Author's note: A new beginning! This is a pretty long chapter, but I thought it was a good way to start of. This is a sequel and you will need to read "The Adventures of the Hidden Child" to understand. I only own, Cassandra, everyone else belongs to Doyle. Reviews are wonderful while flames will be used for experiments.
"You are the one that must choose your place."
James Lane Allen
I had spent nearly three years living with Grand-mere in Paris. In that time, not only had I changed from the young fifteen year old girl and into a young woman of eighteen, but I learned as well. She hired the best tutors to complete my education. She also worked on my skills in deduction. Whenever we went out, I was to notice details. She wanted me to learn how to only look for what I needed.
Grand-mere even continued the fighting lessons Holmes had begin teaching me. She took us to Japan where a master trained me. He taught me meditation, and several different stances before moving onto defense. When I returned, Grand-mere had a fencing instructor waiting for me. A few times I would go with her butler, Wilson, to several different boxing matches. I fought a few of them, but never won a lot. When I did, we would spilt the winnings between us.
We quickly learned my best fighting was with bullets. It was by incident, we were staying with Grand-mere's friends and they went on a hunt. One of the man wanted an even contest and had me join in. Needless to say I came out as the winner. This gave Grand-mere an idea once again and she contacted Mycroft. A few weeks later one of his best agents came and stayed with us until I the same accuracy he had.
There was of course lessons where every young woman must be taught. I had ballroom dancing, and proper adequate. I was taught how to survive in society. Grand-mere taught me these things herself. She took pride whenever I was flawless or when making a mistake I was quick to cover it. This was one of the hardest lessons, I had to leave my boyish and outspoken ways in order to achieve it. Grand-mere had promised that I could still do the things I enjoyed, but in certain surroundings, I had to act differently.
However, I missed London. Paris was wonderful, it kept me busy, I made a few friends, I made a new life for me there. But, I missed the drily London air with the thick fog. Thinking of London would bring back raw memories of Holmes. I never let myself think upon the memories too much. I was not the cold person I was since leaving London two years ago, but I was not the naive child anymore. There were certain feelings I did not allow myself to feel.
About three months after my eighteenth birthday, Paris had lost its appeal to me all together. I could not understand the reason I no longer wished to do anything, but lock myself in the large library and lose myself in books. Where I even begin losing interest in them as well. I then started sneaking out at night and traveling through the city in different costumes, observing what I could.
One afternoon, I had returned from another outing, this time from near the Palais Garnier trying to see if rumors were true about a secret entrance leading from an alley in Rue Scribe. I was unable to find it, so I moved to the opera house and looked around there. Grand-mere was in the library when I returned.
"I see your little adventure was fruitless." She said looking up from her book.
I sighed and sat down. "It was. I searched for nearly an hour. I went inside and watched a rehearsal from box five until I grew bored."
"It seems you have been busy, and do you intend to go out again this evening?"
"You know I go out at night."
"Wilson told me. He is the one who makes certain the door is unlocked when you return, or that a ladder is in your reach to make the climb to your balcony." Grand-mere said. "What I do not understood is your latest obsession to go off into the night, especially in the worst parts of the city."
I looked up at her. "The realism of them has of late kept my attention. I always look to them to see the problems of humanity and draw different conclusions of what causes them and how to repair them. In a way, it's a body study. People do things for a reason trying to understand why they do things it will help to prevent certain things from happening."
"How long do you believe you will be able to continue with this?"
"Not much longer." I admitted.
Grand-mere smiled at me sadly. "I think a cup of tea is in order."
Over the years, I learned that when Grand-mere wanted tea, she needed to have a serous talk over something. Something that I had to listen to, and something that was never good. I remember the first time I had tea where we talked about Charlotte, when I was lectured about how much I had changed after Holmes died and I was harming myself for his death, and when she had to break the news that Thomas, the old grounds keeper at Sussex had died. Never was the news good when she wanted tea.
When the tea cup was in my hand and she had her own she looked at me. "You need to return to London."
"What?" I asked her shocked.
"You need to return home. You have learned everything you can, now is the time for you to apply them." Grand-mere said.
"Cassandra, you have learned all I am able to teach you. You are bored here. In London, there are things you can do."
"What could I do?"
"Solve cases, stop blackmail and any other criminal offense."
