Eve's life isn't like the lives of her classmates.
She supposes that she was conceived in the usual fashion, as far as she knows, but that's about the last conventional thing that's happened to her.
She doesn't remember being born, obviously, but she knows about it because her Dad's told her the story. Her Father (not really her father, but she doesn't know who that is, and it doesn't bother her too much because she has Dad and Father, and that's okay) delivered her underneath the Waterloo Bridge on a snowy night in January.
Actually, it was December 31st, but by the time Eve had made her entrance into the world, it was January 1.
Dad told her that it was ironic (Eve looked the word up later) that it was Father who delivered her – Father, who knows more about dead bodies than living ones. Dad had coached him over text message, though. Dad laughed when he said that part and called it "typical." Eve looked that up, too, and had to agree with him.
Father spends most of his time attached to his phone – the only one who spends more is Auntie Anthea (although she hates it when anybody calls her that – so Father does it deliberately). Eve can't remember when he's not had his phone attached to his hand somehow.
Mrs Hudson says that she once came up to visit them all when they lived above her and found Father with Eve asleep on his chest, typing madly away with his thumb on his phone.
Eve believes it, too. When she can't sleep at night, and Father sits up with her to chase away the bad dreams, the glow of his phone is a comforting night-light.
And this could be the story of how Eve came to live with Father and Dad. How her mum dropped her off with Mrs Hudson three days after she was born and disappeared back into Father's network of homeless people. How Father had ranted and how Dad rocked her for four straight days because she wouldn't stop crying.
And it could be the story of how Dad wouldn't wake up one night because he was so tired, and of how Father had to spend the night with her, and of how when Dad woke up the next morning he found them asleep on the sofa together, Eve lying on top of Father and Father dead to the world, phone on the floor beside him.
But this isn't that story.
It's not even the story of the time Eve took the severed fingers she'd found in the breadbox to Reception to show off. Although of all the stories Dad likes to tell, the story of the phone call home from Mrs Thadani and what Uncle Mycroft had to do about it is probably his favorite.
No, this is Eve's story. And it's about Eve and who she is and where she came from. It belongs to her.
It's got a heroine (her), her Father and her Dad, Uncle Mycroft, Auntie Anthea, and even Mrs Hudson. Uncle Greg's in it too. But most importantly, it has a villain.
A villain she defeated. The villain is Father and Dad's enemy, too. And the moral of the story is that when it comes to family, there's not a force in the world that can tear them apart. And she's proud of that.
Especially because the villain's name is James Moriarty.
This is how her story happened. It starts when she's nine. That's the last year they're living in Baker Street, the year before they move to the country and Father decides he wanted to study apiology. (Eve had to look that one up too; it's the study of bees, and while she's not all that keen on being stung, she and Dad do like honey.) And now that they live in the country, she gets to have a dog, too. His name is Toby.
But this story begins on a stormy February night in London. Father was off bothering that nice Inspector Lestrade (that's Uncle Greg) at Scotland Yard, according to Mrs Hudson, and Dad was working a later shift at the surgery. Eve and Mrs Hudson were in Mrs Hudson's sitting room. Eve was doing her homework, and Mrs Hudson was watching her telly with the sound turned down so that it wouldn't disturb Eve.
Afterward, Eve will think that it's just like how Snoopy's stories begin – it was a dark and stormy night.
And it was dark and stormy – or blustery, as Mrs Hudson described it. That made Eve laugh, to think of a night so violent described the way Winnie-the-Pooh would. Suddenly, the lights flickered and went out.
"Oh dear!" cried Mrs Hudson. "A fuse must have blown."
Eve jumped up, glad to have an excuse to get away from her maths homework for a bit.
"Do you want me to change it?" she asked. "Dad showed me how, and it's not difficult. You should stay here and rest your hip." Eve nodded for emphasis in the dark, even though she was aware Mrs Hudson couldn't actually see her.
"Oh, well, you're very good to do that, Eve," Mrs Hudson replied, sounding doubtful. "Let me see if I can find the torch."
Eve picked up the mobile phone that Father had insisted she carry with her at all times and flipped it open. By the wavering blue light, she and Mrs Hudson were able to find the torch: an ancient aluminum one with a tiny, weak bulb.
"It belonged to Mr Hudson," Mrs Hudson said. And although she didn't intend to sound ghoulish, a shiver went down Eve's spine. The torch of a murderer! It was silly, of course; there were loads of things in their flat upstairs that had belonged to murderers, but Eve wasn't allowed to touch most of those – Dad was always very careful about that. In fact, in a lot of cases, Eve didn't want to know what the odd things that Father collected were from. Body parts were one thing, but Eve knew that if she thought too much about the souvenirs that Father sometimes nicked from Uncle Greg's evidence room, she'd give herself nightmares.
