The Casebook of S. Leonhart
Description: For the StrifeHart Kink Meme. The adventures of Mr. S. Leonhart as told by his companion Mr. C. Strife. Sherlock Holmes AU.
Disclaimer: Square-Enix owns the characters. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns the plots and the character guidelines. Someone on the meme owns the original idea. And me? I simply own the words, nothing else.
Case #2: The Naval Treaty
The affair of the Red-Headed League left me feeling accomplished and optimistic towards the future, and I arose the next morning ready for adventure and probable danger. Based on the little information Leonhart had given me, I assumed that he, through previous research, knew the identities if not necessarily the locations of the men who would be our prey. I expected that we would begin our quest immediately and set out at once to bring down the Organization and rid the world of its criminal influence. I suppose I should have known better.
In reality, when the day after our first adventure dawned, I discovered to my surprise and chagrin that my neighbor had reverted to his old attitude and habits, acting as if the entire thing had not happened. Several times that day, I confronted him about the resolution I thought we had made, but all I received for my trouble was a blank stare. Any previous frustration I may have felt for the man was nothing compared to the rage into which his continued disregard sent me. I stomped about the house all day, scaring poor Miss Gainsborough half to death, and more than once, only my military training and the self-control it gave me kept me from giving in to the desire to retrieve my sword and use it to separate Leonhart's head from his neck. I simply could not believe that the man had so quickly forgotten the triumph of our arrest or the thrill of that moment when we had agreed to join forces.
Days passed in much the same manner, yet when Friday arrived, Leonhart proved to me that he had not, in fact, forgotten our deal. I opened my door that morning, intending to descend for breakfast, and found a small leather pouch on the hallway floor. It had no note attached, yet I knew it was for me and from whom it had come. The amount of munny inside could have paid for two weeks of intensive Heartless removal in the worst part of Hollow Bastion, expenses included. For a single night of work where all I did was point my sword at a would-be robber's neck, it was ludicrous, insulting even. If not for the fact that I had all but depleted my funds, I would have returned it and more than likely added a few choice words of disdain. Unfortunately, necessity dictated that I keep it, and so I did. I vowed, however, that I would earn my right to it at the soonest available opportunity, even if that meant I would have to force that opportunity by inflicting violence upon my employer.
Thankfully for my temper and Leonhart's physical well-being, it did not come to that. Later that very same week, I found my services, both as a doctor and as a bodyguard, once again required. It began on a night that was unseasonably warm but otherwise unremarkable. I had decided to spend the evening reviewing some of my medical texts and was therefore in my own rooms. Leonhart had gone out, on what errand I did not know, which left the house pleasantly quiet, free of piano music and random gunshots. Considering Miss Gainsborough and I had already dined, I had expected to remain undisturbed for the duration of the evening and was therefore surprised when I was pulled from my book by a knock at the door. I rose to open it and found Leonhart on the other side, looking as blank and as detached from the world as ever.
"Strife," he said without any other greeting, "come with me." He turned away.
The curt command, as well as the lack of information given, irritated me. "Wait," I ordered, but when he turned back with a single eyebrow raised in question, I remembered with whom I was speaking. While I could try to find out the reason for his appearance and for his summons, doing so would be extremely difficult and, considering there was a large chance he would tell me in his own time, decidedly not worth the effort. "Never mind. Lead on."
He led me only a few feet, across the hall to his own rooms. While I was certainly surprised to be invited into his inner sanctum, I made sure not to show it and merely stepped across the threshold after him.
At this point, I must endeavor to describe to you, my readers, the controlled chaos that is the rooms of Mr. Leonhart. He is not a messy or disorganized man. No, his rooms are quite neat and kept very clean, and everything is strictly organized in an almost military manner. However, I would wager to say that his methods of organization can be understood by no mortal man other than Leonhart himself. He possesses, as I do, a sitting room with a settee, armchairs, bookcases, a main table as well as end tables, and a fireplace. The bedroom is connected by a very short hallway and has a bed, dressers, a mirror, and a modest bathroom attached. Yet, no piece of furniture within Leonhart's rooms, with perhaps the exception of the bookcases and the bed, is used for the purpose for which it was built.
His books are what catches one's attention first. It seems at first glance that he owns nothing else. They are piled upon every flat surface in both rooms, seemingly at random, yet they are, in fact, organized not only by author but by subject, based on the location of the pile, and by year of publication, based on how high they sit off of the ground. He keeps one chair clear; all the others are covered in newspapers, again organized by which chair they sit upon and where in the pile they are placed. His dressers hold, not clothes which are in fact located in boxes within the closet, but tools and scientific devices of all kinds. One dresser is devoted to the maintenance and care of his gun/sword hybrid, while the others contain instruments worthy of the finest labs of the country. Even the fireplace has not been spared, for that is where he keeps his ammunition, neatly stacked in labeled boxes. Only his fine upright piano, which sits against the wall near his bed, gives the appearance of sanity and peace.
Most of these details I would acquire in the months to come when I spent many afternoons and evenings with Leonhart in his rooms. This particular evening, however, I barely had time to process the sheer number of books and papers before the man who had brought me here pushed me into the only available chair without a word. I swallowed my complaints at being so manhandled and instead watched as Leonhart slowly and carefully removed the stacks of papers from another chair and placed them gently upon the floor. Once he had cleared himself a space, he sat down as well and immediately fixed his eyes upon some distant location within his own mind. I examined his expression, looking for answers, but found nothing. My only clue was what looked to be a popsicle or ice cream stick that he held in his hand and with which he had begun to tap out a quick impatient-sounding rhythm against the armrest.
"So what are we doing?" I finally asked after a silent minute.
"Waiting," he replied.
While the answer was annoying, I had expected something along those lines, so I held my tongue. Instead, I made myself comfortable and examined my surroundings. Once I had done that to my satisfaction, I closed my eyes and, to pass the time, set about mentally reviewing the topics I had read earlier that evening, all to the accompaniment of that incessant tapping. I'm not sure how long we sat together like that, but it certainly was a substantial amount of time. I think perhaps I even dozed a bit. Then, all at once, the tapping stopped, and I opened my eyes, instantly alert and aware.
