John comes home to find Irene Adler sitting on the sofa reading The Guardian.
“Jesus fuck.” He drops the Tesco bag, and the milk hits the floor with a vague thump.
Irene looks up, “Honey, you’re home!”
John stares for a moment while Irene folds the paper. She’s dressed in a royal blue jumper, fitted, with a cowl neck and three quarter inch sleeves -- lightweight but elegant. Black slacks with an impeccable crease and leather boots complete the outfit. Her hair is slightly shorter, and down, falling in slight waves down her shoulders. John’s had enough girlfriends to know she’s wearing only minimal makeup, lipgloss and mascara, maybe a little blush. Her eyes are large and impossibly blue. The whole effect is softer, more feminine; it makes John nervous. He can recognize armor, the power in the pull of her usual up-do and the lines of her more severe makeup, but right now she looks . . . unarmed. It puts him on his guard.
Irene seems to notice, her eyes flicking up and down John’s body. She puts the paper on the coffee table.
“You’re taking me to dinner,” she announces, though she doesn’t move from the sofa.
A dozen thoughts flick through John’s mind, I thought you were dead and No, not in bloody hell among them. He licks his lips and asks, “Why?”
Irene reaches into a black bag at her right, pulls something out, and flicks it onto the coffee table between them. John steps forward so that he can see what it is. It’s a photograph of Sherlock; 8”x10”, glossy, color. Semi-poor quality, and clearly candid, almost surveillance-like in nature -- as if from a camera phone. Sherlock is on a street, looking at something to his left, gaze sharp, even in the questionable quality of the photograph. John picks it up off the table, but he doesn’t say anything.
“Notice the advertisement in the background?” Irene asks.
John wants to ask what that matters, but he’s already scanning the photograph. There’s a sign in the pub window behind Sherlock, advertising a band: the date was two weeks ago. John inhales sharply.
“How do I know this hasn’t been altered?”
Irene raises her eyebrows; it’s a sign of approval, though John doesn’t want to examine how he knows that. “Because my Photoshop skills are better than that, Dr. Watson.”
“You’re trying to tell me Sherlock is alive.” The way John says it, it’s an accusation.
“No, I am telling you Sherlock is alive,” Irene says. The correction makes John want to grind his teeth.
“Why would you want to tell me?”
“Because Sherlock Holmes is an idiot,” Irene says, and she sounds truly disgusted. “And I owe him, as much as it pains me to say it. I’d rather he not get himself killed before I can repay him. I do so hate debt.”
“Most people would say you’re too late,” John observes.
“You’re not most people,” Irene says.
John sighs. “Dinner?”
They end up at Angelo’s. It’s close and reasonably priced and John doesn’t want to risk a place where he doesn’t already know where all the exits are. They sit in the usual place, John in what was Sherlock’s seat, looking out, Irene with her back to the window. Angelo puts his hand on John’s shoulder and squeezes it when he brings their menus. He doesn’t offer them a candle.
“You took the picture?” John asks.
Irene shakes her head. “Someone I trust did.”
John hums, bites back a sharp retort at what he thinks Irene’s sense of trust is and who might earn it.
“No need to censor yourself,” Irene says. She takes a sip of her water. John shrugs.
“I saw him jump.” It comes out surprisingly steady, which surprises John. He hasn’t been able to trust his voice on this subject in months.
“I’d wager that you saw what he wanted you to see.”
John thinks about that, thinks about Sherlock’s keep your eyes fixed on me.
“And you were injured,” Irene continues. “I’d also wager you saw what you thought you’d see.”
“How did you know about that?” John asks. The words are sharp: good.
Irene smiles, looks up at the waiter. She orders lasagna and salad; John orders the carbonara and the waiter disappears again.
“Let’s just say some of my contacts still talk to me,” Irene says smoothly, shaking her napkin out and putting it on her lap.
“After you tried to blackmail the royal family, and then the entire British government, all with Moriarty’s help, you mean.”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” Irene’s not smiling anymore, but she’s still calm, unsurprised, even serene. John thinks about that for a moment, about her utter confidence; it’s silent until the food comes.
Irene picks up her fork, takes a few bites of lasagna. “That photograph was taken in Edinburgh, about three weeks ago, by my wife, Kate. You met her; she let you and Sherlock into my life.”
John recalls the woman who let them into Irene Adler’s house.
“And I trust her implicitly.”
John nods. So far, fair enough.
“Two days after that, the police found one Lucas Benedict bound and gagged in his own apartment outside Edinburgh. He wouldn’t tell the police who did it, but there was physical evidence in his trouser pocket linking him to two unsolved murders in Brussels-- a plastic bag of his fingernails that matched a torn nail at the crime scene. That, and the murder weapon was wrapped and bagged in his back pocket. Later, his phone records showed that he had contact with at least four known hitmen in the Leeds area.”
“I had met Lucas, just once. He was a bit dim about some things, but he was a fine shot and he followed orders impeccably, both things Moriarty liked in a man.”
“Jim introduced us.”
“Of course,” John manages.
Irene shrugs, spears a bite of salad.
“You’re trying to tell me -- excuse me -- telling me, that your wife took this picture of Sherlock two days before a member of Moriarty’s organization was captured in his own apartment.”
Irene merely looks at him.
“Which is supposed to prove . . . what? That Sherlock is alive?”
“Yes. John, I believe that Sherlock is not only alive, but that he is attempting to take down Moriarty’s organization piece by piece.”
“By faking his own death?” John asks.
“That so-called death was no more than a continuation of Jim Moriarty’s extraordinary bullshit.” It’s the first time Irene’s calm exterior has cracked; John’s intrigued.
“So you don’t believe Sherlock was a fake?”
“Of course not.” Irene’s cheeks pink up just slightly, even in the dim lighting. “Sherlock is many things, including an arrogant bastard, but he’s unusually honest about who he is. If he wasn’t, he’d have a lot more friends.”
John thinks about that. No, I know you’re for real. Well, nobody could fake being such an annoying dick all the time.
I’ve just got one.
The worst thing about this, John realizes, is not that it’s true, but that he desperately, achingly wants it to be true.
He takes a deep breath. “Even if all of this is true, that Sherlock is alive, that he faked his death, that he’s out there somewhere, working on Moriarty’s organization, why come to me?”
Irene looks at him, holds his eyes until John drops his gaze to the table.
“Mycroft has more resources,” John says.
