NOTE: I haven't updated in a while. Sorry about that. Not really sure if I have any readers for this story. Hope I do. I welcome comments. I might just keep this as more of a mystery/adventure rather than anything romantic.
"What is Herat?" June asked as soon as they left the station. The day had become rainy and gusty.
"Not 'what'. Where?" Sherlock replied. "It's a city in Afghanistan. 2004, on a 'training mission', there were some incidents that occured with the marines that were sent over."
"And he was there" June said. They crossed the street, avoiding puddles and dodging umbrellas. Sherlock finally stopped under an awning, out of the rain.
Sherlock shook out his coat collar before speaking. "I think we need to talk to-"
"Wait a second" June interrupted. She didn't swipe at the raindrops on her glasses or worry about her hair getting damp. "I know that I am filling in for John, but I need an hour or two."
"For what?" Sherlock asked.
"I need to find something to wear for tonight" June replied. "I didn't bring anything with me. I can meet up with you later."
"You're going alone?" Sherlock asked.
"I do everything alone" June replied. "I know you think I'm a walking target, but I can't live in fear of what might happen. I'll go find a dress and meet you back at your flat within 2 hours."
"Fine" Sherlock replied. "That will give me time to go see someone. Do me one favor." He glanced around at the people on the street. "Don't die."
"I don't plan on dying" June told him. She stepped out from the awning and was lucky enough to wave down a cab. "See you later, Sherlock."
Sherlock raised a hand from his coat pocket, giving a slight wave. As soon as her cab took off, he hurried to find the one person who could give him more details.
An eyeroll battled a dismissive smirk.
"Do you like having a female houseguest?" Mycroft asked. Sherlock tugged at his scarf and his coat buttons.
"I'm not here to have small talk about my houseguest" Sherlock snapped. He draped his coat over the back of his chair and paced. "She's alive. She was scheduled to be killed last night and she is alive."
"I saw that there was a skirmish at your place last night" Mycroft replied. "It was written up as a break-in." He raised a hand and gestured to his nose and eye. "Is that where your color is from?"
"No" Sherlock said. He mimicked Mycroft's gesture. "This is courtesy of the police." He finished his pacing and leaned forward, looming over Mycroft's desk. "I need to know more."
"What exactly do you need to know?" Mycroft asked leaning back in his chair. His smirk never faded, but it changed. Instead of being dismissive, he looked rather amused at his brother's dramatic antics.
"D.I.A.N.E. Diane. What does it stand for?" Sherlock asked. Mycroft rolled an ink pen in his fingers. "June had two Romanian thugs follow her the other day. Last night, not only was she attacked while retrieving takeaway, but we had two ex-marines attempt to kill her at Baker Street. The connection is art. Everyone who has been targeted is connected in some way to the arts. Painters, writers, musicians...I need to know what you know."
Mycroft stretched his neck and sat upright. "There have been rumors of a small underground group of vigilant art critics. Nothing more than rich youths pretending to live beatnik lives. They call themselves: Defining Inept Art Needing Enemies. Their acts have been geared towards ridding the world of bad art. Aside from starting a few fights and spreading graffiti, they are not a threat."
"You think some millennials are attempting to cleanse the world of bad art by getting rid of those they find to produce or sponsor bad art?" Sherlock groused. "Please!"
"That's what I know" Mycroft replied. He opened a desk drawer and pulled out a single photo. He slid it over to his brother. "One of the leaders of D.I.A.N.E." Sherlock picked up the photo and looked at the three young people sitting on university steps. "Lauren Goode. Graduated from King's College with a degree in Digital Culture. Her two cohorts are Brian Reed and Vikram Lasco."
"Where can I find her?" Sherlock asked. Mycroft stood up and collected a few things.
"I would assume through social media" Mycroft replied. He checked the clock. "I have a meeting in ten minutes. I need to go and I need you to leave."
"Yes, fine" Sherlock replied. He put his scarf and coat on with his usual flair. He left Mycroft's office armed with his phone, the photo, and the disappointing information supplied by Mycroft. He hailed a cab as soon as he was streetside and got in. "221B Baker Street."
The door of 221B Baker Street opened and shut quickly. Mrs. Hudson stepped out from her rooms and looked up the stairs just in time to see Sherlock step onto the landing.
