Characters: Q, Efimia, Sherlock, Tzophiya, misc background people and daemons
Warnings/Triggers: references to drug use and addiction
Word Count 3,767
Summary: Trevelyan gets a break from preparing for his thesis defense by the rather unusual phenomenon of his brother wanting to celebrate his birthday.
Author's notes: I started this to get an idea of how Efi moved and spoke for a different fic, and it turned into an actual fic, so here we are. Makes references to a character from Inspector Lewis, but no knowledge is required, and technically the references are so vague, you could make him a separate, unrelated character easily. But still, that technically makes this a triple crossover daemon au of an au. Take that, space time continuum! This, if it were part of the main Trio verse, would take place about 6-7 months post-"Big Brother Instincts". Trevelyan would just be twenty-four, and Sherlock around twenty-seven. Also makes some references to the canon story 'The Adventure of the Gloria Scott'.
Knowledge of His Dark Materials is not required. All that's necessary to know is that, in this world, humans' souls live outside of their bodies in the form of animals. There's an excellent primer here.
For reference: Efimia (a degu), Tzophiya (a grey lourie), Suman (a Clark's Nutcracker), and Ismini (a mountain weasel).
Trevelyan awoke to Efi patting his nose with her paws.
“Mobile's ringing,” she murmured, sleepily. “Sherlock.”
Trevelyan opened his eyes and pulled out the earbud blasting Candide from the laptop on the pillow above his head. Efi picked her way around the keys to hit the pause button at the top, and Trevelyan could hear the strains of 'I am A Pirate King' coming from his mobile on the floor. He picked it up and hit the answer button.
“Has someone died?” he asked.
“Statistically speaking, nearly everyone born before 1900,” Sherlock replied.
“Anyone I care about?” Trevelyan asked.
“Not that I'm aware of, why?” Sherlock said.
“You're ringing,” Trevelyan said.
“Yes, and?” Sherlock said.
“The last time you rang me was about three years ago when you were high as a kite and wanted to warn me about...rabbits, I believe it was,” Trevelyan said.
“Really?” Sherlock said.
“Yes. I was quite touched you cared enough to be concerned about my welfare,” Trevelyan replied. “I promised to lock my doors and you told me to avoid carrots.”
“No, I meant that we've talked on the phone since then, I'm sure,” Sherlock said, sounding disgruntled.
“I've rung you,” Trevelyan said. “You've never rung me. Therefore, I assume something bad has happened.”
“Nothing bad has happened,” Sherlock said. “I'm ringing because it's your birthday.”
Trevelyan frowned. “You remembered it was my birthday?”
“Yes, well, I saw the date on the newspaper and I knew something awful had happened on that date, but it took me all morning to figure out it was the day you were born and my life was ruined,” Sherlock said. There was a 'gane' noise, objecting. “Tzophiya remembered. I didn't.”
“Stop it, you're embarrassing me with your affection,” Trevelyan said. “So, you're ringing to wish me a 'Happy Life Ruining Day'?”
“Essentially,” Sherlock said. “Also, I thought we could have lunch.”
“Lunch,” Trevelyan echoed, and Sherlock could have made up the word for all he could understand it in that sentence.
“Yes, it's a midday meal,” Sherlock replied. “People eat food during it so I'm told. You're a uni student, I assume you're poor and hungry. My shout.”
Trevelyan gave Efi a pinch to make sure he wasn't having some sort of nightmare. She squeaked in disapproval. “I'm in Cambridge,” he reminded Sherlock. “I'm not in London.”
“I know,” Sherlock said. “That's not an issue.”
Trevelyan sat up on the bed so he could properly deal with this. “Are you high?” he asked, seriously. Efi climbed up on his lap, giving him a concerned look.
“No,” Sherlock replied, equally serious. “If you don't want to, that's fine, but I am willing to make the effort, so—”
“No, no,” Trevelyan said, quickly. “No. I'll come. I—when do you want to do this?”
“Can you be ready in half an hour?” Sherlock asked.
