Erza massaged her brow in frustration, the pavement of Buck's Row had already been cleaned.

"I can't believe they tampered with the crime scene." Erza groaned.

Natsu laughed nervously. "You can't expect them to leave blood where people are walking, it's a work day!"

Erza looked up at the sun, sitting high in the sky. They needed to move fast to stop the trail going cold, every hour that passed meant witness statements became harder to find and less reliable.

"What's more important? Catching a murderer or getting a bit of blood on your shoes?" Erza turned around and glared at Natsu.

"I'm with you!" Natsu quickly reassured her, but Erza had already moved on, crouching down and examining the bricks up close.

"I was hoping for a trail. There's a chance she was killed elsewhere and dragged to this spot." Erza scanned the surrounding road carefully.

"Due to the lack of blood at the crime scene?"

Erza hummed in confirmation, her face inches off the ground as she inspected the pavement.

"If you're looking for more blood, there isn't any, I already checked. Can't smell any either." Natsu informed her nonchalantly.

"Oh, we'll have to move on then. I'll— wait, what?" Erza got to her feet and dusted herself off. "What do you mean you've already checked? We just got here."

"Hm?" Natsu had been staring vacantly into the distance. A muscle above Erza's eye twitched.

"I said, what do you mean you've already checked? And what do you mean you can't smell any blood?"

"Uh, what do you mean 'what do you mean'? I already checked the whole street when we walked here, and I couldn't smell any blood." Natsu frowned, confused by Erza's questioning.

Erza stared at Natsu for a few seconds before shaking her head. "Don't be silly, you can't just casually see and smell miniscule droplets of blood. Ok, I'm going to interview the residents from the closest apartments. You go over to that factory nearby, one of the local detectives said that a few workers were among the on-lookers when the body was discovered. Meet back here in 30 minutes."

"Alright!" Natsu held up his fist.

"What on Earth are you doing now?" Erza sighed.

"We're a team, right? Let's bump fists before we split up, or when we discover something important!"

Erza looked at his fist disdainfully.

"I'm going to pass. See you."

"OK! Next time then!" Natsu called out after her as she crossed the street and entered the apartment building. Erza rolled her eyes, 'I'm babysitting! My partner is a child!'



Natsu dropped some of his notes as he tried sorting through the mess of papers he was holding.

"Err, nothing special. Workers didn't see or hear anything unusual in the hours leading up to the murder, they only came out when they overheard Mr. Cross talking to the policeman. The foreman did say that some of his workers would have arrived via Buck's Row at about 3am and they didn't report anything."

"But at 4.00 the doctor said she'd been dead no longer than 30 minutes, so that doesn't help at all." Erza replied sharply.

"Y-yeah, I know, I'm just saying what—"

"Anyway." Erza cut across swiftly. "The local residents didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary last night either.

"So you think she was murdered elsewhere and dragged here?"

Erza mulled the statement over for a few seconds before half-heartedly shaking her head. "I'm not entirely sure…but if I had to guess, I'd say no…she was killed at the scene. She was found in the darkest part of the alleyway, given her profession I'd say she went there willingly with the murderer. And from a logical standpoint, it wouldn't make any sense to kill her elsewhere then risk being seen dragging the body to somewhere darker."

"Wouldn't someone have heard something?" Natsu asked.

Erza shook her head, a little more assured now. "Not necessarily. Judging from her injuries, I'd say she was strangled, therefore unable to cry for help. The bruising on her face and jaw, the missing teeth, I'd say she was assaulted and then quickly suffocated.

"But all the stab wounds? She was ripped to shreds! There should have been a lot more blood!" Natsu argued.

"Don't be distracted by how gruesome the corpse was. If she was dead before he stabbed her then her heart would have stopped, meaning…?"

Natsu stared at Erza blankly.

"Meaning, that the heart wouldn't be pumping the blood out at the rate we'd expect."

Natsu nodded, pretending to understand. "So why stab her then?"

