I really hope you will all like this. It's in first person which is definitely the point of view that I'm LEAST comfortable with. Even second person is better. I just find it hard to give my characters a good voice with first person, which is...really weird. So I hope Katherine has a good voice, and that all the other characters seem good too. Especially Lestrade. (This story uses the BBC Sherlock show as canon, by the way).
Okay, I'll be quiet up here now, but read at the bottom, because I have notes about things there!
I drummed my fingers idly on my desk, not loudly enough to draw attention from the teacher, but enough to get annoyed looks from my classmates. I didn't really care. It was a study hall, for God's sake. They would just have to deal.
With my other hand, I doodled random things on the back of some print-outs. A dog. Shoes with wings. Hogwarts. A bird attacking the Hulk. You know, sensible things like that.
I yawned and looked at the clock. Study hall was boring when none of your friends were in it.
Apparently, I was tapping louder than I thought, because the teacher shot me a look. “Katherine,” she said sharply. I snatched my hand back from the table and slid low in my seat, trying to avoid further attention. “Come here, please.” No such luck. I cursed under my breath and walked over to her desk. Other students looked over, some concerned, some looking for entertainment.
Mrs. Castro looked me up and down with an almost disgusted look on her pinched face. “What were you doing?”
“I was tapping my fingers?” Though it should have been a statement, it came out like a question.
“Wrong. You were not tapping your fingers. You were distracting everyone in this room. Sit down and be silent for the rest of the period.”
“Err...okay.” I spun on my heel and went back to my seat, confused. I kept my eyes down for a good while, then looked back up curiously.
We'd had this substitute for months now. Mr. Lee – both my history and homeroom teacher – had gone home one day after school and hadn't come back. Family issues, we were told. He hadn't been the best teacher, but we all still missed him, especially when we had been told that Mrs. Castro would be our teacher until he returned.
No one knew much about her, except that she hated children, which was obvious from her actions. She offered us no other information than that. She was a new substitute in our school as well – or, at least, we thought so, because no one remembered ever seeing her before. Some kids had even overheard the teachers saying that they didn't know who she was. But the principal acted as though she was an old friend and told all the students that we simply didn't remember her.
That was highly doubtful. I narrowed my eyes and tried to make some deductions.
She didn't sleep well last night. Her graying hair was a little greasy and drawn back into a bun, like she hadn't had time to shower in the morning due to sleeping in, and there were more lines than usual under her eyes. Working? No, Mrs. Castro didn't care about her students. Stress? Maybe, but...
Was she scared about something? More importantly, where had that thought come from? I shook my head and looked down at the printed-out blogposts I had been drawing on. Perhaps I was just reading too much of the Blog of Dr. John H. Watson. Trying to deduce things like Sherlock, and all that. I tried to focus on my reading again, but I kept glancing over at Mrs. Castro.
Now that I thought about it, she did look a little antsy. Her eyes kept straying from her computer over to the clock, then to the door, like she was expecting someone. She kept tugging on the sleeve of her out of season Christmas sweater.
Suddenly she sat straight up and looked around the room. I ducked my head and began reading the blogposts furiously. Close call.
My neck prickled as her eyes stopped on me. My hands started to sweat, which they did under almost any slightly stressful circumstance. It was a little gross.
Basically, I needed to stop pretending I was a detective and not stare creepily at people. It wasn't the first time I'd done it.
No one was talking. We used to, when Mr. Lee was our teacher. But there was zero tolerance for any kind of noise in Mrs. Castro's classroom. The clock was the loudest thing in the room. Eyes kept straying to it as people began quietly, discreetly shoving their things into their bags, ready to make their escapes.
Any second now...
The bell rang, and everyone scrambled for the door.
“Order!” Mrs. Castro shouted. “Everyone, get back inside and walk out in a line like civilized human beings!”
Too late. While some people dutifully trudged back to the classroom, most of my classmates and I were already halfway down the hall. Another escape well done. I nodded my approval. A couple of freshmen hurried out of my way, presumably because it looked like I had nodded at nothing and was crazy.
I smiled and winked at them, then slipped inside my science class.
