Roses in Winter
It's 1946 and the Doctor, the best private detective there is, receives a call from a young gentleman. Danny, who has just returned from war, came home to find his fiancé Edith has disappeared and he offers the Doctor a great sum to find her. The first thing the Doctor finds out about the vanished girl: her name is actually Clara and her story is more than fascinating. The longer he follows her the bigger his dilemma grows: give in to his feelings or help Danny reunite with Clara?
The Doctor lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, watching the smoke spread across the room, clouding his view on the man in front of him. He was young with dark skin, 30 at most, and he was leaning on a cane as if still recovering from an injury. The Doctor always took a mental note of these kind of details.
"How did you find me?" the Doctor asked, his voice deliberately cold. People found him if they needed to, despite his cover. They always did.
The stranger cleared his throat. "Someone mentioned it," he explained, "Don't worry, I'll pay you for your services of course."
"If I decide to take your case," he replied, raising his eyebrows and at the same time scanning the man for every little piece of information he could find. Posture. Injury. A little scar under his eye that wasn't yet faded, and an almost deadly look on his face. The man in front of him had served in the recent war. "You might sacrifice your pension. And for what?"
The soldier's face changed all of a sudden, taking on a sad, almost pained expression. Whatever he had come here for, it was a matter that hit close to the man's heart.
"I served in the RAF," he began to explain, straightening his back as he did. Once a soldier, always a soldier, the Doctor thought. "My plane was struck down by the Nazis shortly before the war was over. I was severely injured, but-"
"If you could come to the point any time soon, that would be just fantastic. I am not interested in your life story. I just want to know why you're disturbing me in my office half past midnight," the Doctor groaned, rolling his eyes in impatience. He hated pointless monologues more than he hated lies, at least he could see through the latter. Soldiers were just another addition on his list of things he wasn't so very fond of.
The man paused, looking straight at him. Unfortunately he didn't seem intimidated at all. "When I finally returned home three months ago my fiancé had disappeared," the soldier admitted, "She wasn't at the flat we shared, and no one among our friends or at her work place has heard from her. She just vanished."
The Doctor couldn't help but groan. He had had numerous appeals like this one and he had turned them all down. "Your fiancé is most likely dead."
The soldier who, as the Doctor realized now, still hadn't introduced himself gritted his teeth. "I don't think she is. I can't-"
"There was a war going on, in case you hadn't noticed. Bombs have been dropped on London. Your fiancé isn't the only person who went missing and most of them turned out to be dead," the Doctor replied angrily. This case was a pure waste of his time.
"Edith isn't dead. She vanished," the man pressed, now equally enraged, "She took some of her things, but not all."
"Then she left you. Probably," he said. If his years as a doctor, and also those as a private detective had taught him anything, then that there were lies and betrayal to be found on every corner if you looked closely enough.
Suddenly the soldier's shoulders sank and the Doctor could hear a heavy sigh come over his lips. "Even if that is the case, I need to find her. I need to know why. Edith and I were happy, we wanted to get married during my next leave. She had even bought a wedding dress," the man said, looking straight at the Doctor through sad eyes, "That was one of the things she left at our flat."
The Doctor stared at the man in front of him and suddenly realized he would never get rid of him as easily as the others. He was determined, desperate. So eventually the Doctor nodded.
The soldier immediately took this is as sign of agreement and stepped closer, drawing a photograph out of his pocket and placing it on the desk in front of the Doctor.
"That is Edith right there," he said, pointing at a pretty woman with dark hair and large eyes and he went on to explain something but the Doctor never heard him. As soon as he spotted the woman the Doctor knew that she seemed familiar somehow. He had seen her before, he was sure of that.
"Her name is Edith Winter. We met in December 1943 while I was on leave for Christmas. It was in London, at a pub," he explained.
Still the Doctor only half listened. That face. He had seen that face. He was so sure and yet he couldn't tell where. However her name didn't ring a bell in his memory either.
"What else can you tell me about her?" the Doctor demanded to know, finally looking up from the photograph.
The soldier shrugged. "Not much. She works as a secretary at the Treasury but Edith never told me anything specific. It's sort of confidential, so we never really talked about it. She travels a lot to see her father in the countryside. He's sick from an old wound he got from the last war."
The Doctor raised his eyebrows, eyeing the man curiously. Something about his story didn't seem quite right and yet he couldn't put his finger on it. "And I assume you've spoken to someone at the Treasury and to her father?"
"The Treasury, yes, but they said they have never even heard her name. I thought they wouldn't tell me because her work was confidential."
"And her father?" the Doctor pressed.
Now the man seemed utterly crestfallen.
"God, you must think I am a terrible boyfriend," he exhaled sharply, a desperate sound, "I don't know her dad's name. I don't know where he lives. Edith never mentioned it and we never went there together. I thought she had gone there to take care of him, but three months have passed since my return and I still haven't heard from her. Maybe she really did visit him, but I don't know where that is. I need to find her. Please, will you help me?"
Something wasn't right and it sparked the Doctor's curiosity. He couldn't tell what or why. Not yet. But he would get to the bottom of this. That was why he found himself agreeing.
"Oh, thank God," the man breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank you. Thank you so much."
The soldier was about reach for the photograph but the Doctor held him back. "I might need that," he said and pocketed it before the other man had a chance.
"That is the only picture I have of her," he protested.
"And you will get it back," the Doctor replied bluntly, "But forgive me for not having a photographic memory so I could recall what your girlfriend looks like in case I need to."
"Fine," he hissed after a moment of hesitation.
"What's your name?" the Doctor prompted, now realizing that the soldier still hadn't introduced himself.
"Danny," he said, "Danny Pink."
The Doctor snorted. A ridiculous name for a ridiculous man. "Alright, then, Danny Pink. You will hear from me. But right now I'd like to call it a night if you don't mind."
He gave a nod in reply. "Thank you."
"I'll do my best but I can't make any promises," the Doctor said coldly.
"I understand. Still – thank you," Danny Pink said before he turned around and a few seconds later the Doctor heard the front door close.
He drew out the photograph once more and looked at it, at Edith, and something told the Doctor that this case would be an interesting one.