Sherlock Holmes opted to walk most of the way to Samantha Quick's location, not fazed by the foreboding atmosphere of the dilapidated apartment building. It was early evening, and the area seemed long abandoned in the hazy glow. Sherlock drove his hands into his pockets and stepped casually around the building, before a chilling voice drifted out an upper window: "Please, come up." He obeyed.
He emerged in the early hours of the morning, exhausted, a bit ashamed, but also quite pleased.
Bridget opened her door, flustered, after a frantic pounding had startled her awake. In the doorway stood a tall man wrapped in a dark coat and blue scarf, his hair pushed comically to one side as if he had slept with his head planted into the ground. His eyes flashed wildly as he demanded, "Where is Nancy Drew?"
Bridget gasped and wrung her hands. "Nobody here by that name," she said.
"Ma'am, your loyalty is commendable but your lying is atrocious. May I come in?" He stepped past her as he asked. "Nancy!"
The young detective walked calmly down the stairs, wearing nothing but a large t-shirt that she had slept in. Sherlock swallowed twice.
"Need something?" She asked coldly. Bridget backed up nervously and headed for the kitchen. "I'll just put some tea on then…"
"I've managed to secure exactly the evidence we needed against Miss Quick. She lured me to meet with her last night and I was able to acquire this notebook," here he revealed a small, leather bound journal from his coat pocket, "which contains no end of fascinating data. I thought—"
"Yeah, I know all about your meeting. Samantha sent me a picture of you," Nancy crossed her arms.
Sherlock paled a bit, and he studied the floor trying to recall Samantha taking a picture of him, and what sort of incriminating details had been included. He found himself a bit tripped up. "I see. Well, I hope that won't get in the way of things. You see, it had to be done, to give her the impression that she had influence over me, and it was the perfect opportunity to catch her off guard and obtain this notebook," he said quickly, his voice wavering just slightly.
Nancy looked him up and down, the way his hand trembled, his pulse was jumping in his neck, his eyes vaguely bloodshot. She felt as if she was being strangled. "You really don't have any feelings, do you?"
"Feelings have nothing to do with it. Honestly, I don't see why it's any concern of yours," he answered darkly, and ran a hand roughly through his hair. "Now, will you help me decode this journal or not?"
"Not. Count me out, Holmes. I'm nobody's sidekick."
Sherlock felt his excitement plunge into hurt. He didn't understand, and he wanted to change her mind about him somehow, but he would never beg. "Fine," he said stiffly, turning around and heading out the door just as Bridget walked into the room with tea. Nancy sank into a chair and let a few stubborn tears fall before brushing them angrily away. A plan flashed its away across her mind, and she decided there was no better way to go about things at this point.
She dialed a number. "Bess? I need you to do a bit of undercover work for me. Yeah, I know. It involves flirting with cute British guys, though, so I figure you're up for it."
John Watson opened the door of 221 B to Bess Marvin, who wore a new dress from the previous day's retail therapy and her sweetest smile. "Nancy isn't here," he gulped, unable to stop himself from looking her up and down.
"I know. I'm actually here to see you," Bess said. Of all the awkward undercover work she'd done for Nancy, this wasn't particularly unpleasant, she thought, smiling at his adorably British sweater vest.
"Mhm. I guess Nancy and Sherlock aren't on the best of terms right now. Can I come in?" she chirped.
"Of course," John said, mentally fist pumping.
Bess strolled around the flat, finding no evidence that Sherlock was at home. Now, she thought, if I were the world's only consulting detective, where would I hide my evidence? Nancy had given her strict instructions not to leave without that notebook. She had to find out who killed Joshua, and crack open the organization that also killed her mother, and she wouldn't have Sherlock interfering with that any more. Bess was determined to help.
"I know how frustrating it is sometimes, to be friends with someone obsessed with solving mysteries," Bess shook her head, trailing her fingers along the bookshelf.
"Huh. That's quite an understatement," John laughed. "I'm not sure what's going on with Sherlock on this case, though. He's been very secretive about it all."
"Nancy too," Bess agreed, trying to make him feel camaraderie, so he might want to open up. "I wonder if they're even making any progress?"