Mr. Gilmore was drawing stick figures on the whiteboard, humming sixties rock tunes to himself, per usual. It seemed that today was a day that the citizens of Stick Figure Land went to war with each other on a chessboard, holding fruit as weapons. I stifled a giggle.
We simply could not have a better science teacher.
“Good afternoon, Miss Bonny!” Mr. Gilmore called.
“Hello, sir,” I responded, then dropped into my seat by the window and watched as he gave all the stick figures party hats.
Connor flew into his seat just as the second bell rang, looking winded and rather confused. I opened my mouth, but he held up a hand to stop me.
“Need...” Gasp. “...Air...” Gasp. “...Not...” Gasp. “Questions.”
I cupped my hand and held it out to him. “Here. Have some air.”
He punched me in the side, lightly, and I laughed. Mr. Gilmore was still drawing, apparently not aware that class was supposed to start now. I waited for my companion to regain his breath.
“We were in the media center for study hall and the librarian held us back because some people were talking,” Connor said eventually, running a hand through his hair. “I had to sprint to get here on time.”
“You needn't have,” I said, amused, gesturing at our teacher.
“Well, I see that now. But –”
“Okay, class!” Mr. Gilmore clapped his hands and grinned cheerily. “We will be continuing the forensics unit we started at the beginning of the year. Today, we're learning which part of the body bleeds the most!”
Thirty minutes later, my hands were still tinted pink with pig blood. I picked at the blood under my fingernails unconsciously. Connor looked traumatized.
“That was awful,” he muttered, rubbing his arms in an attempt to comfort himself.
I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. “Pansy.”
I smiled and patted his arm comfortingly. We were sitting back in Mrs. Castro's room, ready for history, our last class of the day. We only dared to talk because the teacher was temporarily out of the room.
The students nearest the door suddenly flipped open their notebooks and looked down at the table. There was flurry of movement as everyone scrambled for their things. Connor's elbow caught me in the face while he reached for his textbook, and I kicked him back under the table.
As predicted, Mrs. Castro huffed and puffed her way into the classroom in her usual cloud of anger. “Quiet!” she shouted, even though by this point, everyone was already silent. I suspected that she just liked shouting.
She walked up to the front of the room and tapped the chalkboard impatiently. “Read pages four forty through four forty-nine in your textbook, and answer the questions at the end in your notebooks.” I frowned. She looked tired and, yes, anxious. She wasn't even shouting anymore, instead opting to sigh and shake her head. “I will check them tomorrow at the end of class, but they won't be graded.” Then she walked straight back out of the room.
Connor looked over at me, and I stared back at him, just as bewildered. That was not how history class normally started. Normally, we were treated to more yelling. And normally, we had lectures the whole period and were expected to take notes. We never did work from the book, and nothing was left ungraded.
Murmurs started up around the room as people discussed this strange phenomena and asked each other questions about the work. No one talked loudly, though. Everyone knew better than that. Mrs. Castro had a habit of popping back in the room randomly whenever she left, trying to catch us not working.
I paged through my book absently, my mind wandering. I was slightly aware of Connor talking to me, but I waved him off. Something was obviously off, and I wanted to find out what. The question was, did I dare?
I snapped back into focus when something hit me hard in the head. “Ow! What? Huh? Ow!”
Connor looked at me levelly, still holding his history textbook aloft, prepared to smack me again if needed.
“NASA to Katherine. NASA to Katherine. Do you copy? I repeat, do you copy?”
I scowled at him. “What?”
“You were really spacing out there.” He tilted his head slowly as he spoke, as if changing the angle of his view would help him to understand my thoughts better. “You doing alright?”
I was tempted to lie to him, but even if Connor wasn't an exceptionally perceptive person, he knew me well enough to call me out on things like that. I knew I would tell him the truth. But that didn't stop me from pursing my lips in pretend contemplation and looking him over.
His forehead was furrowed. Concern? Irritation? His lips were pressed slightly, as sign I knew well. Definitely irritation. But his foot was bouncing slightly. Connor was not a twitchy person. That meant anxiety. And anxiety means concern. Concern, and irritation.
Concerned about my answer. Irritated that I hadn't given it yet.
“I think something may be wrong with Mrs. Castro,” I said softly, watching carefully for Connor's reaction. His eyebrows drew a little closer together, but I didn't take the time to read what that meant, because he nodded for me to continue.