"Where is she?" Sherlock bellowed. "June?"
"She hasn't come in yet, Sherlock" Mrs. Hudson called from the main floor. She heard an exasperated huff from upstairs and went back to the baking she had been doing.
Sherlock was texting before he could even finish taking his scarf and coat off. Where are you? 221B now. SH He pressed send before getting his things hung up. He snagged the photograph from his coat pocket and went over to place it on the mantle. He had work to do.
It wasn't too long before the front door of 221B Baker Street opened and closed and the softer footsteps of June could be heard on the stairs. After a few minutes, she came into Sherlock's living room. Her hair was wet and windblown. Sherlock glanced over at her, watching as she went into the kitchen to start a kettle for tea.
"There are new leads" Sherlock informed her. "A possible underground group of rebellious beatnik millennials."
"Is that some sort of...joke?" June asked. The electric kettle bubbled as it came to life. She moved to lean against the dividing wall between the kitchen and the living room.
"I never joke about these things" Sherlock replied, nearly guffawing with insult.
"It just sounds like a bad joke" June told him. Sherlock turned back to his laptop.
"Their group acronym is D.I.A.N.E." Sherlock began. "One of its leaders is Lauren Goode. According to her facebook, she works for the Society of London Art Dealers and regularly posts updates on her yoga classes. She doesn't have a criminal record. Her school grades were good, not the highest. Her paintings are neo-expressionism at best."
"What does it mean?" June asked.
Sherlock shrugged and let his hands gesture in a small circle as he spoke. "I find that neo-expressionism is simply two-sided art. An eagle painted in red might just be a red eagle, but it might also be tied to American Native history."
He glanced at June. "I meant the acronym. What does D.I.A.N.E. mean?"
"Oh that" Sherlock replied. "Defining Inept Art Needing Enemies. It's rather terrible."
"Oh God" June cringed under her breath.
"Your hair is quite wild. The wind pick up some" Sherlock told her. June stood at the mantle and began pulling out the bobby pins holding her hair up. "Lauren made a comment that she is looking forward to helping out at the writer's gala tonight."
"What will she be helping with?" June asked.
"The Society of London Art Dealers is presenting an award for original book cover art" Sherlock said. "She will be there with a few co-workers." The kettle went from a rolling boil to clicking off. June stepped into the kitchen to prepare her tea. "I haven't been able to find much on D.I.A.N.E. aside from a little graffiti and a local reddit user going by DIneptArtNE." A cup of tea was set next to Sherlock as he spoke. "The user only seems to be a fan of new art, rejecting most older art." He stopped talking in order to take a sip of his tea. When he looked up from his screen he found himself watching June mess with her hair. She was raking her fingers through her hair. "Your side must doing better if you were able to get your hair up this morning."
"I've had worse" June said. "I spent some time boxing. Not professionally, just in a local circuit back home."
"That would explain your technique" Sherlock replied. "Why did you stop?"
"Book tours" June said. "My agent didn't approve of black eyes at book signings." She sipped her tea. "How is your face?"
Sherlock's eye sported a purple ring that trailed over the bridge of his nose. The bruising over his nose faded into red. His face was swollen. "I took something for it. I'm fine."
"You're not getting out of it" June told him. He twitched an eyebrow. "I don't mind being bait to lure out D.I.A.N.E., but I can't be bait with no back up. It doesn't really work that way."
"When are we supposed to be there anyway?" Sherlock asked going back to his laptop and tea.
"We should probably leave in about three hours" June replied.
Sherlock grumbled. Silly galas were not really his thing, but he was sure they would be able to at least inquire about D.I.A.N.E. So far, he had not found a reason why and it was making him upset. WHY would they go as far as killing the artists? It was an extreme step. WHY were they being so extreme? In this day and age a simple bad online review could be more damaging than most other acts. WHY? WHY? WHY?
"WHY?!" Sherlock stood and yelled. The room was empty and the city had started to grow dark.
"Are you okay?" June asked coming into the room. She had her robe tied around her and she had been combing her hair. Sherlock scowled and glanced at the time. "You should probably get ready soon. We should leave in the next 30 minutes or so."
"Right" Sherlock replied. He straightened his shirt and decided to follow her suggestion.