Bedbugs and Broomsticks

Part One

by Jaka Ray

General Disclaimer


Sherlock Holmes and Beth Lestrade rushed from his Baker Street flat as others in the neighborhood were leaving their houses in a panic, clutching their most precious belongings, snatched up in a desperate haste. There were shouts of surprise and cries for help all through the air. Lestrade clutched her ears in a vain attempt to block out the overwhelming grief of all that was around her. But she gathered all the courage she had, and walked on before Holmes could offer his support.
"We have to get to the source of the bombings. We have got to help!" She stepped forward resolutely and ignored the Great Detective's protests on the contrary. It was useless to argue with her when her mind was set something. Just like the Lestrade I knew, Holmes thought to himself. A true Scotland Yard Inspector.
As they quickly strode down the street with the most distress, Holmes slipped on something and went down on one knee. When Holmes stopped so did the rustle of his clothes, and Lestrade turned to see what the matter was. To stop himself from falling, Holmes instinctively grabbed Lestrade's hand. But he didn't stand just yet, and their eyes met, even as their hands stayed together. Any passerby would assume that they were about to be wed, and the man kneeling down - Holmes - had just proposed. Lestrade's face was certainly that of shock, seeing Holmes in a position that would otherwise be a comical one. But not now... Not at this time. Not when all of New London was in danger. She didn't know he had fallen: she thought just the same as any person whose eye fell upon the two of them. Had he really heard her confession of love? It was nice that he felt the same way, maybe even wonderful. But it was such a bad time to tell her, and to dump it on her in this way. She didn't know what to do, and so she slowly withdrew her hand from his. "I'm sorry, I'm not ready yet," she murmured, and continued on.
Sherlock Holmes was speechless. How could he explain he had only slipped without embarrassing her? What had she thought he was doing? She didn't really think...that he was proposing? It was a chilling idea. His Victorian ideals and natural distrust of women forbade the idea of marriage. But then, obviously no Victorian of Holmes' time had met Beth Lestrade. Holmes bit his lip hard and walked on, afraid to speak because of what he knew Lestrade must have been thinking of him at the moment. He imagined it would be something along the lines of how strange he was to propose when they were needed the most by New London. How selfish he was to do something that would make the two of them feel like they were the only two in the entire world when they were needed most by the entire world. It made him wince that such a thought should cross her mind. And what did she mean by 'yet'?! Did she expect that he would propose again? It was all too confusing. And so Holmes drove the incident from his mind, said nothing, and followed her.
The two soon came to what was the disastrous origin of one of the bombs -- it was completely barren. How shocking it was to be in the bustling, although panicked, city of New London one moment, and then to be confronted by an area of nothingness the next second. The blast radius of the bomb could be approximated to five blocks in all directions. Already, people were gathered around the edges of the bleak circle, while braver ones ventured into the wreckage to search without hope for whatever could be left after such an appalling attack.
Even Holmes felt a devastating sadness in the air, but Lestrade, who was followed by others who grew braver at the sight of her assured presence, joined the searchers. But the place was a complete clearing, without even a bit of trash or a weed. There was nothing left. Soon, even Lestrade had to give up. She walked back to where Holmes was looking around with her head bent and arms limp at her sides. "It's hopeless," she groaned.
"We should go to Scotland Yard," Holmes recommended quietly. He led the way, knowing Lestrade would follow. Onlookers were beginning to go back to their homes, knowing there was nothing they could do. Those who had known the people who were now gone forever as a result of the explosion gathered around the place and wept silently.
When they met with Chief Inspector Greyson at their destination, he was looking deeply troubled. "We know about the explosions. We've just been there," Holmes prompted. Greyson nodded. He brought up a map of New London, with dark bold spots where the bombs had blown. He named them all as police stations. Everyone shuddered. Whoever had done this, and it was obviously Moriarty or one of his henchmen, did not want the interference of the police.
"So New London is without law?" Lestrade whispered in horror. She gasped as Greyson nodded gravely.
"Strange, is it not," Holmes began, plunging the rest into the matter without hesitation or useless bemoaning, "that these bombs were located in the smaller branches, and not the headquarters of the whole Met? Wouldn't it be that if someone didn't want the Yard in the business, they would take out the Yard, where all the information is stored, where things of the greatest importance take place?" It was agreed that Holmes had brought up a good point, and that it was a scary thought: if Moriarty blew up the smaller branches, leaving absolutely nothing behind, what would he do to the highest branch of the Scotland Yard offices?
"Another question is how the bombs got there." Greyson added. But he added that it would be hard to investigate that matter, because the only ones who could tell him of any strange incidents in the smaller offices were no longer with them. The only person who knew the answer to Greyson's question would be the antagonist himself. And they were an unreliable source anyway.
"So it was back to last names again?" she thought to herself sadly.
They stood at the same time, and he said he would go to work on picking up clues. He even remarked that he had a few leads. Lestrade sighed. On a case, Holmes was always ahead of everybody else. Even in the 22nd century, when the technology greatly overshadowed that of his own time, he seemed sharper and still repeatedly made the Yard Inspectors look like fools.
She smiled at him thankfully, grasping his arm for a moment. The wiry arm underneath flinched, but he didn't pull away. He nodded at her, and then headed off, leaving Lestrade to think. She was growing more and more fond of Holmes, and because of that she had taken the precaution of implanting a tracker on his coat when she gripped him.
Her acknowledgement of his sharpness was correct, and Holmes was well aware of the bug on his clothing. But he didn't bother removing it. She had done it in concern for him, not with thoughts of ill will. Besides, it might come in handy.
"Do you even want to know why I'm here?" Sherlock Holmes was not the most patient of men. I have a feeling you're going to tell me! Lestrade growled to herself. He pulled a packet out of his Victorian style coat. "We've gotten a tipoff that Moriarty is hiding in this place in New London. It's a note, scrawled on the back of a traffic ticket for speeding just this last Monday, issued to someone by Officer Bradstreet. It would be easy to trace who the recipient was. Another lead Grayson wanted us-"
Us? Lestrade pondered. Does that mean we're officially partnered? The idea made her feel queasy.
"-to follow was the writing itself on this ticket. It was written with an eyeliner pen, distinguished by the soft tip and how the pencil leaves behind small pieces of eyeliner. This means the writer is female, and underestimates the talents of Scotland Yard." He chuckled to himself, handing her the ticket.
Lestrade took the note and studied it. She analyzed the eyeliner chips, and narrowed down the places it was sold in. There were only two: a small store off Main Street, and a pharmacy on the other side of New London.
"Then we'd better get to work." Holmes swept up his hat and held the door open. Lestrade sighed. She'd never be able to finish her springcleaning now. And it was all she could do to keep from telling Holmes how she felt about being his partner, and to his referring to the two of them as a team. Groaning inwardly, she walked out to her hovercar.

