The Adventure of the Mysterious Benefactor

Part 25

by Stacey (SST205 at aol.com)
Wiggins spun around and assumed a boxing stance. Tennyson steered himself around his mother, and in one motion turned himself around with his back to the hall entrance and parked. Deidre went to his side. Watson checked to be sure the stun-gun built into his arm was at full power.
BAM! BAM!
"Caroline, open this door before I break it down!"
Holmes put out his hand. "Now, all -- calm yourselves. All will work out, you'll see."
With that he strode to the door and opened it with the air of welcoming a guest. On the porch stood the red-faced, set-jawed figure of Ashton Fayre.
"You!" he growled. "I should have known! Out of my way!"
"Of course," Holmes said, stepping aside. "Be advised, however, that I am liaison to New Scotland Yard, and if you cause harm to anyone in this house, I shall have my compudroid associate contact the Yard immediately."
This brought a narrow-eyed glare from Tennyson's father. Afterward, he stepped in. Holmes quietly shut the door behind him.
"Caroline," Fayre said, glowering at his twin sister, "How dare you harbor that--" he shot an acid glance at Tennyson, who cowered slightly.
Miss Fayre sighed and gave her brother a look of sympathy. "Oh, Ashton. 'That'-- whatever foul word you were about to use -- is my nephew. First, he is your son."
"Hardly." the newcomer said with a sneer.
He turned on his wife then. "As for you--"
"Me?!" Mrs. Fayre cried. "You beast! You threw my son out into the streets of New London--and if it weren't for your sweet sister, he might be lying in the New London Underground with his throat cut!"
Deidre and Wiggins glanced at each other. In their panhandling days before the Irregulars had met Holmes, the three teens had navigated the sewer and subway systems that hadn't been renovated too much since Holmes' time. All three had made 'alliances' of sorts with many of the beggars, ragamuffins and thieves who took shelter there. Even if Deidre and Wiggins weren't with him, the two knew that Tennyson could not only handle himself, but many of the aforementioned were fond of him. Getting his throat cut wasn't too likely.
Fayre got a gleam in his eye as if the thought pleased him. Before anyone who saw it could say anything, his wife drew her hand back and slapped him so hard his head jerked to the side.
"Witch!" he snarled after gaining his composure. He raised his fist above his head, but with lightning speed Holmes grabbed his cane from where it leaned against the wall, swung it out, and struck Ashton Fayre in the wrist.
"Mister Fayre, that is quite enough!" he warned, scowling. "Try something like this again, and I shall have Watson transport you to New Scotland Yard immediately!"
He removed his cane, and, after a long glare at Holmes, Fayre lowered his arm.
"Now," Holmes said, tapping his cane on the floor. "Mister Fayre, aside from your anger at your sister's harboring your son and your wife's untruth concerning him, I assume you are also angry about the fact that your wife has been removing money from the Fayre Technologies account and leaving it here.
Both Tennyson's parents paled.
"What!?!" Ashton Fayre rasped.
"Yes," Holmes said, eyeing him levelly. "I wasn't sure if you were aware -- but now I see that you were not. You came here in a rage, simply because your wife had lied to you about the whereabouts of your son. Not that I condone lies, mind you, but considering the situation your rage is unfounded."
Fayre shot a withering glance at Tennyson. "I was hoping he was gone for good."
At that remark, both Wiggins and Deidre clenched their fists.
"Yes," Holmes continued, "--because if the people of New London who do not think as you do--" he glanced at the two older Irregulars-- "--if those people found out you had thrown your own son into the street, your popularity would drop considerably."
Fayre said nothing, but he was visibly shaking in his anger.
Wiggins looked sheepish, remembering what he'd said to Holmes at 221B the day Tennyson was attacked.
"As for your wife's taking your money," Holmes continued, "the day Watson and I visited Fayre Technologies, we came upon you poor secretary, who was trying to figure out why withdrawals were appearing in the records that were evidently unauthorized by you.
"The key word is 'withdrawal'. If your wife were stealing money from you accounts, she would not have made the missing money so obvious."
Wiggins and Deidre looked down at Tennyson, who returned their gaze. Watson even got a puzzled look on his synthetic face.
"Because I had never seen or heard of your wife in the society pages or in News on Demand, I surmised that, unlike you, she is not one to run into the spotlight."
"After what he did to Tennyson, I didn't care to be seen with him." Mrs. Fayre muttered.
Holmes went on. "Those News on Demand spots are rather annoying, popping onto the computer while I am trying to take an on-line lesson with my new instrument...."
