Hope you don’t mind a double helping of fan fiction this week! Hope you enjoy!
“Nothing,” Darrell sighed as they flopped down into the comfortable seats in the little cafe in the high street they favoured. “Not one thing; and I thought you were supposed to be good at this Julian!” she added in a teasing fashion sitting back up as David brought the tray full of cups and a tea-pot to the table.
Julian, who hadn’t flopped down quite as vigorously as the others thanks to his shoulder, was leaning forward-looking despondently at the floor.
“I’m sorry,” he said apologetically. “I really thought that would make sense as a place for someone to hide something. I clearly didn’t think things through,” he added as Darrell played mother with the tea-pot.
“Maybe we should just leave it for now,” Sally suggested as Darrell handed her a cup of tea. “I mean you are still on medication for your shoulder Julian. You can’t do everything and maybe this is one mystery you don’t need to solve. There are special people who can sort this out, that are government trained.”
There was silence once Sally had spoken. Julian wasn’t sure what to say; he wanted to act like a boy much younger and throw a tantrum. He knew he could solve this, like he had before.
Sally seemed to pick up on the quiet mutiny that was going through Julian’s head at the moment. She put her tea cup down calmly before swallowing her mouthful of tea and saying;
“Julian, you’re not fifteen anymore. This is very nearly the real world, we’re not trained to do any mystery solving and you can’t afford to miss any of your lectures to work twenty-four hours on sorting this out. It really has nothing to do with us.”
Julian stared at Sally, a little astonished at what she had just said. He fought for control over his temper. He wasn’t the one in the family to have fits of temper, his cousin George was certainly one for that, but that didn’t mean that Julian didn’t have a temper. His jaw locked as he looked at Sally, wrestling with himself over the problem.
Part of him knew that she was right, this wasn’t a problem he should be concerning himself with, and there were professionals who would be able to do a better job than him, but the younger version of himself was telling him that he was capable of solving this like he had done some many times before. The sensible part of his brain then reminded him that he had not been alone in solving those other mysteries, his brother, sister and cousin had been invaluable.
Julian very slowly put down his cup, gave one short curse nod at Sally, got up and headed out of the cafe.
“I think you just gave him one big reality check there, Sally,” Darrell said lifting her cup to her lips and raising an eyebrow at her friend.
Sally slumped back in her seat and sighed. She craned her neck around to see if she could spot Julian from where they sat. She put her cup down and went to stand up, but David’s hand was on her arm before she could even stand, pulling her back down into her seat.
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” David said kindly. “I think he needs some time alone.”
Julian wandered away from the cafe and back towards the beach. He needed some time to think about what Sally had said, take it in, run over it all in his mind. In all his years leading the Famous Five, not even Dick, his brother, had called him out on this level before.
Maybe he was just pretending that things were the same and that he could fix things like always, or maybe Sally was right, it just wasn’t feasible in the long run. He was in the adult world now.
Julian sighed as he found himself at the end of the coast line by the cathedral. The ruined castle overlooked the beach and a hollowed out swimming bath could be seen in the rocks below. It was different to the witch’s pool on the other side of the outcrop. This was more exposed, dug out of the rocks, shallower too if he was any judge.
He smiled a weak smile and supposed that this part of the beach was significantly overhung by the cliff to hide any smuggling no less than a century ago. Julian stopped in his walk and frowned, shaking his head as his mind started to run over the possibilities that they had been searching the wrong part of the coastline, but he could not shake the image of a man walking along the cliff top a few nights ago when he had taken the girls back to St Salvator’s so he and David could collect their rugby kits. What if that man had had something to do with the missing papers.
Sally’s voice kicked in at this point telling him that it could have just been a random man out there, no one they knew, just someone walking by the halls along the cliff top path.
Julian’s inner voice argued that there had been no one else around at that time. Everyone else had been keeping away from the cliff top path in that wind. Could it possibly have been someone who had been planning on stealing the professor’s papers that night?
Julian sighed and turned away from the sea; this was all getting ridiculous. There was nothing going on here that he could sort out, nothing at all.