He must have already been on the train if he expected to be in Cambridge by then. It was at least an hour from London. “I'm not sure,” Trevelyan said, looking around at the mess his room and self were in. He'd only been asleep for ninety minutes and his soft-bound dissertation was not-so-bound and was spread everywhere so he could memorize it in preparation for his examination in two days' time. Efi made him print it out after his third migraine from staring at the screen too long.
“I have confidence in your abilities to wash and dress yourself,” Sherlock said. “Meet me at Vache.”
“That's a steakhouse,” Trevelyan said.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “So?”
“I'm a vegetarian,” Trevelyan said.
“That's not my problem,” Sherlock said. “Show up if you want to eat. Goodbye.”
The phone call was ended. Trevelyan stared at his mobile for several seconds. Efi climbed up onto his shoulder to stare with him. “What's going on?” she asked.
“I think Sherlock has gone insane,” Trevelyan said.
“That's disappointing,” Efi said. “We had odds on another year before that happened.”
Trevelyan had lived in the house since he'd started at Cambridge, sharing mostly with fellow Computer Science students, with the exception of one Theology student who had plans to join the priesthood upon graduation. It made for a house largely of night owls, and Trevelyan's showering and moving about at 11:15 in the morning was met with several objections from stressed out hackers and programmers who were preparing for their examinations. He barely escaped with his life.
He took the bus to the restaurant, which was situated near enough to the university that Trevelyan had a fine view of the students in various states of mental breakdown, from those crying to those hyperactive with sleep deprivation to one man who was simply ripping a piece of paper into tiny pieces while his dæmon jumped up and down on them.
“Sherlock will fit in well here if he has gone insane,” Efi said, brightly. “No one will even notice.” She moved from the window to his shoulder and down into Trevelyan's lap. “You know he's probably using you.” She looked up with a worried expression, her tail twitching. “He's probably not being nice.”
“I know,” Trevelyan assured her, stroking her head. “I have no delusions he's turned over a new leaf and now we're going to be best brother friends. I'm entirely sure there's an ulterior motive.”
Efi relaxed. “I wonder what it is?” she said, blinking with curiosity.
“Perhaps it's something to do with his new-found detective career,” Trevelyan said. “Mycroft says Tzophiya should have settled into a bloodhound the way he is on a case. Maybe he wants me to hack something for him.”
Efi's paws clasped together, excited by the prospect. “It would be nice to do something fun,” she said. “Instead of just revising.”
“Only forty-eight more hours,” Trevelyan said. “And then I'm free.” He frowned. “Then I'll have to find a job and be a grown-up.”
Efi's excitement died. “I don't want you to be a grown-up,” she said. “I think you'll be boring.”
“Sherlock's a grown-up,” Trevelyan said. “He's not boring.”
Efi frowned. “I think you should aim for something a little in between.”
Sherlock was waiting in the foyer of the restaurant, which was borderline posh and frequented by professors. He had on a long, suave coat despite it being the middle of June and balmy out. His cheeks had filled in and the rest of him was less skeletal than the last time Trevelyan had seen him. Tzophiya was perched on his shoulder and she was calm, without that twitchy, restless air that she'd had for years. The lack of cocaine in Sherlock's system suited him.
“I told you half an hour,” he greeted Trevelyan.
Trevelyan looked down at his watch. “It's been twenty-nine minutes,” he said. “I'm early. Why the rush?”
“There's no rush,” Sherlock said. “I just hate waiting for people.”
“You should have perhaps invited me earlier and we could have discussed a suitable hour. Then you might have planned your trip accordingly,” Trevelyan said.
“I didn't know it was your birthday any earlier than that, how could I have planned for it?” Sherlock said.
“Let him have his way, you have a whole lunch to get through,” Efi murmured to Trevelyan. “There will be plenty of opportunities to fight.”
Trevelyan smiled and conceded the point with a bob of his head. “Let's go in,” he said.
Sherlock marched to the Maitre D's podium. “Table for two.”
“Ah, yes, welcome back,” the Maitre D' said.
Trevelyan and Efi exchanged looks. Tzophiya stuck her nose in the air as they transferred those looks to Sherlock.
