This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
"Charlotte, where are my patches?" I held them up, sticking them in his open hand as I walked by the loo.
"They were in your dressing gown." He'd blink, shut the cupboard, and then go back to irritating Lestrade. "I'm going out, Dad, I have-"
"You're coming with me, to Bart's." I sighed, setting down my school bag, and sat down on the arm of the couch.
"But I have an exam tomorrow! I really need to study, and so does-"
"Who? Alexander?" He glanced at me briefly, before he went back to texting. He wouldn't say it outright, but he didn't want me hanging out with Alex. Both because he was a boy, and he tended to get himself into trouble, despite being one of the smartest in my class.
"It's Alex, Dad. He likes to go by Alex." Dad hummed, grabbing his coat and his mobile. He tossed me my own coat.
"Yes, and you like to be called Charlie, but that's not what I named you." I just pouted at him, and he pulled his coat on, as well as his scarf. "Molly will help you study. Let's go."
He stuck me upstairs while he went down to the morgue, and I cleared a space at the lab station, pulling out my biology textbook. Dad wouldn't dare attempt to help me; he'd go too into detail and I'd end up failing for knowing too much. That happened once in grade one, and I whined about it so much that he swore never to help me again.
I was deep into the animal kingdoms when Mike Stamford came in. He grinned at me, and another man with a limp followed him in.
"Ah, bit different from my day." The other man said. I had no idea who this man is, but judging from the limp, he had a psychological problem. There wasn't anything wrong with his leg, not really.
"You have no idea. Hello, Charlotte." Mike greeted me, but I corrected him immediatley.
"Just call me Charlie, professor, please. I'm called Charlotte when I'm being argued with." I didn't even look up from my textbook. Mike examined it, humming in acknowledgment.
"I like it better than Chem." He paused, looking around, as he realized Dad wasn't here. I stopped him before he even spoke. "Dad's down at the mortuary, he should be up-" The door burst open, and I nodded. "Now."
"You're improving." Dad encouraged, but his next words canceled that out. "Just barely. Mike, can I borrow your phone? Mine's not getting a signal."
"And what's wrong with the land line?" He liked to text.
"I prefer to text." See? He liked to text. Keep the mystery.
"Sorry, I left it in my coat." Dad went over to the microscope, across the table from me.
"Uh, here." The other man dug through his pocket, pulling out his mobile. "Use mine." I still had no clue who that man was. Not even his name. I wonder if he even knew Dad's.
"Oh. Thank you." Dad stood up, accepting the phone with far more manners than I have ever seen. It was odd, to say the least.
"This is my old friend, John Watson." Well, finally, a name to the face. Dad flipped open the keyboard, and as soon as he said his next words, I lost all hope. He would never change, would he?
"Afghanistan or Iraq?" Mike smirked. I continued to eye my textbook as John glanced at Mike, raising an eyebrow, and then looked back at Dad.
"Which was it, Afghanistan or Iraq?"
"Afghanistan. Sorry, how did you know?" Molly came into the room then, and smiled at me, which I returned gratefully. Bless Molly Hooper, she was the only person who was going to save me from him today, I was sure of it.
"Ah, Molly, coffee. Thank you." She totally fancied Dad, but I wasn't going to point that out. The dumb bloke would have to do it himself. "What happened to the lipstick?"
"It wasn't working for me." She looked away, and glanced at me. I let out a huff, when the animals became too difficult for me.
"Really, I thought it was a big improvement. Your mouth's too small now." I would have told him to be nice, but I was too sick of him to waste the effort. Molly came over to me.
"Okay, sweetie, you said you needed some help?"
"Yes. Please. Not here." Molly nodded, and I scooped up my book and bag, following her out the door. I let out a breath when we were out of there. "I need to go on holiday. Without him." Molly chuckled.
"You need a break, there, don't you? You're losing your head." I nodded in confirmation, and she put an arm around my shoulders. "Men never stop being like that."
"Oh, no, they get better. Much, much better than Sherlock Holmes."
"Dad, honestly, I've no idea-" I paused, when I turned to be faced with not just my father, but John Watson as well. "Oh. Hello, Doctor Watson." He smiled.
