[identity profile] spacemutineer.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] acdholmesfest
Title: Signs and Signals
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] vernets
Author: [livejournal.com profile] saki101
Rating: a mild R
Characters, including any pairing(s): Holmes/Watson, sundry OCs
Word Count: ~9K
Warnings: none
Summary: Holmes boxes. Watson wagers. There are exchanges of signals and a case.
Disclaimer: public domain



Signs and Signals



Halfway between the inebriated cheering of Alison’s rooms and the calm seclusion of Baker Street, rain began to drum on the roof of our cab. Twilight had come on early and a chill wind threatened the hats of passers-by.

I turned from my consideration of the street to where Holmes lounged beside me. “You’ll let me see to that?” I asked. The flush of his exertions had faded from his cheeks, leaving the cut across one all the more livid in contrast.

He opened his eyes partway. “How much did you wager?”

I hesitated and he raised an eyebrow. I named the sum and his eyes widened.

“You might have lost,” he said.

I shook my head. I had collected a pretty purse. “Even against the giant who won the previous match, I would have bet on you. I have seen you fell larger foes than him and against the fellow you drew – cocksure though he was, there was no chance you would lose.”

The image of Holmes standing ready, stripped to the waist, rose before my inward eye. His skin had gleamed palely in the smoky light, his musculature subtly defined by the flickering shadows. He is as lean as a whippet and as fast. He had summed up his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses in a glance. I had seen the glimmer in his eye after he had done so.

Still, it had not been my gambler’s sense of a sure thing that had compelled me to bet so grandly. As calculating eyes had turned upon Holmes, I had felt an urge to declare before witnesses my faith in him and every one of his extraordinary abilities. I had had to quell a temptation to reveal that I knew the strength and grace of his sinews in a wholly different context. Instead of succumbing to either impulse, I had trebled what I had originally thought to bet as I made my way through the crowd to the bookmaker’s table. Without a change of expression, he had taken my wager. The majority of punters thought the bulkier pugilist would win.

Holmes’s eyes had not left my face. “You feel you know my capacities so well?” he asked.

“I...” There was something in his tone that gave me pause. He had granted me privileges; they could be rescinded. I looked away, the flush upon my face no doubt visible to him even in the dimness.

His hand came to rest upon my knee, warm, firm. My gaze returned to him. There was the trace of a smile about his lips.

“Among the spectators was a dealer in stolen goods called One-eyed Jack. I had been hoping to find him at Alison’s and to observe with whom he spoke and whether any exchanges were made. If he had moved to leave before any goods changed hands, I would have allowed my opponent an easy victory, so that I might follow him with as little delay as possible. You would have lost a considerable sum.”

“Oh.” I had noticed the short man with an eye patch. He had put money down just before me.

Holmes’s fingers tightened for an instant and then gave my leg a pat before drawing away. “Fortunately for you, Jack seemed as interested in the bout as you were and made his exchange after he collected his winnings.” Holmes pulled something out of his jacket pocket and held it up. “I relieved him of some of his merchandise.”

Holmes dragged the large pearl that dangled from his fingertips across the back of my hand. I turned it over and he dropped the earring into my palm. I peered at it. A diamond sparkled at the apex of the teardrop shape. I recognised the earring. I had read its description in the previous day’s papers. “Lady Edmonton’s pearls,” I said. “Well, one of them, from the most recent of those train robberies.”

Holmes’s smile was bright. “The third one. As Scotland Yard doesn’t appear to be making any headway with putting a stop to them, I may have to offer my assistance before someone gets killed.”

“I should have known you were doing more than relieving the tedium between cases with some exercise,” I said, handing back the jewel and swaying slightly as our carriage made the turn onto Baker Street.

“We’ve just missed a caller,” Holmes said.

I glanced past him out the window in time to see a fine carriage pulling away from in front of our home. “Pity to lose such an affluent client,” I remarked.

“I doubt we have lost him,” Holmes said and he looked at me from the side of his eye. “If his need is great, he will return.” Holmes patted my knee again, briskly this time as our cab had reached our abode. “Besides, we require time for you to tend to my wounds.”

***

The room was fragrant and warm with the steam from the bath. I was warm from my exertions and felt no need for the dressing gown which hung above my medical kit on the securely locked door to the backstairs. I stretched, perhaps a bit extravagantly, before I bent to retrieve the bag. I heard a ripple in the water behind me. I may have drawn out the motion more than necessary.

When I turned, Holmes’s eyes were closed. He lounged in the long, claw-footed tub, head reclining on a rolled towel, right arm resting on the porcelain rim awaiting my further ministrations.

I positioned a stool by the injured knuckles and set my bag upon it. I paused to gaze at him. My skin tingled faintly, partly from the oils Holmes had added to the bath, mostly from the knowledge that I knew every inch of him.

I removed what I needed and set my bag aside. Holmes flexed his fingers; their tips brushing the hairs of my thigh. My whole body responded to that faint touch. I drew in a breath and the corners of his lips curled upwards. He observes even without seeing.

After I had rinsed the last of the lather from Holmes’s hair and back, I had slipped into the bath behind him. Water had dripped over the edge onto the tiles, so I had moved even more slowly as I settled into place. The bar of soap I gripped had softened as I smoothed it over his chest, bubbles above the water, slick trails beneath. My other hand had followed, rubbing gently. He had pressed back against me. I had balanced my chin on his shoulder and closed my eyes, found the rest of him by touch, smooth, warm, firm. His legs had drawn up. He had expired in my arms and I against his back. We had slipped lower in the water, sloshing over the rolled edges and I had held him tight.

I sat down on the stool. When his hand was disinfected and bandaged, I kissed each fingertip. He rose from the cooling water, stood dripping as I relieved the second flush of his passion with my mouth. He tipped my head up afterwards as I was still catching my breath, leaned down until our lips touched and with firm strokes, relieved mine.

***

I came down the stairs from my room, eager for our meal. Holmes was already seated at the table. He had the shorter route, his bed-room connecting to the bathing room directly on one side and the sitting room on the other. He smiled and poured me a glass of wine.

“Mrs Hudson has passed along the message that we are to expect Mr Rathbourne of the Great Eastern Railway at half eight this evening,” Holmes said, handing me my glass. “As I predicted.”

