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His Great Game (Sherlock x Reader)

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

I stepped out of the library, breathing in the evening air. A soft breeze brushed through my (h/c) hair, then disappeared as quickly as it had come. It was late July, and not a cloud littered the sky as the sun painted golden hues across the streets and buildings. Here in London, the sun didn't set until about 9:00 this time of year- much later than I'm used to. I sighed. I knew it would take me a while to adjust to living here after moving from the States, but I thought a week would do it. Apparently, I was wrong.

I savored the sights and sounds of the busy city for a few more moments before slinging my bag over my shoulder heading to the road, trying to hail a cab. I stood there for several minutes, but with no luck. There wasn't a taxi in sight. I furrowed my brows in confusion. Strange. Either I'm really bad at this whole 'UK' thing or I'm just out of luck. I sighed, quickly deciding that my best course of action would be to walk.

I set off down the sidewalk at a brisk pace, head held high. One look at what I was wearing would signify me as a foreigner, but I didn't mind. While the London natives simply wore jeans and a t-shirt, I wore leather boots and a Cambridge University pullover hoodie. To me, 16.5 degrees Celsius was chilly. I guess living in the States does that to you. I stuffed my hands into my hoodie, attempting to keep warm. People crowded the sidewalk, all bustling off to some place or another. I made the mistake of glancing to the side for just a moment and full-on collided with a man.

I stumbled backward for a moment before falling onto my rear. I groaned, one hand on the ground holding me up and the other on my head, eyes shut tight, trying to hide my embarrassment.

"Oh God. Oh God, I'm so sorry." I looked up to see the man crouched in front of me, staring at me with worried brown eyes. One hand clutched a steaming coffee and the other was raking nervously through his hair. "I'm so sorry, are you alright? Are you hurt?" I opened my mouth to reassure him, but he kept talking, cutting me off. "No of course you're not. Here, let me help you up." He offered me his free hand and gently helped me to my feet. "There we go."

I gave him a sheepish smile. "Thank you." Now that I was standing, I got a proper look at the mystery man. He was a little shorter than your average guy- 5 foot 8- and was obviously muscular despite his slim build. Everyone had their secret talents- mine just happens to be knowing exactly how tall people are just by looking at them. He had a mess of dark brown hair and captivating brown eyes just a touch lighter. He wore a grey, button-down tee, jeans, and a leather jacket with black leather shoes to match. He had a bit of scruff on his cheeks, adding to the worn-down, casual look. Honestly, he was pretty cute. Sexy, even. But I pushed those thoughts from my mind after realizing that there was probably quite an age difference between us. Early thirties, maybe?

"I really am sorry." He replied, returning the shy smile and snapping me out of my thoughts. I mentally chided myself for staring. Wait. I cocked my head in surprise, my shy smile becoming genuine. Now that I was thinking straight, I recognized his accent.

"You're Irish! Not from around here then?" I asked enthusiastically, stepping to the inside of the sidewalk so I wasn't in the path of everyone rushing by. He stepped with me, successfully moving the both of us out of harm's way. The last thing I needed right now was to get knocked over. Again.

"Nah." He said, chuckling. Dang, I thought, even his laugh is sexy. He closed some of the space between us, still keeping a respectable distance. However, he was close enough for me to get a whiff of his cologne. Smells good, too.

"Just visiting." He gave me a once-over before continuing. "I take it you aren't from around here, either, darling?"

I raised my eyebrows at the affectionate term. I brushed it off, shaking my head in amusement. "What gave it away?"

"Besides the fact that you're cold in this warm weather?" he chuckled again. "Mainly the accent. Definitely American." He locked eyes with me and I held his gaze until I felt my cheeks growing warmer as a blush started to spread across them. I looked down quickly, shoving my hands into the pockets of my hoodie and smiling. I risked a glance upward and saw him smiling at the ground as well, the same pink on his cheeks.

"So um..." he began tentatively, looking up to meet my gaze once again. "Do you have a name? I mean of course you have a name, but..."

I couldn't help but laugh. He was so awkward, it was adorable. "(Y/n)."

"(Y/n)?" He repeated, grinning. "That's beautiful." I felt my face growing pinker by the second. I opened my mouth to thank him, but he cut me off with a startled exclamation. "Oh my God! Where are my manners? You must be cold, here." He practically shoved his coffee into my hands. I stood there holding the coffee, flattered, but a little taken aback. My hands began to warm up immediately. He straightened his jacket and nodded his head, satisfied.

"Well, it was nice meeting you, (y/n). Perhaps we'll run into each other again, darling," he finished with a wink. He turned abruptly and started walking in the direction he had been headed before our collision.

"Yeah..." I mumbled to myself, still a bit flustered. My eyes widened and I shook my head, trying to clear my mind. I turned in the direction the man had gone. "Hey, wait!"

He turned immediately, as if he had been anticipating my call. "Yes?"

"I never got your name." I practically yelled, my voice carrying above the crowd to where he stood.

He smiled and started to walk backwards. "James." He then turned and continued on his way.

I grinned and looked down at the coffee he had graciously gifted me. Irish and polite. Not to mention good-looking. I turned the coffee in my hands, noticing for the first time the phone number written on the foam in black ink. "That sly bastard," I chuckled to myself. I took a sip of the coffee, sighing at how warm it was in contrast to how cold I felt. I would definitely be texting that number later. 

I checked the time, glancing at my watch. 9:37. The sky had darkened considerably since I had left the library. I smiled, looking up at the stars. Missing a cab earlier didn't seem so unlucky, now. "I owe you one, James." Setting off down the sidewalk with my coffee in hand, I headed for my flat.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

I walked for at least another 20 minutes before my apartment complex came into view in the distance. Or would it be a flat complex? I chuckled and shook my head. British lingo is weird.

Any warmth coming from my coffee cup had disappeared along with the coffee itself, leaving me with an empty cup and a cold chill. I looked down at the ink numbers on the cup and memorized them quickly. I would definitely be texting that number soon. I threw the cup into a nearby trashcan and continued down the sidewalk.

The sun was long gone, and it felt like the temperature was dropping by the second. An exaggeration, I know. I can be quite the drama queen sometimes. I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head and stuffed both hands into my hoodie pocket. I can't wait to get inside...

One big plus of my flat- it was very affordable, and a nice place for the price. As a college student on a budget, I have no complaints on that matter. However, the big negative was that it was right next to a bar. And not just because of the incessant noise of blaring music late into the night (which, by the way, can be heard from my flat on the opposite end of the complex.) I'm usually home much earlier than I am tonight, and right now was a danger hour for girls walking home alone. I gulped and walked faster as I approached it.

Past the bar and the creepy alleyway, straight to the apartment complex. Okay, (y/n), now you're really being a drama queen.

Just before I reached the door of the bar, three men stumbled out, visibly drunk. I mumbled a curse under my breath and walked even faster, praying I would go unnoticed. No such luck.

"Hey doll." A man's voice sent shivers up my spine and I froze with fear. Refusing to look back, I started up again at the same pace and headed for the complex.

"Hey," the same voice called out again, rougher this time. I felt a hand grab my wrist and was spun around to face the man. He narrowed his eyes and looked down at me. "I was talking to you." I tried to wrench myself out of his grip, but instead he grabbed my other wrist and practically pinned my arms to my sides.

"Where do you think you're headed in such a rush?" he slurred. His hot breath covered my face, making me cringe. The loud noises and bright lights from the bar were disorienting, and the hollering of the two other men behind him wasn't helping.

"I...uh..." No, no, no, don't panic. Oh God. I had been holding it together so well until now. Then I made the fatal mistake of looking the man in the eyes. I'm a fairly confident person, but I internally crumbled under his gaze. One look into those dark eyes and... Oh God, I feel so violated.

He moved his hands to my waist, never releasing my wrists. "You know, I thought maybe we could have a bit of fun, doll." His buddies guffawed behind him, egging him on.

"Woo, get 'em, Robbie!" Shouted the blonde one. The short and stocky one wolf whistled, further encouraging my assaulter.

I was really panicking now. My breathing was shallow and rapid, and my heart was racing. "N-no. No thank you." I tried pulling away again, but Robbie laughed and pulled me even closer so I was touching his chest. I couldn't bring myself to look up at him. He was a good head taller than me, and I was terrified. This wasn't right.

No, no, please, someone help. I was crying now, silent tears streaming down my face. He leaned in and pressed his lips to my cheek as he spoke.

"You're not going anywhere, doll." He backed me into the wall of the bar. I tried desperately to scream, but nothing came out. Oh God. Heart racing and panic taking over, I did the only thing I could- I brought up my knee and hit him as hard as I could in the groin.

"ARGH!" He doubled over in pain, and his grip on me weakened momentarily. A moment's distraction was all I needed. I slipped away and took off towards the complex at a sprint, the two other men following behind.

"Hey!" I heard one of them yell. Their footsteps became louder and I knew they were gaining on me.

Run faster, dang it! The complex was only steps away. "Help!" I cried out desperately, my voice no longer failing me. "Please, someone help!" I felt a hand grab me once again, wrenching me backwards by my shoulder. I cried out in pain as I spun around to face the blonde man. My eyes widened in fear and a sob escaped me.

He smirked triumphantly. "Gotc-" he started, but he never got the chance to finish. A loud bang rang in my ears and his mouth hung open in shock. His eyes widened with pain and mine with fear as I realized what had just happened. I looked down to see the red splatter on my hoodie and the red stain growing on his shirt. Time stopped, and the two of us stood suspended in time for what felt like hours, although it couldn't have been more than a second. He dropped to the ground, dead. I was so overwhelmed and paralyzed with fear that I hadn't noticed the red dot shining on his chest before the shot was fired.

Robbie and the third man stood right behind the fallen man, frozen in fear. "What the hell?" The third man shouted and began to run away, grabbing Robbie so he would follow.

Two more bangs. Two more bodies hit the pavement, blood pooling around them.

I looked around wildly for the gunman, fearing for my life. I waited, hands above my head, anticipating the fourth shot that was surely for me. But a fourth shot never came. 

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            Murdered. Three men murdered right in front of me. But why not me? I sat on the steps of the apartment building, staring at the ground in shock. I hardly registered the police and paramedics buzzing around me. A pair gentle hands wrapped a bright orange blanket around me. I flinched at the touch, shrugging the blanket off. I needed to think- a shock blanket would only mess with my thoughts. As much as I tried to focus on something else, the same question ran through my mind over and over, never relenting. Haunting me. Why not me?

            “(Y/n)? (Y/n), can you hear me?”

            The voice snapped me out of my thoughts, and I jerked my head up to look at the man standing before me. A quick glance was enough to tell me that this man was the Detective Inspector. He slowly sat down next to me, his graying hair reflecting the pale moonlight. “(Y/n),” he continued, “my name is Detective Inspector Lestrade, and I need you to answer a few questions.” His voice was soft and sympathetic. “Can you do that? You don’t have to just now if you don’t feel up to it.”

            No. I thought. The last thing I want to do is answer more questions. I had already been asked a few basic identification questions by a woman called Donovan, who was relaying the information to other nearby officers. She had seemed rather nice, but something about her was off. You squinted at her, but you couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Lestrade, however, seemed genuine enough. I sighed. Just a few questions, then. I softened my features after I realized I had been full-out scowling at the woman.

            “Yeah, that’s fine,” I said, giving Lestrade an unconvincing smile.

            “Brilliant.” He said. He was clearly worried that I was going to refuse, which made me feel all the more better about accepting the questioning. “First thing’s first, then. Are you, in fact, (full name)?”

            Simple enough. “Yes.”

            “Age and birthdate, please.”

            I had already given this information to Donovan, but I supposed he was just double-checking. I sighed, answering.  "June 4th, (Y/age) years old.”

            “And you aren’t from England?”

            “No sir, I’m an American citizen.”

            Lestrade closed his notebook, where he had been reading my information to make sure it matched. He seemed satisfied. “Well then, Miss (L/n), sit tight while I make a call. Someone will be over to ask you some more questions in a few minutes.” With that, he turned and walked away, pulling out his mobile phone and dialing a number. “Hey,” you could hear him say as he walked off, “I’ve got a weird one for you… Yes, I know it’s late. Just…” He turned and looked back at me, a concerned look on his face. “…Just come quickly.” He hung up and walked over to the Anderson fellow who was inspecting the bodies.

            Another pair of hands picked up the shock blanket behind me and placed it over me again. “Keep this on, miss.” A woman’s voice said. I didn’t bother turning around to see who it was. Instead, I waited until she had walked off and removed the blanket again. I didn’t want the blanket, no matter how cold I was or how much shock I was in.

            I had shed my hoodie earlier, after realizing it was covered in blood. I had decided that I didn’t appreciate the strange looks coming from the policemen. Now, I was left in a tank top, which I had been wearing underneath. I shivered in the chilly air- this was far colder than I had been with my hoodie. I decided to suck it up and wait for the mystery questioner. Where was he, anyways?

            No sooner had the question crossed my mind, a cab pulled up to the crime scene. A man stepped out, about 5 foot 6 with blonde hair and… gray eyes? It was hard to tell at this distance. So this is the mysterious questioner. He wore a collared, plaid button-down and a gray cardigan, sporting jeans and a pair of black oxfords. Probably mid-thirties. At least he didn’t seem intimidating. This will be easy, I thought, as he began to walk over to Lestrade.

            I had been so busy detailing the first man that I didn’t see the second man until he was walking over to Lestrade as well. Oh God, I thought, now that’s an intimidating man. His appearance was striking, with visibly bright blue eyes, ebony curls, and possibly the highest cheekbones I’d ever seen. He was quite tall, at least 6 foot, and took long, confident strides. Late twenties, maybe early thirties, I guessed. He wore a dark gray trench coat and a blue scarf over his white button-up shirt and slacks. Was this one the questioner? Not gonna lie… this one’s pretty good-looking. Not to say that the first one wasn’t good-looking as well. Well isn’t this just my lucky day, my own sarcasm ringing in my ears. It had sure been one hell of a rollercoaster, today. First James, then multiple murders, then more attractive strangers. Okay, this is getting ridiculous- behave yourself!

            I shook my head, clearing my mind of any other crazy thoughts floating around as the pair of strangers walked over, Lestrade preceding them. I stood to greet them, not wanting to remain seated.

            “(Y/n),” Lestrade began, sidestepping so you were in full view of the pair of gentlemen. “This is-”

            “Thank you, Lestrade, but we are capable of introducing ourselves.” The tall man cut him off abruptly. He glared at Lestrade, conveying something between annoyance and disgust. I wrinkled my nose. I didn’t like this one very much. The shorter one sent Lestrade an apologetic look as Lestrade turned on his heels and strode away.

            “Um, right then.” The blonde man began, sticking out his hand for me to shake. I took it. “I’m Doctor John Watson, and this is my friend-”

            “Sherlock Holmes.” The taller man cut John off just as he had Lestrade. Is that all this man does? Interrupt people? He didn’t offer his hand, but instead simply nodded and began to look me up and down, taking in every detail with his piercing gaze. When he seemed satisfied, he continued after a brief moment. “Consulting detective.”

            “Pleasure to meet you both.” I tried to sound as polite as possible. Sherlock didn’t seem pleased.

            “Don’t fake flattery, please. I know you’re not exactly pleased to meet us, but the least you could do is be truthful about it.”

            I blinked, startled. Who the hell did this man think he was? I’d met him not two minutes ago and I already hated him. “Right. Sorry.” There was an awkward silence for many long moments as Sherlock and I both attempted to stare the other down.

            John cleared his throat, breaking the silence. “Okay then! So um, (y/n), can you tell us what happened?” I shot one final glare in Sherlock’s direction before turning to John with a much more pleasant face. I liked John. He was polite and much easier to talk to.

            I nodded. “One moment, please.” I closed my eyes and started to think, reliving the horrible events and making sure to remember every detail. I felt someone wrapping the shock blanket around me again. I shrugged it off, eyes still closed. They tried to put it back on again. I took it off, forcefully this time. Again they tried to make me wear it. My concentration broke and I whirled around to yell at the paramedic.

            “STOP IT. I don’t need a bloody shock blanket! I’m trying to think, and that thing will just make it difficult.” The poor woman looked shocked and utterly embarrassed. She didn’t speak- she simply hung her head and walked away. I turned back around to Sherlock and John. John looked utterly horrified. I couldn’t tell if Sherlock was amused or impressed. “Erm… Sorry about that.” I muttered.

