This chapter is dedicated to Elisabeth Jane McCarthy, 24/04/1994 - 15/04/2012. Thank you for watching many, many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes with me, and convincing me that some of them are as good as the original stories.
On a side note, I don't own a Blackberry (unlike Sherlock) and don't really know how they work, so I've just said that he has a map app. I'm also assuming that such a map app would have some kind of street view capability.
Sherlock didn't sleep that night. That wasn't unusual for him - he could go for days without sleep whilst on a case - but what was unusual was that he felt that he had missed something. It was an unfamiliar feeling - Sherlock never
He had talked to Dawn - he was convinced that there was some mystery about her, something that he wasn't getting. That wasn't what was bothering him, though (although it was bothersome enough). Sherlock wasnt concerned about Spike, either. No doubt, once he knew what Dawn was doing, that would fall into place.
No, it was something else entirely, and Sherlock racked his brain to try and figure out what it was as he walked home, as he whiled away the night lying fully-clothed on his bed, staring unseeingly at the ceiling.
Eventually the sun came up, and Sherlock heard the now-familiar sounds of John making breakfast. Bacon and eggs, by the smell of it.
Sherlock's mobile rang, but Sherlock didn't answer it. He had resolved not to leave this bed until he had figured out whatever it was that was bothering him.
After a couple of minutes, the landline rang (whoever was calling was truly persistent, Sherlock noted absently) and John heaved a sigh and went to answer it.
Sherlock quickly ran through the admittedly short list of people who might want to call him. Mycroft would never do anything so ordinary, Mrs. Hudson lived below him, and it obviously wasn't John. It could be a client, but they generally came by in person. Which left Lestrade. Which meant that Sherlock had a case. Sherlock changed his mind about staying on his bed all day - he could solve two mysteries at once.
Sherlock didn't bother to strain his hearing to listen to what John was saying. He'd come in soon enough in any case.
This was proved correct when some moments later, John knocked diffidently on Sherlock's door.
"Come in." Sherlock said peremptorily, making no effort to move.
John did so, took in Sherlock's clothed state and said "Did you sleep in your clothes, Sherlock?"
"Certainly looks as though you did."
"Nevertheless, I did not. I didn't sleep."
"That's a bad habit, Sherlock. Everyone needs sleep."
"I'm not everyone."
"So I gather." John said wryly.
"Enough of these pleasantries. Where is it?" Sherlock snapped.
John frowned. "Where's what?"
"The case Lestrade wants me to examine." Sherlock answered wearily.
"How did you know about that?" John asked excitedly, obviously hoping that Sherlock would reveal his methods so John could write about them in his blog.
Sherlock sighed. Why must everyone be so dense?
The corpse was a young woman, perhaps seventeen, dark hair and green eyes staring blindly at the sky.
That wasn't the interesting part, though. The interesting part was the gelatinous goo that covered every inch of the girl's body. Sherlock could see that it had been that that had killed her - it had clogged her nose and mouth, essentially suffocating her.
What was even more interesting was that there wasn't a trace of the slime anywhere else, just on the corpse.
Judging by the scuff marks on the pavement, the girl had been running from whatever had killed her (Sherlock hadn't formulated any theories about that just yet) when she'd tripped over a loose paving stone and gone staggering forward before finally falling over.
Except that the body hadn't hit the ground. The scuff marks indicated that the body had been caught in midair, and then turned around to face upwards before being gently lowered to the ground. Fascinating. Sherlock knew that it would take someone of immense strength to carry out such a feat.
However, Sherlock couldn't figure out where the goo figured into the equation. Why use such an unusual method to kill someone? And why just leave the body in such a public place? Sherlock's perusal of the crime scene couldn't answer those questions.The crime scene.
Of course! Last night, Sherlock hadn't examined the crime scene where Dawn had claimed someone had tried to rape her. Why hadn't he done that?
If Sherlock had been someone else, he might've thought that it had simply slipped his mind. It was late at night, after all. But Sherlock wasn't someone else. He would never pass up the opportunity to examine a crime scene, no matter how tired he was. No, there must be some external factor. Sherlock couldn't imagine what.
