Whispers in the Dark

Chapter nine

Professor Patrick James Ratigan, criminal mastermind and arch enemy of one Basil of Baker Street, was slowly coming about ("slowly" being the key-word of the statement). He was able to detect movement around him and it sounded to him that someone was barking out orders. He found that quite odd since usually he was the one barking out orders. He wanted to know who that was, but he found that he couldn't quite put a face to the voice. If only he could actually understand what that person was saying… something about water?

Curse his aching head! He hated it when he didn't know what was going on around him. All he really knew was that he hurt, he couldn't hear properly and his eyelids wouldn't open. But at least his brain seemed to be functioning.

Very well, it was time to think. What exactly happened to get him into this current predicament? He remembered enjoying a nice bottle of wine in his chambers and plotting his revenge on Basil when someone broke something in the human rooms. Annoyed, he went out to look for said someone and planned to give him a fair piece of his mind (and probably something else along with it). Yes, he could remember that. Then, what? Oh right, he reached the rooms and started searching, heard someone calling a name… "Dawson" was it? He followed the voice then found the intruder… Who was it again? He remembered feeling shocked when he saw him… but who exactly was it? There couldn't be too many people on this fine earth that would shock him. So who was it?

"He seems to be coming about. What do we do?"

"Why are you asking me? I'm not a doctor!"

"Oh, for crying out loud, out of my way. You there! Lizard! Go and get me some bandages and clean cloths. Today if you would! Now, you lot …"

Hmm… that voice sounded very familiar. But back to his previous line of thought… ah yes! Basil. Yes, that was who it was; Basil. The one and only Basil of Baker Street was right there, just a couple of feet away from him. Oh! The situation was simply ideal! He could sneak behind the little rascal and slit his throat before the pipsqueak had any idea what was happening. But still, it was such a shame if he was to dispose of him just like that. Why not have a little fun with him first?

Yes, and he did have fun. Leading the mouse towards the basement was easy enough, though Ratigan was quite surprised with how things had developed from there on. But overall, the pipsqueak's offer was too tempting to pass out. And if anything was to go wrong, he could kill the little bastard at any time.

"Here it is. We give it to him now?"

"No, wait till I finish bandaging this one. I don't think he'll be cooperating much after he wakes up. Where is that hot water?"

Bandages? What was that about bandages? Hmm… maybe one of his idiot henchmen got hurt again. But then again, wasn't he hurting as well? Nah, couldn't be. After escorting Basil to his living quarters – ones stationed as far away from his meeting rooms as possible (couldn't afford the brat messing up his plans again) – he went down to the party, had a few glasses with the boys, then went right back up to check on the detective. Ratigan knew that he was a curious little thing, so naturally Basil would get out of that room sooner or later (Fidget really wasn't much of a guard, after all) and when such a moment occurred, he would be ready to take full advantage of it. He just needed one mistake from the mouse, one single mistake, and their agreement would fall, and he would be free to kill the little vermin just like that.

He was a little disappointed when he heard steady breathing coming from his room. Well, at least it was fun scaring Fidget half to death for falling asleep on the job again. But he wasn't prepared to go just like that. He knew Basil, and he knew that the detective would come out, and he planned to be close by when that happened.

"Boss? Can you hear me? The detective said one of your cuts needs cleaning, you hear? Just stay calm, boss. It will hurt less."

It was only hours later, after everyone else was too drunk to do anything except sleep, that he was woken up by movement in Basil's room. He could have sworn that he also heard the door opening, but when he checked, the room was closed tight and there were whispers coming from Basil's room. He remembered classifying that as "odd", but what followed he could easily classify as "too much".

"He's not going to like this … You best hold on to him."

He remembered… yes, he remembered so clearly how that little bastard has sneaked into him room, how he found him, looking up at her portrait, the one he had painted especially for his Terra… and that little son of bitch was so close to it! That was something he couldn't stand! He would not have someone like him judge that painting, he would not have someone like him judge her!

"Get ready."

