They had just arrived back from their honeymoon three days before. It had been an experience, and the Doctor had come through on his promise of giving them an adventure where they were not in danger and where nothing had gone wrong. It had been refreshing, to spend that long on a trip with the Doctor with no problems in the company of just his wife. Melody had been under the care of the Doctor and so far seemed no worse than before.
Amelia opened the front door, adjusted her sunglasses and they made their way out the door. The press was outside their home, even at seven in the morning, and Amy pushed through, Sherlock behind her. “Amelia! Amy, look here! Sherlock, you as well!”
Sherlock paused. No one had called out for a picture of him before. Amy stopped after a moment and looked at him curiously, and he hurried up to her, flipping his coat up a bit to cover his face.
“That’s unusual,” Amy muttered as he hailed them a cab.
“We disappeared for three weeks after you flashed your wedding band. They’re going to want pictures of the happy married couple,” he murmured as the cab pulled up. He opened the door and they got in. They were on their way to meet John and Amy had decided not to drive. Mrs. Hudson was watching Melody for them, and it was just going to be a normal, ordinary day. Sherlock hadn’t even given the driver John’s address when a man came up to his side of the car and banged on the window. Amy jumped but Sherlock remained calm. He lowered the window. “You had best have a good reason for doing that,” he replied.
“You’re Sherlock Holmes?” he said, clearly out of breath. Sherlock got a better look at him: morbidly obese, halitosis, wide eyes with dilated pupils. It must be someone wanting him to solve a case, though most of the time they contacted John first since John was the blogger. Sherlock nodded. “I need your help.”
Amy shook her head. “I’ll call John,” she said as Sherlock opened the door and got out, Amy right behind him. The man looked at him, trying to catch his breath, and then promptly fell in a dead faint. “That’s going to be a lovely picture,” Amy murmured as Sherlock checked for a pulse. “Should I call for an ambulance?”
“No need,” he told her. Then he looked up. “Does anyone have any smelling salts?” Sherlock called out. The only response he got was more pictures being taken. With a sigh, he let himself back in and went to the first aid kit John had gotten when he’d moved in and left when he moved out. They had never had to use it so it took a bit for him to find it. He rummaged through it, got the smelling salts and went back outside. He opened the package and waved them under the man’s nose, and after a moment his eyes opened. “Get up and come in,” he said with a sigh.
The man did, and Amy followed them back inside. She went to tell Mrs. Hudson that their plans had changed while the man sat down where he was told to and Sherlock paced in front of him. “What do you need to know?” he said.
“Everything, and make sure it’s not boring,” he replied.
The man told his story, and Sherlock listened, growing more bored with it. Car stalled, car backfired, man in field died, could Sherlock Holmes prove he hadn’t done it? This had been happening a lot; since Moriarty had been taken out of the picture the crimes seemed less challenging. It was almost a disappointment. He didn’t want to leave his home to go look at the scene, so after the man got done telling him what had happened Sherlock got on the phone. John picked up after two rings. “Amy told me we have a case.”
“Yes. I need you to go to where the body was found. Take the computer, and make sure they have wi-fi.”
“You’re not going?” he asked, surprised.
“It’s a four, John,” he replied.
“And what does that have to do with it?”
“I only leave the house for a seven or higher.”
He sighed. “Fine, fine. You might want to have Lestrade warn whoever’s in charge.”
“Warn for what?”
“Why would he need a warning?”
“Just call Lestrade and tell him you’ve been asked to work on this case. It will make things easier for me.”
“Very well.” Sherlock hung up and dialed Lestrade’s number. Lestrade picked up on the first ring. “I’ve been asked to consult on a case.”
“By who?” Lestrade asked. “And which case?”
“By the suspect, for the case where the hiker was found dead in the field. Or at least he believes himself to be a suspect.”
“That’s not my jurisdiction,” he said.
“Yes, well, John said I should call you.”
Lestrade was quiet for a moment. “I’ll see what I can do. But no guarantees. I need to find out who’s on the case first. That will take some time.”
“I already sent John.”
Lestrade sighed. “I’ll get right on it.”
“Good to know you’re back, by the way. I have another case for you when this one’s finished.”
“All right. I’ll be in touch later.” He hung up on Lestrade as Amy came back with Melody and looked at the scene.
“Interesting case?” she asked.
“No. I sent John to go look it over,” he said with a sigh. “This is a waste of a morning.”
“Then why don’t you go back to sleep until John calls you? You didn’t really want to get up this morning anyway,” she suggested. “I’ll keep the guest company.”
“He’s not a guest, he’s a client,” Sherlock said.
“Same difference. Go. Sleep.”
