The Great Game- Part One
"Annabeth Harper, if you don't get out of my bathroom right now, I'm going to come in there and rip your dripping wet, naked arse out and drag you into the lobby without an article of clothing." Ellen shouted angrily. There was no response, so again Ellen pounded her fist against the wooden door until she got a response.
"Alright, alright. I heard ya. Just bugger off for five minutes." Beth shouted back as the shower continued to sporadically spurt out hot water. The old pipes clunked and groaned only infuriating Ellen more. Looking down at her watch she began to let panic set in. Monday mornings were the worst and considering she still smelt terribly of last night's half a dozen glasses of 'family wines' she needed that bathroom far more than her sister.
From experience there was really no point trying to force Beth to hurry up when she was in the bathroom. The girl was painfully slow and had been so her entire teenage years. Ellen had hoped that maybe as they grew older the bickering and fighting would come to an end but really it just got more fickle. Actually, that was a lie. Things had been relatively good between them. Two weeks ago Ellen had her flat to herself, with no pesky sibling in sight. Then Beth had had some falling out with her musician boyfriend at the time and ta-da she wound up right back where she always did; back in Ellen's humble yet shabby abode. Now all she was good for was eating the last of the expensive rocky-road ice cream and leaving dirty dishes around the place. Oh and stealing the all hot water too.
Unfortunately, Ellen didn't have time to stand around and mope about how her kindness had never been rewarded. Instead she was more frustrated over the fact that Greg Lestrade had sent her a text at six in the morning, begging if she could come down to the precinct by seven-thirty, all chipper to spend her day psycho analyzing the newest load of wack-jobs to be entered into the system. Being a Forensic Psychologist sounded much more interesting on paper.
So with ten minutes left until she had to leave, Ellen attempted to make herself half presentable with no mirror and no knowledge of the terrible nest that her frizzy locks had tangled themselves into while she slept. She quickly slid open the wardrobe door and yanked forth a white blouse, black pencil skirt and matching blazer and finally a pair of uncomfortable-as-hell pointed toe pumps.
"Beth, honestly, just let me grab my deodorant. I smell like death." Ellen shouted as the shaking pipes stopped. The door to the bathroom quickly flew open and out Beth chucked Ellen's deodorant, brush and make-up bag.
"Now seriously." Beth poked her head around the door, hair neatly up in a towel, "Bugger off!"
"You're a life saver you know that right." Inspector Lestrade beamed as Ellen strode in, morning coffees in hand.
"For the coffee or for analyzing the crazies?" she said with a smirk, taking out her own drink and sipping it slightly. Lestrade took the cardboard pallet, with his, from her and the two walked side by side into the building. They hastily made their way to his office where Lestrade collapsed into his chair and began to rummage through his desk drawers.
"Ah-ha!" he exclaimed, pulling out a yellow manila folder and dumping it in front of Ellen, "This is for you."
"I'm guessing it's the glorious reason why you dragged me out of bed so early?" she said with a coy glance.
"Yeah…" Lestrade cringed, rubbing the back of his neck, "You missed all the drama."
"I've only been out of the office for three days. How much drama could we get since Friday?" Ellen frowned as she took the file off the desk and opened it to skim read. The files said something briefly about the next three cases she needed to take on, not a single one seemed all that urgent.
"Try a house on Baker Street exploded."
"Exploded?" Ellen said with confusion.
"But here's the catch. At first we thought it was a gas leak, but we found a strongbox inside. The bomb squad is opening it as we speak."
"Interesting." Ellen nodded, eyes falling back to her paper work, "I still don't understand why I'm in this early though?"
"I may have bluffed a little." Lestrade said with a weak grin, "I just wanted some decent company around, considering the lack of it we have here."
"So you asked me to come in early, so you could have a chat?" Ellen said, a skeptical tone to her voice.
"When you say it like that, it sounds much worse." Greg grimaced.
"Well, if you don't mind me dosing off at random intervals of the day, I'll say we're even." Ellen smiled moving towards the office door, gripping the handle.
"You've got yourself a deal." Lestrade said with a nod, so Ellen took her files and left, off to her own little desk in the corner of the precinct.
The two people you could always count on being early though, was Sally Donovan and Phillip Anderson. Despite the fact that the two had been exposed engaging in an affair many months back, they insisted that nothing had happened. Not that Ellen would ever say it to their faces, but you didn't exactly have to be a genius to know that the two were going out for more than just a pint after of work. Before the little scandal came to light, the two had had (what Ellen could only describe as) eye sex in front of her, on multiple occasions. Yet they remained as unfazed as ever and were almost inseparable throughout most cases.