Nevertheless, Eve knew she was, at heart, a brave young lady (hadn't Uncle Greg told her that loads of times?), and by the dim light of the torch, she made her way out of Mrs Hudson's flat and down the narrow stairs to the basement.
Halfway down the stairs she remembered why she didn't like going down to the basement, even in full daylight with all the lights on. The basement itself wasn't that scary – just the furnace and some old boxes that belonged to Mrs Hudson (she wouldn't let Dad and Father store things down there). It was the flat opposite the basement – 221 C.
That was what scared Eve. 221C had been empty for as long as she had lived with Father and Dad and Mrs Hudson, but she knew that the year before she was born, it had been used by Father and Dad's enemy to plant clues that had lead Father and Dad into a trap that had nearly killed them both.
Eve knew that they'd both come out alive, and more than okay, because they were here now, and took care of her, and walked her to school and told her bedtime stories and helped her with her homework and took her to the park and sometimes, when Dad wasn't around, Father would take her to St Bart's to look at the cadavers and ask questions of Dr Hooper – Eve knew that she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up – but it still scared her to think that Father and Dad might have died that night and that the person who killed them had been in her house.
She didn't like it one bit. But Mrs Hudson was waiting upstairs in the dark, and Eve had to change the fuse.
There were thirteen steps down to the basement, and Eve counted every single one.
The door to the storage room was on her left, and she shone the weak beam of the torch on the handle. As she did so, she had a spooky feeling, like she was being watched.
She wasn't being watched – it was just her imagination. Eve opened the door to the storage room.
There it was again, that prickly feeling on the back of her neck. She was being watched. Eve spun around and looked behind her.
The door to 221C had been open and was now swinging shut. Eve heard the door click on the latch, but not before she could have sworn that she saw an eye staring at her in the dim light cast by the torch.
Thunder crashed overhead and a door upstairs blew open.
At which point, the dim bulb of the torch flickered and went out.
Eve's nerve broke, and she screamed and ran for the stairs. How she made it up them in complete darkness, she never afterwards figured out, or remembered, because the next thing she knew she was in Dad's arms, close, safe, and damp from the rain that had soaked his mac.
She rubbed her face against his knobbly jumper and smelled the smells of the surgery – antiseptic – and the smells of the city – the underground, traffic, rain, and wet pavement.
"What's wrong, little bit?" Dad asked, once Eve had stopped crying. That was the great thing about Dad: he was so patient, holding on to her and waiting until she'd stopped crying to ask questions. Father always bombarded her with questions before she'd calmed down, usually winding up in one of them (usually Eve) shouting at the other (usually Father) to "just stop"! Dad usually stepped in at that point.
"There's… a fuse, and a murderer in 221C, and I got scared and…" The words tumbled out in a rush.
"Well, let's start with the fuse. We can't catch a murderer if we can't see him," Dad said, setting Eve down and straightening up. By the light of the streetlamp outside, Eve saw that he was smiling at her.
By this time Mrs Hudson had lit candles, and together, with a candle each ("be careful, Eve, we don't want to burn the place down" – as if she would. She wasn't Father, who'd probably set fire to the place to study the effects of arson) they made their way to the basement and easily changed the fuse.
The shadows in the hallway sprang back, the dingy bulb illuminating the door to 221C. Even though she was a brave girl, Eve clung to her Dad's hand.
"Now, what happened?" Dad asked.
"I saw the door open, and an eye," Eve said quietly. "It was staring at me. And then the door swung shut."
"Was this eye attached to anything?" Dad asked, a hint of irritation in his voice.
"Yes, Dad," Eve replied. "I'm not scared of unattached eyes. I see those all the time."
Beside her, Dad chuckled. "Yes, I suppose you would, wouldn't you? Okay, let's see what there is to see."
He turned on his high-powered torch, the one Eve and Father had bought for him for Christmas last year, and together, they opened the door to 221C.
There was nothing there.
"Well, Eve…" Dad said, shining the torch into the corners of the room. "I'm not sure…"
"There was someone, Dad, I didn't just imagine it!" Eve exclaimed, disappointment uncurling in her stomach.
"I don't think you did. But we'll have to wait until Father gets home and it's daylight, okay? Then we'll look the room over carefully. But for now, let's lock it up and go back upstairs. Have you had your tea yet?"
Eve nodded. "Hopefully we haven't contaminated anything. Uncle Greg says that it's the first thing that you have to be careful of, is not to contaminate the crime scene. He says he shouts at Father a lot for doing that."
Dad pulled the door to 221C shut and laughed.
"Yes, yes he does. Come on, little bit, let's go upstairs; it's getting close to time for you to have your bath."
Eve sighed – bathing, eating, sleeping, homework, maths – all of those boring things kept getting in the way of solving mysteries.
Not that she wanted to solve mysteries like Father and Uncle Greg did. It had seemed exciting at first, when she was little – only last year, but still, she knew much more now than she did then, back then – and she'd wanted to be just like them, but Uncle Greg had agreed one day during the summer hols for her to come along on a stakeout with Father, and it had been a lot of sitting in Uncle Greg's police car waiting for something to happen.
