Sherlock Holmes and The Incredible Hulk

Part 4

by Mary Christmas (unicorn_76010 at lycos.com)
6/30/04

General Disclaimer

Beth smiled prettily at the woman sitting behind the reception desk and tapped her red lacquered nails against the counter-top. It was her luck that the zedding inn just so happened to have every vacancy filled. There were five zedding rooms! And this wasn’t even a tourist town. The only reason she had known about it (and consequently the jobs that people on the run could take) was because Louie, her favorite snitch, had mentioned it (or told her out of terror that he’d become a pancake, whichever you prefer) when she had questioned him on his where-abouts.

"Honey," she told the woman, whose name happened to be Honey, "I don’t think you know who I am...."

"No, ma’am," Honey instantly responded, "I do not, but that has nothing to...."

"You don’t understand. I am Bethany Ross and I...."

"Look, lady," Honey interrupted, her already coarse voice harsher, "There are no rooms to rent! None! That’s it. You can come back some other time."

Lestrade inwardly seethed. She so wanted to pulverize the woman, yet at the same time she could understand her reaction. Bethany Ross, her new made-up character, was -- as intended -- incredibly annoying. Outwardly, she put on an overly-sly smile. Then she leaned in closer and whispered dramatically.

"Oh, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. All you have to do is tell them you lost their reservation. They won’t be able to do a thing about it." Beth winked.

Honey screwed up her nose in distaste. "Miss Ross. There. Are. No. Rooms. For. Rent. Do I make myself clear?"

"Perfectly," Beth sighed. She hadn’t really thought it would work, but she had hoped. Now she’d just have to con one of the present patrons of the inn of their room. Or share one. It was possible there was a female or two who wouldn’t mind. She turned around and ran smack into something metal.

"Oh my!" said a familiar voice, "I am terribly sorry Miss. Are you all right?"

"Wa...what?" she asked, wincing at her near slip. Her heart was beating way faster than it should, and she was mentally cursing to herself. Why the zed did it have to be zedding Watson? Holmes probably wasn’t very far behind. The Irregulars either, if she hadn’t forgotten how to count. "Oh! You’re a robot! How extraordinary!"

Watson, predictably, blushed. "Well, yes, Miss, I am."

"Oh, I’m Bethany Ross. You may call me Bethany. I have never in my life seen such a marvelous thing! Why your AI circuitry must be incredibly complex."

"olochips, actually. Pleased to meet you Miss Ross, er Bethany. My name is Watson." The compudroid really did looked pleased, and Beth couldn’t help but feel just a little guilty. But she couldn’t just come out and say who she was; even if Watson’s acting skills were better than they were, Honey was listening raptly.

"Pleased to meet you too, Watson," Beth simpered, "I do hope we can be friends, at least while I’m here. Of course, I’ll have to find a room somewhere..."

"But this is the only place with rooms to let," Watson said.

Beth nodded and sighed dramatically. "I know, I know. But apparently all the rooms have been filled already."

"Well, then," Watson said, "If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I think Deidre wouldn’t mind having a room-mate. I’m sure you could find lots to talk about. She’s thirteen by the way."

Deidre? Beth fought not to groan aloud. Lots to talk about? Well, Bethany Ross might find speaking with Deidre entertaining. To be fair, the girl was smart, but Beth hated matters of clothing, hair, nails, et cetera. She didn’t wear her uniform almost all the time for no reason. It was nice and simple. You get up in the morning, throw on your uniform and ‘ta da!’ you were all ready for the day.

"As long as she doesn’t mind, I certainly don’t, Watson," Beth acquiesced, "I find I have a great touch with teenagers. Lead the way?"

"Certainly!" Watson exclaimed and took her arm in a chivalrous manner.

They chattered on amicably with Beth making up her reasons for being in Blanton as she walked. Good thing it was Watson and not Holmes. In the process she found out a few things about what they were all doing in the small town. Vacation? That didn’t sound like Holmes. But why would he lie to Watson and the Irregulars? Something was up, and it wasn’t welcome on top of her brother’s mystery.

At least she knew he was here. She had seen his signature—well, David Bannister’s signature anyway— in the ledger when she had leaned over the desk earlier.

When they got to the room Deidre was in, Watson courteously knocked on the door. At a mumbled, ‘come in,’ he pressed the door panel and it slid open revealing a room that was surprisingly clean for having a teenaged occupant. The girl was talking on her hand-held vid-phone -- or rather whispering. She looked up when they entered and frowned.