"You know… I think I saw some drool coming out of Lestrade's mouth when you left." Sally jeered as Ellen walked past her desk and towards her own. Ellen stopped and sighed, turning to face Sally with a polite smile.
"Always one for the pleasantries, Sally."
"You know it." Sally got to her feet, walking with Ellen back to her desk. Ellen noticed that Sally look particularly frustrated today, more than usual. Holmes must have been coming in.
"You look excited today." Ellen prodded.
"Don't you start!" Sally frowned as they stopped by the water cooler, reaching down to get herself a drink. There was a familiar shuffling of feet and surely enough Anderson bumbled over, with particularly grey bags under his eyes.
"You too?" Sally asked him as he let his head meet the wall.
"As soon as I saw it on the news, I thought 'Great! What array of insults will he bring with him today?'" Phillip groaned.
"And that is why I keep my big mouth shut and stick to my corner." Ellen smirked at the deflating stances the two had fallen into.
Everyone in the precinct hated dealing with Sherlock Holmes. She'd stood by this water-cooler many times and let people bitch and complain about this apparently terrible excuse for a human being. Ellen considered herself very lucky for two reasons. Firstly she had never met the man and in her line of profession wouldn't have much need to. Analysing the mental wellbeing of people before they went on trial meant she spent more time in the courtrooms than the offices of Scotland Yard. Secondly, Ellen was entirely convinced that this man had been blown out of proportion, as his skill probably had. Sally once scoffed at the fact he had started raving about having some 'mind palace' of stored data, that the guy literally used his brain like a hard-drive adding and deleting knowledge. That seemed far-fetched, even for the person that dealt with sociopaths on a daily basis. So for once, her job actually aided her in something real life.
"You going to drink that?" Anderson suddenly spoke, pulling Ellen from her thoughts. The coffee in her hand had Anderson foaming at the mouth.
"Urgh… no." she shook her head and held it out, he needed it much more than she did.
"Although, next time I see John, I've got to thank him for creating that blog. If there is one redeeming thing in the world, it is the knowledge that the prick didn't know that the solar system existed." Sally said with a benevolent smirk.
"What blog?" Anderson questioned, taking a long swig of the coffee. Sally instantly dug into her pocket and pulled forth her phone, loading the infamous page. Phillip took it from her and started scrolling through, instantly enthralled.
"Oh that's great." He exclaimed after a minute of snickering to himself.
"You want to take a look?" he held the phone out for Ellen to read, which she turned down.
"I think I'll keep my knowledge of Mr. Holmes as it is. Minimal. You probably have to know the guy to get all the jokes or something anyway." She explained, leaving to two to gawp like children over John Watson's little blog.
Slowly people began to fill the office, the news of the Baker Street Explosion hummed through the morning conversations. Then the familiar drum of scanners and printers began. Soon enough the precinct was buzzing with life and Ellen got stuck into the work she was accustomed to. But something about that blog kept popping back into her mind.
She was curious. There was a lot of mystery around what the resident 'consulting detective' got up to. Ellen was starting to think that she was the only person in the building that hadn't run into him on one occasion or the other. At the least she wanted to know what he looked like; appearances said a lot about a person. If the stories about him were true, then her observation skills weren't even on par with his. But that didn't mean that they weren't half decent.
So secretly she glanced around to ensure no one was paying attention to her, of course everyone else was far too busy. She opened the web page and quickly searched for 'John Watson blog'. Instantly she found herself scrolling through the archives. The first few posts weren't of any interest, but then Dr. Watson encountered Holmes for the first time and everything heated up. It was like she was a caveman discovering fire; everything about it seemed bizarre but brilliant at the same time. She flicked through the pages with eager clicks until she found herself up to date on everything Holmes and Watson related. Who needed gossip magazines when there was this beauty on the web!
It seemed oddly impossible that any of the cases really happened, but judging from Sally and Anderson's reaction, every last bit of it was true. Plus she knew that they had to get their outstanding reputation from somewhere. To say the least, she was impressed and that was something that Ellen rarely ever was. If she had never met the sleuthing duo she probably would have held them with that same high esteem for the rest of her life.
"Ellen…" Lestrade's voice echoed through the place, a mixture of annoyance and frustration. Her head shot up from the screen and she meekly smiled back as he called her over to his office.
"What's up?" she asked in the middle of the hallway as people pushed past her. Lestrade stood wedged between his office and the isle outside.