“Mycroft is an asshole,” Irene counters.
“Look, John.” Irene pauses. “After my little flirtation with Moriarty, with the stakes in the . . . international scene . . . I was more than happy to retire to Scotland with my wife and start looking into sperm banks.”
John almost smiles.
“Then Sherlock Bloody Holmes has to pop round the neighborhood and throw a spanner into the works. I know things about Moriarty’s network that he doesn’t, and I don’t particularly want him to find out about them.”
“You’re trying to protect him?”
“I’m trying to keep him from getting himself actually killed. I know some things about power, John Watson: who has it, who wants it, how to get it, how to keep it. Sherlock is in over his head.”
“How do you know? That he can’t handle it, I mean.”
“Because I’ve met Sebastian Moran.”
“Exactly. Jim Moriarty was a brilliant bastard. But he was also a lunatic. And incapable of getting his hands dirty. But Moran --” Irene shakes her head.
John feels a cold sliver suddenly wedge itself between his shoulder blades.
Irene pushes her plate away. “Moran is incapable of keeping them clean. And he likes that.”
“This is a bloke you want me to meet?”
“Actually, I’d much prefer if you shoot him rather than talk to him, but I am flexible on the details,” Irene says, with an upward pull to the corner of her mouth.
John thinks about Sherlock, thinks about the killer cab driver. Thinks about what it will do to him if this is true. Thinks about what it will do to him if it isn’t. Thinks about Irene, how she has come back from the dead twice, how Sherlock wouldn’t speak of her. If this is a wild goose chase . . . at least he’d have something to do.
“Where do we start?” John asks.
“We find Sherlock before he finds Moran.”
John signals for the check.
John walks into the sitting room. Irene is up already, wrapped in a lush-looking white cotton bathrobe on the sofa, feet on the coffee table, laptop in her lap. There’s a cup of coffee beside her on the arm of the sofa.
For a moment, John feels a rush of deja vu, feels like it’s choking him, grief cutting off his air. He blinks, clears his throat.
Irene looks up, her ponytail swinging slightly from the motion. “There’s coffee in the kitchen.”
“Got that, yeah.” John continues to the kitchen, pours himself a cup, picks a banana up from the bowl on the counter; Mrs. Hudson must have been in yesterday. He goes back to the sitting room.
“Scotland was over two weeks ago, and he got to Benedict. He’s moved on.”
“Benedict was a leg-man, did grunt work, but he also spoke to Moriarty directly. Sherlock will be looking for someone of similar caliber.”
John nods again, continues to munch on the banana.
“He’s been careful about his money, of course. Fake documents, fake accounts, but real money. Most of it seems to be coming out of Geneva.” Irene shakes her head. “Predictable. The Caymans would have been a better choice. It also depends on if he got a name out of Benedict. It’s possible; the man wasn’t brilliant, and he’d wouldn’t have any incentive not to talk. Probably didn’t know about Moran. ” Irene looks up at him. “You don’t have any questions?”
“I have plenty of questions.” John shrugs.
Irene raises an eyebrow.
“Why should I trust you? Why won’t you leave Sherlock alone? Why do you care? Why me? Why stay here at Baker Street?”
“Are those rhetorical?”
John considers. “I don’t know.”
Irene closes her laptop. “Mostly, it’s because I’m angry.”
John hadn’t expected that.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not thrilled that Sherlock ruined my payday. But to be honest: I probably deserved it. I thought I could trifle with him, like I do with others. I thought I could trifle with Moriarty, too, and I was wrong there as well. I don’t like to be wrong. Sherlock saved my life because I was wrong, and I don’t like that, either. I’m grateful, but what I said before was true: I don’t like debts. I want to be even with Sherlock. I also don’t know if I care, exactly. It irks me that Sherlock thinks he’s invincible.”
John huffs, and it even sounds a little like a laugh. “I can relate to that.”
“That’s why I came to you. Also, because you care. Which I would think is why Sherlock is drawn to you as well.”
John’s not sure about this, but he nods anyway.
“I also think Sherlock is fascinating, and that he doesn’t deserve to get his brains blown out of his head by the likes of Sebastian Moran.”
“What did Moran do that makes you so sure about him?”
Irene’s face screws up for a moment. “I was at a cocktail party with Jim, posing as his date. I went because I wanted to size him up a little, see some of his circle.” Irene shrugs. “We were at the bar; Moran came up to us, and Jim introduced me. I knew immediately Moran worked for Moriarty. Jim had scribbled a number on his napkin, passed it over to Moran with his new drink, all very discreet, of course, but I made my living noticing details. Moran proceeded to tell me a story from his army days. It was about how he raped a woman at a party. That’s not what he called it, that’s not how he couched it, but that’s what it was. He told it to me to intimidate me, to see if he could make me afraid. He wanted power over me, and he wanted it immediately; that’s how he tried to get it.”
John’s suddenly sorry he ate the banana.
“When he saw that it made me disgusted, but not afraid, his eyes went cold. Blank. I had never seen that before. I didn’t want to see it again.”
John nods, clears his throat. He’s knows what she’s talking about; he served with someone like that, for whom killing wasn’t a grudging necessity but instead a release. He’s seen the look. He doesn’t want to see it again, either.
“And I’m staying here because I promised Kate I’d be safe, and apparently there’s no place safer than with John Watson.”
“How do you figure that?” John asks. “I was in the army, in a war zone, and then I lived with Sherlock for eighteen months.”
“You’re still here, aren’t you?”
“I got shot!”
“Irrelevant. My point stands.”
"There is absolutely no reason for you to trust me."
John blinks, waits.
"But I trust you."
Irene doesn't say anything else.
Irene is clearly getting ready to go out: fully dressed, hair pinned up, makeup. She is sliding her feet into heels when John walks into the kitchen.
"If Sherlock is alive, why isn't he going after Moriarty?" It has been bothering John since last night.
Irene uses a tissue to blot her lipstick. "Because Moriarty is dead."
John swallows. "Pardon?"
"I have an appointment to get to," Irene says. "And so do you." Irene passes him a business card from her purse.
John looks at the card, blows out a breath.
"I am sure you can find your way there," Irene says.
John grits his teeth, nods.
The morgue is quiet when John enters. Molly has just finished sliding a body back into the wall; she’s standing, filling out the last of the paperwork against the metal wall of closed slabs. John doesn’t think she heard him come in, the sound of the door covered by the closing of the slab, and he doesn’t want to frighten her, so he says, quietly, “Molly.”
