A Rose By Any Other Name

Chapter 5

She was staring down the person in her kitchen who, in surprise, had thrown his hands up in surrender now that he was staring down the barrel of a gun.

“John!” she exclaimed with relief, setting her gun down on the table. “What in the bloody hell—“

“I’m sorry,” he stammered out, tension easing out of him as Aryn put the gun down. “I had stopped by and saw the door was open.”

“Announce yourself next time, if you’d please,” she scolded, walking over to the kitchen sink. She grabbed a glass that was sitting on the counter, filled it with water, and took a hefty drink. After calming her nerves, she turned to John and asked, “What are you doing here so late?”

He stood up and rubbed the back of his head. “Um…Sherlock hasn’t come back to Baker Street yet. Mrs. Hudson called me to ask where he was. I thought maybe you’d know.”

She chuckled as she set the glass back on the counter. “And you find this to be strange behavior? As long as I’ve known him, disappearing suddenly and then reappearing just as suddenly is pretty normal. I don’t know where he is.”

John nodded in annoyance as he stated, “Yes it may be, but I’m just…I dunno. I’m worried more about him than usual.”

Aryn nodded as she folded her arms across her chest. “You want some tea?”

John nodded as he sat back in the wooden kitchen chair. Rubbing his face with his hands, he sighed. “How did you handle him? Before, I mean.”

She laughed as she set the kettle on the stove to allow the water to boil. “I didn’t have to baby sit him, if that’s what you’re asking.”

He laughed slightly, thinking about how their friendship consisted of a lot of John chasing Sherlock around as if he was a three-year-old child who had consumed far too much sugar. It was exhausting business. With the baby coming, John was worried that once his attention shifted away from Sherlock, Sherlock would go back into his old ways. John had always told himself that if he ever saw any bags of white powder in Sherlock’s possession, he’d literally knock some sense into him. It was a waste of a brilliant mind if Sherlock was to succumb to drugs once more.

Sitting across from John, Aryn sighed. “College,” she randomly said.

“Sorry?” John asked, now looking up at the DI with more attention than he had previously.

“College. That’s how Sherlock and I met.”

He leaned back in his chair, preparing himself to process what Aryn was going to tell him. “And how exactly did you get caught up with him?”

“Probably the same way he reeled you in. The want for adventure, a need for a companion.”

He nodded in understanding. “And you two didn’t have problems?”

She laughed heartily. “Oh no, we did. It was a rather dysfunctional friendship for the first few months. He’d only talk to me when he had a case. Saved my life once or twice, so I do owe him that. But it never extended to something more than that.”

Her face scrunched up a little as she finished her last sentence.

“What?” John asked, noticing the change.

She shifted in her chair slightly as she said, “I suppose there was a turning point where Sherlock finally saw that I wanted to be more than just his tag-along.”

His eyes widened. “What like...like...”

“…a friend.”

It wasn’t what John had expected. He had honestly expected her to say something along the lines of being lovers. Aryn had struck him as someone who was very sociable and able to get along with nearly anyone. The way she had said the word “friend” made him think that there was much more to her than met the eye. It was possible that Sherlock was her saving grace, just as Sherlock had been his.

Aryn was quiet now, staring with vacant eyes at the table in front of her. When the killer had said she’d be visiting memory lane, she had no idea how true that statement was.

John sat uncomfortably as Aryn sat in silence. He looked over to the clock that hung on her wall. It was 10 o’clock. “Maybe I should be going,” he announced, starting to stand.

“John,” Aryn suddenly called, looking up at the man. “Sorry, I…um…”

He sat back down, looking at her with concerned eyes. “You need to talk about something?”

She nodded. “Do you want to know how Sherlock and I actually became friends?”

He looked at her with curious eyes. “If that’s something you’re willing to share with me, I’m here to listen.”

She smiled. “Mary is lucky to have you John,” she said with a chuckle.

