He looked down at the coffee table in front of him, his sleeve rolled up above his elbow. The needle glistened in the dim light that he had in his living room. The door was closed and locked, lest he allow an interruption by Mrs. Hudson. He loved the woman as if she was his mother, but at times she was too much to handle, even for Sherlock.
He kept telling himself he needed it. He told himself he needed the high to help him think clearer with this case. Sherlock knew, though, that once he came down, he’d want more.
Leaning back, he closed his eyes. Thinking hard about his next decision, he thought about what had happened that day with Aryn. It was the first time in years he had come that close with her. The way his heart raced and his protective instinct about her had caused some emotions he hadn’t quite remembered feeling in some time. It scared him to think that there was one more person in his life that he felt that way for. Being protective of people like Aryn and John made him worry for their safety.
A buzz of his phone had him sitting up in a heartbeat.
He rolled his eyes. Of course he meant the financial records.
Another buzz came in not twenty seconds later.
Meet me at Scotland Yard.
He looked back down at the needle again.
He set down his phone and traded it for the needle. He could see the liquid within, waiting for it to be coursing through his veins, delivering the happy feeling he so desperately desired.
It wasn’t a question.
Rolling his eyes once again, he set both the needle and his phone back down on the coffee table. He could hear Aryn’s words ringing through his head the first night she found out he was addicted. “How dare you throw away such a beautiful mind with this…”
He thought it was curious that she had called his mind “beautiful”. Most people viewed it as a curse or an annoyance. Then again, even John thought it was amazing that he could make such accurate deductions within seconds. It was his craft, and he was proud of it.
He looked down at the needle once more. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed it and tossed it in to the trash bin next to the couch with frustration. He knew Aryn would be able to tell. He didn’t want to suffer through a lecture from her at this time of night.
Removing the rubber he had tied around his arm and grabbing his coat, he made his way downstairs to the street where he caught a cab to Scotland Yard.
The boxes were now dumped out on separate sections of the
table. The old photographs had been placed into piles on some of the
surrounding chairs, and John and Aryn were combing through all of the
information, looking for any flower shops that the victims had visited. There
were hundreds of transactions to go through, John’s eyes squinting after going
through so many lines.
He sat up, his back cracking from slouching so long, and looked over at Aryn. Her face was of pure determination, her fingers running along the pages at a fast pace. He could tell the lead was bringing back her motivation. They finally had something to go on.
At that moment, Sherlock walked in. He tossed his coat on one of the chairs and looked at John in confusion. “What are you doing here?”
“I was with Aryn when you texted.”
“Why were you with Aryn?”
“Better question would be: where were you?” Aryn responded dryly, still going through the records.
He ignored her, still focusing on John. “Well, did you find anything?”
John sighed, looking at the stacks of paper they had yet to go through. “Not yet. I honestly wish Donovan had just let us have full access to the records on a computer.”
“Well, she doesn’t trust me. Even if I said ‘please’, she’d still ignore my request,” Aryn informed, standing up straight to relieve the strain on her back. She looked at Sherlock who was still facing John. “You’re more than welcome to help.”
He looked at her with a matter-of-fact type expression. There were so many things he wanted to say. A million smart-aleck replies ran through his mind, but for some reason none of them came out. He just stood in silence, staring at Aryn.
Rolling her eyes, she continued looking through the stack she had started with.
John looked up at Sherlock in amazement. Snapping his fingers in front of Sherlock’s face, he couldn’t help but wonder what Aryn had to tell him regarding how their friendship ended. It would be quite the story as far as he could tell.
Sherlock’s gaze slowly returned to John.
“A little help would be nice,” John repeated.
Sherlock sighed as he walked over to a stack opposite of John and sat down, bringing some of the papers into his lap to look through.
Silence took over the group, the tension growing. Their only lead was sitting somewhere on these pages just waiting to be found. The seconds that went by felt like minutes, the minutes like hours. Paper after paper, the trio had barely made a dent.
Aryn looked up at the other two, getting an idea of where they were in terms of progress. She noted that Sherlock’s left sleeve was rolled up higher than usual and there was a mark where something had been tied tightly around his arm. She rolled her eyes in frustration. Letting out an exasperated sigh, she tossed her next completed page on her “finished” pile and rubbed her eyes.
