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'The beginning of a new era'

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‘What the devil do you mean by you knew it all along?!’ Sherlock yelled on the top of his voice and luckily for the elder Holmes there was a table between them.
‘Brother dear, keep your voice down,’ Mycroft responded calmly, taking a tired breath. ‘There’s no need to shout.’
‘And if you please, refrained from the use of profanities that would be much appreciated,’ added grumpily William Lestrade.
‘Sherlock, don’t worry, all of my men are working on the case. We will find her,’ the D.I. reassured him.
‘With all due respect, Geoff, your men are useless, ‘Sherlock snapped impatiently, ‘if I am not capable of finding her, then no one is.’
‘Gregory, my brother’s name is Gregory-‘ William corrected him.
‘Doesn’t matter Bill,’ Lestrade muttered with a wave of the hand.
‘Your daughter has been kidnapped by the most notorious criminal in the world and your biggest problem is how I call your brother?! Sherlock barked at the elder man, and again the table came in handy.
‘Listen here, others might tolerate your attitude-‘
‘William, we should-‘Mycroft started, trying to make peace.
‘And you, brother!’ the flaming blue eyes turned away from the outraged figure and landed on his cooler counterpart. ‘How could you have used her as a bail? How could you have risked her life? How could you have let that man speak to her? How? She is your associate’s daughter for God’s sake!’
‘Sherlock, don’t let your personal feelings cloud your judgement-‘Mycroft replied, his voice still as calm a cucumber.
‘Personal feelings? You are well aware that I am in love with her!’
William Lestrade grunted with disapproval while his brother gasped and murmured something under his breath resembling to ‘God save us’.
‘We can all agree on the fact that Lisbeth is precious to all of us. Nevertheless, she getting kidnapped was essential for finding Moran,’ Mycroft explained level-headed as ever.
‘I don’t care how you were planning to catch that criminal Mycroft, you should have never risked my daughter’s life. My only daughter.’ William shook his head in disbelief, on the same side of the table, but not the argument. ‘After what happened to her mother –‘
‘Oh, cut the sentiment!’ Sherlock sputtered, ‘You don’t even know your daughter.’
‘Excuse me?!’ The businessman’s anger was once again directed at the raven-haired figure. ‘How dare you accuse me of not knowing my own daughter? I have been with her since she was born, whereas you have only known her for less than half a year.’
‘William, your daughter did not… oppose to assisting Sherlock,’ Mycroft remarked and Sherlock laughed bitterly. Tension was palpable as the three men engaged in the battle of words, armed with long-kept grievances and an array of insults. Sides changed moment by moment, there seemed to be no alliances, but rather just belligerents, waiting for the opportunity to launch an attack on one another.
‘Assisting, that’s how you call living with him?’ William retorted in disbelief.
‘She did not disagree with living with me and solving crimes with me, ‘the detective joined the conversation. ‘However, I would have been strongly against using her as bait, if I had known!
‘Sherlock, dear brother, are you one hundred percent certain of that?’ the elder Holmes asked the million dollar question.
‘Yes, I am!’ the younger replied without hesitation.
‘In that case, I am not sure that this relationship of yours has a positive influence on you.’
‘The same is true for my daughter. I cannot understand why you are encouraging it,’ the not-Holmes added.
‘Shut up, both of you! You have no right to nose in our personal life!’
‘What did you just say-‘
‘SHUT UP! ALL OF YOU!’ out of nowhere a man shouted, making all the other speechless. They have long forgotten about the fourth participant, standing in the corner, quietly waiting for the children to finish the fireworks. William stared at his brother in awe, he would never have believed he would to raise his voice like this. Sherlock shot him a deadly glare, annoyed that he was not granted the opportunity to tell William off. Mycroft’s lips twitched , having enough of little brothers.
‘Will you please stop arguing? It doesn’t matter whose fault this is. And you,’ he turned to the two elder men, ‘indeed have no right to tell who Lizzie has chosen to be with. Don’t get me wrong, I am outraged that she was used as a bait, and I am not particularly fond of her being with Sherlock, running around, risking her life, but!’ he took a deep breath, and as he continued his voice filled with determination, ‘It is not my business. Right now, my division is, our division is, to find her. And in order to do that you should stop arguing!’
Lestrade folded his arms on his chest and eyed the three men confidently. William narrowed his eyes, wondering whether it really was his brother standing in front of him, then cleared his throat:
‘‘I’ll continue monitoring the security footage and CCTV of the car,’ he left.
Sherlock shook his head and stated, ‘I’ll consult my homeless network.’
‘Quite right. ‘Added Mycroft picking up his umbrella, ‘I’ll offer an expert help on tracing the phone number and call the private investigator who was tracing Moran.’
The D.I. nodded victoriously as the door was shut and he was left alone.
‘You still got this Greg, ‘he smiled at his reflection proudly, ‘Doesn’t matter what they say, it’s not a coincidence you are the D.I.’
flashback
‘I shouldn’t have let this happen,’ Mycroft murmured with phone in his hand, texting, as his brother joined him in the limousine.
‘How on Earth did he lure her into this trap?’ Sherlock inquired collectedly, but rage was boiling in him under the surface. He reached inside his pocket, taking out his phone, mimicking his brother.
‘He was flirting with her for the last month, always bumping into her somewhere where there were no CCTVs.’
‘I recognised that she was keeping something from me. No, she did admit that she was flirting with men from time to time, but I would have never imagined that he would-‘ Sherlock stopped texting as it downed on him. ’Did you know about this the whole time?’
‘Yes, little brother, I was very much aware of the fact that-’
‘You knew about this man,’ accusing his brother the detective’s voice hit a dead serious tone.
‘You as well had knowledge of Moriarty’s one last man. You just didn’t recognise it was him,’ the elder launched a counter attack.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ A vein pumping in his neck, the younger demanded information. ‘Who is he?’
‘It’s Sebastian Moran,’ the name lingered in the air for a few moments before Sherlock gasped:
‘But, he was shot by the police. He is supposed to be dead.’
‘Well, apparently he is not,’ Mycroft added patiently, and he was nice enough not to point out how slow Sherlock was in putting the pieces together. After all, not every day was his brother’s girlfriend kidnapped… who in addition also happened to be his oldest friend’s daughter. Yes, another complication to be dealt with later.
‘Why did you let that scum near Lisbeth? Why did you let him befriend her?’ The detective burst out and his brother twitched.
‘I needed to wait until he made his move. I needed to see his plan. If Moriarty had a network, or something left of it, he would lead us right to it,’ he explained serenely, reading the text, he had just received, with a concern in his eyes.
‘You were using her as a bait all along?’ Sherlock asked, not expecting confirmation, but rather an explanation, an apology, or something to stop him from punching or strangling his brother.
‘Well, that is not the term I would have used, but yes, all in all I was,’ the elder replied casually, not even looking up from his phone.
A vein had risen in the centre of Sherlock’s forehead, quite a prominent one, and it pulsed steadily as he weighted how much he needed Mycroft to find Lisbeth. Though the elder did not bet an eye, he was very well aware of what was going on his brother’s mind.
‘Stop!’ Sherlock finally barked curtly, however the driver did not stop, just lowered the window and cast a glance at his boss questioningly. He waved his hand and the car came to a halt. The detective jumped out. As Mycroft peeked through the window could see his brother talking to a white young man agitatedly. By his clothes and raggedy appearance he identified him as part of Sherlock’s homeless network. The younger Holmes opened his wallet and pulled out not a note, but a picture. Mycroft smiled bleakly, it would have never occurred to him that his brother kept a picture of Lisbeth in his wallet. Maybe he underrated this relationship. His brother seemed less and less suitable and more and more influenced.
Sherlock got back at the car, unusually quiet. He stared out of the window sulkily, his eyes empty.
‘You have finally given up on venting on me?’ Mycroft turned to his brother who simply ignored him.
‘Very well. I am convinced that you have noticed we are heading towards Scotland Yard. Gregory has already been notified, and the whole yard is scanning security cameras and CCTVS trying to find out where he might have taken her. As you have thoroughly examined the spot where she got in the car, and found nothing, we have no clue, just the piece of paper with the number which you found in the pocket of Lisbeth’s coat. In the meantime, my agents have revealed the location of Moran’s flat. I believe the police are on their way, hopefully they did not forget the warrant. Would you like to fasten their work, or are you coming with me to the precinct?’ he arched an eyebrow at his younger sibling. He did not answer him, just dialled a number.
‘John, ‘he said in a low voice, ‘I need your help. Lisbeth’s been kidnapped.’

