danger. When she pressed him as to why, he said because he cared and he was scared that tonight could have gone so much worse, he could have lost her and he wouldn’t have known what to do without her. She’d leaned forward and kissed him then, a kiss she’d intended to be soft and simple but he’d kissed her back so passionately it had taken her breath away. She knew he had that level of passion in him but she hadn’t thought he’d had it for her.
There had been nothing more for a time after the kiss until Mary had sent them home together in the cab after a bit too much to drink, and they moved slowly from there, building a real relationship. He wasn’t experienced, not really, and she knew that. She was patient, for the most part, and the patience had paid off, as it was now just over two years later and he’d asked her to marry him. She’d have been perfectly happy if he hadn’t, of course; they’d been living together at Baker Street the last six months and she had assured him many times she’d have been just fine with the arrangement if that was what he wanted, but the fact he had gone out and gotten a ring and proposed to her, saying that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her as her husband meant more to her than she thought he realized.
She glanced up and saw that it was nearly one o’clock. Sherlock should be there any moment and she wasn’t quite done with the autopsy. There were still tests to run, results that needed to be waited for…she was quite curious to find out what the victim had been drugged with because it wasn’t something that she’d seen come across her table recently. Though, she supposed, they were all things that could wait until after her lunch. She made her way into the office and saw that Sherlock was already there. “Was it as tricky as you thought it was?” he asked, looking up when she walked in.
“Considering it’s nearly one and the body was released to me at eight, yes,” she said, moving to her spot in front of the computer. She sat down in her chair and began rubbing her neck. “I’ve spent nearly five hours working on just this one body. I probably shouldn’t have given Dr. Koops the day off and had him come in to work on other bodies. It’s going to be a very long day.”
He gestured for her to move her chair closer. She wheeled it towards him and he placed his hands on her shoulders, beginning to massage them, using his thumb to pay attention to the area she had just been rubbing. It felt quite good after she’d been hanging her head to take care of the autopsy and to catalogue the different bruise patterns and marks on the body. “How many weapons were used?”
“Seven blunt instruments as well as one weapon with a sharp edge,” she said, leaning her head forward slightly. “The cause of death was head trauma due to the sharp edged implement. The last weapon was lodged in the upper portion of the back as the victim was dying of the head injury, but it didn’t contribute to the cause of death.”
“Definitely overkill, then,” he said. “Were there more than two perpetrators?” he asked.
“Well, from angles of bruising I’d say no. It appears one assailant was at least 180.34 centimeters and another was 165.1 centimeters. If the evidence at the scene shows there were only two assailants it doesn’t contradict any evidence on the body.” She paused for a moment. “It’s strange.”
“What is?” he asked, pausing for a moment.
“Well, you know I love to read, right?” she asked.
He gave a small chuckle. “I remember we had to buy three new bookshelves for the sitting room and two for my bedroom to hold all your books when you moved in, and that was after you donated some and gave some away,” he said. “Why do you bring that up?”
She pulled away slightly to look at him. “Well, when I was a girl, my father got me into a series by an author named David Eddings. It’s called The Belgariad. It’s about a boy named Garion who’s the descendent of a line of kings, but he grew up on a farm. He’s also a sorcerer. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on, but he becomes king and defeats a god and gets married and then the series ends.”
“All right,” Sherlock said slowly, sounding slightly confused.
“Well, before I started at Barts, years and years ago, one of my mentors said there was an unsolved string of murders where someone was imitating that series. Nothing overt, but the murders were inspired by the series. There were maybe three or four murders, I think, and an animal killing and then they just…stopped.”
Sherlock nodded. “Go on.”
“Anyway, a few years later, Eddings wrote a sequel series, The Mallorean. It takes place quite a few years later, when Garion is grown. Basically the idea is the prophecy that guides Garion in the first story isn’t quite finished. It’s cyclical. There’s a hidden part of the prophecy. Anyway, in the first book in this series, there’s two deaths that I can remember. There’s Arell, who dies in a pool, and then there’s Brand, who’s attacked by a group of people and basically it’s a case of overkill. The only one of the attackers who isn’t immediately killed by the Rivans has the back of his head bashed in, and I believe it’s with an axe.”
Sherlock’s eyes widened at that. “That is interesting,” he said thoughtfully.
Molly nodded. “I was thinking. I had the woman’s autopsy yesterday who drowned and I couldn’t figure out how. What if…what if she’d connected to this man? And what if both of those cases are connected to the unsolved murders from long ago?”
Sherlock leaned back slightly from his perch on the corner of her desk. “Do you have both of the series at home?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yes. They’re on the bookshelf.”
“I’m not a very big fan of fantasy novels, but I suppose I can look them over,” he said. “Do you remember who was involved in the previous cases?”
“Not on Scotland Yard’s end, but I know the person from Barts was Fraser McLeish. He was one of my instructors when I was in medical school and he’s a good friend. I know those were some cases that have always haunted him.”
“I’ll go talk to Lestrade and see what he thinks of this possible connection,” he said. “Is there any chance you can get someone to come in and work for the remainder of the day? I would like for you to accompany me when I speak to Lestrade. You’re more knowledgeable about the background of the cases and the stories on which the murders are based.”
She bit her bottom lip slightly. “Give me a few minutes to make some calls. We can always invite him to join us for lunch, if we have to.”
“Then we’ll do that,” he said with a nod.
Molly nodded as well and then turned to her computer, going through the roster of people she could call. If these two cases did turn out to be connected and they were connected to the cold cases from long ago, this had turned into something else entirely. She just hoped that they would be able to solve it before anyone else died, because if she remembered the series correctly, there were quite a few more deaths to come.
Lestrade agreed that it would be a good idea to meet up and hear what Molly had to say regarding her theories on the case. He was a bit pressed for time so she scrapped her desire for Greek food when Sherlock promised he’d get it for her for their dinner that evening. They decided to meet at the Pret A Manger near Barts because the food could be made quickly and Lestrade could take it with him if he needed to.
Sherlock and Molly got there first and placed their orders, Sherlock for South Indian Tomato & Spice soup, a Korean BBQ pulled pork quinoa rice pot and black filter coffee and Molly for "No Cream" Cream of Chicken soup, a teriyaki salmon salad, and a Love Bar Latte. Their orders were ready around the time Lestrade joined them and he looked exhausted. He brought his own coffee to them once he’d placed his order. “This case is going to be a headache and a half, I know it,” he said, leaning back in his seat.
“Well, Molly has a theory,” Sherlock said as Lestrade took a sip of his coffee.
Lestrade nodded. “You were telling me that,” he said. “You said it had to do with a series of books and some old unsolved cases?”
Molly nodded, spearing some of her salad and taking a bite of it. “Did you ever hear about any cases involving some books written by David Eddings?” she asked.
Lestrade scratched his chin slightly. “Back in my patrol days, I think. Something about a few human murders, an animal killing…never got solved, the case went cold. The detective in charge died a few years back. Detective…” He shut his eyes as he thought for a moment. “Detective Johnson, I think. Martin Johnson.”
She nodded. “Yes. Well, I knew the pathologist in those cases. He’d always hated that it had gone cold. It had grated at him. He’d taken copies of his notes on all the bodies, spoke extensively with the detective in charge, and he’s kept them all. He said he was willing to share what he had with the two of you.”
“The three of us,” Sherlock interjected. Lestrade and Molly both looked at him. “Molly assists me, she’s done it before, and as she has intimate knowledge of both book series that the killer is pulling potential victims from it’s best to have her around. I suppose John can help as well if he is needed, but I would prefer Molly as my primary partner in this case.”
Lestrade nodded. “I don’t have a problem with that,” he said, looking at Molly.