"Well, Sherlock mentioned finding something useful last night." Bess noticed John' eyes flicker to the messy living room desk, just for a millisecond. She smiled.
"Wow, that's good, then. Wanna make me some tea?" she asked sweetly, sitting down in John's chair and kicking her legs up over the side.
"Love to," John all but squeaked, and hurried into the kitchen. Bess leaned around, making sure his back was turned, and quickly rummaged through the desk drawer until she grabbed the brown leather notebook, stuffing it swiftly into her purse and returning to her casual pose just as John reemerged from the kitchen.
"So, does this count as the first meeting of the friends-with-infuriating-detectives club?"
Bess giggled. "May there be many more meetings to come."
Back at their hotel room, Bess handed Nancy the notebook. "You're welcome," she said proudly. "I'll have you know I went through hell for this," she teased.
"Bess. You kissed him didn't you," Nancy felt herself smiling despite her grave situation.
"I might have. But I didn't do that for the notebook. I did that for me."
"This is why we love you, Bess," George laughed.
Nancy sat cross legged on the floor and flipped through the notebook. "It's written in some sort of code," she noted, mentally flicking through all the cyphers she could think of. "And these colored lines…they probably match with the subway routes. This notebook has the answers to getting into that locked door, I know it. I just hope I can get there before Samantha notices it's missing…"
"Nancy, are you sure you want to go down there again?" George cautioned.
"I have to. I have to find out what happened to Joshua and my mom," she said with newfound determination. "Look, it's nothing but a reverse substitution cypher that switches every other letter." Her eyes flicked over the pages wildly. "This journal will crack this case wide open, and lead me right to the answers I need. I should really thank Sherlock…" she sighed. "I'm going in alone. Hold the fort up here in case anyone comes after Sherlock or John or Bridget trying to get to me, okay?"
Bess and George nodded gravely. There was no use arguing with Nancy when she was on the edge of solving a mystery.
Nancy wrapped herself tightly in a tan coat, turned up the collar to the nighttime wind, and stepped down the stairs into the subway tunnel. She had spent all day translating the journal and knew the route to the door, as well as the combination. Part of her felt guilty for stealing the journal from Sherlock, but the part of her that had been hurt by him was certain that he didn't deserve to continue investigating this case. It was hers, and he was nothing but a complication.
When had Nancy Drew become so cold?
She sighed and blinked hard, reminding herself to focus. She had been in dangerous situations plenty of times, but this might just be the most reckless. This time she had something to prove; to herself, to her mother's memory, to him.
The tunnels were completely deserted at this time of night, save from a few homeless lurking in distant corners. Nancy pulled out her penlight and flicked it discretely down the corridor. And eerie wind threw strands of her hair across her face, and she flicked it out of the way, annoyed. No one was to be seen, so she stepped down onto the narrow ledge beside the tracks and began the long trek through the tunnel.
"John, we've been robbed!"
"What are you talking about? I've been here all day," John said, with more patience than usual. In fact, his pleasant mood jostled Sherlock a bit. He looked the doctor over with a discerning eye. "Why do you have that face?" Sherlock demanded, walking straight over the coffee table and leaning very close to John. John closed his laptop and met Sherlock's gaze.
"This is the only face I've ever had Sherlock."
"No! There! That's your I-just-snogged-a-pretty-girl face!"
"I do not have an I-just-snogged-a-pretty-girl face."
"Go and look in the mirror because I assure you, you do."
John's face flushed and he laughed nervously, rubbing his hand over his forehead. "Alright, so what if I did? What does it matter?"
"It matters because I was robbed, and you had a woman over!"
"Oh come no, Bess wouldn't have…what's been taken?"
"The notebook. Samantha Quick's notebook."
John's face fell. He suddenly felt very used. He choked on his words and closed his mouth instead, defeated.
"Bess? Really John? How could you have not seen what she was doing?"
"Oh shut up," John said quietly. Sherlock checked himself. "Sorry, John. I am. But I think I know exactly where to find that notebook. Stay here," he ordered, and tried not to look condescending as he gave John a sympathetic look, and grabbed his coat. It was time to reclaim his case from that judgmental little American girl.