She had been at the pub for once in her life while in college. Thalia had managed to drag her out of the library for some fun. Sherlock hadn’t bothered to talk to her for the last two weeks, so Aryn had once again found comfort keeping her nose in a textbook. Was she worried? Of course, but she knew Thalia wouldn’t approve of her worrying over Sherlock. After thorough convincing, Aryn found herself sitting at a booth with a pint between her hands, the condensation making them cold and damp.

Looking around the bar, it was a better atmosphere than what she thought it would be like. She enjoyed seeing Thalia having fun and had even shared a few decent conversations with the people who had joined them. It was possible that Aryn would make more of an effort to come out with Thalia if this is what her experiences would be like.

One particular person caught her by surprise. Sherlock had been sitting in the corner for a while by himself. He was waiting for someone. He had no files with him nor did he have any books. She thought it was odd to see him in a bar. It wasn’t “his scene”, so to speak. People walked past him as if he wasn’t even there, which made her pity him slightly.

“Oh no,” Thalia complained, sitting across from Aryn. “You’re not going to go over there, are you?”

Aryn shrugged. “I don’t want him to sit by himself…”

Thalia rolled her eyes as she looked back over at Sherlock. “Well, it doesn’t look like he’s by himself now.”

Aryn turned her head quickly to see Sherlock sitting with a hooded figure. It wasn’t a very stimulating conversation between the two of them, and she felt something wasn’t right. Sherlock’s eyes were darting from place to place as if he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.

His hand slid across the table and the hooded person took something from him. Cash.

Counting it carefully, the figure produced a small, plastic bag from his pocket and slid it back over to Sherlock. He then left the table quickly, going out of the door and out of sight.

Sherlock quickly put the bag in his pocket and started to make for the door as well. His long legs took him out very quickly, giving Aryn little time to catch up.

Thalia called out to her friend. “Ryn!”

Aryn kept walking past people, pushing them when needed.

“Ryn!” Thalia called again, starting to follow her.

She made it to the doorway of the pub and looked left and right. She spotted a figure a ways down the road on her right with Sherlock’s height and blue scarf. She started to jog after him.

“Aryn!” Thalia called out one last time, watching her friend go after the mysterious man.

She was starting to run out of breath since her strides were so small compared to Sherlock’s. Even when they went out on cases, she usually had to take two or three times the amount of steps when Sherlock was off on a lead. He had no time to wait for her.

“Sherlock!” she finally called out.

He whirled around, his eyes wide as he looked down at the small, brown haired girl. “Why are you following me?”

She took a few deep breaths as she started, “I saw you at the bar. You left in such a hurry and I—“

“I’m late for something. You’re wasting my time.”

She saw the dark circles under his eyes and the lack of brilliance his eyes usually showed. His cheeks were slightly sunken in, suggesting he hadn’t eaten for a few days. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his eyes flicked from one direction to another, watching their surroundings.

“What is wrong with you?” she asked, although she was smart enough to put two and two together.

“It’s none of your concern,” Sherlock snapped, turning back towards the direction he was going originally.

Frustrated, Aryn jogged once more to catch up to Sherlock. She got close enough to stick her hand in his pocket and pull out the bag containing white powder.

He quickly turned around and grabbed her wrist. “Drop it,” he growled, a glint of anger running across his face.

“No,” she sneered, twisting her wrist out of his grasp. Looking down at the bag, she felt a sudden wave of disappointment overwhelm her. She looked up at him and with a snarl said, “How dare you.”

His angry expression dropped off of his face and he suddenly looked confused.

“How dare you throw away such a beautiful mind with this…” She looked at the powder in disgust.

“You’re not of any importance to me, so why should this be of concern to you?” Sherlock sharply stabbed, locking eyes with Aryn.

The statement took her aback, her eyes starting to flicker with rage.

“Because it’s what friends do Sherlock!” She tossed the bag into a nearby storm drain, the action not eliciting any emotion out of Sherlock.

Walking away, she didn’t even offer him a chance for a rebuttal. She was furious with him, and she wasn’t entirely sure why. Sherlock was right, they weren’t friends, at least not in his eyes. But she valued him so much because of the value she thought she had to him. Obviously, she was wrong. Emotions started to flood her body to the point of exhaustion. Returning to her dorm, she flopped onto the bed and immediately fell asleep.