“How do you know he is the same gentleman we saw driving away?” I asked, taking a sip of the wine.

It was superb, of course. Holmes knew how to choose, could describe what it was in the vineyard’s soil or the wood of the aging cask that had made the wine taste and smell the way it did, caused its colour to be this shade or that. He found wine stains useful.

“Other than observing the railroad’s device on the side of the carriage as it turned onto Allsop Place...” Holmes waved me towards my seat. “...and I am a little surprised that he came in such a recognisable conveyance to seek my help, there is the fact that Mrs Hudson said he left the message and his card when he visited earlier today.”

“Ah,” I replied. “I am guessing that you will take the case.”

“You are not guessing, Watson, you are deducing,” Holmes stated, slicing into the duck on the platter between us. “Since I have already begun investigating the crimes on my own, it is a very reasonable deduction, too.” He placed a thick slab of succulent meat on my plate. “But I will not share that with Mr Rathbourne.”

He winked at me and I nodded my understanding while helping myself to the roast vegetables. Holmes knows how to manage his clients as well as their mysteries. “Other than suspecting that One-eyed Jack might be involved, what lines of enquiry have you been exploring?” I asked.

Holmes set down his silverware, folded his hands beneath his chin and leaned slightly forward. His face was alight, not with the satisfaction of a solution, but the excitement of the chase after the first glimpse of the quarry.

“You how I peruse the classified columns as well as the notices of births and deaths and so forth and index those of interest,” he said.

It wasn’t a question, but I nodded nevertheless.

“The day after each robbery, there has been a wedding in London,” he said and paused.

He was waiting for me to absorb the implications of this statement, but I wasn’t following. “I am sure there are weddings every day in London,” I replied and poured more savoury gravy over my duck.

“Assuredly,” he granted me, sitting back in his chair. “But the sort that receive long descriptions a day or two later in the press, with highlights as to who had gathered for the event, replete with details about the dresses the bride and her ladies wore with what type of lace and what sort of...”

“Jewels,” I supplied.

He raised a finger. “Now those weddings do not happen every day.”

“And Lady Edmonton had bemoaned that she hadn’t been able to wear her pearls to her grand-niece’s wedding,” I added. “They quoted her on it, I believe, before they described her parure down to the last seed pearl.”

“They did quote her, my dear fellow, and thereby supplied the Yarders with a significant clue,” Holmes said, “although I had already detected the pattern.”

“Perhaps the Yard have followed it up and apprehended the culprits by now,” I suggested.

Holmes arranged some duck and parsnip on his fork. “Mr Rathbourne would not be calling on us if they had,” he said.

***

On the clock chimed thirty minutes past the hour, Mr Rathbourne presented himself dressed for the evening. He was an imposing man, impeccably tailored, with a mane of silvery-grey hair. Tall and broad shouldered, he had not developed the usual portly figure of the successful businessman. His eyes were sharp and dark and while we exchanged greetings, he was clearly taking our measure. We must have met his specifications, because he took us into his confidence to a degree that quite startled me.

“So you see, gentlemen, why it is imperative that there is not another such incident aboard our trains, hopefully ever, but most especially not during the coming weeks, and why we must, if it is at all possible, restore the property that has been taken from our passengers while they were in our care.” Our guest inhaled deeply. “The financing we need to acquire the Midland and Great Northern depends on it.”

Holmes motioned for the second time to a seat by the fire. Having set his plea before us, Mr Rathbourne ceased his pacing and sat. Holmes followed suit. I was already ensconced by the table, taking notes. Holmes stared into the fire. Rathbourne stared at Holmes.

Finally, Holmes drew a breath and addressed Rathbourne. “I do not know yet what shape my investigation of this case will need to take, but if I were to present you with a plan involving your employees, would you have it carried out to the letter?”

“Everything within my power would be done exactly as you would require,” Rathbourne replied. “Our plan of placing guards disguised as conductors at the doors of the first class carriages after the second robbery clearly had no effect.”

“You were theorising ahead of the facts. You had no evidence that the robbers did not board your train as first class passengers,” Holmes explained.

Mr Rathbourne’s eyebrows rose and then he nodded. “The police had concluded the first theft was an isolated incident, but the second time a train was delayed because of an obstacle on the track at a crossing, we knew neither had been simply a crime of opportunity.” He took a packet of papers from inside his jacket and held them out to Holmes. “These are the final reports on the first two robberies and preliminary notes on the third.”

Holmes waved them in my direction. “I prefer to form my own impressions. Kindly give them to Doctor Watson for his record. He will take the name of the hay wain driver from them. We will start with him tomorrow.” Holmes stood.

“So, you will accept the case?” Rathbourne asked, standing as well. “We have not discussed the fee.”

“You may leave the pouch distorting the line of your jacket on the table. It should be adequate to cover initial expenses. I will contact you if we need more or require the cooperation of your staff,” Holmes said.

I hadn’t the slightest doubt that Holmes had his plan already charted out, but I kept my expression neutral.

“In such circumstances, it would be best to discuss details in person. Should we call on you or would you prefer to meet here to be discreet?” Holmes concluded.

“Discreet?” Rathbourne repeated. “I would be honoured if you would call on me at my office so that as many people as possible might witness that we have succeeded in engaging the renowned Sherlock Holmes.”

Holmes inclined his head and smiled a little. I did not doubt that Rathbourne was proud to have secured Holmes’s services, but I suspected that he was not above employing flattery to manipulate people.

“However, do not share that information at your club this evening. It is best if it is not generally known for a few days yet, as I may wish to conduct some of my enquiries incognito,” Holmes explained.

“As you wish,” Rathbourne said. He hesitated for a moment before turning to take up his hat and stick. “I don’t believe I mentioned going on to my club.”

Holmes fanned the fingers of one hand. “You are dressed for the evening, but it is too late for a dinner party or the theatre, so the club it must be.”

Rathbourne nodded and shook Holmes’s hand.

“And tell your driver to avoid Baker Street south of Marylebone,” Holmes added, as Rathbourne shook mine. “There’s been a fire and the engines will still be blocking the street.”

Rathbourne did not even ask how Holmes knew the club was south of us much less about the fire and his tread was slow upon the stairs.

As Rathbourne’s carriage clattered away, I closed my notebook and turned to Holmes. “You said that about his club because there are hardly any north of here,” I stated, feeling rather pleased.