“Have you been here before?” Trevelyan asked.
“Yes, once or twice,” Sherlock said, off-handedly.
“Would you like your usual table?” the Maitre D' asked.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “Thank you.” He amended to Trevelyan, “a few times.”
“When?” Trevelyan asked.
Sherlock and Tzophiya looked to one another as though trying to remember and then shrugged in unison. Trevelyan sighed and followed them into the dining room, where they were led to a table in the middle of the room.
The restaurant was a modern one, so the tables were spread out enough that there were no worries about stepping on someone's dæmon at another table or pushing a chair into them. The traditional 'Rose and Crown' style places tended to be crammed so tight it was hard to tell whose dæmons was whose. Trevelyan pulled out a chair for himself, but Sherlock slid into it before Trevelyan could take a seat.
“Sit over there,” Sherlock ordered, pointing to the chair across from him. “I'm sitting here.”
Efi patted Treveyan's shoulder before he could snap back. He moved around to the other chair and dropped into it, setting his messenger bag on the floor beside him.
Efi ran down Trevelyan's arm to the table and ventured toward Sherlock. Tzophiya looked behind her as though she thought Efi was merely trying to get a better view of something interesting and not trying to say hello. Satisfied she wasn't missing something, Tzophiya hopped down and met Efi in the middle of the table. Tzophiya bobbed her head up and down a few times, looking Efi over. Efi patted Tzophiya's wing with a paw.
“You haven't slept much lately,” Sherlock said, and Trevelyan settled himself in to be deduced.
“I never sleep much,” Trevelyan replied.
“No, this a different sort of not sleeping,” Sherlock said, his eyes narrowed in thought. “You don't sleep at night because everything on the Internet happens at night, but you sleep in the day. You haven't slept then, either. What's keeping you awake?”
Trevelyan plucked up the specials menu to examine. “I have to defend my thesis in a couple of days,” he said. “I've been preparing.”
“And that's stressful?” Sherlock asked, genuinely unsure.
“I know you never cared about your exams, but I strive for excellence,” Trevelyan said. “I don't want to fail.”
“You aren't going to fail,” Sherlock said, with a snort. “At the most, you might have to resubmit. They won't outright fail you. You aren't that stupid.”
Trevelyan smirked. “Thank you. My confidence is boosted.”
The waiter approached. Sherlock cut him off before he could speak. “Send Allison,” he said. “I don't want you. You're useless.”
“This table isn't in Allison's area,” the waiter said. “I can serve you, sir.”
“No, send Allison,” Sherlock repeated. “Take one of her tables and give her this one—it's not rocket science. Use whatever you have of a brain and come up with a solution.”
Tzophiya flapped at him with her wings and gave one of her 'go-away' cries that Trevelyan had always known meant it was time to run and hide. Efi scurried behind a water glass.
“I'll see if she's available,” the waiter said, with a stiff smile.
He hurried away, muttering no doubt glowing praise to his dæmon.
“Who's Allison?” Trevelyan asked.
“A waitress,” Sherlock replied.
“How do you know her?” Trevelyan said.
“She's waited on me before,” Sherlock said. “She's good.”
“How many times have you been here?” Trevelyan said.
“I told you, a few,” Sherlock said. “Stop talking.”
Trevelyan took a sip of water, exposing Efi, who was forced to engage Tzophiya again. She did this by pulling on Tzophiya's tail. Tzophiya pecked at her head. They circled each other twice before Efi stuck out her tongue and Tzophiya chuckled.
A minute or two later, a pretty young woman with a bouncing ponytail arrived bearing a bird dæmon on her shoulder and a friendly smile on her face.
“Back again, then, huh?” she said. Her accent was Australian. “Is this the brother you were telling me about?”
Trevelyan gaped at the idea that Sherlock might have talked about him to anyone, let alone a random waitress.
“Yes,” Sherlock said, not even embarrassed. “It is.”
“Hello, there,” Allison said to Trevelyan. “I'm Allison and this is Suman.” The bird bobbed his head. “I'll be your server today, by popular request.” She seemed easy-going; it was maybe for the best that Sherlock had insisted on her. “May I get you something to drink?”