Interlude: SONGFIC

This is irrelevant to the story; I was just listening to this song and felt like writing a SONGFIC. Touching, isn't it? Kidding. Listen to Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" - the song in this SONGFIC. (The lyrics in this SONGFIC might be out of order.)
Holmes was a wonderful player of the violin. But they were hard to find in the 22nd century. So he made do with a strange instrument held like the Stradivarius, though instead of strings it had the keys of a keyboard. He had grown accustomed to its strange sounds, and had begun making improvised music on it. But as they drove along the country roads, with hardly any other car in sight down both sides of the road, Holmes was steering and the radios annoyed him. All the newfangled music was nothing but screeching noise to his finely attuned ears. But Beth Lestrade had leaned back her seat and was almost lying flat on her back. She brought along her futuristic guitar, which was lighter and folded conveniently, but still gave out the pleasant sounds of the old acoustic guitars. Holmes had never heard her play; had never ever seen or heard her have anything to do with art or music. But when she did strike the strings rhythmically, with an old song on her lips, her melodic voice melted the words away smoothly, and even Sherlock Holmes could feel the emotions behind the simple yet touching tune.

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself, I got nothing to prove.

John H. Watson's writings described Holmes' skills on the fiddle as "remarkable, but as eccentric as all his other accomplishments". He could play the most difficult and challenging pieces at Watson's requests, but in private he usually sat with closed eyes and "scraped" at the violin on his knee, which reflected the feelings of his mind. Holmes had read the account with raised eyebrows, refusing to believe his friend's view. But now that Holmes could watch Beth Lestrade do the same-although with a bit more rhythm and melody, it was eerie. The closed eyes, the absentminded strumming, and the expression of inner feelings were all exactly parallel.

