Chapter 1: Her Beginning
She sat there, at the top of the stairs, listening to the screams and shouts of those that were supposed to be her adoring parents. They were supposed to have her best interests at heart - but, who cares about things like that when you can drink 'til your livers' swimming and drug yourself up to the eyeballs? Priorities people, priorities.
She crept down, balancing on the pads of her feet, she'd always been a bit wobbly on her legs - avoiding the creaky step - and peeked through the bars of the banister. Her tiny hands gripped them tight, her knuckles white and her eyes wide -
"You lying, cheating who-", Harry gripped his wife's head by her hair, and was doing his best to crush it against the wall.
Carol clutched the empty bottle of vodka as if it were something precious, and swung out blindly - there was a thud as it connected with flesh, startling out a noise of distress - she scrabbled frantically with the hand still in her hair as she continued to strike with her make-shift weapon.
"Stop it - stop -", The bottle slipped from Carols' hand, shattering, and she was dropped among the jagged pieces - blood ran down the side of his face as he loomed above her. Out of the corner of his eye he spied what he'd been looking for, the cause of their final argument; a used syringe lying upon the kitchen side. He snatched it clumsily.
"You're s'posed to be her m'ther," his words were slurred, as if they were a weight upon his tongue, dragging it down, he struggled to focus his eyes as the alcohol in his system ran rampant, "If i'd known i'd married such a, such a sleazy piece of trash - " The needle dropped from his hands.
She'd moved from the stairs, now watching from behind the kitchen doorframe. Harry, still having his back to her, didn't see the last bit of innocence leave his eight year old daughter's eyes as his wife let out an unholy screech, leapt upon him and thrust a large shard of glass deep into his ribcage. His acknowledgment of the assault was a cry of outrage as his meaty hands closed around her neck, crushing her wind pipe - her movements grew frantic, turning into jerks and spasms. As she struggled for breath, her vision dimming, the last thing she saw were the dull eyes of her unfortunate child staring back without expression.
Harry stared at the far too still to be healthy body in front of him. His mind fuzzy and his vision blurry, he stumbled backwards until he came to rest against the fridge. His concept of time nonexistent as he stood there for God only knows how long, watching as best he could as the colour faded from the cheeks of his once love - the lights of the kitchen were harsh, bright and unforgiving. He started as small hands grasped at the legs of his trousers.
His daughter. His Danny.
His child that had stood there and seen...and seen...Just how much of it had she seen? All of it? Or just his transformation into a murderer? His father was right, he wasn't fit to look after her, he should've given her up just like he had with her brother. He slid down to the floor, wincing as the change in position tugged at his wound.
Danny climbed onto her father's lap. She hugged him as he cried, as he bled out onto her favourite pj's - the ones with the cats, she loved cats - as he stroked her hair and made it clump and stick with red. She hummed as he lost conciousness, as his breathing became shallow.
She fell asleep at 12.36 AM and missed her father's last rasping, mockery of a breath.
Penny, a 40 yr old housewife, woke up on the 23rd of April at 7.08 AM and followed her routine as she would on any god given day. She slipped out of bed, quiet so as to give her husband an extra half hour of sleep before she had to wake him for work. Slipping on her obnoxiously bright yelllow dressing gown, and slippers that did nothing but make her feet cold and sweaty - she trudged downstairs, into her pristine kitchen and set about making breakfast. She hummed, content, a good feeling about the day settling low in her stomach when there came knocks from the front door - and she'd remember later that there were three knocks, in fact she'd remember all the details of that particular morning for the rest of her life; because as she opened the door, as she turned the key, as she pulled the handle, nothing could have prepared her for the little girl with the dead eyes, covered in red and swaying on the spot.
Penny's husband jumped awake to the sound of his wife screaming for help.
11 years later
The vicious clack of Danny's shoes sounded as a warning to anyone stupid enough to approach her. She stormed down the corridor, her coat flailing around her as she hurriedly pulled it on, shoving doors open with her hip until she reached the waiting area – she gave a sneer at the poor saps that were awaiting their turn to be analysed, hoping for easy answers to even simpler problems. She almost wanted to laugh at how she could read them with ease – adulterer, fraud, cleptomaniac, killed their cousin, gay, army doctor – dear god, it was just. So. Dull.
With a toss of her hair she dismissed them, and with a sharp turn made her way to the secretary blabbing on the phone. Danny waited, an obscenely cheerful smile now upon her face specifically designed to unsettle -
“I know right? -”
Her fingers tapped out a familiar beat – tap tap, tap tap – the only sign of impatience -
“Don't worry 'bout it, just at work, and he said to me, 'Jenna -” the young woman's red hair bobbed in it's ponytail as she swivelled the chair.
- tap tap, tap tap -
“Well, I told Dave that if he doesn't tell her -”
With remarkable composure, Danny picked up the blue biro that lay innocently on the desk, and threw it at the woman's head. Jenna dropped the phone, and stared at the pen rolling on the floor dumbly, her head then whipping up to glare at the brunette in front of her – she stood up suddenly, her chair moving smoothly away from the force.
“What the fu-?”
“Please, save us both the embarrassment, shut that pretty mouth and cancel all future appointments of one Miss Danny Mills.” tap tap, tap tap, “Quick as you like, only some of us actually have a life with a purpose.”
Jenna stood there, her incompetence shining all the more brightly with her inability to actually do her job.
Danny's fingers stilled, the smile dropped so fast it was questionable whether it had actually ever been there, and she stared.
“Do it. Now.”
A sudden red flush of humiliation bloomed on the secretary's face, as she snapped to action at the tone of command – the click of the keys as her fingers flew across the keyboard were the only thing to be heard in the sudden silence. A look of hesitation stole over her face, her mouth opening and closing making her resemble a fish.
“What is it?” Danny snapped.
“It's just...it's just that you have no future appointments,” she turned the computer monitor for the younger woman to inspect.
“That bugger,” tap tap, tap tap,”always one step ahead...” she mumbled to herself.
Danny stood abruptly, putting on a pair of sunglasses for the harsh winter sun and briskly made her way to the exit.
As she opened the door she heard the shrill squeak/scream of the secretary as she fell to the floor – she clearly forgot about the chair.
SH – SH - SH
She travelled down the stone steps, and looked around for the familiar car. She rolled her eyes at it's absence, how dull, making her wait. She shoved her hands into her pockets and began a slow, aimless walk down Edgware Road.
She replayed today's session through her head, half-amused at how long it had taken to click for the shit-talking therapist, she'd been displaying psychotic traits since their first meeting after all – she just hadn't expected the experiment to carry on as long as it had, next time she'd look further into their qualifications.
What little amusement she had died. Maybe next time she'd create a persona, a little less truth – the idea of reliving certain events from her childhood did not appeal.
The sound of a car pulling up broke her out of her reverie. Danny turned to find the comforting sight of the black lexus rx – the door opened and out stepped a young man, late 20's, eyes glued to the blackberry and impeccably dressed in an unspeakably expensive suit.
“Sorry I'm late my dear,” his familiar Irish lilt and sincere tone brought a genuine smile to her face, “Some people just can not be avoided.”
She made her way to him, and was immediately engulfed in a warm hug which she whole heartedly returned. She mocked gasped, pushing him to arms length “ I do believe you forgot about your phone for all of 30 seconds good sir.”
He rolled his eyes and made a vague gesture towards the car, she took it as a signal to climb inside and heard him reply as he climbed in after her, “Anything for family.”
“Aw, Jim,” Danny simpered sickeningly, “You really do care!”
She saw the lift of his cheek and knew without him looking up that he was wearing that indulgent smile, the one reserved only for her. She turned her gaze to the window, taking off her sunglasses now that they'd been made temporarily redundant by the tinted windows – she didn't hear the address Jim told the chauffeur.
SH – SH – SH
“So what do you think Sherlock?” Mrs Hudson stood in the door way watching the detective bounce from one part of the the flat to another, internally making comparisons to butterfly nets and barely contained tornados.
“This,” he gestured grandly, turning on the spot as if to take it all in, “This will do nicely indeed – the rate..?”