He shook his head, sighed, and looked back at Mister Fayre. "Your wife had no concern about your finding that it was she who was withdrawing from the company's funds, just that you didn't find out where the money was going. That was why she left it in cash."
"But why was she not concerned about taking it -- or withdrawing it, or whatever!?" Deidre burst out.
Holmes grinned. "Because, Deidre, dear -- Mrs. Lynette Fayre is the true owner of Fayre Technologies."
There was a stunned silence. Finally, with closed eyes, Mrs. Fayre spoke softly.
"Your reputation rings true, Mister Holmes. Eighteen years ago, Fayre Technologies was known as Akien Systems -- a company started by my father before I was born. My mother died when I was 16. When I was twenty-two, my father died of a massive hemorrhage. To my dismay, he left Akien Systems to me, his only child. I was not a businesswoman by any means, but out of love and respect for my father, I kept the company and tried to learn its workings the best I could."
She then looked up at her husband and frowned deeply. "Some months after my father's death, I still wasn't altogether comfortable with the business. It was then that I met Ashton. He said he would take care of the company for me -- all of the business dealings and such -- if I would allow him to change the company name. I thought at first there would be no harm -- at heart the company would always be my father's."
"The business did grow -- more money, more workers, more buildings to house operations. The business became so much a part of Ashton's life, I rarely saw him."
"It took hard work to make that business what it is today," the man in front of her interjected.
His wife glared up at him. "My father was a hard-working man who loved people! You sit up in your cushy office like some sort of overlord in your fortress! You loved it -- and still love it -- more than me! I'm surprised I even became pregnant!"
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, then opened them again and looked over at Tennyson. She said in a softer tone, "When my precious baby boy was born -- I saw him as someone to love -- and who I hoped would grow to love me back. All Ashton saw was an heir -- and finding out about Tennyson's disabilities--"--her face hardened again and she glared back at her husband-- "He behaved as if some important business deal had fallen through. Tennyson was my son, and I wasn't -- I decided right then -- about to let him grow up like his father."
She grinned, a little smugly, completely ignoring the fire that seemed to shoot from her husband's eyes. "I named him Tennyson -- after a precious memory I held of my father reading me Lord Alfred's works as a child. I loved the images of the ladies and lords -- King Arthur and Guenivere...Isolation, chaos and order, resolution and belief...." she closed her eyes and whispered, "Like glimpses of forgotten dreams..."
She was silent a moment. Holmes, Wiggins and Watson, amazed that Ashton Fayre was silent during all of this, watched as the man's fists clenched and unclenched. All three were ready to spring at any time he should try to strike his wife again.
Finally, Mrs. Fayre opened her eyes and spoke. "I knew my little boy would conquer his disabilities -- like Lancelot a fierce dragon," she glanced proudly at Tennyson, "--and he has."
Wiggins looked down at his younger friend, who had pulled down his bandanna and was attempting to wipe away the tears that streamed from his eyes with the back of his gloved hand.
"But, ma'am--" Deidre interjected, barely hiding her impatience-- "What about the company?"
Mrs. Fayre chuckled. "I didn't know too much about business when I married Ashton, but as I said, beforehand I had tried to learn. I let him change the name of the company, but I did not let him have controlling interest. Fifty-two percent of Fayre Technology stock belongs to me."
Wiggins tilted his head. "Huh?"
"Whoever owns the most stock owns the company, Wiggins," Holmes explained. "Therefore, they can do what they wish with the money."
"Oh."
"You and your brat son do what you want." Ashton Fayre hissed through clenched teeth. "As far as people are concerned, Fayre Technologies ismine."
Holmes rolled his eyes. "Again with what people think." Half-closing his eyes and looking at Fayre he said calmly, "Legality far overrides that."
"You--" The unwelcome guest turned on Holmes and drew back his fist.
There was a loud hum as Watson's stunner warmed up. He aimed it at Ashton Fayre and said, "Sir, stop right there, or I shall be forced to shoot!"
Fayre glared at Watson, put his arms at his sides and headed for the door. "You haven't heard the last of this, Lynette!" he threatened, albeit weakly, shoving past Holmes. He went out the door and slammed it so hard it bounced back open.
"He better not have wrecked our paint job," Deidre mumbled.

On to Part 26!
Part 1,Part 2,Part 3,Part 4,Part 5,Part 6,Part 7,Part 8,Part 9,Part 10,Part 11,Part 12,Part 13,Part 14,Part 15,Part 16,Part 17,Part 18,Part 19,Part 20,Part 21,Part 22,Part 23, andPart 24.
Back to the fanfic index