As Sherlock stepped inside Scotland Yard he found Lestrade ordering his men around and yelling things like ‘I don’t care about the deadline, this is top priority!’ ‘Stop doing whatever you are doing and start scanning the CCTV!’, ‘I don’t give a damn about parking tickets right now’, ‘Do whatever you want to do with him, I don’t care if you let him free!’, ‘Put down the doughnut and move your lazy ass!’ Sherlock has never seen him so frustrated and edgy before, nor had he seen the police working so hard. Molly came down hurrying towards him. She gave him a brief hug then held her gloved hand:
‘Give it to me Sherlock, I’ll look for fingerprints,’ she offered. Sherlock nodded thank you and handed her the piece of paper.
‘We believe it belongs to Sebastian Moran,’ he stated.
‘I’ll check it,’ she left the room.
‘I’ll need a map!’ Sherlock shouted. Surprisingly one of the policemen ran to him and gave him one. He didn’t bother with finding a desk; he just unfolded it on the floor.
Mycroft was casually leaning towards his umbrella, looking down at his brother:
‘We have no security footage of him. He was always careful not to be recorded by any CCTV. He always met Lisbeth where there were no cameras. Now it’s the same.’
‘Check the list of recently stolen cars and combine it with footage of the area! And call all taxi companies!’ he barked orders at the policemen.
‘They are already doing that,’ the elder informed him calmly. ‘I have my best man advising them.’
‘What?’ Sherlock was so taken aback that he looked up.
‘Mycroft, young Holmes, I see you have arrived,’ a man arouse from the security footage room.
‘What is he doing here?’
‘As you are aware, my daughter has been kidnapped. I am here to lead the investigation of finding her.’
‘I am perfectly capable of doing that, thank you very much.’
‘Sherlock, we need all the help we can get. William is a really sharp man. Let him control the footage and we can concentrate on finding her.’
‘It’s Moran’s fingerprint,’ Molly popped in.
Sherlock’s phone rang. He picked it up, his eyes still on William.
‘We found nothing that would tell us where they might be,’ John’s voice told him, ‘However, his gun is gone, he must have taken it with him. The neighbours said he left an hour ago. Oh, and Sherlock, judging by what we have found… He was making a bomb.’
‘I suspected he was planning on this,’ Mycroft murmured.
‘What the devil do you mean by you knew it all along?’
End of flashback

‘Oi boss, I’ve got some news for yah about your missy,’ a voice with strong accent called while Sherlock was edgily smoking a cigarette. He threw it away immediately as Higgins arrived.
‘Yes?’ he asked, rather demanded.
‘One of us has seen her getting in a car with a man, 5.9, blonde, neat haircut, handsome, around his thirties.’
‘Yes, I already know that. Do you have the licence plate number?’
‘Aye, LD58 BHC we know that the car has left London and it was heading west on M4.’
Sherlock nodded and gave some money to Higgins. He returned to the yard at once.
‘The car is heading south on M4. They have left London. The plate number is LD58 BHC trace it down,’ he shouted as he drew a line on the map.
‘The phone is a dead end. He must have destroyed it after he had sent you the text,’ Mycroft popped his head out. ‘And my private investigator was knocked out. He’s in coma. Moran must have found out about him. That’s a pity, he was one of the best,’ he murmured to himself.
‘We found the car!’ William joined the conversation. ‘It’s in Bristol.’
‘Bristol, why would they be in Bristol?’ Sherlock wondered and at the very moment he got a message.

Isn’t it lovely, how all of you are working together on finding this precious blonde girl? I am rather fond of her. Hurry up Sherlock, or I might keep her. Come where it all started. Needn’t I say if the police gets involved, I’ll blow her pretty head of.
J.M.

The blood ran cold in Sherlock’s veins. He realised that somehow Moran has hacked into the police’s system and he could not get Lestrade involved. Going there without backup would be walking into an obvious trap. There was just on solution. Mycroft.
He emerged slowly and showed the text to his brother. Mycroft face remained emotionless. He looked at his brother and nodded dutifully, knowing very well that his brother first encountered Moriarty at Bristol swimming pool.
‘Greg, you need to stop searching for Lisbeth,’ Sherlock told firmly to the D.I. The elderly man was taken aback both by the command, and the fact that once in his life Sherlock actually got his name right.
‘Wha-’?’ he asked stunned.
‘I know where she is. Moran is watching us. He messaged me saying not to get the police involved. He hacked into the police station, he’ll know if you do something. You have to trust me.’
‘But-’
‘That’s a decision that should be made by consent,’ William Lestrade joined the conversation, backing his brother.
‘I have no time for this. I must leave immediately.’
‘Sherlock is right. He must take off in this very moment. We shall not get involved,’ Mycroft cast a look at his colleague. They eyed for a second, and William nodded almost unnoticeable. They understood each other without words; Mycroft would take all precautions necessary and secure the area without the police.
‘Well, if you all excuse me, I’ll go and light a cigarette,’ this meant calling his special agents and asking for favours, in an alley where the security cameras wouldn’t record him.
‘How do you expect me to do nothing while Lizzie is in the hands of a sniper probably with a bomb?’ Lestrade blurted out.
‘All you can do Greg, is wait. I am sorry to say this, but right now, we have to let the couple figure out this quarrel. You heard him. We oughtn’t to get involved. We have to play by his rules.’
‘How can you be so calm and analytical when your daughter’s life is in danger?’
‘Well, someone has to stay organised in times of mortal peril. I am and always will be the rational one.’