The motherly woman stared at him, her lips pursed in thought, when a devilish thought came to mind, “I'll reduce the rate,” Sherlock gave a smug smile, no doubt recalling her husband, “If you can find a flatmate.” And with that she bade a hasty retreat, her footsteps sounding as if she were jogging lightly – which she may well have tried if she hadn't decided to wear the purple shoes today – and chuckled at the indignant shout from above, “MRS HUDSON!”
SH – SH – SH
Sherlock stared down the microscope, hardly seeing anything at all – his mind was whirling, he was mentally going through the list of the few people he could actually stand to (possibly(if pushed to)) live with, the list of even fewer people who'd be willing to live with him while simultaneously trying to deal with the fact he may never make it out from the house Mycroft had given. Oh great. And now he felt nauseous. How perfectly dull.
He heard the timid squeak of the door opening, and the steps of Miss Hooper as she shuffled towards him much like a mouse.
“Yes, Molly?” he heard the shatter of a test tube and couldn't help but roll his eyes at how easily startled the woman was.
“It's just, you haven't actually moved for at least an hour..” she faltered slightly, but her concern gave her incentive to soldier on, “..and I was just wondering if there was anything wrong?”
He sighed, and turned to face the mousy haired woman, “I have to find a flatmate,” he saw her eyes light up, and turned his back to her, looking among the petri dishes, looking for the right stage of mould that'd been grown specifically for him, “ and yes, I know your lease is up in 17 days time but no, don't trouble yourself to offer to help because i'm sure your very well settled first name basis with neighbours -”
“There's, there's a woman nam-”
“Point proven,” he gave a small noise of triumph, and swapped the samples and actually focussed on studying them, “ and I would just hate to be the reason why you'd just suddenly uproot yourself.” he finished with a quick smile that never reached his eyes, not that she would know – her gaze focussed solely on the ground, as a pink flush decorated her cheeks.
“It really wouldn't be -”
“Sherlock!” Mike's voice boomed, he pushed past Molly with a file in hand which he offered to the genius, “ You, are going to love this.”
The woman stood there, uncomfortable and hesitant, “Okay, I'll just – yeah..” she turned away, and hurriedly made her way to the door.
“Molly.” Sherlock called, his low voice carrying across the lab with ease – she stopped at once, her body obeying him before her mind could register. She turned to him, her face hopeful, maybe he'd re-thought, maybe he wouldn't mind -
“Your watch. It's six minutes slow.” His eyes didn't lift from the file, and he didn't see the pained expression cross her face or the sympathetic gaze from his male companion.
SH – SH – SH
“We're here,” Jim stepped out of the car, barely waiting for it to come to a stop – he waited, holding the door open, making shooing motions when the driver tried to take over.
Danny scooted across the seat and accepted the offered hand of her beloved brother. She quickly scanned the street, ignoring the people – irrelevant – looking for a sign. He gently gripped her chin and directed her head up, she squinted against the light as she read -
“Baker Street?” she turned to Jim with a curious expression, “Why are we here Jim?”
Sherlock's mind buzzed with the little information he'd gathered from the file – it had a total of three pages and yet this was the most stimulated he'd been from a potential case in months, possibly years.
Mike stood there with a satisfied air, “ A gift from Lestrade, bumped into him on my way down here, he seemed a bit stretched for time so I offered to play messenger.”
“What you mean to say is that the Inspector looked all excited and you decided you wanted to see what all the fuss was about,” the standing man made a noise to indicate the affirmative, not bothering to hide what the young Holmes already knew, “and even though you've read it over – twice, judging by the smears on the print – you still have no idea what it's about.”
He finally lifted his gaze from the paper and turned his penetrating stare to the large man, absently shutting the file – he held out an expecting hand, “The paint samples?”
The other man shook his head slightly, fumblingly grasping the zip of his bag and pulling out a taped box. He gave it a curious look, “Paint samples? Dare I ask?”
But, he'd already lost the brilliant man's attention – he was absorbed in test tube, after test tube of paint scratchings, he held them up to the light as if he could discern their shades with the naked eye despite how similar they looked.
Mike ran his hand down his tie, flattening the already smooth fabric to his chest – a nervous gesture, must he scream out everything in his head? - and his eyes, flitting back and forth between the door and Sherlock before finally settling on the door. Ah, so he's either taking his lunch or -
“About Molly -”
And there it is. The curly haired man carried on with his inspection of the box's contents, “Hmm?” He answered, waiting for the man to defend the object of his infatuation.
“- I know you don't really get it, you know, with the whole I'm a robot in disguise thing you've got going,” he ignored the raised eyebrow this earned him, “but could you not at least try to be just a bit nicer to her? I'm not saying take her out for coffee but for God's sake, at least consider her, you need a flatm-”
“Mike?” said man's jaw snapped shut with an audible click of teeth, “that woman has had this misplaced affection for me for the past four years, don't you think that if I actually take the time to be 'just a bit nicer to her' it's just going to encourage her, let alone inviting her to share a flat-”
“But Sher -”
“-and wouldn't that just be counter productive for you? After all the time you've spent pining after her I would've thought you wouldn't want her to live with me – who'd want to share a flat with me anyway,” he finished in a mutter, his gaze far off, thinking of the people he did know.
Silence immediately followed the young man's impromptu speech, thinking he'd actually been listened to for once Sherlock lifted his head from his precious samples to continue on how Mike should move on from Molly, as the woman clearly wasn't interested, but all he saw was an empty lab – it must've been time for lunch after all.
He shifted on his stool, the base of his spine numb from prolonged stillness and switched slides.
SH – SH – SH
Jim turned to Danny with a bright grin, briefly stunning her with it's genuine emotion – he's found something, something that actually has the capability to hold his attention. A coil of unease twisted in her gut, making her want to frown, what ever the reason she felt the sudden need to hold him to her, drag him away from this street and never return. She could feel it practically taste it, it was all going to end horribly – for the both of them? For Jim? For...? She could feel the missing components like a phantom limb – the unhappy ending waiting for someone, she just didn't know who.
His grin dulled a little as he recognised the expression on her face, his hand dropped away from her chin, “Don't say it.”
She looked at him, her eyes scarily devoid of anything, and in that moment she saw how that one look that had managed to slip through her defences had managed to make him actually fear – this sense of power over him made her ill, and just like that she smiled, eyes filled with stolen warmth and she grabbed his arm and childishly pulled, “C'mon then! You still haven't said why we're here – you're not planning on buying the street are you?”
He moved her hand so he could hold it with his, he swung their joined hands and began walking down the street forcing her to walk with him. She waited patiently for him to collect himself – feeling the return of his earlier excitement that he seemed to exude – and tried to entertain herself with the rushing passers by, so at odds with their own leisurely pace.
Suddenly, she had a a face full of suit as he had come to an abrupt stop in front of her,
“Give a girl a warning next time.”
All she got in reply was that same grin from earlier, he let go of her hand and walked up to the the Victorian Terraced house in front of him, pulling out a key from his jacket.
SH – SH – SH
Jim stood in the middle of the second floor living room, and gave a deep bow, “Welcome to 227 Baker Street m'lady, our home for the foreseeable future.”
Danny took a look around, it felt....homely – it was decorated in browns and creams giving a feeling of warmth and comfort, the shelves of familiar books, the fireplace, the sofa that looked as if she could just sink into it -
“Seb decorated didn't he?” her amusement in her tone as she took off her coat, checking her pockets for her sunglasses through reflex – but she didn't find them. Her palms began to sweat, her eyes became unfocussed as her mind played through everything she'd done from stepping into the car to climbing the stairs, “Jim – Jim -,” her voice rose with each repeat of his name, an edge of hysteria to an otherwise mechanical tone as she stood there, not moving an inch.
Her breath came faster, how could she be so stupid? She was so, so stupid – how could she lose them? She couldn't even keep track of them in her pocket – she put them there and now they're gone -
They're gone -
So stupid, so, so, so stupid, “Jim – Ji -” she cut off, too choked up, her eyes burning but her face unchanged -
Her head snapped up, she met the curious eyes of her brother and saw her sunglasses sitting quite innocently upon his head. Danny snatched them back with a ferociousness that intrigued Jim, she stared at him almost questioningly.