“Just bring a pot of tea, please,” Trevelyan said.
“Sure thing,” Allison said. “Same as usual for you, sir?”
“Yes, for the food as well,” Sherlock replied, handing his menu back.
“Black coffee, two sugars, and nothing else it is,” Allison said. “I'll be back in a few shakes to get your food order, or are you sticking to liquids as well, love?”
“No, I intend to eat,” Trevelyan assured her.
“Roger,” Allison said. “Be back with your drinks in a tick.”
She left. Trevelyan focused his gaze on Sherlock for maximum potency and raised an eyebrow. “So, how long have you been in Cambridge for?” he asked, politely.
Sherlock leaned back in his seat. “Four days,” he said. “This is the fifth.”
“And this is the first day you thought to contact me?” Trevelyan said.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “What are we meant to have done earlier?”
Trevelyan considered the options, such as meeting or having tea or conversing or whatever it was family did. None of it was in any way appealing and he could see Sherlock's point. Still, he felt as though he should feel betrayed, even if he didn't quite feel betrayed in reality.
“Case?” he asked.
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“And it has something to do with this establishment?” Trevelyan said.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “Sort of.”
“So, what am I here to do?” Trevelyan asked.
“Eat,” Sherlock said.
“Yes, but why?” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock blinked at him. “It's your birthday,” he said. “I...thought that's what people did.”
“It is,” Trevelyan said. “But we've never been people. Am I here as some sort of front?”
“No,” Sherlock said. Tzophiya turned her head away from Efi. “Not entirely. I'm starting to look conspicuous on my own, so I thought it might help to have someone here with me. I was planning on visiting you before I left town, but since it's your birthday, I thought I could...” He sighed and pointed to Tzophiya. “It was her idea!” Tzophiya shrugged, as though she too wasn't sure why she'd suggested it. “You didn't have to come.”
Trevelyan relaxed now that he knew the truth and Efi poked Tzophiya in reassurance. “I wanted to come,” he said. “I merely wanted to know what was going on. You should have just said from the beginning. You don't have to conjure up a pretence for me to come for lunch. You can just ask.”
Sherlock nodded, seeming happy to have the matter closed. “I'll keep it in mind for the future,” he said. “But I doubt I'll make a habit of it.”
Trevelyan grinned. “Good. It's quite terrifying.” He picked up his menu and glanced over his options. There was, as predicted, a lot of meat on the menu, but there were some vegetarian options that didn't look too bland. “What's this case, then?”
“There's been some controversy lately about pharmaceutical trials coming out of The Gurdon Institute,” Sherlock explained. “Specifically, certain drugs have been approved which later prove to be not healthy or helpful. There was some suggestion of doctored results. I was asked to look into it to see if there was any common denominator or if it was simply a coincidence or some downfall in the process somewhere.”
“Shall I hazard a guess? There's money involved,” Trevelyan said.
“There is,” Sherlock said. “A certain man comes in and has lunch here on a regular basis. He is frequently seen in the company of pharmaceutical businessmen. No business is ever done at the table and it's all upright and legal. But the man rarely orders the same thing. That's unusual. Most people who have a favourite restaurant stick to the same meal—not exactly the same, but they have certain items they always order or often order.”
Trevelyan held up a hand to stop Sherlock, wanting to see if he could figure this out before he was told. He mulled over a few possibilities about why ordering a different meal would be significant. Efi's tail twitched back and forth in contemplation.
“It's a code,” Sherlock burst out before Trevelyan had gone very far into his thoughts. “It's a code.” He pulled out a notebook and pushed it across the table. Efi came over to look with Trevelyan and Tzophiya came to sit above it, her wings flapping in pleasure. “Each item on the menu means a different thing—positive results, or downplay of side effects, or a boost in the effectiveness. The company representatives order what they want him to do, and he responds by ordering how much it's going to cost them.”
Trevelyan read down the list of menu items and what Sherlock deduced them to mean—a few were left with question marks next to them, but most had been discovered. Tzophiya pecked at the pages and looked between Efi and Trevelyan with excitement.