And then Uncle Greg and Father had done a lot of running. And she'd had to call Dad from a telephone box to come and pick her up. Thankfully Uncle Greg had told her where they were – Rayner's Lane – so Dad didn't have to call Uncle Mycroft for help.
Dad had shouted at both Uncle Greg and Father, but then Father had told Dad exactly what had happened, and Dad's eyes had lit up and he'd said "brilliant" in that tone that told Eve that everything was going to be all right.
She'd had a long talk with Dad and Father that night and told them that while solving mysteries looked like fun, if it ended up in being shouted at by Dad, she wasn't sure she wanted to do it.
Father had taken her onto his knee at that point and said that there were a lot of other ways she could solve mysteries that wouldn't get her in trouble with Dad or sitting in a hot car in an alley for hours on end.
He'd pointed out that Dr Hooper solved mysteries all the time, even if she did like pink too much (Eve didn't understand that part, she liked pink, too, and she liked Dr Hooper), she was very good at figuring out what had happened to people after they had died.
He even said that Anderson was occasionally good at that, too. And Dad had laughed and asked Father to repeat that into his phone to play back the next time he was at a crime scene.
Eve decided that she still liked mysteries, though. She wondered if there was a way she could solve mysteries in her spare time while being a doctor, like Dad.
As Eve gathered her books and said good night to Mrs Hudson, she thought about the mystery downstairs. She knew what she had seen, and she wasn't about to let homework get in the way of important things.
In the bath, stifling huge yawns, she thought some more about what she would need to solve the mystery. Father's magnifying glass, certainly, and maybe Dr Hooper would let her use the lab tomorrow afternoon – she could skive off her hockey practice, saying she wasn't feeling well – Father had taught her how to forge his signature, just in case of emergencies. But first, she had to gather evidence.
In bed, after Father had come home in time to kiss her goodnight (he almost always did), she thought some more about how to gather evidence. It would have to be early in the morning. Before either Dad or Father woke up.
If Father slept tonight – but it sounded like he wasn't in the middle of a case, so it was probable he would.
Eve rolled over and opened her mobile, setting the alarm for 5.30. It would still be dark, but she'd nicked Dad's torch (safely hidden under her pillow) and some latex gloves from Father's lab box. She had all she needed.
As she was drifting off to sleep, she heard Father and Dad's voices floating up the stairs from the sitting room.
"… she saw something." Dad.
"She has a vivid imagination," replied Father.
"I don't think she'd make this up – she was terrified."
"Did you see any evidence of habitation?"
"No. Nothing's out of place at all." A pause. "No smells, either. Yes, I checked."
There was another long pause.
"We'll go down there tomorrow after she's gone to school and have a look, if it makes you feel better, John."
"It's probably squirrels," Dad said. "Or, well, do you think… a squatter? He could have come in through the window in the sitting room and then buggered off when he hear Eve scream."
"It's probable – this is bothering you, isn't it?"
"I don't like our little girl being frightened. I think… well, she's not… this isn't the best place to raise a child."
Father sighed. "I know, but I need to be near…"
"Your work, yes."
Eve was fighting sleep; it was a conversation she'd heard many times over the last year. As she drifted off she heard:
"But I also… we've never found him, and I worry that Eve…"
"He won't. Mycroft makes sure of that. And we'll find him."
The last thing Eve heard was Dad's gentle chuckle and:
The rain lashed the windows, a gentle lullaby.
Eve realized at five-thirty the next morning that getting up that early wasn't as glamorous as she'd thought it was the night before.
But there was a murderer in the basement, and it was her job to catch him. Even if Dad and Father didn't believe her. It wasn't that she didn't think they thought she was lying. Exaggerating, maybe, but grownups could be so dull sometimes. Even Father didn't always see what he was supposed to. Things that were right in front of him.
She pulled on her school uniform (she knew she could skive off hockey practice, but not all of school), and crept downstairs. From Father and Dad's room, she could hear Father snoring slightly. Good. Risking a peek in, she saw they were both sound asleep, holding hands atop the duvet.
Eve smiled. Penny at school said that her mum had said that Father and Dad were the cutest couple she'd ever seen, and how nice that was after so many years. Especially because Father was… well, Father.
Eve crept downstairs, past Mrs Hudson's door and down to the basement. Only then did she realize that she'd forgotten to get the key to 221C from Mrs Hudson. How she was supposed to do that, she hadn't thought about – it was bad enough that she'd stolen Dad's torch and Father's magnifier and latex gloves. Eve wasn't a thief normally, but she needed these things.
Fortunately, the door to 221C was ajar.
Eve was certain she and Dad had pulled it shut the night before. Well, it was open now. She froze, every instinct telling her to run back upstairs, wake Father and Dad, and bring them down here. Preferably with Dad's gun, which she and Father weren't allowed under any circumstances to touch.