            “The events, please.” Sherlock pressed, waiting for information.

            “Right.” I closed my eyes again, concentrating.

            “Stop that.”

            I opened my eyes. “Stop what?”

            “Closing your eyes like that. You look pathetic, trying to remember something so hard. It’s only just happened, even an idiot would remember something.” He looked down at me and smirked, obviously marking me as an idiot. I wasn’t going to stand for this.

            I raised my chin so I was looking him square in the eyes, and recited the event in exact detail from memory. With each word, Sherlock’s smirk faded a little bit. Apparently I wasn’t as idiotic as he had presumed. By the time I was finished, it was I that wore the smug smile. “Satisfactory enough for you?”

            Sherlock replied, visibly miffed. “Yes. What did you get from that, John?”

            John looked up from his notebook where he had been jotting down details. He breathed out slowly and raised his eyebrows, scanning his notes as he spoke. “Well, (Y/n) was clearly under an immense amount of emotional and physical stress. For her to remember everything in such detail is, truly, quite remarkable.” I smiled a bit at that part. “We have more than enough information for you to track down the sniper.”

            “No, John, we don’t.” Sherlock said passively, gazing off down the street.

            John looked up in genuine surprise. “We don’t?”

            “We don’t need to find the sniper, John. That’s not the point. Start asking the right questions.”

            “Sorry, I don’t follow.”

            Sherlock scoffed and turned to me. “What do you think?”

            I raised my eyebrows, surprised he was asking for my opinion. After all, he did pass me up as an idiot not two minutes ago. “Me?”

            “Yes, obviously.” He said, rolling his eyes. “Prove to me you’re not an idiot. Work it out for yourself.”

            I went to stand a little straighter, but I quickly changed my mind after a chill moved through my body. I decided to cross my arms tightly against my chest in an attempt to keep warm. “Well…” I said, my voice shaky as I was unsure of myself. “The sniper didn’t shoot me, and probably had no intention of shooting me in the first place. He only shot my attackers, and only after I cried out for help.” My voice grew stronger as I gained confidence with every sentence. “So clearly he was protecting me. So if the point isn’t to find the shooter, it’s to find out why I was being protected.” I nodded, satisfied with my inference.

            Sherlock and John exchanged a look, both clearly impressed. “Lestrade!” Sherlock called out to the Detective Inspector, never looking away from John. “Come quickly.”

Chapter Text

(Sherlock’s POV)

            I watched her carefully as she made her deductions and came to the conclusion I had been hoping for. John and I shared an impressed glance. This one was certainly different. “Lestrade! Come quickly!” (Y/n) stared at us, nervously biting her lip, wondering whether or not we approved of what she had said. Well, she was about to find out. Thoughts floated through my head and I began to connect the puzzle pieces.

            I turned and gave her an approving smile. She gave a relieved smile and relaxed her shoulders momentarily before scrunching them up again because she was cold. I heard Lestrade jogging over. With the few spare seconds I had, I studied her. She may not have been model material, but she wasn’t unpleasant to look at in the slightest. She was still smiling, and the grin lit up her face, making her all the more pleasing to the eye. A quick glance at John showed that he didn’t mind staring at her, either. Her (h/l), (h/c) hair was tucked behind her ears and she stood with her arms huddled against her for warmth.

            I was momentarily confused as to why she would be wearing a tank top if she was cold, but I noticed the blood-stained hoodie on the ground next to her and gave a mental nod of understanding. Of course, how could I have missed it?

            “What is it?” Lestrade stood beside me, eagerly awaiting my solution.

            “Gavin,” I began.

            “Greg.”

            “Whatever.” I continued, my eyes never leaving (Y/n). There were so many details available to the one who observes. “As (Y/n) has already laid out for us and as I had already concluded, the sniper was there to protect her, not harm her. But the question is- why?” I furrowed my brows and stared (Y/n) straight in the eyes, her (e/c) eyes meeting my own. “Why is she special?”

            She shifted uncomfortably under my gaze and looked down. I turned to face Lestrade instead. “(Y/n) is nothing special. She is intelligent, judging by the fact that she is a Cambridge student. But then again, a degree says nothing about intelligence. However, judging by her deductive reasoning skills she has proven to possess, she truly is quite intelligent. She hasn’t been here very long- her accent is still completely American. I’d say no more than a week. But she’s also quite young, only (y/age). She wouldn’t be here out of the blue unless she was finishing her last year at Cambridge, so therefore she has skipped a least two grades to be a senior in University so early. Now, about her flat. Why is it in London and not Cambridge? Obviously, she needed time to adapt to the new country before spending an entire year here. Once her semester begins, she’ll probably live on-campus. Have I gotten everything right so far?”

            (Y/n) stood with her mouth open in shock. She quickly closed it as I addressed her. “Uh, yeah. Continue.” John gave a small smile.

            I did just that. “SO. Intelligent girl moves to London from America and has a sniper following her in less than a week. For all we know, she could have been being followed the whole time. Therefore, Miss (Y/n), it would seem” I paused for dramatic effect and looked at John, whom I knew would understand what I was about to say. “That you have a fan.” John’s eyes widened and he began to fit the puzzle pieces together. His eyes sent a silent message. Moriarty?

            “A fan.” Lestrade repeated, clearly annoyed. “A fan. I brought you all the way out here and this is what you’re giving me?”

            I clapped my hands together and beamed a large smile at Lestrade. Oh, this was a good one. “YES, Detective Inspector. A fan. It all makes sense.” I paced in a circle, trying to keep from jumping up and down in excitement. “But the ever-pressing question is still: why her?”

            “I’m right here, you know.” (Y/n) piped up in her painfully American accent, clearly embarrassed and confused about the whole situation. I stopped pacing and looked over at her. She was still shivering in the cold. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t care. But this girl was different. She was intelligent, and a character that Moriarty seemed quite interested in keeping alive. For someone who had just undergone a traumatic experience, she was surprisingly level-headed. In short, I didn’t entirely hate having to deal with her. I slipped off my coat and held it out to her. She looked at me questioningly and I gave her a nod of reassurance. I tried to ignore the surprised looks from Lestrade and John. I rarely acted this way.

            “Thank you.” She said shyly as she reached for the trench coat. Her hand touched mine as she pulled it away, and I made a mental note of how soft her hands were. I watched her every move as she put it on. Surprisingly, you can tell a lot about a person based on how they put on a coat. The coat was huge on her, and made her look much smaller than she actually was. I suppressed my smile.

            What the hell was that about? John’s expression practically screamed the words at me. I elected to ignore him and continue speaking as if I had never stopped.

            “The answer is: I haven’t the faintest idea. However I do know that (Y/n) has someone following her at least part of the time- a person who knows where she lives. The only obvious statement that can be made at the moment is that she isn’t safe here. She can’t stay in this complex anymore- too dangerous.”

            All three of them gave a nod of agreement.

            “Okay then.” Lestrade pressed. “Where is she staying, then?”

            “She stays with me and John, of course.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)  

            “She stays with me and John, of course.”

            My mouth dropped open. “Sorry, what?” I’d only just met this man and he wanted me to move in with him. Sherlock clearly didn’t have any sort of grasp of social construct. I looked around, praying that Lestrade and John were as surprised as I was. They were.

            “Um… Sherlock?” John muttered. “What are you doing?”

            “What the hell-?” Lestrade started to object, but gave up, shaking his head. “Sherlock, you can’t just... Forget it. That’s not happening.”

            Sherlock looked around at each of us, genuinely confused. “What?” He asked, growing concerned. “She obviously can’t stay here, I thought it would be polite to offer.”

            “I’ve only just met you!” I exclaimed. “And you want me to… move in??? I mean, I’m flattered, I guess, but-” John’s head was whipping back and forth, following the conversation. Clearly, he didn’t fancy the idea, either.

            “Temporarily.”

            “Sorry?”

            “You’ll only be there temporarily- I don’t need the likes of you sticking around for too long.” Everyone’s eyes widened in shock. Rude. Even John, and he knew Sherlock much better than I did.

            “SHERLOCK!” He yelled. The entire crime scene seemed to freeze, every paramedic and police man turning in our direction. John, clearly flustered, reached up and grabbed Sherlock’s shoulder, spinning him around and whispering to him sternly. However, it was still loud enough for me and Lestrade to overhear. “You can’t just talk to someone like that!”

            “Can’t I?” Sherlock replied, clearly annoyed but rather smug as well.

            “NO. And what the hell was all that about? She can’t stay with us- the apartment only has two beds!”

            “There’s a couch.”

            “You’re not making her sleep on the couch.”

            “Do you want her to stay somewhere tonight or not, John?!”

            “You know,” Lestrade piped up, and the boys whirled around to face him. “She could just stay in a hotel or something. Sherlock, I don’t know what’s gotten into you. She is NOT staying with you two, and that’s final.”

            “No, no, NO.” Sherlock placed his head in his hands, trying to comprehend his idiocy. “Come on, Lestrade. Don’t you see? She’s not SAFE in some hotel. Where she’s SAFE is with me and John. She stays with us, and that’s final.” He stood taller and looked down at Lestrade, a determined look in his eyes. Now that I was wearing his trench coat, he was left in a white button-up with the sleeves rolled up. As he stood taller, maximizing his height, I noticed how great his arms looked with that shirt. How great everything looked. I sighed internally. Why are the cute ones always such jerks? Not that it mattered, he was way too old. Hey, I can look at the menu, I just can’t order.

            Lestrade kept opening and closing his mouth, debating whether or not to oppose Sherlock. I decided to pipe up instead. “So, do I get a say in this, or…?”

            “Of course she does.” John answered quickly, knowing that I had no intention of agreeing with Sherlock’s plan.

            “Great, because-”

            “Oh, don’t be ridiculous, John. Of course she doesn’t.” I looked at Sherlock, offended by his statement. He looked down at me, smirking. “I know what’s best. I don’t expect you to understand that.” He looked away, clearly pleased with himself. I was fuming. First, he calls me and idiot, then says I’m quite intelligent, than calls me an idiot again? And he expects me to stay at his flat? I don’t think so.

            I stared him down, my eyes blazing with defiance. John and Lestrade stood speechless, completely taken aback by Sherlock’s outrageous behavior. “Are you always like this? Rude and arrogant?”

            He turned to me, his face deadpanning. “Yes.”

            “Oh, yeah, and I bet you’re real proud of yourself. You think you’re all that, don’t you?!”

            He furrowed his brow and pursed his lips. “I think I’m adorable.” He grinned and turned on his heels, intending to walk away. But I needed to have the last word.

            “No, you’re not adorable, YOU’RE A BLOODY PSYCHOPATH. There’s no way in hell I’m staying at your flat!”

            He stopped in his tracks, frozen. I let out a huff, satisfied with his reaction. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. Sherlock whirled around and grabbed the collar of the trench coat, pulling me forward suddenly until his face was inches from mine. I let out a gasp of surprise. His blue eyes stared at me with and intensity and fire I had never seen before- the sight made my blood run cold.

            “Sherlock!” Lestrade and John yelled simultaneously, but Sherlock ignored the both of them. John kept going. “Sherlock, stop this!”

            Sherlock spoke low so only I could hear him, his baritone voice resonating over my ears. “Don’t ever call me a psychopath. I am a high-functioning sociopath. Now, if you want to be safe, if you want to stay under your fan’s radar, then I suggest you come with me and John. I’m not exactly fond of you-”

            “I could say the same to you.” I muttered so only Sherlock could hear me. I risked a glance to my right and left to see John and Lestrade standing there, appalled. I was painfully aware of Sherlock’s hand, which was still holding the collar of his coat I was wearing. I scanned his face, taking in everything from his cupids-bow lips to his cheekbones, which seemed even higher from this close proximity. His ebony curls looked extremely soft, and I found myself imagining how my hands would look running through them. Stop it. I looked him in the eyes again, my (e/c) eyes meeting his blue-gray with the same intensity and defiance his held. The tension between us grew.

            “Nor you of I,” he continued, acknowledging my comment. “But I know you’ll come anyways,” he finished with a smirk. I raised an eyebrow.

            “What makes you so sure?” The tension between us was practically tangible now- and maybe a little bit sexual. I could literally feel the energy crackling between us. Two blazing fires, neither willing to back down first. It was obvious the other men could feel it, too. Lestrade was looking down at the ground now and John cleared his throat awkwardly.

            “Because you want to.”

            “Why would I want to do that? I hate you.”

            “Because,” he paused, letting go of the coat’s collar and backing away, removing the tension between us. “It could be dangerous.”

            He backed away while the three of us stood in silence, our emotions ranging from appalled to confused-but-slightly-intrigued. (That last one is me, by the way. Hello!) He turned and reached the road, hailing a cab. One pulled up almost immediately.

            “(Y/n), I am so sorry about him. He doesn’t mean it.” John apologized incessantly, trying to make up for Sherlock’s actions. Lestrade just stood there, looking from me to Sherlock to me to Sherlock to me again, shaking his head. John glanced over at the cab, where Sherlock was waiting. He hadn’t opened the door yet. “I really should go. It was nice meeting you, (Y/n).”

            “Yeah, you too…” My gaze was still focused on Sherlock. His words replayed over and over in my head. Could be dangerous. John went around the cab and got in the other side. Sherlock simply opened his door and stood there expectantly.

            He raised his eyebrows and looked at me. “Coming?” I had a 3 second mental debate between keeping my pride and refusing or giving into my intrigue and accepting.

            Lestrade began to answer for me. “She’s not-”

            “Yeah,” I said, scooping up my bloodstained hoodie. “Coming.” I ignored Lestrade’s gaping mouth and his bloody hell he muttered under his breath. I strode confidently over to the cab, Sherlock’s coat billowing behind me. Sherlock remained facing straight ahead, giving me a small smile and a sideways glance as I entered the vehicle.

            “You came.” John said, making no attempt to mask his surprise. “I’m impressed- didn’t think you would.”

            “Yeah,” I chuckled, “me neither.”

            “Detective Inspector.” Sherlock’s voice rang out from where he was still standing outside the cab. His voice was riddled with amusement and he practically sang his words. “You might want to do something about those bodies.” He gestured over to where the three body bags were still lying on the pavement. At this point, every person on the scene was looking at us like we were crazy. They’re not wrong, though. Sherlock entered the cab, a smirk still visible on his face. I refused to look at him, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing he’d won. I suspected he already did too much winning as it was.

            “Where to, sir?” asked the cabbie.

            “221B, Baker Street.” And with that, we were off.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            I woke up in a bed I didn’t recognize. The familiar scent of tobacco ash and old books filled my nose- where had I smelled that before? I sat straight up, panicking, not quite remembering how I had gotten here. I could hear muffled voices coming from the room right outside the door, and a dark grey trench coat hung on the handle of a large wardrobe. Last night’s events came flooding back in a rush. The coffee, the murders, the annoying detective and his nice friend.

            I groaned, closing my eyes flopping back down onto the pillows. The last thing I want to do is deal with Sherlock right now. My eyes snapped open. Sherlock. Sherlock smelled like this, that’s why it was familiar! I practically jumped out of the bed, throwing off the covers I was under, suddenly alarmed. Why the hell was I in his bed? I looked down to make sure I was still wearing everything. I was in the same black tank top and skinny jeans I had been in last night. I felt my pockets. Empty.

            I looked around the room for my other possessions. They weren’t far away- just by the nightstand next to the bed. My bag, black lace-up boots, and hoodie were on the ground. I picked up the hoodie, furrowing my brows. It had been washed since last night- the blood was no longer there. I slipped it on, relishing in its familiar feel. I reached for my phone, which had been placed on top of the nightstand. I stared at it blankly, not sure what I wanted to do with it. I checked the time. Bloody hell, it’s already past noon, I mentally chided.

            Then I smiled, remembering the numbers in black ink on my coffee cup. I typed in the numbers quickly and sent him a message.

Hey James, It’s (Y/n).

-(Your Initials)

            Satisfied, I nodded and stuffed the phone in my back pocket. I headed for the door, but froze with my hand above the handle. I could hear Sherlock and John conversing in hushed tones inside the living room, and it sounded like it was getting rather interesting. A little eavesdropping never killed anyone. Brushing out my hair with my fingers, I elected to stand by the door and listen instead of walking out just yet.

