Chapter 1: Back In The Game

Sherlock sat in his room, the curtains were drawn and the room was coated in darkness, he couldn't remember the last time he'd opened the curtains. He held the letter in his hands; it was heavily crumpled where he'd read it so many times. He sighed as he slumped deeper into the chair, he'd had no cases to take his mind off of that letter, no distractions and his mind was seeping into stagnation. The door opened slowly and Watson walked in accompanied by Mary,

' Right enough is enough' Watson exclaimed and yanked the curtains open, Holmes threw his hands up to his face and covered his eyes,

' Watson, Mary always a pleasure to see you' his voice held none of its confident swagger anymore, it was just a monotone droning now,

' You have to leave this room, it's not healthy' Mary said sitting beside him

' Thank you for caring my dear but I'm content where I am' Watson rolled his eyes,

' It's been eight months Holmes'

' I am aware of time Watson'

' Then you'll be aware that it's been a long time since you took on a case?'

' There are no cases' he gripped the piece of crumpled paper in his hand tighter,

' What about this one, count Lindemann of Germanys fiancée has had a precious diamond necklace stolen worth £10,000?' Mary said holding the newspaper out to him,

' It's in a pawn shop, the count has a gambling problem and had to pay off his debts' Sherlock said in a bored voice,

' Holmes you need to shake yourself out of this I know it's been a rough few months but you cant hide yourself away in here'

' Thank you for the concern Watson, but I'll leave when there is something to leave for' Watson sighed and took Mary's arm, the two of them left but both looked back at Holmes with worried expressions as they did.

Holmes did leave his room that night, he went to the slums of London where he bare knuckle boxed for money, he sat upstairs in the room he rented listening to the shouts of the gambling men and the loud music that filled this space. He ran his hand over the floor, the floor where he'd made love to Nancy only months ago, where he'd held her warm naked body against his and felt comforted. He shook himself from his reminiscing and walked downstairs, he picked up a bottle of whiskey, took a long swig and removed his jacket and shirt before stepping into the makeshift enclosure.

Holmes had found a place to vent his frustration, before when he'd fought it had mainly been part of his income and for a bit of gambling, now it became his place to inflict his pain on others. He pounded his fists into his opponent's abdomen furiously as the crowd cheered, most had come to realise that when Holmes was in a fight, you put your money on him. His opponent smashed a fist into Holmes' jaw trying to make him stop but it didn't deter Holmes from throwing another furious punch at the man, the crowd jeered as the man stumbled and spat blood, Holmes wiped his face and looked up at the people watching the fight from the upstairs part of the building. Most were women, well prostitutes, they were either brought there by a man who had paid for them or were waiting to be bought by a man who won a bet that night and had maybe had a little too much to drink. Holmes bared them no ill will, he pitied them more than anything, he knew given the choice none of those women would choose that life and he despised the men that took them into it. He looked at a group of four women, two had obviously been selling themselves for a long time, they were in their forties and looked worn down, a third was still fairly young with red hair and grey eyes, she managed to give the occasional man a smile that the other two couldn't seem to muster, she obviously hadn't been in the game as long as them, though the two women watched her protectively like she was their daughter, though Holmes could tell from the difference in their appearances they definitely were not related. It was the fourth who he couldn't help watching, she was very young, maybe in her early twenties, she had medium brown coloured hair, pale flawless skin and bright brown eyes, her face was soft and she looked warily around, poor little lamb he thought to himself. He could tell from one look at her she'd just been brought into this life, she was a lamb to the slaughter, men eyed her hungrily and the red head put a protective arm around her. He returned to the fight as his opponent grunted behind him and swaggered slightly, one hit to the head would end this and he collect his winnings and return to his room. The fight was soon over in one hit, the man hit the floor and Holmes exited the enclosure, collected his winnings and a bottle of whiskey and walked back upstairs, he stopped at the top of the stairs and turned, he saw the red head and the younger woman together but the two older ones had left.

He stayed in the room for an hour and finally left as another fight was starting up, he walked back to his home in Baker Street and walked upstairs to his room in silence. Watson was there a few hours later as the sun was just rising,

' Get up you have a new case' he said sternly, Holmes eyed him curiously, Watson looked grey and tired, he was completely serious, Holmes sat up fully alert and feeling a spark of his old self return,

' What do we have?'

' You better come see'.

Holmes dressed quickly and the two of them climbed into the carriage waiting outside, Lestrade was already in there and he looked as grey and sombre as Watson,

' Monstrous' was all he muttered

' Will someone please tell me what we are investigating here?' Holmes asked, Lestrade looked at Watson almost pleadingly as if silently begging him to tell Holmes so he wouldn't have to think about the new case,

' The press are already calling "the double event", two prostitutes were murdered last night in the east end'

' Together or separately?' Holmes asked showing no emotion in his voice, Watson had to smile a little, the old detached Holmes was back on the case and he felt relieved,

' Separately, less than half a mile apart'

' Out on the street?'

' Yes, one in an alleyway just a few minutes from where she lived, the other was found in someone's public yard'

' Public yard, did anyone hear anything?'

' No surprisingly, she was definitely killed there but all the houses that overlook the yard were empty last night, most people were out at the pub or the girls were working' Lestrade piped up finally, his face grew a bit more pallid as he spoke,

' So we have no witnesses?'

' Well one bloke claims he saw one of the women talking to a tall man, possibly in his forties, didn't get a look at the face because he was wearing a hat and long over coat'

' Do we have identities for the women?' Holmes said quietly

' Yes for both, they were well known, names were Annie Lambert and Mary Jones'

' Any suspects, though I suppose not otherwise you would have mentioned it?'

' None except for the description of a possible suspect but tall and in his forties don't really narrow it down too much' Lestrade said frustrated.

The carriage stopped and all three stepped out to the scene of Annie Lamberts murder, hers had taken place near the place where she was lodging, people were crowding the area trying to get a look at the body,

' All right you lot clear off and let us do our job' Lestrade shouted as the crowd began to disperse, Holmes bent down near the body and looked closely at her face,

' I saw this woman last night Watson' Watson crouched next to him and stared at him,

' Where?'

' I was fighting she was there with her friends to pick up some company, when the fight was over she and one of her other friends had left'

' Did you see who she left with?'

' No' Holmes used a pen in his pocket to raise a cloth over her neck, and inspected her other wounds,

' The throat was cut from left to right, you can tell from the snagging on her skin, she hasn't been drugged and there is no scent of alcohol suggesting her attacker knew her well enough to know she trusted him and he wouldn't have to drug her, severe wounds to the chest and abdomen'

' Do you notice what I did?' Watson muttered quietly

' That all the cuts are directly over where some of her vital organs are? Yes I did'

' That takes medical knowledge Holmes'

' Possibly, though it could be a run of the mill butcher who's just guessing that a human kidney is roughly in the same place as a pigs kidney' Watson nodded in agreement,

' Watson would you please show me the other victim?'

' Yes, she's in a much worse state than this poor woman though' the two of them walked in silence until they reached the body of Mary Jones.