“She seemed really...overwrought, I suppose, in study hall, and kept looking at the door as though she was expecting someone, but was nervous about it. I think it was like those times when you both really want something to happen, so you can get it over with, but at the same time just want it to never happen. It was like she was scared of something.”
Connor kept his eyes on mine the whole time. His face was blank, and it was kind of intense, so I started to panic and blubber, my composure slipping. “I don't know if that makes sense, coming from me, or if it just makes me sound crazy. But, yeah, I mean...yeah,” I finished lamely.
For a while, he said nothing, but he did stop staring at me. I took the opportunity to jump on my work. I had just finished the reading when Connor finally spoke.
“You deduced those things?” He looked down at his work, not at me, even though I had turned to him.
I nodded, wondering where he was going with that question, because, let's face it, it was kind of obvious that I had.
“Were you reading the blog again earlier?”
That question threw me off completely, and I let it show through my facial expression. Part of me wanted to punch him for the exasperated way he had said it. The other part was wondering what John Watson's blog had to do with our history teacher.
Connor sighed and finally looked at me. Relieved? “Well, that clears everything up.”
“Wait, what? No, it doesn't.”
“It kind of does, actually.”
I lifted my hands in the universal signal of confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“K, you've been on a crime story kick all year. And the blog – which, don't get me wrong, is intensely cool – has started you on a deductions kick. Which is also very cool, but sometimes you read too far into things. It happens to the best of us, and it's probably what happened today.” He smiled hesitantly, like he was afraid I was going to hit him.
I still wanted to, a bit, but he was making sense again. That was the thing with Connor; nearly everything he says makes sense, which makes it very hard to argue with him. Hadn't I been telling myself that I was over thinking everything earlier? Connor was probably right.
“I still think something is going on,” I told him. He shrugged and smiled wider.
“I didn't expect you not to. Just wanted to give you another possibility to think about.” I rolled my eyes.
“There are better ways to do that.”
“Mm. Whatever you say.”
We went back to working, our conversation concluded. I breezed through the work without really absorbing what I was reading or writing, my mind still preoccupied. Connor didn't really believe me. A blow to my confidence, yes, but not an especially large one. He always erred on the side of doubt, making it near impossible to get him to believe anything without hard evidence. It was annoying a lot of the time, but as much as I hated to admit it, it could be refreshing.
“Look alive, K.” Connor nudged me with his elbow, keeping his head down. “Mrs. Castro's back.”
I glanced up quickly, then curled closer around my work, a defense move I tended to take whenever a teacher was in a hostile mood. It didn't actually help, but it did make me feel a little safer. Connor tried to cover his Doctor Who hair. He failed miserably.
Mrs. Castro looked even more disgruntled than usual. She looked around the room, presumably for someone to yell at. Then she just sat down at her desk and looked at her hands. Her shoulders sagged. She was deflated. Something, obviously, had gone wrong.
Connor glanced at me out of the corner of his eye, then reached over and scribbled something on my notebook:
'Alright, you could be right. Something might be going on. But I still don't totally believe you.'
I smirked and wrote back:
There were three minutes left in the period when the man walked in.
Connor was the first to notice. I would have felt embarrassed for not being more observant if he didn't always watch the door during the end of class.
'Look up. Don't do anything stupid,' was what he wrote to me.
I, along with everyone else in the room, gawked at the newcomer. He was dressed sharper than anyone else you would see in our school, save the principal. A suit and tie, no less. What was it with adult men and suits in late spring anyway? Were they just heat resistant or something?
He glared around the room before stalking up to Mrs. Castro, bending down to whisper in her ear. I watched her face carefully, but it betrayed nothing. Very unlike earlier.
I wanted to completely prove Connor wrong. I wanted some adventure. But that involved taking risks.
The bell was going to ring in about thirty seconds. I made my decision. What I was about to do would get me in a boatload of trouble if I got caught. It was a terrifying plan of action, one that I had no real reason to follow through on. But it seemed that my inner detective was impossible to suppress, because I was about to blatantly ignore Connor's note.
The last bell rung, and during the commotion, I grabbed my things and threw my pencil halfway across the room, behind the computer cart. As I started after it, Connor stared at me.