In spite of the warm weather and the late hour, Leonhart had left his windows open. Now, standing before one of them as if he had been there all along, was a man. He was above average in height, solid of build, and held himself with grace and authority, his arms folded behind his back. This, however, was all I could tell of him. A large, dark cloak hid the rest of his clothing from view, and his entire face except for the eyes and mouth were wrapped in white bandages. I could not make out a single distinguishing feature by which to describe him.
"Good evening, boy," he said, and his voice was deep and oddly accented.
Leonhart's eyes watched the intruder warily, but he did not seem the slightest bit surprised to see him. "DiZ," he replied curtly. When the man's eyes slid in my direction, he added, "This is Strife, my associate."
"Indeed?" DiZ chuckled lightly. "How very unlike you to allow another into your confidence. Although," he added, shifting his attention once more to Leonhart, "it does shed some light on another unexpected action of yours that has recently occurred."
A little smirk settled over my neighbor's lips, and at that sign of familiarity, I finally allowed myself to relax. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he stated with obvious smugness.
"Of course you don't," DiZ countered with a hint of amusement. "Just as I'm sure you have no idea of why I have come to see you."
"I have told you before that I will have no part in your quest for revenge."
"And while that is certainly a logical deduction to make, it is not, in fact, correct."
Scowling heavily, Leonhart leaned forward in his chair, eyes flashing. "Then why are you here, DiZ?" he demanded. "Surely this isn't just a social call."
The hidden man's lips quirked upwards briefly at the accusation, but they soon leveled out once more. "I am here for two reasons," he answered calmly. "The first is to give you these." He reached into the folds of his cloak and produced a small stack of thin folders. "Although you have refused them in the past, I assumed, what with your recent actions, that you may have changed your mind."
Leonhart snorted violently but said nothing. Taking this as a confirmation, DiZ gently placed the folders on a stack of books that rested on a nearby table.
"And the other reason?" my neighbor asked as the other man refolded his arms behind his back.
DiZ's voice was casual as he asked in return, "Do you, perhaps, remember a boy by the name of William Turner?"
Leonhart paused before replying, "The name is vaguely familiar to me."
"He lived at Edea's for a few years, but he is younger than you so it does not surprise me that you do not remember him well."
Throughout the entire conversation - or perhaps I should say, confrontation - I had sat quietly in my chair, silent, observing, and forgotten. As this piece of information was revealed, however, I startled violently and sat up so suddenly that Leonhart threw me a brief glare of disapproval. Edea's Orphanage had made headlines in Hollow Bastion nearly fifteen years ago. It had been an ordinary orphanage up until the point where the woman in charge had mysteriously disappeared. All of the children had been transferred to the government-run military school called Garden. If Leonhart had been an orphan at Edea's, he would have received his education there. This unexpected glimpse into my neighbor's childhood both surprised me and left me curious to discover even more.
"Young Turner is currently living in Port Royal," DiZ was continuing, oblivious to my sudden desires. "I suggest you visit him."
"And why would I wish to do that?"
"He has recently had something stolen from him. Something rather important." The hidden man's eyes fixed pointedly on Leonhart, and his gaze was so heated that I could feel its power myself. "I believe it is a case that will interest you, boy."
Leonhart's stormy eyes narrowed as he met DiZ's heavy stare and returned it without flinching. "Since when," he asked with venom lacing his tone, "do you care what may or what may not interest me? I distinctly remember being told that the profession I have chosen is nothing more than a hobby and a waste of my considerable talent."
"And so it is," our visitor declared with barely a pause. "Yet this matter is one of enough importance that I am willing to indulge you in your little dalliances if it yields the desired results." He turned and pushed aside the heavy curtains that blocked the window. Turning his head slightly to one side, he said, "Seek out the Governor of Port Royal. He will tell you how to locate Turner." And then, before I realized what was happening, he stepped forward, allowed the curtains to fall and hide his form, and within moments was gone.
To say I was shocked would be a poor attempt to describe what I was feeling at that time. I was not, as I have said, a particular fan of Leonhart's, but I did have a definite respect for him and for his unique and truly amazing abilities. The way DiZ had spoken to my neighbor and employer, especially near the end, incensed me. The condescending tone in which he spoke, the way he called him "boy" instead of by his name, it provoked an ire that surprised me as much as it stirred my blood. I found myself gripping the armrests of my chair with considerable force and attempting to burn a hole in the curtains with only my eyes. As soon as I realized it, I calmed myself down, but I couldn't help but wonder at my involuntary reaction to the mysterious man's attitude towards the man beside me.
As for Leonhart himself, he was using his armrest as a platform upon which to drum his fingers. His face had settled into a fierce scowl, and he appeared to have taken up my quest to set fire to the drapery. The moment he felt my eyes upon him, however, he moved and stalked over to the folders which DiZ had left him. He lifted up the topmost one and glanced at its contents briefly before closing it again and offering it to me. Immediately, I rose and crossed to him, curious to see what it was we had been given.
When I took the thin folder in my hands and opened it, I discovered it contained a single sheet of paper, printed upon which was a photograph of Ferguson and several lines of information regarding his habits and history. At the top of the page was the heading "No. 11 - Marluxia". Intrigued, I set the folder down and investigated some of the others. Each one had similar sheets of information, most without pictures, some without names, but all headed with a number.
"The Organization," Leonhart explained to me. "He has spent the past several years trying to track them down."
"There isn't much information for several years worth of work," I commented, perhaps a bit more sharply than I should have. I was still a bit angry from our recent encounter.
"Because it is near impossible to find anything on them," my companion returned at once. "We were lucky to have such a chance with Ferguson. I doubt we will have a similar opportunity again." He turned away.
I watched him walk across the room, conflicting emotions battling within my breast. While I was grateful for this assistance and for the possibility of another case, it rankled me that both had come from such an irritating person. "That man," I asked, "who is he exactly?"
Leonhart had selected a book from one of his many stacks and was flipping through it with brisk movements. "No one knows for certain," he answered me, "not even DiZ himself. … Ah!" The quiet exclamation accompanied the sudden stilling of pages and a glint of what appeared to be recognition in those stormy eyes.