"You you want me to become what Holmes was." I said flatly.
"In a way." She said slowly. "Mycroft said he may have a few things from the government that may interest you."
"You and Mycroft…this was your plan. You wanted me to continue what he started."
"Do not make it sound as if you never wanted to follow in his steps, Cassandra." Grand-mere said. "I know that you have wanted it for so many years. We all know you used to follow Sherlock everywhere doing what he did."
"So that's it then. I have been a pawn for the past three years?" I asked hotly.
"No, of course not. But you have been prepared for this. You have been taught things no one else can teach you. If you want to throw it all away and marry someone then it is your decision. If you want to pursue it, if you want the rush of the chase and the chance to play in the mad game that you have been introduced to since an early age, then I tell you to go to London where it all began."
"What good will it do?" I asked.
She clasped my hands. "Trust me, Cassandra. Returning to London will be the best thing for you."
"I left London for a reason." I stood up. "Thank you for the tea, but now I have some work to do."
"I know you left for a reason, Cassandra. But no one can stay in hiding forever. It is time for you to return." Grand-mere said.
"What am I to return to exactly?" I asked. "There is nothing there for me."
I paused for a moment. Watson, I have not really spoken to him in years. And what about Jess and the other Irregulars? I knew that deep down, Grand-mere was right. I had to return to London. There were too many things I had to take care of there, and if things did not work the way I hoped, I could always leave.
"Even if I do go back, it does not mean I will do what Holmes did. I do not want it anymore."
"If that is what you believe, Cassandra." She said.
"What day will the ship depart for England?"
After a few days on a ship, I never have been so happy to see London. Of course, London being London, it was fog and rain when I arrived. I was worried when I arrived. I had not spoken to Watson since I had left. I did write to him, but the letters were short and they were few. I was not certain if he was happy that I was back or that I would be staying with him again.
I quickly spotted him waiting for me. "Watson!" I shouted out waving my hand. He broke out into a grin and walked over quickly where he then held me in a tight hug.
"I have missed you, Cassandra."
"I missed you as well." I said before pulling away. "It's so good to be home again."
"I'm happy that you decided to come back."
"Yes, well, I have stayed away long enough."
"Is your health well?" He asked.
"You are always the mother hen." I said smiling. "I'm fine, Watson. Grand-mere had seen that my heath is perfect."
"Why don't we go home?" He asked. "I'm sure that you are tired."
"I would like that."
We got into a cab and sat across from each other. "I was surprised when you wrote to me saying you would return." Watson said.
I sighed. "I know you are upset that I have not written to you much."
"Six letters in the past three years."
I winced. I knew it was the correct amount, but it still did not make it easier. "Watson, I..."
"Mycroft explained to me what you have been taught. I'm not angry with you, Cassandra. I understand that you were busy."
"Grand-mere thought I should have what was promised to me and then some."
He nodded his head. "Yes, I must say I was worried when I heard you had lessons in fighting."
"It's a new form in Japan." I explained. "It is also good for patience and balance."
"Neither are which you are gifted with." He teased.
"I shall have you know that it is not an early task. I had to stand on logs and walk straight. I nearly scared the wits out of the maid when I was balancing on the balcony. You should have seen her face, Watson, I thought we would never calm her down." I said with a laugh.
Watson was staring me with a small smile. "What?" I asked. "What is it?"
"You are not the same young lady you were when you left; you are a grown woman now."
"I haven't changed that much, Watson."
He shook his head. "You have, Cassandra. You have changed, but it is a good change. You even seem to be back to your old self again."
When we arrived to the flat Watson helped me with my coat. I went to take my bags, but Watson shook his head. "Let Anne take them to your room. You will have some lunch and then try to have a small nap."
He shook his head. "No, no, Cassandra, you will rest today. Tomorrow you can go running around the city."
I laughed. "Really, Watson, do you ever stop taking care of me?"
"Never." He said. "Oh, and before I forget, a package arrived for you from Mycroft. I was in a rush before I met you I had notes to give to Lestrade."
"How has it been working as a police surgeon? I forget to ask you earlier." I asked once we sat down and the cook bought out soup and sandwiches.
He smiled. "It's…a bit refreshing. It reminds me when I joined Holmes on cases. Of course I am not nearly as good as he was, but I do try."