“I took them, when we were in the car,” his voice gentle, not that it would be noticeable to the average person. It felt a lot like pity, “Wanted to see -”
It snapped in place, “You're really going to lie to me? To me?” a deadly silence followed, Jim winced.
“Oh.” the exclamation was soft, a small revelation, “you were checking up on me? Wanted to see if it was worse?”
The moment was slipping out of his control, gaining a momentum he hadn't expected – a rarely felt tension filled the space between them like an unpleasant smell - she gave him a look she normally reserved for those she wanted to pick apart for fun, to sit for hours with a scalpel and peel away the tiniest bits and pieces until the person in front of her was a blubbering, incoherent mess.
It was at this moment that Sebastian Moran walked through the Moriarty siblings front door, and stopped dead at the oppressive atmosphere between the two master criminals. His gaze flit between them, waiting to see who'd throw the first punch – this wouldn't be the first fight of theirs he'd had to bear witness too but dear god, he gave an internal sigh, just don't let them make me pick sides, he still didn't know how he managed to come out of their last scrap with only a shattered knee, and a few bullets to the chest.
Jim gave a jerk of his head in the other man's direction, simultaneously a welcome and an order – and Seb grabbed that order like the escape route it was and made his way to an adjacent room, his eyes glued to the floor so as not to be dragged into it this time.
He'd almost made it too, but then -
“I thought we'd established you don't take what's mine, and I don't touch what's yours..?”
And he could feel her eyes boring jagged holes into him, and he knew that she knew – and he didn't even have to turn to see the furrow in Jim's brow as he took his sister's warning in.
Damn it. He'd almost managed it too.
SH – SH – SH
When they heard the soft click of the door, once there was a solid shield between them and their curious employee they levelled each other with wary and assessing narrowed eyed stares – reading the possibilities in each twitch of a finger, the movement of a brow.
“And now you know how I am – are we done?” she asked carefully, her previous outburst evaporating, bored and ready for a change in subject.
The Irishman gave a thoughtful nod, and offered his hand for the second time that day – she took it without a second thought, their blind faith in each other restored.
He pulled her in the direction the banker had taken, but detoured and led her into the resident kitchen – she raised a bemused eyebrow at the low set computer that was at the perfect height for the two bean bags dumped in front of it, one of them was red. How sweet, her favourite colour.
SH – SH – SH
Sherlock rolled his eyes as he stared down the lenses that showed him the perfect magnified compound – boring. He'd already known it was the brother, the legwork really was the worst bit -
The door opened for the umpteenth time that day -
“Ah, Mike, Can I borrow your phone? Need to send a text.”
The plump man patted down his jacket, and when he came up with nil - “I must of left it in my coat.”
“Here, use mine.”
And with that, Mike watched as the untouchable man was genuinely taken aback by this army doctor's offer, the way John interacted with Sherlock with ease – curiousity spilling out of him, not remotely offended just wondering at the taller man's deductions.
Mike allowed himself a smug smile at the men's interaction, knowing he'd made the right decision as his phone vibrated in his back pocket, signaling a text.
He watched with increased amusement at the young man's assuming nature, and was immeasurably proud when Sherlock gave John his stamp of approval by asking him to meet at their potential flat – he took pity on the poor man, as his face seemed to give the impression that he'd just been caught in a whirlwind and he didn't quite know what to make of it; “And yes, he's always like that.”
SH – SH – SH
Danny's thick hair was barely contained in the loose bun she'd hurriedly put it in once stepping out of the shower, clean and refreshed she followed the smell of freshly delivered pizza back the way to the kitchen. Her brother sat on the blue bean bag legs splayed out in front of him, while holding a slice of pizza and texting faster than should be possible. She followed his example and fell back into the comfortable chair with a whoosh of air and waited patiently – tap tap, tap tap, he flinched at her unconscious signal – as patiently as possible.
Her stomach growled, puncturing the silence, “Eat.”
She wrinkled her nose at the command, but gave in quickly knowing he had a stubborn streak to rival her own. As she quietly munched on her food, trying to ignore how she felt she could imagine the greasy mouthfuls sliding down her gullet, she saw her brothers face light up – he leant forward, fingers flying across the keyboard in a frenzy, clearly showing that whatever he was doing was the reason for his excitement. Danny quit observing her brother – the quickening pulse in his throat, the slight signs of damp on the back of his shirt, all the little things belying his anticipation – in favour of watching the machine's screen in front of her, her own interest now admittedly piqued.
The mouse icon hovered over a minimised tab but with a click it filled the screen – her brother sat back down, completely absorbed – and an image of a flat with an identically shaped living room filled the screen -
“The entire flat's layout is identical with ours.” Jim murmured absentminded.
“It's not dull, just wait – there he is.”
She watched as a darkly clad, curly haired, pale skinned and obnoxiously tall man flitted around the room, “Who?” she asked simply.
“Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective.”
She winced visibly at Jim's almost reverent tone and utterly engaged expression when he suddenly frowned, her eyes turned back and a nagging feeling bugged her at the back of her mind as she saw a second man in the room. He was a stark contrast to his companion, what with his height and mousy hair, he had a look of practicality about him and her mind whispered army doctor..
“We have – had – the same therapist, he was in the waiting room today.” She'd barely finished the last word when Jim picked his phone back up, and she knew he was sending orders to Seb next door, she could see the annoyance in his face at this unknown variable – that something had happened and he hadn't factored in it's probability. He loathed surprises.
They sat there for the next couple of hours, their companionable silence crumbling as the kitchen darkened as the sun went down outside. The young woman looked over at Jim, the light of the screen flickering and casting shadows over his face – her breath caught in her throat for a moment, it was like she couldn't see his face, like he was just gone for a second. The feeling returned from earlier and she considered trying to bury her head in the leather seat beneath her as her stomach roiled against her dinner.
She stood abruptly, her arms folding around herself like a hug – or like a brace keeping something together – and made her way to her bed, shivering at the cold tile underfoot. She didn't bother saying goodnight. He wouldn't have heard her anyway.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
11 Years Previous...
Danny swung her tiny legs backwards and forwards, gentle and inconsistent, clinging to the cup of tea that Mr-David-Call-Me-Bill had given her. Penny lay upstairs still in shock over seeing such a little girl painted in so much red, her husband had bounded down the stairs, taken one look, and then in a surprisingly calm voice sent his wife away.
Bill had lowered himself, eye to eye with the still girl and had talked in hushed tones, as if he were sharing a very important secret – he'd guided her to an armchair in the corner of the room, gentle nudges and prods making the young girl feel like glass, and turned on the T.V.
He watched her, making sure she was completely absorbed in the vivid colours and noises before he grabbed the phone and rang the police, something he had wanted to do since Danny's family had moved in next door. His voice rang out grim.
She stared at the screen, her eyes flickered across the changing images as if they were truly trained on the scene in front of her – it was a trick she'd learned when her parents' arguments had started getting out of hand, play the ignorant bystander – play dumb, stupid (they'd always said she was stupid) – and they leave you alone and you get to absorb everything; just like now.
Bill was standing there just inside the door frame, and just outside of her peripheral vision, but she could hear him even over the obnoxiously loud cartoons. The deep inhale and the shaky exhale as he tried to hold off whatever emotion was threatening to overwhelm him.
Danny sipped at her tea, so sweet, sweeter than she would have been allowed if -
The door bell rang and she heard the man jump and knock his elbow, he muffled a curse – she strained her ears – he opened the door, a business like voice that resembled her fathers answered on the other side and then a warm voice, worried by the quick, harried responses. Three sets of footsteps were heading towards her, sounding closer and closer, her small hands growing clammy and wet with sweat, they were going to want to talk to her, but she didn't know anything, she was stupid. That was what they had always said, she was stupid, a retard – she was going to disappoint these new people – they were going to get angry at her – would they hit her? Lock her away? Forget to feed her? Talk to her days later and be angry at the smell of ammonia that they'd detect? She knew how it went, it'd happened before – when her dad had gone for weeks, and it'd just been her and mum -
A new face was in her line of sight, and she gave a small scream, the cup fell from both her hands easily and the sound of it shattering was horrendously loud in the deep silence that permeated the room.