Chapter Text

Bristol South Swimming Pool

Lisbeth woke up, with her head aching painfully, and with an unmistakable scent of chloroform in her mouth. She felt suffocating heat, and as she looked down she realised that she was wearing a black thin coat which was definitely not hers. On the top of that she was handcuffed to the wall. Blinking a few times before her eyes could scan her surroundings, she quickly realised that she was in a swimming pool which gave an explanation for the humidity and the lingering smell of chlorine. Her memories slowly came back to her. She… had a row with Sherlock and ran away with Ian. Ian… Did he drug her? Speak of the devil and it shall appear, she heard the noise of an opening door and steps coming closer.
‘Wakey wakey sweet dove,’ greeted her a familiar voice. Ian kneeled next to her with a glass of water in his hand. ‘Drink up. You must be thirsty. The chloroform does that.’
‘You fucking bastard. You drugged me?’ Lisbeth blurted out, almost knocking the glass out of his hands.
‘Easy,’ he recoiled. ‘I am not going to poison you, you can drink this. You are gonna need your voice. And I guess, you want an explanation as well,’ he added casually.
Lisbeth wanted to spat another insult at him, but indeed her throat was dry. And if she wanted to somehow survive this, her best chance –as always- was talking her way out of it. She wanted to stall for time and wait for help, or figure something out.
‘I am not going to drink it before you drink,’ she stated and eyed Ian confidently.
‘You don’t trust me?’ he asked playfully taking a sip.
‘You may excuse me for that given the circumstances,’ she drank up the water easing the burning feeling, but she wouldn’t take her eyes of him. Now that her throat was no longer aching she realised another unpleasant feeling. She was feeling extremely hot. With one quick motion she unzipped the coat with her free hand. At once stifling heat was replaced by utter coldness as her blood ran cold, her heart missed a beat and panic paralyzed her whole body. She wanted to scream for help, but no sound came. She lost all her level-headedness and couldn’t think straight. A bomb was attached to her. Her chances of survival just dropped abruptly.
‘Oh, sorry about that,’ Ian apologised sincerely, looking down at her with a concern in his blue eyes. ‘Actually, sorry about all this. You are smart, funny, beautiful, I am really sorry that I have to kill you.’ With a faint note of regret in his voice he stood up.
Lisbeth was gasping for breath. That was definitely not the way she wanted to go. Being scattered into millions of pieces, it was the worst death she could imagine. Even though she was constantly in danger with Sherlock… Sherlock. His name came as an icy shower, and made her calm down a little. She took a deep breath and tried stopping the shaking. ‘He’s gonna save me’- she thought.
‘Do you think you can get away with this? I mean, you can blow me up, but you cannot escape. My boyfriend is Sherlock Holmes. My father is half of the British government. Mycroft is the other half. My uncle is the DI-‘ listing all the people who she knew cared about her and were definitely looking for her with their all forces made her regain pride and pull herself together.
‘And yet, you are here with me: alone, handcuffed to the wall and with a bomb on your chest. You are not as well protected as you thought you were, are you?’ he smiled at her devilishly.
Lisbeth swallowed an array of insults, and replied with endless calm, daring to look him in the eye: ‘They are going to kill you.’
‘Ah, I don’t care whether I survive this or not. The only thing I care about is revenge. I want to see Sherlock suffer. I want to see his whole world fall into pieces. I want to see his soul destroyed. His heart BURNT!’ Lisbeth could no longer see the flirting and easy-going Ian she used to know. In front of her was a raging man desperate to avenge.
‘I will burn the heart out of you,’ the girl murmured. Ian lifted his head sharply:
‘What did you say?’ he knelt down next to her. Their eyes connected, navy with navy.
‘Of course!’ realisation hit Lisbeth in the head. ‘How stupid I am… and have been. You are a military man. You kidnapped, drugged and brought me here. I just realised… This must be the swimming pool. The pool, where Sherlock first met him… you must have been here too. You are the last man. You are Moriarty’s sniper,’ Lisbeth was gasping for air as she connected the dots. All this time… The solution was literally in front of her, death flirting with her, buying her coffee, luring her into a trap. Christ, her life really was fucked up. But if she figured it out, it meant that Sherlock would realise it too. Well, after all she solved the case! She, the blonde girl, solved the case on which the ingenious Sherlock Holmes was working. Well, on balance, it was not worth it.
‘Yes,’ Ian rose, his face glowing with pride. ‘I am Sebastian Moran. Moriarty’s last man and sniper. And I am going to kill you, Lisbeth Lestrade, while your boyfriend and his sidekick watch it, so he will feel the pain I felt. So that he will know the empty feeling. He will know how it feels when something is killing you inside.’
‘Well, you know, Moriarty had a chance. He shouldn’t have had to shot himself. He chose to do it,’ Lisbeth taunted him and at the very moment she regretted her decision. He leaped and in a heartbeat his fingers closed on the girl’s throat. With her one free hand she desperately tried to loosen the grip, but he was way stronger than her. Fury was burning in those eyes as the girl’s eyes started to water. ‘Go ahead’-Lisbeth thought. Still better than being blown up. But just as he could read her thoughts, he suddenly released her. She started coughing, struggling for breath as her loud gasping echoed though the swimming pool.
‘So,’ Moran begin as if nothing has happened, ’you must be wandering how I managed to kidnap you. It was easier than I thought, really. Of course, I found out I was tailed by Mycroft’s P.I. He was waiting for me to reveal myself and my big plan. Stalemate. I had no big plan; really, I just wanted Sherlock to suffer. I originally was intending to abduct John, but then you came along. I would never have imagined that Sherlock could fall in love, but stranger things have happened,‘ He was walking up and down next to the pool, surveying the water absent-mindedly.
‘Tell me about it,’ she murmured under her breath. ‘Why didn’t you just kidnap me when we first met?
‘Oh no, that would have been too soon,’ He turned around, strolling back to Lisbeth, ‘I wanted to wait until you two fall in love. Until he was so head to tails in love that he could be easily distracted. And my time has come. You had a row, and you came to me by yourself, walking directly into the trap. I immediately knocked out the P.I. and hacked the CCTVs around Baker Street. Even Mycroft and Lestrade were preoccupied with resolving your conflict. And there you were. Vulnerable. Alone. Looking for a shoulder to cry on,’ he grinned lavishly.
Rage was boiling in Lisbeth. She couldn’t believe how stupid she was. One moment of weakness might cost her life. She bit her lips stopping the insult she wanted to throw at him.
‘I am sure in a few minutes the police is going to show up.’
‘No, no police. I texted your boyfriend. One siren and bomb goes off. It will be just you, me, your boyfriend and his sidekick. Sweet four,’ he showed the number with his fingers.
‘Why John, though? Didn’t you just say I was a better target?’
‘You are. But still, kill two birds with one stone,’ he extended his arms indicating the how obvious his decision was.
‘You were the one who hacked all the TVs and put Moriarty on screen.’
‘I was, yes.’
‘He really is dead.’ It was self-explanatory from the beginning, but Lisbeth wanted to get a rise out of him. Losing his temper meant he was more likely to make a mistake. However, she could only notice a titch at the corner of his mouth and his expression clouding over.
‘And what’s your plan?’ she continued. ‘They arrive here, you blow me up. Why do you need to blow me up, anyway? Wouldn’t it be easier just to shoot me in the head and watch Sherlock’s face?’
‘Oh, it’s for old time’s sakes,’ the smirk returned to his stubbly face. ‘Jim absolutely loved blowing people up. The last time we were here John was wearing the coat and the bomb.’
‘But, you might not survive the explosion…’ she pointed out casually.
‘I’ll have enough time to run away,’ he replied in the same tone. ‘Good’-Lisbeth thought. ‘It means we will have time. Maybe an explosives man can defuse the bomb.’