"‘ey, Watson. ‘oo’s your friend?"

"This is Miss Bethany Ross. She’s here on a business trip, but all the rooms have been let. We were wondering if..."

"Sure!" Deidre said excitedly, "I could use the company." Then she frowned. "But what about..."

Watson waved her to silence. "I’m sure Wiggins and Tennyson will get over the fact that you have a room-mate and they don’t. If not, I shall happily share with either of them rather than Holmes. He can be rather dour."

Beth, while pretending to study her nails, felt a chill go down her spine. Now she knew something was up. Zed! Why did Holmes go and get himself into these sorts of things. Whatever this one was.

"Okay, Beth. Do you mind if I call you Beth? Good, come on in." This was said all in a rush, and it took Lestrade a second to decipher it.

"I prefer Bethany, but I suppose since we’re going to be living with each other Beth will be fine," she answered carefully.

"Great! Goodbye Watson. I know you’re busy."

The compudroid gave a mock hurt look and left the room. As soon as the door had shut, Deidre pulled Lestrade down onto the bed beside her and laid a fashion magazine pulled seemingly from out of nowhere onto the surprised detective’s lap.

"So, which is your favorite?" the girl asked, sounding almost suspicious.

Beth took the magazine and stared at the two pictures before her. Both were of female models wearing glitzy -- and quite likely fashionable -- yet not very modest dresses. She frowned. "Neither, they’re too much for my tastes. I’m a simple girl really."

Deidre nodded in satisfaction. "Stellar! Me too! I prefer the down-to-earth looks. Like what I’m wearing now. This means we’re compatible. So...what do you do for a living, Beth?"

"I mostly just network. That is I find a place where my company -- confidential, sorry -- isn’t at, and find suitable customers. So, who does your nails?" she asked, remembering an incident that occurred last year.

After that, Deidre was her best friend for life. Bethany’s best friend at any rate.

After Watson left the room and checked on Tennyson, he decided to go downstairs and continue what he had been doing earlier; waiting for Holmes and Wiggins to return. It had been four hours since they had left, and he was really beginning to worry. Especially since the information he’d discovered could very well place Lestrade in danger. Even though the lab where her brother had died was several miles north of Blanton, it was still in California.

Which didn’t give them any more information than they had earlier. He sighed. Things were looking rather grim, and he wasn’t even sure if there was even anything wrong. Perhaps Holmes was just having some sort of burn out. After all, in his own century, the detective had used cocaine as a means for coping with stress. Here in the twenty-second century there wasn’t a legal equivalent, and Holmes would be too proud to let anyone know he was on the verge of a nervous break-down.

But speculation would do no good, as Holmes always said, without facts. So they would just have to gather more information, that’s all. For instance, he could see if Lestrade had returned to the states since the funeral had been moved up from the original date. But first, he needed to find Wiggins. Whatever could have happened to the boy?

David glared at the two ruffians as they threw the young man they had been manhandling aside and came after him instead. So far his day hadn’t been very productive.

After he had settled into his room at the Inn, he had gone looking for some sort of employment. Unfortunately all the administrative facilities were closed for the day, so he’d have to wait until tomorrow morning. That was fine, he still had plenty of money. One more day wouldn’t hurt.

So he’d decided to go and get a bite to eat at the old- fashioned diner. After he’d finished, he’d inquired about any openings and received a negative response. Tomorrow it would be. Then he took a stroll about the quaint town, noting the lack of vehicles. It really was small.

When he had come upon the park, he had heard sounds of struggle and went to investigate. Two men were messing with the young man he had seen earlier at the inn. One was tall and thin with a graying beard and mustache; the other was short, pudgy and bald. At first it seemed as if they were just teasing him, then the short one punched the kid in the gut. David, in his oh-so-infinite wisdom, had decided to intervene.

Now he was about to get himself roughed up.

The taller of the two lifted him up off the ground and growled, "Mind your own business." He then tossed David aside and turned back to the kid.

David shakily stood up, but was knocked back down by Shorty. He glared at him. "I’m starting to get mad," he threatened.

Shorty laughed and pushed him hard enough that he stumbled into a cluster of trees and fell into a pond where they couldn’t see him.

The sound of their derisive laughter and the nervous anger of the boy they were bothering fueled his own anger. And then he felt it, felt the rage start to consume him. He was changing.

On to part 5!

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