"You're just as good as Holmes was, Watson."
After lunch, I did go to my old room, but I spent my time unpacking my things instead of napping. I then turned to the large thin rectangle box from Mycroft. I opened it, and found a black inverness cape and a grey deerstalker.
"Very funny, Mycroft." I said dryly.
Later when I walked into the sitting room, I was surprised when I saw Jess. She stood up, and we stared at each other, taking each other in. She was almost the same as I had seen her last. But, her hair was long. It reached past her shoulders a little, but it was pulled back in a knot. Her figure was not as lanky as it once was but more curvy.
Nevertheless, she still stood like a boy, her feet planted apart and her hands in her pockets. She was taller, nearly towering over me. She was wearing black trousers, a black vest over a white shirt, and I saw a black cap and a jacket on a chair next to her.
"You had a good time?" She finally asked breaking the silence.
"It was fine." I answered.
She nodded. "Good."
"Do you still live at home?"
She shook her head and showed me her hand. A simple diamond ring shone on her ring finger. "'e's a professor. I worked for him about a year ago. We...we got on well."
"Does he make you happy?"
Jess smiled. "He does."
"What is he like?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "He's a good broke. He loves his job and likes that I'm smart. I don't 'elp 'im when 'e does them chemical experiments. I 'elp with the mechanics, building things. "
"You were always interested in things like that."
"I just help him oil parts and things."
I nodded my head and then laughed. "Remember when Holmes was trying to fix his old microscope and you pushed him aside and did it for him?"
She smiled. "I did it in ten minutes, and it was taking him all day."
"And his face!" I laughed. "His pride was hurt for the rest of the week."
She giggled. "Glared at me whenever I fixed that stupid thing." We didn't say anything for a long time. "Yew can talk 'bout 'im."
"It's not as hard anymore." I sighed. "Jess, what I said…"
"Don't matter." She said quickly.
"Of course it does." I said. "I was out of line…"
"No, Cassie, I was. I was mad at yew when I shouldn't have been." Jess said.
"You had very right to be mad. I never should have treated you like that, I…didn't know what to do and it scared me."
"Are yew still unsure?"
"A little, I feel alone sometimes." I admitted.
"Well, you are home now, and not alone."
"Are we still friends?" I asked.
She nodded her head. "Of course, we're always friends no matter what, remember?"
"I remember." I said. "It's good to have you back, Jess."
"No, Cassie, it's you that is great about having back again."
Jess and I were friends again, and I talked with Wiggins as well. Things were slowly going back to the way it was before everything, before I left, before Mary died, and even almost to the point before Holmes had died. Almost.
About a week after my return, Watson and I had gotten home from a small walk when the maid handed him a telegram. "A murder has taken place." He told me as he scanned though the short note.
"Who was murdered?" I asked.
"Mr. Ronald Adair, he is the son of the Earl of Maynooth."
"What happened to him?" I asked.
"I do not know. All Lestrade said is that Adair was murdered and that my presence is required. I have to go."
Something in me had awakened. The part of me that was dead for a long time was coming back. Whoever murdered the earl's son meant business.
"I will go with you."
He looked up at me. "Cassandra, I do not think that…"
"Please, Watson." I begged.
He stared at me for a moment. "Cassandra, I do not think that is a good idea."
"Why not? Holmes taught me everything he knew, I can help. Besides, this is what I have been working for since I was in France. I am ready to do this."
"But are you ready emotionally?"
"Yes, I will be fine."
Watson sighed, but he slowly nodded his head. "I shouldn't be doing this, but very well. You can come with me on this case."
"However, I do not know if Lestrade will let you stay. That is a different matter all together, Cassandra."
"I know, but maybe we can convince him."
We got a cab and went to the house and when we arrived, other detectives were there looking at the scene. A short man, whose face was almost ferret-like, was speaking to several officers. I recognized him as an inspector who Holmes used to help for information on a case, he was Inspector Gregory Lestrade.
He looked our way and made his way over. "Ah, Dr. Watson, and this must be …?"
I held out my hand. "Cassandra Vernet."
"Ah." He stared at me for a long moment.
"Cassandra is a daughter of a dear friend of mine." Watson said as I slowly lowered my hand. "She is staying with me for a while."