‘If you think you have the faintest chance of running away or staying alive, you are very much mistaken,’ a husky deep voice introduced himself with ice cold conviction. Lisbeth could feel her heart racing, and yet her stomach dropped a summersault. Sherlock Holmes walked in with his sidekick, John Watson, on his side. Lisbeth knew very well the look on her boyfriend’s high-cheek boned face. Although it seemed emotionless, inside there was fire raging. Someone was going to die tonight. Hopefully Moran. As Sherlock’s eyes fell on the girl they softened for a moment, but just for one, because he had to stay focused. He immediately noticed the fingerprints on the girl’s neck. His vision became blurred with fury. Lisbeth was no stupid. She knew that the situation was desperate. And yet, one look was enough to make her convinced that they were going to survive. John gave a small reassuring smile to her, and invisibly patted his pocket which meant a gun.
‘And so it begins,’ Moran extended his arms theatrically, ‘Welcome boys, welcome. Long time, no see.’
‘Oh cut the sentiment Moran,’ as Sherlock interrupted him his mouth twitched. ’We know who you are, and we know that you want revenge for your boyfriend’s death.’
‘Not so fast Sherlock, not so fast. I am in control. You don’t get to talk. You must have noticed the bomb on your girlfriend. It only takes on button and BUMMMM. It goes off.’
Lisbeth smiled sourly as Moran was randomly emphasising words like Moriarty used to.
‘Okay,’ Sherlock raised his hands in surrender, ‘What do you want us to do?’
‘First, your sidekick gives me his gun,’ John glanced at Sherlock questioningly. Moran stood there smiling viciously and a the remote control glinted in the dim light.
‘Just veeeery slowly place your gun on the floor and kick it to me. And don’t forget, no sudden movements, or my hand might slip and blow blondie up.’
John’s jaw clenched; he felt shooting the asshole in the head rather than giving him his gun.
‘Hand over the gun, John,’ Sherlock stated, his voice and eyes ice cold. As Lisbeth was sitting helplessly on the cold floor next to his ex-bestfriend, who turned out to be the most wanted criminal, a metre away from her ex-criminal boyfriend, not to mention his ex-army doctor sidekick, she considered whether they chose a stand against Moran. Well, three against one: the odd were in their favour. If she could catch the gun and shoot Moran before he reacted, maybe she could end this madness. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t think straight. She wanted this to end right now. She wanted to stop it.
As John bent down she was ready to launch.
‘Lisbeth, don’t,’ a deep voice interrupted her at the very moment John tossed the gun. Lisbeth had a second to decide whether she wanted to follow her plan, or to follow Sherlock’s orders. The gun was quickly picked up by steady hands. A relieved sight escaped Sherlock’s mouth and a laugh Moran’s.
‘Ts, ts, ts,’ he kneeled down to the girl. ‘Listen to your boyfriend darling, or you might die sooner than intended,’ a loud crack echoed through the pool as he snapped the girl. John reacted quickly, grabbed the detective firmly, and was able to stop him from throwing himself at the sniper.
‘Oh boys, this is getting out of hand,’ he shook his head disapprovingly, pointing the gun at the centre of the detective chest. It took all John’s strength to restrain Sherlock, whose eyes were empty, filled with animalistic range.
‘Sherlock, stop it!’ the doctor yelled, clutching the long navy coat.
‘Sherlock, please,’ the girl whispered, a red imprint of Moran’s hand on her porcelain skin.
The detective eyes fell on the girl and his vision cleared. For a second they found comfort in each other’s eyes, but then they were brought back to reality.
‘I am going to tell you what is going to happen,’ Moran began to speak calmly, taking steps back, ‘you, Sherlock, will have to decide who you are going to save. You can choose Lisbeth, and I’ll shoot John. Or, you can save your doctor in which case he is free to go, but your girlfriend will be shot. Or, you can choose the third option; I’ll leave you all here with the bomb.’
‘So you are not going to detonate the bomb just in the third case?’ Lisbeth blurted out.
‘No, sweetheart, unfortunately not, because I don’t actually want to die. I’d prefer if he chose either the first, or the second option, because I would really like to see the result, but I am fair, loyal to the grave to Jim, so it’s your choice Sherly,’ he chuckled, clearly out of his mind.
Sherlock eyed him coldly, without emotions in his face, thousands of scenarios flashing in his mind how he was going to kill him really slowly, and really painfully.
‘Sherlock, there’s nothing to decide. I’ll die, you two survive. John just had a baby, think about his family,’ Lisbeth explained quickly, trying really hard to keep a straight face and sound brave.
‘No Lisbeth, stop. You are not going to sacrifice yourself for us. How do you think Mary would look at me?’ John almost yelled at her, pointing a finger at her furiously.
‘Oh what a show, absolutely lovely!’ Moran clapped, having a whale of time.
‘John, I-‘
‘No, Lisbeth –‘
‘HAHAHHA!’
‘SHUT UP,’ an intimidating command silenced everyone. They all gasped and looked at the owner of the voice. Lisbeth was desperate: she couldn’t think straight, and her heart was pacing with an abnormal beat. John gasped: he was trembling, his palms were sweating, his jaw clenched. Moran crossed his hands on his chest with the guns in both hands, and was smiling from ear to ear.
‘You won Moran. I’ll go along with your game. I choose option three,’ Sherlock stated with ice cold conviction.
Between the protest of the girl and John Moran’s face fell.
‘Okay. Then have fun. Jim sends his love,’ he pushed a button which made the alarm start counting down, dropped the remote control, turned hills and rushed out of the room.
The boys reacted in a heartbeat. Sherlock launched forward, tore the coat of the girl and started examining the bomb. John went for the remote.
‘Useless, it cannot turn the bomb off,’ Sherlock informed him, his hands quickly examining the bomb.
John changed his plan and was about to start off.
‘Don’t. The police will catch him. He doesn’t have the keys anyway,’ he said taking out from his pockets something that resembled a hair pin, and started folding it. Lisbeth couldn’t help but start crying.
‘Leave me, you idiots! Run, you can survive this,’ she yelled between two cries. The countdown was at 5 minutes.
‘Lisbeth,’ Sherlock stopped and cupped the girl’s face, forcing her to look him in the eye. ‘We are not going to leave you here. So you can pull yourself together and help us, or you can continue crying, I don’t mind, because I am going to save all of us, just for future reference, you might not want to tell this story with you crying hysterically while I save the day.’
‘What can I help?’ She asked as her jaw fell, and she collected herself.
‘Nothing, stay still and stop crying. It makes me uncomfortable,’ he murmured while trying to open the handcuffs with the pin.
‘Considering everything, me crying is what makes you upset. Nice,’ she wiped off her tears, and fell in love with him again.
‘Way better. John!’
‘Yes?’ he jumped dutifully.
‘You need to remove the bomb.’
‘How?’
‘Just cut the straps. Very carefully. If you cut the wire, we die. You’ll need steady hands.’
‘It’s lucky that I am a doctor,’ he added, taking out a knife of his jacket, and started liberating the girl from the band.
‘Yeah, it comes in handy.’
‘Lisbeth, shut up,’ she laughed bitterly.
‘Done,’ announced the detective in synchrony with the cuff twinkling on the ground. Lisbeth subdued the desire to kiss him.
‘John, I don’t mean to hurry you, but in two minutes we will be dead,’ the detective commented, his voice steady, but Lisbeth a long ago learnt to read him from his eyes. This time he didn’t have a plan B. There was no stopping the bomb. If it goes off, they die. She didn’t want to think about how strong the bomb was.
‘Done!’ yelled John in ecstasy. Sherlock at once snatched the bomb, threw it in the pool, grabbed the girl’s hand and looked deeply in her eye. We have to run for it, understood Lisbeth without words. Sherlock hitched her up, and all three of them started off to the door. They didn’t know how much time they were left; they had no idea how strong the explosion would be, they had no clue whether they would see their family the next day. The only thing they were sure that they had to run. Sherlock let go of Lisbeth’s hand, so they could flee quicker. Every second, every step counted. The more the distance was between them, the more safe they were, the higher their chances of survival became. The ones who had a near-death experience usually reported that everything seemed to merge together, that they would only remember a feeling, or a sound, or a fragment. To Lisbeth it was like a film scene. In one moment everything went quiet and slowed down. She could hear John’s tired gasping, feel her heart beating rapidly, and navy met with ice as a shiver ran through her spine as she felt that it was the very moment. He might even remember Sherlock gaping Blonde girl when it happened. The bomb exploded. Although one would expect it to be rather loud, but Lisbeth remembered no sound, just an endless force sweeping her off her feet, and everything went black.

