It was a stormy night on Baker Street. Dawson was sitting in his chair, finishing up his account of their first case together, and the end of the Napoleon of crime.
"Basil, I say... Are you quite alright?" He asked, curious and quite concerned, "You've been acting strangely ever since we managed to put an end to Ratigan's scheme?"
The detective glanced up distractedly, "What was that, old chap?" He asked, seeming not to have heard a word Dawson was saying. Then, slowly, he nodded, "Yes, yes... Quite alright." He murmured, eyes returning to the fire dejectedly.
Despite his words the doctor noticed he did not look 'fine' in the least. "Basil, I know you better than that." He asserted, setting his journal aside, "You're, dare I say it, bored. You almost regret having finally stopped him, because you miss the thrill of the chase."
Basil managed a slight smile in response, "Perhaps so, Dawson, Perhaps so..." He offered, eyes returning to the fireplace. This time settling on the mantle, and the portrait of his old nemesis which sat there. Dawson stood, laying a paw on his friend's shoulder with a smile. "Don't worry, Basil, something will come up soon."
As if on cue there was a knock at the door and Dawson's eyebrows raised slightly, "Now who could that be at this hour, and in this weather?" He wondered, opening the door to find no one around. Confused he glanced about, noticing a package on the doorstep.
"Basil... It's addressed to you."
"What?" Basil asked, ears pricking as he glanced up at the revelation, "Well, let's see then.
Coming over he took the package, examining it closely for several moments before a puzzled expression settled across his features. "How very curious... And yet, there seems nothing sinister to it..." He noted, exchanging a curious glance with his companion. With a shrug he began carefully unwrapping the small parcel.
The parcel's contents were shocking to say the least; plans, pictures, sketches. All containing that familiar flair of Ratigan's to Basil's trained eye. Warnings that the rat had survived the fall, and was plotting something new... Dawson blinked, sinking into his chair, "My word... Basil, do you think this could be... Real?" He asked, looking to his colleague and friend with wide eyes.
The detective's expression was grim as he studied the items, "I have no doubt they could be, Dawson." He asserted, snatching up his pipe, "The question, doctor, is rather; is it real?" With that he began puffing at his briarwood, sending clouds toward the ceiling as he paced.
Suddenly he froze, "A note was tucked within the package." The tone was at once demanding and curious, and Dawson obligingly collected the letter as his friend began pacing once more.
For years I have followed your work. I do not intend to sound sinister, I assure you I am not. I have my own reasons for, to put it in a ladylike manner... disliking the Professor.
I have however found a way to help you catch the, as I believe you call him, "Napoleon of Crime". I am working undercover, as one of his 'ruffians', and will leave you clues such as this package whenever I am able.
I hope to get the chance to meet you in person at some point,
It would be a pleasure and an honor,
He blinked as he finished, unable to hide a bit of a smile, "What an extraordinary lady, if she's being truthful with us..."
Basil remained quiet; he had stopped pacing but was puffing away at his pipe like a steam engine. "If she is being truthful with us," He began testily, "Then this... 'Raven' is taking some extraordinary risks, doctor." He snapped, snatching up the plans and pinning them to a wall. Dawson noted, beneath the harsh tone, a touch of admiration in his friend's voice and a small smile played across his face. He wondered what would become of this.
Dawson moved to join him when he heard a frustrated squeak, "I wonder..." He murmured, "Basil, did you hear that? I believe someone is out there, stuck by the sound of that squeak..."
Basil's ears also twitched, and he glanced toward the door, "One way to find out, old boy!" And with a grin he darted outside...
"Blast! Of all the times... for this to happen." A feminine voice hissed over the storm, causing Basil to look up. He was startled to see a mouse above his head, her long brown coat tangled amongst the bushes. Her features were hidden beneath a hat and dark glasses.
"I should quite like to know how you got up there, my dear." He noted as the doctor joined him also stunned by their guest's predicament, "But perhaps that should wait until we get you down, hmm, Miss Raven?"
The detective then scrambled up the branches like a monkey, settling above her and untangling her coattails as Dawson looked on.
"Ah, Saints preserve us; I was hopin' to build up a bit of mystery about me before we met." She said, dropping down to land beside Dawson. "But, ah well. Thank ye." She added, smiling at him. Basil chuckled lightly, hiding it with a cough as he made his way out of the bushes. "Quite alright, Miss Raven. Though I must say you have a knack for getting yourself into, "he paused, leaping the last few inches, "Interesting predicaments."
She chuckled in response, "I suppose the name isn't needed any longer... Well, at least not while I'm away from that dratted sewer rat. I'm El Vira Cromwell, and please, call me Vira."
Basil nodded, studying her intently, "Very well, Miss Vira. And, if I may, I can't say that playing such games with mice as dangerous as Ratigan is wise." He cleared his throat again, "Erm, and just a thought, you could have done better with a simple dress." He explained, "The glasses at night are rather conspicuous." He added, a touch of humor entering his voice. The detective's concern however did not escape his closest friend.
"Please, no need for the formality. Vira is fine." She offered with a smile, holding a paw out to him. "Though I wish circumstances were better, it's still quite a pleasure to meet you, Basil." He hesitated a split second before taking her paw. "... Vira then." He agreed slowly, "The pleasure is mine."