Molly shook her head. “I don’t either,” she said. She enjoyed helping Sherlock with his cases, and as this was a case that involved something she had an interest in, something she had knowledge about, it would be something that would be even more interesting than usual. “So do you want me to arrange a meeting for us?”
Lestrade nodded. “That would be best,” he said. He glanced at his watch. “I should be free around…four, give or take? Half past at the latest?”
“How about we set it for five?” Molly said, tilting her head slightly. “We can all meet at Baker Street, and I’ll see about making sure there’s food for us.”
“I promised you Greek,” Sherlock said, taking a bite of his food.
“It can keep till tomorrow, especially since you owe me,” she said with a grin towards him. Then she turned to Lestrade. “What are you in the mood for, Greg?”
“God, I don’t know. Something homemade, to be honest,” he said. “It’s been takeaway and ready-made meals the last few weeks.”
“I think I can whip up a steak and kidney pie with what I have on hand,” she said. “I’m sure Fraser would appreciate it as well. I visit him from time to time. Ever since his wife died he’s seemed to take less care of himself. A homemade meal would do him good, I think.” She had some more of her salad. “I’ll even try to have dessert on hand as well.”
“You’re a saint, Molly,” Lestrade said with a grin. His name was called and he went to go get his food.
Sherlock looked over at Molly. “Do you need to go back to the morgue today?” he asked.
She shook her head. “The people I had to come in and cover for me are going to be there for the rest of the day until the next shift comes in. I’m free so we can go home and I can start working on dinner for tonight, once I make arrangements with Fraser for him to join us.”
“Would you be averse to sharing some of your time with me?” he asked.
“As long as you don’t take too much of it,” she said with a smile. She reached over for her coffee and took a sip. “You know, if you think John may end up involved in this case as well, you could invite him over as well.” She paused. “Have you told him about our engagement yet?”
“I told him I was going to ask, but I’ve been a bit too busy to inform him that you said yes,” he said. “You saw to that yesterday, and the murder has seen to that today.”
“Then ask Mary as well and when we’re done with going over the case we can break out some nice wine or something and celebrate,” she said.
He nodded. “I’ll call and see if they’re available, and if they are I’ll have them join us.”
“I suppose I’ll need to make two pies, then,” she said. “So we may need to stop at the market to get a few more things.”
“That’s fine,” he said with a nod. He had some more of his food. “I have the feeling this is going to be the beginning of a long and twisty case, Molly.”
She nodded. “I do too,” she said. She went back to her salad, thinking about things. If this was someone going back and copying a previous killer, or worse, picking up where they had left off, and they had just started with the first book in a five book series, they had quite a few things that could be very problematic in the future to worry about.
John and Mary had gotten a sitter for their daughter for the evening so they had come over early to help, and it had ended up that John had taken over the process of cooking, much to Mary and Molly’s amusement. Molly didn’t mind, though; with her early morning, she had been rather tired and suspected she might have mucked up something important. Mary had said she’d handle dessert and had brought along a trifle. Molly’s mobile rang as John finished putting the pies in the oven. She reached over and saw it was Fraser’s number, and so she answered it. “Fraser!” she said cheerfully. “Dinner’s just gone in the oven.”
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend the gathering, lass,” Fraser said, his thick Irish brogue betraying an underlying current of fear.
Molly, motioned for Sherlock to come over and for everyone to be quiet, and then she put her phone on speaker. “What’s wrong, Fraser?” she asked.
“Oh, nothing,” he said. Yes, it was quite obvious he was afraid. “It’s just I’m quite tired. I think I’m going to take a bit of a nap. But I’ll speak to you later, love, about the matter. Just come at the usual time and let yourself in the back. You know where the key is.” The line went dead then.
The door to Baker Street opened as Molly looked over at Sherlock. “I don’t like this, Sherlock. I don’t like this at all,” she said.
“I don’t either,” he said with a frown as Lestrade bounded up the stairs. Sherlock turned to look at him. “Change of plans, Lestrade. We need to get to Fraser McLeish’s residence as quickly as possible. He might be in mortal danger.”
Lestrade gave them a confused look but pulled the keys to his car out of his coat pocket again. “I’ll put the sirens on. Do either of you know how to get there?”
“I do,” Molly said.
“John, come with us,” Sherlock said.
John nodded, then leaned over and gave Mary a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be careful,” he said.
“Please do,” she replied. Then she looked over at Molly. “I hope he’s okay.”
“I hope so too,” Molly said as she got her coat off the coat rack. Sherlock and John did the same and the four of them rushed out of Baker Street to Lestrade’s vehicle. They got in with Lestrade getting behind the wheel, turning the siren on, and Molly giving him directions to get to Fraser’s home. When they approached they saw a figure in black running from the home and Sherlock and John were out of the car in a flash, dashing out after the shadow as Lestrade and Molly approached the home cautiously.
The door was ajar and Lestrade stepped in front of her, holding his gun. “Fraser McLeish?” he called out. When there was no answer he entered the house. The place was torn apart, as though someone was searching for something. There was no sign of people until they got to the study. Molly gasped when she saw the scene in front of her and tears came to her eyes. Lestrade pulled her into his embrace as she cried at the sight of the lifeless body in the room.
A few moments later she heard two other sets of footsteps enter the room and Sherlock said softly “Molly...”
“Sherlock,” she said, pulling away from Lestrade and moving to her fiance and wrapping her arms around him. He held her close for a few moments, pressing a kiss in her hair. “We were too late.”
“The killer dropped something,” John said, showing them a syringe that he was holding with a plastic glove. “Sherlock says it’s probably snake venom.”
“A reference to Sadi,” Molly said with a sniffle as she pulled her head up. “Sadi is one of the people who travels with Garion in the Mallorean. They kill...” She thought for a moment and then shook her head. “I have to reread the books, but there’s a character that Velvet kills with the little snake that Sadi has as a pet by throwing the snake in the man’s face.”
“We need to read the books,” Sherlock said. “All of us need to read all of them,” he replied. He looked around the room. “I doubt we’ll find his notes now. I’m sure the killer has found them and destroyed them, or taken them with him to destroy later.”
Molly was quiet for a moment. “You know where the key is,” she murmured.
“Pardon?” Lestrade asked.
“Fraser once got the key to the village he grew up in in Ireland,” Molly said, pulling further away from Sherlock. “He showed it to me once. It was on a large plaque, and he used it to cover his wall safe.” She moved away and then went to his sitting room with the others following me. “If I remember correctly, the combination is the day he left Barts. Um...” She thought for a moment. “22nd June 2003.”
Molly went to a plaque and then pulled it aside, revealing a wall safe. Sherlock went to the safe and put in the combination, and after hesitating a moment tried to open it. It opened immediately, and there was a box inside with a note on top, as well as a small totem of a boot. It appeared to have been carved out of a white stone of some sort and was roughly the size of an egg. He pulled the note off and saw that it was addressed to Molly before handing it to her. She opened it and he fingered the totem. “I wonder what this is,” he said.
Molly opened the note and then skimmed through it. Most of it was personal to her, and she didn’t feel it needed to be shared with the others just yet, but there were pertinent bits to the case, including the answer to Sherlock’s question. “Apparently the people involved with the original case got totems given to them representing various characters in the books. Fraser was the Belgarath analog, and he got the boot because Belgarath was always traveling the world. The one you’re holding there was left on his doorstep after the last killing all those years ago. He’s kept it as a reminder of the case he didn’t solve.”
“Apparently someone did not want him involved in this newest round of killings,” Sherlock said, fingering the boot. He looked over at Molly. “Are his notes in the box?”
She nodded. “He wanted to make sure they stayed safe for us. He had the feeling his days were numbered when I contacted him. Someone had been tailing him the last few days. My call just confirmed it was starting all over again.” She put the note back in the envelope. “I suppose we should wait for other police to come and give statements and all that, shouldn’t we? And then take the box to Baker Street and work on our case?”