On that rather unsettling thought, Julian turned and headed back to St Salvator’s and up to his room to do some work.
“So who do you think could have stolen those papers?” Darrell asked Sally and David as they still sat in the café, on their second pot of tea. Sally shot Darrell an exasperated look.
David sat back in his seat and shrugged. “Well Julian’s two key suspects seem to be Ainsworth and Pilkington in this,” he said mildly.
Sally kept her eyes down. She had come to the decision that not going after Julian had not been the best idea she had had. She sighed and looked up as Darrell spoke.
“I’m not entirely sure about that you know,” Darrell said in her usual forthright manner. “I mean, alright, Anthony yes, but only because whenever I see him, he’s up to something strange, but Thomas… he gives me an uneasy feeling though I’m almost convinced he’s harmless.”
David raised an eyebrow at Darrell. “They both give me an uneasy feeling,” he told her firmly. “However I get the feeling that you’re more willing to believe in Thomas not being a part of anything because he’s English,” David challenged her.
Darrell bristled as Sally shook her head. “Are you saying I’m racist?” Darrell asked David, her eyes narrowing.
“No, I’m just saying you’re being unjust,” David said pulling an unimpressed face.
“That’s the same thing surely?” Darrell asked acidly.
“Can we not start this? We are in the middle of a café for crying out loud,” Sally said lifting her head up to look at both of them.
“He started it,” Darrell told her friend, nodding at David.
“No, I think you did; asking that question!” David said rolling his eyes.
“Enough!” Sally said closing her eyes in disbelief. “This conversation stops here. I’m not having you two flying at each other’s throats. Now apologise to each other.”
Sally had said all this with such authority that Darrell and David didn’t argue with her; they shook hands almost grudgingly.
“Good. Now can we please move on to a safer subject?” Sally asked sitting back in her seat and looking around the café for inspiration.
“Do you think those papers are out of the country yet?” Darrell asked after a moment.
Sally sighed despairingly at her best friend.
“Julian doesn’t seem to think so, and there are still police around the university, so the police can’t think that the papers have left here either,” David responded.
Darrell nodded a puzzled look on her face.
David looked up at her, a frown on his face. “You look like you’ve just had an idea,” he said to her as Darrell sat back in her chair.
“Well I was just wondering, if it was a student, how would you get the papers out of the university, or even the town on the same night that the papers were stolen?” Darrell asked with a shrug.
“Post them? Hand them over to someone else to pass on?” David suggested. “I think that there might be too many options on that one.” He paused and ran over what Darrell was saying in his head.
“Are you thinking that the papers might still be somewhere in the university buildings?” David asked suspiciously. He decided against telling her that she was turning into Julian. Darrell shrugged.
“I wouldn’t like to comment either way really, but if you think about it, who would be least likely to be suspected if caught wandering around corridors in the night?” she asked airily.
“A student,” Sally said quietly. “But really Darrell, do we have to talk about this? I’m sure the police had already considered this theory.”
Darrell and David looked at each other, eyebrows raised and quarrel seemingly forgotten. Sally clearly wasn’t having anything to do with any adventures.
“What would you do with important stolen papers?” David asked after a moment, deciding that this conversation was too interesting to be dropped.
Sally rolled her eyes and got up out of seat. “I’m off,” she told the two of the firmly. “I’ve got some work to do.”
“Alright,” Darrell said looking at David who was biting his lip in embarrassment. “See you at dinner?” she asked her friend.
“Possibly,” Sally said quietly, as she pulled her coat on and headed out of the door.
“Should I have not said anything?” David asked Darrell as the door closed behind Sally.
“Hard to tell,” Darrell told David, moving seats so she was now sitting directly opposite to him. “I think she’s more upset over the Julian thing than she actually is over us discussing the missing papers. I mean she’s been in a rather strange mood all day, so I’m not really sure, but I think she is more into Julian than she cares to think about, so that is beginning to take an effect I think,” Darrell explained carefully. She looked at David as he poured her another tea.
