I have been committing fanfic in the last fewmonths. Not that it explains my silence from this blog, but it's one of the thousands of reasons I've not written here. I've been writing elsewhere.
I'm putting here is kinda unbeta-ed.
Title: Games, and the People Who Play Them
Series: The Dancing Suite (fic one)
Fandom: Murdoch Mysteries
Rating: Teen (off-screen violence)
Summary: It's the fall of 1899. James Pendrick has been kidnapped. Can Detective William Murdoch find who took him before they both loose everything?
Note: The Dancing Suite is planned as a three part series meant as a continuation of the very engaging Dancing in the Light series by CameoSF at A03. It's probably better to have read it before reading the following, though things should be self-explanatory regardless. I found Dancing in the Light completely delightful and inspiring. I was saddened to read at the end of the fifth installment that CameoSF was "going to take a break from this series for a while. I need to catch up on canon and decide whether it's feasible to re-integrate this universe with the one in which James Gillies has become such an intriguing adversary." That was in 2014. I do not know if they are ever going to continue the series, but the way to go seemed completely obvious to me. So I wrote it. Here goes.
Just for once, I would have hoped, prayed, begged even, for a quiet Sunday. We’d needed a quiet Sunday.
Sundays were not usually busy for Station house no 4, and we were used to the relative Sabbath peace commonly falling over the neighbourhoods under our purview on the Lord’s Day. Sundays tended to be painfully boring, really. Not today, though. By the time noon had rolled around, the station had been flooded with calls about brawls, petty thefts, general disturbances and all around nuisances, all coming from Cabbagetown. It was as if the entire neighbourhood had suddenly fallen into fits of madness. I’m not prone to fanciful thoughts, but I could have almost believed these events had been orchestrated to distract the station’s constables away from our search for the Detective and Mr. Pendrick. To draw us away the Warehouse District.
Nevertheless, we’d all been brought on to bring some semblance of order to the place. Once I finally returned from a call about drunkenly behaviour, ― a rarer event in Toronto, since alcohol was not sold on the Seventh Day ― dragging my swaying and stumbling charge toward the already quite occupied cells, I hoped I could return to finding our missing Detective. I could almost hear a clock ticking at the back of my mind. One that wouldn’t quiet.
Thinking about my next actions, wondering how to narrow down my search of where the Detective and Mr. Pendrick were being held, I barely evaded colliding with Inspector Brackenreid. The latter looked irate, red staining his cheeks, and I readied myself for a scolding that never came.
“Crabtree! There you are. Who’s manning the station’s phone line right now?” he said to me, with more determination than anger. I had not expected that question.
“Sir? Huh, Miss Chapman, sir, from the Ladies’ Auxiliary. She took over for Taylor, who went to help in Cabbagetown.” The Inspector quickly pouted then. It was no secret that he and the Miss did not like each other very much. Something about Mrs. Brackenreid’s brief stint in the Temperance Society, I think.
“Right,” He then said. “Go tell her to ring every Police phone in that neighbourhood and recall all but the coppers on their regular beats. I want everyone back.”
My agreement must have shown because the Inspector cracked a rye smile. “I don’t know about you, Crabtree, but it all feels to me like we’ve been had. And we’re all happily running around like headless chickens over there, when we should be finding Murdoch.”
So I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines. It was reassuring. “Do you think, sir, that all the troubles in Cabbagetown were somehow by design?”
“Yes, I do, Crabtree. Tell me. Has there been any fires or deaths?”
“Any stabbings, shootings, attacks on women and children?”
“No, sir, though this one lady had to be taken to hospital after she was toppled by her apple cart when a brawling pair fell into it.”
“Right, exactly Crabtree. None of what’s happened around there is of any real consequence. All of those nuisances, all on a Sunday, within a two-hour period? My nose is telling me this is all a distraction.”
My nose agreed. “To prevent us from going back to Scott Street Lane...”
“Or delay us. It just doesn’t small right, Crabtree. I would bet good money that Gillies is involved. Now go.” I turned to relay the Inspector’s orders to Miss Chapman, but he held up a hand and added, “Then, come join me in Murdoch’s office.”
When I came in, minutes later, the Inspector was scribbling on the blackboard, the chalk squeaking with every upwards strike. Constable Jones was recounting every detail he remembered from last afternoon before the Detective was taken. The Inspector was asking him about sounds and smells. It was a place to start; certainly Jones hadn’t spoken about those details last night. I too thought back on it, remembering the muck as it stuck to my boots and the wet sleet on my shoulders. Detective Murdoch habitually found clues in the unlikeliest of places. He had once had Higgins and me plot a shadow on a map in an attempt to identify the location of a dog murder. True, the dog had turned out to never have died, but the truth of the matter was, with our help and the measuring of angles, we had found the scene of the would-be crime. And in the end, we had found the gas-masked terrorist, and it all had started with a shadow on a frame of film. If a sound could lead us to the Detective, I was all for it finding it.
I sat myself on Detective Murdoch’s work stool, glancing to the table for a clear corner to rest my elbow. The surface was as he’d left it, with books open and notes strewn about. He had been working on identifying the sound yesterday, had he not? Indeed, the recording cylinder with the bloody handkerchief ended with what sounded like some sort of motor. The Detective had obsessed over it to the exclusion of all else. We’d left him to it for more than an hour, there was no distracting him. Had he discovered the source before leaving for the bank yesterday? I picked a handwritten list, all but three entries crossed out.
“Sir, take a look at this.”
I’d interrupted Inspector Brackenreid but he did not seem to mind. “What have you got there?”
“Sir, these are Detective Murdoch's notes on the strange sound he was looking to identify. He was close, sir. He was looking into elevators, lifts, and warehouse cranes. Maybe if I take another listen, I could narrow it down further?”
The Inspector looked from Jones to the blackboard to me and back again, then told me it was worth a shot, since he wasn’t getting anywhere with Jones’s recollections. “Once we know what it is, we can find the kind of building Mr. Pendrick is held.” I agreed and set about to turn the phonograph, when Jones of all people had the most brilliant thought.
“I’m sorry, sir, but aren’t we going about this the wrong way? We know Detective Murdoch could not have been taken far from Scott Street Lane, right? So why don’t we look to see which buildings on the lane have an elevator, a lift or a crane? There can’t be that many, can’t they?”
And wasn’t Jones right! The Inspector grabbed both of us by the arms and pulled us back into the bullpen, calling to Higgins has we was just walking back into the station. Slapping a hand on the Might city directory left open on my desk among the insurance maps, he bellowed, “Boys, find me all buildings with elevators and such in a three block radius from where Murdoch was taken. You have an hour. I want the names of all the building owners and managers. We’ll round them up if we have to.”
For the first time in, what, twenty hours, I had hope. I gave him the happiest “yes sir” I’d spoken in days.