"It's nice to see you again. Charlie, was it?" I nodded, picking up a pile of books and putting them on the shelf.
"And how did the exam go?" I winced slightly at Dad's question. I should have seen it coming.
"Not so well. It would have been easier if you'd let me go to the library with Alex." He hummed, but didn't reply. I continued to put the books on the shelf, and emptied out the box with one more stack, then left the rest to Dad.
"Not your housekeeper!" I picked up my bag on the way, hanging it up on my chair and getting my books out. I was about to curl up on my bed and get to work, but then I heard sirens outside. I groaned, and headed back out, ignoring my homework for now. The fun just never stops, does it?
"There's been a fourth, Charlotte." Dad called to me, and I stopped in the doorway to the kitchen with Mrs. Hudson.
"I assumed. But what's different this time?" Lestrade stormed up the stairs. "I guess we're going to find out."
"Where?" Dad demanded, as soon as Lestrade set foot in the room. The man couldn't even catch his breath.
"Brixton, Lauriston Gardens." Lestrade put his hands in his pockets, and glanced at me, smiling a bit.
"What's new about this one? You wouldn't have come to get me if there wasn't something different." Dad glanced away from the window, and at Lestrade.
"You know how they never leave notes?"
"This one did." Oh, a note. Good. Good good. "Will you come?" Dad hesitated slightly. No one else noticed, but I certainly did. He always replied faster.
"Who's on forensics?"
"Anderson." Dad and I both groaned at the name. Hated Anderson, absolutely loathed the guy.
"Anderson won't work with me." Lestrade knew Anderson wasn't going to be Dad's assistant, but he needed one, and badly.
"Well, he won't be your assistant." Lestrade stated obviously, and I was quick to retort.
"But he needs one." I leaned off the doorway, moving forward. "Do you want me to go?"
"I'll come. Not in a police car, I'll be right behind." Basically just told Lestrade to give him a second to talk to me. Again. Why was I not surprised?
"Thank you." He turned to me and Mrs. Hudson, smiling at me, and then mouthed 'Help him.' I nodded stiffly, turning my eyes back on Dad's. He suddenly grinned, and leaped in excitement. I rolled my eyes.
"BRILLIANT, YES!" I crossed my arms, shooting him a disapproving look, but I couldn't help the little grin that spread on my face. Dad was always at his best when he was in a good mood. "Ah, four serial suicides and now a note." He spun around, grabbing me by the shoulders and kissing my head. "It must be Christmas, Charlotte." I giggled. "You stay. I'll need something to eat." I glanced around the kitchen, and shook my head. We'd have to do the shopping soon.
"I'll run to that Italian place down the street. Leave it on the stove, since it's the only place where there isn't a mess." I said, after figuring out which spots were safe, nodding slightly in confirmation.
"But I thought you weren't my housekeeper?" He picked up his coat, scarf and gloves off the table, smirking at me. I glared.
"I refuse to clean up after you, but someone has to make sure you eat something!" He kissed my head again, and I scrunched my nose. "Go, go, you're being indecent."
"John, make yourself at home, have a cup of tea. Charlotte-"
"Yes, yes, if you're not home by eleven I'll head to bed. Now go, Dad." I pushed him lightly, and he pecked my head three more times before he left, slamming the door shut behind him. "That man is mad."
"Look at him dashing about. My husband was just the same, but John, you seem to be more the sitting down type." I nodded in agreement. But I knew he wasn't. "I'll make that cuppa, you rest your leg-"
"DAMN MY LEG!" Mrs. Hudson turned back around, looking startled, and I chuckled. "Sorry, I'm so sorry. It's just sometimes this bloody thing..." Just put down the cane, John. Just put it down.
"I understand, dear, I've got a hip." I shuddered slightly at the mention of Mrs. Hudson's hip. She went to go back out the door again.
"A cup of tea would be lovely, thank you."
"Just this once, dear, I'm not your housekeeper." She headed back out the door, and John frowned, turning to me. I smirked.