"What have you found?"
"William Turner." I approached him, interested, but he closed the volume before I could see anything other than a yellowed newspaper clipping and a photo of several children. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, but I noticed the way his fingers gripped the scrapbook - or so I now believed it to be. "We called him Tadpole," Leonhart said with something that might have resembled a smile, "because they pulled him from the sea. To my knowledge, no one ever discovered why he had been floating there, clinging to driftwood for his life, but everyone assumed a shipwreck of some sort. His time in the water was not beneficial to his constitution, as you might imagine, and I remember him being a rather sickly child for many years. I believe, however, that he outgrew it."
During Leonhart's gentle reminiscing, I had returned to my original chair. "Your friend?" I asked him when he paused.
"No," he replied immediately though not unkindly. "I was aware of him as a young man is aware of his younger siblings' friends. I knew his name and his face, but we did not speak." He fell silent, and for a long moment, neither of us said a word. Then, his eyes snapped open and he began to move. "Get some rest, Strife," he ordered as he refiled the book. "We leave first thing in the morning."
"So you will take the case then?"
Leonhart had paused at my question, and now he answered me, "Not necessarily. We will go to Port Royal, but I reserve my final decision until after I hear what Turner has to say."
He said no more, and so I left him and retired to my room for the night.
The next morning, after throwing together travel bags and bidding farewell to Miss Gainsborough, Leonhart and I made our way to the Gummi Station and booked passage to Port Royal. By now, my readers should not be surprised to learn that we spent the entire trip in silence. I know not what occupied my companion's thoughts during this time, but as for me, I could not help but revisit our conversation with the mysterious DiZ and wonder what awaited us at our destination. The prospect of meeting a man from Leonhart's past intrigued me although even I was uncertain as to why. This man, my employer, was so cold and closed-off that I did not even know his first name, yet instead of dismissing him as unworthy of my regard, I had followed him, helped him, ordered him to hire me, and now found myself eager to know what lay behind that façade of ice and stone. Perhaps it was the man's talent or simply his presence, but something about him had caught my attention and refused to release its hold.
We had left early in the morning on the first available ship; by the time we arrived, it was already late afternoon. Port Royal is, as its name suggests, a harbor town. Most of the country's commerce passes through its gates in either one direction or the other. Some of the world's richest merchants live there, but it is also the home to some of the poorest communities, many of whose denizens engage in less than legal activities. It is said that anything a man could desire can be bought in Port Royal, as long as he is willing to pay the price.
Our destination, at least to begin, was in the more affluent part of town. As DiZ instructed, we stopped first in the business district and inquired at the government offices as to where we could find William Turner. The head clerk, a man by the name of Norrington, directed us to a house on the outskirts of town.
"He hasn't been well, though," the man informed us. "His doctor may not allow you to see him."
"Dear me! What is the matter?" Leonhart asked, putting on a concerned expression that I, who knew him, could tell immediately was faked.
"Well, sir, I'm not entirely sure." Norrington's brow furrowed as he frowned lightly. "I heard it was fever and nothing too serious, but he's been ill now for nearly three months. I've never heard of anyone having a fever that long."
"Ah, but poor Will has always had a weak constitution, and he is prone to exhaustion as well."
"Is he, sir?" the clerk asked, his expression clearing, "Well, I suppose a friend of his would know better than I. And he does work hard. Governor Swann is always having him prepare documents that have him working far into the night. It stands to reason that it would all catch up to him at some point."
Leonhart agreed and thanked Norrington again for the information with a handshake and a warm smile. We then took our leave and were soon on the street, looking for transportation to take us to Turner's house. To my surprise, I soon realized that my companion had not stopped smiling. Indeed, as we procured a cab and settled back in our seats for the short journey, it only seemed to grow. Eventually, I remembered that I had seen that smile once before, coming at me over the back of the front parlor couch. This was the smile of Leonhart on the scent of a new case, the smile of anticipation and desire.
"What if we're unable to see him?" I asked.
"We'll be able to see him," Leonhart answered confidently. "The theft occurred three months ago, yet DiZ only contacted me yesterday. He waited until Turner was well enough to receive us."
"So we can chase a trail gone cold?"
"There will be something for us to follow, else DiZ would not have come at all."
I shrugged and leaned back in my seat, not convinced but no longer willing to argue the point. Leonhart simply continued to smile.
Turner's house turned out to be a guest home on a much larger estate. It was a modest building with its own private entryway and a well-kept garden in the rear. The sun had begun to set when we arrived, prompting me to wonder aloud if we should have waited until the next day to visit. Leonhart seemed completely unconcerned with the lateness of the hour and approached the front door as if he were an expected guest. He knocked soundly upon the wood, three short, sharp raps, and then waited.
A minute or so later, a woman opened the door. She was young and quite beautiful with sparkling eyes and long hair in waves. As pleasing as she was, however, she was clearly not pleased to see us. She frowned as she scanned our faces, and her voice was hard as she asked, "Can I help you?"
"We are here to see William Turner," Leonhart informed her.
The woman's frown only deepened at this. "On what business?"
"On the business of returning what was taken from him." When it appeared that she was about to question him further, Leonhart added, "Just tell Tadpole that the Commander is here to see him."
The command finally wiped the suspicion from the woman's face enough that she allowed us inside. After telling us to wait in the hall, she disappeared briefly, only to reappear with a friendlier smile and an invitation to follow her. She led us to what had originally probably been a sitting room based on the large windows that opened into the garden. Now, however, it had all the hallmarks of a sick room, including the small table covered in bottles and glasses, the chair drawn up near the long sofa, and the pale figure covered in a blanket that rested there.
"Leonhart!" the figure cried as we entered. "It is you. I could scarce believe it when Elizabeth told me." He struggled to sit up and then made a move as if to stand, prompting the woman beside us to dash across to him in alarm.
"Will!" she cried. "You mustn't!"
Turner made as if to protest, but his words were drowned in a pained gasp as his legs buckled from underneath him and only the woman's arms kept him from falling to the floor.