"You brought her here?" Lestrade asked slowly as if Watson had gone mad losing his mind. "To a crime scene?"
"I trust her judgment." He said. "She is someone who I can tell my observations to, and she might even notice a few things as well."
"Dr. Watson, is this really necessary?"
"Yes," Watson said in a voice that led to no argument, which he had countless of times used on both Holmes and I. "It is."
Watson was about to walk to the body, when I stopped him. "Can I look as well?"
He and Inspector Lestrade stared at me as if I had grown two heads. Watson was the first to speak. "Cassandra…"
"Of course not!" Lestrade exploded. "That is no such scene for a lady."
"Then how am I to help him if I do not see what he sees?" I asked in a much calmer manner.
"She has a point." Watson said.
"Doctor Watson, surely you of all people would not let her be exposed to something like this. Why what would her parents say when they find out about this?"
"Unfortunately, he would agree with this." Watson muttered but I heard him. "She will be fine, Lestrade. She is a lot stronger then she looks. Cassandra, you can look with me."
"If she faints then I would hate to be the one to tell you I told you so." Lestrade grumbled folding his arms across his chest.
Before we reached the body, Watson looked at me. "Are you positive you want to see this?" He asked. "You really do not need to; I can let you read the report when I finish it."
"I will be fine, Watson."
"The first time is difficult." He warned me. "Even my first time was hard, I nearly ran out of the room and it was at university."
"I will be fine." I said.
"All right, and if you can't…I will not think any lowly of you for it."
"I'm not afraid to look."
He nodded his head and we walked to the body. The body was lying near the desk. Watson glanced over at me, silently asking if I wanted to do this. I nodded my head and he lifted the sheet covering the body.
Ronald Adair's face was unrecognizable due to the fact of the bullet that was penetrated through. The faint stale metrical smell of the blood and the decay filled my senses. Watson knelt down and began his examination. I did feel a bit sick to my stomach as I stared at the man, but I was not about to show my weakness. Instead, I held my head high and pushed down the bile in my throat.
"The bullet mushroomed out." Watson observed as he looked up from the man who he had been staring at for a long time.
"Is that common for a bullet to do that?" I asked.
"For a soft-nosed bullet it is."
I saw a bullet near the back of the man's neck. I dropped my handkerchief. "And he was alone?" I asked as I bent down to pick it up.
"Very much alone," a reluctant Lestrade said, narrowing his eyes at me in question. "His sister and mother were downstairs when it happened."
"Was the door and windows locked?" I asked looking around the room.
"The murderer could have locked the door and gone out through the window." He said as he thought.
"Your observation astonishes me, Lestrade." I said.
He stared at me in shock for a moment. "If I didn't know any better, I would say…no it's impossible."
"What is?" Watson asked him with a smirk, we both knew whom Lestrade meant.
The inspector looked so confused, but he shook his head. "Nothing, it's nothing. Forget I ever said anything."
An officer who I recognized as Peterson, the same officer who had found me when Edmond Bryson kidnapped me, spoke up. "No one else was in the room, sir. There is a twenty-foot drop. The flowerbed was not disturbed. The murderer could not have climbed out of the window."
"Then we can assume that Mr. Adair was in fact, alone in this room when he died." I snatched the bullet using my handkerchief quickly. "Did the murderer shot from across the street?" I asked.
"No one heard anything." Lestrade said.
"It would have been remarkable if the shot did come from the window." Watson commented. "For this kind of bullet…it's nearly impossible for it to be shot from that distance."
"We are missing data. Is there anything of interest about this man, anything at all that may shed some light into this?" I asked.
Several of the detectives were watching me now. They chuckled. "She's playing detective." One of them laughed.
"He liked wrist, Ma'am." One of the officers spoke up, trying to humor me. "If that means anything."
"Debts?" I asked quickly, my mind racing.
"No." Lestrade said. "He never played for more that he could not pay."
"Sounds like a certain doctor." Of the the detectives said.
Watson stilled for a moment, before resuming to his task. I frowned before standing up. "Interesting."
"What is?" Lestrade asked.
"This man appears morally sound. No debts, and no certain…activities with late night visitors. Through there is the stretch of the cheapest ladies perfume, but it is from the man wearing the clothes of the night before."