There was no help for it. Eve had to know what was in the flat. She pushed the door open and shone the bright beam of the torch into the grotty sitting room.
On the floor, in the middle of the room on the manky carpet, there lay a pink iPhone.
Eve recognized it. It was one of Father's relics from the case with Him. Dad and Father had never mentioned His name when they talked about the incident with the pool, but Eve knew who He was; she'd heard bits of the story over the years and had pieced together a picture of Him: Father and Dad's enemy. The man who wanted to hurt them. And now the phone that had been the start of it all was lying on the carpet in the middle of 221C.
She should go upstairs and wake Father and Dad and call Uncle Gregory right now. Eve pulled on the latex gloves and shone the light into the corners of the room.
Nobody was there.
She really needed to go upstairs.
She stepped into the room and picked up the phone, pressing the "on" button. There was a message waiting.
She should go upstairs.
Eve pushed the sidebar (difficult with a latex glove) and hit the "play message" button.
The phone beeped once – the GMT pips.
And then a picture popped up. It was Eve's school picture from last year. The one that Auntie Anthea had had Uncle Mycroft frame and put on his desk at work. The one that Dad had in his office.
Eve froze. This was, as Dad would say, not good at all.
She should go upstairs and wake them now.
Eve stopped. If she woke Father and Dad now, she'd have a lot of explaining to do. Mostly about why she had Dad's torch and Father's gloves, and Uncle Greg's evidence bags, and a forged note, and now this.
There was nothing for it. Eve slipped the phone into the evidence bag and backed out of the room, being sure to push the door shut all the way so that it locked.
She stowed the evidence in her schoolbag beneath her maths homework (finally done) and left the bag in the hallway.
Upstairs, she could hear Dad moving around the kitchen and the clink of china against glass as he moved Father's beakers and flasks out of the way. She looked at her watch. There was no way she could sneak back upstairs without Dad noticing her.
Sometimes, Father said, being bold enough and looking as if you knew what you were doing was the best defense against getting caught. Especially if you'd been sneaking.
"Morning, Dad!" she chirped as she got to the top of the stairs. She was lucky; Dad turned around and smiled at her.
"Hello, little bit," he said. "You're up early."
"Oh, I couldn't sleep… I had to, erm, finish my English homework," Eve lied. She felt immediately guilty. She hated lying to Dad.
"Ah, well, breakfast then?" Dad asked.
"Yes, Fruitabix, please!" Eve replied with a wide smile.
The morning and early afternoon dragged on, but finally the last bell rang and Eve rocketed down the stairs, past the locker room, stopping only to grab her coat and her bag and practically throw the note at Miss Jenks, the hockey coach.
Outside, children were streaming from the building, some to waiting parents and others to older siblings.
Eve was a big enough girl; she'd convinced her parents to allow her to walk home from school by herself. Because really, between Uncle Mycroft and Uncle Greg and Father, who in London would dare snatch her?
Uncle Mycroft. The thought made Eve stop suddenly on the pavement.
What if he saw her? Father was always going on about his ever-present cameras. It was a risk she'd have to take. Eve turned her steps to the high street and waved down a taxi. At least this way, she stood less of a chance of being spotted.
Fortunately, she'd thought to raid her bank before she had started her adventure, although she'd have to take the Underground home from St Bart's. But by then, it wouldn't matter because she'd have all the evidence she needed.
Now, if only Father wasn't bothering Dr Hooper today. In the back of the cab, Eve crossed her fingers and hoped for the best.
Luck was with her. Father wasn't at St Bart's, but Dr Hooper was.
"Hi, Eve!" Dr Hooper said, as Eve pushed open the door to the mortuary.
"Hi, Dr Hooper." Eve smiled. Over the years, Dr Hooper had let her ride on the rolling chair in her office and play with her computer, and on one memorable occasion, allowed her to watch as Father drilled into a cadaver with an electric drill (Dad hadn't been too happy about that, but Eve thought it was really interesting the way the bone hadn't shattered the way everyone else had thought it would).
"Your father's not here," Dr Hooper said, peeling off her latex gloves and walking over to her for her hug.
Eve hugged her and wrinkled her nose at the smell of the formaldehyde.
"That's good, actually," Eve said, "because I need your help in the lab. Father doesn't know I'm here, and you can't tell him or Dad about this. Promise?"
Dr Hooper frowned and Eve held her breath, hoping that this wouldn't be the one time Dr Hooper decided to tell Eve's parents on her.
"It's important," Eve added. "Life and death important." She nodded seriously.
Dr Hooper smiled.
"You sound just like your Father," she said. "Wait a bit while I finish up, and we'll go up together.
"Thanks!" Eve said with a huge smile. "You won't regret this."
Dr Hooper looked at her oddly. "If I had a quid for every time your Father's said that to me…" she said.
