Well, the first chapter is finished! It may be a bit confusing, but more details will be added later, as I'm sure you know. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in your review. Which, you all should do. :]
Right hand punctures the left elbow pit.
Holmes and I were in Paris, France. One of the world's most magnificent cities. Filled with romance, art and culture, Paris is said to be one of the best getaways in Europe, let alone the world. I finally get to come and what do I see?
Avoid potential locking on his part as his upper arm wraps around my right.
It had been a week and four days since the last had finished. My mother kept me at home most of the time, and I unfortunately hadn't seen Holmes for a few days. I sat at home and took care of my mother, which was something I couldn't complain about. It was nice spending time with her and I got to tell her all about my incredible escapades so far. That is, until she begged me to stop out of disgust and lack of interest. It was not very ladylike, you see. Not only that, but I devoured the books of Professor James Moriarty. Inside my wooden-shafted bedroom I curled up in the nooks of my den and sat with both hands gripping the cover. He was becoming a sort of personal hero of mine.
Snap left hand towards opposite left, causing quick release.
I did miss Sherlock; going a few days without seeing him felt almost surreal. He had become a large part of my life, and I believed myself to be one in his. Having him away caused me to ask questions, however. How on Earth did he find me interesting? At what point did his feelings of interest gradually grow? I couldn't remember a time when I had impressed him at all, really. I sort of just tagged along and that was that. Certainly it would be a question to ask him… at a later date.
When he had shown up at my house a few days after not seeing him, I jumped at the sound of his voice. It had begun to fade from my mind and it took all of my power not to grin like a young girl and embrace him. He was very serious when he came, however. My excitement didn't last long. He told me to pack my bags. We were going to Paris.
As hand falls shoot outwards towards chest with both fists. Remember thumb position.
I suppose I did promise him that I would help out, despite how quick the next case came on. It had been all or nothing. I chose all. Holmes had invited me to France with him, that much was true. But, not for a holiday. Of course not. It was for the beginning of yet another case and Holmes had jumped on the opportunity to go to France the minute it presented itself. I had never been to France and was never particularly interested in going, but I had put on a bright smile when he asked me to accompany him and shouted; "Yes! I've always wanted to go!"
I wasn't sure if that had been the first time I lied to him, but I could feel myself getting sick just speaking the words. Boats, foreign words, crowded streets, odd food… It wasn't exactly my forte.
Knock out wind held in chest cavity.
The boat ride was, for lack of better words, an interesting one. I had never left England before in my life. I was a countryside gal. I liked places like Bath, with hills and quiet riversides and large trees to nest under. I enjoyed getting lost in the rolling moors of Bronte sister books and Jane Austen novels. Naturally, I didn't tell Holmes that I was a homebody when we left. I should have warned him that traveling by way of boat would not probably agree with me.
Pull down head with right arm, locked between upper and lower arm.
Well, it didn't take him long to figure out. I can't say I remember much of the ride. I spent my time in the bottom level of the ship, lying on a cot with a bucket next to me. In my head, I kept cursing myself. "This is why I don't travel," I muttered as sweat dripped from my body. I would lull off into long sleeps and then wake up only to be sick once again. That was practically all I remembered from the trip, since it was all I did. I remember that, and the fact that Holmes sat beside me the entire way. He ate his meals by me and helped me clean myself up when I needed it. I felt weak and thin by the time we left. I was terrified to look at myself in a mirror. Once again, I was embarrassed.
Once again, I was entirely grateful to him.
Watch as head lifts up and left arm reaches for my own. Not part of the plan.
When we entered France finally, my ears were not tuned to the romantic language. Holmes spoke it easily to everyone as he asked for directions. I stood by and watched, entranced by his intelligence. That wasn't terribly unusual for me; sitting by and admiring. I spent most of the time in the hotel room for the first two days and surprisingly, so did Holmes. To keep me company he did his research in my room. He would sit at the desk and flip through French and British newspapers. Normally, I may have been bothered that I couldn't have been of more help, but I was otherwise engaged.
I sat on the balcony with my book, The Art Domestic Horticulture by Moriarty, and soaked in the French sun. Paris was beautiful, that much was true. I would use the sunshine to my pale skin's advantage until Holmes snapped me back into reality.
