Walking behind the ginger made Leo realize all the details that he hasn’t seen until then. Firstly, Prague is quite a labyrinth for foreigners with no sense of direction or a GPS, a bit like them at the moment, but it was such a pleasure to get lost through those buildings and gardens that Leo didn’t mind following blindly.
Secondly, the ginger was quite short compared to the youngster but even so, Lanchester was walking with his shoulders pushed back and chin raised, almost like a 14th century aristocrat. Of course, his hands were plunged deep in his jacket’s pockets and it did look like he was limping slightly with his left leg but watching him from behind, Lanchester seemed to fit the image of Prague and its mysteries.
“Sir, where are we going exactly?” The officer asked when he decided silence wasn’t enough.
“Nowhere. We’re waiting.” The elder shouted over his shoulder, not once falling back on his steps.
Leo blinked in confusion and almost let out a heavy sigh that was meant to signal his opinion when the ginger stopped abruptly. The Italian officer frowned and hurried behind his superior –or maybe they were now colleagues, it was still unsure- and he realized he might have underrated Lanchester’s capabilities.
In front of them, having an anxious expression and a messy attire was the woman that has disappeared from the Interpol when the chaos ensued.
“What are you doing here, Dr. Atkins?” Leo asked, taking one step towards her.
“No, no, no. That’s not the question, officer.” Lanchester spoke loud and clear, as if he wanted his voice to echo through the whole neighbourhood, “The question is what are you holding so tightly, doctor?”
“Am I not allowed to read now?” Ava retorted yet not sounding rude just yet, “I have my own reasons to be here and I don’t find it necessary for you to know what they are.”
“Spoken like a true offender of justice.”
Leo’s eyes widened at the words that crumbled out of Lanchester’s mouth. Moreover, he looked pleased with himself and how far he was insulting a psychologist.
“Um, maybe we should discuss this politely. Sir, you shouldn’t speak like that to her. She’s trying to help.” Leo mumbled, grabbing onto Lanchester’s arm. The officer felt the urge to have a hand on the detective, just in case something would happen.
“She’s not trying to help. She’s here because circumstances led her.” Lanchester replied, shrugging the officer off with a scoff, “Don’t need to be cautious, Leonardo. I’m not the enemy here.”
“But she isn’t either!” The youngster hissed.
Ava watched the two men bicker in complete silence, not even uttering an insult back at the detective when he taunted her. He was a sly man, she could literally see a tail popping out from his bottom and wailing in joy at the sight of her figure. On the other side, Leo was like a puppy following an elegant and well trained hound.
Well, it wasn’t any of her business what the two men were doing in their spare time or even during work hours. However, she was led to Prague by circumstances just as Lanchester said and she wanted to know why it is so hard to give up on it and leave.
“We should find a decent coffee shop. I prefer somewhere quiet, placed as far as possible from the sight and with few to none foreign customers.” She replied, interrupting the childish bickering between grown men, “Can we find a place like that, detectives?”
They did, surprisingly so with the exact requests she made. It wasn’t far enough from the sight but granted to the antiquity of the shop, it didn’t have television and had very few customers. It was very small but elegant and fully equipped with everything a shop needs. Bathrooms were only one for each gender but with how it was located close to a cathedral, it didn’t seem like they needed more. It was quiet and peaceful and the only noise surrounding the shop was coming from the cathedral.
As soon as they walked in, Lanchester asked for a beer which confused Leo for a minute. The thing is, the detective didn’t literally ask using his voice but grabbing a beer mat and placing it on the table. Of course, he became confused for a minute when asked, in Czech, which kind and size. Luckily, the bartender seemed to understand English enough to take the order.
That couldn’t be said about Ava who asked for a large Caramel Macchiato and biscuits. Now, Lanchester and Ava were completely different types of people and he could understand that but if so, if Lanchester was the definition of a real man and Ava was a real woman, was Leo just a kid between them? Thinking about it in such a negative way, it made him nervous.
Thankfully, while waiting for their orders, Ava put something on the table.
“This is The Divine Comedy,” Leo interfered before any of them could say something, “It’s one of the first prints! Mio Dio, it’s an antique!” He shouted, getting two pairs of judging gazes in return, “Its price in this state is incredible. How could he have one and how did he cover it with this…is this a cover?” The boy asked still amazed by what he found.
“It’s a cover made from the same material as the envelopes, which I believe is good for maintaining the paper in its original state.” The polite tone she used sounded a lot like a teacher scolding her student.
Slowly, Leo put it back down and patted it two more times, keeping the memory of holding one of the first 300 prints of such a piece of art. Coincidentally, the bartender returned with their drinks and peeked at the book before leaving.
“Where did you find it?” The detective questioned bemusedly.
“In an antique store in the square,” She answered just as if she was being interrogated.
“You know, Dr. Atkins, after working for such a long time for the Scotland Yard, I developed this eye for liars. They usually give themselves out with nervous behavior or details in their expressions and body movement but you know all that. You’re a psychologist so you are very meticulous when questioning someone.”
“Does this rambling have a point?”
“Maybe later, it will.”