Eve grinned and scrambled onto bed number two to watch Dr Hooper finish up her work on bed number one.
"What'd he die of?" she asked, while Dr Hooper sewed shut the incisions.
"Cardiac arrest, brought on by years of…" Dr Hooper began to explain her findings as Eve fed her questions. Then Eve told Dr Hooper all about what had happened in school the past week, and how Miss Daly, her English teacher, wanted them to write a whole essay on a book of their choice, and what Gary "The Bastard" White had said to Danny at lunch today, and how she rather fancied Danny but didn't have the nerve to say anything. And Dr Hooper smiled and gave her advice about Danny, and told her not to worry about Miss Daly, that she'd find a book, but she'd probably better ask Dad for help, because Father would make her read something that would frighten Miss Daly.
That was the great thing about Dr Hooper, Eve thought, as they walked upstairs to the lab. She asked questions, but she was always willing to keep Eve's secrets.
Because there were some things that you just couldn't tell Father and Dad. Some things you needed to tell to a girl.
In the lab, Eve carefully put down her schoolbag.
"Gloves?" she asked Dr Hooper.
"Oh, of course, here." Dr Hooper handed her a pair of gloves. "What… I didn't think you wanted to solve mysteries."
"I don't. Not usually," answered Eve, pulling out the evidence bag that held the phone. "But this one needed to be solved."
She set the bag and the phone on the lab bench, scrambled up onto a stool, and turned to Dr Hooper.
"I think the first thing I'll need to do is check it for prints," Eve announced.
Dr Hooper said nothing. She was very pale. Paler even than Father, after a case where he hadn't eaten for three days. (Eve had tried this once, and it had helped her concentration a bit, but the headache afterwards had been too much for her to want to do it again.)
"Dr Hooper?" she asked. "Are you okay?"
"Erm… Eve, where did you get that phone?"
Eve stared at the phone. There were no new messages on it.
She pushed the button and activated the home screen. Her face smiled at her and Dr Hooper.
"The sitting room of 221C," she said.
"How?" Dr Hooper asked, grabbing the edge of the lab bench.
Eve sighed. She'd hoped that Dr Hooper wouldn't ask too many questions, but she guessed that she was lucky enough to even have access to the lab, especially since she was running out of time.
"Fine," Eve said. "I'll tell you but you can't tell anyone and you can't ask questions, because I'm skiving off of hockey practice and I'm not supposed to be here anyway, and I don't have a lot of time."
And she poured out the whole story – the power outage, the basement, the torch, the open door, the eye, Dad, the phone and her plan.
At the end of it, Dr Hooper still looked pale and upset.
"I… I know whose phone that is," she finally said.
"Why didn't you tell me that earlier?" she demanded and then added quickly, "Sorry, sorry, Dad says I'm not allowed to use that tone of voice – it's bad enough that Father does in front of me."
Dr Hooper smiled tightly and put her hand on Eve's shoulder.
"It's okay, Eve," she said. "I'll let it go this once."
"I'm sorry," Eve said again. "Whose phone is it?"
Dr Hooper looked behind her, as if somebody might open the door to the lab.
"It's… it's Moriarty's," she whispered.
Eve felt a shiver go up her spine. His phone.
The phone bleeped at them and they both jumped.
One Message Waiting
Before Dr Hooper could stop her, Eve reached out a finger and touched the "play message" light.
"HELLO, lovers!" a lilting Irish voice cried from the phone, "Did you miss me? I hope you did, because I missed YOU! But before Daddy gets bored, make sure you look really carefully around the flat! I hid something there, just for YOU! Byeeee!"
Dr Hooper looked angry.
"That bastard!" she hissed. "That raving lunatic psychopath!"
Eve held her breath. An idea was growing in the back of her mind and she needed to think.
If it was Him – Father and Dad's enemy, James Moriarty, the consulting criminal, Father's opposite – and he'd set a trap in the basement for Father and Dad, then she had, had to get there first. The underground would take too long, and she was out of cab fare.
Eve tugged on Dr Hooper's sleeve.
"We have to go," she said. "Can we use your car?"
"We have to catch him. Please! Molly?" Eve smiled the smile Father had taught her to use when she especially wanted her own way. (It didn’t work on Dad, but it did work on Uncle Greg.)
"Eve, I don't know that… we should call your Dad."
"No! Dr Hooper! We can't! I'll be in trouble if we do!" More practically, she added, "We don't have time, anyway. We have to get back home. We can warn Father and Dad on the way, or something."
Eve waited, holding her breath.
It worked. Dr Hooper nodded once and Eve swept the phone back into the evidence bag and grabbed her schoolbag while Dr Hooper hurried for her purse.
Baker Street was quiet when Dr Hooper and Eve pulled up to the curb in Dr Hooper's battered Mini.
"Where can I park?" Dr Hooper asked.