            “But you didn’t… mean it, did you?”

            “Mean what?” Sherlock’s voice was so low that I had to strain to hear it clearly.

            “You don’t really think she’s an idiot.”

            “Oh, no, of course not. I just needed to get her riled up to ensure she’d come with us.”

            “You knew getting her mad would make her want to come?” John’s voice was filled with disbelief.

            “Yes, obviously.

            “And you don’t think you went a little overboard?”

            There was a pause. “What do you mean?”

            “You practically kissed her.”

            “Kissed her?” Sherlock’s voice was louder and more defensive now. “Good God, John, I was only scolding her.”

            There was a long silence. I couldn’t see what was happening, but I knew they were probably having a stare-off right now. I almost chuckled but stopped myself because I didn’t want them to hear me.

            “Admit it.” John spoke up first.

            “Admit what?” Sherlock did his best to sound disinterested. But I was no idiot- I knew the difference.

            “You don’t totally hate her.”

            “Of course not. She wouldn’t be here if I did.”

            “You fancy her. A young girl like that, Sherlock? I’m ashamed. I thought you were better than this. Not that it matters, she hates your guts anyways.” John’s voice was filled with amusement, and he was trying very hard to keep from laughing.

            “I do NOT fancy her!” Sherlock was yelling now, but then lowered his voice after he realized his mistake. “You know I don’t do sentiment. I just think she could be useful to us, that’s all.”

            “Useful? How?”

            “Criminology.”

            I chose this moment to walk out, putting on my best tired face and adjusting my hoodie. Both of them turned to look at me, each of them sitting in an armchair.

            “(Y/n!)” John exclaimed, jumping up from his seat and offering it to me. “Good morning.”

            I accepted, taking the seat. “Good morning, John.”

            “I was just about to make tea. Want a cuppa?”

            I looked up at him, smiling. “That would be lovely, thank you.” John nodded and walked off into the kitchen, taking his time. I turned to face Sherlock. He was staring at me, not moving an inch and not saying a word. I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed or angry, the way he had his brow scrunched. He had his hands in prayer position, his fingertips pressed to his lips in concentration. I frowned. “Well, good morning to you, too.”

            He gave a hum of amusement. “Yes, I suppose it is.”

            I cocked my head. “Something funny?”

            He moved his hands, choosing to simply rest them on the arms of his chair. “Criminology.” He said confidently. God, he was arrogant. The way he carried himself, the way he spoke… every little thing about him put me off. He was a strange character, and his light eyes contrasting his dark curls just added to the look.

            “Criminology?”

            “Your major.”

            “Minor.” I corrected as John handed me a cup of tea. “Thank you.” He nodded and stood by the chair. His sipped from his own cup of tea, watching our conversation with great interest.

            “Minor?”

            “Minor.”

            Sherlock was extremely flustered. I could tell he wasn’t very used to getting things wrong. John let out a small chuckle, but a swift glare from Sherlock silenced him. Poor guy, dealing with Sherlock all the time. Must be horrendous. Minor.” He seemed utterly disgusted with the word, practically spitting it out. He stared to his left, suddenly very interested with the floor.”

            I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Yes, my minor. Something wrong, detective?” I gave him my most innocent look. Sherlock refused to speak. Drama queen.

            John laughed out loud, clearing the air. “Oh, I like this one. Bit of fire in her, eh, Sherlock?” John sighed when Sherlock still didn’t reply. “So what’s your major, then?”

            I gave John a small smile and took a sip of my tea. “History.”

            John raised his eyebrows, surprised. “Really? Most history majors are a bit… you know… uptight. Not very pleasant.”

            I quirked a smile at him. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

            “It was meant to be one.” John smiled shyly and looked at the ground. I shook my head in amusement.

            “I’m sure you have questions.” Sherlock finally decided to speak, but he still refused to look in my direction.

            “Um, yeah.” I took a sip of my tea before continuing. “How did I get into your bedroom?”

            He turned to look at me, a duh expression sitting on his face. “I carried you, obviously. You fell asleep in the cab.”

            I nodded. “Ah.”

            “Any more questions?”

            “Not really, but I’m sure you have some.”

            “No, I already know ev-” He stopped talking and looked at what I was wearing. “Why are you wearing the same thing you were last night?”

            Now it was my turn to wear the duh face. “Um, because all of my other clothes are at my flat.”

            “This is your flat.”

            “Yeah, temporarily. You made that quite clear.”

            Sherlock stared off into nothingness. “I did say that, didn’t I?” He sighed. “Fine. John, take her to her flat and help her pack up.”

            John, who had obviously been enjoying doing nothing, threw a surprised look at Sherlock. “Me? What for?”

            “I have a case to attend to.”

            John sighed. “Fine.” He nodded to me. “Come on, then.” I got up and walked to Sherlock’s room so I could get my shoes. When I walked out with everything, Sherlock was standing at the left window, staring outside. “Ready?”
            “Yeah.” I replied, following him to the door.

            Sherlock’s voice rang out to us as we walked out. “Oh, and pick up some milk on the way back, would you? It’s important.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

Several hours later, John and I sat in Speedy’s café, enjoying our dinner.  John, being the gentleman he was, had decided to pay for the both of us. I had with me two bags of clothes and other necessities- I didn’t think I would need much for my short time in 221B. John and I had spent the afternoon packing my entire flat back into boxes. Everything except the two bags I carried had been thrown out or donated. I would be moving on-campus I less than two months, anyways.

I took a sip of my (favorite drink) and looked out the window. London was beautiful, even when it was only busy people rushing about.

“So how are you liking it so far? London, I mean.” I reluctantly looked away from the window to acknowledge John’s question.

“London is beautiful- it’s a shame I can’t spend more time here.”

“Yeah.” John looked down at his coffee. “It is.” He hesitated before continuing. “So you’re not planning to stay, then? With me and Sherlock, I mean.”

I gave a light chuckle. “I don’t think I could even if I wanted to. Sherlock is such a pain.” I sighed and shook my head. “How do you do it?”

John smiled. “You just kind of get used to it. Him rushing off at odd hours and dragging you along, long days in the morgue or lab- it becomes your norm. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I hadn’t met him.”

“What about him being a total arse?” It was a serious question, but John thought it was hilarious. He was laughing so hard he was crying, and he had to calm himself down before he could answer. His laugh was contagious, and I found myself smiling as well. Neither of us noticed the entire café shooting us annoyed looks.

“That, I’m afraid, will never change. He’ll warm up to you eventually. He’s just not… accustomed to other people’s company.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah right. He hates my guts.”

John quirked a smile at me, the twinkle in his eyes screaming ‘I know something you don’t’. “I think we both know that’s not quite true.” His tone was different now- more playful and suggestive. He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

I chuckled, shrugging off his behavior. I took a sip of my drink and contemplated his words. What he was suggesting was practically unthinkable. Sherlock definitely didn’t like me. At the very least, he had something against me, because he treated me like an idiot.

“Fine, I hate his guts. He’s arrogant, rude, and not exactly easy to get along with in the least. Besides, he only wants me to stay temporarily, remember? I’ll be gone before you know it. Give it ‘till the end of the week.”

“Yeah, right.” John muttered. “Because he’s totally gonna let that happen.”

I gave him a playful kick under the table, blushing and grinning. “John!”

He kicked back lightly, laughing as well. John, I realized, was the polar opposite of Sherlock, and not just physically. He was kind and genuine, but sassy and protective as well. Not to mention extremely easy to get along with. He perfectly fit every ‘older brother’ and ‘best friend’ stereotype. I wasn’t so sure about Sherlock, but I hoped John and I could be friends, despite the fact that he was 15 years my superior, give or take a few years.

His tone took a more serious one as he continued. “But seriously, though. He doesn’t hate you, I promise. You’re… something different.” He looked at me and I knew what he was saying was genuine. I just couldn’t bring myself to believe it.

“Different?”

He sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ve just never seen him this way before.”

“Well, it’s not every day he has a stranger moving into his flat.”

John shrugged. “Touché.”

Our conversation was cut off by two loud gunshots, coming from inside 221B. Both our heads whipped in that direction and then back at each other, extremely alarmed.

“What the-” Both of us had gathered our things and were out the door before John could finish his question.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

The two of us rushed into 221B and up the stairs, covering our ears as more gunshots rang out. I didn’t hear any sounds of people struggling or crying out. What the hell is he doing up there? John threw open the door, and the two of us froze on the landing.

“What the hell are you doing?!?” John yelled, removing his hands from his ears. I simply stood there amused, taking in the sight of Sherlock in his sleepwear and a blue robe. I think the British term is dressing gown or something. He held a pistol in his hands, and kept it steadily pointed at the wall above the sofa.

Sherlock scowled. “Bored.” He said sulkily.

I laughed, ignoring Sherlock’s momentary icy glare. Sherlock was certainly a loose cannon. Was this a normal thing? John squinted at Sherlock “What?” He asked quietly, clearly in disbelief.

“BORED.” Sherlock switched the pistol to his right hand and raised it up to fire more shots.

“No-” John’s voice was cut off by more shots.

“Bored!” Another shot. “Bored!” Another shot. John and I rushed in, and Sherlock stopped, glaring at the wall. He continued glaring as John ripped the gun out of his hand and tossed it to me. Out of instinct, I quickly took the magazine out of the gun and shoved both of them into the safe on the dining table.

I turned back around to face the men again, amused. “What did the wall ever do to you?” Instead of a response, all I got was the same glare as the wall. I sighed- Sherlock will never change. He changed the subject, ignoring my question.

“Don’t know what’s got into the criminal classes.” He said sulkily. “Good job I’m not one of them.”

“So you take it out on the wall?” John crossed his arms, clearly unamused with Sherlock’s behavior.

Sherlock ran his hands over the yellow smiley face that had been spray painted onto the wall. Bullet holes riddled the wall. “Ah, the wall had it coming.” He gave a dramatic flop onto the sofa. I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. John took off his coat and hung it up.

            “Drama queen.” I muttered. No response.

            “What about that Russian case?” John inquired, referring to the case Sherlock had this morning.

            Sherlock shifted position on the couch. “Belarus. Open and shut domestic murder. Not worth my time."

            “Ah, shame!” John’s voice was riddled with sarcasm as he turned to walk into the kitchen. He stopped next to me and threw up his hands in despair at the mess on the table. I chuckled at his reaction and he threw me an amused smile before heading for the fridge. “Anything in? I’m starving.”

            “You just ate!” I laughed, turning to face the kitchen instead of the living room. I’d rather talk to John than deal with Sherlock right now, anyways.

            “Ah, well, I’m always hungry.” He replied, with an added flair to his voice. I shook my head in amusement and turned back around to see Sherlock sitting up on the sofa, glaring at me. Again. He didn’t seem too happy with the conversation that had just taken place. I raised my hands and shrugged, questioningly. “What?” I mouthed. He just continued to glare. He deserves an award for most time spent glaring at people. Someone alert Guinness World Records and tell them we have a new one. I silently chuckled at my own joke, a small smile tugging at the edge of my lips.

            I heard the fridge open. “Oh, f-” The fridge closed. I whipped around to face John again, curious as to what had happened. He was standing, disgusted, his back against the fridge. “It’s a head.” He said quietly. He continued at a yell. “A severed head!” I raised my eyebrows in amusement and concern. I don’t know what I had been expecting, but a head was certainly not on the list of normal things to keep in a fridge.

            “Just tea for me, thanks,” Sherlock’s voice rang out from the sofa, not at all concerned. “I’d say milk, but I see you didn’t buy any as I’d asked.”

            “No.” John said as he walked into the living room. “There’s a head in the fridge.” I watched the exchange in amusement, a smirk growing on my face the whole time.

            “Yes.” Sherlock said, calmly.

            “A bloody head!”

            “Well, where else was I supposed to put it?” Sherlock asked, annoyed. He turned around to face me. “You don’t mind, do you?” The smirk disappeared from my lips as I realized Sherlock had addressed me for the first time since I had walked in the door.

            “Uh,” I tried not to laugh as I answered. “No, I suppose not.” I couldn’t help myself- I doubled over and laughed loudly. John held out his hands despairingly once again. The whole situation was ridiculous. I still hated Sherlock, but I had to admit he was a lot funnier than he chooses to let on. I don’t even think he tries to be funny- but he is.

            “I got it from Bart’s morgue.” Sherlock continued, seriously, but a small smile played on his lips upon seeing my reaction. John buried his face in one hand and groaned.

            “(Y/n), I’m so sorry you have to deal with him.”

            “I’m measuring the coagulation of saliva after death.” Sherlock waved his hand in the general direction of what I assumed to be John’s laptop. “I see you’ve written up the taxi driver case.”

            I frowned, confused. “Taxi driver case?”

            “Uh, yes.” John then turned to me. “Long story.”

            “Ah.” I nodded in understanding. John walked over to Sherlock’s armchair and sat down.

            “ ‘A Study in Pink’, ” Sherlock commented. “Nice!” He picked up a nearby magazine and started flipping through it, uninterested.

            “Well, you know, pink lady, pink case, pink phone- there was a lot of pink. Did you like it?” John’s hopeful voice betrayed the fact that he desperately wanted Sherlock to approve.

            “Erm… no.”

            “Why not? I thought you’d be flattered.”

            Sherlock lowered the magazine and glared at John. There he goes again with the glaring. “Flattered?” He raised his index fingers and quoted, I assumed, from the blog. “Sherlock sees through everything and everyone in seconds. What’s incredible, though, is how spectacularly ignorant he is about some things.” I chuckled.

            “Now hang on a minute!” John exclaimed, offended. “I didn’t mean that in a-”

            “Oh, you meant ‘spectacularly ignorant’ in a nice way!” Sherlock’s voice was dripping with sarcasm and feigned surprise. Jerk. “Look, it doesn’t matter to me who’s Prime Minister…”

            John commented quietly, embarrassed. “I know.”

            “…or who’s sleeping with who...”

            I cleared my throat. “Whom.” Sherlock stopped talking and the two turned to stare at me incredulously. I continued, awkwardly. "It's who's sleeping with whom…” I trailed off. “Never mind.” I hung my head in embarrassment and John muttered a comment of his own.

            “Whether the Earth goes around the sun…”

            I lifted my head up, a grin plastered on my face. “Do you really not know that the Earth goes around the Sun?”

            Sherlock groaned. “Not that again. It’s not important.”

            My mouth hung open for a moment. “Not impor…” I turned to completely face Sherlock, hands on my hips. “It’s primary school stuff. How can you not know that?!?”

            He pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes. “Well if I ever did, I’ve deleted it.”

            John piped up. “‘Deleted’ it?”

            Sherlock swung his legs around and sat up so he could fully address John. “Listen.” He pointed at his head. “This is my hard drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Really useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?”

            I could tell John tried to hold his tongue, he really did. But he failed, replying in an outburst. “But it’s the solar system!”

            Sherlock buried his head in his hands, frustrated. I just continued to stand there, watching the whole ordeal with great interest and amusement. “Oh, hell. What does that matter?! All that matters to me is the work. Without that, my brain rots.” He ruffled his hair and glared at John. Okay, that was sexy… No, stop that, (y/n). You hate him, remember? “Put that in your blog. Or better still, stop inflicting your opinions on the world.” Rude. He then flung himself over so he was facing the wall and curled up into a ball. John stood up, miffed. Sherlock looked over his shoulder. “Where are you going?”

            John answered tightly as he put on his jacket. “Out.”

            “John,” I called out to him. He turned, and I gestured to Sherlock. “Don’t leave me alone here with him.

            John sent me an apologetic glance. “I just need some air.” And with that, he turned to walk out the door, pushing past a woman who was trying to come in. “’Scuse me, Mrs-”

            “Oh, sorry, love!” The woman was carrying shopping bags and moved so John could go through.

            “Sorry.” John disappeared down the stairs.

            Sherlock made a big deal of turning away and curling into an even tighter ball.

            “Ooh.” The woman said as she set the bags down on the kitchen table. “Have you two had a little domestic?” Her eyes widened as she noticed me standing there for the first time. “Oh, now who’s this, Sherlock?” She held her hand out for me to shake, and I did.

