The Pied Piper

Sherlock was stuck.

It was something he would rarely ever admit, but as he laid on his black leather sofa, which had earned an indent due to its thorough use, his mind came up completely blank as he tried to figure out his most recent case.

He opened his eyes, removing his hands from where they rested above his mouth, and glanced at the chair that used to be occupied by John Watson.

He winced.

It was the first show of emotion in a long, long time for Sherlock, but it was rightful. He had never thought about the impact he made on people's lives, how he barged in and changed them, made them into something different. After John, however, he did.

John Watson had thrown himself off of the same hospital Sherlock had 'jumped' from.

He had killed himself because of Sherlock.

A phone rang, snapping him out of his thoughts as he jumped up, hoping to receive new information on his case. He was lost, and after the last victim had been uncovered five days ago, he had retreated into his flat to think. He hadn't even bothered to change his pyjamas.

When his phone screen flickered to life and the message displayed, he grinned, his bad mood suddenly lifted.

New victim. Come to crime scene, we've got something.

Lestrade

Sherlock raced to get presentable, knowing that his appearance played a great part in the maniulating power play he used regularily.

Once he was clean and in his suit again, he hailed a taxi. The standard black model screeched to a stop in front of him and he slid into the back with a practiced ease. It was like it always was- except that John had been with him.

He subconciously clenched his fists, but righted his posture from such primitive behavious quickly after noticing. He was on a case. The cases were the distractions, they work was important. Nothing else mattered.

When Sherlock arrived to the address Lestrade had sent him, he immediately started taking in his surroundings. An alleyway, dark and deserted, no CCTV to go by. There were no witnesses, there was no one wrapped in bright orange blankets, and the usual team was there.

He narrowed his eyes, spotting something out of place.

Who was she?

There was a woman, probably twenty-eight, standing in the middle of the crime scene, but all workers respected some kind of unseen bubble that stopped anyone from approaching her. She looked concentrated, her stormy eyes flickering as she turned around on the spot, seeimingly taking everything in.

Just like he did.

Her eyes suddenly landed on him, and he found himself bare under her analysing stare. Was that how people usually felt when he deduced them?

Within a few seconds, she had seemingly gotten the information she wanted and started heading towards him, her stride confident as her blood red trench coat billowed behind her. Her eyes weren't focused on him anymore, she was looking at her surroundings again, assessing everything.

He frowned. Who was she? He reluctantly admitted to himself that she had similiarities to him, and it seemed as if she was familiar with crime scenes- her confidence implied that she thought she owned it. It was her field, it had her absolute dedication. She was focused, clearly noticing every single details average humans usually missed.

"Sherlock Holmes." She greeted him coolly, standing before him. He hadn't noticed her, and yet she stood within two feet of him. Why wasn't he focused?

"Yes," He replied, his voice typically baritone, but it held the tiniest of trembles, "Who are you?" He enquired.

"Victoria Charles," She stated, her even voice holding the same accent as his. It wasn't as prominent, however, insinuating that she had travelled a lot, but was definitely from London. "I'm here to help you on the case. Lestrade practically begged me."

Sherlock raised his eyebrows at her. She was there to help him? He didn't need help. He may be drawing a blank on the case, but he never, ever needed help. He didn't except it and would certainly never ask for it.

She obviously read his thoughts from his expression, because she said, "He doesn't care for your pride. People are dead and he wants to prevent further attacks."

"Typical." He muttered under his breath.

"It's human instinct, he can't help it," Victoria said. Normally, it would have sounded like defence, but in her cool monotone, it sounded like what it was- a cold, hard fact. "Now, if you'll follow me to the body before those idiots mess it up." She motioned for him to walk with her.

He did so, silently wondering who she was. He had been able to deduce little things- the obvious things- but for some reason, he couldn't dig lower. Not with her.

They were standing over the body soon, and Sherlock decided that it looked just like all of the others. The body of someone who obviously had criminal history, with a dead rat and a note lying next to them, untouched.