“What made you think it was a code?” Trevelyan asked.
“Allison,” Sherlock said. “She's worked here for several months and I was asking her about that particular customer. She has hyperthymesia.”
“I don't know that word,” Efi said, happily. She liked to learn new words. “Hyper means 'excessive'.”
“And thymesis is 'remembering',” Trevelyan said. “So, hyperthymesia would be... to remember to excess?”
“She has a flawless autobiographical memory,” Sherlock said. “She can remember every detail about every date in her life, perfectly. The Neuroscience department at the School of Clinical Medicine is studying her as part of research into dementia and how memory loss might be prevented; that's why she's over here. She's actually given me some useful tips to improve my own memory. Anyway, chatting to her about the man involved, I discovered she could remember what was said at each meal she served. No business was ever discussed, but she remembered what they ordered and I noticed a pattern in the orders of the company representatives. It seemed odd that they would all order such similar meals, despite the variety of the people involved. She wrote down each meal she served, and I compared that with the results of different studies that came from those meetings. I used Father's techniques for ciphering with unknown variables and managed to extract patterns. Then it was just a little guesswork, I admit, but I'm confident that this is how they're communicating.”
Efi let out a low whistle. Tzophiya looked pleased with herself. She followed the notebook back across the table as Trevelyan returned it and then sat on top of it in front of Sherlock.
“You're good at this,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock blinked. “Yes, of course, I am,” he said. “Is that a surprise to you?”
“No,” Trevelyan said. “I always thought you'd make a good detective. Especially after that business with Mr Trevor. I suppose it's just odd to see you...having a job. You've never been much of an adult before. You were...”
“Busy getting high and ringing you about rabbits?” Sherlock suggested.
“Something like that,” Trevelyan agreed.
“I'm bored with that,” Sherlock said. “Time for a change.”
“Good,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock gave him a half-smile and Trevelyan smiled back. Allison returned with their drinks and Trevelyan gave her his order. She didn't look like a memory genius, but Trevelyan supposed she wouldn't. Sherlock didn't look like a crime genius. Mycroft didn't look like an evil genius. Trevelyan felt that he himself looked like a computer genius, however.
“So, how are you going to stop him?” he asked Sherlock when Allison had left again. “Isn't it all theoretical? You could argue for an illusionary correlation based on heuristics.”
“Not when you keep a mysterious ledger that makes sense once you've cracked the code,” Sherlock said. “Tzophiya and I did a bit of searching through his office. The ledger makes no sense unless you know what I know. Then it's positively incriminating. Plus, there's an off-shore account where he's gathering a tidy nest egg.” He and Tzophiya had matching smug smiles that made Trevelyan laugh. “The police are looking into it now. I'm sticking around to make sure they get the job done. I don't solve cases based on illusionary correlations.”
Trevelyan bowed his head in apology for the suggestion. “What happens to all the students who have worked on the trials?” he asked. “Are they in on it?”
“I suspect most of the fiddling happens at a level above them,” Sherlock said. “They may have to be investigated or have their research temporarily halted. Why?”
“It's a loss to cancer research,” Trevelyan said. “Some of the drugs might have been viable and some of the students might be close to breakthroughs. Quite a lot of damage done for one man being greedy.”
Sherlock shrugged. “None of that is my problem,” he said. “I was only hired to find the perpetrator, not investigate the ethics of it. When did you get so interested in ethics, anyway?”
“One of my housemates is a theologian,” Trevelyan explained. “I hear quite a lot of ethics from him. All of Father's metaphysics debates over dinner have proven useful. He wants to be a priest. I think he gets good practice preaching at me.”
“I hope you're trying to dissuade him,” Sherlock said. “Anyone with brains enough for Cambridge shouldn't waste them shepherding the unwashed masses.”
“To each his own,” Trevelyan said, with a shrug. “You don't have to understand one another to be friends.”
Sherlock and Tzophiya looked baffled by this concept. “I thought that was the point of friends?” he said. “That you had someone who understood you.”