The face creased further in distress, and the woman ignored the warm liquid that now stained her pale blue skirt, “...ny? Danny?” her voice stern, gentle, so warm.
She stared at the woman wide eyed, wary and waiting for the sudden anger, it was a very pretty skirt after all – she stared at the hand in front of her, the pretty blue aqua coloured beads on her bracelet, “...your okay now darlin', you're okay, you've gotta come with me now, you'll be alright sweetie. Come on now..”
Tears welled up in Danny's eyes, sudden and unexpected, an animal like wail tore from her throat as she was faced with this unforeseen freedom and comfort, she launched her self at the blonde haired woman who had just about enough time to catch her and steady herself as precariously balanced on her toes as she was.
Soothing, shushing coos, her matted hair being stroked, she wished with all here heart in that moment that she'd had a mother like this stranger – just willing to hug her while she cried.
Her tiny arms wound round the woman's neck, and her small legs were swept up – she could feel them throbbing, she must have stepped on the broken cup – she hid her face against the unfamiliar chest with the strong and steady heart, she was carried through the hallway, out the door and to a waiting beat up car. She left as quietly as she came, the only evidence the broken cup and a stained white seat that would never come clean.
9 Months Later...
Said woman turned round with a smile, watching the energetic child coming towards her.
Danny hurled herself at the blonde woman whom was her social worker, and embraced her in a fierce hug. It had been two days – two WHOLE days since she'd seen her! And today was her birthday! She just knew something special was going to happen today, she could feel it – the feeling in her stomach knotting and tying itself so much she didn't know if it was anxiety or anticipation, she just knew it was going to be good though. It had to be after all, it was her special day – nothing could go wrong, she hadn't given permission.
“What'd'ya get me, what'd'ya get me!” the girl squeaked with excitement, jumping up and down on the spot.
Liv gave a laugh, and knelt down, “Oh, I see how it it is,” she gave a light poke to her nose, stifling another laugh when the young girl wrinkled her said feature in irritation, “I'm just good enough for presents now huh? You cheeky moo!”
And with that said she began a tickling match to end all other tickling match's, she allowed herself a grin as Danny squirmed on the floor, her peals of laughter echoing in the hallway of the child's home she'd been in ever since that night – and tonight would be the last if she had anything to say about it. But for now she huffed a laugh and picked up the still giggling child and balanced her on her hip.
“Well,” she began, “since you asked so nicely.” She pulled a silver present from her very official looking briefcase – her slight smile growing wider again as her hand brushed the adoption papers – and passed it without ceremony to the girl she held.
Danny stared at it with an awe that a nine year old shouldn't know, breaking the older woman's heart just a little, getting a birthday present should've been normal for her – she'd rectify that in the future, they had plenty of time.
She tore at the wrapping paper, the crinkling noises filling the air - “A book?” she had a curious tone.
The woman nodded, her earrings jangling slightly, “A book – my ma gave me that when I turned your age, Essential Norse Myths And Legends. She gave me a Norse name, my name?” Danny gave her a thoughtful nod, waiting for her to continue, “It means shelter and protector, and I want you to have this book because it means a lot to me and,” her childish hands ran over the front cover, “ it has some pretty awesome pictures – slayings, snakes, swords, bloody battles, you name it.”
Danny hugged the inked pages to her chest, a flush of pride on her cheeks, she gave Liv a peck on the cheek, “Thank you Livvie.”
The woman took a moment to soak in the moment, the contentment and the progress Danny had made in such a short time. Reluctantly she lowered her to the floor, and gave a short laugh at the adorably confused look Danny gave her, she stroked her hair.
“I have to go speak to Mike, and then I'm going to have to leave,” she winced as Danny's eyes widened in alarm and cut her off before she could speak, “I need to set up a few things so that when I come and collect you tomorrow, you'll have somewhere to sleep for the rest of the week...”
The overjoyed high pitched squeak that followed was answer enough.
Liv Susanne Dale Hughes died outside the door of her apartment early next morning, she died abruptly and with the last happy thought that she had a daughter in the eyes of the law, and that she loved her daughter deeply.
Sebastian James Moran packed away his rifle, satisfied that he'd done as ordered as he knelt in the dusty, abandoned house.
Mike Noel Shale shakily sank into his chair, reeling from the phone call he'd just had, one life destroyed this morning and another life that had yet to be destroyed by the news.
Danny sat on the window seat in the play room, enjoying the silence and trying to ignore the feeling her stomach – that something bad, something awful...
Her grip on the book tightened, and she breathed in deeply, the smell of Liv's perfume not soothing, but making her feel sick.
3 Years Later
“I'm glad you could make it,” Danny's tutor leant over to shake Mike's hand, he noted her accent, London by the sounds of it.
The woman sat back in her chair, and tried a strained smile, all this did was cause the other man to gulp in nervous anticipation – what on earth had Danny done for him to be called in?
She gave a tired sigh, looking heavenward as if asking for strength, “I understand that this is short notice but I thought it was about time you knew, Danny has been studying for her GCSE's.”
Mike's mouth was agape, surely this woman couldn't be serious? GCSE'S? She was only 12.
“I know, it seems unlikely that such a young girl be ready for those sorts of exams already but she is – she is incredibly bright and more than capable, a mind quite literally like a sponge although she likes to play dumb – as you know she refuses to make friends her own age, and has instead replaced them with books...it was last year that she began to ask her teachers for more advanced material. At first they were reluctant but she proved herself again and again and she...,” the woman shook her head, her short locks ruffling, “..she breezed through it.” her eyes were far off, seeing something else.
The man spluttered rather unintelligently drawing the older woman's attention again who openly rolled her eyes at his lack of control.
“With your permission as her guardian we'd like her to start the exams next month and as this is a sixth form school, we'd like to get her started on her A-levels. Like I said,” she said into the stunned silence, “She's very capable.”
The woman talked him through it, explaining how it would work, assured him that she had every faith that Danny would pass with flying colours and by the end of the next hour he'd signed his permission on the necessary forms and still in a stunned daze he shook woman's hand again, “Thank you Mrs Hudson.”
As he drove back to the children's home he wondered if the world was ready for a girl like Danny.
2 Years Later
14 years old and she had a degree in architecture.
She sat on the window seat in the play room, her hand just resting on the book laying on her lap.
She looked out of the window, the sun glinting off the sunglasses she wore, the perfect barrier.
She watched for the person that never came and never would.
“I miss you, you know.”
She didn't cry.
3 Days Later
She glanced over her room as she walked it's perimeter, her fingers brushing over each and every item. A habit she'd developed over the last 5 years, she liked knowing where everything was, everything had it's proper place and that's where it should be, it wasn't right other wise. She straightened a porcelain figurine on her window seal. A perfect right angle.
Mike popped his head through the open door – she heard his footsteps the minute he was on the stairs – he was hesitating.
“You..have a visitor,” she waited, he had more to say, she didn't need to turn around to see that, “he's produced the right paperwork and he says...he says he's your brother.”
She choked on the air she tried to breathe, apparently she could still be shocked – she filed that away for further contemplation – and she pivoted on the spot. She pushed past Mike and run down the stairs, ignoring the call of her name, she jumped down the last of the stairs and slammed open the door to Mike's office.
“Well, at least you don't look like mum,” was the first ever thing Jim said to her.
For the next 3 years Jim introduced her to the business.
At first Danny watched from screens, burglaries, meetings with clients – ranging from the small time to politicians, royalty – she watched as he progressed further and further and he taught her as much as he could. She became his prodigy.
The mind of a sponge and he taught how to observe, how to plan and she developed her own area's, her own areas of specialised expertise – Danny was eager to please, the thought of being back in an orphanage lingered in her mind. She'd be alone again.
And it was tough, because Jim...Jim got bored quickly.