Nancy huddled over the notebook, mumbling to herself as she translated the code from diagram on the page to the strange lock on the door deep in the tunnel. She waiting until a train moved past to open the door, using the nose as a cover up of any announcing of her entrance. In the screeching gust of wind that nearly knocked Nancy down onto the tracks, she switched on the last number, slid the last colored line into place, and the door clicked open with a grinding mechanism. Only darkness lay beyond. The girl detective drew herself up straighter and stepped into the shadows, turning off her flashlight and feeling her way along the corridor.
After a short distance, she came into a hollowed out cavern lit by battery-powered lanterns hanging off the walls. A quick scan of the room showed no signs of inhabitants, so Nancy pushed onward into the room. She was floored with the discovery. This was definitely the base for a criminal operation. There were tables littered with research, newspaper clippings, and hastily taken photographs, and the walls were lined with boxes stacked high containing what appeared to be explosives, ammunition, and various chemicals in glass bottles. On one wall, there was a spread of evidence as one might see in a police station, connected with red thread and covered with scribbled notes in angry, slanted writing. Nancy whipped out her phone and began snapping pictures of the wall, her heart pounding as she realized she was looking at the planned targets of murders and grand heists. She began shuffling through the papers on the desks, and thumbing through disorganized file folders stuffed in cardboard boxes, lighting them up with the glow of her phone. Her heart leapt into her throat when she found it—a file on Joshua. There were candid photographs, notes about him knowing too much, witnessing two separate operations, details on how and when he was to be taken care of. "Oh, God," she murmured to herself, snapping more pictures and deciding it was about time she high tailed it out of there.
"See anything you like?"
Nancy's blood turned to ice in her veins. "Samantha." She turned around slowly, putting her hands up. Her mind spun wildly for a way out. Samantha Quick wore all black and all but blended into the shadows, aside from her striking blonde hair and blood red smirk. "I knew you'd come and see me soon enough. And now that you're here, please, stay."
Samantha shoved a sharp-smelling rag over Nancy's face, and after just a moment of frantic struggling, her body fell limp onto the cold floor.
"Drew," hissed a voice. Deep. Familiar. Strangely comforting. "Drew!"
Nancy blinked her eyes open, her head aching and vision blurry. The distant sound of a subway train rattled her, and above her head a single lightbulb rigged from a long wire tacked to the wall swung back and forth, back and forth. She gasped in a breath, remembering where she was.
"God," said the voice beside her, sounding relieved that she was awake. "You're a complete idiot, you know that?"
"What?" Nancy slurred, turning to look at the source of the voice. "Sherlock? What are you doing here? Ugh, perfect." The two were alone in the small room, each sitting in a rusty metal chair, their hands and ankles tied with heavy rope behind the chair back and to the legs. "What's going on here?"
"I followed you. Shortly after Samantha got to you, I allowed myself to be caught as well."
"You…allowed yourself to be caught? Why?"
"I had to see what she was up to. Stay on top of things, you know?" Sherlock said quickly, trying to cover up the fact that his face full of chloroform was not, in fact, intended.
"Guess it wouldn't be the first time you've succumbed to her," Nancy grumbled, trying to wiggle the chair, but knew she couldn't move without tipping it over.
"I never knew anyone to take drug use so personally," Sherlock said, feeling very weary as he tried work the rope further down his wrists. There was an extended moment of silence, as reality suddenly dawned on Nancy like a bucket of cold water.
"Hold on. Drug use?"
"Yes of course Nancy, are you not still upset because Miss Quick enticed me to use again? Ignoring of course, the fact that it was the perfect opportunity for me to catch her off guard and steal the notebook…my God, what are you staring at? You've made your opinion perfectly—"
"Sherlock. I thought you had…had slept with her."
He didn't react for a long moment, his mind turning backwards over everything that had already been said, and how it had been misconstrued. Then Sherlock dissolved into throaty laughter.
"It isn't funny," Nancy grumbled, trying to look angry, but his laughter was contagious.
"A bit out of character for me, wouldn't you think, Drew?" Sherlock quieted a bit and looked at her. She met his eyes with a weak smile, noticing the way they glowed softly in the changing light from the swinging bulb. "Guess I let my stupid feelings get the better of me."
"Feelings are a natural part of humanity. For everyone except me, of course," he winked.