Victoria smirked at the sight of the scene, and a man came up to them.

"Stop smiling," He reprimanded lightly, "It's not decent."

Sherlock held back a whimper- he was usually the one getting told off for his morbid excitement.

Her smile just widened. "Decent is boring, Thomas. Why don't you go get yourself some coffee and I'll meet you in an hour?" She suggested.

He sighed, and Sherlock noted the obvious disappointment. Thomas seemingly had a fancy for the woman. "No, no, it's fine. I just came over to say 'hello'. It's been a while since I've seen you. I'll leave you to it." He told her resignedly, trudging off into the darkness of the night.

Victoria watched him leave before focusing her attention back on the body, but Sherlock found himself intruiged.

"I'm assuming you know he fancies you." He stated, starting their conversation.

"Yes," She nodded, crouching down to pick up the note by the dead man, "He's told me countless times, not to mention the dilation of his pupils and the quickened pulse." She commented off-handedly.

"And you're not interested?" He asked curiously.

Her eyes scanned over the note, not seeing anything interesting of helpful. "I don't need a relationship. Granted, the release of hormones is important, but I don't need someone clinging onto me." She told him, and Sherlock found himself even more interested- more so than he was interested in the case.

He was about to ask her another question, feeling the need to unlock the secrets he couldn't deduce, but he was interrupted by Lestrade coming to join them.

"Hello, Victoria," He nodded at her before doing the same to Sherlock, "Sherlock. How are you holding up?" He asked, pity in his eyes.

Sherlock tensed. "I'm fine."

"Are you su-"

The man with greying hair was cut off by Victoria. "I may not be the most sensitive person, but even I've noticed that it hurts him to think about his assistant." She stated in that even, indifferent tone of hers.

"I never told you about John, and they didn't put it in the papers." Lestrade pointed out, confused as to how she knew.

She rolled her eyes. "You've known me for a while now. You know exactly how I know."

"Right," He said apologetically, "Sorry."

Sherlock looked between the two, frowning before he thought back to Lestrade's text. "You said you had something." He stated coolly, proud that it came out similar to Victoria's tone.

"You're looking at her." The man told him, gesturing at the brunette woman.

"I don't understand," Sherlock admitted, "How is she supposed to help?"

"She's been working on this case too, Sherlock. I was just trying to keep you apart in case you started fighting." Lestrade explained.

"Fight over what? Who's the better detective? Who's more intelligent?" She scoffed, "Right now, I'm on a case. And you know exactly where my priorities lie, and his are seemingly similar."

Lestrade cringed. "I know, I know- only the case is important, nothing is matters except the case. Have you ever considered that you're addicted to the work?" He asked.

Her mask suddenly fell, and her already stormy eyes held a silent fury. "Yes, I'm addicted to the work. The work is all that matters, there's nothing but the work." She spat before turning her back to the men.

Sherlock could see her muscles contract and her body rise as she took a breath to calm herself. When she faced them again, her eyes were once again clear and her demeanor collected- nothing showed that her facade had slipped.

"There's nothing different about the body, Lestrade. Just another man who's wronged, a rat and a note explaining what he did." She listed, quickly moving on from her mistake.

Lestrade looked slightly baffled and thought he was hiding it well, but he was under to eyes of two world-class detectives- of course they could tell. "I know, I know. I didn't say it was anything about the body, did I?" He pointed out, proud that he had beaten her.

Victoria and Sherlock both narrowed their eyes at him, quickly coming to a conclusion when they glanced at each other. "Oh," The former uttered, "You mean us."

"Yes, I thought two heads might be better than one at a time, after all." The older man confessed, smiling sheepishly.

Sherlock kept his eyes narrowed at him. "Why would two of us be better? We both have the evidence and the same information to fall back on." He stated.

"Well," Lestrade said, "I don't really know. What do you do when you meet someone as clever as you?"

"I don't." He said briskly.

