Title: Miracle at No. 5, Garden Place, or the Further Adventures of Dr. Matsumoto Jun
Length: chaptered, this chapter is about 4000 words
Pairing: Junba, Ohmiya, Toma/Sho
Genre: Historical AU. Late Victorian London (full of historical errors). This sequel is more of a Victorian Christmas story than a Sherlock Holmes detective story.
Summary: Dr. Matsumoto Jun knows exactly what (former) amateur detective Aiba Masaki would like for Christmas. But acquiring it may mean committing grand larceny. Of the London Zoo.
Notes: This is a sequel to "From the Mixed-up Files of Aiba Masaki, (Amateur) Detective." That fic can be found here
This sequel is dedicated to the wonderful and brilliant darkdropout!
Will any reader be surprised that the professor, flinching a little at the press of the cold metal on his temple, lowered the jagged glass from Nino’s throat? Loyal followers of the detective’s adventures will recall that the usually mild-mannered valet can at times possess an air of irresistible authority—an air of authority made all the more irresistible, in this case, by the presence of a revolver.
In any case, the professor lowered the glass, and Nino jerked from his grasp, his eyes still fixed on Ohno, who seemed to be purposefully ignoring him. “Tie his hands,” the valet ordered. Aiba, with a fresh length of twine, sprang to the task.
“You fools,” the professor was hissing, “you cannot imagine that you will leave here with the ape…I will have you all arrested and shoot the animal myself…”
“Gag him,” Ohno commanded.
“With pleasure,” Aiba murmured, producing a handkerchief from somewhere in the depths of his jacket and promptly stuffing it in the professor’s mouth; the professor’s eyes burned with indignation.
It was when the professor’s hands were bound—Aiba tested the security of his knots several times (another trick, along with lock-picking, that he had picked up during his days as an amateur detective)—that Ohno lowered the revolver and tucked it inside his jacket. His body seemed, suddenly, to go limp, and in a moment, still kneeling, he had pressed his head into Nino’s chest and seized his shoulders in a grip so tight it must have been bruising; at first, I thought that he was weeping, but I think he was merely shaking as he held tightly to his former lordship. Nino appeared confused by the valet’s action, his expression one of startled bemusement as he slowly raised his hands to rest them carefully in the valet’s hair. I could see words of admonishment on Nino's lips; but he seemed to unable to speak them as Ohno clung to him.
I averted my gaze from the strange embrace. Ohno seemed to require a private moment with Nino, and I had to tend to Aiba’s right hand—it was horribly smeared with dirt and blood. Tugging the detective to me, I pulled out my last remaining handkerchief only to find it covered with Lord Toma’s blood.
Aiba gave a shaky laugh at the sight. “I have some gauze in my left pocket,” he offered as he began fumbling with his other hand.
“Hold still,” I ordered brusquely, knocking his left hand away and reaching into his pocket myself. “And keep your arm raised and parallel to the ground.” At his immediate obedience, I allowed myself a small smile, “And why do you have gauze?” I inquired more gently, “Are you thinking of become an amateur physician now?” I tore off some linen from the bottom of my shirt (Aiba gave a small gasp and an un-necessarily shocked exclamation of “your best shirt!” as I did so), wiping the filth from his hand as best I could before wrapping it with the gauze.
“I’ve had it all night,” he explained softly, wincing a little as I worked, “I thought if Horatio had sustained some kind of injury or scratch during the escape, we might be glad of it later.” It was then that the detective smiled—really smiled—his face lighting and the lines at the corners of his eyes appearing.
I understood the detective’s feelings—as he spoke the name “Horatio” I, too, felt a glow of happiness within me. It seemed, now, that his rescue was really possible, that our obstacles were finally overcome. The detective and I were staring at each other, both grinning foolishly, his hand still in mine, when a new intruder dashed all of our newly-formed hopes for Horatio’s liberation—
“All right gentlemen, I think that’s quite enough for one night. The Christmas edition goes to press in four hours, and his lordship still owes me three thousand words.”