Holmes was standing by the fire filling his pipe and I drew near, as I can rarely help myself from doing. “I knew because of the insignia on his watch fob,” he said, flicking the ornament that dangled from the chain at my waist.

It was a small gesture, but it caused a tightening in my stomach and a small inhalation of breath.

Holmes studied my expression, pipe unlit. He leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “It’s off St James Street.” It was a statement of fact, but it felt like an endearment and his hand was at my waist again.

***

“Remind you of anything?” Holmes asked as the road along which we were walking crested a hillock.

We had been strolling through verdant fields divided by blooming hedgerows and streams tamed here and there by a bridge or a lock. The road would have been a quagmire on a rainy day, but the grey eastern skies of our London morning had not shed a drop as they had passed over our destination by the Stour.

I planted my walking stick in the dirt and surveyed the mill and a few low buildings at the edge of the water before us. It was familiar, although I knew I had not been there before.

“Room 34 of the National Gallery. In front of a painted rendition of this very scene, you jostled a charming young lady and caused her to drop her umbrella. You apologised profusely to her and her dour chaperone as you retrieved it and restored it to them while I relieved the latter of the packet of love letters they were using to blackmail our very married client of the moment. Copies of the painting can also be viewed on numerous postcards, pamphlets and biscuit tins,” Holmes explained.

I could not suppress a grin. “She was a very pretty young lady,” I teased.

“And very shrewd,” Holmes replied, watching me from the corner of his eye while facing the mill.

“It was kind of you to guard her identity,” I said. “Hopefully she realised how close she had come to dire consequences and did not agree to work the trick again with her aunt.”

“Perhaps,” Holmes allowed. “Our client should not have been wooing her in any event.”

“I wonder if he would have, if he had known she was not the heiress she gave the appearance of being,” I mused, but I had a strong feeling the answer would have been in the negative.

“Most likely not,” Holmes said and raised his chin as a figure emerged from the mill with a sack of grain over his shoulder. “I don’t think we’ll need to dissemble quite as much with that lad, but I would ask that you lean more heavily upon your staff and wince just a bit.” He started down the slope and I followed, favouring my right leg.

***

A fine dust settled over me as our conveyance bounced along the roads by the Stour. Excepting our progress over a couple deeply rutted stretches, I was surprisingly comfortable sharing the back of the cart with the pliant sacks of flour. I let my head fall onto the sack behind me and watched the clouds assume fantastical shapes as Holmes sat on the bench with the young driver, asking amicably about features of interest as we passed. I preferred listening to Holmes work his magic on the youth to peering over the cart’s sides to see the sights firsthand. We had seen many of them on our way from the inn to the mill and, in any event, I was playing the role of the fatigued veteran of foreign campaigns whose frailties had necessitated our seeking a ride.

The whistle of an approaching train broke my reverie. I popped my head above the grain and peered about me. The cart stopped. We were at a small crossing between fields; the gates in front of us closed across the lane, the horses waiting docilely well back from the barriers. I saw no box for a gatekeeper, but there was a tall white post to one side. The train was still hidden from us, but its next whistle was appreciably closer.

“I read about a train accident near here recently, I believe,” Holmes said in the same tone he had enquired about the lock on a canal we had passed.

“Oh, ‘tweren’t near here, sir, it was right here,” the lad said and there was a slight quaver in his voice.

“Oh?” Holmes replied.

I drew up my legs and twisted about a little, so I could look forward more easily. The whistle sounded again.

“I could’ve lost me Pa that day,” the boy continued, taking in and letting out a long, deep breath. His shoulders moved and the horses snorted; I supposed he had fidgeted with the reins. “Or the horses. We did lose the one cart.”

The smoke of the train was visible, appearing round a knoll with a stand of trees upon it. Its whistle blew, sharp and clear.

“I imagine you had a hand in saving the horses,” Holmes said. “You seem to have nimble fingers.”

The boy turned to Holmes and smiled just a little. “I never unharnessed a horse so fast in me life,” he said, glancing down again. “At least I could do that.” He sighed. “I had looked and listened before I opened the gates, but there was no sound of the train and you can hear it well off as you can hear for yourselves.”

“Was it, perhaps, a blustery day?” Holmes asked.

The lad shook his head. “It was cloudy...chilly. It felt like there would be rain by evening and it would’ve been good to get our goods delivered before then, but it weren’t that sudden dark you get before a heavy rain. Just light grey clouds and a bit o’ breeze. Nothing to risk getting killed about.”

His voice had taken on the cadence of memory.

“Would you care to tell us while we wait for the train to pass by?” Holmes suggested gently.

The lad glanced back at me and saw that I was attending. “Where to start?” he said.

“Since we are this side of the track, why not start here, Henry,” Holmes said, turning more in his seat and folding his hands on his knee.

The use of the boy’s name seemed to brace him. I had missed the introduction somehow or perhaps the name was carved into some part of the cart Holmes had observed.

“Well,” Henry said, “there were the two of us, me Pa and me, each with a cart and two horses. I was in front with sacks from the mill, like today,” he explained, with a nod towards me. “Pa behind, piled high with bales of hay.”

Holmes murmured his interest.

The boy’s hand gestured out to the side. “We stopped just here, you see, like today. It’s where I always stop, so the cart’s not on the slope and I got down, like always, to look down the track afore I opened the gate and pulled it across. I listened, put my boot on the rail. It was still, so I opened the gate on the other side, trotted back to me cart and drove her across and down a ways.” He paused for a breath.

Holmes murmured again, his eyes fixed upon the lad’s face.

The boy pointed. “There’s a stile in the hedgerow down there. You can’t see it from here, but it’s not too far and that’s where I loop the horses’ reins before I go back to close the gates. An’ that’s what I was doing when I heard Pa’s horses whinny and him calling to them an’ when I look, Pa’s still on the tracks steadying the horses. He can’t see what’s stopping them rolling forward up on the seat, but I can see and I wave and run towards him. ‘The wheel,’ I call as I run. ‘Front one. It’s coming off.’”

“Ah,” Holmes said. “The roads must be rough on the carts.”