"Strife," Leonhart said to me. Understanding at once, I crossed to the couple, helped return Turner to the sofa, and immediately began to check his pulse, breathing, and temperature. Finding them all elevated, I turned to the array of medicines on the table, selected one, and poured out the proper dosage.
The woman, Elizabeth, was watching me with suspicion in her eyes once more. "Are you a doctor?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied at the same time Leonhart said, "Strife is my personal physician, and an excellent one at that." The comment made me want to grimace at the exaggerated praise, yet I could not help but feel pleased by it as well.
"Another doctor," Turner laughed sadly, closing his eyes and resting his head back against a pillow. "I've had so many."
"Stop complaining," his companion ordered. "You must focus on getting better. Now …" With an almost regal air about her, she rose to her feet and turned to the two of us. "Perhaps we should start over with proper introductions. I am Elizabeth Swann. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Swann?" I echoed, looking up briefly from my new patient. "As in the Governor?"
"Yes," she answered, meeting my eyes. "I am his daughter."
"She is also," Turner added, "my fiancée and the only thing that has been keeping me alive and sane these last few terrible months." He lifted a shaking hand towards her which she took immediately into her own. "Elizabeth, let me introduce Mr. Squall Leonhart, a gentleman who attended the same school I did. And …" His fever-hazed eyes turned to me, at a loss.
My mind was awhirl at the discovery of my employer's given name - Squall. How inappropriate and yet, at the same time, how perfect. - but I managed to quickly return myself to the present. "Cloud Strife," I introduced myself. "Pleased to meet you." Then, rather than shake Turner's hand, I placed the medicine cup to his lips and forced him to drink.
Now that the introductions were over, Miss Swann's gaze was firmly on my companion's once again. "You said at the door, Mr. Leonhart, that you were here to help Will recover what was taken from him. You are a detective then? Did my father hire you?"
Leonhart was still standing in the entranceway to the room, leisurely leaning against one of the doorframes with his arms crossed over his chest. "I am a detective," he answered, "but I have not been hired by anyone. I am here because I received information that Turner needed assistance with a matter that might be of interest to me. That is all."
Turner moved to sit up again but quickly stilled when both Miss Swann and I placed hands upon him to keep him down. "A matter that might interest you?" he echoed, doubt creeping into his tone. "What does that mean exactly?"
"Merely that I thrive on challenges and problems that others find too difficult to unravel." Something soft flickered across Leonhart's expression then, and his voice lowered as he said, "We may not have been close, but surely you remember that much about me, Tadpole."
Turner's breathing, which had become erratic at what he perceived as a possible threat, evened out again as he relaxed. "Yes, I do," he smiled. "Vividly I remember Matron trying and failing to keep you entertained." He laughed lightly and waved his free hand towards an empty chair. "Sit, please, and let me tell you about my troubles. How much do you know?"
"I was told nothing," the answer came as Leonhart finally lowered himself into a seat. "However, since arriving here in Port Royal, I have deduced that three months ago you were given custody of an extremely important document by the Governor which was then stolen from you. Is that correct?"
I startled slightly at this statement. Leonhart had told me that he assumed the theft occurred three months ago based on what Norrington had told us, but he had said nothing so far about being given a document from the Governor. Turner, however, merely nodded his head.
"That is correct. After graduating from Garden, I came to Port Royal to work as a clerk for Governor Swann. In time, I earned the Governor's respect and trust, enough that he began to assign special tasks to me, tasks that required a higher level of security than normal. I always performed these duties at night, after the rest of the day staff had gone home, and until three months ago, I had never once given the Governor a reason to regret his trust in me." An expression of pain passed briefly over his face. In response, Miss Swann poured him a glass of water which he took with a grateful smile and proceeded to sip from as he continued his long explanation.
"Three months ago, the Governor called me into his office and bade me make copies of an exceedingly important and secret document. I cannot tell you what the document said without further breaking my word to the Governor, but I can tell you that it was a treaty between our country and another that dictated terms and agreements over a naval alliance. The Governor warned me that, should this document become public, it could be politically disastrous for Port Royal, for the country as a whole, and for him personally. I was to take the utmost caution when copying it and not allow a soul to know what I was doing. He wanted the copies finished by the following morning. I promised him it would be done.
"After the rest of the staff went home, I stayed behind to copy the document. It was exceedingly long and complicated, and after three hours, I had only made it about half of the way through. I decided that a cup of coffee would help me concentrate and ward off any fatigue, so I rang for the commissionaire, a man by the name of Pintel. To my surprise, my summons was answered by a man I had never seen before. When I questioned him, he said his name was Ragetti and that he was Pintel's cousin. He also claimed that he frequently worked after hours at the offices as one of the cleaning staff. I asked him for my cup of coffee, and he said he would tell Pintel right away."
"Was the treaty on your desk when this Ragetti arrived?" Leonhart interrupted.
"It was," Turner replied, "but my desk is several paces from the door and Ragetti stayed in the hallway. It should have looked exactly the same as any other document any of the clerks are given on a regular basis. There was nothing that stood out or otherwise would have told Ragetti that it was special."
"Other than the fact that you were there working on it late at night," I commented.
"Other than that, yes," my patient answered with a wry smile. Upon receiving a gesture from Leonhart to continue, he said, "I waited for my coffee for nearly forty minutes. At first, I assumed Pintel was simply busy with other duties, but eventually I became impatient and decided to go down to see to the drink myself. And now, Leonhart, I must tell you the worst of my mistakes, that which has haunted me ever since that fateful night. I left my office and went downstairs … and left the treaty on my desk in plain view."
Turner paused, cringing slightly as if expecting a reprimand or other harsh comment, but Leonhart merely continued to gaze at him with that unreadable expression of his. Miss Swann, who had moved to stand behind the couch, leaned down and quietly encouraged her fiancé to continue. "I found Pintel asleep at his post, my coffee gone cold beside him. Annoyed, I woke him and proceeded to listen to his deluge of apologies. Just as he was getting up to make me another, however, one of the bells above his head, which the clerks use to summon him, began to ring. Pintel spent a moment gaping back and forth between me and the bell, which was still ringing as if the person on the other end was swinging from the rope like a child, before I finally lost my patience and demanded to know what was wrong. Imagine my surprise and horror when he told me that the bell ringing was the one for my office! Immediately, I dashed back up the stairs, passing no one on the way down, but by the time I got back to my desk, the treaty was gone."