“It’s no use,” John stated, taking a step back from where he was working. “We’ll be at it for days.”
“And this killer is still on the loose,” Sherlock reminded, his eyes the only portion of him that suggested he was talking to John. He brought them back to the pages in front of him. “We’re on their time right now.”
Aryn started to go through the records in front of her once again. Supermarket, supermarket, theatre, coffee shop, department store – nothing.
Suddenly, as if jumping out in front of her like a sign from God, she saw it: Sue Henderson’s Flower Shoppe.
In an excited manner, she rushed to grab a highlighter from her bag and made a bright yellow streak across the paper. She noted the date. The day this victim went to the flower shop was the day before they were found dead. Looking at the next person’s pile, she skipped to the date in question and scanned the page.
“The victims visited Sue Henderson’s Flower Shoppe the day before they were found dead.”
“So they were killed the same day they were there,” John finished.
Both men were looking through the piles with more purpose than before, also finding records for each victim as to when they visited the shop. Every person had bought 7 roses the day they died. As they found the records, they tacked them up on the board next to the victim’s profiles.
“We should tell Lestrade,” Aryn decided, pulling out her phone and dialing his number.
At the same time, Sherlock’s phone buzzed with a text. He looked at it, then groaned, standing up and beginning to pace.
“What?” John asked, both he and Aryn pausing to take in Sherlock’s reaction.
“The shop is closed.”
“Closed? How do you know—“
“Homeless network. Please keep up,” Sherlock snapped, taking Aryn by surprise with his tone. “Police just cleaned out the place because of suspected fraud.”
“At a flower shop?” John asked in disbelief. “You can’t honestly think—“
“He’s right,” Lestrade said from the doorway. Looking at each confused face intently, he continued, “If you were having a party in here, you should have invited everyone.”
Aryn put her phone back into her pocket as she looked at her senior officer. Looking down at the stacks, her frustration grew. They had gained and lost a lead in matter of minutes, bringing them back to square one. Out of anger, she shoved her stack of papers off of the table and grabbed her coat, storming out.
Lestrade sighed as he looked back at John and Sherlock, unsure of what to do next.
Being at Hyde Park at one in the morning wasn’t on her list
of to-dos for that day. She needed to get away and think. Sherlock’s reaction
to her had put her off originally and now they were left at another dead end.
There were probably more commonalities to look though in those financial records,
but as John had said, it would take days. They didn’t have that kind of time
Looking around at the patch of grass she was on, she remembered bringing Sherlock to that park one night after going out on a case. He was frustrated beyond belief because crucial evidence had been destroyed. She wanted to take his mind off of things and calm him down.
“I don’t see why we’re
here,” he said through gritted teeth, sitting on a bench next to Aryn and
looking at the large body of water before them.
“You need to cool off,” she stated, leaning back and sharing the view.
Sherlock folded his arms like a young child who had just gone through a temper tantrum. The case was going to take much longer to solve now that they had lost one of their most important leads, and now Aryn was doing something foolish like taking him to a park.
The last few months had been better than when they had first started. Sherlock took more of Aryn’s suggestions into account, although he still ignored them most of the time. She had been great at helping him collect data and had proven to be a good companion.
Now that Sherlock thought about it though, she had proven herself to be much more than a good companion. She was fantastic. She appreciated his deductions and had called his mind brilliant. No matter how many times he pushed her away, she’d always find her way back into his life. Even though he was against it at first, he was grateful that there was someone other than his brother looking out for his wellbeing.
He never told her how much he appreciated her, though.
After a while of silence, Aryn asked, “Do you think love exists, Sherlock?”
His eyes went wide and he suddenly grew very uncomfortable. Shifting his weight on the bench, he declined to answer. Continuing to stare out at the water, he thought about where this was coming from. He did note that Aryn’s roommate, Thalia, had just started to have a steady boyfriend. There was no doubt in his mind that he was spending his nights at their dorm, which was why Aryn was so willing to go out at a moment’s notice.
She looked down at her feet as she continued, “Maybe the better question would be: do you think there’s love out there for everyone?
“Because, I mean…my sister’s been with her boyfriend for quite some time, but my mum hasn’t seen my dad in years. She’s never really even mentioned anything about him. She’s never had a boyfriend either.”
He was worried that if he said anything at that point, she’d stop talking. She’d never opened up about anything personal before. Between the two of them, it had been strictly professional.