Sherlock, John and Lestrade looked at each other and then nodded. “Err...yeah,” Lestrade said. Molly had seen the look and she knew they were worried. But she couldn’t afford to fall apart. Someone had just made this personal, and she needed to make sure they were caught and thrown into the deepest, darkest prison cell in the whole of England before she could feel any better about the situation. She owed Fraser that much.
It was hours later when the four of them returned to Baker Street, the mood somber. Molly wanted mostly to curl up in bed and sob. Fraser had been more than simply a professional mentor; he had been one of her closest friends, rather like a father-figure in her life from the day she stepped foot at Cambridge Teaching Hospital to begin her medical rotation. When she had settled at Barts he had been ecstatic and made sure that she had every advantage she could get. Without him, her ascension to the position she had now would not have gone as smoothly as it had. She felt as though a large part of her heart was missing and nothing and no one could fill it.
John and Mary and Lestrade all took their leave soon after they returned, and she was grateful for that. She knew she needed to eat, so she took some of the now-cold dinners and put it onto a plate and took it to the sofa, unsurprised when Sherlock joined her moments later. He had been very perfunctory during the questioning by the DI in charge of Fraser’s murder case, though Lestrade said since it was in connection with the murders they were investigating he would get it transferred under his purview as quickly as possible. He had not quite hovered, not exactly, but he had remained close, just as he had in the aftermath of the situation with the people perpetuating the Moriarty lie when they had pulled their grand scheme, the act that had nearly cost Sherlock his brother and parents.
To be honest, she had been surprised he had not made mention of his feelings towards her then. Perhaps he hadn’t been aware of them, or perhaps the near loss of his entire family had weighed more heavily on the moment. All she knew was that the tense moments in Dover on that beach...even now, thinking of Moriarty’s twin and knowing the man was just as much of a sociopath and just as interested in continuing what his brother had started and he didn’t care what innocent lives he took out in the process, it kept her up at night.
And she knew tonight, knowing there was another killer or set of killers out there who didn’t care who was in their way, that they would take out an old man to keep their secrets from being revealed, she knew she probably would have a fitful sleep tonight as well. But tonight she would have Sherlock by her side, so if her thoughts and fears and dreams all melded together there would be strong arms embracing her and warm lips pressed against her temple and soothing words to lull her back into some semblance of peace and security. She would not be alone like she had been for so much of the time after the kidnapping. It would be easier, now.
Sherlock said nothing, and she saw he had gotten his own food but wasn’t touching it. He was waiting to see what she would do. Oh, he was a smart man. After a moment she picked up a fork and took a bite. “You may as well eat and not let it go to waste,” she said. “We should have sent some home with the others.”
Sherlock picked up his own fork and began to eat. “Well, you can’t fault us for not thinking clearly. Quite a bit happened tonight.”
“I know,” she said glumly.
“We will catch them, you know. The people behind the murder that you did the autopsy for, and whoever murdered your friend. I have no doubt it’s all connected,” he said quietly before taking a bite of his food. “I promise you that.”
“Don’t make an empty promise, Sherlock,” she said. “The original case went cold.”
“The original case did not have our superior brain power working on it,” he replied.
She felt the edges of her lips curl up into a small smile at that. He didn’t simply say “his” superior brain power, as he might have before. It was nice that he thought of them as a team, which was good considering he wanted to marry her. The more he thought of them as a team, the better their chances were, she supposed, not only of solving this case but of having a successful marriage. “I suppose.”
“There is no suppose about it,” he said. “But we will be triumphant. We owe it to your friend to solve his murder and solve this case that haunted him, and we will.” He looked over at her. “Where are your copies of the books?”
She used her fork to point to the bookcases closest to the kitchen. “On the second shelf. I got the omnibus editions before I moved in with you because I had realized having ten books when I could have four made no sense.” She paused. “Well, there’s also the two prequels and the book of religious texts used in the series as well, so technically it was thirteen books, but you know what I mean.”
“Do you have those as well?” he asked.
She nodded. “I do. They’re next to the omnibus editions.”
“Then I’ll read all of them, and recommend everyone involved in the case do likewise.” He looked over at the bookshelf. “As I am a speed reader, I expect I’ll have them finished by tomorrow evening at the latest.”
“If you don’t get interrupted with the autopsy results.”
He turned sharply and gave her a slightly wide-eyed look. “You aren’t going to insist on doing the autopsy, are you?”
She, in turn, gave him an incredulous look. “Absolutely not!” she said, aghast. “I wouldn’t be able to finish that. I’d probably break down in tears before I finished the Y-incision.”
He set his plate on the table and turned to face her, taking her plate out of her hand and then her fork and setting both on the table, and then taking her hands in his. “Good. I know this case has become personal for you. For me, originally, it was just an intriguing puzzle to solve. A complicated murder made all the more intriguing by the fact it was tied in closely with an unsolved cold case. But with the murder of your friend, it is now something I will devote all my time and attention to and approach with the utmost professionalism. I won’t be an arrogant smug arse if I can help it because I know getting results will be what will make you happiest in regards to this case.”
She pulled a hand away to caress his face gently for a moment and then leaned forward, scooting closer to him and hugging him tightly. He embraced her back, and she rested her chin on his shoulder as best she could manage. “Thank you, Sherlock,” she said, shutting her eyes and relishing the warmth of his embrace. “That means a lot.”
“I will do anything for you, Molly,” he said. “Anything at all. All you ever need to do is ask,” he said. After a moment he pulled away and she looked at him. “Why don’t we finish this late supper and then go to bed? I have the feeling tonight will be a rough night and the sooner we attempt to get through it the better.”
She nodded and then moved back just a little and picked up her plate and fork, beginning to eat again. She did not know how she had gotten so lucky with Sherlock, but she was beyond thankful. Hopefully, together they could get through this case and solve it without anything happening to either of them or anyone else they cared about.
She woke up to an empty bed. That was not what she had been hoping for, to be honest. But when she rolled over and saw books stacked on Sherlock’s nightstand that hadn’t been there when she went to sleep the evening before, she understood. He’d already begun his research. She picked up the two prequel books to the series and carried them back out to the sitting room to see Sherlock sitting in his chair, thumbing through the first omnibus edition of The Belgariad. From the looks of it, he was well into the second book in the series, if not already into the beginning of the third. “How much coffee have you had already?” she asked, coming next to him and dropping a kiss on the top of his head.
“Nearly two pots,” he replied without looking up, flipping to the next page. He did indeed read quite quickly, she realized when she saw he was on the third book. He must have started to read as soon as she was asleep.
“Do you need more?” she asked.
“No, I’ll be fine,” he replied. “Though if you could use some, feel free to make yourself a pot.”
“Have you had any sustenance to go with your caffeine intake?” she asked, already having a good idea of what his answer would be.
“A few of your Jammie Dodgers,” he replied.
“I’ll make you real food,” she said with a wry grin, this time giving him a kiss on the cheek before pulling away. She was almost to the kitchen when there was a knock on the front door. She turned to Sherlock, who didn’t even acknowledge it, and then sighed and tightened the belt on her dressing gown and went to answer it.
When she opened the door, there was no one there and nothing but a simple parcel on the doorstep. Her gut clenched as she looked at the simple block lettering on most of the address label, except the little bit of calligraphy which was almost exactly like what was on her prequel book Polgara the Sorceress. She debated picking it up before going upstairs again to rummage for the gloves Sherlock kept in his Belstaff. That apparently, got his attention. “No one was at the door?” he asked.
“Mysterious parcel,” she said, pulling out the gloves.