The scene would have been comic if not for the sickening feeling of defeat that overcame us. Ogura had materialized in the greenhouse as if out of thin air, his impressive figure casting a large shadow over the already gloomy scene. He looked slightly perturbed by the cold but otherwise calm; as he spoke, he reached into his great coat pocket for a cigar and matches, beginning to puff away after his pronouncement. Worse—in the dim light, I discerned not just Ogura, but two of his men (each of them had stalked Garden Place in search of Nino at various times that winter) and Constable Hatori with his deputy, Chinen. We were fortunate, certainly, to be discovered by our local constable and friend, but all possibility of spiriting Horatio away into the country seemed at an end. In fact, we were all on the verge of arrest.
“You shouldn’t smoke in here,” Nino observed sourly—I sent a glare in his direction, but his face appeared so pinched and defeated that I could not find it in myself to reprimand him. Ohno had quickly moved to block Nino from our new guests, his own glare surprisingly terrifying—I think he was almost growling. Nino placed a restraining hand on his shoulder as he stopped forward, rubbing his brow tiredly, “You’ll kill the flowers,” he sighed.
Professor Gackt had not, of course, been silent during all this time—he had been shouting through his gag ever since this new party had arrived. But to my surprise, both Ogura and Constable Hatori seemed perfectly content to ignore him; indeed, I realized, neither man seemed in any particular hurry to get on with the arrests. I saw that Ogura, though pretending to study an azalea, kept a sharp eye on Nino as he smoked. Constable Hatori, too, had only nodded at us all quite affably but made no other move—he seemed to be looking to Ogura for direction.
“How did you find me?” Nino asked wearily.
Ogura chuckled, “We finally realized that the best way to track you would be to follow him.” He gestured in Ohno’s direction before taking another puff, “And then we ran into our good constable along the way. Apparently a wounded man has been discovered in the woods nearby, and he was very insistent that his assailant was still hiding himself in the Zoological Gardens.” Ogura’s expression seemed purposefully bland as he continued, “You are in a scrape, your lordship.” (Gackt gave a muffled growl from his position on the ground). “I hope that it will not prevent you from completing the Christmas special,” he observed mildly.
Nino started at Ogura’s words; a light was kindling in his eyes. I felt a throb of hope—I recognized the signs that Nino was formulating a plan, “I am afraid it might, my friend,” he began slowly, his voice gaining confidence as he continued, “You see, my companions and I were taking a late night stroll in the gardens when we heard a terrific crashing in the greenhouse. When we entered, we found these men tied up. And I’m afraid we tripped and cut ourselves on the glass. We were just about to free these poor men when you came upon us.” Nino’s eyes were twinkling, “Naturally, I should like to get to work, but being discovered at such a scene…the formalities…if we should be brought in for questioning, for instance…I would be at the station all night…” he trailed off suggestively.
I nearly threw a hand over Aiba’s mouth, certain he would begin protesting; his astonishment was so obvious that I despaired of us pulling the thing off. Every man in the room was perfectly aware, of course, that Nino was talking absolute rot—but as long as no one acknowledged it as rot, there was still a chance. I had to settle for pulling the detective back by his coat and squeezing his good hand in warning.
Ogura seemed to be meditating. He tipped the ash from his cigar into a potted plant, “And the chimpanzee inside that box?”
Nino didn’t even blink, “We haven’t the faintest idea how he came to be here.”
Ogura nodded, “Constable Hatori, if your deputy would be so good as to lead Professor Gackt and his companion to a quiet corner of the greenhouse, I would like to have a private word with him while you take charge of the situation here.”
“With pleasure, sir,” the Constable assented, sending Chinen to lead a very astonished Gackt and his minion—both still bound—away to the opposite end of the greenhouse with Ogura and his followers.
“Well,” Constable Hatori began quietly, surveying the scene before him, “No one seems to be too badly injured. Though that’s a worrisome cut on your throat, your lordship,” he observed.
Nino reached up to touch his throat, looking surprised at the blood that appeared on his fingertips, “A superficial wound, I assure you. I must have scratched myself without noticing,” he replied. Ohno paled at the sight, hastily removing his scarf to wrap it around Nino's neck.
Constable Hatori held up the fallen sword, “And whose blood would this be?” he asked calmly as he examined it.
“Uh…” Aiba seemed to have regained his power of speech, “We…discovered the sword with Professor Gackt…I’m afraid I…stupidly…tried to pick it up by the blade…” he raised his bandaged hand sheepishly, flushing.