            “(F/n). (F/n) (L/n). I’ll be staying here for a while. It’s a long story.”

            “Oh, pleasure to meet you! I’m Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, not your housekeeper.” She said excitedly, then pointedly. She turned to Sherlock, who was walking over to the window. “Have you got yourself a girlfriend now, Sherlock? And such a young and pretty one, too! It’s about time, I’d say. You’re just too lonely these days.” She sighed and shook her head, then patted me on the shoulder. “Take care of him, will you?”

            I blushed and fumbled my words. “No, no, it’s nothing like th-”

            “Thank you, Mrs. Hudson, that will be all.” Sherlock stopped me mid-sentence, his gaze not moving from the window.

            “Alright, no need to get nippy.” She chuckled and moved to the door, but froze. “Hey! What’ve you done to my bloody wall?!” I saw Sherlock quirk a smile and turn to admire his handiwork. “I’m putting this on your rent, young man!” She then stormed off, rather angrily, shutting the door behind her.

            I sighed and walked over to Sherlock, standing just behind him and to his left. I gazed out the window, taking in the skyline.

            “Look at that, (y/n).” Sherlock’s gaze didn’t move from the window as he spoke. “Quiet, calm, peaceful.” He dragged in a long breath. “Isn’t it hateful?”

            I hummed in amusement. “Dull. Boring, perhaps. But beautiful in its own way.” Sherlock took his hands and clasped them behind his back, still unmoving.

            “We must see two very different skylines.”

            I sighed, and gently grabbed his left arm, pulling him closer towards me so I could show him what I saw. He glanced down at me, startled. We were right next to each other now, with his arm now in front of my chest. I took my other hand and pointed out the window, and he followed my gaze. “Look at them, Sherlock. All those people bustling about. Each one with a different life, just as real as ours. Who knows what they’re thinking? How they like their lives? They go on each day, just another person on the sidewalk. But their lives are just as real as ours, and they live them every day, just as we do. When you stand here and try to fathom that…” I dropped my hand and looked up at Sherlock, who I found had been staring at me the whole time I had been talking. “..It’s beautiful.”

            He stood there, his scrutinizing eyes studying mine. The light washed over his face, and I realized for the first time how devastatingly… pretty he was. That wasn’t usually a word I would use to describe a man, but no other word fit. He was just that- gorgeous. His icy blue eyes held hints of greens, grays, and yellows, like galaxies riddling his irises. Because his eyes were so light and his hair was so dark, it gave him a striking look. I could’ve kept staring at him for hours, but I snapped out of my thoughts after realizing that I was still holding onto his arm.

            I cleared my throat and looked down as I removed my hand. “Sorry…”

            “What are you?” His baritone voice stopped me and I looked back up at him again. He was still looking over his shoulder at me, his eyes taking in every detail as if I was a puzzle he had to figure out.

            “Um… what?”

            “You.” He turned so he was facing me completely and moved in close, so I had to nearly look straight up to look him in the eye. “You’re so… ordinary.” He shook his head. “No, you’re not. You’re not ordinary… but you are at the same time.” He sighed a sigh of defeat. His voice sounded desperate for answers when he continued. “What makes you so… different?”

            I stood there, a little taken aback, as the tension grew between us. Butterflies flew in my stomach, and I was momentarily at a loss for words. When I finally found the words to say, I spoke up, softly. “I wish I knew.”

            Sherlock groaned and threw his head back. He shoved his hands into his hair and ruffled his curls, storming off to the center of the room. I followed, concerned and confused. I had no idea what was wrong with him, or what had just happened between us. John knew Sherlock much better than I did- he would know what to do. But it was just me and Sherlock, and as much as I didn’t like Sherlock, I was going to try to help anyways.

            “What’s wrong? What do you need?”

            “I need…”

            He opened his eyes and stared at me, his eyes blazing. His hands dropped from his head, and his eyes softened. He moved closer, and put his hands on my shoulders. I held my breath at his touch, electricity moving through my shoulders. My eyes flicked down to his lips, then back up to his eyes again. His mouth hung open as he struggled to find words, and his eyes clouded up with confusion. With every moment, the tension between us grew stronger and stronger.

            “I need…” He whispered, his voice sending shivers up my spine. His eyes flicked down to my lips and stayed there for a second before returning his gaze to my eyes. “Something exciting.” He leaned in, his right hand moving up to my face, the tension higher than ever. I wasn’t sure what was happening, or how I felt about it, but I was too caught up in the moment to think straight. Time froze for a moment.

Suddenly, a loud explosion rang in our ears. The windows blew in and a blast hurled us to the floor. I groaned, eyes shut tight and ears ringing. I opened my eyes to see Sherlock above me, his hands on the ground next to my head, holding himself up. His face was flushed pink, and I realized mine was as well. I shook my head, trying to forget what had just happened. What had just happened? My heart raced with adrenaline.

            I pushed him off of me and sat up, looking around at the glass-strewn living room and the gaping hole in the wall. “Something exciting…” I said, amused. “Like… an explosion?”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            I walked out of John’s bedroom the next morning to find Sherlock in the living room, having a serious conversation in a hushed tone. Sherlock sat with his violin- I didn’t know he played violin- in his hands, mindlessly plucking the strings. Another man I didn’t recognize sat across from Sherlock. I didn’t know we had a guest- good thing I changed before coming out of there.

            I looked down at my clothes, hoping I looked presentable. I was wearing a white, sleeveless button-up, black skinny jeans, and my black high top converses. I had curled my (h/l), (h/c) hair and then brushed it out, so it now sat in natural- looking waves. To top it off, my favorite pair of diamond studs adorned my ears. Not too bad, I supposed. I looked up at the men, who clearly hadn’t noticed my arrival yet. I debated whether or not I would retreat back to John’s room. After all, the last thing I wanted to do after yesterday’s awkward events was to face Sherlock. I sighed. I can’t avoid him forever.

            I walked over to the stove in the kitchen where a kettle of tea was sitting, still hot. I poured myself a cup and let it sit in my hands, warming me up. I mustered up some courage and then strode into the living room, taking in the boarded-up windows from yesterday afternoon. “Good morning, gentlemen.”

            The two men immediately stopped their conversation and turned to look at me.

            “Ah, (y/n).” Sherlock looked up, still plucking at the strings of his violin. “Good morning.”

            The second man stood from John’s chair and turned to me, taking in my appearance. He gave me a respectful nod. “Ah, so this is (Y/n). Pleasure to meet you, I’m Mycroft.”  He held out his hand and I took it, giving it a warm shake. “I’ve heard plenty about you from my sources.”

            I cocked an eyebrow. “Have you now?” I took in the man’s appearance and judged the dynamic between Sherlock and the newcomer. He was six foot one, roughly, so he stood just taller than Sherlock. He wore a light brown vest and suit with a blue tie. A black umbrella leaned against his chair, and he stood straight, as if trying to maximize his height. His eyes held the same intelligent spark Sherlock’s did. A very neat appearance for a client of Sherlock’s- too neat. Polished, even. I smiled. An unannounced guest? I was pretty sure I knew who this was and what he did.

            “Oh, yes. We have high hopes for you.”

            “Who do you mean- you and the government or you and your younger brother?” The surprised looks on Mycroft and Sherlock’s faces were enough to betray that my assumptions were correct.

           Sherlock stopped plucking the strings on his violin and narrowed his eyes. “How…?”

           Mycroft turned to face his brother. “Have you told her?”

           “No.”

           “Did you know about this?”

           Sherlock kept his piercing gaze on me. I took a sip of my tea and gave him an innocent smile. “I hadn’t the slightest. I’d just assumed she was the ordinary type of intelligent. Book-smart. My mistake, clearly.” I narrowed my eyes back at him, matching his glare. I tried not to notice how great he looked at the moment. Needless to say, I failed. His purple shirt was tight and showed off his shape. I gave a silent hum of amusement. Purple was a good color on him. I allowed myself to enjoy the view for a moment. When I realized I had been staring, I turned pink and looked him in the eye again, only to find that he was enjoying his view as well. My blush faded and was replaced with a smirk of confidence as Sherlock realized he had been staring. Now it was his turn to blush, although it was less noticeable on him. Bastard.

           Mycroft turned to me, his gaze approving. He hadn’t seen my side of the exchange between Sherlock and I, which I was grateful for. “This is most interesting. Not on our level, clearly, but this is something to be documented. I’ll be sure to put that in her file-” No sooner had he sat down than John burst into the room. We all swiveled our heads to look at him.

           I gave him a warm smile. “John!”

           “Hey.” He gave me the same smile and drew me in for a hug. “I saw it on the telly.” He pulled away, but kept holding my arms, looking me up and down to make sure I wasn’t hurt. “Are you okay?”

           “I’m fine.” I reassured him. “Gas leak, apparently.”

           Sherlock began plucking the strings on his violin again and addressed his brother. “I can’t. I’m terribly busy.”

           “Can’t?” Mycroft’s questioned incredulously.

           “Hang on, can’t what?” I piped up.

           “Apparently my brother dear can’t be bothered to take up a case. Of national importance.” He sighed. “Perhaps you can get through to him, (Y/n).”

           I wrinkled my nose at Sherlock. “I doubt that- we aren’t exactly fond of each other.” Mycroft gave me a pointed look and sighed again. He leaned in close like he was going to tell me a secret.

           “I’ll tell you his real name.” He whispered.

           My eyes widened in surprise. Now this was an offer I couldn’t refuse. If Sherlock wasn’t his real name, there was no doubt he hated going by his actual name. I was going to have so much fun with this information. “C’mon, Sher. Just take the bloody case. You’re not exactly busy.”

           Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t ever call me that again.” He shot me an irritated look before turning to John. “How’s Sarah, John? How was the lilo?” Sarah? Oh, probably his girlfriend. It would explain why he didn’t come home last night.

           “Sofa, Sherlock.” Mycroft corrected, not even looking at John. “It was the sofa.”

           “Oh yes.” Sherlock said, rather embarrassed. “Of course.”

           “How-?” John started, but then gave up. “Oh, never mind.” He sat himself down at the coffee table in front of the sofa and I joined him.

           Mycroft gave John a small smile. “Sherlock’s business seems to be booming since you and he became… pals.” Sherlock threw a dark look at Mycroft, which he ignored. Mycroft addressed me next. “What’s he like to live with? Hellish, I imagine.”

           I forced down the blush that threatened to rise as I thought of yesterday’s events. I chose my words carefully before continuing. “I’m never bored.”

           He smiled condescendingly. “Good! That’s good, isn’t it?” I nodded. He stood up from his chair and Sherlock whipped his violin bow through the air dramatically. Mycroft reached for a folder on the table beside him and offered it to John, who took it. I tuned out as Mycroft began giving the case details to John. Instead, I turned my focus to my phone, which had just beeped.

Good morning, darling. Fancy a coffee?

-James

           I smiled. Coffee with James sounded much more appealing than dealing with Sherlock for the rest of the day. I couldn’t refuse.

Sounds great!

- (F/I) (L/I)

 

Excellent :) Pick you up in a few- address?

-James

 

221B, Baker Street. See you soon.

- (F/I) (L/I)

            I looked up with a smile on my face to find Sherlock scowling at me. Naturally, I scowled right back. What was this guy’s problem?

            “Goodbye, John.” Mycroft and John had stood up and were shaking hands. “See you very soon.” John tried not to look nervous about Mycroft’s tone. I stood as well and stuck out my hand.

            “It was a pleasure, Mycroft.”

            He smiled. “Indeed it was.” He leaned in close, revealing Sherlock’s secret as promised. “William Sherlock Scott Holmes. Use it wisely.” He pulled away as if nothing had happened. I nodded, keeping a straight face so as not to betray the information. Sherlock started up on a horrendous series of notes, hoping to get Mycroft out of the room faster. If I had to guess the name of the song, it would probably be ‘I Hate You, Mycroft- Please Leave.’ Mycroft hurried out the door and shut it behind him. I sighed, and John and I sat back down on the coffee table.

           I suddenly felt rather tired, so I leaned my head on John’s shoulder. He welcomed me, wrapping his left arm around my shoulder and allowing it to hang there. It was a purely platonic gesture. John and I had clicked- we were something along the lines of close friends now. Sherlock’s confused expression was enough to give away the fact that he wasn’t pleased. Then again, when is he ever?

           John spoke first. “Why’d you lie? You’ve got nothing on- not a single case. That’s why the wall got a pounding. Why did you tell your brother you were busy?”

           Sherlock ignored the question, asking me a question of his own. “What did he say to you?”

           I looked at him blankly. “Who?”

           “Mycroft.”

           I smiled coyly. “I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about, Sher.” The two of us had a stare-off, neither one of us wanting to look away first in defeat. We were both infuriated with the other, each for our own reasons. Mine was because he was an insufferable clotpole. His was probably something about me being an idiot. We both looked away when John spoke up again, finishing our duel in a draw.

           “So why did you tell him you were busy?”

           Sherlock simply shrugged, his face morphing from disgust and anger to disinterest. “Why shouldn’t I?”

           “Oh.” John said in feign surprise, nodding. “Oh, I see.”

           I nodded as well. “Sibling rivalry.” My voice was riddled with amusement. “Now we’re getting somewhere.” John and I shared a knowing smile. Sherlock opened his mouth to say something, but his ringtone interrupted him. He set down his bow and picked up his phone.

           “Sherlock Holmes.” He said curtly. He listened for a moment, and then his face intensified. “Of course, how could I refuse?” He ended the call and swiftly stood. “Lestrade. I’ve been summoned. Coming?” He asked the pair of us. I lifted my head and John removed his arm from my shoulder.

           “If you want me to.” John said simply, standing up. I didn’t move.

           “Of course.” Sherlock picked up his coat and turned to John. “I’d be lost without my blogger.” He then turned to me. “You coming?”

           “Can’t. Coffee date.” I said innocently. Sherlock’s eyes narrowed.

           “Coffee date? With whom?”

           I stood and smiled sweetly. “Someone less insufferable than you.” I gestured to John, silently telling him to take Sherlock and get going. He nodded in understanding.

           “C’mon then, Sherlock.” He said, turning towards the door. Sherlock took one last look at me, trying to decide whether or not I was lying. He let out a disgruntled huff when he realized I was telling the truth.

           “Fine.” He said. And with that, the pair headed down the stairs and closed the flat door. I leaned against the door after shutting it, letting out a sigh of relief. Finally, a few hours that would be Sherlock-free. I hurried into John’s room where I had momentarily left my things and grabbed my trench coat. I would never wear it while Sherlock was around, mostly because it was just like his- the only difference was mine only came down to my knees. I had owned this coat for years, but I figured matching black trench coats wouldn’t be the best when I didn’t like the owner of the other coat.

I’m outside- ready when you are.

-James

            I let out a breath and smiled. Making sure I had my phone, keys, gloves, and wallet in my coat, I hurried out the door.

 

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            I stepped outside into the morning air to see James standing by the road with his car. I locked the door and turned to see that he was waving at me. I smiled and waved back.

            He looked absolutely stunning without even trying. His previously wild hair had been combed to the side and was held in place by a bit of gel. He wore a long-sleeved white button up, with the sleeves rolled up and cuffed at his elbows. His outfit was completed with black slacks and the same black shoes he had been wearing when we had met. It took me only a fraction of a second to realize we were matching. #Twinsies

            “Hey, you.” He said as I approached. I grinned, loving the way his accent sounded.

            “Hey, James.” He brought me in for a warm hug. I pulled away, humming in amusement. “Have you been stalking me?” I asked playfully, referring to our clothes.

            He laughed. “I could ask the same of you.” His smile faded and his tone became more serious. “But this is okay, right? I mean, I can change if you w-”

            “No!” I cut him off reassuring him. “It’s fine, really.”

            He breathed a sigh of relief, then put an arm around my waist and pulled me to his side. “Good, because it makes us the perfect pair.”

            I slapped his chest playfully. “Alright then, Mr. Perfect, let’s get going.” He smiled and let go of me, then opened my car door.

            “Any preferences, Miss Perfect?”

            “Not really, I’m sure you know this city better than I do.” I said as I climbed into the car. He nodded, closed my door, and then went over to the driver’s side.