What happened next, was a blur. Insults were thrown at each other, that he knew, but he couldn't recall what those were. All he knew was that he had felt murderous, that he wanted nothing more than to kill the detective on the spot. A voice was telling him to kill and he was actually listening to it! To hell with everything else, he wanted to murder the mouse!

Then suddenly… something stopped him.

The eyes he was looking into, those constantly calculating eyes that were Basil's, they looked so much like hers. Nobody could have eyes so green… green as the fresh, spring grass. For a moment, he though he was seeing his Terra in those eyes. For a moment, he was certain he was seeing her, that he was this close to killing her… But then reality came crashing down, and he knew that it was just another one of fate's cruel jokes. He knew that as he was looking at his claws and then at the fear in those wide, green eyes. That thing in his head was playing jokes on him. He knew it couldn't be her. Basil wasn't even a woman, for goodness sake! But still, for that one moment…

His hand was on fire!

"GUAAAAAAH!" Ratigan screamed as he bolted into a sitting position, much to the horror of his henchman who scattered in every possible direction. "That hurt!" he screamed in the face of the nearest person available.

"Well, if you would just stay still then it wouldn't hurt as much!" one must not bother and describe the shock he felt upon discovering who was actually tending to his wounds.

"Welcome back to the land of the living." The defiant voice shot back with sarcasm. Ratigan was speechless. There, right in front of him, cleaning cloth in hand, was Basil, and was apparently missing that well-known inverse coat.

"What's the matter, rat? Cat got your tong?" the detective asked, probably amused by Ratigan's expression. But who can blame him. It's not everyday that you wake up and fid your enemy working to save your rather than kill you.

Finally finding his voice, he practically yelled out: "What the hell are you doing?"

"I believed that was obvious. I am mocking you." She said simply. "Fidget, you can give him that glass of brandy now. He might be more docile once under the influence, for he certainly won't be cooperating much."

Ratigan was just about to say something when a large glass of brandy was shoved in his hand by the bat. Fidget and the rest of his men (who were peaking from behind random pieces of broken furniture) where looking at him worriedly. Basil, on the other hand, seamed to be watching him like one would some delicate experiment, one that was about to blow up.

The large rodent gowned and looked just about ready to throw a nice, bitter curse at a certain someone (and maybe the glass itself the detective's general direction), but instead of doing so he just emptied its contents in one short gulp.

"There" said Basil, taking the glass away from the rat as the other coughed, a side effect of the liquid's bitterness. "You didn't die from that, now did you?"

He wasn't that lucky …

"Fancy another one? I don't quite like those tremors of yours."

"Fancy a hole in the head? I don't quite like that face of yours." Ratigan shot back, mimicking the detective's tone. "One drink of anything can hardly matter but two? You must be more of a nitwit then I already thought if you think I'll give into your game. I know your game Basil, and I'm not falling for it!" The other mouse hardly beat an eyelash.

"T'is your lost, professor." Was her response before moving away from the larger rodent, along with both the glass and the bottle of brandy.

"My only loss is a chance to get drugged! I know better then to ever trust an enemy!" Ratigan cried out after Basil; though he had to admit that the drink did make him feel better – maybe a little lightheaded, maybe a little slower with his thinking, but better. And it would have been better still if he wasn't so terribly cold.

"Boss, what 'csactly happened?" Fidget asked nervously. Ratigan gave him a look. "I mean, we all found ya' and tha' detective near the house. Tha' detective said you were up against a gang of dangerous lookin' r- … big guys, and then next he knew, you were like this. We didn' know what to do and we though you was gonna die but then he said that …" Fidget's rant died out even faster then it began, for the look on his boss's face was worse then frightening, it was murderous.

"I will say three things Fidget …" Ratigan said, his voice dangerously low. "One: those brats may look dangerous to a weak little detective, but they represent no threat to me. Even if one of them was more of a challenge then I would have expected." At that, he pointed at the gash in his left arm. "Two: what Basil says, is none of your concern. And last, but not least, three: if you don't shut it this instant I will skin you alive!"

Fidget was gone in an instant. And they say I don't have a way with people.