He went to their room, stripped down and climbed back into bed. He wanted a challenge. Most of the cases that crossed his way weren’t all that challenging or even interesting. John had taken to blogging about them after the encounter with Moriarty and it seemed as though the blog was popular. John said that was where most of their walk-in cases came from. It showed. No one had anything compelling. He was forced to rely on Lestrade for cases that actually made his brain work for a change, and those were not as frequent.
It was maybe an hour later when Amy knocked on the door. “John’s on the home line. He’s at the site and has the computer set up.”
“Thank you,” he replied. He didn’t feel like getting dressed again so he threw off the blanket, pulled the sheet off the bed and wrapped it around himself.
Amy chuckled slightly at the sight. “You must really not give a damn about this case.”
“It’s a four. I only give a damn about sevens and higher,” he said. “Lestrade has a case for me as soon as this one’s finished.”
She kissed him quickly. “I hope that one’s a seven or higher. You get grumpy when you don’t have a challenge.”
“I do not get grumpy,” he said defensively.
“Oh yes you do,” she said with a laugh. “I live with you. I know.” She turned at that and went back to where the client was.
He followed, and ignoring the man he turned on his computer and got onto the program they used to communicate via computers. “Very well. Go to where the man died.”
“Are you wearing a sheet?” Watson asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I wear a sheet now,” he said. He held off on adding the Doctor’s catchphrase at the end; he didn’t think wearing a sheet was cool, and it would have fallen flat anyway. There was a knock at the door. “Go away,” he called out. He watched on his monitor, and then Watson turned it back to him. “Where’s the car?”
Watson turned the camera and showed him. “That’s it,” he said off screen.
“Give me to the man in charge,” he said. He vaguely noticed Amy had gone to answer the door. He started to explain that the idiot in his living room couldn’t have possibly done it when two men entered behind Amelia. He did a quick scan of the one in front: expensive suit, right handed, indoor job, office worker, one…no, three dogs. Before the man even opened his mouth he knew what was going on.
“Your presence is requested,” he said to Sherlock, shutting his computer screen. Then he turned to Amy. “Go get him some clothes.”
“Don’t bother, Amelia,” Sherlock said. “I know exactly who wants my presence.”
“Mycroft?” she guessed.
“Go in the sheet,” she said impishly, a wicked grin on her face.
“I intend to,” he said.
“It’s important,” the man said.
“I know. But if Mycroft wants to see me he’ll just have to take me as I am, and right now I feel like wearing a sheet.”
The man looked at Amelia, who raised her hands. “Don’t ask me to change his mind. I have no fondness for my brother-in-law. If I can tweak his nose then I do it.”
“I won’t be changing my mind,” Sherlock replied.
“Bring a change of clothes anyway,” the man said with a sigh. “Maybe you’ll change your mind when we get there.”
“I doubt it,” Sherlock muttered. Then he looked at Amy. “Go ahead, Amelia.” Amy nodded and went to their room.
“What about my case?” the client asked, tired of being ignored.
“Give your contact information to my wife and I will get back to you later,” he said with a sigh. The man pulled out a business card and got up, walking over to Sherlock and handing him the card. He took it and nodded, and the man left. Amy came with his clothes five minutes later and handed them to the man who had been speaking. “Thank you.”
“Have fun,” she said, giving him a quick kiss after he stood up. “Tell Mycroft I said bugger off.”
He grinned slightly at that. “I’ll be sure to let him know.” And with that, he followed the men out to the car. He wasn’t sure which photo the paparazzi were going to use first, the one of him reviving the man or the one of him in the sheet. It didn’t matter, he supposed as he got in the waiting car. Either way they were going to have a field day with him today.
He was taken to Buckingham Palace and shown to a room with two loveseats in it, facing each other. He sat down and waited. Sherlock was still sitting alone when John arrived. John looked at him strangely for a moment, and then sat down. “Didn’t change?” he said.
“It’s Mycroft’s invitation,” he said, pulling his sheet tighter around him.
John cracked a smile. “Ah. That explains it.” He looked around a bit. “Know what we’re doing here?”
“Don’t have a clue,” Sherlock replied.
John focused on a table to his left. “You don’t know what the temptation feels like to snatch an ashtray.”
“I can imagine,” Sherlock said with the ghost of a grin.
“Think we’ll get to see the Queen?” he asked.
At just that moment Mycroft walked in. “Already here,” Sherlock murmured, and both men began to laugh.
Mycroft looked at his brother, then at the clothes in front of him. “Change,” he said sternly.
“No.” Sherlock gave him his most defiant look, and Mycroft glared back.
“You’re making me look like a laughingstock,” he said, pained.
“Good. I don’t like having people come into my home and boss myself or my wife around. I’m a grown man, not a child. This isn’t the old days. And besides, I was in the middle of a case.”
“It wasn’t much of a case,” Mycroft said. “It’s pretty self-explanatory how the man died.”
“True, but I was working. That is how I make my living, after all, even on easily solved cases.”