The constable raised one eyebrow, tucking the sword under his arm before continuing to scan the ground. “Well, how fortunate that you were here to rescue the professor and his friend from whatever thugs have assaulted them,” he concluded. His expression softened as his gaze settled on the wooden crate that contained Horatio. He looked directly at Aiba when he spoke next, “Sir, we will have to return your friend to the zoo tonight.”
Aiba took a half-step forward, his voice choked, “Constable…please…if we had five minutes…”
Constable Hatori shook his head; his tone was sorrowful but firm, “This animal belongs to the London Zoo. Not to you, and not yet to Professor Gackt.” He lowered his voice as he continued, “There is only so much I can do, Aiba. It has already cost me some trouble to make sure that I was the officer to arrive at this scene.”
Aiba nodded, “I understand, Constable, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” He took another step forward, “Please, just allow me to accompany you as you return him—allow me to see him settled comfortably at the zoo. And I should make sure of his condition now.”
Constable Hatori nodded, “Go ahead, sir.”
Hot tears of frustration threatened to overwhelm me; I turned away as Aiba approached the crate, struggling to rein in my emotions. I could not bear to watch the detective look upon Horatio, knowing that all of our efforts had failed. Nino, I saw, had turned to lean into Ohno, their temples touching gently as they each wrapped an arm about the other's shoulders; they held each other tightly while staring at their feet.
Hating my own cowardice but unable to accompany the detective, I turned my face away again, determinedly glaring at a nearby rose bush. I listened as Aiba slid the heavy wooden cover—it was in a sort of grid pattern, allowing the animal inside to breathe—to the side. I raised a hand to cover my eyes when—reader, incredible as it may sound—I felt the cold, faint touch of a tiny hand intertwining her fingers with mine, and then pressing her thumb against my own.
The small hand was withdrawn so instantly that I thought for a moment that I had hallucinated—but no, I looked down into the rose bush and suddenly discerned, as I had not before, Umi’s upturned face among the white roses. She seemed to be trying to reassure me; she raised a finger to her lips while giving me a determined nod. Trust me, her wide eyes seemed to plead with me.
It was as though an electric current had passed through me—I am confident that my hair stood on end. Now I was certain that I had gone mad. But then I heard it—Aiba’s cry of surprise. “My god,” he gasped. I whirled around just in time to catch sight of the detective’s stricken expression as he peered into the crate. He raised his head, searching for me, “Jun…he is gone…”
I hastened over to the detective to support him; his legs seemed in danger of giving out from underneath him, and he leaned against me heavily. He was trembling, “Horatio is gone…”
The constable, Ohno, and Nino rushed to peer inside the crate; I turned the detective’s face to fix his gaze on me. “Detective,” I whispered, “detective, trust me.” I intertwined our fingers—his hand was shaking—and pressed my thumb against his; he looked down at our hands dumbly, mouth gaping, for several moments before finally raising his eyes to search my countenance; I tried, somehow, to communicate all I had learned with the detective with only a look. To my surprise, my gaze seemed to convince him, though he continued to look rather shaky as he swallowed before whispering, “Jun…our girl…”
I nodded; the detective worked quickly to recover himself, turning to the befuddled policeman, “Constable, I can assure you that we had nothing to do with this sudden disappearance. To the very best of my knowledge up until a moment ago, Horatio rested inside this container. We have had no hand in this, I swear.”
Nino was glaring at us shrewdly; I believe he suspected us of some underhanded maneuver. Ohno was smiling broadly, looking now generally pleased with the direction that the evening was taking. Constable Hatori appeared torn—I could almost read the conflict in his face as he removed his police helmet to begin worrying at it distractedly. On the one hand, it appeared that we had, at some point in the evening, stolen Horatio away. On the other hand, Aiba had nearly fainted from shock; his distress had appeared so real that it was difficult to doubt his ignorance of Horatio's whereabouts. And Constable Hatori knew, from very long experience, that our detective was a spectacularly bad liar.
After three rounds on the edge of his helmet, the constable seemed to reach a decision, “Help me replace the cover,” he muttered. We moved with alacrity to assist him. “When Ogura and Professor Gackt return, not a word out of any of you,” he continued, “I take an oath, your lordship, that if you should offer so much as one remark I will arrest the lot of you immediately…”
Nino scowled, “Why should you think that I would have anything to say…” In an impressive feat, Constable Hatori silenced him with a look.