The sound of his voice scares her anyway, makes her jump. She spins around to see him, hand held to her chest in surprise. “Oh, John.”
“Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you,” John says.
“Oh, no, it’s all right.” Molly walks over, pats his arm awkwardly. “Quiet down here. Just me and . . .” she trails off.
“Yeah,” John says. He doesn’t know how to start. Everything he can think of sounds too harsh for the woman in front of him.
Molly’s forehead furrows. “Can I . . . Is there something I can help you with?” She’s holding the folder she was writing in to her chest.
“I. I need you tell me the truth.”
Molly’s eyelids flicker. “Of course.”
Molly stays stock still, but she doesn’t say anything.
“Molly, I need to know. Is Sherlock alive?”
Molly blinks. “John, I.”
John stares at her. He doesn’t use what he privately refers to as his army voice; he doesn’t step closer. He isn’t trying to intimidate her. He stands up straight, but he leaves his face open, for the first time since Sherlock . . . since Sherlock.
He’s not sure what Molly sees, but she steps forward, places a hand on his arm. “John.”
“Tell me the truth.” His voice is rough.
“What would make you think . . . why would you think Sherlock is alive?”
“There’s a photograph, Molly.”
“Oh.” Molly’s shoulders seems to ease. “Photographs can be altered, John.”
John shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”
“I. It’s natural . . . we don’t want to think people we . . . care about have died.”
“I don’t need your pity,” he says, sharply. More than he intended.
“Oh.” Molly takes her hand off his arm.
John takes a breath, thinks about what Molly isn’t saying. That’s ridiculous, John. Why would you ask me? What she did say: Why would you think Sherlock is alive? He closes his eyes, opens them. Suddenly he knows. Knows.
“What did he offer you, Molly?”
Molly blinks. “John?”
“Money? His attention?” It’s cruel, and he knows it; he just doesn’t care.
Molly steps back. “John.”
“He’s going to get himself killed, Molly. Tell me the truth.” No one’s been telling me the truth, John thinks.
“He. He knew it was going to happen.”
John blows out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
“He knew Moriarty wanted him dead. I just . . . helped.”
“Drew blood from an unclaimed body. Assisted the . . . people he had enlisted. Forged the autopsy.” Molly says the last part very quietly.
“The people he enlisted?”
John nods. Thinks about the hands keeping him away from Sherlock. “Moriarty?”
Molly draws in a sharp breath. “I didn’t expect that.”
John knows that means Sherlock didn’t expect it, either. God.
“That was . . . that was a real autopsy,” Molly says. “Single gunshot wound to the head. Judging by the angle of the bullet and the exit wound, clearly self-inflicted.” The words are clinical, but Molly’s tone is not.
“Where’s the report?”
“In a safe-deposit box under a false name.”
John raises his eyebrows.
“I paid one of Sherlock’s contacts to set it up. Knew him from.” Molly stops.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Molly looks at him; it takes a moment for John to realize there are tears in her eyes. She looks confused. “I wasn’t supposed to. I promised.”
He’s late. Irene should have factored that in, but she’d rather wait than be late herself. Besides, she paid the driver for the day, so that isn’t an issue, and she has her laptop, wi-fi working thanks to a very stupid tenant in the building next to the car, 4A.
His car finally pulls up and he steps out. Irene opens her door, steps out onto the street to intercept him.
He stops three steps from her. “Ms. Adler.”
“Mr. Holmes,” Irene says. “May I have a chat?”
Mycroft smiles. It’s completely insincere. “If I recall correctly, your last chat with me didn’t go so well.”
Irene smiles back. It’s completely sincere. “I think this one will go differently.” She leans behind her, opens the car door. “After you.”
Irene gets in the car first, sliding to the far side to leave room for Mycroft, who slides in after her. She presses the button and the glass rises between them and them driver.
“I could have you arrested,” Mycroft says amiably.
“Of course. But if you were going to, you would have already done it. Besides, your intelligence rather needs some updating, don’t you think?”
“Is there something I can do for you, Ms. Adler? Or is this just a social call?”
“Sherlock is alive.”
Mycroft is silent.
“I wasn’t sure if you knew or not. Interesting he didn’t go to you for help. Seems your intelligence really does need some updating.”
“No. Quick swallow, tap of your second finger on your umbrella.”
“You’re not my brother.”
“Neither are you.”
“I like proof, Ms. Adler.”
“I’m sure you do.” Irene takes the photograph out of her bag, slides it over. Mycroft smiles. It’s more of a pull of his lips across his teeth than anything else. “Additionally, I think John Watson is about to get further confirmation from Dr. Molly Hooper.”
“Ah.” Mycroft hands the photograph back. “You’ve already involved Dr. Watson.”
Mycroft looks at her. “I think you’ll find Dr. Watson is not as easily led as my brother.”
“No. He’s a man who knows where to look.”
“What do you want?”
“Money. How banal, Ms. Adler.”
“If I’m going to follow your brother all the way around the world, I need funds to do it.”
“And why would you do that?”
“I don’t like debts, Mr. Holmes.”
“Yet you’ll ask me for money. Interesting.”
“I’m sure it is to you.”
“Whatever game my brother is playing, Ms. Adler, it doesn’t need to involve you.”
“I rather disagree.”
“I wouldn’t expect less.”
“It’s not a game.”
Mycroft looks at her.
Irene doesn’t even blink.
Finally, Mycroft sighs. “Zurich?”
“Off-shore Americas. Less obvious.”
“Of course.” Mycroft opens the car door. “I’ll text you the information, shall I?”
“And give you access to my phone? No. You’ll make the arrangements, write down the information. I’ll wait.”
Mycroft looks at her. “Don’t take this personally, Ms. Adler, but I sincerely hope after today that I never see you again.”
“Likewise, Mr. Holmes.”
“If I do, I’ll have you arrested.”
Irene smiles at him as he leaves the car.
They start in Barcelona. Irene had a contact there, man by the name of Epsom; someone she’d met in passing through Moriarty, but she had kept his contact information anyway.
When they reach the address, they find that the building had been burned to the ground four days prior. A quick record search shows Epsom is now in Interpol custody, under investigation for an unsolved murder in London as well as arson in Spain.
“Do I want to know how you have all those passwords?” John asks, reading over Irene’s shoulder.