“You’re an embarrassment to me, and God knows you’ve embarrassed your wife today with this stunt,” Mycroft said, shaking his head. “How is she doing, at any rate?”
“She’s fine. She told me to tell you to bugger off. And, point of fact, she approved of my choice in attire.”
Mycroft looked disgusted for a second. “Neither of you really grew up, I see. You both still like tweaking my nose. It’s just like that day when you pretended to be pirates.”
“At least we’re not locking you out of the house this time,” Sherlock replied with a smug smile.
“No, you’re just making my day harder.” A cleared throat got their attention and all three men looked to the other side. “I’m sorry for Sherlock,” Mycroft replied, going to the man who had just entered.
“Apologizing for your brother must be a full time job,” the man said. Sherlock scanned him quickly. This man had power, power that Mycroft could only dream of.
“Quite.” Mycroft shook the man’s hand, and then went back to glaring at his brother.
He went to John. “John Watson, Captain of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers,” he said, offering his hand. John shook it. “And Sherlock Holmes. You appear taller in those photographs splashed in the tabloids.” He did not offer his hand for Sherlock to shake, and Sherlock made no move to offer his.
“It helps that those I spend time with people who are shorter than me,” he said, gripping the sheet tighter. “Why am I here?”
“We have a client for you,” Mycroft said. “A very important client who needs to remain anonymous.”
“No. I have a mystery on one end, I don’t need a mystery as to who my client is, either." He brushed past the two men. “Good day.”
Mycroft stepped on the sheet as Sherlock walked and it pulled down to his waist before he caught it. This was getting very annoying, he realized. “Get off my sheet,” he said without turning around, his voice low and dangerous.
“Or else what?” Mycroft said snidely.
“I’ll let go and keep walking.”
“I just might let you,” Mycroft replied.
“You were asked for personally,” the other man interjected.
Sherlock was quiet for a moment. Someone had taken an interest in him. This was interesting. “By whom?”
“Your client. A young royal. A female royal. She’s a great fan of Dr. Watson’s blog. She would very much appreciate your help.” Mycroft paused. “It involves a woman and a compromising situation.”
“And what else?” he asked, turning around to look at them. Mycroft stepped off the sheet so he did not get more tangled.
“Photographs. But not for blackmail.” The man paused. “The woman with the photographs is also a fan of yours, I’m told.”
“Interesting,” he murmured.
“Now get dressed, Sherlock, and sit and listen to the rest,” Mycroft said impatiently.
Sherlock sighed. “Very well.” He went back to the clothes Amelia had picked out, grabbed them, and went to where the other man directed him to change. He had never had her pick out his clothes before, but she knew his taste well enough. She had also folded his coat and put it in with the clothes. He got dressed quickly, and on the way back paused at a table. Quickly he grabbed an ashtray that was on it and put it inside his suit jacket.
Once he returned he found that tea had been served. He sat where he had been sitting and Mycroft sat across from him, the other man sitting across from John. There was a cup for him but he ignored it. John seemed to be the only one drinking it.
“Do you know this woman?” Mycroft asked, handing Sherlock a picture.
He looked at her for a moment. He didn’t pay attention to most of the news, so if she was on it he hadn’t seen her. And the only celebrity he knew was his wife, so if she was one of those he wouldn’t have known either. “No,” he said, looking back up at his brother.
“She’s named Irene Adler. She is a dominatrix, also known as The Woman.” Mycroft handed him a folder, and Sherlock pulled out the photographs inside, flipping through them. They were stills of pages of a website, and he quickly read the text on each of them. There were risqué pictures, but he ignored those completely except to note they were of the same woman in the first photograph. “She’s been involved in two political scandals, and recently destroyed the marriage of a well-known novelist by being with both parties in the marriage.”
“You should simply pay her,” he said, looking up after he looked at the last picture from her website. “Based on what I’ve seen of her website she won’t willingly hand them over. Pay her and sweep it under the rug.”
The other man shook his head. “That’s the thing. She called, said she had the photographs and that was all. No demands for money. It was simply her informing us that she had them.”
“And it’s credible?” Sherlock asked.
“Your client confirms pictures had been taken.”
“A power play,” Sherlock said, a slight grin on his face. He stood up. “Do you know where she lives?”
“Yes,” Mycroft said standing up as well, and John and the other man rose too after John put down his tea.
“Text me her information,” he said, turning to the other gentleman. “I need equipment. Your lighter, please.”
“I don’t smoke,” he replied.
“But your employer does.” Sherlock held out his palm.
The man looked at him, and then fished a lighter out of his pocket. “Keep that quiet,” he said.
“Fine,” he replied, moving to the exit. “I will contact you this afternoon.”
“You’ll have information that quickly?” the other man asked.
“I’ll have the photographs,” he said as he exited the room completely. It took a moment but soon John fell in step with him. “This might be interesting.”