            “Alright then, (Y/n), prepare yourself for the best coffee you’ve ever had.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            We arrived at our destination after about 20 minutes of driving and friendly chatter. I stepped out of the car only to be greeted with the quaintest café I’d ever seen. It was a small, hole-in-the-wall kind of place with vines growing down it. Amongst all of these larger shops, I might not have even seen it if I hadn’t been looking for it.

            “It might be small, but it’s the best coffee in London, guaranteed.” James said, as if he had read my thoughts. He placed his hand on my lower back and guided me forward. “Come on.” He said, giving a reassuring smile.

            He opened the door for me. What a gentleman- if only Sherlock could be this nice- he might actually be tolerable. I shook my head, mentally chiding myself. The one chance of the day I have to not think about Sherlock and here I am thinking about him. When I snapped myself out of my thoughts, I was greeted with the best aroma I had ever smelled. “Whoa.”

            James nodded. “I know.”

            The man behind the counter seemed to be the only one in the café- there were no customers anywhere. Apparently, James must be a regular, because the man behind the counter recognized him. But then again, it’s not like they would have too many customers to memorize. “James! Hey, man! Who’s the lovely lady?” He called out in a deep voice.

            I chuckled and extended my hand, which he took. “(Y/n), pleasure to meet you.”

            His green eyes twinkled. “Ah, American! And a beautiful one at that,” he added with a wink.

            James cleared his throat awkwardly, and I pulled my hand away. “(Y/n), this is Dean, the best coffee maker in London. Dean, this is (Y/n), my…” He turned to me, unsure of what to say.

            “Friend.” I finished for him.

            Dean raised his eyebrows in surprise and smiled coyly. “Just a friend, huh? Better keep your eyes on her, James. Pretty thing like her will attract all sorts of attention.” I blushed at his words.

            “I don’t doubt it,” James replied evenly, turning to me. “Why don’t you save us some seats while I get us something?” I looked around the café, confused. Save us seats? There’s not exactly a shortage…

My eyes widened when I realized he was sending me off to get me away from Dean. I smiled. That jealous bastard. “Okay, sure.” I chose a table for two on the far wall. A few minutes later, James trotted over with a latte and a (y/favorite coffee-based drink).

            He handed me my drink, and I gave him a surprised smile. “How did you know?”

            “I’m a good guesser.” He winked and sat down.

            I took a sip. “Mm, delicious.”

            “Yeah.” He shuffled his feet and looked at the ground, blushing. “So, I was thinking…” he paused, looking around. Dean had been watching us intensely from behind the counter. When James looked over, he looked away quickly, pretending to be washing dishes. James sighed and continued at a low whisper. “This is kind of awkward, can we take this outside?”

            I nodded, a bit unnerved myself. “Yeah, let’s go.” James let out a sigh of relief and led us out the door.

When we walked outside, I noticed that the sky was considerably cloudier than it had been before. Clouds covered the sun and took away its soft warmth. Good thing I had brought my trench coat. In fact, this was probably the first cloudy day I’d seen since I got here. That’s probably a normal thing here in August. I hope it rains soon. Rain was my favorite thing, like, ever. And not just a light drizzle or sun shower (even though those were enjoyable as well). I loved rain- proper rain. The rain that feels like bullets when it hits you. The rain accompanied by flashes of lightning and choruses of thunder. I wonder when rainy season begins…

            “There’s a park about half a mile up.” James’ voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “Would you like to take a stroll?”

            I looked up at him and smiled. “I’d love to.” With his arm around my shoulder and mine around his waist, we took off down the sidewalk at a leisurely pace.

I didn’t know how I felt about James. I appreciated his company, certainly. He was gentleman, never invading my personal space without my consent. Not to mention he was handsome in a striking, but unconventional way. Maybe it was the accent. In short, he had the makings of an ideal boyfriend. But the problem was, I didn’t feel anything for him- there just wasn’t a spark. I’ve been facing this problem my whole life- I don’t get romantically attracted to people. Sure, I can find someone physically attractive- anyone can. Sure, I can love people. I’ve always had a deep-rooted love for my friends and family.

            But the fact of the matter is, I’m an independent person. I don’t rely on someone else or a relationship to make me feel happy. I can provide that happiness myself. If I am truly happy, a man by my side is just an added bonus. I supposed it would be nice to get married one day, maybe even have a family. But until someone was interesting enough to catch my full attention, that wasn’t going to happen. And right now, I didn’t think James would be the one to do that. We could be friends, certainly.

            Suddenly, I felt quite uncomfortable with the whole situation, and I wanted to get as far away from James as possible. Why do I want to avoid him? He seems nice, and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him… But my subconscious screamed at me, telling me to run. I opened my mouth to make some excuse to why I had to leave, but James started talking, taking away my chance.

            “So what brings you to London?” Upon hearing his voice, my breathing steadied and my heart rate slowed as I was pulled back to reality. I shook off my previous thoughts, labeling them as me simply overreacting. One morning spent with this guy wasn’t going to kill me. But still, my nerves were on edge.

            “Uh… school. I’m doing my last year on-campus at Cambridge.”

            “Cambridge, huh?” A twinkle of pride filled his voice. “That’s impressive.”

            “What about you?” I asked, looking up at him.

            He shrugged. “Business. Just some corporate stuff, but I’ll be here for a few months. Unless…” he hesitated, debating whether or not to continue. “…Unless I have a reason to stay.” He glanced down at me then quickly looked away, swallowing quickly. His cheeks were beginning to flush pink.

            I felt bad- I knew I wasn’t going to be able to give him that reason. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that, not just yet. Instead, I gave him a small smile of reassurance. “I’m sure you’ll find one.” I looked at the ground, suddenly feeling guilty, even though I had nothing to be guilty of. An awkward silence shrouded around us.

            “Yeah…” He looked forlorn for a moment, but perked back up as if it had never happened. “So! 221B is a pretty high-end place. Do you have a flat share or is it yours?”

            I cleared my cloudy mind, relieved that he had changed the subject. “Flat share. For now, anyways. I’ll be on-campus at university soon.”

            He nodded, understanding. “Ah. So what’re the other girls like? Nice, I would hope.”

            I chuckled. “Oh no, I don’t live with girls.”

            His eyes widened in surprise. “Oh.” He took his arm off my shoulder and we separated, choosing to stand facing each other instead. He looked incredibly awkward. “Is one of them… you know, your boyfriend?”

            I laughed at the idea, and he seemed to relax a little bit. “Oh, not at all. The older one, John, is just a close friend. But the other one…” I trailed off as I thought of how to describe Sherlock. “Well, let’s just say he’s a pain.”

            James looked at the ground and stuffed his hands into his pockets, unsure of what to do with this information. I didn’t see a problem with my situation, but James seemed unnerved about something. He looked up at me. “So, um, (Y/n), I was thinking maybe you and I-”

            He was cut off by my ringtone. My eyes widened in a silent apology as I reached to see who it was. John. I cursed under my breath. “I’m so sorry, but I have to take this.” I walked a few feet away before answering. “Hello?”

            “(Y/n)!” John exclaimed from the other end. “Sorry to interrupt, but we need you to come to St. Bart’s Hospital Lab immediately.”

            I frowned. “What for?”

            “I’m not sure- Sherlock says it’s an emergency.”

            I rolled my eyes, annoyed. “Yeah, well Sherlock’s an idiot.”

            John sighed. “Please, (Y/n)? He’s being insufferable as it is.”

            I let out a long breath. “Fine. But if I get there and it’s something stupid…” I let the threat hang in the air unfinished.

            “I understand. Thanks, (Y/n).”

            “Mhm.” I hung up and turned to face James. “I’m so sorry, it’s a work emergency. I have to go. Thank you so much for today.” I was suddenly glad to be out of James’ company, and I tried to hurry way towards the road. Something about him put me off, and made me feel like I was in danger just by being close to him.

            “Wait!” He called out. “Where are you headed?”

            I answered reluctantly. “St. Bart’s Hospital.”

            He gave a proud grin. “I can drive you, if you want. A cab will be at least a half hour drive, but I can get you there in 20 minutes.”

            I almost declined, but if it really was an emergency, I wanted to get there as soon as possible. “Yeah, thanks.” We hurried off to his car and jumped in.

As promised, James was able to get me there in just over 20 minutes of intense driving and several broken speed limits.

            “See?” James boasted as we climbed out of the car. “I told you.”

            I chuckled, brushing off my coat. “Indeed you did.” He walked over and pulled me into an embrace. “Thanks for today, I needed it.”

            He smiled, pulling away. “It was my pleasure. Perhaps we can do it again sometime?”

            I gave him a tight-lipped smile. “We’ll see.”

            He nodded, lifting my right hand and pressing a light kiss to my knuckles. “Until next time then, Miss (L/n).”

            “Until then.” I watched him walk and then drive away with a forlorn smile on my face. I didn’t know how I felt about anything or anyone right now. More than anything, I wanted to be away from it all. Something was very, very wrong. But what? All of my emotions jumbled together and threatened to spill over, but I forced them down. Now wasn’t the time. I decided to suck it up, and I turned on my heels and marched confidently into the lab.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            At first, I wasn’t sure which room to go to, but the sound of voices led me straight to the boys. I walked in through the double doors and crinkled my nose. The whole place smelled of chemicals, which was normal for a lab, I supposed. Every surface was stark white, and bottles of colorful chemicals littered the shelves on the walls. I looked to Sherlock, who had shed his coat and was looking intensely into a microscope. He didn’t exactly seem as if he was in the middle of a crisis to me. This had better be good.

            “The bomber’s too smart for that.” Sherlock said, addressing John, not looking away from his microscope. His phone trilled a text alert. Bomber? My curiosity peaked. Perhaps there really was a legit reason for my presence.

            I cleared my throat, and they both immediately looked to me. “So.” I said, spreading my hands in front of me and dropping them. “What’s the emergency?”

            “Ah, (Y/n). Excellent.” Sherlock sounded mildly disinterested and went back to studying… whatever it was. “Pass me my phone.”

            I hesitated, a look of disbelief on my face. I looked to John and saw he was just as confused as I was. “Sorry, what?”

            “Pass me my phone. Am I speaking a different language?” He said sarcastically.

            “That’s the emergency? Sherlock, I was in the middle of something!” I was genuinely annoyed and on the verge of angry. I threw my hands up in exasperation. I was getting increasingly tired with Sherlock’s antics. Forget waiting for him to kick me out- at this rate, I’d be moving out of 221B of my own accord.

            He turned his head to face me slightly and gave me a quick once-over with his eyes. “Yes, a coffee date with someone you’re not really interested in. Needless to say, there won’t be a second date as he hopes. You should be thanking me.” He hesitated before continuing. “What are you wearing?”

            My fists had been clenched and were sitting on my head. I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself down. John looked on with pity, not really knowing what to do. Upon hearing Sherlock’s question, I lowered my hands and looked down at my clothes, then back up at him. “A trench coat.”

            His eyes narrowed. “Why? I wear a trench coat.” It wasn’t so much a question as it was a demand for an answer. I stood there flustered and confused for a moment- was this a real question?

            I sighed, exasperated. “This may come as a surprise to you, Sherlock, but you’re not the only person on the face of this Earth who wears a bloody trench coat.”

            “Hmm.” He turned back to look into the microscope once again. “My phone.”

            I rolled my eyes. “Where is it?”

            “Jacket.”

            “Bloody hell…” I mumbled, hands clutching my hand. “Your jacket?!? That’s it, I can’t do it anymore.” My hands were flailing around now, and I was spinning in circles. I stopped spinning, arms still waving wildly, and yelled at Sherlock. “What the hell, Sherlock? You had John call me, and had me rush halfway across London IN THE MIDDLE OF A DATE to get your phone that has been INSIDE YOUR JACKET this WHOLE time?!?” My face was burning hot, and I knew I was a touch pink, but I didn’t care. I was too upset.

            Sherlock didn’t move, didn’t flinch, nothing. “Precisely.” He said evenly.

            I allowed myself a quick cry of anguish before I composed myself, steadying my breaths. “That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard…” I mumbled, and then turned to him and spoke clearly. “I need some water.” I nodded in John’s direction. He had been standing there throughout the whole conversation, watching in shock with wide eyes. “Excuse me for just a moment.” And with that, I turned dramatically and stormed out the doors in search of a water fountain.

            I whirled around a couple corners until I came across a water fountain next to the restrooms. In my anger, I elected to ignore the water fountain and rushed straight into the women’s room. I slammed the door shut behind me and leaned against it. The door was cold compared to my skin, which was boiling hot with anger. I took long, deep breaths to calm myself. Breathe, (Y/n). In, out. In, out.

            I stood there for a solid three minutes before my mind had cleared and my composure had returned. Okay, maybe Sherlock was right. I had been a touch relieved to get away from James- something about him felt weird. But that didn’t change the fact that Sherlock was a total jerk. Practically everything he did put me at my wit’s end, but it was easy to see that he wasn’t doing it on purpose. Well, not most of the time, anyways. Maybe Sherlock was just… Sherlock. Just a weird, anti-social, crazy, enigmatic… brilliant… hot. I shook my head. Stop it, I mentally chided myself.

            I took one last deep breath. He might be a royal pain, but I figured I had to give him a chance. After all, these coming weeks would be a pain if I couldn’t at least tolerate him. Just don’t let him get to you- don’t show how much his comments bother you. I gave a determined nod and stood up straight. I turned and left the restroom, stopping to get the water I so desperately needed before heading back towards the lab.

            As turned the corner to walk down the hall towards the lab, a woman rushed past me, tears streaming down her face. She had come from the lab, no doubt. It was the only room down this hall. I frowned. What the hell was that about? My heart went out to her as I deduced the problem. Bloody hell, Sherlock, what have you done this time?

            I walked into the lab backwards, still facing the direction the girl had left. “Hey, what was that ab-” I stopped as I turned around and saw Sherlock and John staring intensely at each other. Sherlock looked expectant, and John stood there looking seriously annoyed. I chuckled. Whoa there, boys. Eyesex much?

            “Fine.” John said, giving in to… whatever it was. He cleared his throat and picked up one of the shoes that had been laying on the counter. Both of them refused to recognize the fact that I had entered, and I sighed. I might have strolled out just then, but curiosity won over and I found myself sitting at the lab table, opposite the two men. “I dunno.” John continued. “They’re just a pair of shoes. Trainers.”

            “Good.” Sherlock chimed in. He looked away from John and picked up his phone. He looked up something on it while John continued.

            “Um… they’re in good nick. I’d say they were pretty new…” As John said this, Sherlock looked at him in frustration. Oh, I see. Sherlock had probably asked John to tell him what he could tell about the shoes. And by the looks of it, John had just gotten something incorrect. Obviously- those shoes are nowhere near new.

            I cleared my throat. “Wrong.” They both turned to look at me as if I had a second head. I stuttered awkwardly. “Uh, I mean, it’s obvious, right?”

            Sherlock turned to me with something close to approval in his eyes. His gaze not moving from me, he held out his hand and John placed the shoe in it. Sherlock held out the shoe to me.

            He raised his eyebrows. “Would you like to give it a go, then, (Y/n)?” I gulped and took the shoe nervously. He folded his hands under his chin and rested his elbows on the table. “Impress me.” John gave up and sat down with a sigh.

            I cocked an eyebrow. “Are you going to tell me what this whole bomber business is about? Clearly I missed a lot while I was… out.” I finished with an annoyed tone.

            “All in good time. The shoes.” He pressed.

            I gave him a long, hard stare. He smirked, unfazed. “Okay.” I looked down at the shoe, slightly annoyed still, and tried to take in every detail. A moment of silence ensued while I looked it over. “They are in very good condition, but the sole is worn, suggesting they’ve been owned for a while.” I looked at the design on the side of the shoe. “Very eighties. I’d say retro, but they don’t make these anymore. Haven’t in a while. So they’re the original pair. Great condition for being 20 years old- probably haven’t been worn in quite some time.”

            John’s mouth hung open. “Twenty years?”

            At this, Sherlock gave a small smile and pulled up an image on his phone. The shoes. “Limited edition: two blue stripes, 1989.” John nodded in understanding. I continued.

            “There’s a name on the inside of these, so they probably belonged to a kid. Quite large though, so the kid- the boy, to be precise- had big feet.” Sherlock had reverted to his chin-resting position again and hummed in amusement.

            “Is that all?”