“I’m going to say no,” Irene says.
“Four days. We’re not far behind.”
“In our terms. In Sherlock’s terms --” John says.
“The game is on.”
Venice ends with John in the canal, Irene skidding to a halt in the alley behind him.
John starts to swim, to break out to further water.
“John!” Irene is yelling. “John, let him go! He’s a bit player!”
John takes a deep breath so that he can plunge down again.
“John! Sherlock is already done here! Come ashore!”
John stops, starts to swim back. When he reaches the edge, Irene gives him a hand up.
“We’ll have to get you out of those wet clothes,” Irene says. Her mouth is twisted in something like dismay.
“Two days,” John says.
“Two days,” Irene agrees.
They end up in Paris based on a tip. Irene got a call from Kate; an old client had tried her previous mobile number.
They find the client in his flat, tied spread eagle to his bed, fully clothed. There are documents on his desk indicating his complicity in no less than five different heroin smuggling rings.
Irene laughs, then phones the police.
“Same day,” John says when they get back to the hotel. He is downright giddy, though he is also somewhat alarmed at that fact.
“Same day,” Irene says. She’s smiling.
John leans down before he really thinks about it. They’re a millimeter from kissing; John can feel Irene’s breath on his mouth before she takes a step back, puts her hand on his chest.
John shakes his head. “No. Damn it. Sorry.”
John can hear the question mark in her voice. It make him feel weary.
“I’m not the one you want,” Irene says gently.
John’s lips make a thin line. He takes a deep breath. “You’re not, are you?”
“I’m going to go to my room,” John says. He steps around her, opens the door.
“I’m sorry, John,” Irene says.
He leaves without asking her what she’s apologizing for.
Irene sits on the bench in the lobby of the monastery for two hours before Sherlock comes down the main staircase. His eyes widen as she stands and meets him halfway across the lobby, but otherwise his face doesn’t twitch.
“Shall we talk a walk, my dear?” she asks.
Sherlock inclines his head toward the door, falls into step with her.
“Martin Luther was a monk here,” Irene says as they step outside onto the stones and head to the street.
“So says every plaque within six miles of here,” Sherlock says.
“I did say virgin, not monk. Seems a bit extreme, even for you.”
“Cheap accommodations, reasonable rates.”
“You like symbolism.”
“Not in this case.”
“Moran is no longer here.”
“Flight out of Frankfurt two hours ago,” Sherlock agrees.
“Why didn’t you make your move?”
“Why did you?”
“Because you’re close. And you can’t take Moran out. Not on your own.”
Sherlock looks at her sharply. They turn onto the main street, near the square. “You are in no position to know that.”
“I am in each and every position to know that,” Irene says.
“I can handle him.”
“No, you can’t.”
“One could ask why you are taking such an interest in my business.”
“One could,” Irene agrees. “One might even say it’s because you are an idiot.”
Sherlock tenses around the eyes and mouth. They keep walking.
“The casual look is good on you,” Irene says. Sherlock is wearing jeans, a white button-down. It’s a warm day in May, sunny, few clouds in an endless blue sky.
“I might say the same,” Sherlock says. “Green is a flattering coloring on you.” Irene is wearing a lightweight green knit poncho over a long-white sleeved shirt and khaki pants, her hair down.
“Thank you, darling.”
They turn onto the street in front of the Erfurt Cathedral. “I don’t need your help,” Sherlock says.
“Yes, you do.”
“Do men usually think it is charming when you continue to contradict them?”
“Occasionally.” Irene pauses. “I did used to contradict them for a living.”
They walk a few more steps. Irene stops near a set of tables belonging to a nearby cafe. “Sherlock, no one wants to see you actually dead,” she says.
“Debatable,” John says, looking up from the paper he is reading at the nearest table.
Sherlock actually looks surprised. Irene smiles. “John.”
Irene looks between John and Sherlock. “Right then. I’m going back to the hotel. I won’t wait up.” She smiles at the two men, then walks away.
“I mean, I reckon that if anyone is going to kill you, I deserve the chance to do it,” John continues. “Earned the right, don’t you think? Put up with all the experiments. The thumbs in the fridge. The attempt at drugging me. The verbal abuse. The bloody violin at 3:30 in the morning. And you never did the shopping. Or paid the bills. Or, I don’t know, told me you were going to fake your death so that the bottom didn’t drop out of my entire life.”
“John,” Sherlock says.
“Might as well sit down, Sherlock,” John says. “Order a coffee.”
Sherlock sits. “John --”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Sherlock, shut it for once. Take a day off.”
Sherlock leans back in his chair, but he remains silent.
“Do you know, I didn’t know how I was going to feel about this moment. Would I be relieved to see you? I did believe Irene. I did. Believed Molly, too. Enough to follow Irene Adler around Europe for months. That takes commitment. You have to give that to me. I have commitment.
“But there was always that part of me, you know? The part that didn’t quite believe. The part that saw you jump from the roof of St. fucking Bart’s, that couldn’t find your pulse. The part that had to stand next to Mycroft at your funeral.
“I thought maybe seeing you would be a relief. That the grief would just disappear, like that, just like a magic trick. You know, I’m beginning to think that it doesn’t work that way. Mostly because I want to reach over and throttle you.”
“So I take it you weren’t expecting murderous rage,” Sherlock says, all cool vowels.
“Fuck you. Now is not the time to be a cheeky bastard.”
Sherlock’s eyes flick away. “I’m sorry.”
“You sure as hell should be.”
John takes a shaky breath; he can feel the prick of tears at the back of his eyes. He blinks once, twice. Three times, clears his throat. He hates it when his body betrays him.
“John.” Sherlock leans forward across the table. “Do you not understand that Sebastian Moran has had a bullet in his rifle with your name on it since that day on the roof?”
John slaps his palm on the table so hard the teenagers at the table next to them stare. “Do you not understand this is not about being right?”
“Then let me put this in terms you might understand: you let Moriarty win.”
“What? Because the press bought Richard Brook’s story? A few half-truths and innuendo --”
“This is not about the press. It’s not about Scotland Yard. What did Moriarty promise you at the pool?”
“That he would burn me.”
“That he would burn the heart out of you.” John watches Sherlock’s eyes widen a fraction.
“What do you think would happen to me if you died?” Sherlock asks.
His soft tone brings John up short. “What do you think happened to me when you did die?”
Sherlock takes a breath. “Your heart can take it,” he says.
