They searched high and low through each address that Sherlock had given Lestrade. First, Sherlock and John had gone back to Sherlock’s old dorm, trying to find an underground room or a basement that would lend itself to the partial description Aryn had given them. They searched the perimeter numerous times, turning up nothing.
Lestrade had gone to the pub where Sherlock had mentioned seeing Aryn go to for her first night out with Thalia. He talked with the owner about a basement. He had one, but there weren’t any windows.
More dead ends were turning up every which way they turned. Each location they went to either had no basement, or the basements lacked a window. Reconvening at Scotland Yard, Lestrade collapsed in his chair, staring at his desk. John and Sherlock sat silently in the other chairs in the room, the hustle and bustle of the office outside making it seem as if time was flying by.
Suddenly, Lestrade struck out once more, slamming his palm on his desk. He shouted out in frustration, his deep breaths adding to the tension to the room. It was a hard situation to cope with. Aryn was someone he favored and cared for deeply. He felt partially responsible for her disappearance. He should have made sure she was taken care of after she had been sent home. He should have gone to her flat the moment John mentioned her not answering her phone. He should have done so much more.
Sherlock sat with his hands in his pockets, staring at the floor in front of John. His brain was working overtime trying to think of places they could still check. It had been six hours already, their time dwindling at an alarming rate. He sighed, looked up at John briefly, then back down to the floor.
“Has Anderson returned from her flat yet?” Sherlock asked.
Lestrade nodded. “He’s analyzing samples in the lab. Found a glass near her sink. Said there was something odd about it.”
Sherlock looked up at John. “Did you leave the water on her nightstand?”
“How did you know it was on her nightstand? Anderson found it in the kitchen,” John inquired.
“Water marks on the nightstand. Condensation would have dripped down the glass and made the ring. Glass would have been there for quite some time before she drank it and moved it to the kitchen, so it must have been there before she went to sleep. Did you leave it there?”
John thought back to the night before, recounting his routine. “I brought her back, guided her to the bedroom with one of her arms over my shoulders because the alcohol had finally hit her pretty hard. I set her on the bed, she stretched out, and she fell asleep almost instantly. I walked out, left the bandages on the table, and that was that. No water.”
Sherlock let out a sigh of grief. “She was drugged then.”
“Would make it easier to move her,” John added. “She must’ve woken up, drunk the water to help her hangover, and then the drugs would have knocked her back down.”
“I don’t care how she ended up where she is,” Lestrade interrupted. “We need to find her.” He stood up, shuffling through the papers on his desk. “I’m going to set up a conference with the press. You two figure out where to look next,” he growled, grabbing a photo of Aryn, a paper that looked to have her description on it, then walked out.
Sherlock looked up at John who looked slightly shaken up by the situation.
“Sherlock,” he began, “when you two first met, it was at the library, right?”
Sherlock nodded. “No windows in that basement.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” John assured with slight irritation as he stood up and began to pace. “She met you at your dorm—“
“And we went on a case. We’ve checked all of those buildings,” Sherlock snapped, his gaze at John intense.
“Well, maybe it’s not the beginning of your friendship that this killer wants you to focus on.”
Sherlock cocked his head slightly as his eyebrows furrowed.
“When do you think Aryn first started to fall for you?”
That’s all she could think about as she lay on her side, her head resting upon the cold floor that was now painted a deep red color. For the most part, the liquid had dried and Aryn could move a little bit more now. The pain hadn’t subsided, but the adrenaline and initial shock was starting to fade.
Her mind wasn’t focused on her wounds or situation, though. She was focused on the night that Sherlock had saved her. Her memories brought her back to that moment where she felt Sherlock’s hands reach out and save her; where his embrace protected her from the world surrounding her. She remembered being wrapped up in his arms and feeling the pounding of his heartbeat in her ear as she pressed her head into his chest.
There was no doubting her faith in Sherlock after that moment. He wasn’t cold enough to just let her fall to her demise, but the fact that he was so protective of her during those moments proved that he valued her as more than just an assistant.
After that, she remembered that he wouldn’t let her linger behind him more than a few feet. His eyes were always following her, checking her surroundings as well as how she carried herself. She could see the worry and caution in his expression that lent itself as a perfectly good distraction that night. He himself stumbled on a few things as they looked through an office for information which had caused her to laugh.
As she thought of Sherlock, she laughed and a searing pain shot up her side. Something else was broken, the jostling of her body as she laughed stimulating it.
Sherlock was going to save her. She knew he would.
He had to.
Sherlock had hopped
down off of a wall into a private property. He looked around, not bothering to
help Aryn as she struggled to meet her feet with the ground. Her height was an
ongoing problem when it came to doing things like scaling walls and fences. She
wasn’t necessarily short for a woman her age, but she wasn’t the tallest person
“Sherlock, where are we going?” she hissed, dusting off her coat after it had collected dust from the wall.
He ignored her question, continuing to look around. There were supposed to be guards at this building, but none were anywhere to be seen. Odd for a place that held offices with important information. He and Aryn were out on another mission to gather data for a case.
Walking towards the building, he kept looking around for any sign of people besides himself and Aryn. Slowly he crept towards the fire escape. Still no one had seen him.
Pulling on the metal ladder, it made a loud noise as it came down. It sounded as if someone had taken a stick and run it along the side of a metal fence, each bar making a loud sound as the stick struck it.
“Stop right where you are,” a voice said from behind him.