"Across the street," Eve replied as Dr Hooper pulled out into the street at an alarming speed and swung the car into a tiny space across from Speedy's.
"Come on!" Eve cried impatiently, hurling herself from the car (narrowly missing an oncoming cab) and hurrying to the front door.
She scrabbled for her keys and let them in, dropping the schoolbag underneath the coat hooks and grabbing her hockey stick, thanking her lucky stars that Dad hadn't noticed it when he'd left for the surgery that morning.
Dr Hooper was right behind her as they crept down the stairs to 221C.
"This is where they found Carl Powers' sneakers," Dr Hooper whispered to Eve.
Eve nodded – she'd heard enough of the story to know that part. It was one of the reasons why she hated 221C so much. She'd had bad dreams about Carl Powers for weeks after Uncle Greg had told her about what He had done to him. Just to be safe, she tightened her grip on her hockey stick.
The door to 221C was ajar. Again.
Eve used her toe to pull it open.
In the middle of the room, sitting cross-legged on the manky carpet, exactly where the phone had been, was a smallish man wearing a tidy suit.
From behind her, Dr Hooper gave a strangled scream.
The man looked up in surprise.
"Oh, hello, Molly. Hello, Eve. You weren't what I was expecting at all! Oh, dear, looks like Jim's gone and made a right mistake. You weren't supposed to find the phone. Sherlock was. When he went down to find out what had scared Jim's little girl."
Jim… James… James Moriarty.
"Eve, let's get out of here, now," Dr Hooper said, panic in her voice. "He's a psychopath."
"Oh, Molly, is that how we greet our exes? And Eve, dear, don't you want to come and give your daddy a kiss?"
"EVE!" Dr Hooper cried as Eve took a step into the room.
"Didn't Sherlock tell you?" Eve shook her head. "Oh, perhaps he doesn't know, then…" He stood up and took a step towards Eve and Dr Hooper. "You, my dearest little girl. You're so big now. So grown up."
"I'm… I'm not your girl." Behind her, Eve could hear Dr Hooper digging in her bag for her mobile. She hoped she was calling the police. Her palms were beginning to sweat as she gripped the hockey stick. It was just like in books when the hero's feet got cold and his knees started to shake.
Eve took a deep breath. She was a heroine.
"Oh, but you are Jim's little girl," He said. "You're my daughter. My little bomb, just waiting to go off. Boom, boom!" He rocked back on his heels and laughed. "I can't wait to see Sherlock's face when he sees this!"
Sherlock. Father. Sherlock was her Father, not this man.
"I am not your daughter," Eve said again, taking another step.
"Eve, don't take another step!" Dr Hooper cried.
"Aw, Molly," He said. "You know I never liked it when you cried." To Eve, he continued, "Daddy's through, now. Put the hockey stick down and come with him. It's time to go home, little girl. Playtime's over."
"No." Eve flexed and tightened her grip on the stick. "You can't make me go anywhere."
"Oh, but I can," He whispered, pulling out a gun and pointing it at Dr Hooper. "And if you don't come with me, Dr Hooper will be…"
"DOWN!" Eve screamed. And a lot of things happened at once. First, Eve took one final step. Second, she swung the hockey stick, just as her Dad had taught her, aiming straight for his knees. Third, the gun went off, and Eve hoped the sound behind her was Dr Hooper getting out of the way. Fourth, He fell to his knees with a surprised yell.
Fifth and sixth, Eve whacked Him on the head with her hockey stick and kicked Him in the groin.
He crumpled into a ball and lay still on the filthy carpet.
"Eve," Dr Hooper gasped, scrambling to her feet. "Are you okay?"
"Handcuffs," Eve replied. "Quick, before he wakes up. They're upstairs. Hold this." And she shoved the hockey stick into Dr Hooper's hands and ran for the stairs. "You might want to take the gun, too!" she shouted.
As she was running through the flat, handcuffs in hand (if Dad hadn't wanted her to find them, he wouldn't have hid them in his nightstand next to the slimy stuff and the small packets of latex), she heard sirens in the distance, growing closer.
221C was just as she'd left it – Dr Hooper had Him at gunpoint, but there was very little need, since He was still unconscious. Dr Hooper was also calling Him lots of very mean names and a load of words that Eve was sure she wasn't supposed to hear.
"I got them," Eve panted, holding up the handcuffs. "Help me roll him over."
Together, they managed to get Him onto His side and cuffed properly.
"It looks easier when Uncle Greg does it," Eve confessed to Dr Hooper, who smiled back at her, albeit a bit wanly.
And of course at that moment, the door to the building crashed open and a flood of policemen and women (including DI Donovan) burst into the building, followed closely by Uncle Greg, Uncle Mycroft, and Father and Dad.
There was a small pile-up in the doorway as everyone careened to a halt to take in the scene:
Eve standing over the prone Moriarty with her hockey stick firmly raised against attack, and Dr Hooper, crouched with the gun held in both hands, pointing it between the door and the figure on the floor.