Henry shook his head. “They are, but our carts are always in good nick. You see, Annie, my older sister Annie, is plighted to the smith’s ‘pprentice and he keeps our carts and our horses’ in good nick, he does. All for free, ‘cept for the cost of the shoes and such, because we’re nearly one family already Tim says. Tim’s the ‘pprentice and nearly done with it, too, and he road home from church with us for dinner just the day before and checked everything over just like he always does when he comes for Sunday dinner. We hadn’t ridden over anything that’d break a boxing that morning, no stones or deep ruts or anything.” Henry paused to catch his breath.

“The cart was too heavy to lift and straighten the wheel?” Holmes asked.

Once more, the sway of Henry’s head indicated the negative. “We did that. Pa raised that side and I righted the wheel real quick and kept it in place as Pa grabbed one of the horses and led them forward slow and steady.”

Henry had turned his head to watch the train approaching.

“The rails were vibrating,” he said.

He had raised his voice to be heard over the noise.

“The whistle was one big, long scream and my hands were slipping along the spokes of the wheel, but we were edging off the tracks. We could hear the squeal of the train’s brakes. I wanted to cover my ears, but I couldn’t, I had to keep the wheel on the axel as it turned, slow and steady. Pa said, ‘Good. Good lad, bit more now’ and I just kept steady, then all of a sudden, the cart tilted up and the wheel was out of my hands, higher than my head, turning a little. Pa shouted, “Loose the horse.” I ran to do it, while he worked the other side.”

Henry paused again.

“I don’t think I was breathing at all. I was watching my fingers work and then I was pulling Red away. The hay was all over the tracks when the engine crashed through the gate and broke the cart to kindling. Red reared, but I held on to him.”

Henry took a long breath.

“The engine steamed past us a good ways before it stopped,” Henry added. “You could hear the ladies screaming on the train.”

Holmes patted the boy’s shoulder. “Let me get the gates,” he said.

“Oh, no, sir. I couldn’t, sir,” Henry exclaimed, but Holmes gave him another pat.

“You stay and keep the horses steady, but don’t finish your tale,” Holmes cautioned. “I want to hear the rest on the other side.”

“You were very brave,” I said to Henry as I watched Holmes unobtrusively giving the gate and the track his attention.

“Oh, no, sir,” Henry said again. “I was never so scared in me life and I hope to never be so scared again.”

A red slat emerged from the tall post as Holmes opened the gate.

“I hope not as well,” I said, “but to have done what needed to be done even though you were afraid is very brave indeed and I know something of such things.”

Another slat dropped down from a similar post on the other side of the tracks when Holmes opened the second gate.

Henry twisted about to look at me more directly. “Thank you, sir.”


***

The dinner at the inn was hearty and Holmes left me to enjoy a brandy by the fire while he took a stroll about the town. I had retired to our room and nearly finished my novel when he finally returned. I set the book aside, full of questions, but Holmes placed a long finger against my lips and said, “Sleep. We’re taking the earliest train tomorrow.”

We had not discussed the case over our meal and I concluded Holmes didn’t consider it prudent to discuss it in our room either, so I left the book on the table, burrowed down beneath the covers and followed his admonition.

***

There were birds squabbling outside the window and voices at the door. A key turned in the lock. Footsteps retreated down the hall. The curtains of the sleeping alcove were pushed aside and a wave of pipe tobacco swept over me. Holmes smiled as I wrinkled my nose.

“You haven’t slept have you?” I asked groggily.

He pulled the curtains closed behind him. It took away most of the early morning light. “I may have dozed in the chair for a while,” he said.

I felt a draft as the coverlet shifted and a cool hand slipped beneath my nightshirt.

“Hot water has been brought up,” Holmes said, leaning a hip against the edge of the high bed. “And I’ve ordered refreshments for us to take with us on our journey.”

I was curious about our destination, but the progress of that cool hand took precedence in my mind. A sound of appreciation was making it way towards my lips, but Holmes tapped them with a fingertip. I turned the gasp into a kiss and closed my eyes. I was barely awake and Holmes clearly had a plan. I let him carry it out.

***

We had a compartment to ourselves. I turned my back to the corner and rested my thigh along the edge of the seat. Outside, the day was trying to decide what sort it would be. I picked another chunk of cheddar from our box of provisions and watched Holmes think.

“You’ve read through Rathbourne’s papers,” he said, of a sudden.

“Yes,” I replied, cheese poised mid-air.

“There was no record of a payment to Henry’s father,” he stated.

“No, although there were figures for the cost of repairing the gates and some fencing that had been knocked askew when bits of the cart landed,” I recalled. I popped the cheddar in my mouth and wiped my fingers on my handkerchief.

“The railroad repaired the fences directly, didn’t pay anyone for damages?” Holmes asked.

“I’m fairly sure not,” I answered, drawing the papers and my notebook from my pocket. “Let me double-check.”

“I’m confident you will find they did not make any cash distributions,” Holmes said. “Compensation would never be dispensed on the spot, even if one of the directors of the railroad had been on the train, and a director would not likely be so handsome and fashionable as young Henry described. The impressive Mr Rathbourne notwithstanding.” Holmes’s gaze lit upon me for an instant before returning to the countryside streaming past.

Holmes observes the minutiae of everyone’s dress and person and taunts me for missing the vital clues revealed by those details and yet, there are times he seems to disapprove of the attention I strive to give to such matters in my notes.

“Young Henry has something of a flair for spinning a tale,” I said as I scanned the documents. “No. No mention of such disbursements.”

“The railroad’s lawyers and accountants will be handling any claims put forth and that will take time, but as Henry and his father have been made whole I doubt they would even think of doing so,” Holmes went on, almost to himself.

“And it was odd to give the money to the boy,” I added. “It would have been obvious that the older man was in charge.”

“And more likely to be suspicious than a lad overwhelmed by a fashionable gentleman folding his hand around more notes than were needed to cover the cost of a ruined cart and the hay that had been in it,” Holmes said, with a trace of a smile.

“Well, they would also have been losing business until the new cart was ready,” I said.

“You missed hearing the precise sum when the horse shied at the rabbit,” Holmes continued. “But it more than covered that as well.”

I leaned towards Holmes. He is well nigh magnetic when a solution is forming in his brain. “You have an idea?” I asked.

He smiled more broadly and reached out to press something into my hand.