Sherlock froze, looking straight ahead.
“Arms up,” the man said.
Sherlock did as he was told. “Are you with the police?”
“Turn ‘round slowly or I’ll shoot.”
Turning, Sherlock looked around in any direction he could. Aryn was nowhere to be seen.
“Are you with the police?” Sherlock repeated, finally turning to be face to face with his captor.
The man was in his mid-forties, dressed in a security uniform. He had a gun in his hands that was pointed at Sherlock. Judging by how he was holding it, he had never shot the gun before, nor did he have any intention of doing so now because the safety was still on. He was a round gentleman with a noticeably stronger right arm than left. He wore a ring on a chain around his neck and his left ring finger was still tanned—divorce.
“Taking it hard?” Sherlock asked, distracting the security guard.
“Your divorce—you must be taking it quite hard? I can only imagine living by yourself must be a large change from the life you used to know. Any kids?”
The guard’s face twisted into anger and confusion all at once. The mention of his kids did catch his attention, protective instincts starting to take over. “What d’you know about my kids?”
“Nothing, nothing. I’m assuming you don’t have custody judging by the condition of your arm and how much porn you must be watching at home. Lost custody, lost the girl, and lost the house. Tsk tsk…good thing you’ve got a lot of pride with this job, don’t you?”
The man was steaming as he cocked the gun that was in his hand. “Get moving or I’ll shoot.”
“Not if I shoot first.”
Both men turned to look to their right as Aryn stood with a gun in her hand. Sherlock was surprised and wondered where she got it from, let alone if she knew how to use it.
“Pretty lady, this isn’t the time or place for you,” the guard said with a smug smirk.
She cocked the gun, her gaze fierce and demanding. “I’ll count to three.”
The guard’s expression suddenly changed as fear began to take over. Sherlock watched as the man’s eyes dilated and his arms began to fall to his sides, gun now pointing towards the ground. The man began to sweat as he stared at the barrel of Aryn’s gun.
Without another word, the guard began to jog away, most likely off to call the actual police.
“We’re leaving,” Aryn announced, starting back towards the wall. “Police will be here in minutes if we don’t leave now.”
As they walked down the street after clearing themselves off of the building’s property, Sherlock couldn’t help but be curious about what had happened. It was unlike Aryn to take control of a situation like that, nor was it normal for her to be carrying a gun or any weapon at all when they were out on cases like these.
“Aryn,” he began, stopping in his tracks.
She turned to look at him after he stopped walking.
“Where did you get the gun?”
She smiled. Pulling the gun out of her pea coat, she tossed it to him and continued to walk.
At first, he panicked as he watched the weapon fall through the air. He was worried he may catch it the wrong way with the amount of rotations it was making in-air. The last thing he wanted to do was pull the trigger and have some kind of freak accident.
Upon catching the gun, though, he became very confused. It was much lighter than it should have been. It wasn’t that the gun was missing a clip or some other major component; the gun was plastic.
Looking down at the gun, then looking up at Aryn, he couldn’t help but laugh as she stood watching him. A large grin was plastered on her face.
They were even. For now.
He opened his eyes, noting that he was alone in Lestrade’s
office once again. His hands were in their usual steeple in front of his mouth
as he stopped daydreaming. His mind had been wandering since he and John
returned to Scotland Yard and memories of him and Aryn were pouring in.
What John had asked him to think about was a very strange request. He wasn’t one to notice any real emotional change in a person unless he was trying to rip them apart with his razor sharp deductions. At that time in college, he was so focused on getting new cases to keep his mind occupied that anything else that happened seemed very irrelevant. It wasn’t until he and Aryn started to get more comfortable with each other did he notice her emotions. By then, he figured she had already established what kind of feelings she had for him.
But when did she figure that all out?
The door opened which caused Aryn’s eyes to snap open. She
had closed them briefly because she was getting tired. The blood loss was
taking its toll and she felt very exhausted.
Footsteps caused her heart to race and her body to tense up as the adrenalin ran through her once again. She could hear the chair moving behind her, being dragged across the room to be put against the wall.
“Six hours,” the man said, walking back over to Aryn. “Six hours until you die.”
That was reassuring.
The man walked around Aryn and sat down in front of her in the same manner as he had before.
“How does it feel knowing that you didn’t mean that much to him?”
Her eyes slowly went to his face, her expression trying to show zero interest in the words he had asked her.
“He didn’t bother to even see you off all those years ago. Now here he is, back in your life, and he doesn’t bother to come and save you. What did you do to him?”
She wondered what kind of strategy this man was playing at, especially at the mention of his last question. Aryn knew that Sherlock wouldn’t give up on her that quickly. This case had been tormenting him to no end, and now they had an actual lead and a victim who was still alive. There was no way Sherlock was going to pass this up no matter who the victim was.
Victim: an odd notion for Aryn to consider. Never in her life had she been considered to be the victim of a case.
The man’s face twisted into a small smile. “You believe in Sherlock Holmes so firmly. I’ll tell you this right now, sweetheart…” He leaned in close to her face, the warm air from his breaths pushing on her face. “…when those six hours are up, that’s when he’ll come to get you. He doesn’t care enough to ensure your safety. Tick, tock, tick, tock.”
His voice chilled her to the bone as he continued his chant. It seemed that he was standing on the edge of insanity. His eyes danced with delight with every word he told her. He enjoyed planting these seeds in her head, waiting for them to bloom into corruption.Tick, tock.