"There's a set of back stairs in the building," Miss Swann informed us, taking over for her fiancé who was clearly suffering from speaking so much and from reliving the experience. "The police inspector who has headed the investigation so far concluded that the thief left the building that way. There were no footprints, however, or any other clues that he could find. He had both Pintel and Ragetti tailed for two months as well as Mr. Norrington for a few weeks, but so far he has found nothing."
"Mr. Norrington?" I asked as I placed a cool cloth on Turner's forehead. "Why was he under suspicion?"
"The inspector thought he might be jealous of Will's relationship with my father and try to break his trust in him," she answered. "Also, James once made a bid for my hand, but I turned him down in favor of Will."
"So, Commander," Turner said, turning to Leonhart with a sad smile, "what do you think? Can you offer me any hope whatsoever, or shall I simply succumb to this fever and spare my loved ones my shame and disgrace?"
"Will, you mustn't talk like that! You simply mustn't!"
"You won't die from this," I informed him, "at least not anymore. In fact, with sufficient rest and fluids, you should be back on your feet in only a few more days." I turned once more to the cluster of bottles that sat on the nearby table. In my initial quest for a suitable medicine, I had seen several labels that, though I did not have the time to investigate them further then, provoked my professional curiosity. "What is all this stuff?" I griped after only a few moments of reading.
"You disapprove, Strife?"
Grimacing at Leonhart's question, I answered, "Yes, very much so. An ordinary fever doesn't need half of these medications. While I'm sure the recent stress and his tendency toward illness in childhood made this fever more virulent than normal, it still doesn't merit these particular remedies." One label caught my eye, and I lifted it up to verify that I had indeed seen it correctly. "What in the world?" Turning to my patient, I demanded, "Have you been suffering from hallucinations?"
"A little, yes," Turner admitted. "Initially I wasn't, but after about a month, I started to have mild ones so one of my doctors prescribed something to counteract them."
"Yes," I very nearly snarled, "and the reason you were having them is because someone, one of your other doctors no doubt, starting giving you this. No wonder you've been sick for three months." Grumbling mightily, I began pulling bottles off of the table and laying aside the unnecessary ones. So caught up in my task was I that I nearly missed Leonhart's amused chuckle from behind me.
"Well," he commented, "while Strife works on getting you some proper treatment, do you mind if I ask the two of you a few questions?"
"Of course not," Turner answered, attempting to sit up again and again being pushed back down by Miss Swann and myself.
"First of all, who other than yourself and the Governor know that he periodically gives you high-security documents to copy?"
"No one," the young man answered immediately. "Most if not all of my co-workers know that I periodically stay late, but I believe they assume I do so to impress my future father-in-law."
"It is common knowledge then? Your engagement to Miss Swann."
"And you, Miss Swann, were not aware of what kept your fiancé away from you so late at night?"
"Not the details, no," she answered confidently. "I knew that Will worked late at my father's request, but I did not know what it was he worked on. I try to stay away from all things political as I find it quite tiresome."
Leonhart gave her a small smile as he replied, "Quite wise of you, my lady." Turning his attention back to Turner, he asked, "Apart from your fellow clerks and other office employees, did anyone make a habit of visiting you in your office? Miss Swann perhaps? Any other friends?"
"Elizabeth did frequently visit me when she was in town, yes," Turner answered. "As for others, I do not have many friends outside of the office. The only one I can think of who did occasionally visit is Jack." He paused, but at a look from Leonhart to elaborate, continued, "Jack Sparrow is a sailor and a decent, if eccentric, fellow. He and I met quite by accident some years ago and have become fairly good friends. When his ship is in port, he will often come to see me and Elizabeth."
"Was his ship in port the night the treaty was stolen?"
"I … I am not certain …"
"It was," Miss Swann interjected. "Remember, Will? We had to evict him from this room so that you could recover here instead of upstairs."
"Oh, yes. I remember now," the young man said with a smile to his fiancée. Turning to Leonhart, he explained further, "Whenever Jack is in town, I invite him to stay here with me, but rather than use the guestroom upstairs, he prefers to sleep in this room. He says he cannot sleep unless he can see the stars clearly and the windows in this room allow him to do that."
"When you fell ill, however, he was forced to move elsewhere."
"And how soon after the treaty was stolen did you become ill?"
"That very same night," Turner answered with a tired sigh. "I spent the majority of the evening running around with the inspector, all of it in the rain. By the time I returned home, I was mentally and physically exhausted and fell ill almost immediately."
"The local authorities who have been investigating this case so far, they searched the homes of the commissionaire and his cousin?"
"They did, but they found nothing."
"And what of Norrington?"
"His home was not searched, but he was followed for a time as Elizabeth mentioned."
"I see." Leonhart paused, his fingers steepled before his face which bore a rather serious expression. His silence lasted a good minute before he finally broke it. "You mentioned that public awareness of this treaty would have disastrous political consequences," he said. "Have any of these things occurred?"
Turner shook his head. "No, and while I'm extremely grateful for the silence, I cannot understand why. The thief has had plenty of time to sell the treaty to the papers or present it to a foreign embassy. I can think of no reason why he hasn't other than that he is waiting for a better price."
"That is one explanation, certainly," my employer replied, although his tone of voice indicated that he strongly doubted it was correct. He continued to sit for several minutes, silent and motionless, until suddenly he leapt to his feet, startling us all. "Strife," he barked, "are you finished?"
"Good. Please instruct Miss Swann on what medications Turner should receive. I will be outside trying to flag down a cab."
He had turned and made it partly into the hall when Miss Swann's voice called him back. "Wait a moment, please, Mr. Leonhart!" She ran up to him and lifted her head so she could gaze strongly into his eyes. "For three months, I have held out hope that someone somehow can find this treaty and return it to my father. That Will's health and honor can both be restored. And for three months, I have been told by the police that at this point it would be nearly impossible. That I am, essentially, a silly girl. Well, Mr. Leonhart, tell me bluntly and honestly: Am I a silly girl?"