Sherlock's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a woman speaking on the edge of earshot. An American. Californian. The region around LA. It wasn't Dawn, though. But Sherlock doubted it could be a coincidence.
He turned, regarding the speaker talking to Lestrade. She was perhaps five years older than Dawn and several inches shorter. Blonde. Lestrade saw that Sherlock had arrived, moved towards him, the woman following. Sherlock noted with interest that her walk was that of a trained fighter, but not military. She hid her training well, though.
She was haranguing Lestrade, commanding him and the police to do everything in their power to apprehend the killer. She was acting distraught (Sherlock could tell she was acting, her body language made it obvious, although only he would ever have picked up on it) and Lestrade was trying his best to comfort her. "You will do everything you can to find out who killed my student, won't you?" the woman asked.
My student. Proprietary. She didn't have the air of a headmistress, so she must be a teacher. A teacher trained in martial arts. Sherlock wondered what it was that she taught.
"Of course, Ms. Summers." Lestrade answered in harried tones.
"Please, call me Buffy." Buffy replied winsomely.
What was it Dawn had said to Sherlock? "You've got an even weirder name than my sister."
Well, Buffy could be short for Elizabeth, but something inclined Sherlock to doubt that.
Sherlock stood up from where he'd been crouched next to the body, and walked towards Lestrade and Buffy. "Ms. Summers?" Sherlock enquired, as though he hadn't already heard her name.
"Yes?" Buffy replied.
"Please tell your sister Dawn that I said hello." Sherlock said, before turning away and returning to the body.
Not before he saw Buffy's reaction, though. Shock. Suspicion. Not hostility, though, that would come later. And, interestingly enough, just a dash of fear. Sherlock wondered about that last one.
"Who was that?" Buffy demanded several seconds later.
"That would be Sherlock Holmes." Lestrade answered deprecatingly. "Consulting Detective."
Sherlock now had little to do at the crime scene besides take a sample of the slime (something which was technically illegal, but there was so much of it and the forensics specialists were so useless that Sherlock had no doubt that they wouldn't notice). He could examine it later.
After doing so, he hailed a taxi, ignored John's bombardment of questions (What did you find? How did you know that woman? What do you think that slime was?) and pulled out his Blackberry.
He opened his map app and quickly looked at the street view of the crime scene.
Sherlock found what he was looking for two streets over from the crime scene. The Wyndam-Pryce Academy, the only school in the area.
A quick Google search later revealed to Sherlock that the Academy was one of several all across the globe, built by the SAWC. Sherlock was unable to find out what the acronym stood for.
Sherlock was able to find a webpage for the academies, though. It was incredibly sparse - it listed only the locations of the academies, a phone number, and the people on the Board of Directors. There was nothing that one would expect to find on an ordinary school webpage, such as entrance criteria or the like. Which would suggest that the schools were a cover for something else.
Sherlock found Buffy Summers on the Board, which explained the comment about "my student". There was also a Willow Rosenberg, who was about Buffy's age. An Alexander Harris was mentioned, but no picture was given. There were several others - Faith LeHane, Robin Wood, Rupert Giles - and Dawn, who was the youngest by some few years. There was no mention of Spike, which was hardly surprising. Sherlock couldn't imagine him teaching anything, or being involved with a school in any way.
Sherlock stopped at the picture of Illyria Burkle. There was something familiar about her face and name, although he couldn't recall having ever met someone with blue hair before.
He remembered her after a quick visit to his mind palace. Winifred "Fred" Burkle, student at UCLA, vanished without a trace in 1996. No body was ever found. Sherlock had followed that case with interest, because of a number of similar cases over the years that had taken place there.
Except, apparently, she hadn't disappeared. She'd changed her name, dyed her hair (although why she'd chosen blue was a mystery to Sherlock), and gotten some colour changing contact lenses to change her eyes to blue.
But why vanish in any case, only to reappear years later on the Board of Directors for a global network of schools? A Board which included a woman in her twenties who carried hidden weapons and her older sister who was trained in martial arts.
There was something strange going on in that school, something related to the young girl's death, and Sherlock wanted to find out what it was.
It looked like Sherlock was going to be a teacher.