It was only then that Ratigan had noticed that he was in his room, seated on a makeshift bed near the fire. Most of his wounds have been treated and cuts have been seen to. He went over his memories once more and found no reason for him to actually be here, near a warm fire and with his wounds being treated. In fact, he was certain that when he lost consciousness he was anywhere near the villa … except if maybe…

Unconsciously, he turned to look at Basil. The other mouse was apparently disinfecting a needle, effectively ignoring Ratigan's yells. He knew that something was wrong with this picture. Hastily, he searched threw his memories for some clues as to why the detective was actually there. What those clues seamed to point to …

God, he couldn't believe it! It wasn't possible! He just couldn't believe that Basil saved his miserable life!

"Hello!" Basil's clear, although annoyed, voice shook him out of his memories. "Did you not hear me, Ratigan?"

Confused, he asked: "What?"

The other rolled her eyes. "I said: hand over that paw!" Basil said with determination, though Ratigan could detect a slight tremor in the mouse's voice. He chose to ignore that small fact for the moment.

"You're nuts!" He spat, cradling his injured hand with his other one. "I'm not giving you my hand, so keep your paws down." Ratigan growled, nudging away from the detective's outstretched hand. He may be hurt and the drink had made him drowsy, but he most certainly wasn't stupid enough to do what an enemy asked him to.

"And you're hurt. So unless you want that thing to get infected you'll hand it over so I can clean it up." At that, the detective pointed at the washcloth in her hand and with the corner of his eye Ratigan also spotted a basin filled with hot water. Apparently, Basil wasn't joking in the slightest. Still, neither was he.

"I have no need of your assistance, detective. I am perfectly fine. Now if you please, I want you to do me the honor of getting out of my face!" he growled back. Basil was not intimidated by his actions in the slightest.

"Let me see if I get this straight…" she said, lifting an eyebrow and crossing her hands much like a governess did whenever a pupil would give pathetic reasons for not handing in their homework. "You mean to say that although you have a gash in your left arm the size of dear old Big Ben, were delirious till only now a few moments ago and show signs of infection, you say you are perfectly fine and that you need no assistance?" she asked sarcastically. Ratigan did not answer. "What the hell's the matter with you? Are you some kind of a masochist?"

"If I say that I am, will you kindly be gone?" He screamed in Basil's face. The detective though did not move a muscle as she said a very clear "no" then, taking full advantage of Ratigan's moment of shock, took hold of his hand.

"Now hold still." Basil said as a warning. "This will hurt." And with that, she proceeded with the cleaning of the rat's wound. Ratigan, conscious that he had just lost another battle with the detective, could do nothing else then pout as he felt the stinging. How the devil could that mouse always win?

"Oh yes… That blasted German is right in more ways then one." He snorted. If Basil heard him, then the detective chose not to make any remarks. "God is most certainly dead. Otherwise why would he let the devil torture me so?" He muttered to himself. Why couldn't he just die?

… and how the devil could some hot water hurt SO MUCH!

"I told you to stop moving!" the detective said in irritation. Ratigan wasn't too keen with the situation ether.

"I'll have you know that this hurts!" he yelled out, causing the men who just started to emerge from their hiding place to duck down again.

Basil was not impressed. "I told you it would. Now quit complaining. I assure you I take no pleasure in putting you back together again like that egg from Mother Goose's nursery rimes." She paused. "In fact, I take that back. Any egg would be much more cooperative then a common sewer rat, such as yourself."

Ratigan saw red. "I am not – GUAAAAAHHH!"

"'Cooperating' I think was the world you were looking for, and indeed, you are not doing so. Now for the last time, quit being such a big baby – it most certainly doesn't become you."

Now that was low. "You're really taking pleasure in thi- GAH! Enough already!"

"Oh, I'm sorry." Basil said sweetly – the little devil. "Did that sting?" Ratigan exploded.