Eve swallowed and looked at Dr Hooper. Together, slowly, they put their respective weapons down and raised their hands. There was no denying it now. Eve was in serious trouble. More serious trouble than accidentally-on-purpose taking the toes in her lunch bag to scare Gary "The Bastard" White last week.
The silence was terrifying.
Dad broke it first.
"Eve!" he exclaimed. "What in the hell is going on?"
It was all a bit much. Eve's resolve to be a brave girl crumpled, and she began to cry.
It was Father who first shoved his way through the clutch of bodies at the door and stepped over the body and gathered Eve up into his arms. Uncle Greg was helping Dr Hooper to her feet, and DI Donovan was talking into her radio. Dad was right behind him.
It was Father, though, who carried her upstairs with Dad next to them, the whole time, his hand on her back.
Eve remembered those times when Dad would carry her like this and Father would stand beside him, pressing close to Dad and her.
She dropped her head to Father's shoulder.
"What have they been feeding you at school?" Father asked her as they slowly climbed the stairs to their flat.
"Sherlock… she brings her lunch," Dad murmured. "I make it for her every morning."
Eve smiled into his jacket. So like Father not to know something like that. Dad had explained it to her many times: Father didn't know some things, but other things he knew very well indeed.
It was all a bit confusing, though, and Eve had learned early on to ask Dad for help with her homework instead of Father.
Father set her down when they reached the flat and led her into his and Dad's bedroom.
"Now, tell me all about it," he said, pulling her onto the bed and settling her between his legs.
Eve leaned against his chest and drew a shuddering sigh. Here came the scolding. She'd have to tell them the whole story now.
"I'll make tea," Dad said, "I can hear you from here."
"How did you know I was in the basement?" Eve asked first. Perhaps a good offense was the best defense – Uncle Mycroft had told her that plenty of times.
"Dr Hooper called us. She told us what you had found and were making her do," Father said.
"Which, young lady…" Dad poked his head into the bedroom, "You are never to do again without consulting me or Father first. Do you understand?"
"I know you're cross with me," she said softly, staring at her toes, framed by Father's long legs. "I'd probably be cross with me too."
Father shifted behind her and Dad coughed slightly.
"But it had to be done!" Eve hurried on before she could lose her nerve. Dad came in and sat on the bed.
"Why is that, Eve?" he asked.
"Because… because, well, it had to," Eve said, wrinkling her nose. "I couldn't wait. It was my mystery."
Dad laughed and patted her leg, and then gave Father's leg a squeeze.
"She's our girl, all right," he said to Father. Father laughed a deep rumbling laugh and wrapped his arms around her, resting his cheek on her dark hair.
Eve squirmed, suddenly remembering something He had said downstairs.
"He said… he said I was His daughter, though. That's not true, is it?"
Eve twisted to look at Father and then at Dad.
"Who said, Eve?" Dad asked.
"HE, did. Downstairs."
"Moriarty?" Father asked.
"Now, Eve, you know enough about Moriarty to know that you can't believe…," Dad began.
"John," Father interrupted.
"She's going to find out anyway, John. We shouldn't lie to her."
There was silence. Dad looked unhappy, and Eve wormed her way back into Father's embrace.
At that moment, Uncle Mycroft stuck his head in the door.
"DCI Lestrade is almost done," he said. "But he'd like a statement from Eve as soon as it's convenient."
"Now is not a good time, Mycroft," Father said sharply.
Eve watched as Uncle Mycroft looked from Father to Dad.
"What happened?" he asked finally.
Dad looked very unhappy.
"Moriarty said something to Eve," he said.
"Oh. Oh, dear," Uncle Mycroft said, leaning against the doorframe.
"And John decided to be …" Father began.
"I did not," Dad interrupted, "I just don't think that Eve needs to be burdened with…"
"It's true, isn't it?" Eve asked, as the penny dropped. She might have been nine, but she wasn't stupid. "He is my actual father."
The tears began to well up in her eyes again. It was worse than the nightmares about Carl Powers or Mr Hudson. It was worse because it was true, and now Dad and Father wouldn't want her anymore because she belonged to Him.
"Eve, listen," Father said, pulling him closer to her and resting his cheek on the top of her head again. "Your Dad and Uncle Mycroft and I have known for a very long time who your biological father is."
"What he means," Dad said. "Is that we've known, pretty much since you were born, that Moriarty was the man who… fathered you. You know how it takes a man and a woman… erm…"
Eve sighed dramatically.
"Yes, Dad. Father explained the process of sexual reproduction to me," she exclaimed.
From behind her Father coughed again. Uncle Mycroft looked as if he were trying not to laugh, and Dad looked… well, Dad looked like he usually did when Father explained something to Eve: half-exasperated, half-amused.
"But what I didn't explain, Eve," Father continued, "is that it doesn't matter who your biological father is. Do you know why?"