"Don't you ever-"

Lestrade was cut off for the second time that night, again by Victoria. "Your trivial conversation is charming and all, but I'm on a case. I don't have the time or patience for this, and you need me." She urged them before stalking over to a police car and stealing a laptop out of it.

The two men followed her silently, and Sherlock internally cursed himself. Trivial? Charming? That was new. When did he become a typical police officer that didn't know any better?

Or maybe she just played in a higher league.

When they were within five feet of the brunette, she glanced up. "Who's is this? It's a standard issue, new. I can't place a character."

Lestrade's brows furrowed. "I think that's... Amy's." He disclosed.

"Yes, I know. There's a name," She gestured to the name on the back of the metal casing, rolling her eyes, "Who is she?

He pointed at a perky blonde wearing heels that were much too high for a crime scene, and both detectives scanned- deducted- her.

"Jerenina0512." Sherlock finally let out.

Lestrade looked at him confusedly. "What?"

"Her password," Victoria informed him absently and gave the black-haired man before her a nod, "Is she a good kisser?"

"What?"He repeated, that time spluttering.

Twinkling grey eyes fixed on his. "You kissed her. After all those times your wife betrayed you, you kissed another woman." She drawled, openly showing her amusement.

He turned completely red, and pointed at the laptop to distract them. "What are you doing?" He asked, noticing that Victoria had been typing the entire time.

"He wants recognition." She stated, looking at Sherlock and ignoring Lestrade. He was right- two heads were better than one, but that also meant that someone as small-minded as him wasn't needed anymore.

The man with ice-blue eyes nodded. "Yes, of course. He leaves notes, telling us who the victim is, what he's done and how he killed them." He pointed out, agreeing.

"What are we going to do, then?" Lestrade asked.

He was ignored. "The rat. He's telling us that they're vermin, he's giving us the reason for their deaths... He must think he's doing good." Victoria mused, her brain in full gear.

"So he's trying to impress someone, too." Sherlock figured out.

"Obviously a woman. Strong beliefs, probably Christian," She added, "So he wants to be caught."

"Not just recognition, a great big article in the newspapers, telling the woman what he's done." He finished off her line of thought.

Victoria smile suddenly. It seemed morbid at a crime scene for most, but Sherlock found that he liked her smile. It was a closed-mouth smile, like it was the biggest smile she could ever muster, and her full lips spread, causing her dimples to show slightly. He decided that he wanted those little indents in her cheeks to show fully one day, when she was smiling at him. God, he was turning domestic.

"Exactly." She said, her voice lit with excitement. She looked at the man before her- high cheekbones, icy eyes, curly mop of hair and a great coat- and realised she wasn't alone. There was someone else like her, someone who understood the work. He knew her mindset, her priorities and her ambitions.

Lestrade looked between the two, thinking that the out-of-the-blue happiness on their faces was due to the case. "You've solved the case, then?" He guessed.

"What?" Sherlock's eyes shifted to him, frowning again, "No, of course not. Don't be stupid."

Victoria let a smirk grace her lips in agreement. "The murderer is going to solve the case himself." She announced.

"You're kidding, aren't you?" Lestrade pleaded.

"No, it's logical." Sherlock defended.

"The murderer wants recognition- what if he doesn't get it? He'll get sloppier on purpose, wanting to be found. Eventually, he'll fall right into our arms and solve his own case." Victoria exlained easily.

"We're just going to wait?" The detective inspector repeated, bewildered.

"Yes, that's exactly what we're going to do," She said, looking down at her watch, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a client I should be seeing."

With that, she was down the street, heading away from the alleyway crime scene and hailing a taxi.

The last Sherlock saw of her for a while was her billowing red trench coat, getting dampened by the beginning of heavy downpour. While the rain was impractical for the investigators at the crime scene who were foolish enough to believe they would find fingerprints, it was a relief for Sherlock.

The domestic feelings he had started harbouring for the woman he had known for barely any time at all were washed away.

The memory, however, remained.