I looked down at the large pearl resting in my palm. It was surrounded by seed pearls with a diamond either side of where it was fitted into a white gold band. I glanced up at Holmes. “Another of Lady Edmonton’s pearls,” I said.

“Indeed,” Holmes replied. “And what do you notice about it?”

I held it up to the light. There were initials and a date from early in the century engraved inside the ring. I remarked upon them.

“Yes, it confirms its identity,” Holmes said. “The jewels originally belonged to Lady Edmonton’s grandmother. What else do you see?”

I scrutinised the object. I turned it round and round. It was in good repair; the prongs all intact. I peered more closely. “Aha!” I exclaimed. “There is some grit caught in the setting.”

“And what do you think that means?” Holmes asked.

“It hasn’t been cleaned,” I answered and paused. “That doesn’t seem right. Lady Edmonton appears quite enamoured of her pearls. She would keep them gleaming.”

Holmes nodded encouragingly.

I focused on the bit of grit. It was dark, almost like... “Dirt!” I said, looking up at him. “Holmes, did you go back to the crossing last night and find this in the dirt in the dark!”

“I didn’t have to go so far,” he said. “There was a second-hand jeweller’s shop off the high street and in its window I found that twinkling at me.”

“I’m surprised you found the shop open,” I said.

“Then you won’t be surprised to hear that it wasn’t,” he responded.

I raised my eyebrows. “Holmes...” I began.

“You know my methods, Watson,” he said. “I left behind the sum on the tag and copied out the entry in the shop’s ledger, which listed A. Brown as the person from whom it was bought.”

I scribbled the name in my notebook. “So we have a clue and seek out A. Brown,” I said.

Holmes shook his head. “We do have a clue, but it’s not related to the seller’s name, unlikely as that is to be an actual one.”

“Then what is it?” I asked.

“We know now,” Holmes said, “that the jewels left the train near East Bergholt. Who else do we know was outside the train that day behaving in an unusual manner.”

“The comely fellow passing out banknotes,” I announced.

“Of whom we have a fairly detailed description.”

“Ah,” I said. “So, what next?”

***

The day had decided on sunshine, more or less. The occasional dark cloud scudded past and an errant raindrop or two fell on us now and then as we made our way through stiles and across pastures. Despite the fair skies and the protection of a fine pair of Wellington boots, repeatedly finding myself ankle deep in fresh manure had made for a less than ideal perambulation. Holmes, of course, had remained unsullied.

He had risen above all that, a dark shape moving lithely through the flowering branches of a venerable cherry. Squinting, I could discern his goal in the highest fork of the tree. I scanned for the return of the resident wildfowl.

The pastures we traversed had been part of a garden once. Punctuating the hedgerows here and there were other cherries and scarlet rhododendrons nearly as tall. Nearer the ground, splashes of yellow spoke of surviving forsythia bushes and a scent strong enough to do battle with the manure proclaimed that a good portion of the spiky hedges was mahonia japoanica.

I spotted avian forms winging across the fields at the same time a triumphant ha sounded from the tree. Holmes was dropping to the ground as the birds swooped into the branches. He marched towards me, eyes straight ahead and arrived before me in boots pristine.

I scowled down at them.

Holmes cast a glance at mine. “You should be more mindful of where you step,” he said and winked. “We’ll have you at the inn, cleaned up and dining on goose soon, dear fellow, but first, we need to find where our bandits disposed of the rest of this.” He held up a wide strip of creamy satin with such a look of delight that I felt quite petty to be cross about the manure.

“It looks like the lining of a jewel case,” I said, taking the cloth and studying the pattern.

“Precisely,” Holmes said and took me by the shoulders and turned us both towards the far end of the field.

“From the tree, I could see a large pile of deadwood a couple fields over. Let us check there first,” he said, pointing.

“There’s a crest woven into the fabric,” I remarked as Holmes guided me towards the gate.

“Yes,” Holmes prompted. “Do you recognise it?”

“Russian?” I said.

“The imperial crest, exactly,” Holmes replied.

“I don’t recall a Russian name among the victims of the robbery,” I said.

“That’s because there wasn’t one,” Holmes explained. “And the jewels I believe to have been in the case lined with this fabric were not described in the inventory of missing items.”

My interest was truly piqued now. We had passed through the gate into the next field; Holmes reclaiming my shoulder on the other side.

“So how have you made the connection?” I asked.

His fingers gripped me more tightly and I knew a puzzle piece of great interest would follow.

“The two English ladies who lost jewels in the second robbery were related and travelling to the same wedding, their ornaments combined in a locked case large enough to hold a number of boxes of various sizes with rings and necklaces and even tiaras,” he said.

“I didn’t notice any...”

“The report only lists the loss of a Haywood & Harwood dressing case,” he said. “But the finest Haywood & Harwood cases contain false bottoms and hidden compartments for money, jewels and other items of value. They are quite ingenious.”

“You have one, don’t you?” I said, recalling the items in his room with which I was gradually becoming very familiar. “A rather large one.”

“I do indeed, Watson. A find at a second-hand shop,” Holmes said.

“And was there something marvellous that had been hidden inside for generations?” I asked, the idea seizing my imagination.

Holmes tightened his hold on my shoulder. “A story for another day,” he said.

“Very well, then,” I acquiesced, “back to the case at hand.” I chuckled and Holmes bestowed a mock frown upon me. “But to save room wouldn’t one remove jewellery from their boxes before secreting them in such a case.”

“Usually, yes. However, in this instance, the case was of significant value on its own. A fact, judging by the contents of the magpies’ nest, our robbers did not grasp,” Holmes said and unlatched the gate to the enclosure we sought. “Because of that, I am hoping that we will find it discarded somewhere close by.” He circled the tower of branches and dried leaves slowly. “Possibly even here,” he added, reaching under a gnarled bow. He pulled out half a box covered in tooled blue leather. Hinges dangled from a splintered edge, part of a lock was still attached to the opposite edge and remnants of cream-coloured silk clung to the inside corners.” Holmes’s eyes narrowed as he examined it.

“Why was the box significant?” I asked.

“See if you can spy the other half of this,” he said, beginning another circuit of the pile.

