Being Sherlock Holmes
has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates,
minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own
reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane
human being ever trusts someone else's version more than his own.”
― Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
Sherlock had summoned them at the Yard: John, Lestrade and Ms Hunter. Donovan was there as well, although Sherlock had not asked for her. They sat in the conference room of the Yard with its uninviting atmosphere of grey wall and matching carpet. All (except for Donovan maybe) were curious as to why the consulting detective had called for them, although the Rucastle case was already closed.
They were sitting around the round table and waiting for Sherlock to fill them in, but who had chosen to remain silent so far. He sat there with his fingers steepled under his chin and staring straight ahead. They all knew it was better to wait until he was ready, but their patience was running thin.
Finally Donovan could not take it anymore and asked annoyed, “Is it really necessary that we sit here and watch the freak stare into space?”
Sherlock snapped out of his trance and his eyes narrowed at her, “What?”
Donovan let out an exasperated sigh and began, “I said…”
But the consulting detective interrupted her, sounding as bored as ever, “I heard you perfectly. I only wanted to convey my disbelief of your stupid question.”
Donovan’s eyes became small slits, but she could not come up with a comeback.
John had to hold back a chuckle. Sherlock may have changed, but deep down, he was still a Misanthrope.
The detective turned towards the other people in the room – obviously he considered Sergeant Donovan not worthy of his attention anymore.
The door opened and in popped the head of Anderson, who looked eager to enter. But he did not dare to straight away, so he asked, “Can I be of any help?”
Sherlock glanced at him shortly and then held up his Belstaff, “You can be of some help. Hold my coat. It’s quite hot in here.”
Anderson’s eyebrows almost went into his hairline and his lips contorted into a grudging smile, but he was too stunned to reply. So he just grabbed the expensive piece of clothing, muttered something under his breath and left again.
John and Lestrade shook their heads.
The consulting detective cleared his throat. ”Thank you all for coming on such short notice,” Sherlock said, mostly looking at Ms Hunter, who smiled timidly at him.
He did not give anyone the chance to say something, because he went on, “I have found the missing piece of the puzzle.”
With that he held up the file he had brought with him. John and Lestrade leaned slightly forward. It read, P.M.,CB, St. Andrew’s, Victoria. John’s eyes widened a bit, because he recognized it: It was the file Mycroft had given him to pass on to Sherlock.
”Sherlock, is this?” he still had to ask, although he already knew the answer.
Sherlock nodded, “Yes, John. It is the file from Mycroft. The dull lost daddy case.”
”And this is the final piece of the puzzle?” Lestrade asked puzzled, because he could not really follow.
The consulting detective smiled, “Yes. Seems like the lost daddy case was not so dull after all.”
There was silence for a minute in which four people in the room stared at the fifth, because they had no idea what he was talking about.
”Care to enlighten us, Sherlock?” John prompted.
The man in question leaned back in his chair, took a deep breath and then explained it to them,
“When we entered the east wing, all rooms were abandoned, but two.”
”Well, the two rooms where Alice Rucastle was held,” Lestrade interjected.
”No,” Sherlock said, “Alice Rucastle was only held in one room. The other room had been occupied by another person before we got there. The clothes in the first room were men’s clothes, the books there were ones generally read by men and one could tell by the state of the room that he had not been there for so long as Alice Rucastle. Did no one pay attention to that?”
Sherlock looked around them room, although he knew perfectly well that it had more or less been a rhetorical question. If they had paid attention to those facts they would not need him.
Since no one answered him anyway, he went on, “Apparently two people had been held hostage at the Rucastle’s. Ms Marshall confirmed my suspicion by saying that she could not save both.”
”So she helped the man who was held hostage in the first room to escape?” John asked.
”Precisely. But I could not tell right away who this man was, I did not have enough data. I assumed that Ms Hunter was there to pose as Ms Rucastle by sitting in the chair by the window to let Ms Rucastle’s boyfriend believe that she was alright. But what about Mr Toller?”
”What about him?” Lestrade piped in.
”Ms Hunter told us that she only had to sit by the window after she had caught Mr Toller doing that for the Rucastles. And he did not wear his uniform, but an expensive suit, clearly given to him by the Rucastles. He had also changed his hair. Is that correct Ms Hunter?”
It took her a moment to react, because she was obviously so fascinated by his deductions that she did not realize straight away that he had addressed her. “Yes, Mr Holmes, that is correct.”
Sherlock nodded and looked at the others again. “So I concluded that Mr Toller was the one who had been hired to pose as someone else. Letting Ms Hunter doing the same was only to make it look less suspicious, and hiring someone who looked like his daughter may have been some kind of comfort for Mr Rucastle.”
his head, “No, this is not comforting, this is just sick.”