Erza's already stony expression hardened further. "Another question we'll have to ask when we catch him. Perhaps some misplaced aggression against women, or maybe something more personal between the two of them. Hopefully Lambeth Workhouse will have the answers we're looking for."

"Is that where we're going now?" Natsu asked, hurrying to catch up to Erza as she turned and strode off without warning.

"Yes, with a small detour along the way. I'm going to check in at Fairy Tail."


"What's this dump?"

Natsu wrinkled his nose as they approached a run down, old, building.

"This is Fairy Tail, Dragneel, a bar. I have contacts here that are often a valuable source of information."

Erza put her hand on the door but then paused. She slowly turned to face Natsu.

"It's good for police officers to build a network of contacts. You'll gain information faster- you should be writing this down."

"Oh! Sorry! Yeah…" Natsu fumbled with his papers again, dropping most of them in his haste to find one to write on.

"Nevermind" Erza sighed, as Natsu finally produced a blank paper, but realised he'd lost his pencil.

Erza pushed open the wide doors and led Natsu inside, the unmistakeable stench of alcohol already making her queasy. It was dark and mostly empty, save for two women at the bar.

"Business is booming, I see" Erza quipped sarcastically.

The lady behind the bar puffed her cheeks in faux-annoyance, before returning to a glittering smile. Long silvery-white hair cascaded down her back, completely at odds with her dingy surroundings.

"Come on, Erza, it's the middle of the afternoon. We don't get busy for another few hours."

Erza sniffed haughtily. "Hasn't stopped this drunk." She kicked the stool of the second woman, a brunette with her face down on the bar, but her hand still tightly wrapped around a half-empty mug of ale. "And it's still 'Detective Inspector Scarlet', to both of you."

"Leave me alone" the brunette slurred, not bothering to look at her assailant.

"Pathetic." Erza shook her head in disappointment.

"I take it you didn't come all the way here to insult my clientele", the barmaid interrupted sweetly.

Erza's glare lingered on the drunk lady for a moment before defaulting to her frosty look for the barmaid.

"A prostitute was murdered this morning."

The barmaid's smile faltered to a look of confusion. "Er…not the most unusual of occurrences, is it?"

Erza sighed wearily. "I don't choose the cases, Mira, I just work them. This was particularly gruesome though, the killer looked like he had a real grudge. I'm about to head over to the victim's workplace for some more information, but I wanted to know if you'd seen or heard anything last night. Anyone seem particularly violent to you. Anyone that you think might have a history of abusing women."

Mira thought for a moment before writing something on a scrap of paper.

"Nothing obvious comes to mind, but you might want to try this gentleman. He had a lot to drink last night and was quite…boisterous. He ended up running out on the tab, the murder might have been him…er…running out on the victim."

"You're not trying to get me to follow up on your dirty work, are you Mira?" a small smile tugging at Erza lips as she took the piece of paper.

"And who's this little cutie?" Mira fawned, changing the subject instantly. She ruffled Natsu's hair, to which Natsu could only stutter and blush.

"Junior Detective Dragneel," Erza cut in, "this is Mirajane Strauss." Erza motioned to the smiling barmaid. "And this is Cana Alberona." Erza kicked the stool again, receiving only a grunt in reply. "They often provide useful intelligence, today notwithstanding."


"And what do you give them?" Natsu asked.

Erza smiled. "I make sure to regularly visit Fairy Tail. In uniform."

"Bar fights are down 33%" Mira added with a wink when Natsu still looked confused.

"Come along, Dragneel." Erza turned on her heel. "We're still racing against the clock here. We need to visit Lambeth Workhouse and find out who our victim is, and what company she's been keeping."

"Don't forget to look into my suspect! I definitely think he could be the murderer!" Mira called out as the doors to Fairy Tail closed behind them.

AN: Thank you for the kind reviews, they are always greatly appreciated and incredibly inspiring. See you next time!