Eve tensed a little – sometimes when Father asked her something, she would give the wrong answer and he'd shout. Not at her, Dad would explain, but at the fact that the world couldn't always keep up with him. Eve didn't understand that completely, but she accepted that Father didn't always mean to shout at her.
"Because you and Dad are my real family?" she ventured, after a pause.
"Exactly." Father gave her a gentle squeeze.
"It's the same as with my mum, isn't it?" Eve asked. "She had me, gave… birth to me, but it's you and Dad who are bringing me up. Because some people don't do a good job being parents… and do a better job doing other things?" She remembered Dad explaining that to her when Aunt Harriet had wanted to have children but Aunt Clara had said "no". That was when she'd asked about her mum for the first time.
"Yes, yes, that's exactly it. Well done, Eve!" Father said.
Uncle Mycroft chuckled.
"You two are doing a remarkable job with the lass, I have to say," he said.
"Of course we are," Father said huffily. "Why would you think we weren't?"
But Uncle Mycroft just smiled.
"Well, Sherlock," Dad said, patting his leg from where he sat at the foot of the bed. "Not every child is brought up with body parts in the fridge. Or skulls on the mantle. And definitely not every child incapacitates a serial bomber who's been on the loose for nine years with one blow of a hockey stick."
Eve giggled as Uncle Mycroft pressed his lips together. He looked like a constipated heron when he did that. And he did tend to do it a lot around Father and Dad.
"Having said that, John," he said. "Perhaps now would be a good time to discuss my offer?"
Father made an irritated sound and patted Eve on the back.
"Get down, Eve," he said. "I need you to bring me my violin."
"Eve, don't you dare move," Dad snapped.
But Eve climbed into Dad's lap instead.
From below, she heard thumps and conversation as the police finished their work.
"Can I watch them take Him away?" she asked Dad.
There was a pause as the grownups looked at each other.
Eve sighed gustily and jumped down from Dad's lap.
"Fine," she said, "but I'm going to watch from the window."
"Evelyn Harriet…" Dad began in his warning voice.
"What?" Eve pouted.
"Your Dad is only slightly appalled at your thirst for vengeance, Eve," Uncle Mycroft said, holding out his hand. "You and I can watch together from the window."
Eve grasped Uncle Mycroft's hand and practically skipped with him. That is, Eve skipped. Uncle Mycroft never moved at anything but a deliberate pace – even if he did occasionally twirl his umbrella. (And Eve was practicing that every chance she got, once to the detriment of Father's experiments in the kitchen.)
In the street below, Uncle Greg and DI Donovan were supervising the paramedics who were loading Him into the ambulance. Eve knocked on the window and waved at them.
Uncle Greg looked up and nudged DI Donovan. Both police officers smiled and waved back at her, their faces flashing blue from the lights atop the police cars in the darkening evening.
"They're quite proud of you," Uncle Mycroft said. "Your Father and Dad are, too."
"I thought I'd be in trouble," Eve confessed, pressing her face to the window.
"Well, perhaps a little trouble," Uncle Mycroft said with a chuckle. "But you've managed to accomplish what none of us have. And that's quite impressive.
"Your Father wasn't even as young as you were when he first heard about Carl Powers, did you know that?"
Eve nodded; but the mention of Carl Powers brought back all the fear from earlier. She pressed against her uncle.
"I… I think I'm a little afraid now," she said as he brought his hand to her shoulder. "I wasn't then, but…"
"It's perfectly acceptable to be afraid," Uncle Mycroft said. "Even after something has happened. Your Dad would call it delayed shock."
"Father says that you need a blanket when you're in shock," Eve observed. "I think he's wrong."
"I am never wrong," Father said, coming into the room with an orange blanket. "You are going to sit on the sofa with this around you, and your Dad is going to order Chinese take-away, and then you are going to do your homework and go to bed."
"I'm not hungry or tired!" Eve protested, allowing Father and Uncle Mycroft to steer her to the sofa, draped in the orange blanket. It was a special blanket that Dad used on Father whenever he injured himself or Father draped over her when she got sick.
"Yes, you are," Father replied. "You are starting to stumble when you walk, your eyes are getting puffy, but not from when you were crying earlier, and your tone of voice, young lady, is increasingly petulant."
"I'm not petu- pet-…"
"Petulant," Father said. "Sulky."
"I'm not…," Eve began and then started to laugh, just a little. And Chinese food did sound good.
Outside, the sirens began to sound as police cars pulled away. Uncle Greg came into the flat, followed by Dr Hooper.
"You're just in time for dinner," Uncle Mycroft observed. "I will text Anthea, and it will be a family party."
And later on, that night, when the bad dreams woke her up, Eve crept down the stairs and into bed with Father and Dad. Dad grumbled as she planted her cold feet on his thigh, but pulled her close against his chest as Father's warm hand rested on her shoulder, holding them all together.
As a family.