He marked his place in the book and set it aside before getting out of his chair and plucking the gloves from her. She would normally have been annoyed but truth be told she didn’t really want to touch it. Sherlock slipped on the gloves and then went to the still open front door and carefully picked up the parcel, bringing it inside as Molly shut the door behind him. He carried it to the table and went to where he kept his lab supplies and picked up a scalpel and cut open the package, being careful to do so away from him. After waiting a moment, he reached inside and pulled out two objects and a folded up piece of paper. “Interesting,” he said.
“They’re like the boot in Fraser’s box,” Molly said, looking at the two totems carved from white stone that were roughly the size of an egg. There was a rat and a dagger, and Sherlock picked them up, careful not to finger them too much.
“What do they mean?” Sherlock murmured.
“Well, they could represent characters in the stories?” Molly suggested. “I mean, the boot was Belgarath. He was a wanderer, and in the prequel, you read how his boots were a big deal. The rat could be Silk, since he’s rat-faced.”
“And the dagger?” Sherlock asked, turning to her.
Molly bit her lip slightly. “Velvet, maybe? You’ll meet her in the next series. And it would make sense since Silk and Velvet are lovers who end up getting engaged by the end of the series. Though I’d probably have picked a snake unless there’s someone in all this who’s going to end up as Salmissra.” She looked over at Sherlock. “We should find out if anyone else involved with the old case got one of these, and who they got.”
Sherlock nodded. “As you’re already familiar with the source material, why don’t you go over the notes that your friend had in his box? I doubt you feel up to attending your post today.”
Molly sighed. “I really should. I still have other autopsies to do, and I’ve slacked.”
Sherlock set the totems down and stripped off his gloves to put an arm around Molly. “You walked in on the brutal aftermath of the murder of a dear friend, Molly. No one will begrudge you a bit of personal time.”
“I suppose,” she said. Then she nodded towards the note that had been in the parcel. “We never looked at the note.”
Sherlock picked up one of the gloves and used it to pick up the note and open it. “’You’re well in the story now. Beware the Child of Dark!’” He turned to Molly, giving her a quizzical look.
“In the first series, the one you’re in now, Torak is the Child of Dark,” Molly said. “Garion will defeat him and become the Godslayer and then everyone thinks everything is fine because the bad God is gone. But then Garion and C’Nedra have a son, and he’s kidnapped by Zandramas, and then he’s the Child of Dark, sort of, while Garion is one of the Children of Light that’s still around and then it’s all put to rest and the continuous cycle of contests between the Child of Light and the Child of Dark will end once and for all and Errand becomes the God that should have been in Torak’s place permanently. It’s all rather spelled out more throughout the second book series because that’s when they get in depth about the cyclical part of the prophecy.”
Sherlock shook his head. “It sounds like fanciful drivel,” he said.
“Well, it’s a fantasy story,” Molly replied. “David Eddings supposedly took a class in writing and learned about how Tolkien made a story and the different tropes used and took everything he learned and wrote The Belgariad and it became a hit. And then years later he expanded it with The Mallorean. I don’t know if he ever expected it to be a template for a series of murders. I don’t think any author ever expects that.” She bit her lip again. “I’m just quite thankful they aren’t basing it on some of his other works.”
“How many other works does he have?” Sherlock asked.
“There’s an interconnected set of trilogies, The Elenium and The Tamuli, which are another set of books I love, and then there’s a quartet called The Dreamers which I haven’t finished yet, and then some solo works like High Hunt and The Losers and Regina’s Song. So he has a fair few. Some are almost as violent as these, but this is the longest series so there are more deaths to choose from, I suppose.” She was quiet for a moment. “You should be quite happy these aren’t based on The Tamuli because there’s a character that’s set on everlasting fire in that series. If there was a way to do that in real life it would not be a pleasant crime scene to deal with.”
“No, I can’t imagine it would be,” Sherlock said, making a face. He leaned over and pressed a kiss into her hair. “Call into Barts and then start reading the files while I finish the novels, and I’ll start reading what you’ve finished. The more we can tell the others, the better off we’ll be.”
“All right,” she said, shutting her eyes for a moment and relishing their closeness. She knew he had the right idea, that going into her post while Fraser’s body was there was not the best plan and no one would fault her for staying home, and that going through his files was the smartest thing to do, but at the same time she wondered if she shouldn’t be doing more. Still, this was something, and it was better than curling up in bed all day sobbing. And that would do no one any good at all.
She put off going over the notes until she’d made breakfast for the two of them and forced Sherlock to put the book aside and eat. He damn near wolfed the food down in a way she was used to seeing when he was particularly intent on a case and if her mood had been lighter she may have joked if he had tasted it at all. But really, her heart just wasn’t in it. She herself didn’t have much of an appetite and she picked at her meal until she felt like she had eaten enough so that if anyone glanced at her plate they would feel satisfied that she’d eaten enough.
She took the box to her chair, which most would assume was the one John had favoured but wasn’t. It was a comfy yellow one near the doorway entering the room, giving her a nice view of the place. It was a chair she had lugged to every residence she’d lived in since she found it at a rummage sale in her home village before she moved into an apartment off campus in uni, and it was rather her good luck charm. It clashed with the living room, with its blue wallpaper and light wood floors and much more updated furniture than Sherlock had previously used, but she’d made sure it had come with...well, everything else.
Sherlock didn’t talk much about what had happened prior to his arrival in Dover since the Moriarty case was over, but she knew that for a time he wouldn’t step foot into Baker Street. When she agreed to live with him, she was half tempted to suggest he simply stay at her flat and leave Baker Street once and for all. The most he had mentioned of about what had happened was he said there had been a “vicious surprise” waiting for him there, and so when they were settling on a place to live she spoke with his brother and Mrs. Hudson and asked if there was any way they could make changes to Baker Street. New furniture, new wallpaper, new flooring...that sort of thing. When Sherlock found out he said that would make it easier, and Mrs. Hudson had been very eager for changes.
In the end, the majority of the furniture in Baker Street now had come from Molly’s home. It had been a bit hard to give up her home, but Mycroft had done an excellent job picking people to help remodel and the kitchen in Baker Street resembled her old one, though it was smaller. It had helped that it was Mycroft who had gotten her old kitchen looking the way it had after one of Sherlock’s experiments had backfired at her flat. And Baker Street was home for both of them; more for her in terms of furnishings, more for him in terms of comfort. Things belonging to both of them filled the shelves and sat on tables and desks and any and all available space, and they were both happy with the flat as a whole, which was all that mattered.
She got into her favourite position in the chair, sitting cross-legged with her knees balanced on the arms, and hauled the box up onto her lap. There was a moment’s hesitation before she opened it, and the first thing she saw was the boot she had placed inside when the SOCCO unit had arrived at Fraser’s home. Now that she and Sherlock had gotten totems, it was more significant, and she hoped there were notes to see if others involved in the investigation had gotten them as well. Fraser was only the pathologist involved; there had to be at least one DCI or DI and a DS, or more, and any or all of them could have gotten totems. She fingered it for a moment and then set it aside in the box lid and began to read.
The more she read the more clearly it seemed that the original murders were based on The Belgariad. She was a bit fuzzy on the specific details, as she preferred the sequel series and tended to go to that one for re-reading, but the animal death was the clincher. She distinctly remembered the scene with Garion bringing the horse back to life. When she got to that part of the notes she began to feel ill, because she knew that in the book the horse would later become very special, becoming Eriond’s mount of choice, and the death of the horse in the book was nothing like the graphic torture that had been done to the young pony that had been left in the yard of the detective in charge of the case.
She set the notes aside and put everything back in the box, putting the lid on it. After a moment she stood up, set the box on her chair and went to Sherlock’s chair, plucking the book he was reading out of his hands and laying it pages down on the table before crawling into his lap. He immediately put his arms around her and began stroking her back. “Something unsettled you,” he said softly.