“I repeat,” he continued, pacing back and forth nervously as we stared at him, “Not one word,” he whispered, as a rustling of branches announced the return of the party.
Only Ogura, Professor Gackt, and Deputy Chinen returned—the rest of the party must have been dispatched for other nefarious purposes. Ogura was, as usual, calm, while the professor had come to resemble a figure from Madame Tussaud’s Museum, so fixed and impassive was his expression. Deputy Chinen, in contrast, looked almost indecently relieved to hurry to his constable’s side—I could only imagine how terrifying it must have been to mediate a private interview between the feared newspaper editor and the professor.
Ogura clapped his hands and began rubbing them together in a business-like manner; he appeared pleased by the outcome of the meeting, “Well, the professor has most kindly explained all the circumstances of this evening to me, and we have agreed to say nothing more about it. Your lordship, if you will come with me, I have your pen and paper prepared in the cab, as well as some light refreshments.”
The professor, after taking a moment to reign in his obvious fury, seemed to un-stick his jaw with a great effort to speak, “On condition, of course, that this beast is returned to the London Zoo tonight. Under the supervision of the constable.” (The reader will forgive me, I am sure, the excessive pleasure I took in observing that the professor looked as if he wanted to swallow his own tongue as he spoke the words).
All our faces expressed varying degrees of astonishment at this strange capitulation of the professor’s; for Nino, however, the outcome did not appear so wholly unexpected. But now he hesitated before moving forward, sending an anxious glance in Aiba’s direction.
Constable Hatori raised a hand, “One moment please, sir. I must beg to ask the professor a few questions to complete my investigation.”
For the first time that evening, Ogura betrayed irritation; he examined his wristwatch with a frown, “You understand, constable, that I am working against a deadline…the fate of hundreds of thousands of newspaper sales hang in the balance…and since there are no charges being brought, I think this hardly merits an investigation…”
“A few questions, sir, I implore you,” the constable replied firmly.
Ogura studied the constable as though evaluating the strength of his resolve; after a moment, he nodded.
“Very good, sir.” Constable Hatori began to pace slowly back and forth, “Professor, you state that you wish the chimpanzee to be returned to the London Zoo tonight?”
The professor, already struggling to control his temper, gave a curt nod, “Yes.”
“And, to your knowledge, where is the chimpanzee in question currently held?”
The professor raised his brows, but finally replied under the constable’s determined gaze, “Why, in that wooden case, of course.”
“And how do you know that said case contains the chimpanzee in question?”
Gackt gave a low groan of impatience, “Is this some kind of game? Are you enjoying the opportunity to play at being the detective?”
Constable Hatori did not appear the least effected by the professor’s impertinence, though his deputy was cowering into the azaleas, “I must be thorough, sir. I must know whether we are indeed in possession of the correct chimpanzee. I repeat, how do you know that this case contains the animal in question?”
The professor rolled his eyes, “You English and your inquiries,” he grumbled under his breath, “I know because when I discovered the case in the greenhouse an hour ago, I opened it and saw that it was the chimpanzee—the only chimpanzee currently in London, I think you will acknowledge—belonging to the London Zoo.”
“He was in the crate an hour ago?”
“And has this crate left your sight since then? Has it been moved, or tampered with, or in the possession of anyone but yourself?”
The professor stared at him wonderingly, “Of course not. It has been under the watch of myself and my man.”
Constable Hatori bowed, “Thank you, professor, that is all. One wishes to be thorough in the execution of one’s duties.”
“Then thank god this farce is at an end,” the professor muttered, turning from us with a flourish of his long dark coat; he stopped, however, to look back at Aiba, “I think we will meet again soon, Professor Masaki,” he promised darkly, baring his unnaturally-pointed canines as he spoke.
“Perhaps at the next meeting of the Zoological Society,” Aiba replied mildy; I burst out laughing as, with a hiss, the professor disappeared into the night.
Ogura was now oblivious to all but the fate of his Christmas edition of "Taka’s Tales of Terror"; he had seized Nino’s arm and was nearly dragging him from the greenhouse, prevented only by Ohno coming forward to arrest his hand with his own. Ogura sighed and removed his hand, “Yes, yes, I understand, he will not be mistreated, just allow him to come.”