"Urhhhh…." He paused, "Well, take a look for yourself." He pointed towards his window. Ellen frowned in confusion and brushed past him to see what he was so adamant about showing her. The moment her eyes focused on the ground below she felt a fury build in her belly, much akin to the one she had this morning.
"I'm going to kill her." She drawled out of a locked jaw.
"I thought you should probably go down and get her to stop before they send someone out there who'll arrest her…" Lestrade winced, "Last time they cuffed her for bonking an officer on the head with a protest sign."
"Going…" Ellen huffed and turned on herself, hastily making her way down to the scene going on downstairs. As she stormed towards the lift, hell bent on her sister's demise, she shoulder barged a particularly tall man and fell to the ground.
"Watch where you're going moron." She exclaimed as another hand reached out to help her to her feet. She looked up to see the hand belonged to none other than John Watson and she had literally run into his partner, Sherlock Holmes.
"I could say the same thing." Holmes said under his breath, dusting off his coat and adjusting his scarf needlessly. Her breath hitched as if the royal family were standing before her.
"You must be Holmes and Watson." Ellen said dumbly, "Pleasure." She held her hand out to shake. John Watson shook it, but Holmes merely stared at it like it was diseased.
"Sorry." John apologized for his friend, "He does that a lot."
"I've heard." Ellen nodded with a slight eye roll, pulling her hand in and straightening up.
"I haven't seen you around here before, are you new?" John asked.
"Alright then… while you two stand around and exchange meaningless small talk, I'm going to go speak to Lestrade and do something productive." Sherlock interrupted and walked away, swishing his coat dramatically behind him. Ellen had remembered a few of the blog articles mentioning Sherlock's flair with creative exits. She wasn't sure whether to be offended or not.
"Urmmm…" Ellen backtracked, "I'm Ellen. Ellen Harper. I'm in the forensic psychology department. So not new, just mainly doing my job around the court area."
"Oh, wow that's exciting." John tried to be polite, tilting his head slightly and shifting his weight onto one foot.
"Actually, it's really not." Ellen chuckled slightly.
"ELLEN!" Lestrade's voice boomed again, she had forgotten about her sister and the forming mayhem downstairs.
"One second!" she shouted back, facing John, "Sorry we couldn't chat more. My sister is currently downstairs instigating a picket, so I've got to go deal with that." And with that she raced off without so much as a goodbye. John just stood awkwardly as she exited and gave a little wave, which she didn't notice. There was far more pressing issues at hand. Maybe not super sleuthing issues like Holmes was dealing with, but certainly issues that needed her urgent attention.
On the street level, there was Beth, megaphone in hand and that ex-boyfriend of hers by her side. She was surrounded by a few others, who were angrily shouting and jumping about. This was just great!
"What are you doing?!" she screamed, ripping Beth's sign from her hand.
"We're protesting." She declared smugly.
"I can see that." Ellen waved around the sign dramatically, "I meant with him." She pointed to Beth's latest ex-boyfriend. His name was Dave and he was literally the worst excuse for a man Beth had got with yet. He was a part-time trolley collector at the local supercenter as well as a failed musician and terrible spoken word poet. He had a mouth on him like a sailor and a body odour that could gag a maggot. His brown curly hair hadn't been brushed in at least a month and was starting to form dreadlocks on it's own. Ellen didn't understand how Beth had fallen in with this guy because he was a hard 4. Her sister however was at least an 8 on a bad day, 9 and above on any other. Then again, 'love' did make people do stupid things. The only logical explanation was that Beth had somehow gotten stuck with permanent beer goggles altering her perception of the male race. Only. Logical. Explanation.
"He came by this morning and apologized for breaking up. We had this really great heart to heart and so everything's back on." She giggled with glee and grasped Dave's hand lovingly. Ellen could have been sick and it wasn't just Dave's smell to blame.
"Right…" she tried to comprehend her sister's stupidity, "Well, you need to leave here. Now."
"We are expressing out basic human rights." Beth revved the crowd. They jeered behind her.
"No, you're moping about because you think they unfairly dismissed you when tried to hold a rave inside a police department."
"How many times do I have to say it? It was only supposed to be a little get together!" Beth declared angrily, wrestling Ellen for her sign. Ellen's firm grip pulled it back to her side.
"Right, well active protests aren't going to get you your job back."
"I tried every other way." Beth said, "This is my final option."
"Just go home Beth." Ellen shook her head, tired of arguing, "All of this is ridiculous waste of time."