“The human deaths I can handle just fine,” she said, shifting just a bit to slide her arm around his waist and bury her head in the crook of her neck. “But the bastard tortured a pony, Sherlock. I...they had a veterinary technician describe the damage and in the personal notes it said the torture was done in a way that prolonged its suffering.” She shut his eyes. “And now there are bastards out there copying what that bastard did and I can’t...”
He nodded against her head, still gently rubbing her back. “Do you need to re-familiarize yourself with the books?” he asked.
“It might be best,” she said.
“Then why don’t I go through the box for now and you read for a bit?” he suggested. “I was just finishing The Belgariad but I can do that later.”
She nodded. “Can we sit here like this for a while first, though?” she asked.
“Of course,” he replied, turning his head to kiss the top of hers. It wasn’t often that a case shook her like this, either one of Sherlock’s or something she was involved in, but when it did, small moments like this made all the difference in getting through it, and the longer they could stay like this before real life intruded, the better.
Molly skimmed the books more than read them for a bit, not needing to pay very close attention as she had read them countless times over the years. Every once in a while she would pull herself away from the page she was on, and see that Sherlock had put more of Fraser's notes on the wall, organizing things in a way that made sense to him. The only real interruption in their day had been a few phone calls: one from John to say that he had gotten a totem, as had Mary, and one from Lestrade to go over the autopsy results from Fraser's autopsy with Sherlock and that he, too, had had a totem waiting for him that morning. Sherlock suggested that they bring the totems to Baker Street so Molly could look at them all and decipher their meaning. She was sure Sherlock could have done it; at the speed with which he read she was sure he’d encountered all the principal characters in both series by now and would know what each totem meant just as well as she did, but it was good to be involved, she supposed.
Everyone had agreed to come over in time for supper and instead of cooking Sherlock had simply ordered takeaway, knowing everyone’s preferences in Chinese. The food arrived just as they all did. Molly noticed that each of the envelopes containing the totems were in plastic baggies. She somehow doubted any of them would get fingerprints but it was good that they were all being careful. The others settled in with their food while Sherlock put gloves on and carefully removed each of the totems, setting them out where they could all be seen. “Molly?” he asked when he was done, indicating that he wanted her to join him at the kitchen table.
She got up, going to look at them. They were all made from the same stone theirs were made of, all carved intricately enough to have some detail but simply enough to not show a true craftsman’s skill, which was a bit different from the boot Fraser had. She studied them more closely though she knew which totem represented what almost immediately. “The crown is for Porenn,” Molly said. “The fact it was given to Mary is the only reason I would say it was Porenn and not Belgarion, because whoever is doing this must know something about our personal lives.”
“What do you mean?” Mary asked.
“Porenn was the queen of a kingdom where spycraft was one of their main exports, you might say,” Molly said. “She herself wasn’t a spy, but she thought like one and manipulated Javelin, the head of all the spies in the kingdom, constantly. And she was a meddler.” She paused. “Silk was in love with her, and there are some who could have read the closeness between you and Sherlock as him being attracted to you before our relationship began. Just as you never returned Sherlock’s supposed feelings, Porenn never returned Silk’s.”
“Interesting,” Mary said.
Molly pointed to the bear next. “The bear definitely means Barak, not Unrak, because it fits better with John. Unrak doesn’t have quite the control over his temper that Barak does, and that’s something that’s improved over time with you, John. Also, you’re a father now, and Barak has children while Unrak is unwed and not a father. But anyway, Barak is Garion’s protector, and he turns into a bear when Garion is in danger. And just what do you do when Sherlock is in danger?”
“Do rather stupid things without thinking and put my life on the line for him,” John said.
“Something I appreciate, but your wife does not,” Sherlock said, getting a wry smile from Mary.
Molly nodded. “But it does fit, hence why you got the bear totem.” Then she looked at Lestrade’s totem, a tankard for ale. It felt a bit out of place because while there was truth to the underlying reasoning to the totem and the character it represented, it also felt like an insult to her friend. “Greg, your totem is for Yarblek. He's a very interesting character, in that he’s not exactly what he seems. He’s Silk’s partner, and he plays dumb in some ways. Plays a drunkard.” She pauses. “Well, he does drink a lot, but he pretends to be more drunk than he actually is. He’s actually quite intelligent, and along with Silk he’s one of the richest men in the world.”
Lestrade huffed out a small laugh. “That does fit, in more ways than I’d like it too.”
Molly gave him a small smile. “Well, we do know you’re very smart, Greg. Even if most other people assume Sherlock does all the thinking.”
“You are an above average policeman,” Sherlock said in a sincere voice.
Greg nodded. “Thank you.”
“So now we know that this was planned for a while, that we were all meant to be part of this little game being played,” Sherlock said. “These totems were made specifically with us in mind. Mary was not at the scene of crime and yet there was one for her delivered today, so the perpetrators know of our backgrounds. This means they may have some ideas of our interpersonal relationships, our weaknesses, and our strengths. We may expect more messages and more crimes that fit into the pattern of the books. I have read most of both of the series and I strongly suggest all of you do likewise. Tonight, however, we’ll go over the old cases and see what pattern emerges from that. Agreed?”
There was a murmur of agreement and Sherlock forged ahead while Molly went to get her food and went back to her chair. She didn’t tune him out, listening to as much as she could stand, but the fact someone had researched her life to bring her into this twisted game...she wasn’t sure she would let that fact go for quite some time.
It was a long day of going round and round on the totems and the evidence from the cases and Fraser’s murder, and by the time Molly climbed into bed she felt sleep would not come soon enough. Sherlock had reached out to his brother, just to see if they could increase the surveillance on Baker Street or to see if there was any way of identifying who had left their envelope, but it had gone straight to his voicemail, which Sherlock said was unusual. After some digging, Sherlock found out he was out of town and sent a message to his assistant, getting a reply back that they would return to London soon but the extra protection and surveillance would be ordered for them as well as Lestrade and the Watsons.
“It’s all we can do for now,” Sherlock said, unbuttoning his shirt as he began to get ready for bed. “The clues are just going nowhere. I can see why the cases went cold.”
Molly nodded from her position on the bed. “I know,” she said quietly. “Fraser used to talk about how frustrating the case was, that there was all this build-up and then it all just...stopped.” She tilted her head. “It feels different, though.”
Sherlock stilled his motions and looked at her. “How do you mean?”
“Well, if you look at the things that happened with the first murders, it all seems like it was done by the same person. There are likenesses, even with the different types of death.” She thought for a moment. “We already know with these new perpetrators, there are two of them. But there’s a different energy, I suppose. As violent as the first books could be, it doesn’t seem like the killer in the first sets of murders would engage in overkill, and I know both killers had almost equal involvement in that murder because wounds don’t lie.”
Sherlock finished unbuttoning his shirt and then sat on the edge of the bed on his side. “So you suspect there are two completely different sets of killers, and not simply the old killer having taken on an apprentice?”
Molly nodded. “Nothing in these new crimes seems to match any of the patterns that were in the evidence. These new killings are complicated, almost. Calculated. The original ones were planned, yes, but there was something that felt almost...sloppy about them.”
“Interesting,” Sherlock said. “Why didn’t you bring this up earlier?”
“I just wanted to not focus on...recent things,” she said, looking down. “I was only listening to what you said with half a mind, really.”
Sherlock reached over and gently caressed her face, causing her to look up. “You don’t have to be a part of this case. Your insights into the autopsy have been impressive, and you’re seeing things I don’t, but if it’s too much to deal with, you can step away. No one would think less of you.”
“I would think less of me, though,” she said, reaching up to caress his hand. “Fraser may not have been targeted at all if I hadn’t reached out to him. I owe him.”