She found this out on her 15th birthday when he had her sit in on a torture just for his amusement. She had nightmare's about his shark-like smile for weeks – she woke up screaming once, and had seen him standing in the corner of her room, arms crossed and a cold disinterested look in his eye. She was expendable, a novelty.
She worked at becoming vital. She pushed herself, anticipated what he wanted, found him interesting clients – he'd particularly enjoyed the body snatcher's – and the next time he had her watch the 'questioning' of someone who had what he wanted she didn't hesitate. She pushed aside the would-be torturer without a glance and took to the task with a smile that was all wrong – and she knew she'd lost herself somewhere – and she knew that Jim was proud, that she had earned a place by him, and she was good enough to keep because she was unpredictable.
Jim began to soften around the edges as Danny hardened.
Jim trusted her, she became a part and then the centre of his little world, he began to dote on her – especially after one memorable occasion when she administered a head shot to a client's wife after she had deemed the client himself as disrespectful to her beloved brother, it was the equivalent to a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates.
Danny shielded herself, hid her eyes – they always gave her away, her sensitivity to the sun just gave her a valid excuse.
It was when she was 18 that Jim brought up Liv, he said he'd freed her and given her the chance to become who she was today.
Danny told him that he was never to touch what she said was hers, no matter how small.
She didn't speak to him for 3 months, and that was the first and only time she saw (would see) him cry.
Danny sat at the kitchen table and watching Jim staring at the screen in front of him with an intense focus, she saw the figure of John Watson walking over to the arm chair she'd mentally dubbed as his.
She could see the Irishman reverting back to his old ways, the sharper line to his shoulders even as slouched as he was and that glint in his eyes – she would of shuddered but she wasn't scared of him, not anymore.
She knew she could deal with him if she had to.
She sipped her coffee, it was too sweet.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
For days now an unidentifiable silence had filled their poky little flat, she wouldn't say it was tense but it was definitely...waiting, anticipatory? It was the best way she could describe it.
She'd gone to her room early yesterday, not able to take the excitement that he'd been practically squirming with – she was pretty sure she loved (the closest imitation she could summon up anyway) Jim, but god, she didn't need to see him so gleeful at the prospect of snuffed out life. His disrespect for the balance between life and death and just the general sanctity of human life really rankled at her sometimes – and wow, that reeked of hypocrisy. She wasn't exactly innocent herself, but if she were free, if she were in Jim's position she would run this sort of organisation differently, and it'd be better for it.
She jolted awake as a heavy weight jumped onto her bed and a bright white light was shined in her face.
“What the fu-?” she flailed slightly, caught in her bed covers with her right arm numb from where she'd been sleeping on it.
“Wipe that drool off your chin, it's really not your thing and wake up already, the site's loading.” Jim's voice was high pitched, slightly mocking and that more than anything else helped her wake up.
Danny blinked sleepily up at the short man, he was dressed in joggers and a tee – clearly he had gotten ready for bed but had found something far more important than his body's needed slumber. She turned her head away from him, not willing to deal with the maliciousness in his eyes at this time – she winced and scrunched up her eyes at the light blinding her again – speaking of time.
“What was so amazing that you had to wake me up at...?” her voice gravelly and hoarse from sleep.
“It's only 5,” she glared at him, and he huffed, “ don't give me that look, we both know you've been up earlier than this before -”
“-because it had been planned out in advance you twat! You know exactly what I'm like if I don't get enough sleep, I have a routine and I like it -” she winced again as the laptop flashed in her face again.
“Oh for Christ's sake,” he passed her her sunglasses from the bedside table which she greedily snatched and gave an audible sigh of relief, “Freak,” he muttered.
He ignored her snort of laughter, “Now will you just look at the screen?” he said with more than a note of frustration.
Danny shuffled and sat up, taking the offered laptop and settling back against the headboard – he crawled under the covers and joined her, sitting side to side.
“The Science Of Deduction...?” she couldn't help but sound incredulous that someone had taken the time to set up a website about this sort of thing, she couldn't imagine any one really cared for it, “And why are you showing me this?” She was already bored, she just wanted to go back to sleep.
“I forgot how slow -”
“Oh shut it! I am fully aware that this is your beloved Mr Holmes' site, it's not like you'd acknowledge me for much of anything else right now – what I want to know is why you're showing me it since he's your little pet project, he's not anything to do with me!” She couldn't bare to hear that sneer in his voice, it was like someone dragging their nails down a chalkboard – making her snap her teeth at air in agitation – she glanced over at him and saw an uneasy expression flicker on his face, it happened so fast that she was struck by how it was a genuine reflection of what he was feeling. Wait. What had she said that could have caused it? Maybe he felt bad -
“Well perhaps if you used that brain you're supposed to-” she tuned him out, he definitely didn't feel bad, she rolled her eyes, it meant that he was keeping secrets from her again – that was going to be fun when it came out – she scrolled down the page and – what?
“He's involved with Marcus' case?” she dragged her eyes away to see her brothers' blank expression, annoyance bubbled up inside her, “The cabbie you're sponsoring you idiot! And you say I'm slow? Did you even take the time to learn his name? At all? Even once?”
“Why should I need to? I only offered him the job because he's almost smart – not to mention all that bitterness and love wrapped up into a dying man? Too potent to resist.” Jim's voice had reached a higher pitch, normally reserved and only used for when they were meeting -
“Do I look like a client to you?” She gripped the sides of the laptop, her knuckles white as she tried to appease her sudden urge for violence with images of smashing his smug face into a very rough brick wall – she took a deep breath, “I'm going to take that silence as a no and since we're now on the same page why don't you just go ahead and drop the fucking voice, eh sweetie?”
Silence reigned in the room – both of them revelling in some confusion to varying degrees, they'd never been like this before. Not for the last couple of years anyway and even then it had been different, Danny hadn't been a threat back then.
Their relationship was stable in it's instability, but now they felt a bit like it was unravelling – just a small bit each time – and they didn't know how to stop it -
“Open up that tab.” Jim's voice was soft, and Danny did as told without comment – they both leaned into each other a little bit more, trying to reassert their connection – he put an arm around her shoulders, her head on his shoulder.
It was a blog, Dr John Watson's. She read the first entry, her eyes widening in amusement. “They're solving crimes together? They gonna adopt a kitten too?”
She turned to see The Glint (it deserved capitals) in his eye, she sighed, “What is it?”
“I don't think he's like us, I thought he was but he's too...he's too human,” he seemed satisfied that he'd found the right word to describe the lanky almost-detective – he was too human. Danny felt cold despite the sleep warm sheets and the body next to her. She stared past the laptop and into the blackness of the room, she wasn't sure why but she felt the need to defend him.
“Just because he seems too...human,” her mouth formed around the word reluctantly, “doesn't mean he's not like us – maybe this John is just a bit smarter than the norms? Maybe that's why Sherlock has...let him in in a way, he could have something that makes him different, he could be -”
“What? Special?” he gave a derisive laugh that seemed wrong in the stillness of the room, in their little world that existed as far as the glare from the laptop reached, “I've had him watched Dan, he's a painful example of mediocre – he jumps on anything remotely female that so much as moves in his direction, he's riddled with normalcy.” He spat the word out into the darkness, as if to keep it in any longer would be to poison himself.
She winced she could feel this building up to something, and she was positive it wasn't going to end how Jim planned it.
“What do you plan to do?” she couldn't have held back how resigned she was under pain of death, it wouldn't have mattered anyway – he would've seen through it.
“The cabbie – Marcus – is going to collect him tonight,” he sounded confident – he was so sure that the curly haired genius would die, that he wouldn't figure it all out, that John was ordinary. She had never really questioned this man before, never had the option to, but she could see he was underestimating them. Such a stupid move, and she knew all about them.
“Whatever you say honey,” she didn't wait for him to reply, for them to have another argument that could end messier than all their previous ones.
Danny handed the laptop back to Jim, she slid out from under the covers and shivered in the cool air. She worked her way around the room – knowing where everything was without needing a light to guide – and ignored the eyes following her, she gathered her fresh clothes and as she reached her bedroom door, she turned back round. Jim was already looking back at the computer, he didn't seemed inclined to ask where she was going – when only a week ago he would have insisted someone go with her for security purposes – and she realised that was a good thing because she wouldn't have felt inclined to tell him. She set off to the bathroom.
