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Snapping His Superfingers At All Man’s Trumpery Ideals

Megan wasn't sure why they were at the Tower of Fortune, but she'd long since learned not to argue when she saw that particularly grim and determined look on Watson's face.

The elderly Mr. Minamoto, resplendent in his Chinese garb, opened the door and smiled benificently at them both. "May I help you?" Then his gaze focused more tightly on Watson. "Ms. Holmes! It is a pleasure to see you again."

"Thank you, Minamoto-san," Watson said. "I was wondering if your employer might have a few moments to talk to me."

He studied her for a moment, then said, "My esteemed employer's consulting hours just finished, but I expect that he could be convinced to speak to such an eminent detective." He motioned them into the house, and said, over his shoulder, "Besides, I can hold his tea hostage until he does."

"Much appreciated," Watson said, winking back at Megan.

Megan tried to move quietly, but the walking cast was quite substantial, both with its own weight and the weight of the electrical stimulation unit that Professor Canis had sent her. So she clomped in a subdued fashion, and most of the noise was consumed by the Persian carpets. Unfortunately, she forgot to duck her head and so set the crystal chandelier ringing energetically. She tried desperately to quiet all the component parts with her big hands while Watson and Mr. Minamoto watched her, amused expressions on both their faces.

"Sorry," Megan mumbled.

Mr. Minamoto shook his head, shrugged (as if to say, "Not my place, don't much care"), and led them slowly up the blindingly white marble staircase. At the top, he tapped on the brass panel on the massive carved wooden door. As before, Megan could hear a pleasant chime in the room beyond.

The plate glowed and the door unlatched, and Mr. Minamoto bowed them through, retreating down the stairs before his employer could notice that he had more guests, not his tea tray.

Megan had decided since her last trip here that Professor Fortune looked rather like a 1970s troll doll, with crazy white tufts of hair and a round belly. The only differences were the little round gold glasses and the expensive silk suits he tended to wear under his gold-embroidered royal blue cloak of office. She had to give him credit: he only looked surprised for a fraction of a second, and if she hadn't been watching for it, she'd've missed it.

"Ah, ladies," he said genially. "Ms. Holmes, Ms. Amazon, what a pleasant surprise."

"I expect so," Watson said.

He looked like the failed pleasantry exchange put him slightly off-balance. "What can I do for you today?"

Watson smiled in a way that Megan could read as predatory, and said, "Tell me, Professor, when did you acquire the Marshall Building?"

Professor Fortune looked perplexed. "I'm... not sure what building you're asking about. I've owned a lot of real estate in the area."

"The Marshall Building," Watson said, "where an unidentified young woman's body was found last summer, just before demolition of the building."

"Ah, that," he said, apparently on firmer ground. "Sad case that, sad case."

"I understand you attempted to determine her identity?" Watson said.

"Yes," he said, sighing, "yes, I did. There just wasn't enough aura left to her for identification."

"It's a shame you didn't decide to share her identity then," Watson said, ambling around the room, examining items on some of the shelves and tables. "It might have given her sister some relief. Sadly, her sister passed away early this year."

"What... do you mean by this?" the Professor said, turning on the spot to keep Watson in view.

"I mean, Professor," Watson said, "that you knew who she was all along, didn't you?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said.

"No?" Watson pulled a volume off a shelf and flipped through it. "Isabelle Pierce. She was a young para woman who had lived in the Marshall Buildling. But she went missing during World War II, during the summer of 1943."

"Well, that's nothing less than I'd expect from one of our greater detectives," Fortune said, his face tightening into a mask.

"She'd been partly merged with the stone by someone who had the power to turn insubstantial. Interestingly," Watson continued, turning the book to better see something on a page, "there is no record of any para with the power of insubstantiality being present in Wonder City -- or, in fact, on the Eastern seaboard -- during the summer of 1943. All of them had been drafted and were fighting overseas."

"Fascinating," Fortune said, still watching her.

Watson reshelved the book and turned to face him. "No, really, Professor, what is really fascinating are multiple accounts of you being able to turn yourself and others insubstantial. Accounts that ceased to appear in any newspapers or para diaries after the summer of 1943."

Fortune stood very still, very straight, his hands clasped behind his back. "What are you suggesting, Ms. Holmes?"

"I suggest, Professor," said Watson, striding slowly closer to the man, "that you purchased the Marshall Building in early 1943, according to city records, in advance of the completely premeditated murder of Isabelle Pierce by means of your spell of insubstantiality. As building owner, you then had authority to brick up that particular portion of the basement so that her body would not be found until the building was demolished. A demolition you ordered last year, to take place after an architectural review you also ordered." When she finished, she stood very nearly nose-to-nose with him, both unflinching.

"You do your parents credit, Ms. Holmes," Professor Fortune said.

"Thank you," Watson said without an ounce of sincerity. "The thing of it is, Professor, I can't determine a motive. Would you care to enlighten me?"

"To save the world, of course," Fortune said, drawing himself up to his full height so he could look down at Watson. "You saw it in action yourself. The girl was a key player in stopping the machine that would have ended the world as we knew it."

"So you committed cold-blooded murder 67 years ago?" Watson said, honestly appalled. "Because you foresaw that she would be important in saving the world?"

"I would do it for nothing less," Fortune said haughtily.

"You know what?" Watson said, looking at him over her glasses. "I don't think that's nearly good enough reason. You murdered one woman and nearly caused another one to lose her life."

"And what do you propose to do about it, Watson Holmes?" Professor Fortune asked, smiling. "Denounce me in public? Call the police? You have no proof."

"I have your confession," Watson said.

"Hearsay," he said with a snort.

"In front of a witness," Watson said.

He glanced over his shoulder at Megan and visibly dismissed her. "Is that all? In the end, it's none of your business, Holmes."

Watson laughed. "'It's every man's business to see justice done,'" she said, in such a way that Megan knew she was quoting. "And every woman's too." Watson gave a little smile and walked past him to the door, gathering Megan to her side with a glance.

As Watson reached the door, Professor Fortune said, "I could burn you both down where you stand," his voice trembling only slightly.

"But you won't," Watson said, opening the door and gesturing Megan through. "Because I didn't need the legal sort proof to suggest reasonable doubt to Carolus Lew, Deliria, the Outsider, the Equestrian, Lady Klotild, or Madame Destiny." She shot him a winning smile. "And I understand that the Mystikai have their own form of determining guilt, and their own form of justice, which is probably more appropriate to this situation than the mundane sort anyway. Have a nice day, Professor." And she pulled the door shut after her.


Note from the Author:

I admit to a small amount of cheating in the style of Doyle to keep quite all the pieces of this mystery from you, though I did give you a few breadcrumbs. Sorry 'bout that. But Watson insisted. :)

Let's stay up high! Vote for WCS!

Date: 2012-01-29 12:58 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
I approve of anything done in the style of Doyle. :)


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