            I shot him a quick glare. “No.” I looked at the exterior of the shoes once more and took a deep breath. “These have been scrubbed clean countless times- the owner loved them. Changed the laces… three times?”

            “Four.” Sherlock interrupted.

            My cheeks flushed in embarrassment. “Right, four. There’s traces of flaky skin where he changed them. Some sort of skin problem, though I have no idea. Not really my area.”

            “Eczema.”

            I gave a slight nod, letting Sherlock know I had registered his comment. “Well worn on the insides, so he had weak arches. And… there’s mud on the outside.” I trailed off lamely at the end. John sat with his mouth open in disbelief, looking from me to Sherlock to me once again.

            “Good God.” He mumbled. “There’s two of him.”

            Sherlock quirked a smile and straightened up. “Don’t be silly John, there’s only one of me.”

            I let out a nervous breath. “So how did I do?” Sherlock walked around to my side of the lab table and stood behind me, placing his hands on my shoulders. I looked up to see him with a small smile on his face and twinkle in his eyes. Now that’s definitely approval. I gave a mental sigh of relief, and my facial features relaxed.

            Naturally, Sherlock picked up on it. He simply took the shoe from my hands and examined it, knowing that he didn’t need to verbalize his approval for me to know. I smiled as he began his turn of deductions.

            “There is, indeed, quite a bit of mud on the outside. Analysis shows it’s from Sussex, with London mud overlaying it.” He nodded towards the computer screen, which had two dots flashing on a map- one on the border of Sussex and one in southeast London. “Pollen.” He stated simply. “So, the kid who owned these trainers came to London from Sussex twenty years ago and left them behind.”

            John seemed to be keeping up now. “So what happened to him?” he questioned.

            Sherlock glanced at me. “Something bad.” He looked up at John. “He loved these shoes, remember? He’d never leave them filthy. Wouldn’t leave them unless he had to. So: a child with big feet gets…” He trailed off and stared ahead into nothingness. “Oh.” John and I both turned to see what he was looking at, but there was nothing there to see.

            “Sorry, I don’t follow.” I said softly, not wanting to break his trance.

            He continued, just as softly. “Carl Powers.”

            “Sorry,” John said, “who?”

            Sherlock was still staring in front of him. “Carl Powers, John.”

            I stood up and moved myself in front of him so I could get a better look at his face, which was looking paler than usual. I placed a hand on his shoulder, suddenly worried. I hadn’t known him for very long, but I had never seen him like this before. “What is it?” I whispered.

            He slowly ripped his gaze from the void and looked at me, his face inches from mine. I held my breath and stared into his dazzling eyes. “It’s where I began.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            My brain hurt. Sherlock and John had explained everything on the cab ride over- from the mysterious phone call and Mycroft’s texts to the shoes and the swimming accident. What a day. Questions swirled in my mind, and they were no doubt in John and Sherlock’s as well. Who was the bomber? What did he want? What was the Carl Powers puzzle?

            But for now, there was nothing I could do. John and I were no match for Sherlock- only he would be able to solve the puzzle. So I did the only thing I could, I kept quiet. I lay on my back on the sofa, throwing a black bouncy ball up into the air and catching it again. John, I could tell, was trying his best to stay silent. He paced back and forth, driving me crazy. But we continued to let Sherlock be- allowing him to study the pictures and newspapers he had spread all over the kitchen table.

            I had changed since earlier. It was getting to be later in the day, so I had chosen something a bit cozier. I was barefoot, wearing just a pair of black leggings and a hunter green, hooded knit cardigan. John had joked about it earlier, saying I was adopting his style. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of that- his clothes make the poor guy look ancient.

            John couldn’t take it anymore. He stopped in front of the kitchen and addressed Sherlock. “Can I help?” There was no response. I continued fiddling with the ball, choosing to bounce it off the wall instead. It filled the silent apartment with a dull thudding noise. “I want to help.” John continued. “There’s only five hours left.” Still no response from Sherlock. John’s phone beeped, and he turned his attention from Sherlock to his phone. “It’s your brother. He’s texting me now.” He frowned. “How does he know my number?”

            I stopped bouncing the ball and sighed. “He is practically the British government, John.”

            “Must have been a root canal.” Sherlock said, thoughtfully.

            I sighed. Sherlock was being ridiculous again, per the usual. I was only on day two of living with him, but Sherlock’s antics were about to push me over the edge. I made a mental note of John’s high tolerance levels. Exasperated, John moved into the kitchen. I followed.

            “Look.” I said to Sherlock. He didn’t look up from his work. “He did say national importance.”

            Sherlock simply snorted. “How quaint.”

            “What is?”

            He looked up and gestured to myself and John. “You are. Queen and country.”

            John scoffed, and I narrowed my eyes. “Land of the free, bastard.”

            He gave a hum of amusement. “Yes, as if I could forget with you walking around, talking in that horrendously painful accent.”

            “I’m not the one with the accent, Sher.”

            It was his turn to narrow his eyes. “I thought I told you never to call me that a-”

            “Ladies!” John interjected. We both whirled our heads to look at him. “You’re both pretty. Back to the case, please?” He turned to address Sherlock, who was muttering under his breath. “You can’t just ignore it.”

            Sherlock sighed. “I’m not ignoring it. I’m putting my best man onto it right now.” A small smile crept onto my lips. Poor John.

            “Right. Okay.” John looked satisfied, and he crossed his arms. After a moment of silence, he looked puzzled. “Who’s that?”

            Sherlock and I looked at each other with the same amused expression, then back at John expectantly. Realization flashed across John’s face and he let out a long breath. “Bloody hell.” He turned away. “Fine.” With one swift motion, he had grabbed his coat off the rack and slipped it on. He turned to me and Sherlock before leaving. “I’ll bring something back- pizza okay?”

            I opened my mouth to answer, but Sherlock beat me to it. “Why would you be getting food? You know I don’t eat while I’m on a case, John. Digestion slows down my brain.”

            John’s face, put quite simply, radiated the phrase really? He gestured to me with one hand, reminding Sherlock that he wasn’t the only other one in the flat anymore. Sherlock didn’t seem to understand, looking at John with a glazed look. I rolled my eyes. Sherlock truly was impossible. Pity I’d have to be stuck with him for a few hours.

            Electing to ignore Sherlock, I turned to John. “Pizza’s perfect, thanks.”

            He nodded and headed out the door. “I’m out to see Mycroft- be back in a jiffy.”

            “Bye John!” I called out, and the door slammed shut.

            There was an awkward silence for a few moments before I turned away from Sherlock and headed for the living room. I scanned the bookshelves on each side of the fireplace mantle before settling for Hamlet. A personal favorite. One can never go wrong with a bit of Shakespeare. I was going to settle down in John’s chair, but I wanted to keep an eye on Sherlock, who was still studying the evidence and shoes in the kitchen. So, I decided to sit in Sherlock’s chair- giving me a full view of the living room and kitchen. I sat Indian-style in the chair and propped the book open between my knees. A light drizzle, a sun shower, began outside.

            An hour passed in comfortable silence. Well, I say comfortable. The only sounds were the turning of pages and the shuffling of papers, along with the occasional baritone mutters from Sherlock. But every time I glanced up to make sure he wasn’t doing something crazy, I was met with his glaring. It was the same every time. Brows furrowed, his icy gaze staring straight at me. Each time, I held the gaze, trying to decide if it was disgust, anger, hatred, or intrigue.

            Finally, upon receiving another glare, I gave up. I sighed and closed the book with a soft thud. Sherlock had resumed his work by the time I looked back up. He was fiddling with the papers again, not really reading them. He seemed distracted. I took in a deep breath and spoke softly. “Why do you hate me?”

            He looked up slowly, alarmed. But he soon regained his composure and asked evenly, “I beg your pardon?”

            “Are you going to explain yourself?”

            He quirked an eyebrow. “I don’t believe I have anything to explain for.”

            “Oh, yes you do. What is it with you?” I asked, annoyed. “Sometimes you’re kind to me and other times you act as if I don’t exist. And don’t even get me started on that ruse you pulled yesterday while John was out. The hell was that?” I spoke quickly, relieved to finally get those questions out. He opened his mouth, and for a moment, I thought he might give me a real answer. But my heart sank when I saw him deadpan.

            “Maybe you shouldn’t be so clever one moment and totally insufferable the next. Besides, have you ever considered that perhaps that’s just simply the way I am?” He dragged out his last three words, emphasizing them.

            I scoffed. “So you’re really, truly, this rude to everyone?”

            “Yes.” Silence. “Is there a problem?”

            I realized I had been scowling, and I softened my features. “No.” I said softly, hanging my head. As much as I hated to admit it, Sherlock might be right. Rude, but right. More silence followed.

            Sherlock’s voice cut through the silence, thoughtful and sincere. “You are quite the puzzle, (Y/n).”

            I lifted my head, confused. “What?”

            He stood slowly and walked over to where I was sitting. I watched with wide eyes as he circled the chair once before heading to John’s and sitting down. He placed his chin on his fingertips, which were in steeple position.

            “You are a puzzle. A mystery, if you will.” He continued to stare at me, his gaze cold and studying. “And a difficult one at that.”

            I was nervous, and at a loss for words. What? In an attempt to relieve some of the stress, I took up my nervous habit. Placing my right arm on the arm of his chair, I curved my fingers and began to tap out a silent melody. Sherlock noticed. A few more seconds of silence continued before I was confident enough to speak again. “How so?”

            “I can’t deduce you.” He was fumbling over his words, unsure of how to phrase what he wanted to say. “I mean, I can deduce you… but I can’t.”

            I frowned. Well that’s rather contradictory. “You seemed to do just fine the night we met, and earlier today.”

            “I know.” He sighed, standing. “But those were the easy parts.” He walked silently over to his violin case and took it out along with the bow. He lifted the bow to the violin, but did not play. “There is little else I can deduce. Just the basics. But you’re changeable- too changeable. Or maybe I’m just incorrect in what I thought I knew.”

            I raised my eyebrows in surprise. For the first time ever, Sherlock’s voice was filled with something: doubt. A soft melody played across my ears, and I turned to see Sherlock playing his violin, eyes staring into nothingness. I smiled, recognizing the tune- the middle of Bach’s Partita No. 1- an interesting choice. Something was suddenly different about Sherlock. Perhaps it was his demeanor. The man I had thought was nothing but ice and hatred was now softer, genuine. If I could get him to show this side more often, living here wouldn’t be such hell.

            I replied, in a voice just as soft as his. “Well, why don’t you walk me through it and see if that helps?”

            He looked undecided for a moment, but soon nodded. With impressive grace, he stepped lightly until he was standing in front of me, never ceasing his violin’s melody. His eyes scanned me over and over until they came to rest on my face.

            “I know you’re an insomniac- lighter case, fortunately for you, but the circles under your eyes give it away. You refuse to cover them with makeup, or wear any at all, for that matter. High confidence.” Now, he was twirling around the room in what could only be a waltz, stepping in time to his own music. He would cease his movements every time he made a new deduction to look at me. “You’re tapping your fingers- a nervous habit, no doubt. But your hands give it away. The curve of your palm, the silent melodies- piano player.” He studied my face. “Good one, too.”

            My face flushed pink. I wasn’t that good. Thankfully, he had closed his eyes to feel the music and hadn’t seen me. “Is that all?” I noticed my fingers had stopped tapping, the melody of the violin washing away the nervousness, leaving calm in its wake.

            “No.” He said softly, eyes still closed. “No parents. Well, not anymore, anyways. Passed away not too long ago. The only person in your living family that you still care for is your younger cousin, Kenna.”

            I narrowed my eyes. “How…” I remembered the picture of the two of us in my bag, our names written on the back. “Sherlock bloody Holmes, did you go through my things?”

            “Protocol.” He answered simply, now standing still with his eyes open. I huffed and tried to hide my embarrassment, hoping he didn’t find anything I wouldn’t want him to see. I shook myself out of my thoughts and realized that the music had stopped. Sherlock was bending down, placing his beloved instrument back into its case. He sighed and looked back at me once more.

            “You’re intelligent.” He continued. “Very intelligent- which I don’t say very often. You’re welcome. You can’t stand those who are ignorant or that waste time. You’re curious. You want to know things- anything and everything that’s relevant to you. In all honesty, you’re quite like me. Except for one painful difference- sentiment.” He began pacing, walking back and forth in front of me, frustrated. “You care for people, (Y/n). You care what they think of you, care what they think of themselves. And that’s why you’re a puzzle.” He was stopped right in front of me now, and I watched with fearful eyes as he continued on a rant, relentless. His hands were clasped behind his back and he stared at me with fire in his eyes.

            “You’re infuriating. You could be so amazing- SO brilliant. But instead, you let people get to your head and under your skin. You let the things I say get to you.” Each word he spoke sent another stab into my chest as I realized this speech couldn’t be going anywhere good. This was exactly the kind of thing he was just talking about, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to sink into the chair and never speak again. His words were soft and cold, not loud and angry, which made it all the more unbearable.

That’s why I hate you. I can tell many things about you, (Y/n). Enough, I suppose. But I can’t tell the most important things. Your emotions, how you feel, why you act the way you do, your motive behind your every move. You walk into each room with a quiet confidence and a calculating gaze. You know you’re superior to everyone in the room, but you don’t let it get to your head. But why… I don’t know. And I hate that. I hate you. (Y/ Full Name), I hate you like I have never hated anyone before. You cloud my mind when I should be focusing, and I haven’t the slightest idea why. If you were an ordinary puzzle, I could push you to the back of my mind. You’re ordinary- you allow your emotions to show, and so you must be. But I can’t push you to the back of my brain, which makes you unordinary. Which is why you’re here. Which is why… I have to hate you.”

(Sherlock’s POV)

            I felt relieved, a huge weight lifting off my chest. But my heart sank, and I realized I regretted every word I had just spoken. Regret- that’s something I haven’t felt in a long time… I opened my mouth to try and take it all back, but one look at her face and it was obvious that nothing could make up for what I had just done.

            She was looking at the floor, silent tears streaming down her face. She was trying to hold them back, I could tell, but they kept coming. I felt a pain in my chest I hadn’t felt since… well, never. Her tears left her cheeks wet, and strands of her (h/c) hair stuck to them. My breath hitched in my throat. She’s crying.

            I moved forward tentatively, as if I could break her just by touching her. Judging by what I had just did and how she reacted, that was actually quite possible on an emotional level at the moment. I reached down slowly, and placed my right hand on her cheek. Her face felt small in my hands, and I felt a tenderness I’d never felt before. Trying to process these all new emotions, I wiped away her tears with my thumb, and then gently tucked her stray hairs behind her ears.

            She looked up at me, and it was my turn to nearly break. Her (e/c) eyes were rimmed with red from crying and glazed over, her spirit broken. “(Y/n)...” Her name caught in my throat. “Don’t cry.” I wanted nothing more than to hold her. Right then, right there. To tell her I didn’t mean it, and that I didn’t hate her. I wanted to tell her, but I couldn’t. The fading light from the windows cast a golden hue over her face, giving her an angelic appearance despite her tears.

            She didn’t move. Didn’t speak. Just continued to cry. They were silent tears, but she held my gaze the whole time, her breaths short and rapid. I took my hand away from her face, moving both hands to my head. I ran my fingers through my hair nervously, and ended up just leaving them on my head, totally distraught.

            She stood slowly, regaining her composure. I lowered my hands. “(Y/n)…” She shook her head, silently telling me not to say a word. Slowly, she moved her hand up to my face, and now it was her turn to put her hand on my cheek. I realized with a start that my cheek was wet, and her thumb brushed away my tears. I’m crying. When was the last time I had cried?

            She gave a small, tight-lipped smile. I thought it was impossible. I thought for sure she would hate me after all the things I had said. But here she was, wiping away my tears. My heart soared with hope, another emotion long lost. What the hell is happening to me? Perhaps I could reconcile for my actions. I opened my mouth again to say something, but my heart dropped when she pulled her hands away and her smile faded.

            She spoke so softly, I could hardly hear her. “You’re a cruel and heartless man, Sherlock Holmes.”

            I stood there, frozen in shock, as I heard her walk upstairs and lock herself in John’s bedroom. I waited until I heard the click- and then I broke. I was an emotional wreck. I buried my face in my hands, confused and frightened. What have I done?