Leonhart's face softened considerably, and something almost like tenderness slipped into his eyes. "My dear Miss Swann," he replied, "anyone who would call you that must be entirely bereft of both intelligence and imagination, and I might add, a terrible judge of character."
The woman's eyes brightened at this considerably. "So you think you can find it for us?" she clarified. "Truthfully? There is still hope?"
"There is always hope when I'm around," came the immediate, smirking reply, and Leonhart flashed me a sly grin before disappearing into the hall completely.
Beside me, Turner began to chuckle softly. I gave him an inquiring look to which he responded, "All these years, and he hasn't changed." A smile settled onto his face as he closed his eyes and leaned back into the pillows. "He hasn't changed in the slightest."
After explaining to Miss Swann which medications she should give to her fiancé and when, I gathered my few things and joined Leonhart outside. He had somehow managed to find a cab in spite of the house being off the main road, and Miss Swann insisted on coming with us so that she could inform the local innkeeper that we were to stay for free. I tried to argue with her that such preferential treatment wasn't necessary but she insisted with a regalness more suited to a queen than the Governor's daughter. Leonhart, I noticed, made no effort whatsoever to dissuade her, but I had known him long enough by then to expect it.
The next day we hunted Heartless. I attempted to get Leonhart to share his thoughts with me, to perhaps even work through his reasoning aloud so I could follow along, but he refused. When I asked, he simply smirked and used my own words against me, reminding me that it was my job to stay focused on the fighting, not the case. He was right, of course, yet it still irked me. I had heard the same story he had with the same lack of clues or other useful information, yet while I would have declared the case unsolvable, I could see by the muted twinkles in his eyes that he had made connections that I had not. Knowing that those connections existed yet not being able to grasp them frustrated me deeply. Thankfully there were plenty of shadowy monsters upon which I could vent my annoyance.
The first time I acted as bodyguard while Leonhart worked through his case, we fought for several hours. This time, only a single hour had passed before I found a hand on my collar, pulling me away from the Heartless I had engaged.
"Come, Strife," the maniac for whom I worked stated in response to my yelp of surprise and alarm. "We have work to do and no time to waste."
"Do you think you can inform me of that without putting my life in danger?" I demanded, but my complaint went ignored. Leonhart simply dragged me along until I consented to walk on my own. As before, his pace was punishingly brisk, his face determined.
"You've solved it, haven't you?" I asked him as we sped through the streets. "What happened? Who took the treaty and where is it now?"
"No time to tell you," he muttered in response, and in the next moment, he flagged down a passing cab and had pulled open the door to get in before the vehicle had stopped fully. As I scrambled to get in behind him before it took off again, he gave the driver Turner's address and added, "Hurry! Get me there in under five minutes, and I'll double the fare."
"What the hell, Leonhart?" I complained as the cab immediately lurched forward and proceeded to reach unsafe speeds. "Why the rush all of a sudden?"
Leonhart finally turned his stormy eyes to me, and within them I could see the electrical spark that made the comparison so very appropriate. "By all means we could slow down," he replied with that damned smirk of his, "but I assumed that you would wish to be present for the conclusion of the case."
"Damn straight I want to be present!" I growled at him.
It was hard to discern, but his expression softened ever so slightly. Gently, he finished, "Then we must hurry."
When we reached Turner's house, I leapt out and went to check on my patient while Leonhart paid the cab driver and asked the man to wait which, as he had just been given twice his normal fare, he was more than willing to do. Turner had much improved over the night, and I quickly cleared him for travel. Leonhart had not told me why Turner must leave the house, only that he must. Thankfully, my employer had made such a positive impression on my patient and his fiancée that Miss Swann immediately set about packing a case for Turner the moment I relayed the order. The plan was for me to take Turner back to our apartments in Traverse Town, leave him in the care of Miss Gainsborough who fortuitously had a fair amount of nursing experience, and then return. If we hurried and if the Gummis remained on schedule, I would be back in Port Royal shortly after ten in the evening. Leonhart would stay here with Miss Swann and wait for my return.
"And then," I hissed to him as we waited for Miss Swann to descend with Turner's case, "you will tell me just what the hell is going on."
"Of course," Leonhart murmured with a soft smile. His eyes were on the stairway leading to the second floor, but his gaze was far more distant. "I would tell you now if you did not have a ship to catch."
I growled a little, signifying my doubt in the validity of this statement. More to myself than to him, I grumbled, "I don't know why I let you order me around like this, without even questioning why I'm doing what I'm doing."
To my surprise, Leonhart replied, "I do not know either although I am grateful for your belief in me." His eyes turned to mine, and I clearly saw there the emotion he had professed, mixed with something that I could have called shyness. "It has been some time since I had someone in whom I could trust," he confided to me quietly. "Some time since I had anyone I could call 'partner'."
The blood rose in my cheeks a bit at his words, but I ignored the slight burn of it and replied casually, "Then I suppose I must do my best to exceed your expectations, even if you do tell me nothing until the last possible moment."
Leonhart merely chuckled softly at me in response and turned away.
Miss Swann returned soon thereafter, and within the hour, Turner and I were on our way to Traverse Town. Our trip was pleasant, though quiet as I had sedated my companion to make the travel easier for him. During the short times he was awake, I endeavored to find out more information on Leonhart and his childhood, but Turner was able to tell me little that I had not already deduced. The only interesting facts I learned were that he had an older sister and, at the time of his graduation from Garden, had been romantically involved with the daughter of a politician. Turner had assumed that they would marry, but I was able to inform him that no woman was in Leonhart's life now. Whether they had broken up or the girl had died, neither of us knew.
Once we arrived in Traverse Town, I escorted Turner to our lodgings, explained the situation to Miss Gainsborough who welcomed Turner warmly, and then, after a quick stop in my room for additional supplies, immediately returned to the Gummi Station. I attempted to sleep during the return trip, but my excitement kept me awake for most of the ride. Port Royal was dark when I arrived, and cold with a stiff wind blowing across the water and directly into a man's bones. I took a cab towards Turner's house, but, as per Leonhart's instructions, I disembarked still some distance from the building and traveled the rest of the way on foot, keeping to the shadows and away from light. Rather than approach the front door, I skirted around the house to the back.