"You know perfectly well that it did, you little psychopath! God, why am I even letting you do this! I should be strangling you right now! Or at least have my men lock you up! Why didn't you lock him up?" he yelled out to his men. The look on their face said it all: they never thought about it. He turned back to the detective. "I should have left those hooligans finish you off and be done with you. A mouse so weak that needs saving from a few street urchins doesn't deserve to still be alive." Basil frowned. If the rat asked for war, then its war he'll get.

"Well, what would I say about you? You're at least double my size yet you didn't do any better. Or must I remind you that you were passed out for most of the morning?"

Ratigan was grinding his teeth. Why wasn't he strangling the little vermin yet? "I'll have you know that it was not they that caused me to 'pass out' as you put it … as it seems to be the case with you. And yes, you are not the only one who can deduce certain things just by looking at someone. You hide things well, detective, but not that well. The traces of low brain activity are still visible on you." He was certain that with that remark, he was to at least shut up the mouse. He was to be disappointed.

"You mean to say how it's always visible on you?" that said in a clear, indifferent voice … one raised eyebrow … hands crossed … Did he have a reason why he wasn't beating the living daylights out of that mouse?

"Funny thing coming from someone who deliberately disobeyed their captor's orders and started roaming around their private rooms!"

"Funny thing coming from someone who yelled at their prisoner to 'get out'." Ratigan opened his mouth, prepared for another come-back … only to discover that he hadn't any. "Now will you please just lie down and let me work?"

Oddly enough, Ratigan chose to do as his nemesis asked. It was quite ironic, how the captor ended up listening to the captive, but he was too tired to come to a reason as to why it was happening. What he knew for a fact was that the world was now – officially – upside down and that he wanted nothing more than to fall asleep and hope that this was all some bizarre dream … and once he woke up everything would be all right again … and those eyes were going to spot hunting him so …

"There!" the mouse said at last, picking up the basin of now red water. "Keep that cloth there while I go get the stitches."

Wonderful … further humiliation … with clouded eyes, Ratigan followed Basil as the mouse limped over to a nearby table. He could hear the detective's voice. She was probably talking to him, but he couldn't quite make up the words. In lack of any other activity, the rat vaguely wondered where the mouse got hurt, but given recent events… Why had it suddenly gone so dark?

"Ratigan!" he must be worse then he imagined if he didn't notice Basil was back again… "My god, man! You're quivering all over!" a paw was clasped to his forehead and it took a full moment for Ratigan to understand just what was going on. "You're going into shock! Fidget! Go get some more hot water! You there! The little bat. Yes you. Go and find as many water bottles as you can. Lizzard! Or, Bill, whoever you are. Get me some more blankets! Now! And you two help me get him up. He needs to move. Not so roughly, you fools!"

Shock? Well, that would explain a couple of things. He was, after all, lying unconscious (hard to admit, but true) in the snow for at least a few good minutes. Now that can hardly be good for you. But even so, Ratigan was still lucid enough to notice that his men seamed to be listening to the detective – if one would be judging from the sound of hurried footsteps. That both intrigued and worried him greatly, for if those ninnies actually listened to any mouse with some level of authority …

But then again, Basil was always something special. And apparently full of surprises as well.

Making sure that he was still tightly wrapped in the blankets Bill just fetch, Basil gave the tugs her signal and they all slipped an arm beneath his shoulders and carefully hoisted him to his feet. Not an easy task, mind you. Ratigan's head lolled drunkenly for a moment before he endeavored to raise it at Basil's urging, blinking owlishly at her from under heavy lids. The detective spoke to him constantly, encouraging him to take a step, and then another, until he was walking with the help of Basil and his two tugs up and down the room. His steps were faltering, and he frequently stumbled, but the others forced him on.

"You're doing well." Basil said reassuringly before promptly yelling over her shoulder "Someone put more wood on the fire!"

"It's hot enough …" Ratigan started to say, but Basil gave him no time to finish.

"And you're suffering from hypothermia." She said, matter-of-fact, her leg almost giving up on her as she did. "We need to get you warm again. Now keep moving and don't you dare fall asleep. We need to get your blood circulating again or you might lose a limb of two. Or heaven forbid, your heart could stop beating altogether!"

