221A Baker St.
Sherlock sat across from Mary at Mrs. Hudson’s table, tissues stuffed up his nose. A lonely lamp cast a dim yellow glow in the dark room. Mary’s face was buried in her hands.
“You absolute prick. You. Absolute. Fucking. Prick. I can’t believe you. How did you even do it? Why did you do it? I can’t even begin -,” she cut off with a groan and raked her fingers through her hair.
“The how and why are not important,” Sherlock answered, sniffing as he removed the bloody tissues. “The where is so much more relevant.”
“Where? Where what? I’m not John, remember - I don’t speak your strange cryptic code.”
Sherlock leaned forward across the table to give her a piercing look. He’s changed so much, Mary realized with a stab of guilt. Dark circles had appeared under his eyes, and his face had turned thin and wan. His expression no longer held the intimidating cold intensity that she had grown accustomed to, but rather seemed all too human.
“Where is John?”
“He’s at the hospital. He went to work during the night. I don’t - do you think something happened to him?”
Sherlock stared at her, his jaw tightening slightly. “Was he ever called to work that early before?”
“No.” Mary’s throat felt dry and tight. “Is he -” She couldn’t finish the question without wanting to throw up.
“Dead? No. The only ones meant to die tonight were you and Harry Watson.”
“Harry?! Oh God, no...” Mary clamped her hands over her mouth.
“She’s alright. Harry lives, thankfully, on the other side of London, so my brother was able to speed her away before Moran’s men came.”
“Jesus, Sherlock,” she whispered, stumbling over his name like a forgotten language. “What the bloody hell is going on?” Except for the pounding pain in her head, Mary felt like she was dreaming, cushioned by a thick blanket of unreality.
“A loose end. The last of Moriarty’s network. Colonel Sebastian Moran arrived in London before I could intercept him or the message to his men.”
“So that’s what you’ve been doing. You’ve been hunting them down. Convenient, since they all thought you were dead.” She let out a dry laugh. “So how do we come into this?”
“You and Harry were a warning. Meant to die so that I would play by his rules to save the rest.”
“Wait, what rest? They have John - ” Mary’s eyes widened in realization. “Where is Mrs. Hudson?” She had completely forgotten that they were at her apartment, having come down to get some ice and tissues for Sherlock.
The corners of Sherlock’s mouth twitched upward into a humourless smile. “Now you are asking the right questions. Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade were kidnapped earlier tonight, and are being held in two separate locations. They, along with John, will be used to bait me. So far, Moran is under the impression that I am working alone, and it is paramount that he remains convinced of this as long as possible.”
“He doesn’t know Mycroft’s helping you?”
“If Moran knew that, he would not be in London.”
“Then why am I with you? Why did you come get me and not Mycroft’s men?”
“Believe me when I say that the rescue mission was hastily planned. I had arrived at your house, hoping to intercept you and John. I assumed they would make the awful mistake of trying to kidnap John by force, but I seem to have given them too little credit. When I saw you sprinting towards the street - where, by the way, you would have been shot as soon as you stepped out onto the sidewalk,” he said, waving dismissively, “I had to revise my initial plan. One of Mycroft’s men brought us back here.”
“Yeah, thanks for the black bag treatment. Didn’t terrify me at all.”
“I’m afraid we couldn’t exactly stay and chat about my sudden resurrection, so I...expedited the process.” Sherlock had the decency to look ashamed. “In any case, John taught you well.”
“And, if I’m following you right, the reason I’m talking to you right now is because you needed to know where John is, since Moran spoiled your grand plan by getting to him first.”
“In so many words, yes. Well done - I can see why John married you.” Sherlock’s tone was so perfunctorily sarcastic that it almost sounded sincere.
“So what’s the plan now? I assume you know where everyone is being held, so why are we still waiting around? Does Mycroft need a midnight snack?” she laughed. It sounded very wrong in the quiet room. She clenched her hands to stop them from shaking.
“Like I said, it is paramount that Moran thinks I work alone; otherwise, the game plan will drastically change. Having my brother show up right now with all the king’s horses and all the king’s men would be counterproductive.” His voice was unnaturally gentle. Sherlock Holmes being sympathetic - tonight really is the most fucked up night of my life.
“What will you do then?”
“What?!” Mary started. Her hand shot out across the table and grabbed Sherlock’s wrist in a death grip. “You can’t be serious -”
“I am perfectly serious,” he replied, extricating his hand from hers. “It will be a feint, of course. I will arrive at one of the locations, unarmed and unaccompanied. Moran is more of a hunter than an assassin - he will not give up the chance to kill me himself. I will be brought to him, and once his attention is diverted, it is only a matter of three well-timed ambushes by His Majesty’s finest armed gunmen to lay the whole matter to rest.”
“And what make you think he won’t call your bluff? He must be pretty familiar with your repertoire by now.”
“I have died for my friends once. His plan rests on the idea that I will do it again.” He steepled his fingers and briefly dropped his forehead to rest against them. Then he looked up at her again, the light from the lamp casting deep shadows across his face. “That and his assurance that no other souls in London know that I am alive.”
“Little does he know that your brother doesn’t have one.”
Sherlock chuckled at that and Mary couldn’t help but join in. She was sitting at a table, pregnant and in her pyjamas, with a resurrected genius madman, having just survived an assassination attempt, with her husband and two of her closest friends kidnapped by a desperate gunman, and she was laughing. Is this why they always laughed at inappropriate moments, she wondered, because no matter what, they somehow trusted each other to do the right thing?
A loud sharp honk came from outside. Sherlock stood up so fast he nearly toppled his chair, and leapt over to turn off the lamp. The room plunged into darkness. Mary was yanked out of her seat and steered backwards until she was crouched against the wall with Sherlock by her side. She could barely make out his silhouette in the street glow filtering in through the blinds.