The laughter had stopped from my last comment, the guilty detective casting glares. I turned my attention to the desk. There were two bank notes for ten pounds and ten seventeen pounds in both sliver and gold. The money was arranged into little piles. I also found a sheet of paper with names and amounts of money next to them.
Lestrade hurried over to me. "Miss. Vernet, I must insist…"
I held a finger up and shook my head. I slowly lifted up a note. "£420 to Coronal Moran..." I read out. "Mr. Adair's writing."
"How do you know that?" one of the detectives asked.
I laid the note on the desk and pulled another next to it. "See the way the t is crossed? Identical and both are in a right hand. Both were written by Adair."
"A regular Sherlock Holmes," One of the detectives called out.
My face grew red and they laughed, thinking it was from embarrassment, but it was from anger. I was angry that they did not take me seriously. I closed my eyes for a brief moment and cleared my mind as Master Morita had taught me. "And he didn't have any enemies?" I asked.
"None from what we can tell. He was a good man; he had a good temper and seems to be well liked." Lestrade answered. "I was planning on questioning both the mother and sister again."
"It would be useless." I said. "They do not know anything."
"Nothing is missing?" Watson asked.
"We see that no attempts have been made."
"You should see about Colonel Moran." I said.
"Well, then we shall have to look into that then." Lestrade said. "You can go now, Dr. Watson."
Watson and I watched as he walked away before we started walking home. "You were wonderful, Cassandra." He praised me. "You really outsmarted them when you found the note and compared it."
"Thank you, Watson." I said.
"You act so much like him." He told me. I looked away "It still is not easy for you is it?"
I sighed. "Some days are better then others. But, then there are days where I still can't talk about…"
"I know how you feel, Cassandra. Nevertheless, just let me tell you this, he would be so proud of you for doing what you did."
"How can you so sure?" I asked.
"We both know Holmes, Cassandra. He would be proud, I know I am."
I smiled. "Thank you, Watson." After a moment, I turned to him. "Do you mind if I leave? I will meet you at home later. I think I found something, a theory, you don't mind?"
Watson shook his head. "Not at all, just let me know if you find what you wanted."
I smiled as I hurried away and got a cab. It went down familiar streets and then it stopped in front of a familiar door. I paid and got out. I walked up the stairs and rang the bell. A moment later, the door opened and Mrs. Hudson stood before me.
Her eyes widened in surprise before she hugged me. "Cassandra, look at you." She pulled away. "You are grown up."
"It's good to see you again, Mrs. Hudson." I said.
I was telling the truth, I did not realize how much I missed the old landlady, who always looked after me when I was a little girl. She helped me with different problems I had and she was there if I needed advice, or even on the rare occasions where I sought for a woman's comfort. She looked after everyone who walked through her doors, rather it was I, Holmes, Watson, and she even looked after the irregulars by making plenty of food for them to take home.
"What brings you here?" she asked. "I haven't seen you since…"
"I need your help."
I said the four words that left no argument from the landlady. In no time, she had me back up in the sitting room of my childhood. How often was it that I spent my time in here when Holmes did not have a client? Or what of the few times that he did have one and I was hiding underneath the table? How many times did I watch Holmes work on an experiment at his chemical table in the corner? How long did I study in this room with Holmes not too far away from me?
I walked around the clean room and I ran my hand over Holmes' desk. "Everything is just how it was before the break in." I said softly.
"I have had much time to put everything back the way it was." Mrs. Hudson said. I knew that she did not have much of anyone anymore besides her daughter who lives far away, but she did have her Baker Street family, an odd bunch we all were at that. "It all should be in its right place. A little neater then it was, but everything is right where he left them. I'll leave you to your work."
"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson." I said.
She smiled. "Of course, and I will come back in a few minutes with some tea for you, Cassandra. It will be ready in no time for you, dear."
Good old Mrs. Hudson, how could I forget that she is the closest thing that I had ever come to as a mother. Mrs. Hudson raised me nearly as much as Holmes did. I felt a stab of guilt for not seeing her all of these years and leaving her all alone. She never took another tenant after Holmes died, even if Mycroft did pay for the rooms, she still could have rented them if she wished.