Ratigan couldn't stop the chuckle that passed his lips. "That's not going to happen. And besides, as far as I know, you wanted to see me dead for the longest of time."

"Merely in prison, but never dead. It's true that I find you the worse of the worse of all of London, but I'm not one to wish someone's death. I'm not like you, Ratigan." She said, eyes narrowing.

"So you're merely proving me wrong?" he searched her face for something, but whatever he was looking for, it wasn't there.

"No. I am merely bringing you back to life. Nobody dies on my watch. Not if I can help it. And start moving that overly large tail of your! You need to get the blood moving there too."

"What are you, some kind of a doctor now?"

It was Basil's turn to chuckle. "Living with one for the past several months seams to do that to you. Now, what's the square root of 123,670?"

They carried on like this for quite some while until finally, Ratigan's body shivers lessened. His amazement, on the other hand, did quite the opposite.

He knew fully well that Basil was a very surprising individual, but he never got to know just how surprising. Up until now he had believed that the little vermin was just one blasted creature that simply had the wits to foil his plans, that did it all for pleasure. But now he wondered: was he right in thinking that? This mouse here – who was now slowly seating him down on the cushions, bundled the blankets around him and tucked some bottled filled with hot water at his feet (his men were apparently rather good in doing what they were told, when you knew what to tell them) – was doing one's absolute best to keep him alive (a wasted effort, he thought, but Basil apparently wouldn't hear of it). That in itself was a mystery. Where did all this caring come from? The detective did not strike him as a particularly caring mouse. And even if he was blind all these years, why would Basil do so much for him?

"Ratigan?" Out of habit, he looked up, yet again surprised to find Basil there, holding up a large cup of … something for him. Almost like the mouse was able to read his mind, basil simply said: "It's just tea. I added a bit of brandy in it. Not too much, though. Alcohol may be good for you now, but we don't want you drunk quite yet." Eying the detective with a suspicious look, Ratigan slowly took hold of the cup, amazing himself with the fact that his hands were not shaking any more. Now, he knew that the tremors would go away eventually; they always did, but still …

"T'esctive? Will tha' boss be ok?" he heard Fidget ask, much to his utter mortification! Did his men actually forget just who that mouse was?

"He'll be fine, though I am not all that happy with the fact that I am the one who says it. Don't you people have a doctor in your little band of outlaws?"

There was a pause. "What's an outlaw?"

"Never mind. Ratigan? RATIGAN! Wake up!" The sudden pressure on one of the cuts that now covered his body woke him instantly. He hissed in pain.

"Why did you do that for, now?"

"You cannot sleep yet, you fool! It was monumentally foolish of you to fall asleep in the first place, and it's a miracle you actually woke up in the first place! Or do you want for your heart to stop its beating?"

"It honestly wouldn't be such a bad thing." The statement was said in such a simple, aloof tone that one would find it hard to believe that it was coming from someone who had been a step away from death. Though it was mostly meant to be a joke, not all were in a joking mood that day for the look on Basil's face upon hearing those words could have been described as one of absolute anger; fact confirmed when the detective effectively slapped him. "OUCH! For the love of God, you fool, why did you do that?"

Basil's tone when she spoke again was (irony of it all) colder then ever before. "I had hopped that I'll manage to revive a few brain cells; for it's clear that the little thing called 'reason' had somehow left you." A sight followed, and something that seamed to resemble a surpassed cough. Ratigan looked away, unhappy with how things were progressing.

Again, there was movement around him, but unlike earlier, this time he was fully aware of it. Basil seamed to make sure of that. Or better said: Basil's palm seamed to make sure of that. Why couldn't the little devil punch him? Oh, right, punches hurt, but they didn't really have much of an effect. Slaps smart and its effect on the body lasts considerably longer.