John brings his hand up, puts his palm over his eyes. “I’m not so sure.”
“Every day. Every day that we are separated.” John stops. He can’t say it for Sherlock. He can’t. Especially if he’s not sure it is true anymore, that he embodies Sherlock’s heart. If Sherlock doesn’t see, can’t deduce this . . . “Every day, Moriarty wins.” He moves his hand.
“The only way Moriarty wins is if you’re dead.”
John almost laughs. “Really? What if I had believed the fairy tale? What if I thought you were all Moriarty tried to make you out to be? A man who fiddled with the lives of others on whims, who ordered me to be strapped into Semtex for his own amusement.”
Sherlock’s eyes flicker in the way that means he’s thinking -- they go to the cathedral, John’s coffee cup, track a couple walking by, all while his brain scrolls through options, rejects or accepts scenarios. John waits.
“You would have left me.”
“Yeah.” John has almost forgotten that for all of Sherlock’s genius, he’s sometimes a step behind when it comes to these things.
“It would have separated us.”
“Instead, I separated us.”
Sherlock looks furious. He throws himself back in his chair.
This time, John leans forward. “Fortunately for you, I am smarter than you are.”
Sherlock looks startled, then finds John’s eyes. He starts to laugh.
John laughs, too. Now he feels relief.
They share a moment of companionable silence, the sun shining down on them.
“What does that mean, that we shouldn’t be separated?” Sherlock finally says. He looks at John.
John swallows. He thinks about deflecting the question; he could try a joke, or turn it on Sherlock. “Maybe that we are stronger together than we are apart.”
“Hmm.” Sherlock says. “Obvious.”
John rolls his eyes.
“Sentiment,” Sherlock says.
“It’s not just for us ordinary people anymore.”
Sherlock wrinkles his nose. “Is this what people feel all the time?”
“This . . . crushing feeling in the chest like . . . it’s a wound and a well all at once. Gaping, but full.”
John looks down at the table. “Not all the time.”
Sherlock still manages to look puzzled. “So when, then?” Sherlock rubs his chest through his shirt, like he has heartburn.
“Only when.” He stops, looks at Sherlock. Really looks at Sherlock. “You bastard.”
“What?” Sherlock only looks more confused.
“You’re having me on.”
“What?” Now Sherlock looks confused and slightly offended.
Sherlock suddenly grins. John laughs, can’t help it, laughs at the stupid bastard.
“The heart is forever inexperienced,” Sherlock says.
“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” John takes a breath.
Sherlock smiles, and raises an eyebrow.
“I read,” John says.
Sherlock throws his head back and laughs. John would be offended, but he knows his reading habits are not why Sherlock is laughing.
John wakes to the sound of Sherlock receiving a text. He’s a little hot, and more than a little cramped, legs still twined with Sherlock’s as they make do in the single bed in Sherlock’s room at the monastery. He huffs a breath onto Sherlock’s collarbone.
“You have got to change the sound on that notification,” John says.
“Why? I like it,” Sherlock says, reaching over John to pick the phone up from the table. The glow from the screen highlights his face as John places a gentle bite on his throat for revenge.
Sherlock frowns slightly, thumbs out a reply.
“Just checked into a hostel in New York, according to his credit card info. Or at least, one of his credit cards has.” Sherlock puts the phone back on the table. “We’re on a flight out of Frankfurt at three.”
“When’s the first train?”
“What time --”
“2:30. We have a little more time.”
John looks up into Sherlock’s face. “Sleep?”
Sherlock rolls, pinning John underneath him. “Perhaps in a moment.”
John leans up to kiss him, capturing Sherlock’s mouth with his own.
Irene gets them first-class seats together. John and Sherlock on one side, Irene across the aisle. The flight is still interminable.
When they get to New York, they take a cab to the Waldorf Astoria. Irene checks them into three suites.
“I don’t really care who sleeps where; just want to make sure I use the budget,” she says, off of a look from John.
Sherlock closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “I do so love spending Mycroft’s money.”
“I don’t like this,” John says.
“Too easy,” Irene agrees, taking a sip of cappuccino.
“Perhaps if we weren’t traveling in a pack,” Sherlock says, looking out the window.
“Sloppy,” John says.
“Yes.” Sherlock doesn’t even turn around.
“Him, not us.”
Sherlock raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything.
Irene’s eyes narrow. “I think he’s coming toward us.”
Sebastian Moran is indeed crossing the street, directly headed toward the coffee shop where they are sitting near the front window.
Sherlock looks at John.
“We stand our ground,” John says. “I’m not giving this bloke an inch.”
“I’m not sure we have much of a choice,” Sherlock murmurs as Moran opens the door and walks right up to their table.
“Ms. Adler,” Moran says. “How lovely to see you again.” Moran is of average height, taller than John but a bit shorter than Sherlock, but John is once again surprised at how good looking he is, in a very classic, very American way: square jaw, close cropped blond hair, green eyes. He reminds John vaguely of Daniel Craig, if Craig were American and had broader shoulders. The Southern accent, all long vowels and softly dropped “r”s -- the way he says Irene’s name as if it ends in an “a” -- seems incongruous with those shoulders.
“I wish I could say the same,” Irene says, tone infinitely polite though the look on her face edges toward disgust.
Moran smiles as if she’s made a joke. “Dr. Watson, Mr. Holmes.” Moran inclines his head toward John and Sherlock in turn. John keeps his expression stony. Sherlock inclines his head back toward Moran.
“Mind if I pull up a chair?” Moran asks, though he’s already doing just that, pulling a chair from the empty table behind them and wedging himself between Irene and John. “Don’t worry about me; I’d order but I don’t think I’ll be here long enough to finish my beverage.”
“Of course.” Irene’s smile is utterly false.
Sherlock’s eyes are roaming around Moran’s form; John watches from the corner of his eye as Sherlock’s gaze traces Moran’s face, clothes, haircut. He wonders what Sherlock is seeing, observing, but for once Sherlock is utterly silent. And completely still. It’s unnerving, at least to John, until he realizes it reminds him of a cat, the way they size up their prey with complete stillness and attention. Prey. John likes the idea, can’t find it in himself to care that maybe he shouldn’t.
“Is there something we can do for you?” John asks.
“No, this is really more of a social call,” Moran says.
“Really.” Irene sounds doubtful.