A dark, silent figure waited for me there, so still that upon first glance he appeared to be nothing but a statue. He did not even move his gaze to meet me as I approached, keeping it instead on the darkened windows of the house. Wordlessly, I crouched down beside him behind the cover of bushes that he had chosen and reached into my bag to withdraw my extra supplies. I wrapped one of the blankets around my own shoulders and then, as it appeared that Leonhart would not move for anything, draped the other about his body. Only then did he stir.
"Thank you," he murmured lowly.
"That's why you hired me," I replied as loudly as I dared. "To keep you from killing yourself, whether it be from injury or illness. Now, you owe me an explanation. Who took the treaty? Where is it now? And let's add to that the reason why I just spent the day riding back and forth on Gummis, and why we're freezing to death staking out Turner's empty house."
One of Leonhart's hands lifted to clutch the blanket more tightly to his frame. "Before I answer all that," he said, "I am interested in hearing what you yourself think of the matter."
I snorted violently at him and challenged, "Why? So you can be amused at my incorrect conclusions?"
Briefly his eyes flickered to mine, and I saw the hint of a smile pull at his lips as he took in my frustrated expression. "Of course not," he reassured me. "However, if I know what you have already pieced together, I can build from there."
Sighing, I settled myself more comfortably against the ground. Part of me wanted to just seize Leonhart by the throat and shake him until the answers came pouring out, but the majority of me was simply too tired to care anymore. As much as I hated it, this was what he did. I could fight it and prolong my own suffering, or I could simply give in. "Fine," I replied. "Have it your way." I paused a moment to gather my patience and my thoughts, then began, "It seems to me that whoever did this has been planning it for some time and also had inside help. I suppose it's possible that the thief could obtain information on Turner and the treaty simply from 'innocently' asking about at the office, especially if he found an employee who was friendly and fairly stupid, but it would be more difficult to determine exactly when the treaty would pass from Swann's hands to Turner's without either having an accomplice on the inside or simply being in the office to begin with. The main thing that has been bothering me, though," I admitted after another, shorter pause, "is the matter of the bell."
"Ah, the bell," Leonhart interrupted me suddenly. When I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, he was smiling again. "What about the bell?" he asked, still keeping his voice low.
"It doesn't make sense, does it?" I asked back in equal tones. "Why spend time planning to steal an important document from the government office, obtaining information on who will have it and when, and waiting until the exact moment when Turner has left his office, only to announce your presence by ringing the bell? An act of bravado? Hardly. The only thing I can come up with, and I had a lot of time to think about it thanks to you, is that Pintel was the inside help and the bell was a signal to tell him that the job was done."
Leonhart nodded slightly, but I could tell from the way his smile did not change that he wasn't convinced. "Possible, but then why did Pintel tell Turner that the bell was his? If Pintel was the accomplice, it would have been smarter to say the bell was from another office. Turner would not have immediately run up to investigate otherwise."
"For Ragetti then?" I offered. "Pintel wasn't supposed to be at his post at that moment. It could have been a prearranged signal for Ragetti who could have been hiding nearby, listening."
"Better," Leonhart conceded, "but still not good enough. If the robbery was as perfectly planned as it appears, a signal would be unnecessary. If Pintel was the inside man and pretended to be asleep to lure Turner from his office, he would have lied about the bell. If Ragetti, or any other worker in the building for that matter, were the inside man, he needn't be signaled at all. He played no part in luring Turner out. He could simply go about his job as usual."
"Then what's the correct answer?" I asked him, my frustration returning in full force. "What is your explanation?"
Leonhart didn't answer immediately, his eyes staring fixedly at the dark house before us, and then, when he did speak, his tone was slightly detached, as if he were dreaming. "Consider this, Strife: You are a friend of William Turner's. You know him from his past, from his present, from work, socially, it doesn't matter. You know he frequently works late and decide, one evening, to go visit him. To surprise him, perhaps to take him out for a breath of air or something to eat. You go to his office, but while he is clearly still working tonight, he isn't there. So you ring the bell to the commissionaire's post, thinking perhaps he will know where Turner is, and you make sure to ring it several times so the man will hear and come quickly. The bell is located slightly behind Turner's desk, and when you turn around again, you can't help but let your gaze fall to what he was working on. It is a document, official and important looking. Now, imagine that this document is tempting. You need money or you are really only Turner's friend in name. This document could change your life. It could make you rich. It could destroy Turner's engagement to a woman you desire. It could bring down a politician you do not support and put one you do in his place. The motive is not important. What's important is that the document is there, right in front of you, and no one is there to protect it. So you take it, and you run."
Stunned, I gaped at him. "So you're saying," I whispered when I had found my voice again, "that this robbery wasn't premeditated at all? That it was completely spur of the moment?"
"Yes," he stated simply, "and it is the bell that tells us so. Now, the next question is who. Had the document already been sold … well … I would not be on this case at all, but the point is that the thief would have been much more difficult to find. Since it has not, however, that narrows it down substantially."
"How can you be so sure?" I pressed. "As Turner said, the thief could just be waiting for a better price."
"For three months?" Leonhart asked, arching a brow at me. "Highly unlikely. Those who want it would have been falling over themselves to get it. And this is Port Royal. Every black market in the world has at least five fingers here. No, it has not been sold because it is no longer in the thief's hands and he, through circumstances that he could not have foreseen, can no longer get his hands on it. And that, Strife, that narrows it down to two people. One is Miss Elizabeth Swann -"
"Leonhart!" I hissed beneath my breath. "Surely you can't suspect -"
"I can," he interrupted me, "and I did, but no longer. She has cleared herself through her character and her actions. So that just leaves one, and he …" He paused and lifted his head slightly. Even in the dark, I could see his eyes brighten as he whispered, "He is coming now."
Immediately, I turned my head in the direction of his gaze. It was difficult to see in the gloom, but a dark shape was, in fact, approaching the house from the direction of the road. As it came closer, I could see it was a man, thin and slightly ragged, wearing a hat atop his long, braided hair and a thin saber at his side. He tried the windows as he came, pulling against each one in turn, until he finally found one that had been left unlocked. In an instant, he had disappeared into the house, and in the next, Leonhart was on his feet.