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

Her voice is beautiful. Just like she is. Plain on the outside yet undeniable in its meaning. Holmes was deeply moved, and found it hard to keep his eyes away from her face and on the road. His cohort was wearing common, comfortable-looking clothes: sweatshirt, sweatpants. Lestrade had her eyes closed softly and strummed the chords by heart. She tilted her head gently every now and then to the tune. Her lightly colored lips shaped the words delicately and barely moved and Holmes' sharp eyes caught the movement of her vocal chords in her throat. Occasionally she gazed dreamily out the window at the passing fields, still playing. She never looked at him. I suppose she's too intent on the personal meaning of the song. Whatever that may be.

You see, my old man's got a problem
He live with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
I say his body's too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

Lestrade had never before referred to her family or early life. Another likeness to himself, Holmes thought. It was only until years into their relationship that he trusted Watson enough to let him in on his brother and then much later until he gave him Mycroft's real occupation. Beth had dropped a few careless hints as to her childhood. Holmes knew she had an older brother, and that she had had a rough start, without her parents. She had lived in Texas until moving to New London with her brother, who became her legal guardian after her father. And Sherlock didn't even know why her brother took her father's place!

I remember we were driving, driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs

Holmes bit his lip and resisted the temptation to try and hum along or interrupt with a question. It would disturb Beth's gush of feeling, and he was dying to hear the rest of the song. They were nearing their destination, but he drove slower to allow Lestrade time to finish. He made a mental note to have a talk with her about the song and its meaning. It was about time he learned the truth about Beth's whole life, as long as it didn't hurt her to tell it. They were getting closer than just being friends, and he was sure Lestrade's sharp senses had picked it up when he had. There was no way to explain how it had happened: it just had. Slowly and subtly it had sprung on the two of them and taken both by surprise. The feeling was nestled deep inside each heart, and it just needed a little push.

You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans
I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

Surely she can't be referring to me? Holmes thought. His chest twanged guiltily at the thought of downing beer and liquor with 'friends' and leaving Beth Lestrade alone at home. His curiosity was aroused when he wondered what she was thinking as she sang. One could suppose she was thinking of nothing, and that her mind drifted away as the words left her mouth. But any mind reader would be able to tell that indeed her thoughts were centered on her companion. As his thoughts were centered on her. But neither spoke a word, except Lestrade, who was singing. How strange it was that the whole song seemed to revolve around the car, when the minds of the singer and the listener were revolving around each other.

I remember we were driving, driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.

Just when Beth Lestrade plucked the last chord, Sherlock Holmes announced they were nearing their destination. She gazed outside the window again, and then quickly packed up her guitar, wondering if her song had any effect on Holmes as they had driven. Maybe he hadn't even heard it. An uncomfortable silence hung in the air while the two of them unloaded the car. They never did mention the song again, although in the near future one could find one of them mentally humming the tune.