The next morning, she woke up with a headache. The sun was shining brightly through her window and she could hear Thalia snoring in the next room. Sitting up, she started to piece together what had happened the night before and became angry once again. How could she have been so stupid as to trust Sherlock so much?

She showered, changed into warm clothes, grabbed some books, and then headed to the library. She wanted time to herself without any interruptions. Her mind needed time to process what had happened not only in the last 12 hours, but during the past few months. She felt as if she was being pulled along by a string; like a marionette with no control of what she was going to do next.

She dropped her books on the table with a loud thud. It was a Saturday morning and no one was in the library. Putting her damp hair up in a bun with a pencil, she proceeded to plop down in the chair in front of her and opened a book to read. She was so upset that the words on the page kept blurring together, Aryn needing to read a sentence three or four times before she finally understood what it was talking about.

After a while, she gave up and pushed the book away from her. She put her arms on the table and rested her head on them, focusing on her breathing.

Within a few minutes, she heard someone sit across from her. Her head shot up and to her surprise, it was Sherlock. He sat with his hands folded, looking at her expectantly. His eyes were redder than the night prior and the bags had gotten worse.

“What do you want?” she harshly asked.

He sat silently.

She furrowed her brow at him. “Do you expect an apology?”

He raised his eyebrows, signaling approval of her question.

She rolled her eyes. “You’re ridiculous.” She stood up and started to collect her things, preparing to leave Sherlock once again.

“Why should I be the one to apologize?” he asked, truly dumbfounded by her actions.

“Sherlock, I have been nothing but cooperative these past few months. I’ve gone out with you at any and all hours of the night to help you cure your boredom while keeping myself caught up in school. Did I expect something in return? No. All I wanted was to be seen as more than just a puppet used to keep you amused.”

The statement shocked him slightly. He didn’t know what to say to that. Was she saying she wanted to be his friend?

“Good-bye, Sherlock.”

“Sorry, I don’t see how that caused you both to become friends.”

The sound of the kettle whistling suddenly interrupted their conversation, Aryn quickly standing up to pull it off of the stove and making them both tea.

“That very night, he found me in the library again. He didn’t say anything, just sat with his books and started to study with me.”

John furrowed his brow as he continued to look at Aryn.

“He did that for a few more nights and then, he started to bring me things.

“First, it was a pencil on one of the nights I had forgotten to bring an extra one for my hair. He didn’t say a word to me, just gave me the pencil and continued his readings. Next few nights, he brought me book after book after book. I never asked him for any of them, he just…brought them. I hadn’t even said a word to him since that ‘good-bye’ I offered him. After the third or fourth round of giving me things, I just had to laugh because it was so obvious that he didn’t know how to apologize like a civil human being.”

“And after that, you both were…friends?”

She nodded. “More or less.”

John shrugged. “Sounds about as strange as a friendship with Sherlock can be.”

Aryn set down a cup of tea on the table for each of them. “Well, I’m sure Sherlock didn’t think you two were such great friends until you got married, am I right?”

John took a sip from his tea and thought about the day he asked Sherlock to be his best man. The shock definitely indicated that Sherlock wasn’t accustomed to being a friend, let alone a best friend for anyone. He nodded in response to Aryn’s question, then leaned back in his chair. “Why are you telling me this?”

Aryn leaned back in her chair as well, her tea still sitting in front of her. “For one thing, you’re a very trustworthy person. I can see why Sherlock puts so much faith in you.” She gave him a half smile before continuing. “And…I feel like someone needs to know about what my relationship with Sherlock is like while this case is going on. My note from whatever mystery person said ‘Welcome to memory lane’. If that’s any indication of what’s to come, someone outside of Sherlock and myself should know something about our lives.”

John nodded. “Back at Scotland Yard, you said you and Sherlock ‘were’ friends. What happened?”

Aryn smirked uncomfortably. Before she could answer, her phone started to buzz. Reaching into her pocket, she saw it was a text from Sherlock.

Flower Shop.


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