“Everyone, this is—“
“Aryn K. Clarke,” Aryn finished, extending her hand towards Donovan, then Anderson.
“These two are my right hand people. If you need anything, they’ll help you tend to it,” Lestrade voluntold, guiding Aryn around the two after their introductions had been complete.
“You must be Dr. Watson,” Aryn started, shaking hands with John.
“Just ‘John’ please. Pleasure to meet you. Greg has told us so much about you,” John politely stated. This girl wasn’t what John was expecting. If he had to guess, she was around Sherlock’s age. Her hair was pulled back in a neat, professional way, and she had an aura about her. She was very polite, but he could tell she meant business and that this case was probably bothering her about as much as it bothered them.
“I hope he’s only told you good things,” she said with a laugh. “When I was first training in the force, Greg was the person I shadowed. When I moved out to Manchester, he kept pulling me back for cases.” Bringing her attention to Sherlock, she continued, “And I’m guessing this is the reason why he stopped calling.”
“Aryn, this is Sherlock Holmes.”
Lestrade was nervous about the exchange, as was everyone. Sherlock wasn’t known for making an exceptional first impression on people and seeing as how harsh he was about her earlier, no one knew what would come out of his mouth.
Aryn walked over to Sherlock and looked up at the detective. “Hello, Sherlock.”
His gaze was intense. It was as if he was frozen in shock or in fear. John had only seen him do this one other time: when he had asked Sherlock to be his best man. John knew that Sherlock’s mind was probably racing at a million miles a minute at that point. What John couldn’t figure out was why. He had been around a lot of other women before and even when he was around someone like Irene Adler, he was able to keep his composure. It did strike John as odd, though, that Aryn wasn’t so formal with Sherlock at their first meeting.
10 years of emotions and thoughts were indeed racing through Sherlock’s mind. As he looked at Aryn, he kept thinking “She hasn’t changed.”
“It’s about time you got here. Of all people I would expect that you should be able to help solve this. I hope your time is a DI hasn’t softened you. So tell me, what do you know?”
These are the words Sherlock thought came out of his mouth.
“I’ll go and get us all some coffee then,” Aryn awkwardly announced, walking past Sherlock and making a left down the hallway from which the group had just come.
John’s face was a mixed of confusion and amusement. He walked over to his friend who was still standing in the same position as he had been for the past five minutes. “Sherlock?” He snapped his fingers in front of his face. “Sherlock, you there?”
“Finally—someone’s able to shut him up,” Donovan remarked with a sense of satisfaction. She smirked as she walked past the duo. “Let’s see if she can keep this up,” she laughed as she left the room.
Anderson and Lestrade exchanged looks before following suit.
“Try to get to know her. She’ll probably be here a while so best to get used to how she works,” Lestrade informed John. He looked up to Sherlock again and shook his head. “And please make sure he doesn’t keep doing this. I don’t know if I’d rather have this over his usual…comments.”
John nodded with slight embarrassment as the DI left the room.
As if on cue, Sherlock looked up and around and noted that the room was now empty. “Well that was rude.”
John looked at Sherlock confused and asked, “How do you mean?”
Walking over to the boards, Sherlock continued, “I asked her a question and she completely ignored me.”
He smirked when he realized Sherlock’s blunder. “Sherlock, you didn’t ask her anything.”
It was now Sherlock’s turn to be confused. He turned around to look at John with a bewildered expression. “Didn’t I? I could have sworn that I—“
“You froze, Sherlock. One look at her and you went into shock.”
Looking down at the table in front of him, Sherlock tried to replay in his mind the last few minutes. “So I said—“
“Absolutely nothing,” John finished, crossing his arms in front of him in enjoyment. “How do you know her?”
Sherlock started to putter around the table, looking over the photographs in case there were new ones he wasn’t familiar with. “Know who?”
“What makes you think I know her?”
John walked around the table and placed his hand over a photograph Sherlock was looking over. Sherlock looked up at John with slight irritation while John returned the gaze with and expectant one.
Rolling his eyes and walking around John, Sherlock said, “She’s an old…friend. I suppose that’s what you’d call her,” as he waved his hand in the air as if trying to conjure up the right word.
“A friend? You?”
Sherlock shot John a look with narrowed eyes very briefly before leaving the room to return to Lestrade’s office.
John stood in slight disbelief as he started to take in what Sherlock had told him. It would be a situation to watch in the coming days, but for now he too went back to Lestrade’s office. There, he found Lestrade, Sherlock, and Aryn. Lestrade was on the phone, and his expression was grave.