Plan beginning to deteriorate.
Lestrade had heard word about the case through the papers, and naturally, so had Holmes. When the inspector came to Holmes's house to discuss it, Sherlock was way ahead of him. He was already on a train headed to Paris. And, unfortunately for me, I was tagging along. Watson informed us of his slight annoyance via telegram when we arrived in our hotel. I watched as Holmes's eyes glazed over the message and then saw the signature. A long look of lost glory glistened in his eyes. I wasn't Watson's replacement, but I still couldn't compare. No one ever would.
Feel sharp pain in my arm as fingers grip it tightly.
Watson was back in London with Mary. He had encouraged me to go, though I didn't find it the least bit enticing. I didn't speak the language, I didn't know the people, and I had to admit that a break from gloomy nights might have been nice. It was nearly March and I didn't want to spend my favorite season surrounded by death and suffering. At least I had a little while for spring to find me.
Get spun around and shoved towards the ground.
My mother on the other hand was beside herself in jealousy. She'd always wanted to get out of London and run away to Paris. Sadly for her, there was no one to run away with. My father was by and by a British man. He liked to travel, but moving somewhere else? Positively out of the question. I think I had to agree with him on that one. Of course, when I told my mother I was going, I did mention it was on business. That part did not please her. Nonetheless, I was almost twenty six. I told myself it was my decision and passed the message onto her.
Three seconds until I hit the wooden floor.
Caught. Gentle hands wrapped themselves around my back as I tried to catch my breath. The curls of my bunned hair tumbled down and out of my ribbon like a pool of dark waves. I blinked as I stared into the face of my defeater and felt no sense of pride towards my progression. Though I was doing much better than I had earlier that day, I had still lost.
"You, Miss Adkins, have improved."
"Improvement is not success. It's not enough."
Holmes was dipping me down like the ending of a Spanish dance, but to me it didn't seem quite as graceful. My face was sweating and my arms were tired from what seemed like hours of practice. I might have felt embarrassed to look that way in front of a man, but it was Holmes. He had seen me in much worse conditions and his appearance matched my own. Learning to fight was hard. Learning from Holmes was ever harder.
He was on edge lately because of the case, and I'm certain after catering to me on the boat, he was ready to get away from the boring Renadale Adkins. Yet, after he had done his research, he had insisted on teaching me basic fighting skills. "Watson has failed miserably, but I have faith in you," he had said to me the day before. I was nervous out of my wits. I would have to hit him. He would have to hit me back. I didn't want to cause him pain, though I was pretty sure it would be me getting all of the punches.
"Renadale," he sighed as he helped stand me up straight. My heart still wasn't used to hearing my name in his voice. His hold on me had been so tight, and lately it was as if he had totally forgotten my feelings towards him. It was all about the case now. I had to keep calm around him and relax my beating heart. "One should be confident in the things that they are good at. Though you're not exactly an expert yet, you must take my word as your boss, friend and confidant and believe me when I say that you have… potential."
I ignored what he said and crossed the room toward a water basin. I didn't even have the breath to answer him. I grabbed a pink towel that lay beside it and splashed the cold water up onto my face. My mind had been somewhere else in my state of frustration and naturally I closed my eyes a bit too late, feeling the sting of liquid against them. "Ah!" I grumbled, tossing the wet rag away and drying my eyes with my long, blue sleeves.
Holmes stared at me silently from across the luxurious hotel room. His brow was raised with curiosity as his characteristic pipe hung limply from his lips. "You seem frazzled."
"I'm not," I sighed as I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror on the nearby wall. My makeup was smearing off and I had to admit that I looked like a pauper. Wasn't the first time. I groaned and snatched my maroon ribbon from the floor. "I just know that I can do better," I grumbled, tying my hair into a long braid.
Holmes laughed heartily as he pulled his pipe from his mouth. "Earlier, when I mentioned that one should be confident in what they do best, I meant it. So, do not take offense to what I'm about to explain next." Carefully, I lifted my head. What lecture was I getting now? "I have been boxing for years and am, though it is not ranked, one of the best boxers in London. I do it because I enjoy it, and therefore… I practice."