SH – SH – SH
Danny walked along a path in King George's Field, she spied a green bench ahead and silently stepped towards hit. Her breath fogged in front of her, her glasses sat upon her nose and the cold, crisp morning air burned her throat as she inhaled, it was nice, peaceful. The phrase 'the calm before the storm' rose up unbidden in her mind.
She veered away from the gravel walkway and onto the grass, dew soaked through her tights wetting the front of her feet not covered by her flats and her exposed ankles, she smiled – the smell of rain in the air, beautiful.
The bench was at an angle from where it was on the slight hill, the rain having ran off and collected on once side, she smiled, how convenient she thought as she sat on the only slightly damp side.
Taking a deep breath she ignored the moisture seeping into her skirt and gently took off her glasses. She blinked warily, waiting to see how her eyes would be affected – the dim sky was a blessing, the smile returned to her face as if it had never left.
It wasn't working any more. This thing between the two of them, acting like brother and sister only when they could stamp down the feelings of agitation and disdain. They'd never really been proper siblings and though she liked to think she loved him, that she'd do anything for him – she just knew that it wasn't the case. Anything she had ever done had mostly been so he wouldn't send her back to the children's home (although sometimes because she really, really wanted to) and as untouched by human relationships as she was even she knew that was not how affection was borne. Stockholm Syndrome almost, she would have laughed if she could've been more objective.
She wasn't a minor any more, she didn't have to stay with him – but it's not like he would ever really let her leave. Oh maybe at first he might, might find some great entertainment value in it that only he'd be able to see but then he'd come after her. Would he kill her? Would he drag her back? She'd seen the very heart of his organisation, knew the inner workings of him and his company like she knew how to blink, it'd been effortless and natural to do.
She didn't want to stay with him, waiting for him to drive the knife through her stomach, so that he could watch as the acid circulated through her body and burned her to death.
She could never ask the police for help, corrupt and without direction – couldn't go to the government, it'd be like selling her soul all over again and she wanted it back, she wanted to smile and it not feel hollow – there was only one thing she could do.
And she thought about it as she sat there, cold and damp, her hair frizzing slightly from the moisture in the air. The pros and cons weighed themselves in her mind, and as her face steadily grew more expressionless with each heavy thought she came to her conclusion.
She slid her glasses back on and pulled out her phone, she waited as it rang out.
SH – SH – SH
Isolde lay face down in her bed, she burrowed her head further into her pillow, hugging it closer, something was trying to wake her up...she could hear a buzzing, a vibrating...she tried to fight against the pull of wakefulness...'teenagers scare the living shit out of me..'
She scrambled out of her bed, her foot twisted in the covers, she fell flat on her bare chest and gave a groan of pain – which cut off as she realised her phone was still ringing. She reached for yesterday's pair of jeans and dug the device out of her pocket.
“Hey boss,” she said through a tired yawn.
“Really? Yawning through the phone now? Geez, such disrespect!” the tone was light, she was safe.
“Do you have an early client for my wicked way with?” she made a mental note to revise on proper decorum later, for now she clambered back into bed curled up in the covers.
There was silence on the other end, the only sound was of even breathing – that was what woke up Isolde up the most, Danny never hesitated, she was always sure.
“What is it Dan?” she didn't care that her worry was blatantly obvious, that maybe her concern wasn't wanted she couldn't help it.
“...Make the papers.”
If it were possible her chin would have hit the floor but as it was she scrambled to sit up and spluttered into the phone, “Are...are you sure? Because I never knew if you were serious when you talked about it. I mean, going up against Moriarty...it's, it's like suicide Danny!” she babbled, “Not to mention we'd only be a party of two how -”
“Does that mean you want to go back to him?” the voice was soft – the older woman felt sick and clenched a hand in the sheets.
“No, G-God no, and you know I'm not against it, I just, I just thought this would happen a lot later along the line was all.” her heart had picked up, it felt as if it were trying to beat it's way out, run away, “He pays me but you have my loyalty, and I'll follow you, you already have me as your right hand.” at the very least her voice didn't waver as she said that.
She didn't see the real smile that shone on Danny's face, the first one that was not remotely forced since Liv. It warmed her that she had Isolde on as her assistant, she would've been the only one she would have truly missed and worried about because Jim...Jim could most definitely take care of himself.
“I need those papers by the end of the day, put them in the deposit box and text me once you have – I need you to keep tabs on a Sherlock Holmes and a John Watson, 221B Baker Street – Jim has there place bugged along with other places they commonly frequent, I know I don't have to tell you to keep it all quiet and subtle.”
“I'll get started as soon as Danny.” she was already running a plan of action through her head, favours she could call, prices to negotiate -
“I'll go through some more details with you later,” the disembodied voice seemed to hesitate again, it was unsettling, “I'm glad I have someone like you on side.” And with a click the call was ended.
Isolde stared at the phone in disbelief, relief coursing through her – she felt incredibly light, as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She chucked her phone on her bed, and stretched, she padded out of the room as bare as the day she was born. A shower and breakfast, and then to work.
Danny slid her phone back into her pocket, and made her way to the entrance. She felt enormously relieved to have that stunning and mischievious beauty on her side, partners in crime – quite literally – sounds like fun. She almost skipped. Almost.
SH – SH – SH
14 hours later – 7pm
The place was silent as she came through the front door, she shrugged her coat off, her glasses in her back pocket. She had spent the day relaxing, just roaming around London – she did love Soho – people watching, drinking copious amounts of coffee – she climbed the stairs, they seemed to crack under her light weight – she had found an all nighter that never really closed, it had been a...normal day. It was nice. She sighed, 'nice' was such an empty adjective, hardly meant anything.
Her phone vibrated in her pocket, she would've ignored it had she not been waiting for some sort of message from Isolde all day.
The paperwrk is done.
Go on ur email, open the link I sent, quick.
I've been keeping tabs, u need to hurry.
Danny's hand clutched her phone in a death grip, she jogged up the remaining stairs lightly. She marched through the living room, maneuvering around furniture silent and quick, she glanced in the kitchen as she past it and the sight made her move faster – Jim stood in his agitation, beanbag chair forgotten, with the only light coming from the moving images on the laptop, Sherlock and the cabbie.
She slid into her room, booted her computer, locked her door and turned on her light. She wasted no time in following the instructions that had been sent to her, she followed the link and a screen from a cctv camera popped up.
Sherlock sat opposite Marcus, he was getting up and leaving – something shattered in the kitchen – Marcus spoke and he, oh God, he'd stopped walking away, why? Don't be an idiot, walk away – but he started walking back to the table and – Oh shit. He grabbed a bottle. She scrambled for her headphones in the desk draw, not once taking her eyes away from the screen that held her attention so viciously, she clicked them in victoriously and their conversation burst into her ears.
“So what do you think, shall we take our medicine?”
Her hands began to sweat – tap tap, tap tap – a tinkling noise and she saw she had another email pop up, she opened it quickly and another screen popped up, it took a second to register what she was seeing – it kept constantly changing cameras and there was no sound – it was John Watson. In the wrong building.
“You must get so bored...”
Her eyes flickered from screen to screen – Sherlock had the pill in his hands, examining it in the light, his sharp gaze trying to see what the naked eye couldn't -
“...still the addict...”
John looked about the room, flustered and frustrated as he looked for the man (he already considered a friend) who had ran off with a serial killer – he looked through the window to his right -
“...I bet you're not bored now...”
Danny's heart beat so rapid in her chest, her nails dug into her palms, she was leaning forwards at the edge of her seat – Sherlock raised the pill to his mouth – John raised his gun -
“...Don't it feel good?” Marcus taunted and then the shot rang out – her eyes had stayed on John the entire time he'd steeled himself, she could see the resolve in his eyes and her breath hitched....fascinating.
He was...a moral compass, he helped Sherlock between right and wrong – he'd killed a man her mind seemed to scream, so that means it's okay...! she cut the thought off absently – he was, he was amazing, he was beautifully human and smart, smart in a different way – she watched as he fled the room.