‘Lisbeth,’ faintly she sensed someone calling her name. As her vision slowly cleared, a stabbing instant of anguish reminded her that she was still alive. The very moment she could feel something violently pressing her chest, making it really hard to breathe. Just if that someone could read her thoughts the rubble and the pressure were removed. She started coughing widely, and an excruciating pain spread through her wrist. She was sure she broke it.
‘You are okay, ‘John stated with a great relief in his voice, reassuring both himself and the girl. Lisbeth noticed that he was putting pressure only one of his legs, something must have happened to it. Blood was ticking from his ear, but otherwise he seemed okay. Well, as okay as someone after a bomb could be. Then a realisation hit her.
‘Where’s Sherlock?’ she yelled desperately.

Chapter Text

‘No, no, no, this can’t be happening,’ Lisbeth murmured on the verge of hysteria as her fingers dug deep into the rubble trying to remove it as soon as possible, desperately hoping that the damage was not serious. She gulped, but could not catch any air as she caught sight of the black curls covered in deep dust. Horror spread over her, ice filling her veins as the dirty grey mixed with vivid crimson. Blood was oozing from Sherlock’s head and he laid on the ground, giving no sign of being conscious or even alive.
‘Sherlock!’ Lisbeth yelled in sheer panic, her vision blurring with tears. Fortunately, John took control of the situation, gently but firmly pushing the girl out of his way.
‘Lisbeth, don’t move him,’ he commanded in a low voice, switching to doctor mode. He quickly freed the detective’s pale wrists and checked his pulse. A doleful wail escaped the girl’s throat.
‘It’s okay,’ John reassured her and himself, opening the patient’s eyes, ‘He’s alive. His pulse is very slow, but he’s alive.’
‘What’s happening John? Is he going to be okay?’ The blonde cried in dismal.
‘He’s unresponsible. He shows the symptoms of coma,’
‘Coma?! How serious is it?’
‘I can’t tell. But he needs immediate medical assistance. Where’s your phone? Call an ambulance!’
‘I-I don’t have it. Ian, Moran took it away.’
‘Yes, of course. Here is mine.’
However, as he pulled out his phone, it fell into pieces. Lisbeth burst into tears, but managed to pull herself together.
‘I’ll run for help. Stay with him, ‘as she rose to her feet, pain immediately gripped her by the lungs and she fell to her knees. Now that she needed to move she realised that her injuries might have been more serious than she first thought.
‘Lisbeth, you shouldn’t –‘ John started, but couldn’t finish his sentence as they were interrupted by the shouts of police. A relieved sigh escaped simultaneously the girl and the doctor. Time seemed to stop for Lisbeth as all of her senses failed her except her eyes which were rigidly fixed on the unconscious body of the detective. Terror spread through her whole body as on his dust-covered skin deep red blood was glistening in the midst of raven black curls. The grey eyes remained hidden under his closed eyelids and his all-knowing face revealed no emotion. Lisbeth’s heart was pounding violently, pain was pulsing in her wrist and in the back of her head, but she was unaware of all of them. A strange feeling took over her as if she was watching a movie: a short, limping dirty blonde man talking to the ambulance men carefully lifting someone in a navy blue trench coat to a stretcher. The horror movie was interrupted by a blinding light and a gentle hand on her shoulder. Lisbeth came to her senses and tried to spring to her feet, but was stopped by the same hand.
‘Take it easy,’ a deep voice commanded her. As the girl’s vision cleared a friendly face silhouetted in front of her.
‘Let me go!’ she demanded forcefully, again attempting to stand up, and once again being stopped.
‘Darling, I am sure that you have a broken wrist and might even a concussion so you will not be running anywhere,’ he casually added while examining the body part under discussion. As he touched it Lisbeth winced.He cast a glance at her saying ‘told you so’.
‘I’ll kick you if you don’t let me go with Sherlock,’ she grunted, being irritated with the calm and relaxed manner of the doctor. Why was he wasting both of their time? He should be, everyone should be, taking care of Sherlock with all their strengths. The ambulance man replied with a deep sigh mixed with a lop-sided smile of amusement:
‘Okay, I’ll help you up, put you in the ambulance and take you to the hospital, just take it easy, okay?’
The flashing blue eyes made it clear that it was everything, but not okay. He surpassed a smile as he lifted the girl gently up and tried to remember whether he has ever met a patient so pissed off at the ambulance.

 

It had been a week since the accident. Moran was captured, arrested, questioned with more or less legal techniques and was displaced into small and dark cell somewhere unknown for the public. Lisbeth might or might not was given the opportunity to kick him in the guts. Twice. Everything left of Moriarty’s network, which mainly included Moran and dozen criminals and businessmen, was wiped out. London was freed from the last remains of the most notorious criminal it has ever seen. The news and the papers were teeming with the story of Moran and the John’s blog reached the peak of its publicity. Every day it was overflowed by new comments all waiting for an update, wanting to know every detail and craving to hear from Sherlock.

It was the seventh day since Sherlock was in coma. The first day Lisbeth refused to leave his side a kicked, hit, even bit everyone attempting to remove her. It took John to calm her down and convince her that she needed a cast on her wrist. She reluctantly agreed to it, but by that time she acquired quite fame and no one wanted to come near her. Fortunately a young doctor volunteered when he heard that a screaming blonde with a broken wrist and a terrible attitude needed a cast.
‘You’ve gotta be kidding me, ‘she rolled her eyes as she recognised the familiar smile.
‘Well, I have to say that you are more infamous in this hospital than Sherlock Holmes. And that’s something,’ the young doctor congratulated her while preparing the plaster.
As he looked up he heard a deep breath and could see the girl’s lips tremble.
‘Don’t worry, he is going to be okay. He’s strong. And an asshole. They never die, ‘he smiled at her, but her empty eyes were glaring out of the window.
‘Come on, ‘his hand stopped working. ‘What’s your deal? I have to confess, I follow John’s blog and you seemed more talkative and maybe a little less aggressive.’
‘What’s my deal?’ Lisbeth blurted out hysterically. ‘You mean besides the fat chance that my boyfriend might die because of my stupidity?’ She could no longer held herself together and burst out in tears accompanied by loud hiccups. She was crying like never before, choking in guilt, in anger for powerlessness, in dread for the future. Not his brain- she thought. Anything, but that extraordinary mind of his. For a few broken bones she could forgive herself. But for having been taken away what was the most precious to him, she couldn’t live with that burden. Her vision became blurred with tears and she lost track of her surroundings.
‘Hey, ‘a familiar hand was placed on her shoulder,’ it’s not your fault. If you want to blame someone, blame that bastard. Knowing who you are guys, I am sure that he got what he deserved and more.’
A faint smile twitched at her mouth.
‘Here, ‘he handed her a cup of coffee, the delicious smell promised a cure for her headache.
‘Why are you so nice to me?’ she looked up at him, her tear brimmed eyes glistening with suspicion.
‘I like your stories. And you remind me of my sister.’
‘Let me guess. Is she a teenager?’
‘Yeah, a very snappy one.’
Lisbeth took a sip from the coffee and its warmth seemed to calm her down.
‘Last time I trusted someone funny and handsome he turned out to be the most wanted criminal in London and almost killed us, ‘she added, examining the doctor’s steady hands working.
‘Well, I am not a criminal, the whole hospital can attest to it… Could, it they were not afraid of you.’
As he managed to win a chuckle a victorious smile spread on his face.
‘Still don’t understand why you are talking to me and helping me.’
‘You have made quite an impression on me. I have never met anyone so pissed off at an ambulance man. Especially when in need of treatment.’
‘I guess that’s a first.’
Uh-huh he muttered as he continued his work. The blonde remained silent, deep in thinking and finally added:
‘Okay, but you have to promise me that you won’t hit on me.’
‘Darling, ‘his brown, mischievous eyes met the blonde’s curious ones, ‘Firstly, I think you have demonstrated your commitment to your partner clearly. Secondly, I have a boyfriend.’
‘Oh, then promise me you won’t hit on Sherlock.’
‘I would rather promise to spend my coffee break with you and bring you coffee every day.’
‘Deal,’ and then, they were friends with Brad.