"Everything comes naturally to you," I said as I sat myself down on the large bed. It's gold and white sheets pulled me in greedily. The soft sinking relaxed my aching body, but my mind was still complaining. "Whereas for me, there are only a few things I am good at and nothing of much importance."
"Which is why I have invited you here with me, to France. Because you have useful ideas in that head of yours. You know things that other people do not. Which, in my opinion, is a great sign of a detective."
I sighed and fell back onto the bed. My eyes closed as the sweat cooled on my skin. Silently, I replayed all the information Holmes had found from the newspapers a few days before, trying to be of some use to him and myself. If I could just get things straight, I may actually be able to help him on this case.
There had been three murders near the square 'Place de le Bastille' in Paris. That's where our hotel was. Each one was described as having a book placed next to the body. The books were turned open to a specific page. The page it was turned to described a way of being killed in the exact way the victims were.
Victim I. Jean Pierre-Lavant. Killed in his home. Book lying next to him; "Jane Eyre". Way of death? Falling off the top of a building, just like Bertha Rochester. Age? Twenty two. Family? None.
Victim II. Herve Rouve. Killed in his office. Book lying next to him; "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Way of death? Gun shot, just like Jekyll. Age? Thirty seven. Family? Wife and two daughters.
Victim III. Gaspard Dussollier. Killed in his study. Book lying next to him; "Les Miserables". Way of death? Stabbed, just like the French soldiers. Age? Twenty nine. Family? Fiancée.
The books were what made it particularly interesting. No one knew who the murderer was, and no one had any lead. Obviously mental, whoever it was.
So, that's how I landed up in the hotel room with Holmes. Investigation. We were staying a very magnificent place that, of course, I wasn't paying for. I was shocked by the size and elegance of my room, but made no note of asking how much it was. I felt horribly embarrassed about having little money on me and even if I had all the money I owned, I was sure it couldn't even afford me a night in the hotel. Eventually, I would have to repay him. I was already working on something. When I saw the hotel room, I knew I would have to repay him even faster.
"Holmes," I said as I climbed off the bed. "How exactly are you going to look into these killings without permission?" He glanced up towards me with a serious expression and said nothing. "Of course," I laughed nervously. "You'll just… do it?"
"It's obvious that it's another Englishman, so I suppose just speaking to them in my native tongue is enough for them to consider letting me into the homes. English speakers have been fleeing this part of France for quite some time now, and if I say I have insight, they'll no doubt be curious." He drummed his fingers against the wooden bed frame as his eyes glazed over the empty Parisian streets below us. They seemed dark and dreary, just like London. "They also may already know who I am."
"What makes you think it's an Englishman?" I felt bad asking such questions when he was so certain about them to begin with. He would surely get tired of me soon, but for now, I figured I should ask as many questions as I could, while I could.
Holmes was making his way towards the door as he answered. "The books the murderer has chosen. Very interesting… very English. Perhaps not Les Miserables, but that was no doubt a success. It could also be a cover up." He couldn't help resist a knowing grin in relation to his next comment. "Only an Englishman would become so obsessive and detailed about a murder."
I raised my brows at the interesting notion, but said nothing in response. The past few cases had certainly been… confusing, to say the least. Perhaps British men did get a bit more creative with their killings. That wasn't exactly comforting.
The wheels in his mind were clicking as mine were slowing rusting away. He knew so much already by reading newspapers. I had no idea what any of this was about. Hell, he probably already knew who the murderer was and was just making the searching part interesting. Okay, Renadale, I grumbled to myself. Don't be that ridiculous I watched as his fingers laced themselves around the hotel room doorknob.. "Are we going out?" I asked, even though I already knew the answer.
"Yes." He smirked. "Try not to look like a detective, and put on that lovely smile of yours."
We were riding in a carriage to the first crime scene; Jean Pierre-Lavant's humble abode. I couldn't help but notice how much cleaner the streets of Paris were in comparison to London. I liked the rustic nature of my city, but a breath of fresh air was no doubt agreeable. As my eyes scanned the pages of my book, I listened to the chatter of French noblemen coming through the opened window.
"What is it that you're reading?" Holmes muttered. His elbow was rested against the window sill as his fist was digging into his cheek. He was clearly bored, and probably agitated that I was too entranced in my reading to make note of his presence.
