The Transparent Translucent

I have so much to blog about, but shitty internet and worse time. Anyway, I spent a few hours writing another fanfic for EmEfferson’s show, so I’m dropping the text here. Hope to update the blog with HOLY SHIT EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENED soonish, but no promises. Anyway, the prompts I used for this were Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Deadwood, Swearengen unable to cuss, an albino, and Sherlock and Bullock rubbing elbows. Enjoy

The Transparent Translucent

“I still don’t understand why we’re going to Deadwood,” Watson said, for the millionth time since setting out on the trail. Sherlock shifted in the saddle and shook his long black locks out of his face.

“I told you, my dear man- there’s been a murder.”

“Yes, but there’s always a murder somewhere, and you rarely take cases based on there just being a murder somewhere.” The journey was clearly wearing on Watson and his displeasure manifested as aggravation at the case in its entirety. Sherlock, being Sherlock, cared not, and merely dug his heels in a bit harder.

“Truly, Watson, in a town with no law at all, should we even be concerned with murder? Yet here we are, coming in to solve what isn’t even a crime yet, merely because the solicitor thought to mention an ill-timed Albino.” Sherlock stared thoughtfully at the town in the valley below, hardly noticing Watson stopping dead in his tracks.

“An albino? Seriously, Holmes, we can all this way for an albino?” Watson tried to turn back on the trail, but Sherlock instead spurred his mount farther down the trail, starting the descent into town.

                “And a murder, my friend,” he said as he lazily played with the horse’s mane. “And a murder.”

Underneath the hand-lettered name plate for the bar and brothel, letters like monoliths stretching high above the town, declaring to all near and far that yes, they had found the infamous Gem Saloon, hung a smaller, more recent sign. With painstaking effort, a hand had announced by signage that The Gem was cleaner, more proper, and more family friendly than ever before. After that, it announced that cursing before 11PM within its doors would be fined drastically, and all pussy sales would be handled upstairs, in the office labeled, “Pussy Affairs”. Watson balked underneath it, and glared at Sherlock.

“What have you gotten us into?” he growled. Sherlock patted him on the back and beamed.

“A brothel, apparently!”

They didn’t have to wait long for their employer and the proprietor to come downstairs. He wore an old grey pin-striped suit sans jackets and its age showed on every seam, every button, and through the worn elbows. Sherlock was busy downing shots as fast as the half-dressed woman behind the bar could pour them, and missed the Brit coming down the stairs due to his quizzing of the woman about her past. When the man started yelling, however, Sherlock snapped to, downed his last shot and spun around.

“Is that a horse? At my bar? What co…rpse sucker thought they could bring a god darned horse to my mother fuuuu…udging bar?” If the horse in the Saloon flustered the man, his self-imposed rules about language down right infuriated him. Sherlock took note of a glass jar to his left, three quarters full of small coin and labeled “curse jar”, and rightfully assumed the man before him had been responsible for filling it.

As he stepped forward to introduce himself, he took in everything else before him. Although the jar prohibited cursing, the blond tending the bar was one good laugh away from exposing herself. The owner’s shirt was worn in the middle from years of leaning across the bar to fill drinks, as well as the toes of his shoes scuffed from bumping the rough wood. His suit spoke of class, yet the style was out of date by five or six years. His slick hair and neatly manicured nails conflicted with his the steel in his eyes and dirt trapped in his pocket watch chain. Sherlock extended his hand.

“Ah, you must be the gentleman who penned me such a captivating letter. Let me introduce myself. I am one Sherlock Holmes and I have come to solve the murder of the widow Garret.” Sherlock, clearly titillated by the whole of the Gem and the case before him, grinned madly again as he waited for the handshake. Instead, the man stepped inches away from his face and swung his hand up to point at Watson.

“I don’t give two shhh…ootings who the ffuuun you are. I asked you why the fuuuuzz there is a horse in my place of business.” Fire flared in the man’s eyes and Sherlock glanced over his shoulder.

“That is my associate, close friend and assistant, Dr. John Watson.” Sherlock put a hand on Watson’s shoulder to drive the point home while his employer’s jaw hit the floor.

“I thought you were supposed to be some sort of god damp freaky genius,” he muttered.

“Perhaps I should wait outside,” Watson whispered to Sherlock, “I seem to upset him.”

“I think you are right, that would be for the best,” Sherlock answered, and called out to the whore behind the bar. “My lady, would you be a dear and open the doors for my friend?” he asked before turning back to the bar’s owner. “Now that that’s settled, shall we have a seat and you can tell me of your troubles?”

The man watched Watson step outside, shaking his head as if to clear the shock from it. Turning back to Sherlock, he eyed him up and down before shaking his head.

“No, we shan’t,” he said, mocking Sherlock’s accent. “Not until you prove it.”