“Whoops,” I told him. “It fell.”
I dove behind the cart before he could say anything else and blow my cover. Having no other choice, he filed out of the room with our classmates. I knew he would be furious, especially if I didn't find out anything. I was sorry for not giving him more of a warning, but that wasn't enough to stop me.
Then it was just me, Mrs. Castro, and the newcomer.
I tried to breathe as quietly as possible.
“What is it that you want, Mr. Roland?” I heard Mrs. Castro ask. I couldn't see what was happening – the cart had wedged me into a corner. Great for not being seen, but not for seeing.
Mr. Roland answered the question with a question. “Are you aware that there is a police officer here almost every day?”
“Yes, of course, but I don't see what –”
“You did not inform us of this.”
There was a pause.
“He's a blundering fool, that policeman. He poses no threat.” Mrs. Castro sounded like a person who was trying to convince herself of that fact.
“Did it ever occur to you that perhaps he is trained to come off as so, considering that he works in a school? Did we not specifically tell you to inform us about anything that could compromise us? It has been five months, Melinda. When did you plan on telling us?”
Mr. Roland began to pace. His footsteps were louder, sharper than Mrs. Castro's. His pacing took him very close to where I was crouched. My heart, which was already beating very fast, became an Olympic sprinter and won the bronze medal. We were all so proud.
“I...” Mrs. Castro very clearly did not know what to say. “I, um, well, I...”
“Oh, never mind.” Mr. Roland snapped. “It doesn't matter anymore. It will happen today.”
There was a sharp gasp. “But isn't that being too hasty? Are we ready for this?”
“Do not question me.” He stopped pacing next to the computer cart and began drumming his fingers on the top. I could see the back of his head.
Forget the bronze medal. My heart was taking home the gold. My mind raced, but there was no suitable excuse. Tears started pricking at my eyes, and I stuffed my fist into my mouth. If I started sniffling, it would be over without a doubt.
“We are already set,” Mr. Roland said. “Be ready.” I expected him to turn around and see me crouched there. But then he moved away, and my tears turned from tears of fear to ones of relief. I listened closely to his footsteps. He was headed towards the door.
There was the creaking of a chair, and Mrs. Castro's distinctive footfalls started after him. When I heard the door swing shut, I counted to five. Then I peaked over the cart. The room was empty. I scrambled out from my hiding spot and hurried to the door. Sticking my head into the hallway, I saw that it was also devoid of people. There weren't any lockers here. I counted to five again. Then I made a mad dash out of the room and around the corner.
The next hall was full of students, but I was so relieved to be alive that I danced all the way down it anyway. People edged out of my way. Some of the cliquey people laughed at me. But I didn't care. I boogied all the way to my locker, where Connor was waiting, his irritated expression quickly changing to a bemused one.
“Uh,” he said.
I threw my arms around him in a bear hug. “I'm alive!”
“Did you hear anything?” he asked as he hugged me back, a little awkwardly.
I pulled back and stared at him. “Connor, darling, I heard everything.”
We meandered out of the building. It took the students ages to leave anyway, so my little escapade had not put us in danger of getting yelled at. I'd finished recounting my story a couple minutes ago. Connor has been silent since then. Thinking.
He stopped walking. Turned to me. Opened his mouth. The closed it and shook his head. The meaning behind this was clear.
'There are no words to describe how incredibly stupid and awe-inspiring I find you at the same time.'
I nodded. “I know, kid. Me too.”
Connor sighed and looked at me tiredly. “What does it mean?”
“But you're going to find out, aren't you?”
“I'm going to try.”
“Katherine...” His voice was full of warning, and I held up my hands in defense.
“I won't do anything stupid, I swear!”
Connor scowled. “The two of us define 'stupid' very differently, Katherine.”
I sighed. “Connor, look, it sounded pretty serious and, honestly, kind of shady. I can't just not do anything.”
“Then do something by telling someone! You're only seventeen.”
“And who, might I ask, is going to listen to a seventeen year-old?” I snapped, planting my hands on my hips.
His scowled deepened. “You're reliable, though, so I'm pretty sure that a lot of people will at least hear you out. Besides, you could be overreacting. Ever considered that? I mean, it wouldn't be the first time! Remember the haunted house last Halloween?”