"Oh, this?" I mumbled, unable to peel my eyes away from the page. "Just… something…" I was going to finish my sentence, but I was much too distracted with the words. I smiled to myself, enjoying the rich language that I held in my hands. However, as I was getting into the art of flower caretaking, I felt the book get peeled away from my fingers. "Give that back," I mumbled as I tried to snatch it back from Holmes.
"'The Art of Domestic Horticulture'," Holmes read the title clearly. His eyes glanced lower down the cover towards the author. "Professor James Moriarty... The name rings a bell." I grabbed the book quickly and flipped back to my page. "Someone is incredibly impressed with the Professor, is that it?"
"Yes," I muttered. "He's a genius. Don't make any assumptions until you've read his work."
Holmes was quiet for a while and I found myself sinking back into the narrative of Moriarty. He was smart on a scientific level, and even on a domestic one. What a man! My father would have no doubt been a fan. Perhaps that was what attracted me to his work, but overall, he was impressive. I wished that I could attend one of his lectures some day, though my very sex would probably stop me from that. He was an Oxford man. I was… a maid. The thought of stealing one of Holmes's many costumes passed briefly through my mind. Well, it certainly isn't out of the question.
"May I?" Holmes asked, distracting me once again.
I stared at him with confusion from behind the cover. "May you…?"
"Read one of his books," he clarified. "I'm assuming you have been carrying others with you."
I sighed and tucked my book inside my breast pocket. I wasn't sure how I thought I would be able to read with Holmes beside me in the first place. "I do have one, which I will gladly let you borrow. However, if you have negative things to say about his work, then I will have to ignore you for the time remaining."
He smiled bemusedly. "I shall keep my lips closed."
"Good luck with that," I freed a smile.
In all honesty, I didn't want Holmes to read his work. I knew that he would be jealous; though I'm sure he would claim that word was not part of his vocabulary. I wasn't kidding when I said he was a genius. The man was literally a top intellectual, and I didn't want Holmes to say negative things about him when the truth was right there in ink.
I stared at Holmes for a moment as his gaze redirected itself towards the outside. Staring into the crevices of his face somehow reminded me of his previous mentioning. Mycroft Holmes. A brother! How did I never even ask such a thing? What were his parents like? Oh, lord. What if his parents were still alive? I couldn't imagine what they would be like. I wondered if his brother acted similarly to him. What did he look like? Was he much older? Or, perhaps much younger? I made a mental note to ask a more convenient time.
My thoughts didn't have time to progress too much. The carriage was taking us down a narrow alley, but it stopped short before going further. Holmes and I turned our heads to the door as the coachman pulled it open. "The street is too slim for the horse to go down," he said in perfect English. "I must stop here." He gestured for us to leave as he held the door open politely. As I climbed down, his aged hand helped me off.
"Thank you," I smiled before he rode off into the cobblestone streets. "The French are much nicer than what some people have claimed." Holmes stared at me with amusement. "What?" I laughed. "Do you not agree?"
"It's not that I disagree," he explained as we headed down the alley. "It's just that I know the truth."
"Oh, yes? You must be an expert. What other languages do you speak?"
"Stop there. I know what you think of the French, but what of the Germans?"
"Polite, but always looking for ways to deteriorate your status."
I couldn't help but laugh aloud. "Do you hold contempt for all men?"
Holmes glanced at me through the corner of his eye, but not without a playful gleam. "No," he said, trying to suppress a smile. "It's not a man himself that is the issue. It is the act of when groups of men come together and convince themselves that they can act a certain way because of their culture."
"That is an interesting point. I shall have to remember that." He smiled at me again, causing my breath to halt for just a moment. The Paris romance was getting to my head.
My eyes scanned the grey buildings on both sides of me. The moriah driver was right; the road was far too narrow for us to ride down. The houses were all attached and bordering us on our left and right. They were very elegant with their grey exteriors and French delicacies such as the Fleur-de-lis carved above the windows. They all looked the same, but only one was of much importance. Holmes stopped his path as we reached our destination. I glanced up at the doorframe as a lingering symbol drew my attention.