Sherlock nodded and leaned forward, kissing her softly. She shut her eyes and sank into the kiss for a moment, feeling everything fade away for just a moment and only concentrating on Sherlock being there with her, kissing her. After a moment he moved his hand away and then pulled her closer, almost against him.
Before things got interesting, however, his mobile rang on the nightstand and he groaned. “Not a welcome interruption,” he murmured.
“We have all night,” she said, watching him pull way and reach over for his mobile. He answered it, and based on his answers she gathered it was Lestrade on the other end. There was a set to his jaw after a moment, and she had the feeling whatever intimate plans they had for the night would be postponed. When he hung up, she looked at him. “What’s wrong?”
“Another animal killing,” he said quietly. “One of the bears at the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was killed. Lestrade has said we don’t need to be there, but I’m assuming it’s indicative of the Bear Cult?”
Molly felt her heart sink. “I wouldn’t be surprised, especially if there’s a reason for them to suspect it’s tied to these cases.” She set her head on his shoulder as they shifted positions so he could hold her. “Did he give you any details?”
“There wasn’t much to go on, but zoo security was distracted by a disturbance near the Lookout Lodge and then when they did their later rounds, one of the brown bears was dead in the enclosure. At first, they didn’t suspect anyone but there was a totem there of a bear paw in a block, and word got to Scotland Yard and passed on to Lestrade. The totems seem to be common knowledge now, as Lestrade got his at Scotland Yard.”
She shook her head. “This is just...vile,” she said. “These killers have no conscience, no heart.”
“No, I doubt they do,” Sherlock said, reaching over to pull her close again. She curled into his lap as best she was able and he stroked her hair back. “We’ll catch them, though. I’ll make sure of it.”
She nodded and shut her eyes, taking comfort from him. She had the feeling this whole case would only get worse before they had any conclusion, and that was a disheartening thought.
She had another hard night sleeping and was not surprised to wake up in an empty bed with the smell of coffee permeating the air. She also was not surprised to hear muted conversation from the sitting room once she belted on her dressing gown and left the bedroom.
What did surprise her was to find that one of the voices belonged to Irene Adler.
“Don’t tell me you aren’t involved in this,” she was saying, not in an accusatory tone but rather a smug one. “I have my sources.”
“How many did you have tied up and gagged while you went through their phones?” Sherlock said in response, from what sounded like the kitchen.
“I don’t get my secrets that way anymore,” she said. “Not that I heard you compla--”
“Molly!” Sherlock said sharply when he turned with two cups of coffee. Irene stopped talking from her seat at the kitchen table, a rather smug smile on her face. She looked impeccable, as she usually had in pictures in the tabloids, with her hair pulled into a sleek knot at the nape of her neck and her makeup looking perfect. Molly took one look at her kitten pyjamas and imagined her hair looked a fright and began wishing she could crawl right back into bed and stay there until Irene was far, far away.
“Is one of those for me?” Molly asked.
Sherlock nodded. “I’ve been trying to get Irene to leave, so neither of these are hers.”
“Such a bad host,” Irene said, shaking her head. She stood up. “I won’t interrupt your morning any more than I have. But I know you’re involved, Sherlock. I can’t reach your brother but since I’m being dragged into this, make sure he keeps me safe.” She nodded to Molly. “Enjoy your coffee, Dr. Hooper.”
“Thank you,” she murmured as Sherlock came over with a cup for her, which she could tell had been made to her taste. She lifted it up and took a sip. When the door closed behind Irene she turned to Sherlock. “You and her…?”
He flushed, an unusual reaction from him. Not much embarrassed Sherlock, but apparently having to talk about this did. “Once, after I rescued her. Though I suppose one is being...unfair.”
She nodded, pursing her lips slightly. “Okay then.”
“I didn’t know how to bring it up,” he said. “It’s not exactly something I tend to think about on a regular basis. Most of the time I...forget it happened.”
She gave him a confused look. “But she’s a dominatrix,” she said.
“And it wasn’t exactly spectacular, at least to me,” he said. “Not like it is with you.”
Despite everything, she felt an extreme sense of pride at that statement. He thought a shag with her was better than a shag with Irene Adler. She might actually brag about this at some point. “I won’t find any other exes of any sort coming out of the woodwork before we get married, will I?” she asked.
“No, but unfortunately, this particular ex-paramour may have to stay close.” He nodded to an envelope Molly had looked over briefly when she arrived on the scene. It was identical to the one their totems had arrived in. “A snake with a crown.”
“Salmissra,” Molly said. “But why is she involved?”
“She wouldn’t say. She was more concerned about her safety, which I don’t blame her for, but I didn’t get anything useful out of our conversation before you came out.”
“Why did she want your brother to protect her?” she asked.
“She’s working for him in some capacity,” Sherlock said. “Perhaps it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, I don’t know, but she gathers information for Her Majesty now as opposed to her own benefit. I suppose it pays handsomely enough. She would demand that from my brother if she could.”
“Ah,” Molly said, having more of her coffee. “Salmissra played both sides in the first novels. She was neutral, in a way, but she had her fangs in things, so to speak. Maybe that’s a sign as to her intentions now?”
“Perhaps,” Sherlock conceded. “Though I think it’s information she has. Something she had learned in the past is going to come into play. Salmissra was the type to collect information, wasn’t she?”
“Not quite to the extent that Porenn did, but yes, she did,” Molly said with a nod. “Salmissra knew, at least when she was human, that there would be another girl who looked exactly like her ready to replace her when she stopped appearing like the original Salmissra. She used Sadi and...” She thought for a moment. “Issus, in the second series, to get information for her to use, though Issus was more interested in killing people, which as he was an assassin makes sense.”
Sherlock looked impressed. “Your knowledge of the series is rather impressive.”
“Well, I’ve only read the books nearly a hundred times each,” she said. “My father introduced me to the series when I was young, and when Fraser realized I knew it, we used to talk about the case. Sometimes I would read the books in the first series to see if I could glean anything to help come up with a new angle of thought.”
“Well, perhaps you’ll put that towards this case,” Sherlock said. Molly nodded and had some more of her coffee. If this morning was any indication of how her day was going to go, she would need more than just this one cup.
There wasn’t much forward movement the rest of the day. Lestrade was concentrating on the bear killing at the zoo, John and Mary were busy at their day jobs and Sherlock didn’t seem to want to interact with Irene any more than he had to so the day was spent poring through notes and her finishing rereading the series. When they went to bed that evening the only thing of note that had really happened that day was that Mycroft had come back to London and told his brother he needed to meet with him first thing in the morning. Sherlock had balked slightly but later admitted Mycroft sounded a bit unsure of himself and so they would go.
It was a restless night’s sleep for her, tossing and turning as images she didn’t want to think about played in her head. She was rather surprised to wake up pressed against Sherlock, thinking he would have risen from bed already, but he was holding her in his arms, using one hand to stroke her hair back. “You’re awake,” he said.
She nodded, resting her hands on his chest. “It was not a pleasant night,” she said.
“I know,” he replied. “You kicked me a few times.”
She flushed at that. “I’m sorry,” she replied.
“There’s no need to worry about it,” Sherlock said. “I expected it to happen at some point.”
She stayed close to him. “I know we need to go see Mycroft but part of me wants to just hide here in bed for a while, pretend everything is fine.”
“We can for a bit,” he replied. She shut her eyes and let him keep stroking her hair, relaxing under his ministrations, until all too soon he pulled his hand away. “I’ll make breakfast. Why don’t you take a shower and see if that helps?”
