NOTE: Takes place after the last episode of season 4. You may encounter spoilers. I will post a new chapter every weekend. Comments are always welcome.
John Watson gave wide berth to the kitchen table. Various chemicals in beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks were dangerously covering the entire tabletop and John had Rosie strapped to his chest. One of his hands had a warm bottle and the other a full cup of tea. He stepped into the parlor, placing the tea on a side table next to Mycroft Holmes, and turned with a bounce to start feeding his baby girl.
"Thank you" Mycroft said while glaring at his brother. Sherlock was seated across from Mycroft in his usual black leather chair with two photographs in his hands. John stepped over to Sherlock, glancing at the photos.
"Who is this?" John asked. In one photograph was a blonde woman in a navy business suit, sunglasses, and red lipstick. She was carrying a briefcase and was standing on a tube platform. The other photo was a close-up of a hand on concrete, on the palm was Diane 3:45pm written in black ballpoint pen.
"Clare Holt" Mycroft said. He retrieved his tea and took a sip before continuing. "She's no one of importance really; a loan officer at a bank. She was found along the northern line murdered with that scribble on her palm." John raised an eyebrow quizzically at Mycroft. "She is the first civilian to have a connection to Diane."
"Who is Diane?" John asked. Mycroft gave John his usual flat smile.
"We haven't been able to figure that out yet, but I can tell you that Clare died at 10:40am" Mycroft replied. "I figure the police will be notifying you about this soon."
"Why bother showing up here? Why share the information?" Sherlock asked. John rubbed Rosie's back while she drank from her bottle.
"We would like this solved quickly" Mycroft replied. "Clare Holt is the fourth to die, but the first who isn't a government official."
"Who else died?" John asked.
"I am not at liberty to say" Mycroft said. "I can tell you that the name was the same, but the times were different: 12:01am, 18:40pm, and 7:22pm." He set his tea down and steepled his fingers. "I can't have the police looking into the case on their own. Can you imagine?"
"I want names" Sherlock demanded. Sherlock's phone buzzed in his pocket.
"You have a week" Mycroft replied. He stood up and brushed invisible lint from his cuff. "Keep the photographs, brother dear."
"I didn't plan on giving them back" Sherlock announced. He pulled his phone from his pocket and saw that the text was from Lestrade: Got a new case for you, Holmes.
"John, always a pleasure" Mycroft said. His gaze fell to the infant strapped to John's chest. "She is bigger. I like that she's quiet."
"Uh, thank you, thanks" John said. Mycroft left without another word. Sherlock was still and silent until he heard he front door shut, then he was standing and peeking through the curtain to watch his brother leave. "Perhaps I should cancel my plans. Harry won't mind."
"It's fine" Sherlock said. He looked down at the photos and moved to set them on the mantle. "Diane."
"I won't be here, Sherlock" John replied. "We're going out to the coast."
"I know where you're going" Sherlock said. "I think I can handle a case without you. I have been doing this long before you ever showed up." Sherlock glanced over at his friend and took a breath. "Go spend time with your daughter, John. Relax and…do whatever you think is fun."
"Our train leaves in an hour" John said. He gently patted his daughters back until she gave a small burp and then smacked her lips. "You're positive you don't need my help? I can call Molly—"
"Molly probably needs a break from watching your daughter, not that she's a bad godmother, but she is one who needs her work" Sherlock replied. "Just go on your vacation, John. If I need help there are people I can call."
"But you won't" John stated.
"Correct" Sherlock replied.
"It makes me worry about you" John said. Sherlock rolled his eyes and turned back to the photos for a moment. John hurried to collect his bag and pull his coat on while minding Rosie. "We're going to head out in a few."
"Diane" Sherlock said to himself. His mind raced through the times his brother had given him, the stops along the northern line, and places of government officials. He finally turned around with a shout. "John?"
His flat was empty, the bag gone. A glance to the clock told Sherlock that he was been in his mind for at least 40 minutes.
Sherlock pushed his way through the crowd around Waterloo station and headed the short distance towards the Thames. A cool wind was blowing sharply along the river. There were multiple government buildings and multiple banking facilities in the area. It was the most logical place to begin. He finally stood at the iron railing along the river and observed. The boats were mostly on schedule, nothing far from the ordinary.
"Isn't the National Portrait Gallery over here?" A woman asked in an obnoxious American accent. Sherlock risked a glance at the southern woman who was far from a southern belle.
Sherlock cleared his throat. "You're on the wrong side of the river."
"I would recommend getting off at Leicester Square" A woman said from behind Sherlock. He looked behind him and found an American brunette in a dark red trench coat typing something on her phone. "Head south on Charing Cross Road and you'll find the gallery."
Sherlock moved away from the woman and the moronic southern couple, heading for the area near Blackfriars Bridge. The photo of the woman on the platform…who took the photo? It had been too sharp and too clear to be security footage. He had known that the moment he saw it. Surveillance photographs. Clare Holt had been watched and he had a good idea of where to find information on her.
The employees at Sainsbury Bank had been nearly incompetent, though they had been able to provide an address and some basic information. Clare Holt had been working with a new client, a retired military officer named Phillip Coolidge, before she died.
Victim, Clare Holt, loan officer at Sainsbury. Lestrade.
"Always behind" Sherlock said to himself. He texted back: Already taken care of. SH. His phone buzzed and he shoved it into his pocket. He was nearly back to Baker Street and he had work to do.