“Oh, yes.” Moran smiles. “I’ve only ever met you, Ms. Adler, and I thought it might be a good idea to meet all of my would-be assassins in person.”
Irene’s smile could cut glass. “You flatter us, Mr. Moran.”
“Do I? Dr. Watson is a former Captain in the RAMC, and I hear he’s quite the shot. Mr. Holmes . . . well, frankly I have no idea how good he is with a gun, but I wouldn’t put it past him to try to be clever about it. Poison, knife work. Knives are always interesting -- personal, yet precise. Well, as precise as the handler, and I have the feeling that Mr. Holmes would be very, very precise. As for you, Ms. Adler, well. You’re a cunt.”
“Thank you,” Irene says. John’s eyebrows reach his hairline.
“Don’t mention it,” Moran says, but he’s looking at Sherlock.
“Is this the part where you try to bargain with us, get us to cut a deal with you?” John asks.
“Gracious, no,” Moran says. “I have no interest in bargaining. I just wanted to meet you before I kill you.”
“Right then,” John says.
“I find it’s more fun that way. Well, let’s not kid ourselves here, we’re all smart people, it’s always fun, but I do find the personal approach to be quite fulfilling, myself. I like looking people in the eye. It’s always nice if I’ve done it before the moment the lights go out.”
“You’re very sure of yourself,” Irene says.
“Been doing it long enough. Maybe I’ve been in the game too long . . . no. No, I don’t think so. It’s always a plus when you love your work. Don’t you think so, Ms. Adler?”
“That’s what they say, though I have no idea who they are,” Irene replies.
Moran looks at Irene and smiles. Irene continues to look at him, but John can tell it’s a close thing.
“Aren’t you finished?” Sherlock asks, uncrossing his legs and leaning back.
“It speaks,” Moran says.
“You must be finished. You came over here with the express purpose of trying to intimidate us, which has rather spectacularly failed. Shouldn’t you be on your way now?”
“That’s it? Jim was obsessed with you, and so far, I am not seeing why.”
Sherlock smiles faintly. “Clearly you are trying to provoke me, but since you asked: we tracked you to the bookstore across the way from a bottom-basement hostel in Chelsea, which indicates that either you don’t have access to many funds or that you simply like that kind of environment. Considering that you’ve been in seven European cities in the last ten days, and that you’ve been to Hong Kong in the last month, it could still be either option -- you may well be out of money by now -- but my conclusion is that you simply like the milieu. Lots of other travelers and far many more transients, many of which are either young, and easily taken advantage of, or traveled and seasoned, easily aggressive. You like both kinds; casually steal from the young and the tourists, pick fights with the aggressive. The slight purple spot above your right eye suggests that you were in a fistfight just last night. You won handily, of course, but it was enough of a thrill to last you until you thought up this little scheme to say hello. Were there not any girls there without boyfriends or that let themselves be caught alone? Someone in Prague wasn’t so lucky.
“But that’s just the last few weeks. Do you want me to talk about your illustrious military career, where you got away with state-sanctioned murder for years until you got caught slitting the throat of a semi-well connected translator in Baghdad? America had had enough embarrassment already, but then again the general populace wouldn’t really have cared about some Arab foreigner anyway, so you probably would have beat the wrap if some of the men in your own company hadn’t felt so uncomfortable about the outright murder of a civilian that your CO had to take action. Dishonorable discharge, tried out for the Green Berets four times and failed, all four times, but at least your file ran across the desk of one of Jim Moriarty’s associates, who hired you for a simple B&E in Miami. Worked your way through Moriarty’s orginization, not a surprise, considering your tendencies for violence, quick work, and loyalty.
“You’re thinking now that I could have had that information in a dossier somewhere, and you may be right, though certainly not from my brother, who may or may not have been keeping an eye on you for some time, which has less to do with your connection to Moriarty and everything to do with a series of electronic thefts from high-level British bank accounts. Not Mycroft’s own, fortunately for us, but a few of his acquaintances, and my brother doesn’t make even those easily. He would have taken it personally; he is so odd about that. He didn’t share it with me, though, so you are wrong about the dossier, but you’ll believe what you want to believe.
“The rest is easy, even predictable. American Southern accent . . . Alabama. Grew up on a military base, probably Rucker, but your accent is too easy to place for you to have been the child of an active duty soldier -- you didn’t move around enough; American Army likes to move people, shake them up, but not your father, no. Your father was a clerical worker, by my estimation an accountant, but that would have required more education than he had, more of a bookkeeper, low-level finance, an assistant to someone he both looked up to and resented his entire career. Dead relatively early, sudden, most likely a heart attack, based on his sedentary work life and completely awful eating habits. In any case, it was quick, certainly not a long illness where you might have had to care for him.
“You looked up to him, even though he was a stupid man, unhappy in a mediocre job in an absolutely dismal area of the country. Likely a pretty heavy drinker, though not an alcoholic. Only child, your mother adored you, though God knows why, probably some kind of denial about your actual nature. Might have leaned on you a little too hard, particularly when your father was beating the hell out of her, which he did, regularly. You always sided with him, though, at first likely because he never laid a finger on you. You took that to mean that you were better, somehow, and certainly better than your mother, whom you came to thought deserved the abuse. Broke her arm because she burned dinner? She shouldn’t have burned it in the first place. Can’t the woman tell time or set the oven to the right temperature?
“It’s pathetic, really. Not a pleasant childhood, certainly not, but others go through worse, don’t turn out like you. Probably pre-disposed to your violent and controlling nature somehow, in the way your brain is wired, fascinating how nature can really have the last say. Nurture didn’t help in this case, but you made the wrong choices all the way around, mostly be idolizing that son-of-a-bitch father of yours, but here we are. I do hope you donate your body to science; neurologists would have a field day with you.”
There’s a moment of silence at the table before Moran bursts into laughter.
“God, that was great. First-rate. No wonder Jimmy liked you. Thank you.”
Sherlock inclines his head, as if accepting the compliment.
“I would love to stay and chat all day, I really would, but I should be going. Business, of course.”
“Of course,” Sherlock agrees smoothly.
“Dr. Watson?” Moran turns to John.
John blinks. Sherlock leans forward, suddenly tense, all straight lines.
“What?” John asks.
“In approximately two minutes you and I are going to leave together.”
“Excuse me?” John says.