“Personally, I’ve always thought love was a waste of time,” she continued, staring out across the water once more. Turning to face him, she asked, “Sherlock?”
Clearing his throat in discomfort, he said, “Well…I’ve never understood the idea of being in love aside from whatever example my parents had been for me growing up. I find that I will probably never have time for it. I’m married to this life.”
She nodded. “Maybe if I get married someday, it’ll be to someone with a lot of heart. And hopefully someone with a strong mind.”
He shifted uncomfortably once more. “When do you suppose you’ll meet a man like that?”
She shrugged. “I don’t.” Looking at him with slight hurt in her eyes, she finished, “But it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?”
“Aryn?” she heard someone call.
Wiping the tears away from her face quickly, she turned to see John walking towards her.
“John? What’re you doing here?”
“Sherlock said I might find you here.”
She nodded. “Well, here I am.” She couldn’t help but be disappointed that it wasn’t Sherlock that had come to find her. “I just wanted to come and clear my head. Kind of threw a fit back there.”
“Yeah, you did,” John confirmed, sitting next to Aryn. “Maybe it’s best that you go home and get some shut eye. We’ll need you fresh for tomorrow if anything else happens.”
Coming in to work bright and early, Aryn went directly to
the meeting room. She saw that the records had been cleaned up, the common
purchases highlighted and put onto the boards. Lestrade was sitting down,
staring at the cup of coffee in his hand.
“Long night, old man?” she teased, sitting next to him.
“Well, cleaning up after a toddler’s temper tantrum can be quite exhausting.”
She looked down at the table in guilt. “Sorry…”
He waved it off. After a few moments of silence he said, “I’m sorry for bringing you into all this.” He looked up at all of the information before him. “It’s such a mess. And I’m guessing I’ve ripped open old wounds between you and Sherlock.”
She shook her head. “It’s not a problem. I told you I’d be here to help when you needed me. I felt kind of glad to be back by your side again, to be honest,” she admitted, looking up at Lestrade.
Looking down at her, it was as if he was looking at his own daughter. He watched her grow into the young woman she was, and he honestly felt very proud of her. They had always been close, even from her first day on the job. He made sure he attended her graduation from the academy as well as every promotion ceremony she went through.
“It’s so frustrating,” she commented out of nowhere, leaning back in her chair. She could feel the tears welling up as they had the night before. Turning her head to Lestrade, she asked, “Did I make the wrong decision?”
He sighed as he wrapped his arm around her, Aryn leaning her head on Lestrade’s shoulder. He had learned that when she asked a question like that, it was best to not say anything. She needed to let out whatever emotions she had pent up within her. She wasn’t one to let her feelings out verbally. She let them build up until she exploded.
Sherlock watched the exchange from the doorway, his thought processes the same as Lestrade’s. There had been times where Aryn had taken out her frustrations on him, snapping at him at throwing books around. It was annoying to him, but after a while he learned how to cope with it. He let her get her frustrations out and then he’d distract her with a case.
When he’d get frustrated, she’d do something similar for him. It usually involved going to Hyde Park and Aryn rambling about something Sherlock usually didn’t care about. He liked it, though. He’d indulge her in some facts about his life every once in a while, but for the most part he learned a lot about her.
He shook his head, trying to remove whatever reminiscent thoughts he had about Aryn out of his head. The past was meant to stay in the past for a reason.
Clearing his throat, he walked in.
Lestrade looked up at the doorway and noted Sherlock’s entrance. He removed his arm from around Aryn’s shoulders as he stood up. “I’m gonna go find John and see if he’s found anything else with the records.”
After a few moments he was gone, leaving Aryn and Sherlock alone in the room once again.
There was a long silence, indicating to Aryn that their exchange the day before had been a one-time thing. It was uncomfortable and deafening.
Wiping the tears away from her face, she continued to stare at the table in front of her. “How long were you there?”
Sherlock looked down at this shoes, then back up towards the boards. “Long enough.”
She nodded. “Typical ‘Sherlock’ answer.”He rolled his eyes at her sass as he walked over to the table where Aryn was sitting. He wanted to tell her that what happened the day before was nothing. He wanted to lie to her and tell her there wasn’t anything he wanted to really talk to her about. Her frustration from the night prior was still lingering, though. He could feel it.