“I’m sure she’ll be more than fine,” David said soothingly to Darrell, who looked up and smiled at him as the door opened again, blowing a gust of cold wind over them. Darrell wasn’t going to turn around until she heard a familiar voice.
“Hullo Alicia!” Darrell said, turning around in her seat and spotting Alicia and Betty with Thomas Ainsworth and one of his friends. Darrell looked quickly over her shoulder at David who looked less than impressed.
“Hello Darrell!” Alicia said happily, trotting over to where Darrell was sitting and giving her a hug by perching on the back of the sofa. “Where’s Sally?” Alicia asked, having to refrain from asking after Sally as ‘the bore’.
“She’s just gone for a walk,” Darrell said partly telling Alicia the truth. She wished that Sally and Alicia could get on better. It was very hard for her to be in the middle of their little power struggle that they always appeared to be having. Alicia nodded, and then she seemed to remember that she had people with her. Betty moved forward and gave Darrell a polite grin as Alicia turned to their male companions.
“Darrell, this is Tom, and James,” Alicia said waving her hand in the direction of the two boys.
“We’ve met,” said Thomas with a self-satisfied smirk on his face that David wished he had a reason to wipe off. Alicia was fairly surprised, but she rallied quite well.
“Well that’s good to know,” she said sitting down next to Darrell.
“Tom’s just been telling us what he does in his physics class,” Alicia continued. “Jolly interesting, even though I don’t understand half of what he’s going on about.”
Ainsworth laughed and sat down in the chair that Darrell had recently vacated. Only then did he fix his gaze on David.
“Hello there Morton,” Ainsworth said, a smirk on his face. “Didn’t see you there; Kirrin not with you?” he added reclining back in the chair. Darrell was watching David’s face as Alicia tried to keep her attention by chattering endlessly about what few lectures she had been to.
“No. He’s not feeling too good at the moment. A dislocated shoulder isn’t the most comfortable of injuries you know,” David said, this tone thick with politeness. Ainsworth smirked again.
“Oh well, bad thing that, I didn’t realise I tackled him that hard,” the infuriating man said with an air of arrogance. James, his friend, sniggered.
“Well let’s hope you didn’t waste all your energy on him during practice, there is a game in a few days,” David said bitingly.
“You sound like you’re upset, Morton,” Ainsworth said, clearly enjoying the game he was playing with David.
“Not upset, slightly annoyed. Any man worth his salt would have apologised by now,” David said his face shutting off all emotion. He didn’t dare give Ainsworth anymore ammunition than he already had. Ainsworth was high enough up the cast ladder to manage this comment with a face full of good grace.
“I will when I see him, I can’t go running around campus looking for him, that would just be silly,” Ainsworth said, his eyes not quite hiding his annoyance at being berated by the younger boy. Behind him, James cracked his knuckles.
“Glad to hear it,” David said, leaning back in his seat, hands behind his head. Ainsworth scowled and got up.
“Can I get anyone a drink?” he asked everyone very politely, but with his back to David as if to make sure that he knew he wasn’t included in the invitation. Alicia and Betty accepted the offer, though Darrell declined, pointing out that she was still finishing her tea from before.
“So what do you two think to these stolen papers?” Betty asked as Thomas and James went to the counter to order drinks.
“We were just discussing that,” Darrell said carefully.
“I don’t think that anyone has stopped talking about it,” said Betty earnestly. “It’s the talk of the whole university. I mean just fancy, getting important papers stolen from right under your very nose.”
“I thought the papers were in the professor’s office?” Darrell asked looking at David.
“Well yes, they were apparently,” said Thomas coming back to the table and putting the drinks down.
“So they weren’t exactly stolen from under his nose then,” Darrell pointed out to Betty, who shrugged.
“Same difference I should think. Losing important papers is losing important papers,” Alicia chimed in shrugging.
“Where would you hide them if you had stolen them?” Alicia added before anyone could speak. “I’d probably hide them on the back of the mirror in my room. Just like in that Hercule Poriot book, where the batty old lady hides her confession letter behind the mirror. What about you Tom?” Alicia asked Ainsworth. Ainsworth smiled at her.