She tore the headphones out of her ears but not before she heard Marcus give their – his – name, she looked the tall man over, he was fine, safe now from his own curiousity.
Danny ignored the fit of anger she could hear from the kitchen – the sound of glass smashing, his incoherent shouts, he was a stickler when it came to success and failure – she closed the windows on her computer, erasing all traces of the email.
“SEB, I WON'T YOU TO FIND WHOEVER SENT OUT THAT FRUCKING SHOT...!”
Danny hastily sent a text to Isolde telling her to erase the footage of John immediately. She then sent up a brief prayer of thanks to any God that may have been listening, for the existence of advanced technology.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Danny stared at the shelves in front of her with a deadpan face – how did people do this? Waste precious minutes of their lives to decide what brand of beans they wanted? She sighed and picked a couple of tins at random, dropping them in the basket she swung idly at her side. She trailed down the aisle, glancing over the products for sale and trying not to wince at the fluorescent lights. She hated supermarkets, and right now? Tesco's was top of that list.
She made her way to the bakery, the fresh smell of bread out of place in such a commercial place but no less enticing – she grabbed a french loaf, swung it over her shoulder and resisted the urge to match. She really was doing better at self restraint.
She weaved in and out of the increasing crowd that were clearly the product of a lunch break. Danny focussed on the sounds of her shoes clacking on the linoleum floor, the way her long, curly, unruly hair moved against her back – she wished she could put her glasses on, they felt as if they were burning her with the need to be worn, but as it was they would stay where they were as a makeshift headband. She wished she could put some sort of barrier up, so she could ignore the lingering gazes of those she passed – she preferred being on the other end of the microscope, dissecting instead of being dissected.
Her face heated up at one particular women's gaze, practically scanning her from head to toe and giving a predatory grin. She averted her eyes and picked up her pace, it was silly, to be made so uncomfortable by such a normal thing – intellectually she knew she was good looking, the brightest blue eyes, cheekbones like fine lines and a cupid's bow to die for; but to know that people wanted to...it made her feel more than just a bit sick, it was like she had to go scrub her skin before their intentions burned themselves into her skin. Silly, but it felt so wrong.
She turned out of the aisle, not glancing at the dessert foods she passed but instead intent on the frozen foods – she smacked into the woman with the far too eager eyes – how had she moved that fast? Her previous embarrassment from being checked out had gone, instead replaced with suspicion – she hadn't even known she had been followed – which shone through as the shorter woman in front of her gracefully stooped to pick up her basket, she hadn't even realised she'd dropped it.
The woman offered it back to Danny, not even startled by the sudden suspicion in her eyes, or maybe just not noticing – the younger woman grabbed the handle and gave it a gentle tug, but the stranger didn't let go. They stood there almost awkwardly to the average observer, but actually quietly assessing each other.
“I was going to introduce myself, but you vanished before I could,” her cultured tones moulded to the words she spoke, Danny stared back blankly, coming to a snap decision that surprised herself, “My name's Anthea.” She held her hand out expectantly.
Danny didn't even spare it a glance, her eyes boring into the other woman's – how dare she impose herself? If she had wanted to speak to her she would've, hadn't her practically running away proven that she didn't give a toss about what she could have to say? The part of her that had been uncomfortable by this woman's attention crumbled under the sheer annoyance of her continued presence – she gave a tiny laugh inside as the woman started to seem to understand that she wasn't welcome. How pleasant to see her squirm.
“How nice.” short and abrupt, that's how she'd play it. Anthea dropped her hand, her other still holding onto the joint handles.
“That's generally when you should offer your own,” her voice light – trying to inject humour, really? Falling flatter than a pancake – trying to hide...ah, uncomfortable already, should make this easier.
“If I actually wanted to, yes – now do you plan on letting go of this basket any time soon? I would like to actually pay for this lot at some point.”
The older woman let go as if burned, her face almost sheepish for a split second before reverting back to it's former smugness – she almost sighed, she really couldn't be arsed with this -
“I was wondering if I could make it up to you, getting off to the wrong start – me startling you like that,” Danny almost bristled, she didn't get startled she wanted to say, but kept her face impassive, “If you're not busy-”
“Do you pick up strays everywhere you go dear? Or is it just one of those days?” Jim's arm slid round Danny's waist, and Danny just gave him a slight smile, grateful for her brother's timing.
How interesting, she never would have taken this Anthea to turn such an interesting shade of red, she took her as one of the more controlled types since she was clearly some sort of personal assistant – clearly not as controlled as she should be.
“Oh no honey, you got it all wrong see,” a mocking humour entered her tone, and her fingers threaded with his where they rested, “Anthea here just helped me with my shopping, she was just about to leave.”
Danny turned her head to scan the aisle around her – she didn't need to see the look on his face, she knew it was the one that clearly said, 'I could kill you and hide the body before you had time to scream.' - and lo and behold, there be a Sebastian skulking about. She bit her tongue, what was wrong with her today? She was completely off-kilter, she was normally so much more observant – she was vaguely aware of Anthea walking away, rather hurriedly at that, and the tightening of his already confining (and it had never felt like that before, had it?) arm – it must be from yesterday, the excitement of one of Jim's plans falling through and her beginning to make her own; it seemed to be a time for firsts.
“I swear to God, I should make you a collar, complete with a return to sender address,” he gave her a sharp tug, and suddenly they were walking.
Danny stiffened at the only vaguely genuine thought he uttered, “I'd like to see you try my darling, darling brother,” she was glad to feel his body tense slightly next to her at the reference. Let him chew that over she thought, in no mood to play games.
He seemed to realise this too as he became relaxed and the silence turned thoughtful, most of their interactions seemed to end like this these days, a quiet weighing on the pros of cons on sharing information and trading threats. She felt a bit sick again – maybe she was coming down with something.
“The cameras were wiped spotless last night, not a speck marring the tape, Mary Poppins would be proud,” his voice had risen an octave, he knew that she knew that he knew...she hated it when it got like this, it was tiring to think in such yo-yo like terms, “don't suppose you know who I should thank?”
Wait. She could be reading this wrong because that sounded an awful lot like he was asking for an actual opinion, there was nothing to hint at him testing her (nothing that wasn't usual) and there was no suspicion. He...didn't know. How was that even possible? So smart and so dumb.
She gave non-committal hum, stepping away from and closer to the colourful variety of packaged E numbers in front of her. Yum. “I don't know,” she deserved an oscar, “but if I were going to suspect anyone it'd be Mike – think about his connections, an odd loyalty perhaps? Not to mention that one time with Sherrin, her just 'getting away' – I never did believe that excuse..” She had never liked Mike, useless and hardly pulled his weight, pun intended.
Danny kept the sharp, satisfied little grin off her face as Jim seemed to stare off into the middle distance, taking her suggestion seriously and his hands. They were in his pockets. She hadn't seen his hands since yesterday. He was hiding -
His head snapped up, and she saw Seb standing at the end of the aisle. He gave a subtle nod, barely there.
“I'll see you later Jim,” Danny turned back to the shelves and grabbed the closest pack of something neon coloured and fake, perfect.
Danny made her way to the self checkout, the heaped basket by her side looking deceptively light in her slim hands. She automatically made for the line with the fewest customers, waiting in queues made her uneasy, as if you were boxed in on all sides when she heard a shouting to her right. She ignoredit but. Her gut, that feeling – she wasn't like Jim, she wasn't just made of logic and efficiency, and damn, that grated on her at times. She gritted her teeth, and rolled her eyes at her own whims but none the less, pivoted on the spot.
And there was Dr John H. Watson glaring at the poor machine in front of him as If it, and it alone, was responsible for third world hunger. Her hands began to get clammy, her heart beat a little faster and so hope her if she didn't for once feel like the 19 year old she was. Her feet took her to him, knowing what she wanted even though she wasn't sure it was good idea.
For the second time that day, she made another snap decision.
Danny jogged lightly over to John, squeezing past people with pasted on sheepish smile and a bashful 'excuse me', she just made it to his side as he threw his arms up into the air, getting ready to march away, her hand grasped his arm and he jumped.