“Alright,” she said, pulling away from him. He got up and grabbed his mobile from the nightstand while she moved to the other side and stretched. She really did want to hide away for as long as she could, but there was no way to do that and still solve this string of murders. She would have to get up and face the day. She made her way to the loo and took an invigorating shower, cooler than normal to blast the bad dreams away, and then went back and got dressed.
She came out to see Sherlock hanging up his mobile. “Breakfast will have to wait,” he said. “Mycroft and Anthea got unwanted gifts this morning.”
“Totems?” Molly asked, and Sherlock nodded. “What on earth do they have to do with this?”
“We’ll find out,” he replied.
She made coffee while Sherlock went to the bedroom and began to get ready. When it was done she made two cups in traveler's mugs and handed one to Sherlock before they left Baker Street to go to his brother’s home. Molly wasn’t quite sure what the connection was before she looked over at Anthea and saw that for some reason, she looked quite unnerved, and so she decided to let Sherlock deal with the totems instead. “Why don’t we have a cuppa?” she said to the other woman.
Anthea nodded, not taking her eyes off the totems on the floor. “Alright,” she replied.
Molly gently laid her hand on Anthea’s arm and that seemed to snap her out of her trance, and the brusque business-like mask she usually wore when she was at Mycroft’s side came on. But Molly could see cracks in it, and she knew it would never last long under a few well-placed questions, questions she intended to ask, albeit with some gentleness. Sherlock could be direct about this case, but she would take a different direction.
They made their way to the dining area, where it appeared breakfast had been served and interrupted. Breakfast for two, which rather confirmed some suspicions to the relationship that Mycroft really had with his assistant, given her state of dress and his and this scene before her. If they didn’t want anyone to know she would keep it to herself and she would force Sherlock to do the same to the best of her abilities. Anthea took the pot off the tea service and an extra cup and served Molly some tea, and then went to her own cup, looking at it. Molly prepared her tea with milk and sugar and then waited. “You’re connected to the old cases, aren’t you?” she asked quietly.
“My father was the detective sergeant involved with the bulk of it,” she said. Molly’s eyes widened at that. Whatever she had expected to hear, that was not among the things she had imagined. She knew the detective inspector had died without children, but she hadn’t thought to ask about the detective sergeant. She let her fingers play along the edge of her cup. “I’d always been interested in his work, and this case was something we would puzzle over from time to time even after it went cold. He had his theories, a few that were a bit...wild...that he never shared with anyone but me…”
“And now you think you’re being pulled in because of Sherlock’s involvement,” she said.
Anthea nodded. “It’s one thing to speculate from the outside. It’s another to be directly involved. Especially when your father just would not let it go.”
“Anthea...” Molly said, reaching over to touch her arm. “What are you saying?”
“My father may have been the first victim of these new killers,” she said softly. “Not in a way that had anything to do with the books, but to keep him from looking into it more. That’s why Mycroft and I haven’t been in London. We’ve been taking care of his affairs. But someone ransacked his cottage. It was completely trashed. They didn’t find his notes and the evidence he’d collected, however. And when Mycroft was made aware of this case, he made sure we brought them back for safe keeping. The killers must have figured this out.”
Molly wrapped her hand around Anthea’s fingers. She would have thought Anthea had nerves of steel, with everything she had been through in Mycroft’s employ, but this must have hit too close to home for her comfort. Molly knew a little of how she felt, with Fraser’s death and all. Not entirely, but she could emphasize. “Sherlock and I will take it all off your hands, and then we’ll tell Mycroft to take you away. The government can survive his absence a little longer.”
Anthea gave her a small smile and then shook her head. “There’s too much we need to attend to here to run and hide.”
“Then we’ll find a way to keep you safe. I don’t want to lose my future sister-in-law before I have the chance to really get to know her, now do I?”
Anthea’s eyes widened, and then she shook her head. “How did you know we’re married?”
“I highly doubt Mycroft is the type to carry on a relationship that’s simply cohabitation for long before marriage becomes a topic of discussion. Especially when...” She trailed off and looked at Anthea’s abdomen. “You’re going to be a mum in the near future.”
“Oh, Sherlock picked well,” Anthea said, a genuine smile crossing her face. “Yes, we are married and yes, we are expecting. But don’t tell Sherlock. He may have guessed with Mrs. Watson but so far we have the drop on him.”
“Your secret is safe with me,” Molly said, lifting Anthea’s hand up and squeezing it. This case was even more personal now because it was involving the family she was marrying into, and she would be damned if she would let anything cause Sherlock or Mycroft or Anthea any pain. Not if she could help it.
A few hours later Sherlock and Molly left Mycroft’s home in one of the cars he used with boxes of notes and evidence from Anthea...no, Andrea, Molly needed to remember that...Andrea’s father as well as the two totems: a pregnant woman and a man partially phased through a block of stone. Molly immediately knew that they were meant to represent Taiba and Relg, which she thought was rather fitting but also strange, in that Taiba was almost completely missing from the second series except for a few mentions, such as how there was cheating going on because Taiba kept having twins. It was almost as though these new killers wanted Andrea to remain solely in line with the first set of murders, and that made Molly nervous.
When they arrived at Baker Street and hauled everything into the sitting room, Sherlock began to open boxes but Molly held back for a moment, unsure of how to bring up her conversation with Andrea. Obviously, she had promised to keep the pregnancy a secret, but the marriage...she wondered if Sherlock knew. She bit her thumbnail for a moment and then spoke. “Sherlock?”
“Don’t worry,” he said, not looking up from the box he was sorting through. “Mycroft, Andrea and the baby will be safe. Mycroft will ensure it.”
Molly gave him a disgusted look. “How did you know?”
“My sister-in-law has put on some weight. Not too noticeably, but it times about right with the trip to the Carribean and the way my mother has been treating Mycroft as the favourite son.” There was just the smallest tinge of distaste in his voice, and she frowned.
“Is that why you asked me to marry you?” she asked quietly, her hand moving to the engagement ring on her finger.
He stopped moving, standing so still she was almost afraid she had mortally wounded him with her words. “No,” he said. “I had planned that long before Mycroft and Andrea had all of that happen. I just kept...waiting for the right moment. The perfect moment. I wanted it to be perfect, for you. Better than what Tom had done for you.” Then he sighed. “And I suppose it was foolish, now, to wait. I would have asked the morning we first woke up together if I’d thought you’d have said yes.”
Molly moved before she thought and went to Sherlock’s side, moving his face so he was looking up at her. She felt like she was the foolish one, to think he had asked for her hand in marriage just to upstage his brother. She gently caressed his face, giving him a soft smile. “I probably would have, you know,” she said. “But the proposal I got was so much better.”
He smiled in return, putting a hand on her waist and pulling her closer. “So you forgive the wait?”
“I do,” she said with a nod before leaning in and kissing him. She was careful not to let it get overly heated, as there was a case to solve and they couldn’t let their attention wander, but it was nice to have this moment of connection in the midst of everything. When their lips pulled apart he kept her close. “Should I make us breakfast? Or brunch, at this rate.”
“It might do to have food, though I’m not sure what I’ll eat,” he replied. “But we might want to have the others here to help sort through this. There is a lot to go through. Andrea’s father collected a lot of information.”
“Hopefully it’s useful,” Molly said, giving him a quick kiss before pulling away. “Call the others and I’ll get started on some scones. If we need something more sustaining, we can figure it out later.”
Sherlock nodded and went to dig out his mobile while Molly went into the kitchen. It didn’t take long for the others to answer; John and Mary were at the surgery and they said they’d be there when their shifts were over since Rosie was with a sitter and Lestrade said he and Sally were going over all the official documentation from the old cases they could find and they’d be over shortly. He also mentioned Sally had gotten a totem that morning, which meant whether she liked it or not, she was being dragged into this as well despite her promotion. When Sherlock told her that, Molly stopped stirring the batter.