“Perhaps understand isn't the right word,” Trevelyan said, looking to Efi for help in explaining friendship to Sherlock.
“Accepts?” she suggested. “Someone who accepts you?”
“Yes,” Trevelyan said. “You can understand someone without accepting all their beliefs as fact. You can understand their point of view without agreeing with it.”
Tzophiya gave a satisfied nod to that, though Sherlock didn't look as convinced.
“You and Victor didn't always agree,” Trevelyan pointed out. “But you were friends.”
“I suppose so,” Sherlock said, not looking particularly convinced of that, either.
“Have you heard from him?” Trevelyan asked.
“An e-mail, once,” Sherlock said. “He's still in India.” Tzophiya fidgeted and jumped off the notebook, using her head to open it and look inside it. Sherlock changed the subject with characteristic abruptness. “Are you sleeping with anyone?”
Efi let out an amused chitter at the bluntness of the question. Trevelyan nearly choked on his tea. “Ahem, no,” he managed to get out. “Not at present.”
“I didn't think so,” Sherlock said. “Is that troublesome?”
“Not particularly,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock's interest in Trevelyan's love life had been a trial since Trevelyan first lost his virginity (which Sherlock announced, gleefully, at the dinner table). Trevelyan thought it was because Sherlock didn't have a love life and so looked on all those who did as strange sort of creatures for study.
Sherlock looked as though he was going to further interrogate him on the subject, but Tzophiya's attention was caught by something at the door and Sherlock locked on at the same moment. Trevelyan and Efi looked, but Trevelyan couldn't see anything of interest. Just a man being led to a table. This was fascinating enough for Tzophiya to hop over to Trevelyan and fly over his head to land on the rail of his chair behind him. Trevelyan had to lean forward to make sure he didn't touch her.
“Send Efimia over here so it looks like she's mine,” Sherlock ordered. “Tzophiya will look more natural. It will be less conspicuous.”
Inconspicuous was not the first word one would ever use to describe Tzophiya. Trevelyan thought that might be wishful thinking.
“I don't want to be his,” Efi murmured, but padded over to sit on Sherlock's plate, curling up with her tail over her nose.
“What's going on?” Trevelyan asked. He was afraid to look behind him and get Tzophiya's tail in his face.
“That's the man I was telling you about,” Sherlock said. “He's come for lunch. I thought he might. He always sits at the same table up there.”
That explained why Sherlock needed to sit where he did. He had the best view from there. Trevelyan hunched over his plate, hoping Tzophiya would be satisfied soon. It wasn't polite to shoo someone's dæmon but, with Tzophiya, one sometimes had to be impolite. Efi shot Trevelyan a long-suffering look, and indeed it was long-suffering. She'd been suffering from these sort of things since they were born and Sherlock and Tzophiya had taken ownership of them as though they were only there to serve.
It was a bit nostalgic to be back to being used again. It was better than being ignored. Perhaps. Maybe something in between would be the best. That was definitely wishful thinking.
Allison brought his aubergine lasagne out and Trevelyan attempted to eat it while leaning forward over it, which felt both uncomfortable and rude. Sherlock managed to observe without being obvious about it and Trevelyan assumed Tzophiya was doing the same behind him, though he couldn't see her.
“Have you heard from Frater Magnus lately?” Trevelyan asked.
“No, I think I've been downgraded to Threat Level Substantial,” Sherlock said. “I'm not being minded as strictly as I was. What about you?”
“The usual,” Trevelyan said. “A few e-mails here and there. If I don't reply promptly, I'm considered to be in mortal peril.”
Mycroft had upped the frequency of his e-mails and check-ins once Sherlock's troubles began. Efi thought that Mycroft felt guilty for not noticing how badly off Sherlock was doing sooner and so was keeping a closer eye on Trevelyan to make sure he didn't fail to notice something amiss with him, too. Trevelyan thought he should be trusted not to make the same mistakes as Sherlock. He'd certainly been put off drugs and had no intentions of using Sherlock's decisions as a model for his own.
