"And the remains are Oldacre's?" Sherlock asked, surveying the burnt out room with his keen gaze. John always thought that when Sherlock looked at something, that something seemed to obey Sherlock rather than the usual laws of physics and reality. It wasn't a thought he'd ever considered voicing to Sherlock, considering he'd no doubt twist it to imply that Sherlock only saw what he wanted to see, but John always considered these subtle deductions so remarkable and incredible that it seemed reality had twisted themselves around them. Of course, when Sherlock explained everything seemed so transparent and obvious that it seemed it had never been another way.
"Well who else would they be?" Anderson asked, glancing around at the others as if searching for some sort of support for his comment.
John suspected that they all agreed, to an extent, that it had been a stupid question... but none of them seemed to want to irritate a particularly frustrated Lestrade. Or Sherlock. Much.
"There's no longer a body here and I take it you've assumed you've got all the required forensic data. So, why is Anderson still here? I can't imagine you brought him along for the company."
"John's here," Lestrade said, sending John an apologetic look for classing him in the same range as Anderson. More than anything else, Lestrade wanted to make a point, "anyway, Sherlock. We thought you might be able to uncover something we missed."
Lestrade focused a large part of his energy on not punching him.
"The window was open?" Sherlock said, glancing round the charred remains of a room which must, one day, have been quite nice. "The man lives in London and is obviously rich, why was the window open?"
"Because that's where the murderer escaped after he killed him." Anderson said in his usual drawl, exchanging a look with one of the other colleagues.
"So the murderer escaped before lighting the fire and the corpse spontaneously combusted?" Sherlock suggested sarcastically. "Even a man as eccentric as Oldacre wouldn't have installed an automatic cremation button," Anderson looked confused, as per usual. "The window was opened before the rain started, several hours before the fire started. In fact, it looks like it's been open for quite some time."
"If it was open before the rain, "Anderson said, a normal expression of distrust, "then maybe he opened the window because he was hot."
"Unlikely, given the weather."
"The central heating was turned up to full, Sherlock," Lestrade said, "his cleaner said he always had it that way."
Sherlock made a derisive noise and looked more irritated than normal.
"So it's not important."
"It's all irrelevant until you've solved the case," Sherlock said, "besides, what does it say about our supposed victim? That he enjoys showing off about his extreme wealth? That he has a disregard to security? If the window was open, who's to say a stranger off the street saw it as an invitation, broke in, got disturbed, accidentally murdered Oldacre before setting fire to his house?"
"Bit farfetched." John said.
"It is no more farfetched than a man murdering someone who has just written a will leaving him lots of money, you've just got a theory that you like and you're refusing to look at the other options. Really, John, I thought you knew better than to take their word on things like this. What was kept in this room?"
"Nothing but DIY materials," Lestrade said, "the man was a bit of a fanatic."
"Nothing valuable, Sherlock. And the cleaner said that nothing's been taken."
Sherlock looked more irritated than ever. John suspected this was because he was marginally impressed that Lestrade had covered most angles, as usually by this stage in Sherlock's-list-of-ridiculous-questions he'd have gotten a chance to call them all useless amateurs, or something slightly stronger, before bustling around feeling important. John also expected Lestrade had only searched for these details after knowing that Sherlock was coming (after all, he'd had two whole hours standing around waiting for them), as the case did seem ridiculously clear cut even to him. Even with everything Sherlock had said, he couldn't help but think that Sherlock was wrong this time.
"How long has the cleaner worked here?" Sherlock asked.
"I don't know," Lestrade said, "do you want her address?"
"Oh no," Sherlock muttered, "I'll just steadfastly ignore all the relevant details and –"
"Sherlock," John said, "have you seen this?"
"Obviously," Sherlock said, "what is it?"
"We left it where we found it for you," Lestrade said, "we've talked to John McFarlane's girlfriend and it's his. Fingerprints, too."
"Sufficiently damning," Sherlock muttered, crouching to take a closer look at the lighter, "any other fingerprints?"
"Oldacre's. The man smoked, McFarlane probably lent him the lighter."
"The body was found in this room?" Sherlock asked, standing up again. "Why this room?"
"Because it had the most flammable materials in," Anderson said pointedly, "helpful, when you're starting a fire."
"Brilliant, Anderson, as always you're displaying such fine levels of stupidity that I'm feeling mildly impressed you actually, unfortunately, have the ability to speak. The two men were conducting business and it seems very unlikely that the two would end up in this room. It also seems slightly unlikely that McFarlane would start the fire and throw Oldarce, still screaming, into the fire. So, he'd have killed him elsewhere."
John could feel Lestrade becoming more irritated the longer Sherlock spent spewing off seemingly random points which undoubtedly made sense but also seemed to do little in disproving McFarlane's guilt. John was aware of everything Sherlock had said the in cab ride earlier, but he still couldn't see any particular way that the facts could slot together. Sherlock's chain of thoughts seemed circumstantial compared to a lighter with fingerprints, no alibi and a very clear motive.
"I'll take a look at the study now, since it seems no one else has bothered."
After another half an hour of Sherlock continually ranting about how useless Scotland Yard was whilst inspecting what felt like the entire house (including a particularly boring fifteen minutes when Sherlock had paced up and down a corridor repeatedly, before heading down the stairs and doing the same on the corridor directly below), finding no signs of a struggle anywhere but presenting no alternative theory it seemed Lestrade had lost his patience.
"Have you got anything?" Lestrade asked pointedly. "Because I've got the man, I've got the evidence and I'd much prefer to close this case than have you prancing about pointing out things that don't make a damn bit of difference, Sherlock. I don't give a damn about your powers of observation and the bloody science of deduction, its clear cut. It's done. You're wasting our time."
"We're done." Sherlock said, finally.
John was slightly surprised by this and could feel the surprise being echoed around the room by the other's from Scotland Yard: this was a definite deviation for the script, where Sherlock would have by now gone off on a long rant about how McFarlane was completely innocent before leaving Lestrade to deal with his headache and a large quantity of paperwork.
"Is that it?" Anderson asked, but Sherlock was already off again – speeding off down the stairs, back out into the rain in attempt to hail another cab.
"John," Lestrade sighed, "what...?"
"I'll text you." John said, with a sort of shrug to suggest that really John had absolutely no idea how to explain Sherlock's latest oddity, despite usually acting at the Sherlock-translator and generally a buffer for his best made in these situations; unless Sherlock was being an idiot, in which case John tended to be less helpful. "I think," John said, pausing at the front door of the house, "that you might be right."
"I know I'm right," Lestrade muttered irritably, "pub tonight?"
John nodded, before noting that Sherlock seemed to have acquisitioned a cab at this point. "Better go." He added, hurrying off in Sherlock's direction before he was, yet again, abandoned at another crime scene.
Okay, so this took forever. I'm really sorry! I started writing the case that happens before this for the sake I've having ground work in my head, then I started posting it and it took over a bit. My bad. Thanks for the reviews so far! I won't take as long next time and, of course, thanks for reading :)