Chapter Four - The Hunt Begins!
The next time they saw each other was two weeks - almost exactly - after the dinner disaster. These proceedings happened in a much more civilized fashion, Caroline was happy to report.
She didn't see him right away, didn't notice him right away, strangely enough, perhaps even amazingly.
Horatio was giving a private tour at the museum for a group, and she tagged along, of course, to satisfy her own love of history and artifacts. Plus she loved hearing Horatio's passion shine through in his explanations, another reason why she thought they were a good match: they were both passionate, and in a lot of the same things.
But back to Sherlock. She was paying attention to Horatio's tour when she noticed the familiar well-dressed gentleman standing off to the side, though just close enough to listen and observe.
"Oh, Sherlock-" Her surprise was evident as she approached him. "Y-You're here."
"Yes, I am." He gave a brisk nod, hands clasped behind his back, standing tall and stiff, but no smile. "I am a friend of the museum."
"Oh-" Now more surprise. "Why didn't you ever tell me that?"
"Museums and artifacts were yours. I didn't want to overshadow that for you."
"But usually people bond over shared interests." Like with her and Horatio.
The thought made her sad - he hadn't opened up to her about that because he didn't want to diminish it for her - that just showed how much he cared. How much he did care, despite how she had led herself to believe that he did not, not even in the slightest. Oh, Sherlock...
She - tried - to suppress the sting of that and continued the conversation. "How have you been?"
"Well, thank you. And yourself?"
"Very well, thank you." A pause, she wanting to cling to the conversation. "And your home garden? How is that progressing?"
"I'm rather done with that, moving on, onto the next thing."
"Yes, I see." It seemed they were both moving on now, but neither expressed this verbally. "So, what brings you down to the museum this morning? Business or pleasure?"
"A bit of both, it would seem."
"Ah - deep in your next case are you?" Again, they knew each other so well.
"Indeed, and not just any case: your case."
"My case? The continuation of my father's situation you mean?"
"Precisely!" Now he had that twinkle, that glow in his eyes, the Sherlock-in-the-middle-of-a-case glow.
"Oh, I didn't realize you were continuing with that."
"Well, but of course. I told you I would, didn't I? And at Christmas no less!"
"Yes, you did."
"Yes, and I keep to my word. I never leave a case unfinished, never! The only time I do leave one unfinished is when I die!" This expression rang out across the room as his voice echoed. Well, he was certainly as passionate as ever.
"Well, thank you for continuing the investigation, I appreciate it, truly I do."
"Of course. I heard from my contacts here that you were in the midst of transferring your father's - a very close partner of the museum society - vast collection to be stored and on display here."
"Yes, I am. I thought this was as good a place, and Papa would want it to be here, to be enjoyed by other passionate people. Horatio is overseeing the transfer."
"I see." He didn't seem to care all that much about that particular fact, and reached into his jacket's inner pocket, withdrawing a folded piece of paper, which he unfolded and handed to her. "I'm glad you're here."
More surprise on her end. "Oh?"
"Yes - I need you to sign something for me."
"Oh..." Hence the paper in his hand. What had she been expecting though, really? What had she been expecting - wanting - him to say? Well, no time to think about that now...
"I need your permission to do a thorough search through the collection - in writing, if you please."
She eyed him, taking the paper. "Why? What are you looking for?"
"That's secret investigation business - top secret."
She scoffed. "Well seeing as this investigation involves my father and my family and his - now my - collection, I would say I'm part of the so called 'investigation business'. I was before, and I don't see why I wouldn't be now."
"So?" he pressed.
"Patience, I'm reading through your contract." Satisfied, she took up a pen, signed her name, and handed it over.
He took back the paper and returned it to his pocket. "Lovely, thank you Miss Westin." 'Miss Westin', not even 'Caroline'. "Now, where are these artifacts?"
"In the back room."
"Excellent. Good day." He tipped his nonexistent hat and scurried away.
Not so satisfied now, she went and followed him. "Sherlock, what are you doing?" she called after him down the hall.
"Nothing! Nothing out of the ordinary!"
"That's what I'm afraid of..."
She followed him into the back room, he throwing open the doors and doing a scan of the many boxed and wrapped items. "And so the hunt begins," she heard him mutter, and he dove right in.
"What are you looking for?" Nothing. "Would you like some help."
"If you would tell me what it is you're searching for it would be much more helpful. I'm very familiar with this collection, you know."
"Oh, I know." But he just continued his search.
"Ah, there you are, Darling." Horatio entered the room then.
"Oh, Horatio. Sorry for disappearing - Sherlock paid a visit. How did the rest of the tour go?"
"Excellent, the group was very pleased. What is Mr. Holmes doing looking through your collection?"
"He's searching for something, quote, 'top secret investigation business'."
"Oh, sounds exciting! Perhaps I can be of some help," Horatio offered.
"Oh, I highly doubt that," Sherlock called.
"No need to be rude," she chided him. There was a lot of noise as he wrestled with crates and boxes and wrapping. "Oh, what in the world are you hoping to find-"
"A-HA!" Both she and Horatio jumped at Sherlock's sudden shout. He popped up from behind a stack of crates, an item wrapped in cloth in his hands. He set it on top of one of the nearby crates and unraveled it.
She and Horatio were at his side in an instant, eager to see what all the fuss was about.
"Napoleon Bonaparte? Indeed." Sherlock gazed down at the bust, that glow in his eyes still. "Is this particular item of any value to you personally?"
"No. There are several other artifacts that I have more of an attachment to."
"No sentimental value? No fond memories connected to your father perhaps?"
"Not particularly, no. I don't even know why Papa would have something like this. Again, there are others that serve that purpose much better-"
"Excellent." And with a grin, he took the bust and hurled it right at the wall.
Haha, felt that was a good place to end ;)
Welcome back! I'm sorry for the delay, I was feeling pretty stuck with this story - however, I think I'm out of that sticky period for the most part now, yay!
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed! :)