The tension between the ginger detective and the psychologist was just a cocoon compared to the atmosphere inside the Interpol. Papers were scattered everywhere and each cubicle had twice the amount of officers that it could sustain. It was incredibly busy, as Ruben had never seen before not even during terrorists attacks. Countries were beckoning their secret agencies to take measures while the Interpol director was sending messages over messages to his best employee.
“Sir, maybe we should respond to Director Fang. He’s been calling ever since the media’s coverage. Those reporters move very fast,” The officer mumbled next to Ruben’s shoulder. He took a step back when he saw Ruben’s second in command walk towards them until eventually he scurried away.
“It’s not just director Fang that’s expecting an explanation but the head of every police department in Europe. Let’s not avoid the press either and give them a subject before they dig deeper into the case.” She spoke in a calmer tone yet husky as she just screamed at officers for the past hour.
Ruben sighed heavily and scratched his forehead, feeling as if a thousand knives pierced through his head. It was more annoying than alarming because Anonymous’ plan was going great and the Interpol had nothing but some letters they left behind.
“The letter from Hallstatt is not different from the others. There’s nothing significant. It feels like they’re throwing bait at us and we are foolish enough to catch onto it.” Ruben complained to one of his most trusted officer, Aline Duval.
The woman, unlike her colleague, seemed to have realized something as she took a look around the office. Almost everyone was there, running from one cubicle to another, from the office to another and so on but one particularly talkative detective was not there.
“Have you heard from our reinforcements?” Duval asked as she turned around for a better view.
“Jarvi brought us the copy from Finland and is currently speaking on the phone with the director of the National Bureau of Investigation for them to send us the original letter from Hallstatt. Banes has been searching for more information on Dr. Johnson and Blanchard is searching for a connection between the letters and the explosion. Lanchester is-“ Ruben stopped and thought carefully when was the last time he saw Lanchester. “He’s not here, is he?”
“No, he’s not. Doctor Atkins has left the building as well, before the incident.” Duval added with a tint of suspicion.
Ruben glanced at the intimidating woman before he let out another heavy sigh. There was so much work to be done and the forensic specialists didn’t finish half of the work at the sight.
Ava Atkins is a psychologist, a person who has a degree in reading people’s behavior. It did not seem like Ava was even trying at the moment. Leo glanced a few times between her and the ginger detective and none were saying a word.
“So, what do you think happened today? With the zeppelin and Hallstatt,” Leo threw the question in hope one of the two would continue on.
They didn’t. Ava only moved in order to look out the window while Lanchester took a sip of his beer. Leo licked his lips, his orbs moving around the table chaotically while his mind was thinking of how to make the two speak.
“You don’t have to be so anxious, Leo. It’s obvious you are worried how this rash decision will affect your position as a police officer.” Ava interfered in her professional tone.
“She called you Leo. That means she’s seeing you as a patient not as a co-worker.” Marvin added quickly, smirking at the woman.
“We are not co-workers. You are the one that brought him out o his comfort zone, detective.”
Ava was annoyed but she was far too professional and uninterested to show it. Calm and objective answers were her best characteristic and no detective was going to ruin her mask.
“Detective,” Marvin repeated, turning his eyes on the young officer, “Not Marvin and not Lanchester but detective.”
Leo’s eyes fell over the Divine Comedy, his mind swirling with explanations as to why exactly he followed Lanchester out of the Interpol.
Luckily, a few other people entered the store and from what Leo could understand, they were Italian tourists.
“They’re talking about the incident.“Leo translated, finding it vital for their current tension. “They are mainly saying that the Interpol is covering what really happened with a poor story about a lack of fuel. They think it was a terrorist attack rather than Anonymous.” Leo added before one of the Italians turned towards them. The officer avoided his compatriot’s gaze and turned to Lanchester.
“They believe what is the most common idea. When something big happens, the usual reaction is to underline it as a threat. But this wasn’t a threat.” Ava explained, being only slightly subjective about it.
“Then shouldn’t we inform the press to shrug that idea off? I don’t think they know anything about Anonymous so they call them terrorists.” Leo asked curiously.
“Aren’t they?” Marvin pitched in, “People have been hurt and I’m sure the staff of the Galileo Hotel has slim chances to survive. If people die, then Anonymous is a threat.”
“It was never about people but about dignity as a human being. It’s about making a statement.”
“And what’s this statement? How should we answer to this group, hm?” Marvin taunted the woman, leaning towards her.
Ava had no real answer because she hasn’t considered getting involved. She saw and she listened but never once she spoke. Ava was a mute that did not want to speak while the Interpol was the deaf that did not want to hear. The press was probably the blind individual that does not want to see. Johnson’s letter wasn’t foolish after all; it was just another point of view.
“Someone should leak information to the press; someone who has nothing to lose.” Ava said, surprising the two men but mostly surprising herself.
“Then you do it. The psychologist that got involved because of circumstances not because she wanted to.”
Marvin was more than pleased of what he just said and it was visible all over his face. The problem was that once Ava will do that -if she does- Anonymous will know she found Johnson’s testament.