“Now that would be telling surely?” he asked with a laugh. “But I’d probably hide them in plain sight,” he shrugged.
“How do you mean?” Darrell asked quickly, looking a little puzzled.
“Well you know, behind a framed document, or in a book, somewhere that didn’t command too much attention,” Ainsworth said, flashing her a bright smile.
“How would you do it Darrell?” Ainsworth asked her a second later. There was a strange look in his eyes that was guarded and his tone wasn’t as light as Darrell would have expected.
There was something about the way he was asking her that sent a shiver down her spine. Her hands twisted in her lap as she realised how dangerous this man could potentially be. There was something cruel about him and the way he was acting. She had noticed the stand offish way that he had spoken to David and the clear dislike he had radiated. Ainsworth was clearly not as nice as he wanted people to believe that he was; the act was beginning to falter. Darrell didn’t like people who were less than they seemed; they always gave her a nasty feeling.
Darrell faltered; she was an incredibly descent person and it hadn’t even crossed her mind on how she would have disposed of important papers should she be the robber.
“I expect Darrell could come up with a suitably creative way of disposing of papers. She’s got a terrific imagination,” Alicia jumped in as Darrell looked awkward. “She wrote the entire pantomime for our fifth form performance.” Darrell blushed at Alicia’s words of praise.
“So do you want to be an author when you graduate then, Darrell?” Ainsworth asked as his friend sniggered.
David sat and listened to the conversation flow for a short while, aware that the two other boys and Betty and Alicia weren’t very keen on him joining in the conversation. When he made a move to get going Darrell sent him a strangely pleadingly look that surprised him. She didn’t seem to want to be left alone. The six of them sat in the cafe for at least another hour before the boys made excuses and left. David watched them go, arms folded, watching them leave before he sat forward and touched Darrell on the arm to get her attention.
“I think it might be a good idea if I go and check on Julian,” he said meaningfully when Darrell paused in her conversation with Alicia and Betty. Darrell looked at him and nodded.
“I should probably find out where Sally’s got to as well,” Darrell said quietly, turning and smiling to Alicia and Betty. “I should get going. We have to have tea sometime,” she added as she stood up and collected her belongings. David nodded his goodbyes to Alicia and Betty and then accompanied Darrell outside.
“You didn’t have to leave your friends,” David said as they walked away from the cafe in the growing darkness. Darrell didn’t say anything as they headed towards the boys’ halls. When they were far enough away from the cafe and in a relatively quiet part of the town, Darrell put her hand on David’s arm, making him stop.
“What is the matter Darrell?” David asked looking at her drawn face. He grasped the hand that was on his arm and steered her towards a low wall for her to sit down. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Darrell looked up at him and managed a small weak smile.
“I was just thinking how naive I’ve been in regards to Ainsworth,” Darrell said in a strange hoarse voice. “When we were in the cafe, the way he was looking at me, and talking…” She faltered and looked up at David, who was still standing. “He gave me this horrible feeling.”
David put his hands on her shoulders and crouched down in front of her.
“Yes, well, people aren’t always as pleasant as they seem at first,” he said giving her shoulders a little comforting squeeze. “Don’t worry. I would say that he still quite likes you. It’s Julian and I that he seems to have a grudge against for some reason.” Darrell managed to smile.
“Where do you think Sally and Julian may have wandered off to then?” David asked a second later, sitting down on the wall next to her.
Darrell shrugged and said in all honestly; “They could be anywhere. I suspect that Sally went looking for Julian, but where Julian is, I don’t think I could tell you. I’m no mind reader after all.”
David chuckled. “I think I might be able to guess where Julian is,” he said after a moment’s thought. “He’s probably gone back to St Salvator’s. We’ve got a fair bit of work to do at the moment and Sally’s little outburst probably reminded him of that,” he said fairly. He looked at Darrell and smiled.
“You never know, Julian might be doing some work so he can go sniffing after that adventure,” Darrell said with a chuckle as they started walking along the high street.
“You think Sally may have gone back to campus?” David asked Darrell as they walked.
Darrell shrugged. “It is fairly likely,” she said quietly.