“Alright, we’ll be there soon.” Lestrade hung up the phone and stood up quickly, walking towards his coat that he had draped on one of the chairs earlier in the day. “Another body.”
The building had been abandoned for many years, as far as Aryn could tell. The only people who moved in and out of it were those who had been going through the building’s contents to try and salvage whatever they could. The wallpapers inside were faded and peeling off of the walls. The floors were dust-covered, tiles were chipped, and the smell was overwhelmingly strong. It was as if someone had killed an animal and left it to rot.
“Victim is the wife of one of the men we found two weeks ago,” Lestrade explained. He, John, Sherlock, and Aryn had turned a few more corners as he began explaining. “When we had initially started to investigate the husband’s murder, we had put her in as a suspect.”
Aryn nodded. “Seems viable. Missing wife, dead husband—that’s a formula for a number one suspect.”
“Except that no one had heard from the wife in a while as well,” John added.
“And here we are,” Sherlock finally stated as the group reached the room that the body was in.
Donovan and Anderson had cleared all of the extra people away from the room as to give Sherlock, John, and Aryn the time and space they needed in order to work.
At first, Aryn didn’t move. She surveyed the room with great intensity, her eyes flicking from place to place, corner to corner. There wasn’t much to the room aside from the body and the rose that sat upon it. Given the smell and the rose’s now dead state, she guessed that the body had been there for quite some time. The room itself was quite dusty and didn’t have any furniture within it. There was a lone picture that hung above the fireplace that was directly across from the door. There were three windows that lined the wall to Aryn’s left that overlooked the street. Two windows to Aryn’s left led to a fire escape which would take a person down to the secluded alley between that building and the next.
Sherlock too stood and took in the room and its layout. In his mind he was going through each of the pictures of previous victims to see if there were any differences that he could see. At the moment, there were none. Squatting down, he took note of the floor.
Aryn did the same, scanning the floor near where the body was. Sherlock looked at her in slight surprise, but ignored the gesture and carried on.
“Were your men wearing shoe covers this time?” Sherlock asked, irritation lacing his voice. It was this particular error that had cost them a better scene analysis the last time they had a victim to look over.
“Yes they were,” Anderson answered, although Sherlock was expecting the answer out of Lestrade.
“So if we can find any shoe prints with clean marks,” Aryn began, turning to Anderson, “then we have something to go off of: shoe size, length of stride which can give us a guess on the killer’s height.”
Anderson looked from face to face with slight shock. “You can’t mean that you buy into what this guy is suggesting,” he said, gesturing towards Sherlock. “He’s psychotic.”
“Sociopath,” Sherlock corrected.
“I do ‘buy into’ what Sherlock is suggesting,” Aryn began, walking towards Anderson. “Now could you please take the photos we need so that we can get on with looking at the body?” She rolled her eyes as she looked at Lestrade desperate for answers and a better forensics team to work with. “Can we not do all of this ourselves?”
“I’ve been asking that since the day I met Anderson,” Sherlock mumbled to himself, inspecting the doorway as well as the hall they had just walked down.
“It’s never stopped you,” Lestrade snapped back, turning his attention back to the room.
John watched the banter that Sherlock and Aryn seemed to have, although it wasn’t with one another. They meshed because their thoughts were on the same wavelength. It was a strange feeling because, in reality, no one really thought on the same wavelength as Sherlock.
Again he found himself noting that she never referred to him as “Mr. Holmes” since Sherlock had never really told her to call him just “Sherlock”.
Lestrade found the exchange quite odd as well. “You two should be married or something. It’s scary the way you two think.”
The comment made both the younger detective inspector and the consulting detective cast glances at each other before they were interrupted by Anderson.
“Photos have been taken. The scene is yours to ruin.”
“Finally!” Sherlock exclaimed. It was as if he was a puppy that was let out into the yard to play. He went from place to place looking over a variety of details. Eventually he made his way to the body where John was already inspecting.
John knelt beside the body, gloves on his hands, and started to feel around the wound that was in the woman’s chest. It was the same as all of the others: very clean, very precise, very painful. Sighing, he began to inspect other parts, doing tasks such as looking at her fingernails and checking her pupils for any dilation. “Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of all of the victims. Same cause of death, just seems that this one was here for about 10 to 15 days.”
“Which is about how long the husband has been dead, right?” Aryn asked, kneeling next to John.
“Yeah, it’s been 13 days since we found the husband,” Lestrade confirmed, flipping through a small notebook that he carried with him that had information he needed. “Buy why no tip off this time?”
“It’s a mistake,” Sherlock quickly answered, walking over to John and Aryn.
“Mistake?” John asked.
“Yes, a mistake. There are several differences not only with the circumstances of this victim and the last but also the placement.”