PART ONE: Bedbugs and Broomsticks

CHAPTER ONE: Paris Law Enforcements

I'm so puny. slap self

Paris, France

They settled into their hotel and continued out into the sweet air of Paris. Lestrade took a deep breath of the perfumed air. "Ah, Paris, the city of love." She didn't mean to drop obvious hints, but the phrase just slipped out.
"Actually, Lestrade, the 'city of love' is technically Venice."
"Oh." Well, maybe we should go there next. Out loud she pressed, "Any leads?"
Holmes shook his head with a melancholy sigh. "I suppose we shall have to pretend to be tourists, after all." He groaned.
Lestrade smiled. "Well, then, let's get a move on!" And she tugged forcefully at his sleeve in the direction of Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. Lestrade had never been so happy in all her life. All around her were people holding hands and smiling. Holmes was evidently wrong about the French being snobs. The weather was colder in France, and there were patches of snow already beginning to form on the sidewalks. Lestrade was wearing a cloak, but she still had to shiver when she stepped in snow. Holmes cocked an eyebrow, gave an exasperated sigh and put his arm around her shoulder to keep her warm. Beth fidgeted, but didn't move; it was warmer, anyway. They walked the rest of the way to the famous café on Champs Elysees in silence.
The coffee warmed both up considerably, and after leaving a few extra credits they continued on their way, in the same fashion as before. The Arc was magnificent, and amazing that it had survived all the centuries since Napoleon Bonaparte had it commissioned. Lestrade could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Across the Seine River was the Notre Dame, and there was the Louvre Museum and Versailles about an hour away.
When they visited the Eiffel Tower, Lestrade gave a laugh, wriggled out from under Holmes' arm, and raced up the stairs. Holmes was shocked, but then chuckled as well and climbed up after her. The two athletes were winded when they got to the top, but the view was so magnificent that all thoughts of exhaustion were forgotten. Lestrade couldn't bring herself to step back from the railing, because, although she was afraid of heights at times, the sheer brilliance of seeing the entire city was worth it. She poked a little fun at Holmes when she saw him looking around at the complete panoramic view of Paris and told him he couldn't possibly be able to see Moriarty, even from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
But she froze when Holmes suggested they take the elevators down this time. Lestrade could take stairs anytime; you could stop whenever you wanted, but with elevators your life relied entirely on the cord holding you and tons of other people. She shivered with fright. When she didn't budge Holmes asked her what the matter was.
"I just need...a little time, that's all." She pleaded to him. But "a little time" became five, ten, fifteen minutes and Sherlock was getting apprehensive. He was enough of a detective to know she was afraid of heights -- elevators, at least -- and enough of a gentleman to decide to just take the stairs. He playfully challenged her to a race down the stairs, but Lestrade still didn't budge. When she began thinking of elevators the vertigo completely overtook her and her thoughts moved on to the day of the explosions. Holmes' impatience was beginning to kick in, but Beth didn't notice. She was still standing by the rail, and when he couldn't take it anymore he scooped her up like a child and headed quickly for the stairs. She gave a shriek and clutched tightly to his coat, burying her face in his shoulder. When Holmes got to the steps, ignoring the stares of people around him, he hopped down the stairs three at a time as if he weren't carrying Lestrade at all. Holmes was afraid he would land wrong and turn his ankle, but his main concern was keeping Lestrade from being frightened. He ostentatiously sang songs he knew from his many trips incognito to various shipping docks, where he learned hearty tunes, which the sailors often sang. His voice didn't change from the jumping down steps, and when he reached the bottom he set Lestrade down gently. Beth Lestrade took a few deep breaths and stood wobbly but eventually looked at him. Holmes smiled at her - he understood. She looked back down again but they walked on, Holmes' arm always around her shoulder to keep her warm.
The two of them had visited each of the famous tourist spots in turn, and Holmes had finally gotten Lestrade a warm overcoat. She appreciated his kindness, but secretly wished he hadn't. Beth found herself preferring his arm around her shoulder. Soon the only sights left to see was the countryside, which was a ways off from Paris itself. They retrieved their car and drove along, following the signs.