"That's not what Mum would have said." Beth suddenly spat out, catching Ellen off guard. She tensed up where she stood and dropped her gaze away, "She would have said to try and fix what I had done, not run away from it and pretend it never happened. It seems you never were any good at listening to her advice."
"Don't you dare lecture me about what Mum would have wanted." Ellen snapped back, her jaw tense and her brows furrowed, "Besides I only came down to tell you to leave before they send people down to force you to leave. My mistake for trying to do right by you."
"Let them come!" Beth threw her arms wide open and stepped backwards from her sister, her gaze never faltering. Ellen turned away and slowly returned to her desk upstairs. The elevator couldn't quite go fast enough so she found herself eagerly tapping her foot, her arms wrapped around her waist and her fists balled. She needed to get away, from Beth and from work, so when the doors to the elevator opened and she found Lestrade, Holmes and Watson waiting to enter she seized her opportunity.
"Everything sorted?" Lestrade asked. Ellen nodded.
"Do you mind if I take my work home?" she lowered her voice, "I'm suddenly not feeling all too well. I probably ate something funny."
"Urghh… yeah, sure." Lestrade nodded, noticing the droop in Ellen's expression, "Is everything alright?" He whispered so that Holmes and Watson couldn't hear.
"It will be." Ellen reassured him, moving forward and letting the three rush off to wherever was so urgent.
Beth must have taken Ellen's advice, because when she had rounded up her things and started walking towards her car, the mob was gone. That slightly lay her mind to rest, but she just couldn't get over the fact that Beth had the audacity to bring up their mother. She knew that it was a touchy subject even at the best of times, so to bring it up during a fight was simply tacky.
Ellen strut quickly, as the cold nipped at her ankles. She was determined not to let her day be ruined. Her car was parked a few blocks away in an almost abandoned underground car park. She found this hidden gem 6 months ago, merely by chance and it had meant that she escaped the morning struggle for parking. There was only ever two cars inside the place; her red Ford Focus and a black SUV. She never saw the SUV's owner her entire time parking there. The rest of the space was filled with lines for another twenty or so cars, but she never used any of them.
She walked down the slopped entryway, careful not to slip, and jumped into her car. Instantly she felt herself relax and melt into her seat. Not only was it much warmer inside, but she could shut out the rest of the world and only had to deal with herself. It was like today never even happened.
She put the keys into the ignition and let the radio play, when her eyes suddenly caught something peculiar on the seat next to her. There sat a phone with a bright pink case. She had never seen it before and assumed it had to belonged to Beth. She picked it up and turned it over in her hand, lighting up the front screen. There was no indication that this belonged to Beth; it had the generic home background like it was just out of the box. She went to put it down into the cup holder when it began to buzz in her hand. The screen lit up with the caller ID of 'Dave'. Ellen felt an odd wave of happiness wash over her; she never got Dave alone to speak to him ever and now was her chance to berate the hell out of him. She pressed answer and quickly put it to her ear.
"Well, well Dave..." She said in a menacing way. There was a weird chuckle on the other side.
"Did you like that?" the voice replied, "I tried to work out a way to get you to pick up the phone willingly and I suppose I hit the right nerve!"
"Who is this?" Ellen suddenly paused, slightly wigged out. The man on the other end swallowed and continued.
"Look in your glove box." He said simply. Ellen dropped the phone from her ear, almost ready to hang up, but another part of her was curious to see who this person was. It clearly wasn't Dave. So she brought it up to her ear and leant over to open the glove box.
"What's this all abo –," she went to say as her eyes caught sight of what exactly sat in front of her. Her whole body tensed up and her voice caught in her throat.
"Don't try and run." The man commanded, "It'll blow up before you can even wrench the door open."
Ellen was still frozen staring back at the bomb that was intricately wired into her car, with a timer right at the front. It was set for 12 hours. At least the countdown on it hadn't begun yet.
"What do you want?" she managed to say. Again, the chuckling continued.
"Just to test a few people…" he giggled, before his voice became sterner, "Oh and there's an ear piece under the visor. Put it on."
Ellen lowered the phone to her side as she pulled down the car's sun visor to retrieve the piece. It fell gently into her lap and she put it on the free ear. It beeped and the man's voice echoed from it again as the call on the phone ended itself.
"Well that's much better. Now we have some real work to do." He said cheerfully, "I need you to call someone, it's the only other number programmed inside the phone. I'll instruct you what to say and if you think about changing anything… BOOM!"