            I didn’t know what to make of it- of any of it. I just stood there, trying to process the different emotions and thoughts swirling around in my head. I tried to go to my mind palace, but I couldn’t. I was locked out. I started to panic. “What’s happening to me?” I didn’t realize I had said the words out loud until I had already said them. I jerked my head up and my eyes widened in horror as a thought crossed my mind. No, no, no, it couldn’t be. But it was, I knew it. I also knew that it had to stop. Sentiment.

Chapter Text

(John’s POV)

            Two hours after I had left, I returned back to Baker Street with a pizza in hand. The meeting with Mycroft had gone well, I supposed. I walked into 221B to find Mrs. Hudson scurrying out the door and Sherlock yelling something.

            “It’s one of the deadliest poisons on the planet!” Sherlock exclaimed as I rounded the corner. What the hell? I gave him a blank stare. What is he going on about? Sherlock looked exasperated. “Carl Powers!”

            I put together the puzzle pieces before responding. “Oh, are you saying he was murdered?” Sherlock stood up and walked over to the shoelaces, which he had strung up under the light.

            “Remember the shoelaces?”

            “Mhm.” I was only vaguely interested in his speech. I knew it was going to be a long spiel of otherworldly deduction skills. I was more interested in the delicious smell coming from the pizza I was holding. Good thing Sherlock didn’t want any. More for me and (y/n)... Wait... Where is she?

            “The boy suffered from eczema. It’d be the easiest thing in the world to introduce the poison into his medication. Two hours later he comes up to London, the poison takes effect, paralyses the muscles and he drowns.”

            “What- how-how come the autopsy didn’t pick that up?”

            “It’s virtually undetectable. Nobody would have been looking for it.” He leaned over and started typing something onto his website. “But there were still tiny traces of it left inside the trainers from where he put cream on his feet. That’s why they had to go.”

            I nodded in vague understanding. “So how do we let the bomber know...?”

            Sherlock cut off my question with the answer. “Get his attention...”

            “Mhm.”

            He glanced at his watch. “Stop the clock.”

            “The killer kept the shoes all these years.” It was a statement, but it sounded rather like a question.

            “Yes.” Sherlock glanced over at me, waiting for me to work it out for myself. “Meaning...”

            “He’s our bomber.” Sherlock gave a smile of approval. I sighed and looked around for (y/n). “Look, that’s great and everything, but where’s-”

            The phone rang, and Sherlock held up a finger for silence. He put the phone on speaker, and the endangered woman’s voice rang out through the flat. Sherlock started talking, but I tuned the both of them out. I knew there’d be a bomb squad dispatched to help her- I wasn’t worried. I was more concerned with the whereabouts of our guest. I set the pizza on the table and hung up my coat.

            “Um, Sherlock?” Having finished with the woman, Sherlock ended the call. Still no answer. I tried again. “Sherlock.” He was typing in a new number into his phone. More silence. I let out a long breath, thoroughly annoyed. “Right, okay.” I mumbled, then said clearly. “Sherlock.” Was he ignoring me on purpose? This was a legitimate problem. For all I knew, (Y/n) was missing.

            He started talking into the phone. “Yes, Lestrade, she’s in her car. She said we can come get-”

            That’s it, I’ve just about had it with him. “SHERLOCK!” He froze, and silence hung in the air. His shocked expression soon turned to annoyance. Glaring at me, he hung up. “Where’s (Y/n)?”

            He looked down guiltily. Uh oh, I know that look. “Upstairs.”

            I cocked an eyebrow. “Sherlock.” I said slowly. “What did you do?”

            “Nothing.” He answered too quickly and I crossed my arms. He mumbled curses under his breath, realizing his mistake. I fixed him with a glare. He refused to look at me, suddenly interested with the walls and ceiling. He shuffled his feet. “I think I’ve... upset her.”

            My hard gaze softened and was replaced with fear. “Oh, Sherlock.” I said softly. “What have you done?” He looked down as I rushed past him, practically flying up the stairs to my bedroom. First Molly at the lab and now her. What a day.

            I knocked softly. “(Y/n)?” No answer. I tried again. “(Y/n), are you in there?”

            “John?” Her voice came from inside, barely audible.

            I sucked in a breath and opened the door. I didn’t know what I had expected, but what I saw made me freeze. “Oh Christ, (Y/n).” She sat on my bed with her chin on her knees, which were pulled to her chest. Her (e/c) were rimmed with red, and her hair stuck to her tear-stained cheeks.

            “John.” Her voice cracked and she choked back a sob. The sound broke my heart. Sherlock, you bastard.

            I rushed to her, and she swung her feet over the side of the bed to meet me, arms open. Immediately, I wrapped her into a tight embrace. She tucked her head into the crook of my neck and cried, almost silently. Her tears were staining my shirt, but I didn’t care. I left one arm wrapped around her and used my other hand to gently stroke her hair, trying to calm her. I am *this* close to marching downstairs and giving Sherlock a piece of my mind. Honestly, can he not behave himself for two bloody hours? I glanced down at (Y/n) guiltily. I shouldn’t have left her alone with him.

            We stood there in silence until her tears had subsided and her breathing returned to normal. She felt so fragile in my arms- one wrong move and she could shatter into another mess of tears. When she had pulled herself together, she lifted her head off my shoulder. We stood there silently, staring at each other, still embracing. I studied her- the real her. Without her walls, without her guard up. Just her. She was striking, despite the fact that she had just been crying. This girl in my arms was nothing short of brilliant, but looking at her now, I realized with a start that she was still, in some ways, a child. Independent, yes, but someone who needed to be looked after and cared for. She was innocent and virtually untouched by the horrors this world had to offer- and Sherlock had just broken that. My jaw clenched and anger threatened to boil over. I definitely had a few choice words for London’s favorite detective.

            (Y/n) looked at me with worry in her eyes, sensing my anger. I let out a small breath, calming myself. This isn’t how you show someone you care for them, Sherlock. I wasn’t precisely sure how to console her, so I allowed my brotherly instincts to kick in. I left my hand on the back of her head and gave her a light kiss on the forehead. That was something I’d always done with Harriet before we had our... falling out.

           She let out a shaky breath. “Thank you.”

           I gave her a small smile. “No problem.” She sat down on the bed, and I sat next to her. “(Y/n)?”

           “Yeah?”

           I grabbed her hands and looked her straight in the eyes so she could tell how serious I was. “Listen to me. Whatever Sherlock said, whatever he did, he’s an idiot, okay? He’s a total arse. He might not have even meant it, so I want you to forget it. All of it. I won’t pry, but whatever he said about you was wrong. You, (Full name), are amazing. Don’t ever forget it. Chin up, okay? You got that?”

            She grinned. “Got it.” She leaned in and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. “Thanks, John.”

            I gave a nod of affirmation and stood quickly. “Now!” I said, clapping my hands together. “You’re going to go wash those tears off and then have some pizza- doctor’s orders.”

            She laughed and stood up. “If only every doctor could prescribe pizza.”

            I chuckled. “I’m not every doctor.” She went into the bathroom to wash her face as I went downstairs to get the pizza. Looking around, Sherlock was nowhere to be seen. “Hmmph.” He’d been right to make himself scarce- otherwise I might have had to slap him right then and there. Bloody idiot. I knew Sherlock cared for (Y/n), even if he didn’t quite know it yet. Until he figured out where his emotions lie, he’d probably be having mood swings, kind of like he does when he can’t solve a case. Brilliant. I just hoped that none of his outbursts would be as bad as this one was. I sighed and headed back upstairs.

            For the rest of the night, (Y/n) and just I sat on my bed, eating pizza and enjoying each other’s company until we both drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “John.” The voice stirred me from my sleep and I opened my eyes slowly, lifting my head. It took a moment for everything to come into focus.

            “John.” The voice said again. I sat up to see Sherlock standing at the doorway. John shifted next to me, grumbling softly.

            “I’m up, I’m up.” He sighed and lifted his arm off of the bed, which I realized had been around me while we were sleeping. “What is it, Sherlock?” Last night came back to me in a rush, and I held my breath, realizing what the situation probably looked like. You idiot, you’ve both still got your clothes on. I let out a breath of relief, then frowned internally. Why did I care what it looked like? It was only Sherlock, after all. I shook my head. Speaking of Sherlock... I need to punch him. I looked over to see he had been staring at me. I took in his disheveled hair and wrinkled shirt. His blue eyes were riddled with what could only be pain and I wondered why. Hang on, is that... jealousy? I chuckled- he was a rollercoaster, this one.

            “What’s so funny?” His sharp voice shook me from my thoughts.

            I snorted. Rude. “Nothing. Good morning.” I forced a smile. Get the hell out of my sight, Sherlock.

            He huffed and turned to John. “We’re due at New Scotland Yard right about, oh...” he glanced down at his watch. “Now. So if you’d kindly get yourself out of bed and hurry up, that would be brilliant.” With this, he turned on his heels and stalked downstairs, annoyed.

            “Bloody hell.” John muttered. “Not much of a morning person, is he?”

            “Suppose not.” I mumbled. John stood up from the bed and looked down at his clothes.

            “Well, I suppose these’ll do.” He went into the bathroom to brush his teeth, then headed out. He stopped in the doorway. “You coming?”

            I sighed, remembering Sherlock’s words last night. “Not a chance.” I wasn’t quite sure I had enough pride left to deal with his remarks after he had broken me down last night.

            “C’mon, some fresh air will be good for you! Besides, I want to see how you’d work on a case.”

            I frowned. “Why on earth would you want to see that?”

            He gave a knowing smile. “Because I have a feeling you’ll be going on a lot more in the future. Today’s just practice. Besides, we could use an extra perspective- well, one with a brain, anyway.”

            I flopped dramatically back onto the bed and laughed. “Whatever you say, John.”

            He spread his hands and then dropped them. “So, you coming or not?”

            I sighed. “Tell you what, John.” I sat up again. “If my skills are needed, shoot me a text. I’ll go. But do not make me go if it’s not important- I’m not in the mood to deal with Sherlock at the moment.”

            He nodded, satisfied, and turned to leave. “Fair enough. See you later, (Y/n).”

            “Hey John?”

            He turned back around. “Yeah?”

            I smirked. “Punch Sherlock in the face for me.”

            He grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.”

            Not even an hour after the pair had left, I received a text alert. I looked down to see who it was and groaned. John. I let out a long breath- it would seem my services were required.

(Sherlock’s POV)

            I needed to concentrate on the case, I really did. I still felt terribly guilty about last night, and finding John with (Y/n) this morning hadn’t helped. I knew nothing had happened, but... it still ate away at me for some reason. John giving me a good whack and a severe scolding hadn’t exactly helped, either. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. We were pulling up to the latest crime scene, just south of the river. The car in question came into view, along with the figure standing beside it. I furrowed my brow in confusion. (Y/n)?

            As if reading my thoughts, John cleared his throat. “I told her to come. She might be able to help, and...” he paused, “you two have some things to work out.”

            I scoffed, rather miffed. “I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.” I hoped I had sounded convincing. John’s face was enough to tell me that I hadn’t been.

            “Right, okay.” He said, stepping out of the car. I followed, internally sighing. I knew full well that I had some explaining to do. I looked around, taking in the surroundings, then took a deep breath to steady myself. Here goes nothing.

            I strode over to (Y/n), my hands stuffed in the pocket of my coat. She had changed since this morning, switching her leggings and hooded cardigan for white skinny jeans that hugged her figure and a collared, blue plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She looked stunning, as usual. The morning sun was reflecting off her hair, making it seem a shade lighter than it really was. I took in a sharp breath. Her (e/c) were filled with anger, but they were still dazzling. There she went again, distracting me. But this time, I didn’t mind so much. It took someone quite extraordinary to distract the likes of me.

            “Hello again, Sherlock.” Her voice snapped me out of my thoughts and I winced. Her tone was cold and harsh. I probably deserved that.

            I cleared my throat awkwardly. “Look, (Y/n), about last night...” I didn’t get to finish. She slapped me straight across the face, probably leaving a mark. My cheek stung, and I lifted a hand to it. I probably deserved that, too.

            I put my hand back in my pocket and looked down. I glanced back at John. His eyes told me there was no backing out of this now. Okay, here we go. I took in a deep breath and lifted my head, speaking as quickly as I could. “(Y/n), I didn’t mean those things I said last night. I don’t hate you, I really don’t, and I’m very sorry. Forgive me? Please?” It was genuine, even if it wasn’t as eloquent as my usual speech, and I prayed that she would see that.

            Silence. She had her arms crossed and I looked at her nervously. She shook her head. My heart sank, and I lowered my gaze, staring at my shoes. I should have known... “You big idiot.” She said. My heart sank even lower. “Of course I forgive you.”

            Wait, what? A grin spread across my face and I beamed at her in surprise, only to find that she was smiling right back. “Really?”

            “Yeah.”

            I laughed. She was impossible- no one in their right mind could deal with me on the level she could. Then I did something that even surprised myself- I hugged her. A proper, tight embrace, too. I wasn’t one for touchy-feely things of any sort, but this seemed right. It was what John usually did, wasn’t it? She let out a short gasp of surprise and then chuckled, returning the hug.

            “Ahem.” John cleared his throat and I let go of (Y/n). “You’ve got an audience, Sherlock.” He mumbled. I turned to see that the team had arrived: Lestrade, along with Donovan, Anderson, and their respective teams. All of them had the same look on their faces- shock. Oh, right. No regular physical contact plus young and relatively attractive flatmate...

            I felt my cheeks redden with embarrassment despite my best attempts to suppress it. “Right, then.” I clapped my hands together, grabbing most everyone’s attention and shaking them out of their trances. “The case! Lestrade, tell me everything I need to know.”

            Silence. Lestrade just stood there in shock, looking from me to (Y/n) over and over again. “What is she doing here? Bloody hell, Sherlock, have you gotten her involved?” I sighed. This man remembered so little.

            “She lives with me, Lestrade. Of course she’s involved.”

            Lestrade’s mouth hung open. “Living... still? You said one night Sherlock, not forever.”

            I clasped my hands behind my back and smirked, not noticing John and (Y/n), who were growing more and more embarrassed by the second. “Her skill set proved quite useful, so there’s been a change of plans.”

            Lestrade let out a long breath. “Okay, I did not need to know that.” I looked at Donovan and Anderson, who were trying not to laugh. Oh God.

            “I- n-no, that’s not what I meant by-”

            “Drop it. We can discuss this-” he waved his finger back and forth between myself and (Y/n). “-later. Now, the car was hired yesterday...” He started walking towards the car and I followed, listening to the facts.

(Your POV)

            Oh. My. God. If that wasn’t the most embarrassing thing ever, I don’t know what was. I walked quickly over to John, who was standing there quite awkwardly. We stood there silently, neither one of us knowing what to say to the other. Turns out, we didn’t have to, because Donovan quickly walked over to us. I rolled my eyes. Brilliant.

            “You’re still hanging around him.” She said, addressing neither one of us in particular. When John remained silent, I cleared my throat and decided to answer.

            “Yeah, well...”

            “Opposites attract, I suppose.” At this, John let out a chuckle and I sent him a dark look, shutting him up, but not before he muttered a comment of his own.

            “They’re not exactly opposites, if you ask me.”

            Donovan looked at each of us in surprise. “Oh, so she’s a psychopath, too then?” She turned and yelled to her coworker. “Hey, Anderson. There’s another freak! We’ve got two of them, now.” She turned back and addressed me. “You two’ll make the perfect couple, then.”

            John frowned. “Hey, now wait a minute, that’s not what-”

            Donovan cut him off, still talking to me- she wasn’t quite finished yet. “You should get yourself a hobby- stamps, maybe. Model trains. Safer.” With that, she turned on her heels and walked over to Lestrade and Sherlock. John and I exchanged a knowing look, and I sighed. What a way to start the morning.

            “Erm... Sorry about that, (Y/n).”

            I shook my head and waved it off. “It’s fine.” We walked over to Sherlock, who had turned away from the car and was striding towards us.

            “Anything?” I asked, hoping I could help. He glanced down at me and gave a small smile. Now that the air had cleared between us, we were much friendlier than we had been before. There was a sort of... understanding between us. I had hated being mad at Sherlock, although I would never admit it. When he had apologized, I was happier than I had let on, which I was grateful for. God bless the poker face.