“I'm still having random drug tests done, be grateful you only have the e-mails to deal with,” Sherlock said. Tzophiya's snort from behind Trevelyan suggested she found the drug tests insulting. Or was annoyed that Trevelyan was only getting e-mails.
“I suspect if I lived in London, it might be different,” Trevelyan said.
“Are you going to move once you're done school?” Sherlock asked.
“I suppose I'll have to,” Trevelyan said. “Mycroft thinks I should move into the townhouse, but I'd rather have my own place.”
“Never do what Mycroft thinks you should,” Sherlock said. “It just encourages him.”
Efi giggled and Sherlock grinned.
“Do you—” Trevelyan began.
“Shhh,” Sherlock said, holding up a hand.
Trevelyan sat up straight, forgetting about Tzophiya, who flapped away from him with an annoyed cry. Efi took the opportunity to scamper back to Trevelyan, climbing to his shoulder and nuzzling his face.
“What's happening?” she asked.
“No idea,” Trevelyan said. “Something exciting, evidently.”
Sherlock made a waving gesture, implying Trevelyan should get out of his eye line. Trevelyan moved his plate and shuffled his chair to the side. Sherlock leaned forward, Tzophiya landing on his head and watching with equal interest.
Two more men had entered the restaurant and were headed for the table where the alleged research fiddler was sat. Sherlock's mouth turned up at one corner, his eyes dancing with a delight that Trevelyan felt boded ill for someone and was grateful it wasn't him for once.
“I think they're police,” Efi whispered.
“I'd say so,” Trevelyan agreed.
One of the men approached the man at the table. “Professor Mark Dryden?”
“Yes...” the man said.
“My name is Detective Inspector Patil,” the policeman said. “I'd like you to come with me, please.”
“What on earth for?” Dryden sputtered.
“We have some questions we'd like to ask, sir,” Patil said. “And they would be best asked elsewhere.”
“No,” Dryden said. “I'm not going anywhere, thank you.”
“I am giving you an option to do this in a dignified manner, sir,” Patil explained. “I suggest you cooperate.”
“I respectfully decline,” Dryden said, not very respectfully. His lizard dæmon hissed at Patil's dalmatian, who growled in reply. “If you need to speak to me, you can make an appointment through my solicitor.”
Patil sighed and nodded to the policeman with him, who stepped forward.
“Mark Dryden, I'm arresting you for fraud,” he recited. “You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
There was one moment when Trevelyan was positive Dryden's dæmon was going to lunge at the policeman's dæmon, but she restrained herself. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at him. Dryden reluctantly stood up. The policeman put his handcuffs away and the party left the restaurant without further incident, leaving the patrons to whisper and chatter in their wake.
Sherlock could not have looked happier if he'd tried. Tzophiya danced from foot to foot on his head, messing up his hair. He shooed her off, but they high-fived/winged and Tzophiya landed on his plate, her crown of feathers puffed out. Efi stuck her face in Trevelyan's collar to giggle.
“That is surprisingly satisfying,” Sherlock announced. “I love that part. It's my second favourite. Well, tied for third, definitely.” He popped the collar of his coat and stood up.
“What—where are you going?” Trevelyan asked.
“We're done here, why would we want to stay?” Sherlock asked.
“I'm still eating,” Trevelyan said.
“Oh. Right,” Sherlock plunked down in his seat again. “Are you going to be done soon?”
“Yes,” Trevelyan said.
“Are you ordering pudding?” Sherlock asked.
“I don't know,” Trevelyan said. “Are you paying for my ordering pudding?”
Sherlock and Tzophiya conferred on this. “I suppose so,” he said, in the end.
“Then I shall,” Trevelyan announced. He picked up his messenger bag and removed his laptop from it. “You can play with this while I eat.”
Sherlock accepted it and set it up. Efi went over to see that he treated it properly. “It has a password,” he said.
“I know,” Trevelyan said. “Let's see if you can break it before I've finished my cornflake sundæ.”
Sherlock was in before Trevelyan had taken his third bite of ice cream, but only berated Trevelyan's intelligence for a few minutes. Then he decided to berate his dissertation instead. Or that's what Trevelyan assumed his plan was, but Sherlock only scrolled through it with a furrowed brow, looking as though he were interested and not just trying to find something to criticize. Tzophiya cocked her head back and forth as she read.