He gave her a look, and then glanced around, “I'm sorry, I don't know -”
“Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry, I took your card by mistake this morning,” she whipped his redundant card out of the slot, passing it to him and playing the part of the bumbling fool, rummaging in her purse, making a triumphant sound when she 'found' 'his' card. She continued to ramble, “And this was just lying on the side this morning, and I was in such a rush-”
His bewildered look had diminished any, he looked around again, maybe looking for someone to help him escape from the sudden attack of the crazy lady, she thought drily.
John took a slight step back, wary – as he should be, he shot a cabbie yesterday – “Who-?,” but then a light seemed to click just above his heard, “Whatever it was Sherlock did-”
She sighed, and gave him a look that most certainly shut him up, “If you would just give it a minute as in 1, 2, 3 -”
“Excuse me miss,” she turned to see a man in his mid 20's, tightened up tie, a smile that seemed to not know that his eyes should be involved – supervisor, dead end job and knew it, pregnant girlfriend and not sure if the baby's his. Right. She looked past him – woman recently joint the back of the line, frazzled, frizzed hair barely contained in a bun, recently fired, in a terrible mood and had decided to rat on her. Right. People were so uptight.
Ha. As if she had a right to talk.
“Ohmagawd, I'm so sorry! It's just we're in a rush, we have to be back at work in 10 minutes, and we swapped cards by accident this morning and everything's just so up in the air -” He looked so startled she almost felt bad for him, she knew she was laying it on thick and if John hadn't thought she was crazy before, he would now but it had a desired affect. Just a few minutes later, she was walking out of the chain shop with John, with coupons and knowing that she had managed to endear herself to Dave, the supervisor. She missed acting like that, she'd have to have a more hands on approach later on, she clearly hadn't lost her touch.
The doctor came to stop by the exit, and seemed a little bit daze – was it the paying of his groceries? Suddenly having a fake and on the brink of tears girlfriend making a scene out of nothing? Her continued silence as if it had been no big deal? Who was she kidding, his confuzzled expression was completely justified, tiny bit dull (cute?) but justified all the same.
“What was-? I mean -” he seemed to look back and forth a lot, he'd get a crick in his neck if he carried on like that, she almost wanted to give a giggle.
“I paid for both our shopping, got myself out of there as fast as possible and got some coupons – questions?” her voice sang her amusement.
“I'll pay you back for th-”
“-don't bother, you gave me an excuse to get out of there quicker and helped me succeed in achieving my good deed of the day, “ her voice had taken on her natural but slight Irish lilt, she hadn't done that in years, “and you're not taking that away from me Mr...?”
He seemed to overcome his shock, and hurriedly juggled the bags until he held them in one hand while offering his other – she took it immediately, not thinking twice about shaking this virtual stranger's hand - “John, John Watson – do you do stunts like that often, Miss...?” Ah, manners, how refreshing.
“Just call me Aveline,” she let go of his hand and missed the warmth,”Aveline N-”
Her phone rang in her pocket, generic and shrill, cutting her to the bone, she gave John a beaming smile, “It was nice to meet you Mr Watson.” she walked past him briskly, a light rain starting to fall, she felt disappointed with every step she took -
“I never got that last name!” he shouted after her, and it filled her with warmth to know he was watching her walk away.
“I'll let you know if I ever see you again!” she called upwards to the sky, the smile sliding easily on to her face again as she heard his short bark of laughter behind her.
John watched as the young woman – as Aveline, and what sort of name was that? - walked away, head tilted to the side as she talked into her phone. God, she was weird, swooping in like that – was a bit like Sherlock, seemed a bit too smart, but was...human, pretty, funny, gift of the gab but used it wisely... and pretty, very pretty. And look at him, barely there in that flat for a week and he felt like he was trying to imitate he-who-must-not-be-named's deductions...and he just turned him into Voldemort...and he was still staring after a woman that he'd lost track of at least 30 seconds ago.
He barely noticed the rain as he zipped up his jacket and hunched up his shoulders, a small smile playing on his mouth.
SH – SH – SH
“Wait, wait, wait Issy! Just hold on! Just for a second!” she ducked into a cafe up ahead, ordered a coffee, “Issy? You still there?” she settled into a corner table, brushing her damp fringe away from her eyes as she listened to the silence from the other side, she sighed again – she had a feeling she'd be doing that a lot in the future - “Issy-”
“ALLLLL BYYYY MYYYYYSEEEEEEEELLLFFFF.....!”
“Issy, I'm not in the mood-”
“DON'T WAANNNNAAA BEEEE...!”
“You'll be more than just all by yourself if you don't shut the fuck up and tell me what you need to.”
“Right you are boss,” she heard shuffling in the background – files? “so just as a precaution i've been having you tailed all day, since your safety is officially my responsibility now, and I thought you'd be interested to know that that bastard of yours doesn't waste time – Mike's already missing.” she paused.
“Go on,” there was something else.
“Well that's gratitude for you! You go out on a limb, set up some surveillance, not even a measly 't'anks,” she mumbled, still rustling with paper in the background.
“I'll forget that abysmal impression if you'll cut to the chase,” Danny watched a waitress as she called out the names on the beverages she precariously balanced on her tray.
“Aveline!” she flagged her down as she tried to wait patiently for Isolde to find what she needed.
A triumphant, “A-ha!” and she was ready.
“Well, as you know, dear old John had a bit of trouble with the chip and pin this morning due to dismally low funds in the bank,” her tinny voice reverberated down he phone, “his army pension isn't gonna help him for long and there's been an opening in a local GP, it's only while someone's on maternity leave but...”
Danny smiled and took a sip of her coffee as the other woman waited obediently.
“Make sure he gets it, permanently.”
“Right ye are cap'n!”
Danny hung up, that wasn't even Irish that time.
SH – SH – SH
John trudged up the stairs of 221B, upon reaching the landing he saw his room mate in the exact same position he had been in when he'd left. 2 hours ago.
His rolled his eyes almost fondly, his good mood carrying him through - “Don't get up then,” his tone holding no bite.
This caused Sherlock's head to snap up – oh sure, thought John, I'm in a fail mood, complaining, whining for him to just keep the experiments out of the sink and he doesn't pay one iota of attention. The minute I don't? It's like I'm an interesting, scentless, tasteless, newly discovered poison he's been given for christmas.
He settled the bags on the table, he didn't even comment on the new scratch mark adorning it's top – and he knew that Sherlock had noticed, cos the bastard notices everything, and so all he had to do was wait.
It took the sandy haired man a full 15 minutes to pack everything away and just as he grabbed two mugs out for a cuppa -
“So who was she?” came the dull tones from the living room.
John didn't bother asking, “She was a woman, an awfully young woman, Aveline she said and...”
“And?” and for the love of everything holy the detective actually sounded interested. He gave a slight giggle reminiscent of last nights, scratched his head;
“She was...interesting,” he ignored the snort from the living room, “I mean it Sherlock, interesting enough that I think even you could talk to her without being bored – she rescued me from an argument with a chip and pin-”
The kettle boiled, “You fought with an inanimate object that would be able to actually answer you?”
The shorter man just smiled as he grabbed the milk from the fridge.
There was a quiet for a little while, the only sounds disturbing it was the tinkling of the teaspoon as it caught the sides of the mug and the noise of each teabag being dumped in the pedal bin. He brought the two drinks in, Holmes reaching out to grab it absent minded, his attention intent on the phone in his other hand.
“Lestrade's coming round tomorrow, says he's found a case he thinks is interesting enough...” he murmured.
John smirked behind his cup, “...I bet he has...”
The other man rolled his head to glare directly at John, whom simply raised an eyebrow, “Will you and your over active imagination let it go?”
“I didn't say anything...”
“You don't have to! Your body's practically screaming it!”
“Grow up John, I can hear you laughing from here.”
Sherlock returned to his phone and John to his tea.
SH – SH – SH
Somewhere, Mike screamed again as another fingernail was pulled off, and his right arm was bent, at a torturous slow speed, at an unnatural angle.