And Four To Go...
Adlock, set during ‘The Final Problem’
Four people sat in the living room of 221B Baker Street, like pieces on each corner of a chessboard.
Sherlock Holmes was in his usual chair, fingers steepled under his chin as they were whenever he was deep in thought. John Watson sat across from him, in his old chair, but there was in his stance, a certain discomfit – as if the seat he was filling had somehow outgrown him, or perhaps he had outgrown it – and yet, still, he remained there.
In the client’s chair, the unwilling participant, Mycroft Holmes found himself in a position he rarely, and in fact, had never occupied – that of victim and supplicant. Supplication was for lesser mortals, not gods in marble halls such as him – and yet, here he was, his hands empty save for his weapon that he clung to needlessly like a child clutching a security object.
His vulnerability, his inferiority thrown in his face like a wet rag.
It seemed fitting that the person who sat across from him be another who had conquered him and had nearly destroyed him and his brother. Yet another example of his inadequacy.
The Woman sat in a chair in front of the fireplace between the detective and the doctor.
Of course. Trust Irene Adler to choose the position in which she could be at the head of the room, across from Mycroft so that she could see his shame and vulnerability straight in the face.
As undeniably grave as their situation was, he knew she had to be enjoying her triumph over him immensely. Five years, and yet here she was across from him, still the dark queen in black silk and Louboutins, instead of the hostage in the hijab that he had seen in the video of her “execution”.
Irene Adler, alive. And his own brother, a traitor – not just to the country for knowingly aiding and abetting a known terrorist, but to Mycroft himself.
But then again, neither he nor his brother were the honest type, were they?
He really should have known.
“Why is she here?” Mycroft turned to his brother, his tone lofty, an annoyed drawl that only thinly concealed his shock and fury. He twirled his umbrella in his hand even as he itched to draw the gun from it, trying to decide which of them he wanted to shoot more — The Woman or his fool of a brother.
“She is here at my request,” Sherlock murmured, looking at neither of them. It didn’t fool Mycroft. The slight tension in his facial muscles, the way he responded, minutely and seemingly unconsiously, to the Woman’s every shift in posture. Sherlock and his damned sentiment… “And she’s here as a favor to me — well, actually to you, since this was your fault to begin with — so do shut up, Mycroft.”
"This is family!” Mycroft had hissed at him in an attempt to exclude not only The Woman, but also John Watson. He had worked too long and too hard all these years to ensure, not only the safety of the country but that of his family, to trumpet their secrets to two outsiders — least of all to Irene Adler, for God’s sakes, who had dealt with secrets and blackmail for a living when she was living. Or legally living.
“THAT’S WHY SHE STAYS!” Sherlock had turned on him with such ferocity that Mycroft actually drew back for fear of a physical attack. “That’s why they both stay!”
He, Mycroft, had no choice but to acquiesce.
… And so, the story unfolded itself from his lips.
“Heaven may be a fantasy for the credulous and the afraid,” Mycroft mused as he neared the end of his story – his confession – his tone chilling and sober as a wry, grim smile crossed his face. “But I can give you a map reference to Hell.”
He let the words sink in for the other three people in the room.
“That’s where our sister has been since early childhood. She hasn’t left, not for a single day.” Mycroft continued, addressing both his brother and John Watson. His tone turned wry and dismissive. “Whoever you both met… it can’t have been her.”
Both men were shocked and silent, but surprisingly, it was the Woman who interrupted him. She had a phone in her lap, similar to the one that had given Mycroft and everyone else so much trouble, except he knew Sherlock had kept that one. This was a newer model, and she kept it close, even as her cold eyes bore into Mycroft’s, as though trying to see the lie in his.
“I met her.”
Sherlock’s head snapped toward her and his voice was low and dangerous when he spoke. “What?”
If she picked up on the change in his tone, she didn’t show it, instead she directed her answer to Mycroft. “Three days ago. At Eaton Square. I passed her on the street. I… dropped something, and she picked it up. I didn’t think anything of it, but as she was handing it to me, she leaned close and said, ‘I’d be careful if I were you. The East Wind is here’.”
Sherlock narrowed his eyes at her. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
One perfectly shaped eyebrow rose as she returned his glare. “Why do you think I came here?”
John’s gaze flicked between the two, but it was Mycroft who cut them off. “How can you be sure it was her? You don’t even know what she looks like, that could have been anybody.”
“It was her.”
John’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Yeah, but how could you possibly know that?”
Instead of explaining herself, the Woman turned to Sherlock, her gaze unreadable. They stared at each other for several seconds, as if they could read the other’s thoughts. Mycroft tried to deduce anything he could from whatever internal conversation they were having, but couldn’t and he was just about to interrupt out of frustration when Sherlock seemed to interpret something in the Woman’s gaze, and his face darkened considerably.
His fingers gripped the arms of his chair so tight, his knuckles whitened.
“Because she wasn’t talking to you.”