Being from the Victorian era, where the transportation was trains, cabs, and other public carriages, Holmes had to adjust to driving his own car. He was a skilled horseman, but driving was another thing altogether. Lestrade had given him some manuals to study so he wouldn't get into to much trouble trying to learn on his own, but she was worried that he might not have looked at them at all. So she made sure to buckle her seat belt - tight. She didn't know how the French system of driving worked, but hoped it was rational. The first signs of impoliteness in the French people became apparent when Holmes almost collided with a cruiser. He protested in frustration as he avoided a collision, but Lestrade was quick to notice the driver's hunched back and orange hair.
"It's Fenwick!" she cried in surprise. Holmes wrenched his head at her in surprise and almost became roadkill when they ran a red light. "Quick! Switch on the tracker!" And when he did Fenwick's ion trail was easily followed, but the villain was far ahead of them after the traffic parted. Sherlock grimaced and increased the speed of their vehicle. Whenever a craft got in their way, he easily maneuvered their own under, over, or around it with a series of flips, swerves, and rolls. Lestrade could barely tell which way was up.
"Glad to see you did read those manuals," she said weakly. She had never been carsick in her life, but felt that if Sherlock Holmes didn't stop his certainly illegal roller coaster ride, she would have to ruin her new coat. Her fears were soon put to rest, but not in the way she had expected. Their hovercraft suddenly stopped going, and Holmes made a surprised sound that sounded like a squeak. He had spotted the police car approaching them. And Lestrade noticed the large metallic robot approaching Holmes' side.
"Good morning to you, sir." The robot began pleasantly, "Are you having some emergency? Is you wife having a child?" It stared over toward Lestrade's direction. Holmes grunted, and replied wryly that the robot's assumption was far from true. He said nothing else, and the robot continued on, "Well, then, could you please inform me why you're driving very much over the speed limit!" Although it was a robot with artificial intelligence, it was clearly uneducated in the sense of manners. Then again, few police robots are.
"So just give us a ticket already!" Lestrade growled. The robot smiled wickedly. Robots aren't exactly polite, but they sure as zed aren't evil. Lestrade knitted her eyebrows in thought.
She was sure the same consideration crossed Holmes' mind, but he remained courteous. "Yes," he encouraged the robot, "we are in a bit of a hurry." Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Fenwick's ion trail fading slowly.
If robots could smile the one in their presence was doing so. "Oh, no." It purred. Their Irregular friend, Tennyson, whirred and beeped in the same fashion, but his noises had a kindness behind them that the policeman's lacked. "The government of France wouldn't want you to stay on the road after this. I'm afraid I shall have to put you under arrest."
And the robot was as good as its word. Its police car was different from the ones in New London: there were two different compartments separated by a wall. The policeman sat in the front, and the prisoners sat in the back on the floor. There was a camera in one corner, which connected with a screen set in the steering wheel of the front seat. A screen on the wall separating the two compartments was used for the policeman to communicate with the prisoner if they needed to. The windows in the back were tinted so as to give the prisoner isolation and privacy. The only way to get to the back seat was by lowering the separation wall, which was done by a button on the driver's side. All this Holmes observed as he and Lestrade were shoved into the backseat.
Lestrade protested loudly until the robot threatened to press charges. After that she seethed darkly and muttered under her breath. Holmes, however, was analyzing the situation and calculating their next move. Lestrade's complaints weren't doing any good: nothing she said, none of her actions, nothing at all seemed to reach the robot's ears. It was immune to them. The robot was behaving rashly and not at all like the usual ones in the police force. Even if they were in a different country he doubted the French government was much different from that of New London. He deduced someone or something had messed with the wiring. And why had their enemy singled out him and Lestrade? And if it were true that their enemy was after them, how would he or she be sure the two of them would fall into the clutches of the robot?
Then the answer came to him: Fenwick. Moriarty himself had probably ordered the easily noticeable Frenchman to follow Holmes and Lestrade and to get himself noticed and followed a fast speed past the reprogrammed robot. The robot would then do his job and give out a harsher punishment than usual, landing Holmes and Lestrade in jail until things were sorted out. And Moriarty and Fenwick would've escaped for good by the time the two were out and about. They had to do something - something showy that would get the robot's attention fast. Holmes' mind quickly devised a plan.