“What’s happening?” she whispered, her voice barely audible even to herself. Cold sweat gathered at her temples. Sherlock’s hand tightened on her arm as he leant forward to murmur in her ear.
“We’re not alone.”
Mary’s chest felt like someone had clamped it in a vice. It took her a few moments to try and focus on anything but the roaring in her ears and difficulty of breathing.
“I don’t understand,” she managed to choke out, even as a shrill scream inside her head told her she did.
Sherlock’s fingers dug painfully into her arm in response. It helped a little. They crept quietly out of 221A and towards the stairs. When she felt him let go of her, Mary stopped, refusing to go any farther.
“Mary, go up the stairs,” he nudged her. “Go back down the fire escape and away from here.”
She didn’t budge. “What about you?”
“I’ll leave by a different door - now, go!” He started to push her, but she batted his hand away.
“Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. You’re not facing him alone.”
“Duly noted. Now go, or you will get us both killed,” Sherlock hissed, before melting away into the dark.
Mary reluctantly made her way upstairs into 221B, stepping slowly and silently into the apartment. She started to make her way slowly, her hands groping for support. Something warm and scratchy brushed against her and she nearly yelped. It was Sherlock’s coat, left hanging on one of the chairs. Mary slipped it on without thinking, feeling warm for the first time since she left her bed.
She made her way outside, staying close to the wall and peering intently into the gloom for any sign of movement. Greyish early morning light was just illuminating the street, but in the back of the building it was still dark. When her feet hit the cold pavement again, Mary realized belatedly that she would have benefited much more from taking Mrs. Hudson’s shoes than Sherlock’s coat. Up ahead she could see the car - its driver’s side door ajar, the alert system beeping away.
I should run, she thought, run the other damn way and call for help. Instead, she made her way over to the car. The driver was slumped over, cheek pressed against the dashboard. His eyes were open. Mary pressed two fingers to his throat, but she couldn’t feel anything.
“Sorry about this,” she murmured, reaching over to close his eyes. The keys were still in the ignition and somewhere out there Sherlock Holmes was battling an assassin. Mary had no time to waste. She grabbed the dead driver by his suit and dragged him out of the car, sparing a moment to arrange his limbs in a more dignified pose. Her investigative experiences with Sherlock, John, and Greg had left her very tolerant of dead bodies.
Mary backed up until she exited onto a side street, where she promptly swung the car around and headed towards Baker Street. She could see the blood stains near the steering wheel in the faint light, but resolutely kept her eyes on the road. In the distance, the yellow glow of the street lamp showed two dark figures fighting. Mary silently thanked the fact that the road was deserted and stamped down on the accelerator.
There was a loud thud followed by the squealing of tires and the smell of burned rubber. Mary’s fingers were clenched so tight around the steering wheel that the leather creaked. She managed to loosen the grip of one hand and open the passenger side door. Sherlock stood outside, disheveled and panting.
“Good timing,” he complimented airily. “Did you mean to hit him?”
“I think so,” Mary answered. She leaned back in her seat and let out a long breath. Sherlock slid into the car and gave her an amused look.
“What is it?” she asked, frowning.
“You’re wearing my coat,” he said, not losing the strangely pleased look his face seemed to have adopted.
“I was cold - what of it?”
“Absolutely nothing. You just reminded me of someone. Now hurry up and drive.”
In the car, Sherlock wasted no time in getting into a heated exchange with his brother over the phone. Mary attempted to listen in, but her body was betraying her. Her seatbelt scratched uncomfortably at her abdomen, and the buzz of adrenaline was wearing off. She couldn’t focus beyond the nausea and the aches and pains of her body, so she kept her eyes fixed on the road and prayed they would stop soon.
“Take a left.” Mary flinched, startled out of her reverie, and turned. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Sherlock stare resolutely ahead.
“Where are we going?”
“To save Mrs. Hudson.”
“Wait, what?” She nearly steered the car into oncoming traffic trying to come to grips with that statement. “Why us? Where’s your brother?”
“There’s no time. The man that came for us had a mobile on him. He has already informed Moran that Mycroft is involved. We have precious little time to act before he slips out of reach again, this time with Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, and John in tow.”
“So he’s letting you and a pregnant woman go up against Moran’s men? And what are we armed with? Intellect and hormonal rage? It’s a wonder England still stands with your brother at the helm.”
“It’s our last opportunity,” Sherlock continued on, ignoring Mary’s protests. “Mrs. Hudson is the closest to us. Mycroft will ensure Lestrade’s safety.”
Mary brought the car to a screeching halt by the curb.
“What about John?!” she practically screamed. “The London’s only ten minutes away - we can make it. Mycroft can get Mrs. Hudson.” She tried to drive back, but Sherlock pulled the handbrake.
“Mary, look at me and think!” His voice was clipped and tense, and his hand did not release the brake. “If you were Moran, who would be your top priority? Who would be the most well-guarded?”
“John,” she answered softly. “It would be John.”
“Moran will not risk killing him - not if he wants to get to me. Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, on the other hand, do not get that same honor. Their lives were in danger as soon as they learned that my brother is involved. He is desperate, and if some of his bargaining chips have to die so that I don’t have the advantage, he will not hesitate.”
“So we’re just going to leave him?” Hot tears slid down her face, and she wiped at them viciously with her coat sleeve. “Sherlock, no. I can’t -”
“You can and you will. We must salvage what we can while there is still time to do so.” He released the handbrake. Mary took a shuddering breath and rubbed away fresh tears. She had to refrain from asking, is that what you did?.
“Where are we going?” she said finally, her hands firmly gripping the steering wheel.