“This is good,” Sherlock declared, very simply, when he was done.
Trevelyan felt unaccountably joyful at the glowing praise. Efi smiled at him with pride.
“Of course, you could have done something useful with your life instead of squandering your youth taking classes on things you could have easily taught yourself, and most likely did, only to write a paper that will go over the heads of the majority of people who ever read it,” Sherlock went on. “But it's good.”
“Thank you,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock closed down the laptop and leaned on his hand, drumming his fingers on the table. Trevelyan gulped down the rest of his ice cream, giving himself a brain freeze severe enough to set Efi shivering. Sherlock flagged down Allison for the bill and tossed several notes down.
“This is my card,” he told her, holding it up for a few moments before putting it away again. “You've been very useful. If you'd like to provide your services again, ring me. Or if you know of anyone who needs my services. I'm still relying on word of mouth and I know you'll remember me, at least.”
Allison smiled. “I expect most people would remember you, sir,” she said. “It's been really fun, though. Most people just want to ask me what the weather was like three weeks ago or if I remembered what I was wearing on July 7th 199whatever. Never solved a crime before. Makes me feel a little less of a freak.”
Suman bobbed his head to Tzophiya, who gave a bob in return, and Sherlock stood up and left without further comment.
“Good luck on your dissertation, love,” Allison said to Trevelyan.
“He told you about that, too?” Trevelyan asked.
“Yes, second day he came in, 11:52AM,” Allison reported. “'I have a brother here. He's working on his masters' and I said 'what in?' and he said 'I don't know, probably something to do with computers' and I said 'he must be very clever, then' and he said 'yes'.”
Trevelyan and Efi looked at each other in surprise. “That can't be right,” he said.
“It is,” Allison said. “I have a good memory.”
Trevelyan expected Sherlock to be halfway down the street by the time he exited, but he was stood outside waiting for him.
“Thank you for the meal,” Trevelyan said.
“It was good to see you again,” Trevelyan added.
Sherlock nodded. “I expect we'll see more of each other if you come to London."
“I hope not,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock laughed. “Me too.” He shifted his weight. “Are we done?”
“Yes,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock nodded, relief on his face. “Good luck with your dissertation,” he said. “Don't mess up. It'll be a proud moment for your gipsy parents if you become a doctor.”
“Yes, maybe they'll finally contact me,” Trevelyan said, with a grin.
“We could get properly rid of you and stop pretending you belong to us,” Sherlock said.
Efi crossed her fingers, making Tzophiya titter.
“Here, I'll take one of those cards,” Trevelyan said. “In case I run into a person in need of a...what are you calling yourself? Consulting Detective?”
Sherlock pulled a card from his wallet and handed it over. Trevelyan gave it to Efi, who put it in his pocket.
“I'm leaving now,” Sherlock announced. “Happy birthday.”
“Thank you,” Trevelyan said.
Efi waved to Tzophiya, who bobbed her head in return, and then Sherlock stalked away with his hands in his pockets.
“That wasn't too bad,” Efi said, optimistically.
“No, not bad at all,” Trevelyan said.
He and Efi returned home. There was guitar music coming from the living room. James, the theology student, was sat on the couch, strumming. His weasel dæmon, Ismini, was curled up on a textbook next to him, reading. She raised her head when Trevelyan came in.
“Bit early in the day for you, isn't it?” James asked.
“My brother took me for lunch for my birthday,” Trevelyan explained.
“Maior or Maximus?” James asked.
“Maior,” Trevelyan said.
James quirked half an eyebrow, an expression of intense surprise from him. “Really?”
“Yes,” Trevelyan said. “Isn't that in the Bible as a sign of the apocalypse? Somewhere after the frogs?”
“Don't spoil it, I haven't got there yet,” James said, perfectly deadpan. He frowned. “Isn't your birthday a few days from now, still?”
Trevelyan nodded. “Yes. But, with Sherlock, it's very much the thought that counts.”