“It is alright, Satoshi,” Nino reassured Ohno quietly, “I have thought of the ending just now.”
Ohno lowered his hand to intertwine his fingers with Nino’s, “Then I will come with you, Kazunari.” Nino sent Aiba a questioning look; the detective nodded.
Nino turned his gaze to me, “Then I leave the rest to you, doctor,” he gave me a small smile.
I nodded, “Thank you, Nino.”
Aiba and I were left with Constable Hatori and Deputy Chinen; Constable Hatori was staring at the empty crate meditatively while Deputy Chinen stared at him, his confusion at the course of the evening’s proceedings evident. “So…you have no plans to arrest us?” Aiba suggested hopefully.
After a few moments, the constable shook his head, a smile beginning to form as he spoke, “No, I think not. At least, not tonight. As far as I know, the chimpanzee was in the crate one hour ago, and, at least to the knowledge of all involved, the crate was not opened, moved, or touched by anyone during that time. It is possible, of course, that Professor Gackt has lied and the chimpanzee was not there an hour ago; it is also possible that some third party has tampered with it. Or, perhaps, Horatio has effected his own escape,” the constable smiled more broadly. “I have at least plausible grounds to deny your involvement in the affair. So, for tonight, I think you and the doctor may walk free. But if I should hear of another attempt being made on the London Zoo…or any further fisticuffs in the Zoological Gardens…”
“I promise you, constable,” Aiba offered eagerly, “From now on, it is my resolution to behave as a model citizen. I will spend my evenings quietly at home with the doctor, eschewing all forms of investigation and adventure. I am thinking of taking up knitting under Ohno’s tutelage.”
“I somehow doubt that will come to pass,” the constable replied, dryly but not unkindly. “That being the case, until we meet again,” the constable winked at us before turning to leave; Aiba did his best to return the gesture while I smiled gratefully in the constable’s direction and attempted to look as law-abiding as possible (a difficult task when one had a torn shirt and was covered in blood, not all of which was one’s own). Deputy Chinen’s gaped as he stared between us, shaking his head as he attempted to make sense of our conversation. “Chinen,” the constable ordered. Still dumbstruck, the deputy slowly followed his commander from the greenhouse, tripping over roots as he went.
It is obvious that our miracle was made possible only by the kind assistance of Constable Hatori, Deputy Chinen, and yes, even Ogura—how grateful we were then that he had been tailing Nino for weeks in an effort to get him to deliver the ending of "Taka’s Tales" for the Christmas edition! But, all these efforts, as wonderful as they were, would have been meaningless without our most precious source of assistance—
Aiba and I waited until perfect silence reigned inside the greenhouse; when we were certain of our privacy, I set off for the rose bush with as much speed as I could manage, Aiba following unquestioningly behind me. Pressing the heavy boughs aside, I found Umi still crouched among the roses. She wore no coat and held her shoulders tightly; I was reminded irresistibly of those many times when Aiba and I had discovered her in some out of the way place at the GHL—curled up in the hallway, the pantry, the attic, once in a closet—in a similar state. But now, she was smiling as she looked up at us. I heard Aiba give a cry as I swept her into a tight embrace, wrapping her up inside my overcoat, "Princess,” I breathed, “What in the world have you done?”
She managed to wriggle herself out of my grip (wisely, as I realized too late that I was nearly suffocating her) before beginning to babble excitedly, making signs at Aiba as she spoke; seeing my incomprehension, she sighed in frustration and tugged at my hand. We followed her to a far corner of the greenhouse covered in thick undergrowth. With a beautiful smile, she pushed aside some branches to reveal a chimpanzee sleeping on the grass, carefully wrapped up in what I recognized as Lady Riisa’s best India shawl. “Aiba, doctor,” she directed our attention eagerly, as though introducing us, “Horatio."
Author's note: Another shorter installment, this is really more of an ending to the previous chapter ^^
I am planning one more, longer chapter of this, and then an epilogue to the story written by Umi. Hopefully, I will actually have this Christmas story finished before spring xD
Thanks to all my kind and patient readers <3 <3 <3