Very smart, Basil, very smart indeed you manipulative little …

"I'll have you know that you've lost a lot of blood this morning" Basil said, matter-of-fact, "so unless my memory serves me wrong, you'll be feeling weak and lightheaded for a couple of days" Oh joy … "Also, unless you want to die of ether infection or possibly blood lost, I'll have to stitch your wound here..." The detective had said a few more things, but Ratigan didn't listen any more. Tired, frustrated, and angry with everyone and everything, he moved to look at something – at anything – just as long as it distracted it. Eventually, his eyes fell on the portrait above the fireplace, and remembered a situation much like this one …

"My lord, if you don't warm up I fear grave things shall befall upon you." a girl had asked a gentlemen once. Baking powder was stuck in her fur, and her clothes were poor … a baker from the looks of things.

The gentlemen, considerably larger then said girl in most aspects and even better dressed then her had said from his place in the snow. "Do not trouble yourself with the state of my heath, my dear lady. I assure you that it is nothing." He said those words fully aware of the slight tremors that were plaguing his body, but was determined to hide that fact. For pride an honor, he could not accept any assistance from the baker lady, no matter how he craved for a fire.

The girl chucked at his words. She was not fooled for a moment. "Beg do differ, my lord, but even if I am merely a baker's grand-daughter and not a scholar such as yourself, I do know that such cold hands are not natural for anyone."

"How did the young lady know I was a scholar?"

"I just have a gift for noticing things, my lord. Now come or I shall have to drag you in myself and spoon-feed you some warm broth so you can finally warm up."

He laughed at the memory. Yes, he would always laugh at the memory. In fact, any memory with her made him laugh. She had always made him laugh, from the very start. Yes, how could he forget that cold winter's night when he had first met her? How could he forget –

"Terra" he whispered before he actually knew that he did so. That's what one gets for daydreaming. But maybe he was lucky and Basil didn't her …

"Mind saying that again Ratigan?" Of course he wouldn't be that lucky!

"That's none of your concern detective!" he shot back angrily, but Basil was a stubborn one … much like she was.

"You said 'Terra', did you not?" Basil was already suspicious, meaning that if Ratigan knew the detective well enough, then he most certainly knew that this was not the end of it. Ratigan did not answer. "Are you referring to the lady in the picture?"

How did? … Oh, of course … he was looking at the bloody thing!

"Mind your own business, detective." He growled. Basil smiled.

"Whatever you say, Ratigan." Was all she said before going back to work.

That was it? Ratigan wasn't buying it. "I mean it, you know."

"Very well, then."

"No, I mean it. I have no obligation to tell you anything concerning my personal affairs, so don't even try."

"Oh, so this is personal now? Very interesting indeed."

"I MEAN IT, BASIL!" he bellowed with such force that – some would say – the walls shock. "This is a private matter, detective, so now quite it with- …" despite his harsh tone, despite his harsh words, Basil continued to smile, eyes fixed on her task.

Ratigan slumbered against the cushions, a look of disbelief written on his face. Almost instantly, it had occurred to him that Basil knew. Not the whole story, mind you, but he was certain that she knew the essence. The detective now knew of Terra, knew that once there was a woman in his life, and all that because he, Ratigan, failed to keep his big mouth shut.

Defeated, he looked back up at the portrait. Terra also seamed to know a great many things about him without anyone telling her of them. In fact, now that he thought of it, Terra and Basil were terribly similar with one another.

He frowned at his own thoughts. There was something about that last one that bothered him. Looking back at the detective, he took in the mouse's whole appearance and then looked back at the portrait. Suspiciously enough, there seamed to be certain similarities … but that was purely coincidental. Terra died long ago, and even if by some miracle she happened to have any family left, then it was certain that none would have those eyes.

Ah yes, the eyes … Terra's eyes had been the most beautiful thing he had ever seen on this earth, and after so many years those green eyes were still fascinating him. And to see them again after so long was nothing short of incredulous! How could a pair of eyes such as hers belong to someone like Basil? He didn't know, but he did manage to see why it was so hard for him to simply cut off the detective's throat as he should. It was because of those eyes … Yes, he knew it was foolish, he knew it was idiotic of him actually, but it just was. And God, how he hated himself for it!