“Why did she get one?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” Sherlock replied, looking towards the kitchen at her.
“Well, if we’re correct and the kidnapping case was a ploy to get your attention, mimicking Geran’s kidnapping in the book, but was spoiled by your solving it so quickly, then why hasn’t Dimmock gotten a totem? He was the DI on the case, he should have one as well. Why did Sally get one when she’s only offering to help Greg as a favour because she’s between cases and there’s now two connected murders? Greg is still considered the lead DI on both Fraser’s murder and the overkill victim. Sally is just...” She waved her spoon, allowing drops of batter to land on the floor. “Extra hands.”
“Unless this has been in the works for some time,” Sherlock mused. He got up and fingered the totem representing Taiba. “Perhaps the totems for Mycroft and Andrea are new to the game, but Sally’s is not, which could explain the discrepancy. Lestrade said hers was a feather.”
“Vella, I’d imagine,” Molly said, tilting her head for a moment before realizing the batter was dripping off the spoon onto the floor. “Sally is known in the Yard for her affair with Anderson and her temper, and if there’s anyone in the books similar to Sally it’d be her. I mean, Polgara has her moments with her temper, obviously, as does C’Nedra, but the thing with Vella’s temper is it’s not heated. It’s cool and calm and tempered with threats that she could and would carry out. She wouldn’t let any man touch her that she didn’t want to touch her. And, to be quite frank, most people’s opinion of Anderson would be the equivalent of Beldin. A feather makes perfect sense.”
“I hadn’t gotten that far,” Sherlock admitted. Molly raised an eyebrow. “I never got back to finishing the second series after the totems arrived and I began going through the notes.”
“Ah. Well, Beldin buys Vella from Yarblek, and she surrenders her knives to him, which he makes disappear in puffs of smoke, then he shows her how to become a hawk like he does, except she has lavender bands, and they fly off together, never to be seen by any of the others again. It’s actually quite lovely, in that Vella completely surrenders herself to him because she loves him.” Molly paused. “Though that part of the narrative does not fit Sally and Anderson’s relationship. They do all they can to avoid each other now.”
“Even though he’s no longer married?” Sherlock asked.
“She’s seeing a barrister now who treats her well,” Molly said, going back to the batter. “Lestrade decided he had better taste than she did while you were gone and fixed them up. I wouldn’t be surprised if she announces they’re getting engaged themselves before much longer.”
“I suppose I should congratulate her,” Sherlock said.
Molly nodded. “You should. Maybe having to work on this together will be a bridge between the two of you.”
“Perhaps,” Sherlock said with a nod. “Though I did send her a congratulatory note when she received her promotion.”
Molly’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“And it was even sincere.”
“Will wonders never cease,” she said with a smile, turning back to the batter. Perhaps the four of them working together wouldn’t be a trainwreck after all...
Part of her was surprised to see Lestrade and Sally hauling boxes up to the door at Baker Street an hour later, but she and Sherlock helped them haul it all inside. She didn’t even have to ask what it all was or why they had it before Sally spoke. “You’re lucky it’s almost all old case stuff, Holmes,” she said, without any malice in her tone. “Records trusts you enough to let you keep it here.”
“I’ve done something right since I’ve come back, apparently,” he said, giving Sally a slight smile.
“Can I get some of your good grace?” she asked. “They won’t let me bring any more cold cases home after I got a stain on one of the reports. Kung pow chicken just slipped off my fork.”
“Tell them I’m offering my help,” he said, looking for a place to set the box he was holding.
“Would you actually do that?” she asked.
“I’ll actually help if you want,” he said with a slight shrug as he found a place to set the box.
“What did you do to him and where did you put the real Sherlock Holmes?” Sally asked Molly quietly.
“I can hear you, you know,” Sherlock said. “The love of a good woman can change a man, apparently.”
“Apparently,” Sally said. “Okay, Holmes. When this case is over I’ll take you up on help for some of these cold cases.” She set her box down and went to look at what was up on the walls, some of the new information from Andrea’s father mixed in with what they already had. “How did you get official files already?”
“From my...brother’s assistant’s father,” Sherlock said, pausing at a hard look from Molly. “He was associated with the original case.”
Lestrade looked up from where he was staring at the wall. “I’m not familiar with the stories we’re dealing with, but I downloaded them from Audible to listen to. Figured it’d be easier than trying to read after going through all this.”
“I need to finish them,” Sherlock said. “It’s not my typical fare, but it is interesting.”
“Just what is your typical fare?” Sally asked curiously.
“Adventure stories involving pirates,” he said, placing his hands on his hips and looking around. “These stories are well-written with a modern twist, of a sort. Not so much it’s...” He groped for the word.
“Urban fantasy?” Sally supplied.
Sherlock nodded. “Yes. It’s more that they riff off Tolkien but the language isn’t so formal. I actually enjoy that aspect. And C'Nedra is a very interesting character.”
“Why did I guess she’d be your favourite?” Sally asked with a smile. “Your fiancee does share some similarities with her.”
“Though she got a totem for Velvet, you’re right,” Sherlock said. “You’ve read the books?”
“Uni course for fun,” she said. “We looked at well-known fantasy authors and my professor had us read The Elenium, since it was shorter. I went on to read that series’s sequel and then The Belgariad and The Mallorean. In fact, I have all of Eddings’s work at home, with the exception of The Losers and High Hunt. I have my heart set on finding the hardcover that has both books in it. My sister saw it at a rummage sale but neglected to buy it for me.” She grinned a bit more. “None of us have seen it since, and I’m not going to pay an arm and a leg for it.”
“I’m still looking,” Molly piped up.
“One day I’ll get it.” Sally looked around the room. “Who else has totems? Greg told me John and his wife did, but I gather there have been new additions?”
“My brother and his PA,” Sherlock said. Then he scowled and turned to Molly. “It’s not going to stay a secret much longer, Molly, because it could be pertinent to the case.”
“I suppose,” she said with a sigh.
“My brother and his wife got totems when they returned from taking care of his father-in-law’s affairs,” Sherlock said. “Andrea suspects her father might have been murdered.”
Lestrade’s eyes widened. “From being involved in the old case?”
“McLeish was, after Molly contacted him,” Sherlock pointed out. “It stands to reason Andrea’s father could have been as well, considering both men had evidence and documents taken from the cases and collected afterward.” Sherlock’s mobile rang and he pulled it out, glancing at the number in disgust and declining the call.
“Your brother?” Molly asked.
“No. Her,” he said with a sigh. “I doubt she’s taken my rebuffing of her dinner invitation well.”
“Oh,” Molly said. “Probably not.”
Sherlock looked around the room at the boxes still unopened as well as the things he’d taken out and sorted. “Andrea’s father seemed to think there was a connection to a member of Parliament, but it was sketchy at best.”
“How did you suss that out?” Sally asked.
“His personal journal,” Sherlock said, moving to his chair and picking up a leather journal. “Simplistic code, but he had thought that the member of Parliament was involved in covering things up because of his connection. What that connection is, however, is not in what I’ve managed to decode.”
“How did you manage to decode any of that in an hour?” Lestrade asked, impressed.
“As I said, simplistic code,” Sherlock said.
“We can sort through the rest while you keep working on the journal,” Sally said. “You’re probably best off focusing on that while we piece together what was still at the Yard with what your brother’s in-law had.”
Sherlock nodded. “Sounds like a very good plan,” he said. “I may have underestimated you all these years.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure you did,” Sally said with a grin. She turned to Molly. “Have anything to nibble on? I skipped breakfast.”
“Scones,” Molly said, gesturing to the kitchen. Sherlock settled down in his chair with the journal and Molly went about making sure the food got handed out before everyone settled in. She had the feeling it was going to be a long day...