“Are you sure?” Sherlock asked.

“Do it, or you can go fuuulcrum off on the horse you rode in on.”

“Alright,” Sherlock began, “both your demeanor and your forcefulness suggest being powerless in the past, perhaps in a boy’s home or orphanage, taken advantage of at a young age. Between that and the associated poverty, you keep the upper hand and always want to at least look like you have money, which brings us to the suit. It suggests that at least, at some point, you had the means to buy such a piece. You continue to wear it because even old, worn and faded, it is still better than anything most other Deadwood residents could ever afford. You tend bar often yourself, probably to keep an ear to the ground and an eye on the herd. You’ve even been scrubbing floors recently yourself, as there’s still dirt and floor wax in your pocket watch chain.

“It’s important to you to be important. Hence the bar. Hence the large signs and balcony overlooking the little people on the street. You are a staple in Deadwood but you haven’t left, not even to get another suit as that one turns to thread, which tells me you can’t travel to anywhere with legitimate rule of law and possibly…wanted posters?” Sherlock took a breath to continue but the man nodded and stole his hand to shake with a laugh, although his eyes remained cold.

“Very good, Mr. Sherlock, almost entirely spot on. My name is Al Swearengen, and The Gem is my home, my business, my whiskey and my pussy.”

                “So very nice to meet you. Now, tell me about this murder, as I am most anxious to meet the albino.”

“Why was Garret important?” Watson asked as they walked to the temporary jail Swearengen had commissioned.

“She’s from a very prestigious family and her husband left her a very, very rich gold claim when he passed. With her profit, she opened the only bank in Deadwood,” Sherlock said, filling his associate in on the conversation that had happened while he’d waited outside.

“And what happened to her?”

“They’re not very sure,” Sherlock said, “but they found her in the creek the day after the albino wandered in to Deadwood. They found the bank’s ledger and the widow’s hair pins on the albino, yet she claims to have a solid alibi she won’t disclose.”

“And we’re going to…” Watson left the questions open so Sherlock could finish it off for him.

“…talk to the albino for information,” Sherlock obliged.

“Really, I think you just want to ogle an albino,” Watson said, clearly torn between being absolutely annoyed and entirely amused. Sherlock answered by pushing him in the shoulder.

“You’re so immature Watson. That’s surely no more than sixty percent of the reason I accepted this job.”

The man guarding the cell stood as they approached, and Sherlock faltered in his step. As they stared at each other, he felt his heart both speed up and stop, his blood fill and drain. The man whose hawk-like gaze he held was tall and lean, all sharp angles and tantalizing features. His black suit and duster fit his frame like the clothes begged to be worn by him. Black molded felt sat atop his head, shaped in the customary fashion, shading his face from the harsh light and keeping his shaggy black hair captured and under order. The albino was entirely forgotten as Sherlock nervously licked his lips, unable to tear his gaze away.

“Shut your mouth before you catch a fly,” Watson muttered under his breath, and it seemed to snap Sherlock out of it, at least a little.

“I’m…umm…Sherlock,” he finally managed, wiping his suddenly slick palm against his vest before offering it to the man in black.

The man took a long measured looked at Sherlock before accepting his hand. As the man’s gaze roamed, Sherlock fought desperately to use his powers of deduction to understand this man before him, this mystery that had him star struck, but thinking through this haze was like trying to walk through waist-deep sludge. When the man finally took his hand, he finally gave up the fight and just enjoyed the sudden stillness in his mind.

“I’m Seth Bullock,” the man said, giving his hand one firm pump. His voice was low and gravelly, matching his callused hands. Sherlock couldn’t help but wonder how those hands would feel running across his bare…

No. It wasn’t the time for such things. Sherlock cleared his throat and nodded once.

“And this is my associate Watson. We’re here to question the Albino.”

“The horse?” Bullock asked, pointing at Watson. Sherlock ignored the question.

“Have you any compunctions with us interviewing your prisoner…hostage…I’m not really sure what she’d be without having any laws dictating the handling of such matters.” As he spoke, Sherlock stared decidedly over Bullock’s shoulder, afraid to meet his eyes for fear he wouldn’t be able to continue.

“No, go right ahead,” Bullock said, stepping aside for the pair. Sherlock almost stumbled going through the door, however, as Bullock ran his hand down his back as he passed.

The thoughts that Bullock was able to banish from his mind came racing back as he laid eyes on the albino. Her skin was alabaster white and looked soft as snow, and her hair was nearly translucent. The only true colors to grace her physique were bruises, so dark they seemed unreal set against  her pale skin.

“That wasn’t me,” Bullock said from behind him, laying a hand on his shoulder. “That’s Swearengen’s handy work. He’s the one that found her with Alma-Ms. Garret’s-hair pin and ledger.” Bullock gave his shoulder a squeeze and dropped his hand. Sherlock noted the change in his tone as he mentioned the recently late widow, as if he hurt more than one should at the passing of a mere associate.