Best not to think anymore … He also mustn't look at the portrait any more. Change the scenery! Almost on a whim, he averted his gaze towards the trembling hands that were slowly beginning to mend the cut on his right arm. Never has he noticed before how graceful those hands were. Almost too graceful … Certainly those could not be hands of a man, and a detective at that. They looked more like the pair a lady would take pride in, or a artist at its worse … Terra was both …

And that thought worried him. As he continued to take in every single detail of the detective's appearance, Ratigan had the impression that this must have been the first time he actually looked at Basil. Why else would he not notice how impossibly skinny and in the same time, incredibly well-builtthe mouse's body was, or how unnaturally soft that fur looked, or even how all the curved looked ever so feminine. It was almost impossible to notice while on a run or when distracted by the world in its whole, but now, in a moment of repose, he could notice. Everything about the detective was so carefully there, so delicate… so fragile… much like…

NO! BAD brain! Bad! Basil was NOT Terra! Use logic man! The time gap is too great! And he was not one to believe in reincarnation! Gods, he had to stop thinking about this! The situation was just too much for him. First were the eyes… why hasn't he noticed those eyes before? Why did he let that simple fact distract him so? In fact, why did he not kill the detective when he had the chance? Why didn't he just let that bungle of misery run off? Why did he bother to save that… Why? Why? Why? WHY?

"Why?"

Basil looked up from her work to study the rat's features. His face was a perfect mask of indifference, though his eyes suggested exhaustion and maybe a mixture of wonder and confusion. From that alone, she failed to understand what he was asking. "'Why' what?"

Why do you remind me so much of her? "Why are you doing this?"

Basil was momentarily taken aback. "I beg your pardon?"

Ratigan growled. "Are you now deaf as well as simple-minded? Why did you go through all the trouble of dragging me back here, knowing that by doing so, you'll be my prisoner again? You know I'm not one who would go soft and all of the sudden start and appreciate your assistance, nor am I that dumb as to let you go with your honor intact because you just happened to take pity on me. And why are you even tending to my wounds? You could have just left me there for those spiders to have their fun with and nobody was going to blame you for it. After all, I am the worse of the worse – it's not like anyone would miss me and you certainly don't give a dam … so why? Why not let me die? Tell me why, because I for all the brains with which I was blessed cannot begin to outline one measly idea as to WHY!"

By the end of his rant, Ratigan was patting. He had asked Terra a similar question that night she stumbled upon him, half frozen as he was yet too proud to accept any aid … HE HAD TO STOP THINKING OF HER!

He filled himself the now empty teacup with brandy and gulped it down. Busy trying to keep the liquid down, he almost didn't hear when the detective, in a voice so soft that Ratigan was certain it could not belong to the same mouse.

"I already said that nobody was going to die on my watch… And now I'm sure you'll be asking me 'why?' again, right? … Well … It's because…" the detective paused to clear her troth. Ratigan was now very curious. "Well, I guess that even the great Napoleon of Crime is a living creature -a foul, degenerate on at that, but still … I once promised…" the words did not appear to be coming easy for Basil and Ratigan was surprised they were coming out at all. "I promised that if I can, I will do my best to save any life that I can."

Truth be told, he did not expect an answer, especially not one that sounded so sincere. He may have expected silence, or some slide remark, but not this.

"Is that why you became a detective, detective?" he laughed at his own joke, pouring some more brandy in the cup. "Or was it more because of the intellectual satisfaction? To figure out if a person threw themselves or was thrown by someone out a window: quite a provoking case, is it not?"

"You best lay low on that brandy for the rest of the evening" was her answer, taking the cup away just as Ratigan was getting ready to fill it again. "And personally, I'm not too conformable with that particular example. Killing a person is such a fashion is just cruel."

Ratigan chuckled. "Funny thing coming from someone who threw me off of Big Ben once."

"You lived." Basil pointed out sharply. "And plus, it is not I who threw you off. Or must I remind you that you were the one that was charging at me?" Ratigan only started laughing harder.

"My dear detective, that is completely beside the point!" he paused to take a breath. "Fact is – you got out of that scarcely wounded while I was swimming with the fishes."