"She's said that one too many times. I caught on a few weeks ago." I turned to the stairs. "I don't think we have any biscuits, Mrs. Hudson, so if you've got them?"
"Not your housekeeper!" She called back again, and I smiled fully, turning to go back to my room.
"You're a doctor." I knew he'd come back for John. There was no way Dad was going alone, but he wasn't going to take me, because I wasn't capable of that yet. He didn't trust me. And I wasn't going to argue.
I frowned, looking up from my book when Dad stormed back in. John wasn't with him, which concerned me, but Dad smelled like a bin, which concerned me even more.
"Why do you smell like a bin?"
"Because I've been in one. I had to find this case." He tapped the bright pink suitcase that was now in his chair, and I scrunched my nose up at it. "What?"
"It stinks, Dad, and so do you." He rolled his eyes at me, and ripped off his jacket, tossing it aside to get to work. "So where's John?"
"I left him. He should be on his way." I pinched my nose, and sighed, sitting up.
"You left him in Brixton? The man thinks he's physically handicapped, and you left him there?"
"Yes. He should be here soon." Dad took out his phone, and I knew he was going to text him.
"Tell him to come if it's convenient. He might be back at his own flat by now. You know, the one where all his possessions are?" Dad's eyes flickered with realization. I rolled my own eyes, heading back to my room. "Eat something. I'm off to bed, goodnight."
"Yes, goodnight." He was going to tell John to come, whether it was convenient or not. And I probably wasn't getting any sleep tonight.
I tossed and turned for about twenty minutes before John came back. He asked what Dad was doing, and when Dad mentioned his patches, I groaned. He called to me. It must've been a three patch problem.
"Charlotte, I need your help, get back here." John frowned at me as I entered the room and stood in the doorway with my arms crossed, my hair all tucked in a bun on the top of my head, wearing a dinky t-shirt and pajama pants. A pair that were supposed to be Dad's, but he loathed them, so I stole them. Gave him the patches I'd gotten from some kids at school. Better than him actually out on the streets, right?
"How did you know she was-"
"Heard her tossing. Girl could never sleep well, ever since she was a child."
"My head wouldn't shut up." I smiled fondly at John, turning back to Dad and grew serious. "What is it, then?"
"What's missing from her case?" I frowned, raising an eyebrow.
"Isn't it obvious? Her mobile. She has a string of lovers, she wouldn't leave it at home, she had it with her." Dad smiled, nodding.
"Yes, yes, go on." I frowned further, but continued.
"If it wasn't on her, or in her purse, or in her case, then the murderer must still have it. But why?" Dad grinned.
"I don't know." He climbed in his chair, sitting on the back of it with his feet in his seat, waving me away. "Off to bed."
"Hold on, did I just text a serial killer?" I giggled, and turned on my heel, going back to my room as John said that. I heard them argue for a little longer, and I fell asleep to silence after they'd left, thirty minutes later.
I slept well, for a while, the best I've slept in ages. Until Lestrade burst through the door, that is.
I got up, pulling on a dressing gown and going out into the lounge, my eyes going wide at the men he'd brought. They were searching the entire place, every corner.
"What the hell is this?" I demanded, turning to him. "You can't do this! We haven't done anything, honestly, get out!"
"Charlie, listen-" I shook my head, groaning, snatching my purse from a cop. Lestrade made him back off, and raised an eyebrow at me. "Your father is withholding evidence-" I pointed at the case, my voice raising to a shout now.
"So take it and leave, it's as simple as that!"
"No, it's not, it's a drugs bust." I turned around slowly, giving Anderson my most deadly glare-the one I'd learned from my father. It was even scarier on me, so Anderson turned, shuddering slightly. I turned back to Lestrade, lowering my temper so I could tell him.
"He's not on them. He's been fine, he hasn't touched them in ages, Lestrade, you know that. He doesn't even smoke, for Christ's sake!"
"Charlotte." I turned to Dad as he came in, and gently pushed me behind him. "Go downstairs with Missus Hudson."
"Now, Charlotte, I won't ask again." Dad shot me a look, nodding to the stairs. I paused, but sighed, shooting one last glare at Lestrade before I went down.