"Come," he ordered. "Quickly."
Eagerly, I obeyed, hurrying across the lawn after him. We slipped through the window into the house just in time to see, by the light of a single candle, the intruder slitting open the bottom of a sofa which had been turned on its side. To my surprise, I suddenly realized that we were in Turner's sick room and the sofa being cut open was the same one upon which my patient had been lying these past three months. I had little time to consider the implications of this, however, since Leonhart immediately drew his sword, prompting me to draw my own, and at the two sounds, the man finally looked up and saw us.
"Mr. Jack Sparrow, I presume," my employer intoned.
The name finally opened the doors in my mind and allowed me to see what Leonhart had already pieced together. "I understand," I breathed in stunned realization. "You stole the treaty from Turner's office, then hid it here, intending to sell it the next day. But Turner fell ill that night and you were evicted from the room."
"Exactly," Leonhart finished with a smile, "and the treaty has been here ever since."
"'Stole' is such an ugly word, mates," Sparrow commented with an affected simper that made me cringe. He seemed surprisingly unaffected by the fact that he had two extremely large swords pointed at him while he himself only had a small knife and a sheathed saber. "I was only keeping it safe for Turner, you know. It was sitting there, all unprotected like. Someone had to keep it safe." He gave us what was probably supposed to be a smile but looked, to me, more like a watery grimace. "I was planning on telling Turner I had it," he said. "Just as soon as he got better."
"You taking it is what made him ill in the first place," I retorted with a sudden flash of anger.
"Of course you were," Leonhart replied as if I had not spoken. "And I suppose at the same time you were also going to tell him that you are in fact Captain Jack Sparrow, formerly of the pirate ship Black Pearl."
Sparrow's eyes suddenly lit up like jewels, and he grinned at us with ugly, ill-kept teeth. "You've heard of me then?" he asked.
"In passing," Leonhart answered, his tone intentionally dismissive. "Your name was somewhat familiar to me, so I had Miss Swann use her father's connections to procure me appointments with a few local authorities. All together we were able to figure it out."
"Was this before or after you sent her to tell me that dear William had finally gotten well enough to leave this room?"
"Before. Otherwise she might not make it back here before I needed to leave, and one of us had to be in this room at all times until evening."
"Right." Still with that unconcerned air, Sparrow tucked his knife back into his belt and then looked up at Leonhart with a determined expression. "Well, then, mate, good for you and all that. You figured it out and you caught me. So what now? I suppose you're planning on taking me to the authorities? 'Cept I should warn you, I won't go quietly like."
I tightened my grip on my sword at the implied threat, but my employer merely shook his head. "Actually," he informed the pirate, "I was planning on letting you go. Miss Swann argued in your favor, at length I might add."
"Did she now?" Sparrow asked with another ugly grin. "Excellent girl she is. Spirited. Has a good heart."
"Indeed. However, while she may have argued for your release, you still inflicted great physical and emotional harm on her fiancée. She told me to tell you that if you show up in Port Royal again, she will have you arrested on sight. Personally, I suggest you take this warning to heart. The wrath of a woman in love is not to be taken lightly."
"That it isn't," Sparrow agreed with a nod. He waved vaguely at the two swords still pointed at him. "Is this your idea of letting me go, then?"
Leonhart's smile stretched into his familiar feral grin. "No," he answered, "this is my idea of making sure both the treaty and Turner's unfinished copy of it stay here when you leave."
A little of the light in Sparrow's eyes went out at this statement, and I saw him glance longingly at the cut-up sofa. To his credit, however, he shrugged nonchalantly and stepped away without a backwards glance. "Right then. Guess I'll be off."
"Just a moment," Leonhart stopped him. When the pirate had frozen again, he spoke my name and I, understanding at once, put away my sword and went to the sofa. I easily found the documents that had been hidden beneath the layer of fabric on the underside of the seat, and a quick search of the papers determined that both the treaty and the copy were there. At a nod from me, Leonhart lowered his sword and allowed Sparrow to pass. The man cheekily tipped his hat to the pair of us before crossing quickly to the window and slipping through it to disappear.
The following morning, we returned to Turner who was so ecstatic to be handed the treaty that I thought he might make himself ill again through sheer joy alone. He left for Port Royal at once to inform Miss Swann and her father, and by that evening, our little apartment was flooded with gifts. Miss Swann sent several bouquets, much to Miss Gainsborough's delight. The Governor sent over a rather hefty check and an invitation to dine with him whenever we were in town. As for Turner, he apparently had a fine memory for he sent a large box of imported chocolates from a confectioner I had never heard of but which, Leonhart embarrassedly admitted after much prodding, was a favorite of his at school. The gift that seemed to make the most impression on my employer, however, was a single unmarked box of blue ice cream bars which was not delivered but seemed to appear from nowhere.
"It's from DiZ, isn't it?" I asked when I had finally made the connection to the stick Leonhart had held at the very beginning of this adventure.
The word was short and softly spoken, but I could hear the pain in it. In that simple syllable, I learned that the relationship between my friend and the mysterious bandaged man was more complicated than dislike and begrudging respect. Whatever truth lay beneath the surface, however, would have to wait for another day. Leonhart had earned his rest, his rewards, and my unwavering support.
"I imagine he's upset that the thief wasn't a member of the Organization, don't you think?" I asked lightly and with a sly grin.
As I had hoped, the sadness vanished from Leonhart's face, and he grinned back at me. "As you were, Strife?" he teased. When I frowned at him, he laughed lightly and promised, "We'll have other opportunities in the future, I'm certain."
"I'll hold you to that, Leonhart," I teased back, and as I took a stick of ice cream for myself, I vowed internally that I most certainly would. Leonhart and I were in this together, and together, we would see it to the end.
End of "The Naval Treaty"
A/N: My inspiration well has been completely dry lately, and writing anything has been like pulling teeth. At least I finally got this one out. Hope you all enjoyed it.
On a separate note, I'm totally loving the new BBC series "Sherlock". Any fans who want to chat about it can feel free to contact me. :)