Sherlock and John were on their way out, having decided the flat would be better off without them for a while, particularly since it had been three weeks since Sherlock’s last case. John had locked up his gun at the two week mark. Sherlock opened the front door, coming face to face with a woman who had clearly just been about to ring the bell.
Stopping for a long, long moment, Sherlock just stared at the woman, drinking in all the little clues of her existence.
Behind him, with a little exclamation of annoyance, John peered around Sherlock and said in a polite voice, “Sorry, just a bit of a startle for all of us, I think. May we help you, Miss?”
The woman was tall, bone-china pale, with jet-black hair to her waist, dark eyes, and blood-red lips. She lifted perfectly-arched dark brows and, in a voice that was very like a female version of Sherlock’s, she said with an accent muddied by a strong American influence, “Perhaps you can. This is the residence of Mrs. Martha Hudson, is it not?”
“Yes, it is,” John confirmed.
“Thank you, young man,” the woman replied, low and throaty, yet with no trace of sarcasm or humour, despite the fact that she didn’t look older than John, certainly not past her forties—if that old.
“You’re a relative,” Sherlock announced as if the rest of the conversation hadn’t happened and without making way for or taking his eyes off the woman.
“Correct.” Brows rising again, the woman tilted her head, studying Sherlock with something very like the same intensity he’d been studying her. “You, however, are not. you are a tenant of hers… actually, both of you are.”
“Too easy,” murmured Sherlock, almost sounding amused
“Very,” the woman agreed mildly. “You both care for her a great deal, though you aren’t intimate with the details of her personal life.”
“Well, that was a rather simple deduction.” Spoken in a rumbling sardonic drawl, the words were accompanied by a ‘surely you can do better than that’ expression.
“Mmm… yes, it was. You must be the detective, then. Mr. Holmes.” The woman’s tone and expression were a well-bred echo of Sherlock’s own.
“I must be, indeed.” Sherlock sounded as though he was beginning to lose interest, but John was still observing their exchange with a mixture of surprise, curiosity, and astonishment.
A slow hint of a smile curved the woman’s vividly-red lips. “You remind me of another Holmes I knew some years ago. Malcolm Holmes was his name. He had ginger curls, rather than black; otherwise, you look quite like him. He was a very… interesting… gentleman.”
Sherlock’s face pulled into a scowl, his lips parting to speak even as a familiar voice came from behind him and John: Mrs. Hudson.
“What’re you two doing out here in the—Oh!” Mrs. Hudson gasped, interrupting her own question upon seeing the visitor on her doorstep. “Cousin Morticia!”
“Cousin Martha.” The woman—obviously named Morticia—replied with a pleased tone and a slight warming of her previously composed expression.
John moved aside and Sherlock, his expression something between querulous and possibly annoyed, turned to look at Mrs. Hudson.
In a graceful and incredibly swift move, Mrs. Hudson’s ‘Cousin Morticia’ slipped between Sherlock and John, all but gliding with small but rapid steps as she held out hands with perfectly-manicured nails of the same blood-red as her lips. Mrs. Hudson took her relation’s hands in her own with a smile that was warm and genuine, though subtly edged with nervousness when she glanced at Sherlock and John.
“You’ve met my two lodgers, then. Such good boys. Come along, I’ll make tea and you can tell me what brings you to London,” Mrs. Hudson said, not pausing for answers as she led her guest toward 221A.
“Excuse me, but I didn’t catch your full name,” Sherlock called after them in a tone that expected an answer.
Mrs. Hudson paused when her guest slowed and turned her upper body and head so that she could look back at Sherlock and keep moving slowly in the other direction, graceful as a willow reed.
“Addams, Mr. Holmes. Mrs. Morticia Addams. Our dear Cousin Martha was an Addams before she took on the name of Hudson.”
“They know all about the late Mr. Hudson,” Mrs. Hudson dismissed in a slightly-hasty tone.
John looked as if he was going to argue the point, or at least ask a question, but Sherlock put a hand on his arm, long fingers tightening slightly more than comfortable.
Morticia Addams’s dark eyes focused upon Sherlock one last time as Mrs. Hudson took her arm, and those blood-red lips curved into a very predatorily-pleased smile as her voice took on a purring tone. “Yes, it was so good of Mr. Holmes to take such good care of you in your hour of need, Cousin Martha. The family owe him a debt of gratitude.” Not waiting an answer from Sherlock, she then let Mrs. Hudson lead her away, fitted black dress hugging classic feminine curves down to the floor and trailing behind her like fallen petals from a strange flower.
Sherlock watched them go, not having missed Mrs. Hudson’s slightly apologetic little smile as Morticia was speaking. Just before the two women were fully inside Mrs. Hudson’s flat, the landlady’s voice could be heard faintly as she asked, “And how is your Gomez keeping?” just before the door shut behind them.
Though Sherlock kept looking in that direction, he said nothing more until John broke the silence with a quiet, “Sherlock?”
“John,” Sherlock finally said with an intensely contemplative expression, his voice… oddly stilted, “the Malcolm Holmes she described did, indeed, have very similar features to me—or me to him, if you want to be strictly factual—and curly reddish-gold hair.” Pale eyes caught and held John’s gaze. “He died not long after the turn of the last century; sometime in the nineteen-twenties or thirties, I believe.”
“But… how?” John looked confused. “Do you think she’s… delusional?”
“That’s the problem, John.” Sherlock’s voice was low and troubled now. “Not only am I almost certain she was telling the truth, I’m a bit concerned that she’s not altogether human.”
“Shush. Come on, I need to think this through,” Sherlock ordered, turning quickly and dashing out the still-open door and down the steps.
John, expression still confused, though certainly curious, too, followed right behind his friend, hoping to get some answers over dinner. If they were even still having dinner. John’s stomach rumbled. Stepping up his pace as Sherlock led the way along Baker Street, John asked, “Still heading for the Golden Phoenix, right?”
Blowing out a huffy breath, Sherlock frowned down at John in annoyance, “Yes, yes, I promised I’d eat today, John, and it’s only been twenty-two minutes since I made that promise; I’ve hardly forgotten.”
“Alright, fine, just checking.” A few yards further on, John licked his lips and asked a bit hesitantly, “Sherlock, what… um… what did you mean about Mrs. Addams not being human?”
Waving his hand impatiently, Sherlock’s expression was even more irritated this time. “John, you see but do not observe!” Shaking his head, lengthening his stride to the point that John was almost trotting, Sherlock added, “I’ll explain further over dinner, but I’m going to want to visit my mind palace when we return to the flat. I know I encountered something or other in the past about an Addams, but I’m almost certain it was in the United States, not the United Kingdom.”
“She did seem to have a slight American accent,” John mused as they reached their destination, a Chinese restaurant only a few streets from their flat.
Sherlock just shook his head and sighed heavily as he opened the restaurant’s door and waved John inside.