That hit home. My mouth fell open. Connor's eye widened, as if he'd just realized what he'd said. He knew I was touchy about that. I did not like to be reminded that I had given myself a concussion because a fake spider freaked me out too much. I closed the distance between us and glared up at him, my hands shaking. “You complete–”
Connor never got to find out what I was going to call him. My tongue lashing was cut short by a loud call of, “Oh, hello you two!”
We jumped apart and spun to face Officer Reginald, known as Reg to the students, and another man we didn't know. Reg was friendly enough, always greeting me in the halls, but he didn't tolerate fights. His eyes were narrowed slightly, like he knew that I had been about to sock Connor in the mouth.
“Not fighting here, are we?” Reg joked, but his eyes were still serious. The unnamed man looked between us. Because to my experiences earlier with Mr. Roland, I was wary of him.
Connor panicked. “No, sir! We...we were just...having a lively debate about...um...”
I can't honestly say I felt sorry for him, but I jumped to his rescue anyway. Old habits die hard.
“About the legality of pomegranates in Romania.” I nodded wisely, even though I didn't know where this crap was coming from. “It's a very serious issue. Five ducks have been admitted to mental hospitals because of how the riots are affecting the, um, frog population.”
All three of the Y-chromosomes stared at me.
“It's a very serious issue,” I repeated.
“...Alright.” Reg seemed to accept my explanation. “Well, I don't want to hold you two up, but I just thought I would introduce you to my old friend, Detective Inspector Lestrade.” He gestured to his companion.
“How you do?” Connor asked pleasantly, holding out his hand. Lestrade shook it.
“Fine, thank you.” He sounded English.
“Hi,” I said eloquently. Lestrade nodded at me, still obviously questioning my sanity.
There was a moment of awkward silence. Then we all started walking towards the front door again, me leading the way, because really, what else do you do in the presence of a person you're mad at and two policemen? Other students were still streaming past us, but no one bothered us.
I wasn't sure why the policemen were still with us. I guess Reg didn't really believe my story about pomegranates in Romania. Lestrade was just following Reg.
I took another breath, as was dictated by my natural instincts, and started gagging uncontrollably. Everyone stopped behind me, but no one else seemed to be dying. I clamped my hands over my nose. The smell was spicy and sweet and way too overpowering.
“Is that...cinnamon?” Connor muttered. It did, in fact, smell like cinnamon. Way too much cinnamon.
Help me, my inner actress cried. I am drowning in a scent sea of cinnamon. Where art thou, Febreze?
It was a good thing that I stuck to stage crew.
“Where could that be coming from?” Reg wondered.
A hand was placed on my shoulder, and I jumped, glaring up at Connor. “Katherine, do you know?” he asked. “It looks like it's stronger for you.”
“I see right though your passive-aggressive taunts, mister,” I hissed at him. At least, I thought he was taunting me. He looked sad when I said that, though. Sad and really sorry. I felt bad, but I couldn't very well make a heartfelt apology right then. Besides, I was still smarting over what he said earlier.
Instead, I sniffed the air through my hands while turning in a slow circle. I stopped facing a supply closet and frowned.
“I think it's coming from there.” My voice sounded higher than usual and muffled. “Which is extremely odd. Someone open it.”
The adult males exchanged a look, then Reg shrugged. “Why not? It seems interesting enough.” He walked over and yanked open the door.
Reg jumped back. Students stopped walking. I shrieked in surprise, and, forgetting that I was mad at him, grabbed Connor at the same time he grabbed me. Someone else screamed.
Someone had fallen out of the supply closet.
Whoops. It's only part one and I've already damaged a friendship, sort of revealed the reason for the title, and killed someone :O
1) Pushing Up Daisies, my SP fanfiction, IS STILL A THING THAT IS HAPPENING! I promise. I've just not had a lot of inspiration lately. But I will get the next part done soon.
2) Because school ends on Thursday (WOO HOO!), I'm going to try to upload a piece of writing, hmm...every two weeks or so. Don't kill me if I don't! It's just something I will try to do. I can't promise that it will be a story, or that it will be long, but I will try.
3) I'm going to read a lot of books this summer. Just though you might like to know.
Stay awesome, bloggers