Sherlock turned back to Bullock, fighting to not gently stroke the hurting man’s face.

“It seems as if this widow meant a great deal to you. Mayhaps we should retire to your residence and you can tell me about her?” Sherlock had his best poker face on, giving nothing away as Bullock’s eyes roamed his face, searching for Sherlock’s true intent. He swallowed hard.

“I thought you wanted to interview the Albino?” he finally choked out. Sherlock dismissed the battered woman behind him with a wave of his hand.

“We’ll let Watson interview her,” he said, never looking away from Bullock.

“What if I miss something?” Watson protested. “What if she won’t talk to me?”

“Stop your whining,” Sherlock scolded, glaring at Watson. “Use your deduction, figure out how she knew the widow.” Bullock glanced curiously at Watson but said nothing, instead meeting Sherlock’s eye as he turned back to him.

“I’ll go…interview…Mr. Bullock…”

“Seth,” Bullock interrupted.

“…Seth, then,” Sherlock said with a smile. “I’ll be back shortly. Or not.” Sherlock winked at Bullock then took his arm to leave.

“I can’t believe you,” Watson said with a sigh as he stepped up to the cell.

“Look, just get the story and I’ll buy you a row at Swearengen’s later,” Sherlock called over his shoulder, then leaned into Bullock’s ear. “Maybe we could get a bottle of that whiskey before we conduct our…interview?” he asked.

                “I think that would definitely ease the pain of …Alma’s passing,” Bullock said, and they set off down the road.

Watson had no luck getting the Albino’s story. In fact, he couldn’t even get the woman to divulge her name to him. No matter how much he kicked and stomped, and whatever he threatened, she wouldn’t budge. The woman was a veritable mountain when it came to unflappable resolve, and he could get nothing from her. After hours of endless questioning, playing nice, playing cruel, threatening and promising, Watson gave up.

The evening grew long, and the shadows stretched to swallow the town into night. Sherlock did not reappear, so Watson stood in the doorway and watched the hoopleheads, prostitutes and store owners travel through the streets, their work day done and looking for supplies and good time about town. After so long, however, even they thinned and disappeared entirely until it was Watson, a sleeping albino, and the stars above. Watson lay as best he could and watched the roads and stars, waiting for his friend to return.

Watson had just drifted off when Sherlock shook him awake.

“Watson, dear Watson-wake up, my man. It is time we leave.” Sherlock had a hand on his neck and jostled him until he opened his eyes.

“Where were you?” Watson asked. “The albino told me nothing and I have no leads, and then you left me here for hours amongst these thieves and ruffians while you were off gallivanting with the make-shift sheriff.”

Sherlock, however, was paying him no mind. Instead he was waking the albino, introducing himself, handing her a letter and speaking with her in hushed tones. He left the cell door ajar as he left and jumped up on his mount.

“Let’s leave this town, Watson, and in a hurry.”

“But the case?” Watson asked as he made his way down the muddy road, the sucking of the mud as he stepped the only sounds in the still night. “What of the murder?”

“That was solved before we even set out for Deadwood, Watson. The barkeep, Swearengen, is clearly to blame.”

“But he hired us!” Watson protested. “Why would he call in the one man who could solve the crime if he’s the criminal?”

“Elementary, my dear Watson. Our late widow Garret was well connected, namely with the Pinkertons. If they were to get involved, things would end most terribly for our dear employer. However, as there is no law in Deadwood, having the case solved before they could be contacted would both keep them out and keep him alive, even though he’s the murderer.”

“When did you know he did it?” Watson asked.

“When I read his telegram,” Sherlock said.

“Why did he kill the widow?”

“Do you even have your eyes open?” Sherlock asked in return, annoyed. “Did you see the state of the Gem? He was clearly underwater to Miss Garret’s bank. The albino was a red herring..heh…and a way for Swearengen to return the bank’s ledger without being a suspect. He merely changed his account to paid in full to keep his saloon and brothel.”

“What of the albino’s alibi?” Watson asked.

“Oh yes!” Sherlock said, clearly amused. “She disclosed it to me moments ago under oath of secrecy. However, I know you will never tell anyone. The albino had travelled to Deadwood after penning multiple letters to a colorful local, Calamity Jane, and feels they are madly in love, destined to be together forever!”

“So I understand the murder,” Watson said, “and I understand your midnight walk of shame. But I really must ask. Why did you bother with the saddle?”

Sherlock wrinkled his brow and cocked his head, trying to grasp where Watson was heading.

“What was that?”

“I just wanted to know why you bothered with the saddle, when you’re clearly a fan of bareback.”

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