Once she left the room I walked over to Holmes' bookshelf. I searched for a while until I found the monograph on the types of bullets. As I skimmed though the pages of Holmes' work, Mrs. Hudson walked in and sat the cup next to me. After a while, I sipped at the tea and realized that this was going to be longer then what I thought.
After another hour I finally left, but with a promise that I would return. I got a cab to Pall Mall and walked to the flat. I knocked on the door and was admitted inside by the landlady. Mycroft was not there so I sat down in one of the chairs and waited until he returned. Thankfully, he arrived five minutes later.
"I see that you have arrived to London safely." He said.
I nodded. "Yes, thank you for the birthday present by the way."
"Tea?" He asked.
"No, thank you, I do want to stay too late."
"How has the doctor been?"
"He has been well, busy with different cases Lestrade has given him." I answered. "But, he is not the reason I am here. I want to have all access to Holmes' files."
"With what reason?"
"There has been a murder…"
"Mr. Adair, yes I know. What does that have to do with your sudden need to have as you say 'all access' to my brother's files?" Mycroft asked me as he leaned back in his chair.
"I joined Watson on the case and…"
"He let you join him?"
"Yes, it was not an easy task to convince him to let me come along with him." I added. "I was only to watch, but I…well…I suppose that I…"
"You wanted to solve it. Do not lie to yourself, Cassandra."
"But it was not. I did want to solve something, but there was certain evidence that has interested me even more."
"Oh?" Mycroft asked raising his eyebrows. "Then prey tell, what it is exactly."
"The evidence sounds familiar to me." I explained.
"What evidence stands out to you so much?"
"It is the weapon that was used to kill this man and the name card that was found, Coronal Sebastian Moran. I knew that both deal with a case that Holmes had. I cannot recall which, but I remember some of it."
"And what case was this?"
I took a deep breath; I knew that this would be difficult. "I believe that it was a file that was in 1891, right before he died."
Mycroft stiffened for a moment, before he relaxed. "You sound rather certain of that statement."
"Yes, I am certain, Holmes had let me read some of his older files when I was fifteen. I admit that a few I read ones which were current."
"Cassandra, you may be confusing what you know and what you remember, with what you want it to be."
"I am not imagining things nor am I trying to point this at Professor James Moriarty just because of your brother's death. I was taught better than that. I remember something about this, Mycroft, I may be wrong, but I know that both the gun and Moran are at least connected to a case Holmes did. It had to have been in the year 1891 or I would have forgotten it."
"I see your point." Mycroft said.
I relaxed when I saw that I did not have to fight against him to prove a point. A tireless and usually fruitless act, when it was concerning to make the older Holmes understand your side to a disagreement over something.
"Then I will have access to them?" I asked.
"However, no now just listen to me for a moment." I folded my arms across my chest and nodded at Mycroft to continue. "Are you sure, you can handle this? It is your first case, you have little experience in that area and you were never involved with any physical movement."
"You know Grand-mere made certain I could handle anything. I was trained by a master, learned how to fence, and can shoot at a long distance with one eye open."
"That is not exactly what I meant. You are about to enter the field, you only have one chance at this and you will have to make certain that your findings can be used in court. Can you handle this, Cassandra?"
"I will make sure I am absolutely certain of my findings before I conclude anything, Mycroft. You know I will."
"Will you be able to handle this though, Cassandra? You would be facing many...many difficult positions. There will be certain things that no man must see, things that no one would have to go through. Are you certain you will be able to handle this?"
"Mycroft, for years I have been taught by your brother. He taught me the basics, but among them, I was taught to look and see and know the things that you both know that you used in everyday life. Even after his death, I have not stopped using the methods. You and Grand-mere have made certain of this." I said. "Now you tell me if I had wasted my time by doing this."
"I am to assume that Scotland Yard will also be notified about this development you have once you receive the files." He said.
"Yes, eventually." I said slowly. "I hope I will be able to hold off giving that information for a few days at least."
Mycroft sighed. "I do not want them snooping around and messing with my brother's things. However, I will allow you to take the files. I do want everything to be replaced when you are finished, Cassandra."
I smiled. "Thank you, Mycroft. I'm sorry that I can not stay long, but I am meeting some friends."
"Of course, give my regards to Doctor Watson."
I was about to leave when he called me back. "Oh, and Cassandra, do be careful will you? You are about to enter dangerous waters."