CHAPTER TWO: Holmes' Daring Plan

Sherlock Holmes seized Lestrade's arm and pulled her toward him. "Kiss me," he ordered quietly.
Lestrade was appalled. Was it that obvious that she was thinking of him? Had Holmes recently acquired mind reading abilities? She could've slapped him across the face for his impudence, but then she saw in his eyes a seriousness that was only associated with one of his plans. She hesitated, then leaned closer and gave him a smooch. Immediately he let out a series of loud moans and groans and threw his arms around her. It was a comical sight to anyone who knew his thoughts towards women, but Lestrade caught on and did the same.
The robot swerved the car as it beeped out, "Hey! Hey, back there! Stop that now! This is a police car, not the Moulin Rouge! Stop that!" But its orders only made Holmes and Lestrade perform louder and more drastically. Lestrade even ran her fingers through Holmes' sandy-colored hair after he began to roll about. She wouldn't be outdone. She accidentally laughed out loud at the situation, but Holmes covered it over with a giggle of his own. His giggle was lower, of course, but a giggle nonetheless. It made Lestrade want to laugh more, but she forced herself to focus. With her lips still locked in his, she situated herself in a position which would take the droid by surprise when it rolled down the separation wall.
The robot had been reprogrammed, but it still had a policeman's mind in it. It was furious that the orders it had given were ignored. It would be the laugh of the whole agency if word got out that two prisoners 'had a shag' in the backseat of the robot's car and wouldn't listen to its orders. It finally pulled the car over and lowered the separation.
No sooner had he done so, Lestrade had tackled the robot and yanked out its wiring. It didn't even know what hit it. Holmes calmly moved the machine to the passenger's seat, fiddled with its simple programming, and figured out the problem. There was a bug on one of the robot's microchips, a bug that was straightforward but effective. He pocketed it and turned to Lestrade.
"Well, Inspector," he shrugged in his usual manner as if nothing had happened at all and smoothed out his ruffled attire. "I'm afraid we've lost Fenwick and Moriarty for the time being, and our hovercraft must be a long ways off. I suppose we could borrow this one and reprogram the robot again. No need for it to remember any of this. No reason why any of this should reach Deidre's ears, either." He grinned and Lestrade smiled back weakly. Deidre, another Irregular, was fixated on the fact that the two of them should get together. She was convinced the two felt something for one another, despite the fact that all they did was argue. Maybe she's right after all, Lestrade thought as she straightened out her own cloak and set to work on reprogramming the robot. The two of them returned to their hotel tired but satisfied with the day's 'work'.
In the hotel room, Lestrade and Holmes discussed the investigations that needed to be done the next day. Holmes insisted they find more leads before pursuing the only one they had at the moment, which was the bug found on the robot. Lestrade argued back that Moriarty's trail had grown cold and if they wanted to find more leads they had to follow the one they had. The two had different ways of working, but for once Sherlock submitted to Lestrade's way. He was too tired to argue with Lestrade, who could keep at an argument for days if she had to. But he'd never admit to his weariness and so he remarked casually to Lestrade, "Well, I'm sure you're tired, so I'll let you sleep." And he shot out an arm for the light switch.
Beth grinned evilly from underneath her blankets; she knew exactly what he was doing. "Oh, but Sherlock, I wasn't the one who climbed the Eiffel Tower two times today. And I wasn't the one who thought up a daring and efficient escape plan when a haywire robot wrongly arrested me." She blinked innocently at him. Holmes groaned and turned off the light, turning away from Beth Lestrade. The small hotel room was so cramped that the beds were less than an arm's length apart from each other, and Sherlock Holmes was sure that if he turned in her direction, he would be able to see her Cheshire cat grin -- even in the dark.
Beth Lestrade woke up in the morning exhausted after a night of unrest. Not only were the hotel rooms confined and small, but also the walls weren't so thick either. She had heard the neighboring tenant snoring nonstop all night long. It certainly wasn't Holmes; she had rolled him over to check on his breathing. But he was sleeping peacefully and inhaling with clear, deep breaths. Lestrade had half a mind to phone the manager of the hotel to complain of the lack of soundproof walls before she realized the room didn't even have phones. The manager had evidently foreseen the possibility of too many complaints. You would think the Great Detective could afford the best, she thought bitterly as she tossed and turned. When she finally fell asleep it was four in the morning and Sherlock got up an hour later.
Lestrade refused to wake up -- she was still half asleep when he tried to make her rise -- and her fatigue told Holmes that she had heard the snores as well. Holmes could fall asleep at will, another one of his eccentric abilities, but Lestrade obviously couldn't do so. So he let her sleep and headed out to a light breakfast and to follow the only lead they had. He took care to send some brunch up to Lestrade in a thermo for when she stirred.
And when she did stir, she was alarmed to find Holmes' bed slept in but empty. But her fears melted when she found the thermos and a note in his firm but rushed handwriting.

Am following lead. Keep resting. You will need it.
Be back soon. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite.

Beth had to smile. She put the note in her pocket and ate her meal meditatively. She decided to follow Holmes' advice and went back to sleep, which was how he found her when he got back.

Holmes cocked his head to one side, unsure of how to wake her up. He picked up the thermos and its tray, lifted it high above his head and dropped it onto the floor. Sure enough, the clamor roused Lestrade.
"Sorry, didn't mean to drop that," he lied, and began picking up the tray. She nodded drowsily, blinked, and got up with a yawn.
"What'd you get?" she prompted. Lestrade looked around, and, remembering the note, pulled it out again and restudied it.
"I can tell you wrote this in a hurry, and so that means you had a very important lead that you couldn't wait to investigate. And from that cocky smile on your face I can tell you succeeded." Beth looked at him, waiting, and then continued without looking away, "You know, I hate bedbugs. I hate any kind of bug, actually."
Holmes' smile broadened. She was right about the note, but not right about why he was smiling. Sherlock was about to give one of his dramatic pauses, but remembered the bruise on the back of his noggin and decided just to tell her. But his sense of mischief got the better of him. He pulled out a crumpled brown bag. "My dear Lestrade, your deductive powers seem to be growing stronger even as we speak. And as to your prodding, I'm sure you shall find this bag immensely interesting." Holmes tossed it to her, and focused his eyes on her with a look of amusement. Beth Lestrade tore the bag open with ferocious curiosity, took one look into it, and gave a loud scream.