The second day she was once again back to yelling and frightening the nurses alongside with the doctors. It took Mycroft to convince her that it was the best hospital and Sherlock was given the best medical assistance. The third day she was so exhausted that she collapsed in front of the coffee machine and Molly needed to threaten her with a having to see shrink knowing how she hated them (yes, she was studying psychology.) or giving her sleeping pills. So she was deprived of caffeine and had no chance but to get some sleep. The fourth day Mrs Hudson refused to leave her alone until she finally ate more than a sarnie per day. The fifth day she broke into the police database in order to make sure everyone from Moriarty’s network was jailed. Her uncle finally realised that he needed to change his password and paid an extra visit (as he was at the hospital everyday) to reclaim his card. The sixth day Lisbeth tried to hire an assassin to kill Moran which resulted in a rather unpleasant phone call from her father and an arrest as she actually managed to find a real one. The seventh day she cried, wept and sobbed until Mary came around with Rosie, put her in Lisbeth’s arms and left without a word. She was so shocked, two curious eyes staring at her, small, chubby fingers clutching her arms, the small creature babbling cheerfully at her that her tears stopped. The end of the week left her so exhausted that she fell into sleep within seconds.

 

"Listen here you little shit, because I'm not going to repeat it. I mean every word of it. So ... I was told not to look at you. I was warned against talking to you. I was commanded not to know you. And I was forbidden to fall in love with you. Whereas I always was to try them all. Of course I did them all. And you know what? I don't regret a single one of them. And if you think that I'm not extremely cross with you then you're the biggest idiot in the world. You're anyway... We had an agreement, Sherlock. You promised me... You promised me that you would never leave me alone. In exchange I swore that if you were gone, I would follow you. But for God's sake, I don't want to kill myself! Nor I want you to be dead. But I'm stubborn and nearly as mental as you, so I'll do it. And you better stop me, because I'm totally gonna do it... You bastard... If you ever loved me, or how you call it... Just surprise me. Please, just don't do this to me."

Sighing deeply, Lisbeth threw away the phone which landed with a quiet thump. One second and it was broken. So she will be. Broken and bloody. And it's gonna hurt a lot. But it won't be as painful as a life without Sherlock. She realised that she's been already broken. And empty. As she closed her eyes tears brimmed them. She wasn't crying for herself nor Sherlock. She was crying for her uncle, for John, Mary, Rose, Molly and Mrs Hudson. Even for Brad a little. The ones she'll leave behind. But she had to do something, she couldn't bear being powerless. She determinedly stepped closer to the edge as she wanted to do it in that second. Because if she hesitated, she would chicken out. Cloaked, she was hoping that someone would stop her. He would stop her. But nobody came. It meant that he was dead indeed. Or that he didn't love her. Either way she didn't want to live. One step and she was flying.

She was extremely thrilled. It felt like she'd been carrying chains during her whole life and in that very moment was she really just free. Emotions stirred in her: disillusionment because he didn't come. Anger, because he left her alone. Sadness for those whom she left alone. Funk, because she had to land sooner or later. But in that very moment she was intoxicated. It was pure liberation. Suddenly, strong arms clutched her and brought her back to reality. Her eyes slowly focused, but it took a few seconds before she realised what had just happened. She was still on the spur of the moment.
He was standing in front of her. The tall, skinny, pale figure with high-cheekbones, coal black curls and unique ice blue eyes. However there was anger in them. Anger? It was beyond fury.
"Are you totally mental?" he shouted emphasising every word, shaking her forcefully. Lisbeth's knees knocked, partly because of the shaking and of the electricity which ran through her hearing his deep voice. Sherlock let go off her when he saw she was herself again. He opened his mouth to say something. However, he never managed because Lisbeth slapped him. Twice. Blue eyes met blue for a second, and then she hit him again. He got fed up and pinned her arms beside her.
"You know, you'd deserve some too,” he stated.
"Yeah, but you're a gentleman and you would never hit a lady. Just make her believe that you're dead!" she replied cheekily.
"You know I had a plan!"
"I don't care! We agreed! Have you any idea how it felt?"
"As the matter of speaking, I have. What if I didn't catch you? Lisbeth, you would be dead for heaven's sake!"
"I don't care!"
"Don't behave like a child!"
"Don't tell me what to do!"
They stopped for a second because they nearly didn't have voice as a result of shouting.
"I'd to reorganise everything because of you," he remarked finally.
"I had to kill myself because of you. I think I won."
"You're the most annoying girl I've ever met, you know."
"Same here. But as I'm aware you're a man."
They couldn’t resist any longer. As Sherlock stroke the girl's cheek she gave in. Lisbeth set her arms free, clutching the collar of the long blue coat she kissed the detective passionately. Sherlock folded his arms around the girl and their lips started to dance.

 

Lisbeth was woken up by sharp beeping. She immediately sprang to her feet, her balance took a few seconds to adjust to her, but she was not bothered. She ran her heart racing to Sherlock’s bed and bent over him. Her stomach did a somersault as Sherlock’s face seemed to twitch. Her heart dropped as she thought she just imagined it and was just about to sink back to the chair and depression when his eyelids slowly opened. As pale blue connected with navy Lisbeth felt as if a thousand years have gone by and she was woken up from a dreadful dream. Well, she was and so was Sherlock.
‘Ohmygodyouareokaythankgod,’ she muttered in one breath and a weak smile lit the detective’s face.
‘It’s good to see you alive as well. Did you miss me?’
‘I can’t believe after everything that happened you choose to quote him,’ her glistening tears dropped on the blue blanket taking the ailing pain along with them. Sherlock raised his hand and cupped the girl’s porcelain white cheek. Gently burying her face in his hand she felt alive at last.
‘Well, you could have greeted me with something more catchy,’ he joked in a tired voice.
‘Hmm, your girlfriend sent you flowers, ‘she nodded towards the deep red roses.
A flash of smile appeared on the detective’s face.
‘I thought you tore them and burnt them.’
‘No, I sent her a thank you note. I might or might not have signed it as Mrs Holmes.’
‘She will be thrilled.’
A deep and a higher pitched chuckle filled the room with the promise of tomorrow. They looked and each other in comfortable silence. Lisbeth gazing at Sherlock, drunk by the smallest movement, the most unnoticeable twitch of his exhausted handsome face. The detective secretly admiring the girl, taking in hungrily every detail of her, tears glistening on the white silk. Their infinity was interrupted by someone clearing his throat.
‘Love birds, I hate to interrupt, but I think the good news should be shared with the doctors as well.’
‘Who is this over-cheerful idiot?’ Sherlock inquired, not taking his eyes of the girl.
‘Brad. He’s my friend,’ she replied, maintaining eye contact.
‘Dear God. Someone call the police.’