Ms Hunter’s eyes widened at his words and John hastened to add, “No offence, Ms Hunter. Nothing of this is your fault.”
The governess nodded and looked back at Sherlock, wanting him to continue, which he promptly did, “So the question was, who was Mr Toller impersonating? And this is where this comes in.”
He held up the file. He opened it and pushed it over to the others so they could have a look at it. They could not keep the wonder out of their eyes when they saw the picture of a young man that looked a lot like Mr Toller.
”This is Peter Munro, supposedly son of Colonel Spence Munro, who was a former colleague of my insufferable brother Mycroft and worked for the government in Australia.”
”Was?” John asked and drew his eyes from the file towards his best friend.
There was a hint of pride in Sherlock’s eyes (because his blogger had paid attention) when he said, “Yes. He died a few months ago. And on his deathbed he revealed to his son that he was not his biological father, but that he was the product of an affair between his mother and a married man back in England. That’s how the file came into my possession: Mycroft wanted me to find the biological father. But since I was ... occupied... at the time, Mr Munro took it into his own hands and lo and behold, he was successful. He could track down the man in Hampshire. He stayed at the village for some time, not daring to confront the man that was supposed to be his biological father just yet. So he just watched and waited from a safe distance, and that was when he met a young man from the village with whom he fell in love with. I figure you have already identified the man on the security tapes that has entered the premises?” Sherlock asked Lestrade, ignoring Donovan completely.
”Yes,” Lestrade nodded, “his name is Roger Fowler.”
John shook his head in disbelieve, “You mean that this Mr Fowler was Mr Munro’s boyfriend? And he was the one watching the sitting room from outside the fence?” John asked.
”Yes. After some watching and waiting Mr Munro decided that it was time to meet his biological father, who happened to be...”
”Mr Rucastle!” Ms Hunter breathed.
Sherlock shot her a glance that clearly transported that he was not happy that she had spoiled his revelation.
Still he went on with a rather calm voice, “Exactly. While being married to his first wife, Mr Rucastle had an affair with Mr Munro’s mother. Being the old-fashioned, conservative man he is, one can imagine that Mr Rucastle was not happy at all that the product of his transgression showed up one day. He feared a scandal and that Mr Munro would claim his rightful share of the company and the estate. Hence Mr Rucastle saw no other choice but to hold the young man hostage. But there was the problem of the boyfriend Mr Fowler, who would become suspicious. So he hired Mr Toller, who resembled Mr Munro in height, figure and hair (after being cut and dyed), to impersonate the vanished Mr Munro. But the housekeeper Ms Marshall could not take it, and she helped Mr Munro escape. When she is able to be interrogated, she will confirm what I have just told you.”
There was silence is the room for a few moments, in which everyone (excluding Sherlock, of course) reflected on what the consulting detective had just told them.
John was the first to speak, “That also explains why there was an Australian agent from the Foreign Office at Westaway’s.”
”Yes, they were looking for Peter Munro,” Sherlock confirmed and then looked at Lestrade. “If you have nothing further to add, I hereby declare this case closed.”
Ms Hunter shook her head. “I can’t believe it. This is... I just can’t believe it.” She put her head into her hands.
Sherlock laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. She looked at him then and said, “I think I need... a minute... or two.”
With that she slowly got up. Sherlock and the other men did the same.
”Can I get you anything, Miss Hunter? A glass of water maybe?” Lestrade asked.
The young woman shook her head, “No thank you, Detective Inspector. I just need some fresh air to clear my head. I’ll back in about half an hour, if that is okay for you? I reckon you’ll have further questions?”
”No problem, Ms Hunter, take your time,” Lestrade said in a gentle tone.
She turned towards the others. “Thank you all. Especially you Mr Holmes and Dr Watson.”
She stretched out her hand and the two men shook it.
Sherlock went over to open the door for her. When she passed him, he gave her a simple smile with no future.
After the door had closed behind their client, Lestrade mulled it all over in his head again. “But Mr Peter Munro, what happened to him?”
Sherlock shrugged, as if it was the most obvious thing, “He reunited with his boyfriend, Mr Fowler.”
Donovan crossed her arms in front of her chest and held her head high, as if challenging Sherlock, “But where are Mr Munro and his mysterious boyfriend?”
Sherlock’s mouth curled into an enigmatic smile when he answered, “You won’t find them. They’ve probably made it to the other side of the world by now.”
A/N: The credit for the lines I borrowed from Without a Clue goes to the writer, of course.