I headed round in the opposite direction from Holmes. The afternoon sunlight was skimming over the top of the hedges, gilding everything in its path. Something in the old ashes at the bottom of the pile caught my eye and I crouched. My leg wasn’t pleased by the move, but I stretched forward despite it, grabbing a stick to extend my reach. Carefully, I manoeuvred something that glimmered out from under a snarl of brambles. It was the other half of the box; trimmed with an ornate band of silver which would have hidden the seam between the upper and lower halves. The silk lining was torn, but no pieces seemed to be missing.

“The magpies didn’t get at this half,” I said, holding it up. “We’re lucky it’s been too wet for burning this week.”

Holmes had come round to join me. He extended his arm and I levered myself upright.

“It’s been cut with a blade,” Holmes said.

“Why?” I asked. “Did they think something was hidden behind it?”

“It would appear,” Holmes replied, thoughtfully. “What would have caused them to search for something more. The gems are remarkable enough.”

“Holmes!” I exclaimed. “You must enlighten me. What is so special about those jewels and why weren’t they mentioned in the reports like Lady Edmonton’s pearls?”

“The owner was reticent because there is a scandal attached to them which they would be loathe to have revived in the press even after all this time,” he answered.

“I am all ears, Holmes,” I declared.

He glanced up from his study of the silk. “I should hope not,” he said, touching the top of my ear and tracing the edge down to the lobe, “as sensitive as they are.”

I grew warm. “I shall not be distracted, Holmes,” I asserted.

“Very well,” he said, taking my arm. “I shall endeavour to sate your curiosity.”

***

The story seized me. I was still asking questions when we sat down in the nearly deserted dining room of our hotel in Cambridge.

“So the necklace was the final gift the emperor gave the wife of the British ambassador to persuade her to become his mistress?” I said. “And being a diplomat, the husband did not feel he could object.”

“Perhaps he was open-minded,” Holmes said.

“Or complacent,” I retorted and felt myself blush.

Holmes glanced at me. “I thought you took more of a romantic view of life, Watson.”

“You said she wore them publicly,” I reminded him.

“They were the talk of the town, if certain diarists are to be believed,” Holmes replied, lifting an eyebrow at me. “A contemporary described her as ‘blazing like an empress’ at balls, but the lady’s version was that their love had remained innocent.”

“She acknowledged that she returned his affections?” I stammered.

“In her private correspondence, which in time came into other’s hands, as such things do,” Holmes said.

I sipped my wine.

Holmes seeks information as bees seek blossoms. I am aware that he has access to archives not even known to exist. Old scandals can play out across generations, old rumours can sometimes be true. He takes note and sees where they might affect the present or even the future.

I chased a pea across my plate. It rolled onto the table into the shadow of the salt bowl. I glanced at Holmes. He was dissecting a thigh with the precision of an anatomist.

How could an ordinary man compete with a monarch for a lover’s affections? I drank more wine. Contrary to Holmes’s view, I was romanticising. Most marriages of the time were pragmatic affairs, more business contract than anything else. If two people loved outside that sere framework, why should they have to deny themselves?

I sighed. Holmes looked up at me. My distress was no doubt written large upon my face. I changed the subject. “If the necklace is so famous and the gems so large,” I said, “surely the thief has split them up and they are already set in brooches and rings in Hatton Garden by now.”

Holmes narrowed his eyes. “Although not astute enough to preserve the presentation case,” Holmes replied, “our culprit, or culprits, may be aware that the intact necklace would have great appeal to private collectors for its historic value. Even museum curators have been known to ask fewer questions about provenance than one might expect.”

“So we’re off to the British Museum or the South Kensington one next?” I asked, avoiding his eyes. “I’ve read that they’re expanding their collections rapidly.”

Holmes was quiet. I chanced a quick glance across the table. His gaze had not left me.

“I have some connections here,” he said, “academics consulted by collectors and curators alike when in doubt about the authenticity of a document or a work of art.”

“Quite a different connection than One-eyed Jack,” I offered.

“Yes,” Holmes replied.

I poured more wine. Holmes had not moved. His glass was still full.

“What treasures do you think would tempt me away from you, John?” he asked quietly.

I drew in a breath. The whole sentence was startling. We used our given names during intimate encounters. In his voice, my name carried many memories already and yet our association was not old...was not sanctified...was not secure.

His other words conjured images of him reclining, pale amidst brocades, or by marble columns near the sea, surrounded by vessels of silver and gold overflowing with fruits and flowers, bound by ropes of jewels, an Antinous, a Ganymede, a Jonathan.

I exhaled slowly. Such trinkets would mean nothing to Holmes, but a puzzle, a maze, a trail of breadcrumbs in the woods, such conundrums might entice him. And what of someone clever enough to supply Holmes with those constantly, so there would never be a dull gap between cases? Might he not be lured away?

And I...I would be left with splinters and ashes.

“Glittering minerals would not serve the purpose,” I said.

His expression did not change. I had not answered his question. He was waiting.

“Mysteries,” I said at last, “puzzles.” I reached for my wine.

Lightly, Holmes touched my hand to stay it. Every nerve in my body raced to the spot to register it, to measure the heat and the pressure of it. I stared at my hand as though it must have been changed by it.

“You are a puzzle, John, a never ending one,” he murmured.

I looked up and met his eyes.

“An early night might be best,” he said softly and set his serviette upon the table. “It’s been a busy day and tomorrow shall be another.” He rose, brisk and efficient, and was gone from the room before I could move.

I emptied my glass and followed.

***

Two days later, we were in the Rare Books Room of the Bodleian. Having spent the morning tramping behind a flock of sheep whose path eventually crossed the railroad tracks where the first train had been waylaid, I was grateful to be seated.

Holmes passed me a letter crisp with age, uncreased. The writing was dainty and close, marred by blots and crossed out lines. Adjusting to the script, I read a recital of a journey and a soiree at which the marvellous sapphires had been aired and then the lines –

I revel in wearing them. In the candlelight, they glitter exactly as your eyes did when you gave them to me. I should have given you a ruby ring, so that you could see it on your finger and remember that I left my heart with you. I am hollow now without it, light as the air. Some days, I think I may float away. I take the sapphires out and cling to them then. Some nights, I sleep with them in hopes they will bring you to me in my dreams.