“Well, come on now. I can’t come and meet all of you and then just get up and walk away, wait for you to try to flush me out again. That would be stupid. I would take Mr. Holmes, but that’s too obvious. I could kill him, of course, but then the fun would be over, and theoretically I would still have you and Ms. Adler to worry about. I could take Ms. Adler, though, frankly, I can’t stand her, and though I think she’d be terrific to have around for a few days of games, in the end it might not be worth the trouble. The police and the press might take her too seriously should anyone find the body; white women who meet horrible ends do get so much attention in this country. Not that they would find the body, but I like to be cautious about these kinds of things.
“If I take Dr. Watson, however, I would still have the upper hand. Ms. Adler feels just obligated enough to Dr. Watson to actually listen to what I would tell her to do, and you, Mr. Holmes, well. If I have Dr. Watson, you’ll do anything I want, which would be amazing. Dr. Watson himself would be a bit of a threat, but I’m pretty sure I can handle him with the right tools. My guess is that he doesn’t handle drugs well, does he? I’m not sure I can keep him on a leash on a long-term basis, but I probably won’t have to; someone will break in one way or the other. Or I could just overdose him after a few days, easy peasy.” Moran shrugs.
“What makes you think I’m just going to walk out of here with you?” John asks.
“Shit,” Sherlock says, lunging across the table at Moran. Moran is faster, though, jabbing the syringe into John’s leg under the table and pressing down the plunger even as Sherlock grabs his wrist. John’s already starting to lean forward groggily.
“What did you give him?” Sherlock asks.
Moran grins. “As if I would tell you.” He looks back at where some of the cafe staff is headed their way, other patrons curious about the sudden disturbance. “Dr. Watson is going to come with me, nice and easy, or I put the syringe in Ms. Adler’s hand and you two can explain it to the police these lovely people are about to call.”
Irene catches Sherlock’s eye, shakes her head slightly.
Sherlock’s face has gone absolutely white, his hands shaking with helplessness and rage.
Moran puts his hand under John’s elbow to steady him. “Come on, Dr. Watson. Let’s go for a walk.”
John stands, knees a little shaky.
“Say good-bye to your friends,” Moran instructs as they walk away from the table.
They’re not out the door for five seconds before Sherlock is after them. Irene curses and throws money on the table, follows.
Moran is halfway down the block, trying to hail a cab; Sherlock is being blocked by the city’s foot traffic. He’s trying to make his way around a trio of female tourists (Irene can tell, they are looking up) when John’s leg clearly goes out from under him; Irene can see how suddenly he crumples to the ground, barely making it onto the curb and not the street.
Moran looks down at John, looks at Sherlock, and runs.
Sherlock finally pushes the youngest of the women out of the way, makes his way to John.
John is already shaking his head.
“John,” Sherlock says, stopping, dropping into a crouch.
“Go,” John says as Irene catches up. He’s gritting his teeth, blinking rapidly -- whether it’s from pain or from the drug, Irene can’t tell. Sherlock’s reaching out, hands on John’s wrists, chest, opening his eyes further to see his pupils.
“Sherlock,” John says, and it’s slurred, something that alarms Irene, but suddenly John is making clear eye contact with Sherlock, and he nods slightly, deliberately.
Whatever Sherlock sees makes him stand up and run.
Irene looks down; passerby are starting to circle around them, a couple of them have their cell phones out.
“Go,” John says.
“I can’t just leave you.”
“You can’t leave him on his own; Moran . . .the whole point . . . ”
Irene looks away, down where she can barely see the bob of Sherlock’s head in the crowd. When she looks back, John is looking up at her.
“Good Samaritans,” he says. “Go.”
“You’re a lot more trusting than I am, John,” Irene says.
“Be fine. Go.”
Irene nods once, then takes off after Moran and Sherlock. She reaches the Avenue -- Moran has crossed ahead of Sherlock; Irene sees with dismay that he’s bounding up the steps of the bloody Met. Sherlock is nearly getting himself killed crossing the street against the light, but he makes it, clears the first set of steps as Moran is entering the building. Irene crosses as soon as the light changes, but she’s far behind. By the time she reaches the entrance, both men have disappeared. She makes a calculation, and goes left.
Moran’s still in the museum, Sherlock is sure of it. They’ve drawn enough attention that security is following him at a discreet distance; the chatter from their walkie-talkies suggests that they were doing the same with Moran, but that someone just lost him. Sherlock needs to do the same or they’re back to hunting, back to airports and another city.
He ducks into the Met Store, walks quickly around the other patrons. It’s crowded, but Sherlock uses that to his advantage, shielding his body with the people milling around him. By the time he exits through the other side, security is still scanning the area where the posters and prints are sold.
Sherlock thinks. Layout of the museum: entrances and exits, public and private; exhibitions, ongoing and special; stairwells, elevators, offices, halls. Rooms, it’s all rooms . . . so which room? Moran could just leave but that’s not . . . he has something to prove now, especially now that his plan with John hasn’t worked out. John. John, sitting in the street. John. Focus, focus, focus. Focus.
Sherlock hums. Ah. He turns right.
“The symbolism is a little heavy-handed, don’t you think?”
Moran chuckles. It echoes off the walls. “This room is almost always nearly empty,” he says. “I find it odd. But they do say chivalry is dead.”
Sherlock shrugs. “Tourists like Impressionists.”
“I think they’re wrong, though. Arms and armor is fascinating And your knight in shining armor is quite possibly seizing in the street even as we speak.”
John. Sherlock forces his heartbeat to slow. “What did you give him?”
Moran shakes his head. “No. Too easy.”
“So what do you propose we do, then? Discuss courtly love? Arthurian mythology?”
“I was thinking we could just end this.” Moran draws a gun out of his waistband.
“Shouldn’t you have left that at coat check?”
“I have a friend who lets me keep it in her desk drawer; she doesn’t have to go through the metal detectors.”
“You have a friend?”
“Well, the sister of an army buddy who is petrified of me. Let’s not split hairs. You think I didn’t plan for this contingency? Why the hell else would I be on the upper east side?”
Moran levels the gun, and Sherlock thinks ricochet.
Suddenly Moran cries out and goes down, his grip on the gun loosening. Sherlock darts forward to grab it, but hears Irene’s voice: “Don’t.” He stops immediately and looks up.
Irene is standing over Moran, who is writhing on the floor and bleeding profusely from the . . . shoe in his back.
Sherlock stands up and looks at Irene, who is calmly but quickly putting on the mate to the heel sticking out of Moran while pulling her hair half out of the bun it’s in.