With a slight nod she continued, "And, aye... perhaps I could 'ave gone without the glasses and such. The coat was however more to protect the package and its contents rather than a disguise itself." Reaching up she removed the glasses, revealing a pair of brilliant sapphire eyes which seemed to glimmer in the faint moonlight.
Realizing he was staring rather rudely Basil cleared his throat once more, a paw going to the back of his neck. For a moment he was confused as he realized his fur was soaked, and then a droplet fell onto his head, reminding him how wet it was even beneath the bushes. "Ah-hmm, yes. Well perhaps we should head inside, before we get completely drenched?" He suggested.
"If you don't mind my asking, how exactly does an upstanding mouse like yourself come to work for a fiend like Ratigan?" He added, heading toward the door.
Vira nodded following the other mice, "Well to put it simply I was by the river when he fell, and saw him climbing out. I knew he would be making a comeback, and trying to come after you. That was when I realized, he doesn't know me. I could find a way into 'is gang, and go undercover so I could gather information and warn you." She explained, "And...To be honest... I'm not all that, 'upstanding'. I work in a small restaurant and live in a little flat, nothing fancy."
Dawson smiled, "I must say, you have extraordinary bravery, to go undercover like that. Might I ask how you came to gain his trust?"
"Well to say the least, it wasn't easy... and I admit I said a few things I'm far from proud of. Thankfully he didn't make me commit any crimes. I, ah... You could say I created a 'criminal record' for 'the Raven'... to help convince him."
Basil gave her a look, "Created a criminal record?" He echoed, wringing out his hat and coat before reaching out to take those of his guest. Vira nodded her thanks, handing him her hat and coat to reveal long hair the color of a raven's feathers, and a short black dress that seemed to have seen better days. Explaining she had come straight from Ratigan's lair with a nervous chuckle. "And precisely how did you do that? Ratigan will double check anything you've told him, Vira. You could be in quite a lot of danger." He stated severely as Dawson joined them. "He may be a fiend, but the rat is no fool, and he would not hesitate to harm anyone who stood in his way."
"Some old friends back in Ireland found out the reason they were criminals in the first place with a bit of re-search. I had managed to help them get out of it before they got in too far. So with a few telegraphs I became... and the name was far from my idea... 'The Irish Bandit'."
Basil turned away suddenly, disappearing into a small door at the back of the room. "A moment, if you please." He called over his shoulder. The soft tinkling of glass sounded from behind the door, causing Dawson and Vira to exchange a bewildered glance as Basil returned, a tea tray in his paws. The detective merely raised an eyebrow at the duo's expressions, "Come, come. Sit. There is really no point in us all standing about when there are so many seats about!" He laughed, offering each a steaming cup in turn.
"Now, pray continue, Vira." He offered, stirring some milk into his tea. She nodded, sipping at her own carefully, "The name was actually my old friend Dublin's, from when we were in school. It was, ah... an... interesting time." She added, laughing a bit at the memories. Basil seemed even more curious with her reply, but sipped at his brew thoughtfully for several moments before saying anything.
"It seems that you have quite the interesting story, Vira." He noted finally, "Old criminal friends whom you helped reform, a talent for espionage, the courage to stand up to Ratigan, and, perhaps, the cunning required to do so successfully." The detective offered his guest an almost impish smile, despite still seeming somewhat concerned for the womouse.
"Ah, I'm far from being nearly as good as you. But, I have a few tricks up my sleeve I've learned over the years" she said with a soft smile, although a faint blush played on her cheeks, thankfully hidden well by her fur as she looked at him.
Her words made Basil puff up a bit in pride, though a nearly imperceptible blush also tinged his cheeks. "Ah, just practice my dear, and I have an outstanding teacher of course." He offered, smiling as he cast a glance toward the ceiling, and the dwellings above.
"As much as I hate to draw this meeting to a close so quickly, I should be getting back to the Professor's lair before his suspicion rises. I will come back as soon as I can..." She said, "Thank you for your kindness, and the tea..." she added with a smile.
Standing Basil moved to help Vira with her coat, "Of course, you should not take the risk of being missed." He frowned behind her back momentarily, ears drooping, "Do be careful though, he is extremely dangerous to associate with. Especially if one intends to foil his plans." He shuddered a bit, the memory of his all too recent struggle atop Big Ben's tower flaring in his mind. Shaking himself he continued, "And I assure you it is no trouble at all, Vira."
"I will be in touch, keep an eye out, you never know when the Raven may swoop in" She said with a somewhat playful grin and a wink as she went back out into the storm, on her way to the lair.
"I shall count on it." He assured her with a similar smile, watching her leave.
Dr. Dawson smiled a bit "What an extraordinary woman...Dare I say she's as cunning and quick-witted as you Basil..."he said he grinned slightly as he looked at him"And is it just me, or did I see a hint of concern, perhaps...Admiration in your eyes?"
Dawson's words snapped him out of his revere, "What?!" He demanded, though his cheeks burned once more, "Surely not!" He snapped, crossing his arms. "Though she does have... potential." He admitted slowly, eyes softening. Annoyance again flashed across his features, "And what else should I be but concerned, Doctor? The womouse is dealing with the most dangerous, depraved mind in all Mousedom!" He snapped, retreating to his chair and snatching up his violin a bit too quickly.
The tune he began playing was sweet and melancholic, every once and a while rising to a dangerous crescendo...
Dawson laughed a bit at his friends defensiveness, grinning as he looked at his friend sitting down to listen to him play...He knew Basil well enough to know, he was taken with this new ally.