You should not keep writing to me. We both know we can never have more. Our duties lie in separate places, your obligations so much heavier than mine. And yet, each word you send is more precious than a jewel. I trace the lines with my finger and it comes away with the fragrance of the ink. I keep your words with your sapphires so they may whisper to one another. When I wear the gems next, they have new declarations to make ~ Fanny has been loved, not just bought and sold, they say to all who understand. I don’t care about those who cannot. I wish I could declare that I have loved as well.

I must find you a ruby, a dark one. I will send it with your courier. If he can be trusted with these, he can be trusted with that. It will be the colour of my blood and I will hold it close before I send it to you.


I turned over the page to find the rest, but it was blank. “Never finished?” I asked.

“Perhaps not,” Holmes replied, “possibly a draft that she kept.”

“I wonder if she sent the ring,” I murmured, re-reading the final paragraphs.

There was a small curve at the corners of Holmes’s lips as he held up papers of various sizes. “Receipt for the remounting of a two carat ruby from a white gold brooch onto a yellow gold band – thirty pounds,” he read and set a receipt from a London jeweller before me.

“Thirty pounds was rather a lot then, was it not?”

“It was, but ‘Fanny’ was an only child and the only grandchild of a prosperous family. As the years went on, she inherited far more than the very considerable dowry she had brought to her marriage,” Holmes explained.

“Ah,” I said.

Holmes’s gaze flickered over me. “Her husband had a grand title and excellent connections.”

“I’m beginning to see the source of the ‘bought and sold’ comment,” I murmured.

“Things aren’t so very different today,” Holmes remarked. “Now here we have a watercolour study of Fanny, her mother and her grandmother. That spot of red on the matriarchal bosom may be the aforementioned brooch.”

A large, heavy sheet of paper settled in front of me. Fanny looked to have been a sombre child with black ringlets and light blue eyes.

“Ink studies of several pieces of jewellery to be included in the full-length oil painting following the composition of the watercolour...”

A paper folded in quarters came to rest next to the watercolour. I opened it. “Was the purpose to portray the people or the jewellery,” I asked, “or the fabric in their gowns?”

“Possibly all three, although perhaps not in that order,” Holmes replied. “If we are ever in New York we could go to see the oil painting.”

The idea of taking a long journey with Holmes had a strong appeal. It would have to be a very interesting case for him to agree to travel that far though, I think.

“And this suggests an answer to your question,” Holmes said. He had slid open the drawer to a book sleeve. He nudged it towards me. Instead of a book inside, there was a small canvas. I couldn’t tell if it had been cut from a larger painting, but what was preserved there, in oils, was an arm from the elbow down, in a red sleeve, half-covered by an ermine-lined cloak. The hand grasped a jewelled sceptre, a gold ring with a prominent red stone bright upon its forefinger. Across the bottom, the words in aeternum were painted.

Holmes opened a large book and balanced it upright on the table for me to see. “And here we have a print of Fanny’s portrait in the sapphires we hope to recover.”

The artist had caught her with an enigmatic smile and the light flashing off the lavish necklace. “‘Blazing’ was the right word,” I said.

“Indeed,” Holmes said.

“Words like jewels,” I mused.

Holmes set the book down.

“That’s what the thieves hoped to find in the lining, I’ll wager,” I said. “They thought his letters might be hidden there.”

Holmes folded his hands and leaned his chin upon them. “I think so, too,” he said.

***

It was good to relax before our own hearth after so many days travelling hither and yon. The heap of pearls on the recently-cleared dinner table glowed like so many tiny moons in the firelight. Fanny’s necklace ringed them round and the Haywood & Harwood case, somewhat the worse for wear, loomed behind them. Holmes set the diamond tiara from the first robbery on top of it.

“They look rather pretty there,” I said.

Holmes stepped back to admire the effect. “Picturesque,” he agreed. “Mr Rathbourne seemed quite content with the sum I negotiated to buy back those the items that had been sold on. One-eyed Jack was content with his profit, although somewhat chagrined that he had managed to mislay one of the earrings.”

I chuckled.

Holmes settled in his chair and took up the brandy I had poured for him.

I watched him take a sip and close his eyes. “And you got all that because of the description of Lady Edmonton’s pearls,” I said.

“The painting fetched a good price when her grandmother sold it after her grandfather died,” Holmes said, without opening his eyes. “I have the auction catalogue on the top shelf,” he added with a wave of his hand. “It made me alert.”

“When are you ever not alert?” I asked.

Holmes smiled peacefully, eyes still closed.

“It was when you read me the victims’ names in Rathbourne’s reports that the hint of something more than family jewels brought out for society weddings began to emerge,” he said. “Even though the sapphires had not been reported among the items missing, I was aware of the family’s connection with the famous jewels...and the rest you know.”

“Not all,” I said. “Why hadn’t the trains slowed down when they saw the gates open?”

“They did, but they were too close to stop by the time the gates became visible. That’s why the signal posts are so tall. However, someone tampered with the mechanism at each of those crossings so the red arm didn’t come down when the gates were opened...” Holmes raised a finger. “...and set them back to rights before disappearing with their booty each time.”

“So the thief on the train had an accomplice on the ground?”

“Yes,” Holmes replied.

“All right, then. What led you to suspect an academic?”

“Merely expensive jewels were ignored,” Holmes answered.

“Perhaps the thief did not have time to target more than one victim,” I said.

“There were others on the same trains, heading to the same gatherings, why not choose one of them?” Holmes opened his eyes and leaned forward enough to consider the gems. “They lacked the artistic connection, the public history. There was more than a monetary motivation.”

“Do you think there really were letters?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” Holmes said.

“Pity those were lost, then,” I replied.

“The family never knew they had them; they shan’t miss them.”

“You won’t mention them?” I queried.

“No.”

“I wonder if they were as heartfelt as hers,” I mused.

“You are curious as a writer or a lover?” Holmes asked.

“I...um...I...” My mind contained no orderly response.

Holmes smiled at me. “Don’t worry, dear fellow. There will be a book in a year or so with their letters reunited. I will buy you a copy, though I shan’t ask the author to autograph it for us.”

“I should think not,” I said. “You don’t believe he will return to waylaying trains?”

“He didn’t execute that part personally,” Holmes said. “He contracted out to another kind of professor and his assistant for that.” He swirled his brandy in his glass and took another sip.

I could tell he knew more about those individuals as well, but I didn’t probe. If Holmes didn’t think he needed to give Scotland Yard any help in that direction, I was content with his judgement on the matter.