“Tear my dress,” she orders. Sherlock does it without question, ripping her right sleeve and part of the bodice of her black cotton dress. He steps back as two security guards round the corner.
Irene immediately bursts into tears. “Thank God, thank you, thank you . . .”
The guards stop, look down at Moran on the floor and then at Irene. One of them fishes out his radio and steps away, calling for back up and an ambulance.
“He, he . . . he grabbed me off the street . . . brought me in some strange back way.” Irene starts to cry harder. “I thought . . . I thought he was going to kill me, he had a gun . . . this man was just trying to help --” she breaks off as the tears start to obscure her speech.
One of the guards looks down at Irene sympathetically. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m sorry . . . you’ll have to make a statement.” He pauses, looks at Sherlock. “You, too, sir.
Irene and Sherlock nod. The guard offers Irene a handkerchief.
John is sprawled on the couch in Sherlock’s suite by the time Sherlock and Irene come in shortly before midnight.
John moves his arm from his eyes. “Enough phenobarbital to choke a horse. And he put it in my bad leg.”
“Shouldn’t you be in hospital?” Irene asks, sitting in the chair opposite the couch.
Sherlock moves John’s feet so that he can sit down, then places John’s bare feet back in his lap. “Your limp is psychosomatic.”
John lifts his head off the cushion he is using as a pillow and glares. “Only partially psychosomatic.”
“Irene’s right, you should be in hospital.”
“Checked myself out against medical advice.”
Sherlock huffs out an annoyed breath.
“They wanted to check me in for observation. I’m a doctor, I can observe myself; all I need to do is sleep it off.”
“I have you to observe me,” John amends. Sherlock smiles faintly. “What happened with the two of you? All I got was a text that said you were fine and a police station.”
“Irene got a new pair of shoes,” Sherlock drawls.
Irene smiles. “Prada spring/summer 2012 collection.”
“She stole them from costume institute exhibit at the Met.”
John looks at her.
“I had to ditch my former shoes in the trash bin, poor things. They were flats, though.”
“I can’t believe they let you walk out of the police station with both shoes,” Sherlock remarks. Irene looks at him. “One of them was evidence!”
Irene catches John’s look. “I stabbed Moran in the back with it.”
“Oh, of course.”
“Besides, they were the only pair of shoes I had.”
Sherlock rolls his eyes, but settles back into the couch, indicating he is not about to argue . . . yet. “That and the fact that by the time we were told we could leave they had run Moran’s fingerprints, and some very official looking men in suits were starting to arrive.”
“Our run-in with him was starting to look like the least of his worries,” Irene finishes. “I also flirted with one of the police, asked nicely for my shoes back.”
“That goes without saying,” Sherlock says.
Irene nods. She looks between John and Sherlock. “I am going to go have a long bath and call the wife.” She stands. “Good night, boys.”
As soon as the door clicks shut, Sherlock looks at John.
“I am not going to have this conversation with you,” John says flatly.
Sherlock breathes out sharply through his nose. “You could have died.”
“Fine,” John says. “Let me summarize for you how this is going to go: You are going to complain that emotions and feelings only get in the way of your processes, your work, and that therefore they are extraneous to your life. I am going to call bullshit on that and say that, first of all, you already have emotions, and you did even before you met me, like how fond you were -- and are -- of Mrs. Hudson. You will say that’s just bowing to social conventions, and I will say that you never bow to social conventions, unless it suits you in the moment, which you will somehow take as only confirming your point. You will then point out that if I hadn’t been hurt you would have been able to take down Moran more efficiently, and I will say that you did take Moran down anyway. You will take responsibility for getting me drugged; I will point out that it was Moran who drugged me, and who is therefore responsible, not you. I will go on to further say that you are just talking out of fear. You’ll sputter about how preposterous that is for a while, but I will continue to tell you that I am an adult who is perfectly capable of making my own choices, like adults do, and that if you were another reasonable adult, which of course you are not, but let’s pretend that you are, you would recognize that and leave me to my own choices, which do involve things like living with you, working cases with you, and otherwise being in love with you. I would then say that you can’t attempt to control me by breaking up with me, which is kind of what you tried to do by faking your death, and that you need to respect the choice I’ve made. Which is to be with you. Even if your life is dangerous. And if you’re an idiot.”
“That’s a mouthful for someone who was shot up with phenobarbital.”
“I slept before you came in to build up my strength for your enormous emotional problems.”
“You love me?”
The angle of John’s mouth softens. “Yes. Which you knew.”
Sherlock nods. “Repeated results are the best way to conclude experiments.”
“Good. Then let’s stop experimenting and get on with living.”
“Bed?” Sherlock asks.
John nods. “I could still sleep for a week.”
“Then let’s get started,” Sherlock says, standing and helping John off the couch.
Sherlock and John meet Irene in the lobby late the next morning. She has her bag with her.
“Leaving so soon?” Sherlock asks.
“Scotland calls,” Irene says. “My work here is done.”
“You two are staying?”
“I think we’ve earned a holiday,” John says. “Hang around for a few day, see the sights.”
Sherlock grins. “I do so love spending Mycroft’s money.”
“Enjoy,” Irene says. She stretches up and gives Sherlock a kiss on the cheek, then hugs John. “Don’t be strangers.”
“If that thing works out with the bank, let us know,” John says. Irene smiles.
“Bank?” Sherlock asks.
John starts to shake his head. “Nothing.”
Sherlock takes in John’s expression, Irene’s smile. “Oh. Oh.” He pauses. “You could just ask me.”
John’s mouth drops open.
“Don’t look so shocked, John. I probably have an obligation to pass on my clearly superior genetic material, and this would be the perfect way to do it. Irene is intelligent, clever, attractive . . . she’d be perfect, really, and it’s not like I’d have any responsibility to raise the child.”
John shuts his mouth. Irene laughs at his expression.
“Relax, John. I have no interest in raising a small version of that.”
John still looks slightly put out, but he smiles. Irene pats his arm. “Goodbye, gentlemen,” she says, heading toward the exit with her small rolling suitcase.
John and Sherlock watch her leave. “What would you like to do to start our holiday?” Sherlock asks.
“I was thinking we could go back to bed,” John says, a sly smile inching across his face.
“Room service for lunch?”
“Perfect,” John says, taking Sherlock’s face in his hands and kissing him.