"This is the place," Holmes muttered, heading up the stairs. He pulled out a key from his pocket and slipped it easily into the lock. The door slid open with an eerie afternoon creak. My feet stayed glued to where I was, as my eyes remained upon the etching. He walked inside, but noticed that I had not followed. "Miss Adkins?" He inquired towards me from the doorway.
"I'm sorry," I muttered. "This just… grabbed my attention."
Holmes made his way to my side as we stared up at the symbols carved in to the wooded door frame. There was a perfect square, followed by a short line, then an eight pointed star, and finally a circle with a line in the middle. It was small, but certainly noticeable. "These symbols are only on his door. They aren't on anyone else's." I stepped a bit closer, narrowing my eyes for a better look. "They're new too; you can tell by the cleanliness of the wood cuts. No dirt, no nothing."
Holmes sharpened his gaze as well. "Pierre-Lavant was a politician. Perhaps it had something to do with his status, or a group he was a member of. Blackwood was in tune with politics and no doubt with a secret society."
That was true. Many politicians were acquainted with secret organizations. Yet, why were these symbols so obvious? What sort of group was this? I shook my head and shrugged off the discomfort I was beginning to feel. "Yes, most likely," My voice was grave. "We should just go inside and see what we can find."
After inspecting the rather small, but expensive downstairs area and finding no other entrances besides the front door and windows, which were perfectly intact, it was decided that the murderer simply had a key. There were no other ways to get inside.
"They said he jumped off of his roof. He must have been ordered or pushed," I said as I glanced at the books on his shelves. My stomach churned as I saw 'Jane Eyre' in French. The book that marked his death. "There are no ladders to the roof like my home, so the man must have lead him up through his own home."
My notes made me feel a bit more confident, but I gained no response. I stared at Holmes as he ran his fingertips along the edge of the window sill. I could see his reflection in the glass and watched him slowly shut his eyes. Something was going on in that head of his, but I wished he would tell me I was right. I wished he would tell me something. The quiet was encircling us, and wondered if perhaps he missed Watson. Was my voice annoying and obviously disappointing? The confidence that lingered in my heart a few moments ago was dwindling.
"Holmes," I whispered, not wishing to startle him.
"Hm?" He jumped and turned around. "I apologize, Miss Adkins. I was lost in thought."
I offered him a small smile, though it was tough. "Don't apologize for that. I think that is when you're at your best." If I wasn't so tired from boxing training, I could have sworn his cheeks turned a darker shade of red. "I'm not sure if you heard me, but I…" My head dropped. It wasn't worth it. "It doesn't matter. At any rate, we should perhaps figure out what kind of life he led. We may find someone who had a key to the house. It could give us a strong lead."
"He had no family," Holmes sighed.
"The papers said that, yes?" Holmes had informed of that two days ago.
"Yes, but the police who gave me the keys also told me."
I blinked as I watched Holmes swing a chain of skinny keys around his finger. My stomach flipped over at the clanking noise. How did I even miss that? I hadn't even noticed he had just walked right inside! The symbols were far too distracting. Or, my observation skills were really faltering. "When did you get those?"
"Yesterday, before you awoke. I headed down to the station." He casually tucked the keys into his pocket. "I also have the keys for the other two crime scenes."
"You're just… ahead of the game, aren't you?" Somewhere inside of me, I was once again beginning to feel unneeded. Why was I with him anyway? Because he wanted company? All I had done so far was learn how to fight. But, I hadn't even learned how to fight correctly. Oh, what use was I? Where was Watson when you needed him? I sighed and wished he would just burst through the door of my hotel room with Gladstone in one hand and a gun in the other. "No need to fret anymore! The doctor is in!" I imagined him saying. But, I shook my head and forgot about it. That was obviously not going to happen.
"Now," Holmes's voice called me back to reality. "We must figure out more about this Pierre-Lavant, of that you are correct." Holmes crossed the living room and entered an empty study. I leaned against the doorway and watched him flip through some drawers. "No personal letters… All government documents and suggestions." As he continued to rummage through the papers, I made my way towards a small bureau near the window. I slid open the top where men's socks were piled upon one another.