Mrs. Hudson let me in, sat me down in her kitchen and made me a cup of tea. Thought it'd calm me down.
"There's nothing to worry about, dear, I'm sure your father hasn't done anything." I smiled at her politely, and nodded, staring down at my cup, swirling the tea slowly with my spoon.
"Yes, I'm sure." Mrs. Hudson gripped my shoulder, and went to the door as the doorbell rang. That gave me a second to think.
She'd never made it to her hotel. She left her case with the murderer, so...she must've taken a cab! Of course she had, they were looking for a cabbie. Mrs. Hudson just answered the door for one. But Dad hadn't ordered a cab…
I jumped out of the chair, and ran out of Mrs. Hudson's flat, ripping open the front door as Dad went to get in the cab.
"Dad." He stopped, and turned slowly, smiling at me softly.
"I'll be fine. Go back inside." I shook my head slightly. Dad sighed, and this time his voice grew sterner. "Go back inside, Charlotte. That's an order."
"I'm coming with you-"
"No. You're not." Dad paused, and climbed inside, holding the door open. He looked me in the eyes, his own growing sad. "I'm sorry." I just stared, as he slammed the car door, and the cabbie drove away.
I ran up the stairs, wasting no time, stopping the adults from arguing.
"It was the cabbie. It was the cabbie, and Dad just got into his cab, now go and find him." They all paused. I stared back at them all, clenching my fists. "My father is a complete and utter imbecile, he'll do anything to prove he's clever, including attempting to choose the right drug to take without killing himself! SO GO AND FIND HIM, RIGHT NOW!"
I managed to chase all of the cops out of there, quick as a whip. I grabbed the tablet when they were gone, and John stopped in the doorway, frowning at me as he was about to follow them.
"What are you doing?"
"Finding my dad, of course. Those dumb blokes won't find him until I tell them where to go." I did exactly what Dad had just done, tracking the phone to its location. It took too long, so I sat, and I waited. The cabbie had it on him-the tracker wouldn't pinpoint the phone's location until he stopped the car.
It took some time, and in that time, John remained silent. He didn't ask questions, he just sat and waited with me. I liked it, I liked that he waited for me, but questioned Dad on a constant basis. I liked that John was adjustable.
I texted the address to Lestrade after it was pinpointed, and John got up, glancing at it before leaving. I decided that since he didn't ask any questions, I wouldn't ask him any, either. It seemed fair. Lestrade picked me up, after I'd texted him far too many times. I was there when the gun went off. And that's when I really started to panic.
I ran right up to the crime scene, letting a breath go when I saw that Dad was just being dragged to the ambulance. A bright orange shock blanket was placed around his shoulders, and I went over to him, ignoring the cops that tried to get in my way. "Dad!" He perked up, and frowned at me, tossing the blanket aside. He took me into his arms, and I sat next to him, hugging him tightly.
"I told you to stay with Mrs. Hudson."
"I never listen. You don't, either." He chuckled, and held me a little closer, kissing my head. "I'm never going to get any sleep, am I?"
"No, probably not." He looked up at Lestrade, and I pulled away, turning to him as well. "Why have I got this blanket, they keep putting it on me?" As Dad said that, the medic put the blanket back around his shoulders.
"It's for shock."
"But I'm not in shock." Lestrade smirked.
"Yes, but some of the guys want to take photographs." I rolled my eyes, forcing back a laugh. If I did that right now, I'd never hear the end of it. Dad sighed, and turned away for a moment, before his mind went back to the shooter.
"So, no sign of the shooter?" Lestrade shook his head.
"Nah. Cleared off before we got here. This girl, though, she's worse than you." Lestrade pointed a finger at me, and I grinned. That was the goal.
"It's because she's a girl. But I suppose he'd have many enemies, right? One of them could have been following."
"Wrong. Don't tease, Dad, that's not very polite." Dad turned to me, raising an eyebrow.
" Then tell me your theory." I paused, and glanced around: at the window where the shooter shot from, picturing the wound, the scene, placing myself in it.