“The rose isn’t in her hands, it’s cast off on her shoulder as if it’s been merely dropped,” Aryn began, now circling the body.
“Precisely. The killer took care with the first few victims. All of their bodies had been treated intimately, as if it were some kind of ritual,” Sherlock continued, not missing a beat.
“She’s missing her wedding ring which is odd since all of the other victims were found with all of their jewelry or expensive pieces still on them.”
“Judging by the lack of neatness in both her hair and her clothes, she was a rushed placement,” Sherlock noted. All of the other bodies had been well combed and their clothes looked as if they had been freshly pressed. This body was disheveled, as if it had just been brought out of the trunk of a car and placed on the floor.
“Seems as if she was an after-thought,” Aryn finished, looking around the room. “We’ll have to wait until Miss Hooper can take a better look at the body.” Not seeing any other differences aside from what she and Sherlock had found, she walked towards Lestrade and rubbed her face with her hands. “I suppose you can let the rest of the forensics team in here to see if they can find anything else.”
Upon returning to Scotland Yard, Aryn could feel that she was being watched with more intensity than when she had arrived that morning. Judging by the way Donovan and Anderson tag teamed against Sherlock, she felt she had a target on her back now as well. Not only that, but she knew that John was trying to put the pieces together in terms of everything that had happened that day. She didn’t blame him, though. It probably wasn’t every day that you could find someone who not only could come to conclusions like Sherlock but could also follow his thought patterns to a tee.
Then again, what they had figured out that day was minor and easy enough for anyone with a magnifying glass to deduce.
Returning to the original meeting room, Aryn began to gather her bags and folders while talking with Greg.
“Are you sure you’d rather stay in Manchester? Contrary to what you’d believe, we could use your help here at Scotland Yard.”
Aryn laughed. “Greg, I’m definitely a lot happier in Manchester. Why are you badgering me about this now? Feel like you’re getting too old for the job?” A playful stab. It wasn’t unlike her to tease Lestrade about his age. He was like a father to her and had always taken care of her as such. All of the shortcuts and tricks she knew about her job had come from him and she was very thankful for his guidance.
His smile was one of relief after the day they just had. “Once you settle in to your new flat, do you wanna grab a pint?”
“Only if you’re buying.”
“Don’t I always?”
Aryn smiled as she gathered the rest of her things and began to walk out of the office. Taking the elevator, she started to shuffle her bags inside and pressed the “1” button to go down to the first floor.
“Wait!” she heard a familiar voice call.
She held the elevator door button open, when she saw John jogging over, to allow him inside.
“Thanks,” he said between breaths.
“Not a problem.” She looked at him again in a bit more detail than before. He was a military man as far as she could tell. He was married and seemed to be a very nice guy. The fact that he was close with Sherlock was probably a good thing for the latter party. He needed someone more stable in his life considering how unstable he was able to get.
“How many months?” she randomly asked as the elevator doors closed.
“Sorry?” John looked up at her slightly confused by the question that had come out of nowhere.
“Oh, sorry,” she apologized with a smile. “How many months along is your wife? You are expecting a baby aren’t you?”
John smiled as he looked down at the ground. “Let me guess. Judging by my wedding ring, the bags under my eyes, and…?”
“…the fact that you were gazing into the shop windows next to the apartment we visited today, I figured you folks must be getting close. The pram you were looking at was nice. Probably costs a pretty penny as well.”
Laughing, John replied, “It’s amazing.”
“Babies? Oh yes. They’re the best part of the married life, or so I’m told.”
“No, no, not that. You.”
Aryn scrunched her eyebrows together as the elevator opened to the ground floor. “Me?”
Grabbing one of her bags, John walked Aryn through the lobby and out the door towards the street. “Yes you.”
“And why is that?”
“If you don’t mind me saying, I’m in slight disbelief in how you and Sherlock are so similar. Except…your deductions come out in a much nicer way.”
Aryn chuckled as she hailed a cab. “You’d be surprised at a lot of things, John.”
“Did you know Sherlock prior to today?”
She nodded as a cab finally pulled up to the curb. “We were…friends, I suppose.” There was hesitation in her voice that John recognized from when he had talked to Sherlock earlier.
He proceeded to load Aryn’s larger bag into the back of the cab and opened the door for her. “‘Were’?”
“Another story for another day John.” She smiled as tossed her other bag into the cab. “Thanks for helping me. Greg and I will be going out for a pint later if you and your wife want to join us. I’d love to meet her.”John nodded as he watched Aryn climb into the cab. The dark vehicle pulled away from the curb, its red taillights fading into the distance.