CHAPTER THREE: The Horrible Bag

"Holmes!" She flung the bag away from her and screeched out, "I'll kill you!" She sprang from the bed and took a punch at him as he ducked and clutched at his sides, doubling over. He was laughing so hard tears came out of his eyes. Lestrade pounded at him mercilessly, but he landed on his back and lay limp, still laughing. Beth straddled him and held the bag inches from his face. "Apologize NOW or I'll dump all these snails on your face!" she threatened. When Holmes wouldn't stop laughing, she growled menacingly and grabbed his throat, which put an end to his hysterics.
She released him after satisfying her anger without committing homicide, and he spoke with gasps for air in between his phrases. "My...dear...Lestrade! The...French...refer to them as escargot!" He burst into laughs again and Lestrade demanded to know what snails had to do with the investigation of Moriarty. "It has nothing to do with it at all!" Holmes looked as though he would burst out again, but continued, "Well, maybe it does, because I won't tell you what I found today until you eat those...bugs." He had an insufferable grin on his face, and Lestrade was about to throttle him again but he stopped her with a reminder that she did nothing to help him in his investigation.
Beth Lestrade looked with disgust at the snail in its shell which Holmes handed her -- long dead, of course, after being cooked in some strange-smelling herb -- and the little pick used to pluck the snail out to eat. Lestrade grimaced before popping the slug into her mouth, chewing twice, than forcing it down her throat. It was chewy like a mushroom, but she didn't bite down on it too much -- she'd probably throw up if it were in her mouth too long. She gulped down a glass of water to rid her mouth of the taste, hacked twice, and then waited impatiently for Holmes to begin. But he shook his head with a mock look of disapproval and pointed to the other snail in the bag. He raised two fingers teasingly and leaned back from his place on the ground, clearly enjoying Lestrade's moment of helplessness. Only when she had finished the second snail, by the same method as the first, did he start his talk.
"Now, the purpose of this bug...." Lestrade glared at him and he tugged at his collar sheepishly. "Oops! Sorry, Lestrade! Ahem, the purpose of the virus is to -- or, in fact, was to -- hack into the robot's control system and substitute its usual program (which, by the way, included proper etiquette) with the program outlined in the virus. This program biased the robot's judgment so that it would keep an eye out for our hovercraft, identified by the license plate located so conspicuously on the back of our vehicle. Once it located us, it would choose some excuse to confront us, then arrest us, even if it was on the pettiest of charges. Some time would be wasted before we'd be set free again, giving Moriarty and his henchman time to get away from the scene without us following them.
"It became apparent from the first that, although it did its job efficiently, this chip was not manufactured by a factory. Its simple construction and lack of a factory symbol -- and I even had it examined with a high power microscope analyzer -- added to and confirmed my hypothesis that somebody made this viral chip by himself, in the comfort of his own home. This conclusion meant that we weren't dealing with a big company tycoon, just a simple person with some knowledge of robots and computers. After much thought I remembered Fenwick and the way he got our attention. My mind immediately and subconsciously memorized the license plate, and I'm now sure that it wasn't chance that put him in our path. I checked all the vehicle rental companies, and at one of them I was lucky enough to find a clerk who submitted easily to bribery.
"He confirmed that Fenwick -- not bothering to use an alias because he had no doubt that the two of us would never track him down -- had rented a car and returned it in a few days' time. Before I left I tipped the man again, and he told me in a comforting English accent, 'I like you, sir, and although the ugly fellow surely wouldn't want me to tell anybody this, he also reserved cars in many of our United States branches.' Next the clerk handed me a list of the branches, when the hovercrafts would be rented, and the license numbers that he got by hacking into the company files at my request.
"I then went to the address shown on the books that Fenwick had written down in case he needed to be contacted, but it turned out to be owned by a ghastly woman who drove me out of the establishment with a broomstick when I attempted to induce her." Holmes' face was a humorous picture of injured arrogance, as if the broomstick itself had hurt his pride. Lestrade sat still for a moment, thinking the newest information over, and she stood with her usual energy.
"But we've got the list, and I suggest we leave Paris as soon as possible to begin our next adventure." And they began packing in silence.

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