"Scarcely?" she yelled at the top of her lungs, whish proved not to be a good idea. She started coughing, but fortunately, it didn't last long. Between large breaths of air, she managed to say quite clearly: "I could hardly move for days, and you call that scarcely? You almost killed me, Ratigan!"

"And now you're treating your almost killer." Ratigan pointed up in sick amusement. "Who's the masochist now, hmm? Or is it that I detect some guilt in the middle?"

"If there's anyone who should feel guilty, it's you."

"Me?" Ratigan asked in mock-surprise. "Little ol' me? Guilty? My dear sweet detective, now I know you are jesting! After having so much blood on my hands you actually believe I can actually feel like that? Killing is second nature to me, my good man. Had it not been so, then the woman you see in that painting up there might still be here."

A look of realization crossed basil's features at that moment. "You couldn't have …"

"Killed her? Well, ho to say it … have you ever killed someone dear to you?" he wiggled the now almost empty bottle of brandy in the detective's face. Annoyed once again with the larger rodent, Basil snatched the bottle out Ratigan's hand.

"You're drunk." Ratigan laughed again. "I told you to keep low on the liquid. Now look what you've done to yourself."

"Come now, detective … just one, itchy-bitsy murder? Very well, maybe not in the most common meaning of the word, but how about angering a bully and having him hurt someone else because they couldn't reach you? Shooting someone in self defense? Someone who got hut trying to keep you safe from something? Losing someone because you simply existed? Come detective, which one is it? There had to be one, is it not?"

Basil said nothing. She just looked at Ratigan's smiling face for a good half a minute before quickly completing the sticking, fully ignoring Ratigan's yelps and insults. He was just about to shoot a very nasty one when Basil cut the thread and got to her feet. She looked at Ratigan in the eye as she said "You know what, rat? I don't even know why I bothered" before promptly turning on her heels and exiting the room.

From his spot near the fire, he heard her yell out to him: "I feel sorry for you Professor, really I do. You have a great mind, but you fail to use it for things that that would actually count."

And with that, Basil stormed out of the room, much to the shock of everyone present. Well, maybe except Ratigan, for he was too busy noticing a few more oddities. So the detective did lose someone dear to him after all … that much he could deduce. But who? And why did he have the feeling that this newfound fact about his number one nemesis was an important one?

His thoughts drifted back to the events which took place only a few hours prior, and came to a decision.

"Fidget, I have a job for you." Ratigan said simply, all traces of drunken humor now gone from his features. "I want you to go into town and see what you can pick up concerning the newest preoccupations of the people down at the Yard. Listen closely to any roomers that have anything to do with murder, fires or a hoard of spiders-"

"Spiders, boss?"

"Yes, spiders – particularly the ones with big red eyes. You follow me? Good. Now, while you're gone, have your cousin guard the detective. Tell him keep watch on that trouble maker twenty-four-sever and to report back to me once every hour. I don't want a repetition of this morning's events. Got all that? Then I'm pleased. Now get a move on!"

There had been too many coincidences for his liking. Too many indeed … and he didn't like it one bit. Especially since those spiders have confirmed that someone he once knew was back in town. Still, while lifting his gaze back on the picture above the fireplace, he couldn't stop wondering why he appeared to be interested in one Basil of Baker Street.


Dear me! Ratigan appears to suspect something, but of course, he has to be in denial about it. But now even so, things are bound to be get a lot more interesting. Just what was so important about those spiders? And why does Ratigan appear to be suicidal? And who did Basil promise such a thing?

For answers to these questions and more, we'll see each other again in the next chapter!

P.S. Now, some may say that this fic is going a bit fast, but I feel that it's going a little slow, which is why I once again feel sorry to leave you guys hanging, but school needs my attention in the imediate future, so updates may come a little slower after this one. I'll do my best to have the next chapter up in another two weeks, but afterward, my exams will become a priority, so a small hiatus will have to take place. In the meantime however, enjoy the chapter and check out the illustrations on my deviantART account!

Reviews are welcome and deeply appreciated!