"He used a handgun, judging by the bullet they dug out out of the wall. Also, with the distance, that kind of weapon, you're looking for a crack shot. Not just a marksman though, no, you're looking for a fighter. His hands wouldn't have shaken at all, clearly he's acclimatized to violence. He didn't fire until Dad was in immediate danger, so he had a strong moral principle-" Dad stopped me by putting his hand on my shoulder, and I blinked, turning to him. He grinned at me, almost devilish.
"That's brilliant, Charlotte. Truly brilliant. But ignore everything she's just said, Detective Inspector, because she's all wrong. And I have no idea who could have done it." He caught on, then. Took him long enough. Dad tossed the blanket aside, and stood up, wrapping his arm around my shoulder. I crossed my arms, and Lestrade just stood there, frowning at us as we walked away.
John was standing just outside the police tape, and Dad lifted it up for me to duck under. I smirked at John.
"Let's go home, then. Try to avoid a court case. I'm sure you wouldn't serve time for it, though." John frowned at me, but he knew what I was talking about. I rolled my eyes, marching forward down the street. "Let's get a cab."
"But no serial killers this time, all right?" I laughed. Dad chuckled, and fell into step with me, John falling into step with him.
"Dinner?" My stomach growled in response. Dad smirked. "Chinese?"
"Absolutely. I'm starving." I frowned, when John muttered to Dad about the man he was talking about, the one who bribed him to spy on us. I raised an eyebrow, and shared a smirk with Dad, approaching him as he stepped out of the car.
"So, another case cracked. How very public spirited. But that's never really your motivation, is it?" He looked Dad up and down.
"What are you doing here?" Dad asked.
"As ever, I am concerned about you." He glanced at me. "And about Charlotte, of course. Doesn't she have schooling in the morning?" I rolled my eyes.
"She can never sleep anyway, she'll be fine." Dad smirked. "As ever, I've heard about your concerns."
"Always so aggressive about her, aren't you? Did it never occur to you that you and I belong on the same side?" I scoffed.
"Oh, please, of course not!" I said, earning a glare.
"Never." Dad replied, and we shared the same grin. John was growing more concerned with my involvement, but I just wanted to mess with him, if only this once.
"We have more in common than you'd like to believe. This petty feud between us is simply childish, people will suffer, including your daughter." He paused. "And you know how it always upset Mummy." John frowned now. I smirked, giggling.
"I upset her? Me? Oh no, I gave her a grandchild, I couldn't have upset her. It wasn't me that upset her, Mycroft." I giggled even further at John's reaction. I couldn't stop myself, I was overtired. "Now look, you've gotten her riled up. She'll never sleep now."
"You're the one who let her come here, it's half past one already. Of course she won't sleep." Dad shot him a glare, and grabbed me by the shoulders. I still couldn't stop, and Dad couldn't help but smile.
"Mycroft, what I do with my daughter is none of your concern. Gaining weight again?"
"Losing it, actually." I scoffed, laughing even harder. I was starting to cause a scene. "Charlotte, please, control yourself."
"I can't!" I giggled even more. "I'm sorry. Sorry, sorry, Uncle." Uncle raised an eyebrow at Dad, but Dad shook his head.
"No, it's fine. She'll calm down once we're away from this."
"Goodnight, Uncle." I called, and he waved, as Dad dragged me away. The laughter died down as we got to the main road, and grabbed a cab.
John was utterly, and completely confused, which made that the best part of the night.
I sighed, and sat up, shooting my father a glare. "Dad, I'm thirteen years old, I don't need you to-"
"Go to sleep, Charlotte." Dad replied, glancing up briefly from his book, and then went back to it. I huffed, and tossed onto my side, putting my back to him, hugging the pillow under my head.
He used to do this when I was a kid. He'd sit with me, and make sure I went to sleep, sometimes he'd even fall asleep in the chair. He'd never read to me, sing, none of the normal things parents did. He just sat there, sometimes watching me, sometimes reading to himself. The silence could be scary, but oddly comforting, because I knew he was there. And he would protect me if I needed it, pick me up if I'd fall out of bed. It helped me sleep on a regular basis, knowing Dad was there.And it helped this time, too.
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