The bell rang. There were steps upon the stairs.

“Here comes Mr Rathbourne to collect his prizes and assure the expansion of his railroad,” Holmes said, standing.

“And to settle your fee,” I whispered.

“That, too,” Holmes said, tapping the back of my hand as he passed to the door. “And just in time, as I have seen something I should like to purchase with it.”

I only had an instant to wonder about the meaning of that, because a knock sounded and Holmes ushered in Mr Rathbourne whose joy upon seeing the recovered jewels quite filled the room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Date: 2015-05-15 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jcporter1.livejournal.com
What an epic work. I love how the trail twisted and turned. Excellent detail. And a cool flirtatious Holmes is my favorite.

Date: 2015-06-02 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
I'm so pleased you liked it. It ended up longer than I thought it would be!

Thursday, May 14

Date: 2015-05-15 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] livejournal.livejournal.com
User [livejournal.com profile] marta_bee referenced to your post from Thursday, May 14 (http://holmesian-news.livejournal.com/442060.html) saying: [...] Stamford, Harriet, Sholto, Moriarty, Moran, Morstan |Mature | BBC) + Anon Exchange Entries Fic for [...]

Date: 2015-05-15 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tripleransom.livejournal.com
Boxing Holmes! Gambling Watson! Steamy (I mean that in a literal sense) Holmes and Watson action! This fic has it all.
It's a fascinating mystery and you kept the plot well-controlled despite its many twists and turns. I love the hint of "another kind of professor" behind the train-waylaying. I wonder who that could be?

Date: 2015-06-02 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
I'm delighted you liked the steamy interlude. I'd been a bit off such scenes for a while and was relieved when one arrived almost fully-formed in my head right after I wrote the opening scene.

Date: 2015-05-16 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gardnerhill.livejournal.com
I really love the genre of old-married-H&W casefic. Like the relationship you've set up here, where it's clearly not hearts-and-flowers between the two men but there is their affectionate friendship along with the sexytimes.

Date: 2015-06-02 02:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
Ah, I am so pleased you liked their on-going relationship. I like to imagine them happy for many, many years to make up for the hiatus, whether it's in their future or their past in any particular story.

Date: 2015-05-17 09:32 am (UTC)
hardboiledbaby: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hardboiledbaby
Oh, this is exquisite. An interesting plot, expressed in the most beautiful language. Thank you, anon

Date: 2015-06-02 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
Thank you so very much! :-D

Date: 2015-05-18 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachelindeed.livejournal.com
This is wonderfully atmospheric and lovely -- your versions of the characters are so delicately drawn. I love that first boxing scene and Holmes's gentle warning to Watson not to try to express his love through that kind of risk, as Holmes's priorities might lie elsewhere (and I love Watson's overflowing faith in Holmes's talent seeking new ways of public expression -- he is just so smitten!) And throughout I like both Watson's passion and his insecurity, they feel very real for a new relationship which, by necessity, lies outside the socially sanctioned modes of commitment and social/legal recognition. It feels right to me that Watson might miss those markers/rituals/reassurances of courtship and marriage in a way that Holmes does not. Holmes never questions his power to fascinate, but Watson of course doubts his own long-term attractions to a mind like Holmes's. I liked the way you wrote that slight tension running through the relationship.

I also enjoyed the academic mystery, and that the prize was of historic rather than monetary value. Very unusual and interesting! But I hope the professor who commissioned that theft sleeps poorly for the rest of his days -- he could very, very easily have killed a lot of people with those stratagems to stop the trains.

And of course, the professor who carried out his commission seems ominously familiar :)

Thanks so much for this lovely tale!

Date: 2015-06-02 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
Thank you for this beautiful comment. I was impatient to respond and tell you how happy your analysis made me.

Yes, that professor was courting catastrophe. So many variables to control in stopping a train like that! Unfortunately, it probably didn't cause him a moment's unease.

Date: 2015-05-18 04:39 pm (UTC)
ext_422737: uncle hallway (Default)
From: [identity profile] elmey.livejournal.com
It has to be a Russian mystery of course, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma ;)

This is so atmospheric, you've done a wonderful job of catching Watson's voice and I really like the way the bits and pieces of the case that become visible to us also tease out Watson's feelings, his view of Holmes and the mystery of a relationship that he's still trying to grasp.

I exhaled slowly. Such trinkets would mean nothing to Holmes, but a puzzle, a maze, a trail of breadcrumbs in the woods, such conundrums might entice him. And what of someone clever enough to supply Holmes with those constantly, so there would never be a dull gap between cases? Might he not be lured away?

And I...I would be left with splinters and ashes.

“Glittering minerals would not serve the purpose,” I said.


Beautifully descriptive and such a good summing up of Watson's rueful self awareness.

I loved Fanny's letter too, and the way you give her life a context that makes the the jewels matter. btw I would very much like to see Holmes and Watson in New York checking that painting out :)


Date: 2015-06-02 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for this wonderful, encouraging comment. I was very concerned about getting the tone of Watson's thoughts right. He is clearly an introspective man, but I didn't want to overdo that part.

I would have loved to have been able to give Fanny and her emperor a happier ending, but I couldn't see anyway it could be possible except in their mutual knowledge of one another's feelings, but at such a remove.

Date: 2015-06-02 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
It was a joy to find your comment the other day and I itched to reply and thank you for it!

Their relationship, after such an effortless beginning, will always have that wound to contend with in the middle of it.

Date: 2015-06-01 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vernets.livejournal.com
Sorry I'm so late about this! I loved it but I'm re-reading it to be able to leave a proper comment ♥

Date: 2015-06-02 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
I am very happy it pleased and that you wish to re-read it! Thank you! :-D
From: [identity profile] livejournal.livejournal.com
User [livejournal.com profile] saki101 referenced to your post from Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) Fanfiction: Signs and Signals (http://rarelitslash.livejournal.com/305900.html) saying: [...] On LJ at acd_holmesfest [...]

ACD Fanfiction: Signs and Signals

Date: 2015-06-25 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] livejournal.livejournal.com
User [livejournal.com profile] saki101 referenced to your post from ACD Fanfiction: Signs and Signals (http://dispatch-box.livejournal.com/229010.html) saying: [...] and LJ [...]
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