I winced and quickly slammed the door shut. Those were his personal belongs, and there I was, a twenty-something British girl, rummaging about them like they were nothing. But, surely if he had to keep personal letters somewhere, they would be private? A man may not have a family, but there could always be someone special in his life. A best friend. A girl, maybe. Or maybe… two.
I knew that from personal experience.
With a stiff upper lip, I slowly pulled open the drawer once again. Reaching my arm down, I gently brushed away some of the socks and stared down at the wooden bottom. Please make this worthwhile, I thought to myself. Shutting my eyes so I didn't have to watch myself, I felt around beneath the clothing to see if there was anything; anything at all.
Then I felt it.
The cool touch of…
"Paper!" I exclaimed as I cracked open my eyes. I snatched it from the drawer and quickly slammed it shut. I hoped I never had to open it again. "And not just any paper," I whispered to myself. "Letters."
"Letters?" I heard Holmes perk up behind me. "What are you going on about?"
I didn't answer him. I couldn't. I was too distracted by the words on the page. "It's about his political status," I said as I felt Holmes make his way beside me. "It says here that he was cut loose from his political bonds early, for dealing with other memberships. It clearly states 'you know which ones needn't be mentioned'." Something else was incredibly discerning about the letter. "It's in English. This letter was sent from England."
"This man is not the murderer," Holmes said, snatching the letter. "It was sent a day before the man died." His brown eyes scanned the paper manically. "Whoever killed him was working for whoever wrote this. Those symbols outside must be some mark… a mark of disapproval."
"It isn't signed," I sighed. Everything had to be more difficult. "It must have been some sort of political killing, right? I mean, if the killing and the letter are connected."
Holmes said nothing, but tucked the letter into his pocket. "Only one person to ask," he whispered beneath his breath. He was standing close enough for me to hear it, but I don't think it was intentional. He headed straight back towards the front entrance, but I stood where I was.
Who were we off to see now?
"Holmes… Holmes, go… away."
"Stop," Holmes grunted with annoyance. His fingers brushed back my hair and tied them into a ribbon he collected from my suitcase. "You're sick. There's no need for you to be independent at this precise moment."
"I'm not being independent," I groaned as I laid my seasick head back down on the pillow. "I'm trying to be helpful."
I heard him sigh heavily. My eyes had been shut for ages, but I could sense the aggravation crossing over his face. "You're not being helpful. If you wish to be helpful, let me aid you in your illness." I said nothing, but as the ship continued to sway back and forth, my stomach refused to cooperate. "You need water. You're breaking out into a sweat and need hydration."
My cot creaked and I knew he was standing up. I quickly reached out my arm, hoping I would grab him without having to open my eyes. I felt his cold skin in my warm hand. "Don't," I sighed as my head rolled to the side. "I don't want it."
"You may not want it, but you need it." I shook my head firmly. "If I were Watson, you would listen. Imagine me as Watson."
"That's…impossible," I murmured, tightening my fingers around his wrist as much as I could.
I heard him cough, followed by silence. After a minute, he spoke, but in a much more serious and high pitched tone. "Renadale, this is Watson speaking…" I felt a smile instantly crack out onto my face. He sounded nothing like him. He sounded like a blubbering old man. "I am insisting that you let me fetch you some water and lighter blankets."
"You're not very convincing," I whispered.
"At least you're smiling," Holmes mumbled sincerely. "That's a good sign."
"Just sit next to me." My weak fingers let his wrist loose. My forehead was getting hotter and my stomach churned and yelled at the water beneath the ship. Just stop rocking! Stop for a second, please! Nothing happened and I remained in discomfort. "If you sit next to me, I will fall asleep and forget about the water."
There was another creak and I knew he had sat down. "Thank you," I whispered pathetically. I was like a child, I knew that. Unfortunately, my body had no option.
"You've never left England, have you?"
I knew it wasn't a question. He already knew the answer. Gently, he wrapped his cold fingers in mine. The icy touch was comforting to my hot skin. Without a word, I gripped his fingers tighter. I could feel his press themselves against mine. Though I was sick, I was so happy. I was so happy that I wasn't alone.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled before drifting off into sleep. Sorry for being sick. Sorry for not warning you ahead of time. Sorry you had to be with me instead of Watson.
Sorry I couldn't find another other comfort but you.