It had been nearly a month since John had moved in with Sara. With no one around to pester him all day, Sherlock found that it was increasingly difficult to stave off the inevitable post-case boredom. He took up talking to the skull again, but he had grown so used to someone responding that the hunk of bone seemed quite unsatisfactory with its silence.
"You need to find yourself a new flat-mate," John commented one day. He was sitting in his favorite chair as he always did when he decided to visit his friend. "This place is a mess and you could use the company."
"I'm perfectly fine on my own, thank you," Sherlock replied curtly. Still, he had to admit that acquiring a new companion would soon be necessary. With John focusing on his relationship and his actual job, there was no one to assist Sherlock on cases, and Sherlock desperately needed an assistant.
John sighed and shook his head slightly. He glanced over to the couch where his friend was draped across it. Sherlock had resumed his usual "thinking pose" as evidenced by his slightly furrowed brow, closed eyes, and prayer-like steepling of his hands.
"Is this about the case then?" John inquired. Though he hadn't been actively participating in many investigations recently, he still held an interest in what the consulting detective had been up to.
Sherlock flung himself into a sitting position and ran a hand through his hair impatiently. "Yes, of course it's about the case. Matthew Lawrence murdered his wife and his mistress in cold blood, and yet there's not a scrap of proof. If I could just get a look at his wallet, I'd be able to get him for this."
"Well, you can't get them all, mate," John offered.
The only reply was a faint mumbling that sounded like, "Maybe you can't."
"You'll figure something out, though. There's got to be some way to prove it without stooping to pick-pocketing. I'm sure he'll have left something else behind that'll prove he's the murderer."
Sherlock's eyes were bright as his head snapped up. He completely ignored the last sentence and focused on what came before it. "That's it! I can't believe I didn't think of that before. Pick-pocketing, so brilliant and so simple." Sherlock berated himself for not coming up with this idea sooner. He'd never had any issues taking things off of Lestrade and the other Yarders, so why should stealing from a murderer to gain evidence be any different?
"No, Sherlock, stealing is bad," John scolded, immediately regretting what he'd previously said.
"But the man's a ruthless killer," Sherlock argued, clearly undeterred. "And," he added with an eager smile, "I know exactly where he'll be tomorrow night. It's the perfect chance to take it." He had searched Lawrence's home earlier in the week and noticed a calendar that Mrs. Lawrence had hung on the wall. Apparently, before her untimely demise, she and her husband had made reservations at an Italian restaurant, made obvious by the note on the calendar that read, "Date night; Maggiano's 7:30 P.M."
John sighed, resigned. He noticed the determined and stubbornly set look in Sherlock's eyes and recognized that there was little he could do that would change the detective's mind. "Fine. Then where's Lawrence going to be tomorrow night?"
Rather than answering the question, Sherlock picked up his mobile, searched for the number of the restaurant, and dialed it.
"Maggiano's Italian Restaurant," a reedy voice answered. "How may we help you?"
"Yes, hello," Sherlock said. "I was wondering if the reservation under 'Lawrence' for tomorrow night is still active. It'll be for 7:30."
There was a moment's pause before the response came. "Yes, sir, that reservation is still listed."
"Brilliant." Sherlock hung up quite rudely after that. He turned to John. "Lawrence will be at Maggiano's Restaurant. He and his wife made plans to go there before she was killed, and I'm certain he'll still be there."
"Why would he still go? His wife just died," John pointed out.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "This man murdered two people in cold blood. Do you honestly think he's the least bit bothered by that?" He didn't wait for a reply. "Of course he's not. No, I'm certain Lawrence will show up. He'll probably have a date if his past record's anything to go by."
John wrinkled his nose. "That's just distasteful." He thought for awhile before adding, "But you can't go to that restaurant by yourself."
"And why not?"
"Because, Sherlock, that place is really romantic and such. Everyone brings a date there, and having some random bloke sitting alone in the corner will look a bit suspicious."
Sherlock furrowed his brow and thought over this new development. "Then you'll have to find me someone to go with," he stated reasonably.
John raised an eyebrow. "You want me to set up a blind date? Absolutely not. I'm not going to let you use some poor girl as a prop in your plan when I know she'll probably be reduced to tears by the end of the night either from your callousness or your blunt deductions."
"John," Sherlock whined. "You can't honestly be putting some girl's feelings above catching a murderer. She'll get over it; he might kill again. Get your priorities straight!"
John's resolve was wearing thin. Sherlock did have a point. This man had already killed two people. Who's to say he wouldn't strike again? And another murder victim was a far worse consequence than some hurt feelings.
He acquiesced. "Fine, I'll see what I can do." John knew he was going to regret subjecting some poor young woman to a whole night of dealing with Sherlock, but it was for noble reasons, wasn't it?
The next morning John called Sherlock. He knew his friend wouldn't answer the phone—"I prefer to text"—so he was prepared when it went to voicemail after the second ring.
"Hi, Sherlock," he said. "I've found someone who's willing to go out with you tonight. Her name is Ellie Archer, and she's a medical examiner from America. She just moved to London and she doesn't really know anyone other than me and Sara, so please take pity on the poor girl." There was a slight pause as John waited for the warning to sink in. "Ellie will meet you at 221 B tonight at 7:00. Be nice."
As Sherlock listened to the message, he couldn't help deducing what he could from the little information he'd been given. He had never heard of Ellie Archer before; this coupled with the fact that John called her "someone" and not a friend indicated that she was not in fact one of John's acquaintances. She was probably one of Sara's associates, though certainly not a family friend or anything of the like. No, it was more probable that Ellie Archer and Sara had met at some sort of medical conference. They must have kept in touch after that.
He cut off his thoughts right there. All of this was fairly useless information. After all, that evening would be about Matthew Lawrence, not Ellie Archer. She was just means to an end.
Sherlock would have to delete all that extraneous knowledge later. For the time being he decided to occupy his time with crap telly and memorizing Matthew Lawrence's photo. In a few hours, his plan would be set in motion and he would have another successful case to add to his ever-growing repertoire.
Please review! Let me know what you thought of this chapter, give constructive criticism, or suggest what you want to see happen later in the story. Much appreciated!