Chapter Text

As Brad predicted Sherlock made a full and a quick recovery, although it may have been safer if he hadn’t left the hospital as soon as he could stand up. But with daily visits from his best friend, who happened to be a doctor, under the watchful eyes of Mycroft, the devoted attention and occasional scolding of the girl, accompanied by Mrs Hudson’s cooking he was in the best of care. He started working as soon as he arrived at the flat and snatched a laptop out of Lisbeth’s hand who in exchange gave him the silent treatment, but Sherlock was not bothered as he had a lot of catching up to do. For the following week he was absorbed by his laptop, his hands in praying position, his head bent in concentration with his dark brows in a frown. The blonde could not help but smile adoringly at him as he was back at his natural habitat and everything seemed fine at last.
‘Can I help you with your case?’ she inquired, her lean body lying on the sofa, chin resting on the arm of the furniture, mischief glittering in the deep ocean of her eyes.
Sherlock shook his head almost unnoticeably, not taking his eyes of the screen. Accompanied by a frustrated sigh, the detective could feel that he was still the target of the girl’s curious gaze.
‘Lisbeth, you are exceptionally lovely and I must admit tempting, but I want to solve this case. Not to mention that we can expect Brad’s visit in about 8 minutes.
‘And how do you know that?’ she asked and the faint grin in the corner of the detective’s mouth revealed that he knew that the girl did everything to have his attention.
‘It’s been three days since his last check-on me. Not to mention that new shop has just opened on the corner of the opposite street, judging by his taste in shirts he would be interested. It’s Wednesday, so his shift ended ten minutes ago, the hospital is twenty minutes away, I am sure he immediately took off as he is planning to look us up, then take you to the new shop, and most definitely pay the necessary visit to your favourite café.’
‘And what if something or someone held him up?’ she proceeded annoying the raven-haired man.
Without any further remarks he put down away the laptop and leaned forward for a kiss that made the girl blush.
‘Hush now, I need to concentrate. Go with Brad, buy something, overdose yourself on coffee and maybe we can have some fun provided that I can finish this,’ he was deep again in the laptop, the light shining on his cheekbones, mirrored in his almost colourless eyes.
‘You know, this sounds as if I was a rich man’s bored wife. Or your mistress.’
‘No darling, you are neither of them. Yet,’ he winked at her with a lopsided grin and her cheeky reply was interrupted by Brad’s hullo.

Two days later Sherlock kept his promise and took Lisbeth to Angelo’s ensuring her that yes, this time it was a date and there would be candles, wine and Angelo would make his surprise dish just for them. And yes, he would wear the purple shirt. As Lisbeth stepped in the restaurant, her heart filled with the sweet and ambiguous memories of the last visit she paid there. She couldn’t help but grin all the way down to their table ornamented by a cream-coloured array of candles. Although Sherlock did not compliment her, the prideful look on his high cheek boned face mirrored the feelings behind the girl’s radiant smile. She had no time to be overwhelmed by the perfect combination of excitement, joy and delight as Sherlock shaking his head, out of nowhere, placed a folder in front of her. She blinked a few times before with a puzzled expression she opened it, her hands immediately stopping, her navy eyes glancing up at then detective with a mixture of awe and shock.
‘Is this-?’ Was all she managed to say. The pale figure nodded bitterly, avoiding eye contact.
Lisbeth took a deep breath as she rested her hands on the first page.
‘I am aware that you have already read some of these documents as you had broken into the police database. I called in some favours and found some loopholes. It took me a while, but I uncovered every detail,’ the deep voice narrated as the trembling hands ran through the old, yellow papers. Her tale throat moved as she swallowed, and she felt her eyes mist with tears.
‘What happened?’ A determined, yet vulnerable feminine voice took the lead. Lisbeth could no longer smell the vanilla scent of the candles, hear the cheerful murmur of people, or see the man in front of her, his heart heavy with patience and worry. She could not believe that it was all in front of her, everything she had been looking for since the age of 13, every data, every report. The whole story. Not just pieces of paper torn from a heavy book, mismatched puzzle pieces of a hidden picture, long lost memories of an old person. It was the whole story behind her mother’s murder. A little part of her wished to curl up in bed and be swallowed by darkness; she wanted to run away, she didn’t want to face her demons. But she overcame the coward side of her lurking deep down as curiosity got the better of her. Taking a deep, collected breath she broke away from the memory of the dark alley and returned to the bright restaurant. She wanted him to tell her what had happened. She wanted him to put the pieces together, to put her broken pieces back together. Trembling navy met with solid turquoise, waiting for the permission to start:
‘Amelia Elizabeth Matson, or later known as Amelia Lestrade, was working for the Military Intelligence for 17 years. She was highly capable, intelligent, adaptable and one of the best agents MI6 ever had. She acquired quite a fame before she retired and gave birth to a daughter. Later she went on to work as a teacher at UCL and a freelancer journalist. In 2006, however, she stumbled upon a man who owned one of the biggest newspaper companies in the world. Her instincts kicked in as she couldn’t help but started investigating. She dug deep down and uncovered secrets that would make the man fall. Having been threatened on numerous occasions, she refused to back down as she was fighting for what she believed was right. Exceptional as she was, she managed to shed light on one of the most notorious terrorist groups operating in London. However, before she could connect it to the man, she was killed with cold blood. All the evidence miraculously disappeared; there were no eye-witnesses, no case. In short, her murder was smothered up.’
Crystal teardrops fell on the papers, starting their journey on the white porcelain of the girl’s skin, glistening the way down, finally coming to an end on the indigo ink, transforming into bluish drops. Lisbeth was crying without sound. She had no idea that her mother was a spy, not even the faintest. She felt betrayed; she couldn’t believe that her mother, the closest and most important person to her, kept it in secret. Or maybe…the thought in the back of her mind occurred to her, she was protecting her. As sentiment was battling against reason in her, she desperately needed someone to break the stalemate and decide which belligerent deserved to win. Just as if he could read minds, Sherlock, the knight in the sobering armour of reality, lifted her chin up gently. Through the midst of her tears she glanced up at the coal black curls.
‘Your father, ‘the story teller continued the bitter tale, resting his hand on the girl’s chin which twitched upon hearing the obnoxious word, ‘did everything in his power to hunt down everyone responsible for his wife’s death and bring them to justice.’ The detective left no time for his partner to react as he took out a crumbled piece of paper from the bottom of his pockets:

‘You have a very gorgeous daughter Mr Lestrade. It would be a shame if something happened to her. Peculiar, very charming. After all, young, blonde, rebellious teenage girls are easy to find themselves in trouble. And we both know that there are worse things in this ferocious world than death. If you don’t give up investigating, you might visit two graves.
Yours faithfully,
CAM’
As the deep voice read out loud, Lisbeth couldn’t hold it any longer and she burst out in tears. Burying her face in her arms, in a muffled voice she rambled:
‘No, no, no, no. It cannot be. No, he wouldn’t… he shouldn’t, he should have-‘
‘That’s enough, ‘he interrupted firmly.’ ‘Your father had done what was the best for you.’
‘No, he should have found the murderer! He shouldn’t have given up on her! She was my mother!’ She yelled, her vision blurred with crimson fury, deep, unknown anger for the sweltering injustice of her mother’s death. As the candle’s light extinguished enhancing the dark mood, cold, grey smoke mixed with heat of the thin air. Curious faces turned in their direction, but she couldn’t care less about making a scene, or everyone around her, except the detective whose eyes were fixed at her, giving something to hold on.
‘Lisbeth!’ she addressed her assertively as his hands gently, but firmly took her hands. ’She was his wife too. He loved her. He loved her as much as he loves you.’
‘Oh please,’ Lisbeth laughed bitterly.
‘Would you just shut up for a moment?’ he lost his patience. Lisbeth was so surprised by the sudden mood change that she immediately went quiet.
‘Your father was a great help when we were looking for you. He did everything he could and this time he wouldn’t give up for the world. Without him, maybe, I wouldn’t have been able to find you.’
The girl’s jaw felt. Not only did the detective admit that he couldn’t do something on his own, but he was defending her father the same time. What was going on?
‘What are you doing?’ The willowy figure demanded as his feminine counterpart started to examine his eyes and check his pulse.
‘Just checking whether you have been drugged or about to die or-’
‘Oh, stop it,’ a ghost of smile quivered on his lips. ‘Your father had made an extremely hard decision; he chose to protect you. Don’t be mistaken, I admit that he has his shortcomings and he’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, quite a snob, a control maniac, he has many faults. But he took good care of you and raised quite an extraordinary person. Although I am sure your mother played a great part in it.’
Lisbeth was all smiles, but her face suddenly clouded over, as she remembered an important question left unanswered:
‘CAM. Who is CAM?’
‘Charles Augustus Magnussen. The man I shot in the head two years ago,’ Sherlock gave a casual answer keeping his cool, as if he had not just openly admitted a murder in a restaurant full of curious ears. Lisbeth was so taken aback that she was at a loss for words. Emotions stirred in her and she couldn’t find one dominant. She was furious; her precious revenge was taken away. She felt pride and infinite gratitude for Sherlock. Sorrow compassed her. But most of all… she was relieved. She knew time has come for closure. After all these years, she could make peace with her past, put it in a big, wooden chest, lock the key and hide it in the back of a drawer later to be discovered by an eager adventurer, or a writer. She knew she would one day write down the story to pay a tribute to her mother, but she was not ready. Not yet.
‘I guess then… That’s it. My mother’s case is officially closed,’ she cleared her throat and her gaze met with the detective’s. For an eternal moment they communicated without speaking.
‘Thank you,’ she broke the silence quietly. ‘You know how much this means to me.’
‘You are very welcome,’ his handsome face was illuminated by a warm smile.
‘Very well then, we still have another case!’ he suddenly pulled his hand away and started searching in his pocket.
‘Oh Sherlock, can’t I have my moment here, please?’ Lisbeth retorted, swiping away the files and her tears.
‘This is the very moment,’ Sherlock declared and placed a petit, tetragon-shaped case in front of her, its wrapping matching the girl’s navy eyes.
‘What is it? A priceless family heirloom stolen from an old lady?’ she inquired, at the centre of her questioned gaze the little box.
‘Well, it certainly is an heirloom as it belonged to my grandmother, who, you are right, was an old lady. But it’s not the ring which is priceless, but the girl I am giving it to,’ the deep and beloved voice explained, but his voice was somehow muffled, and the girl knew immediately that he was not sitting in front of her anymore.
As Lisbeth’s eyes fell to the floor she saw Sherlock was kneeling. Sherlock Holmes, the one and only consulting detective in the world, was kneeling in front of her, gazing at her face as a man who has seen the Sun for the first time, holding a magnificent gold ring, with a peculiar navy blue stone shining in the middle of it.
Although it happened to her quite frequently since they met, she never felt so much at a loss for words and to be honest, completely, utterly shocked.
‘Lisbeth Adelaide Lestrade, I don’t want you to be the woman, I want you to be the wife. Will you marry me?’ he proposed, his handsome face smirking. The words were put together with great care, made complete sense, and reached their highest potential only in this constellation. He pronounced each one clearly and they came together in a flawless symphony. The composition was brought to perfection by constant, unflagging rehearsals. The lady in question still couldn’t find her voice or anything to hold on to. She must be dreaming. She must be dead.
‘Lestrade,’ the gentleman in action cleared his throat, ‘This is starting to become quite a predicament. If you don’t want to be my wife, that’s fine, however I am, alongside with the entire restaurant, waiting for your answer.’
As he used her last name Lisbeth came back to life. She shook her head to clear it, realised at once that it could be interpreted as a no, bowed madly and yelled out:
‘I am glad you finally reach this conclusion. Of course, Sherlock, I’ll marry you!’ Sherlock sighed with relief and put the ring on Lisbeth’s fingers. The very moment he rose the girl fell on his neck and kissed her full of passion and joy. Sherlock lips reacted with mutual enthusiasm and started a swift dance. As his hands cupped the girl’s face, her fingers ran through the black locks. They were lost in the kiss, but were interrupted by the crowd cheering and clapping around them lead by no other than Angelo.
‘Oh I have forgot all the idiots around us,’ he murmured, his temple leaning against the girl’s.
‘Let’s go home then, shall we?’ she suggested still on the spur of the moment.
‘We shall,’ he agreed. The girl laughed at him, gave a peck on his mouth and grabbed his hand. As they stepped out the restaurant, closing the door and silencing the cheering behind them she smiled at him widely:
‘C’mon, the world’s only consulting detective! The world’s only consulting wife cannot wait to tell everybody about the news. Uncle is going to explode. Haha. Father will definitely send you in exile to Siberia. And Mycroft, do you think he would attend the wedding? Oh you could finally prove Mrs Hudson that you are not gay, though I was rooting for you and John, John and Mary! And little Rosie. And Molly!’
‘Oh, shut up!’ he grabbed her by the collar, gently, but very alluringly and silenced her with a kiss which made her blush. While waiting for a taxi, she looked up, her blonde hair falling into the crest of her shoulder-blades. She fell silent, gazing into the dark canvas of the sky. The silver paint drips of the stars glistened in the navy mirror of her eyes. Sherlock absorbed every detail of her face, the long, straight nose, the deep circles around her eyes, her lips pressed softly together, her brows lifted slightly. As her eyes landed on him, he was hit by an overwhelming feeling and he knew he was in love.
‘You are not a consulting wife, you are mine only,’ he stated, flagging a taxi and holding the girl in a close embrace.
‘We could say, in your language, that I have won the game,’ a victorious smile flashed across her face.
‘No, definitely not. Because I am not playing anymore. I got everything I wanted. This is not a game anymore. This is the beginning of a new era,’ Lisbeth was very grateful that Sherlock was holding her because that was the moment when her knees were no longer willing to work.
‘221B Baker Street,’ Sherlock told the taxi driver as he, the world’s only consulting detective, and the girl, not the woman, but soon to be the wife, got in the car.

THE END