            He had his hands clasped behind his back and his coat collar turned up in an attempt to look cooler than he was. I smiled internally- I could see right through him. Still trying to keep his cool, he answered in a monotone voice. “Ian Monkford. Banker. Hired the car yesterday, told his wife he was going on a business trip. He never arrived.”

            I nodded. “Interesting.”

            “Indeed.” He leaned in, pointing at a woman facing away from us, only a few paces away. He spoke softly to make sure she didn’t hear. “That’s Mrs. Monkford.”

            I scanned her- I couldn’t see her face, but I got the basics. Shoulder-length brown hair. Five foot five and a half... no... three quarters. I frowned, confused. “Okay?”

            “I believe extracting information is in your skill set.”

            I quirked an eyebrow. He wasn’t wrong, but I could think of plenty of ways to extract information. Some of which were rather... compromising, but I couldn’t see how those particular methods would be necessary. Which one did he mean? “How so?”

            He chuckled darkly and pushed me forward towards her. “Find out what you can about Ian.” I swallowed nervously and Sherlock fell in step with John behind me as the three of us approached the woman in question.

            “What’s going on?” I heard John whisper.

            “Wait and see.”

            I took a deep breath. Here goes nothing. “Mrs. Monkford?”

She turned to me with tears in her eyes.“Yes?” She looked at the trio of us and sighed. “I’m sorry, but I’ve already spoken with two policemen.”

            John piped up. “No, we’re not from the police; we’re-”

            I kept going before John blew my cover, holding out my hand to the woman and getting into character. “(F/n) (L/n).” I made my voice shaky and tremulous, and started to get misty-eyed for effect. “Very old friend of your husband’s. We um...” She shook my hand. I looked down, pretending to be fighting off tears. “We grew up together.”

            Her face gave away her confusion. “I’m sorry, who? I don’t think he ever mentioned you.” She seemed a bit miffed, and I cringed internally. It might’ve been better if a guy had done this- now I’m making her jealous.

            I continued, still tearful. “Oh, he must have done. This is... this is horrible, isn’t it?” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw John turn away, trying (and failing) to keep a neutral face. I forced myself not to laugh. “I mean, I just can’t believe it! I only saw him the other day. Same old Ian- not a care in the world.”

            Mrs. Monkford furrowed her brow. “Sorry, but my husband has been depressed for months. Who are you?” Now we’re getting somewhere. I let the tears flow freely now.

            “Really strange that he hired a car. It’s a bit suspicious, isn’t it?”

            “No it isn’t. He forgot to renew the tax on the car, that’s all!” She was enjoying contradicting everything I was saying- I could tell.

            I gave a weak smile. “Oh, well that was Ian! That was Ian all over!”

            “No it wasn’t.” She seemed almost offended. Sherlock tapped my shoulder, signifying that he had enough information.

            I immediately dropped my persona and started at her intensely. “Wasn’t it? Interesting.” I turned on my heels and walked away, her stare boring holes into my back. John and Sherlock followed closely behind.

            “Who was I talking to?” Mrs. Monkford’s voice was fading behind me. It was likely she was asking one of the other officers. I smirked.

            After we were out of earshot, I turned back around to face the boys, wiping the fake tears from my eyes. Sherlock looked proud. John- well, I couldn’t tell if he was impressed, horrified, or amused. Something in between, probably.

            “Well done- I told you.” Sherlock said, smiling.

I returned the grin and chuckled lightly. “Got everything you needed?”

            “Plenty.” He said, giving a nod of affirmation.

            John’s expression had morphed into one of awe. “How the hell did you do that?”

            “What, the acting?” John nodded and I smiled. “I picked up a thing or two when I was younger. I did acting camps all the time- It was my dream career.” I paused. “I was good at it, too. My parents were convinced I was going to be a Hollywood star.” I glanced at Sherlock. “Not sure how this daft dimbo figured that out, though.”

            I elbowed Sherlock in the side and he gave me a scowl. “I have my ways.”

            “Mhm.”

            John frowned, a bit disappointed in me. “Why did you lie to her?”

            I sighed. “People don’t like telling you things, but they love contradicting you. Past tense, did you notice?”

            “Sorry, what?”

            “I referred to her husband in the past tense. She joined in. Bit premature- there’s no body and they’ve only just found the car. She might’ve been in on it. I wouldn’t say she’s the murderer, no. Rookie mistake. In fact, I don’t think this is a murder at all.” I looked John in the eyes. “I assume there was another phone call earlier, yes?”

            John nodded. “Yeah. It was a man this time, little on the young side, I think. Four pips instead of five. Eight hours to solve.”

            “Hmm. A countdown.” I straightened my shirt, unbuttoning and buttoning the top button. I fiddled with my clothing quite frequently when I was deep in thought.

            “Fishing!” Donovan called out to me as she walked away. “You should try fishing!” I rolled my eyes then turned and gave her a fake smile and a thumbs up. I looked back at Sherlock, who had hardly said a word the whole time.

            “And does the great detective have anything he’d like to add?” I said teasingly.

            “Yes.” He said, rather smugly, his icy eyes twinkling with amusement. I raised my eyebrows and John and I stood there in anticipation. He drew in a deep breath. “You shouldn’t have wasted your talents on a history major- you might make a consulting detective, yet, Miss (L/n).”

            He turned and headed to hail a cab, his coat flapping behind him. It was my turn to scowl. “But I like history,” I muttered.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            For the rest of the day, I followed the boys around, inserting my opinion when necessary. In fact, that’s how most of the following days went. I helped out the boys at Janus Cars, the morgue, Kenny Prince’s house, the Thames River, the Hickman Gallery- basically everywhere. I laughed when they laughed; on rare occasions I happened to be the cause of the laughter. I cringed when they cringed, like when the bomb went off when the woman on the phone said too much. I solved problems alongside them, happy to know that my skills actually made me useful.

            My life had become a mess, truly. But, truth be told, I rather liked it. We were a good team, the three of us. The brains, the brawn, the beauty; Sherlock, John, and I, respectively. Over the past few days, I’d grown closer than ever with the boys- Lestrade included. He was pleasant enough, though I couldn’t say the same for Donovan and Anderson (I preferred to call them tweedledee and tweedledum). It could now be easily said that John and Sherlock were my closest friends, which was great, seeming as I hadn’t had any friends when I moved to London not even two weeks ago.

            Thus far, everyone has been shocked by Sherlock’s sudden openness with me, other than John, but I find it rather normal. As far as I’m concerned, he’s just being friendly. He hasn’t made any attempts for physical contact of any sort since his apology. For now, I’m content with having made a friend of Sherlock Holmes.

            It’s been two days since Sherlock and I settled our dispute, making this only the fifth day I’d stayed with him and Watson. Funny, it seemed so much longer than that. Right now, the three of us were stepping out of the crammed cab at the Vauxhall Arches. I checked the inside pocket of my trench coat, making sure my concealed gun was still there. It was.

            I looked up at the sky and gave a soft gasp, freezing in place. Away from the city lights, the sky was beautiful- an impossibly dense field of stars littered my view. I didn’t even know this many stars existed until now.

            Sherlock stepped up beside me and followed my gaze. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” He said softly.

            “Yeah...”

            John had fallen in line next to us and was admiring the view as well. “I thought you didn’t care about things like that, Sherlock.”

            There was a moment of silence, and I shifted my gaze to Sherlock, who was staring at me intensely. “Doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.” His voice was soft. I could feel my cheeks growing pink, and I was suddenly very thankful it was dark outside. Giving a small smile, he turned and entered the arches, John and I in tow right behind.

            John turned his focus to the case. “Alex Woodbridge had a message on the answerphone at his flat- a professor Cairns?”

            “This way.” Sherlock said simply, guiding us through the halls.

            John and I looked around the area in disgust. Everything was run-down and overall had a gross feeling. Why are we here again? “Nice!” John said sarcastically. “Nice part of town. Er, any time you wanna explain.”

            “Homeless network- really is indispensable.”

            “Homeless network?” I chimed in.

            “That homeless woman I received the slip of paper from earlier- I know you noticed, you just didn’t question it. She’s part of my network. My eyes and ears all over the city.”

            “Ah.”

            “Oh, that’s clever.” John’s voice was still sarcastic. He’s just really not in the mood tonight, is he? “So you scratch their backs and...”

            Sherlock’s voice was riddled with amusement. “Yes, then I disinfect myself.”

            I chuckled. “Rude.” With a smirk, Sherlock pulled out a flashlight and began waving it around. We didn’t see much, mainly just homeless people settling in for the night. Suddenly, in the distance a shadow of an incredibly tall man formed.

            “Sherlock!” John exclaimed.

            “Come on!” Sherlock grabbed my wrist and dragged me along until we were behind the nearest wall, shielded from the figure.

            “Ow!” I rubbed my wrist tenderly. Good grief, Sherlock. “I’m perfectly capable of running by myself, thanks.”

            “Sorry.” He mumbled sheepishly.

            “What’s he doing sleeping rough?” John whispered, referring to the man we were tracking.

            I peered around the corner, taking in his appearance. “Well, he has a very distinctive look. He has to hide somewhere where tongues won’t wag...” I thought back to the girl who had told Sherlock of his whereabouts. “...much.” I added. I studied the man further, then let out a low chuckle. “Looks a bit like Gollum, doesn’t he?” John nodded and looked down, patting his pockets, clearly looking for something.

            “Oh shi-” He began.

            Sherlock pulled John’s pistol from his coat pocket and I pulled out my own. “What?” Sherlock asked.

            “I wish I’d-” He stopped abruptly when Sherlock handed him his pistol.

            “Don’t mention it.” Sherlock said passively. We watched intensely as the man broke off into a run. We followed him, hot on his trail. But we were easily outrun- the guy had to be about seven foot tall. He jumped into a waiting car and sped off. Sherlock punched the air in frustration, breathing heavily. “No, no, no, no! It’ll take us weeks to find him again.”

            John cocked his head. “Or not. I have an idea where he might be going.”

            “What?” Both Sherlock and I said at the same time, confused.

            For once, John was the smart one of the trio. “I told you: someone left Alex Woodbridge a message. There can’t be that many Professor Cairns in the book. Come on.” He turned and started heading for the road. Sherlock and I exchanged a look, and I shrugged.

            “C’mon, then.” I said, pocketing my pistol. Sherlock didn’t move. He was pouting and furrowing his brow. I sighed. Drama Queen. I grabbed his wrist, pulling him along. “Let’s go, Sherlock. No need to get butthurt.”

            His frown turned to a scowl. “But I’m the smart one.”

(Time skip)

            We raced into the planetarium, stopping just short of the doors of the viewing hall.

            “Right.” John said, out of breath. “(Y/n), you stay here. Sherlock and I will go in and catch this bastard.”

            “What? No way.” I said defiantly. “I’m going with you.”

            “No, you’re not. Wait here- if he tries to come this way, shoot him.”

            I crossed my arms. “I’m going.”

            “No, you’re not.”

            “Yes, I am.”

            “No.”

            “Yes!”

            “NO.”

            “YES!”

            “(Y/N)!”

            I gave an indignant huff, turning to the third member of our trio, who hadn’t said anything. “Sherlock...” I whined. “Please?” He remained still, not wanting to anger me, but not wanting to anger John either. After a moment, I realized I wasn’t going to get an answer. I sighed. “Fine.” I mumbled. In one swift motion, I headed for the doors and flung them open, heading inside.

            “Hey, Smeagol!” I yelled, pointing my pistol at the assassin. He was positioned up by the control panel for the projector, holding the neck of who could only be Professor Cairns. The theatre was dark and empty.

            “Bloody hell, (Y/n)!” I ignored John, who had rushed in and was now positioning his gun as well.

            At my cry, ‘Smeagol’ looked up and grunted in surprise. Faster than I could blink, he snapped the Professor’s neck and ducked under the booth. I sucked in a breath, stunned. Okay, watching someone’s neck get snapped in an empty theatre... definitely a first. Suddenly, the theatre plunged into darkness as the film that had been playing fast forwarded.

            “John!” Sherlock called out.

            “I can’t see him. I’ll go round. I’ll go!” John shouted as he hurried off. Sherlock rushed to my side, and the two of us just stood there, heads whipping around- looking for the attacker. The footage of... whatever planet video it was continued rewinding and stopping and replaying over and over again, sending random light spasms into the dark room. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, and my heart was racing.

            “Who are you working for this time, Dzundza?” Sherlock yelled into the nothingness, still unsure of where the assassin was. Despite the situation, I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. That’s one hell of a name... Okay, FOCUS! Crazy killer on the loose, here.

            There was a gasp as Dzundza grabbed Sherlock from behind, suffocating him by covering his mouth and nose with his monstrous hand. Sherlock clawed at the hand, struggling to break free. I quickly raised my pistol, and John materialized next to me, doing the same.  

“Hey, ugly!” I mentally panicked, fearing for Sherlock’s life. But I shook my head and steeled my nerves- I couldn’t lose my grip when Sherlock needed us most. I cocked the gun, hands now steady. “Let him go, or I will kill you.” I was surprised how confident I sounded- I had almost convinced myself I could actually kill this guy. But there was something else there, too. Warning, anger, protectiveness, hate. I hated this man. I hated him for endangering my friends, and I knew there was no way I was letting this man out alive. Sherlock grew limper and limper, and I knew he didn’t have long. That’s it. I pressed lightly in the trigger. Try this one on for size, Smeagol.

            Before I could pull the trigger, Dzundza swung Sherlock to the left and flung him straight at me. With an indignant cry, we landed in a mess on the floor just as the theatre went completely dark for a few seconds. I lost my hold on the pistol and it went skidding across the floor. Dzundza kicked out a long leg, disarming John, and then began to grapple with him. Geez, Sherlock’s heavier than he looks- My lungs were getting crushed under his weight.

            Muttering curse words, I pushed him off of me. Sherlock and I swiftly got to our feet. But no sooner had I stood up than I found myself stumbling backwards again. John had been thrown at me, but he had only hit my shoulder, causing me to spin around and land on top of him.

            “Argh!” I let out a cry of frustration and quickly stood again- John took quite a while to regain his composure. I whirled around and gasped. Sherlock was pinned to the floor and Dzundza stood over him, suffocating him once again. Not thinking twice, I hurled myself onto his back, throwing him off balance and forcing him to release Sherlock. He reached his hands back and clawed at me, trying to get me off. I held tight for my life as we spun in circles. I wrapped my arms tighter around his neck and leaned back- he began wheezing for air. The distraction had worked- the boys had time to pull themselves together again.

            Suddenly, Dzundza’s body gave a violent shake and I lost my grip, falling through the air. My head crashed to the floor first. Pain jolted through my body and I let out a cry of pure anguish as the wind was knocked out of me. My vision went blurry with tears. My ears were ringing. Everything was muffled and out of focus- I couldn’t tell what was happening. Everything was spinning... spinning... There were gunshots, two of them. Yelling. The video kept playing.

“(Y/n)!” Sherlock’s voice tried to pull me back to reality, but I couldn’t do it. Everything went in and out, and it was becoming increasingly painful to even remain conscious. I could see a pale blur over my face that could only be him.

I used the last of my strength to utter a single word. I gave up, letting myself slip away. “Sherlock...”

            “JOHN!” He yelled frantically. Everything went black.

(Time skip)

            “(Y/n)?” I didn’t register the tap on my shoulder. “(Y/n), come on now!”

I groaned. God, my head hurt. As I slowly gained consciousness, the throbbing subsided to a dull ache. I opened my eyes and looked around. I was lying on the couch, back in 221B. My legs were elevated, resting on the far arm of the couch. It was light outside- it must’ve been several hours since... oh, crap. I can’t believe I did that.

            When everything came into focus, I saw John crouched next to me, smiling. “There she is.” he said. “Welcome back to the world of the living, (Y/n).”

            I gave him a weak smile. “Hey, John.” I winced. It hurt to talk, and my voice sounded closer to a low croak than actual speech. I glanced around the room again. “Where’s Sherlock?” I figured he was okay, but I couldn’t be sure.

            John waved his hand dismissively. “He’s getting ready. We’re going out for the day- working on that Vermeer painting case.”

            I nodded and started to sit up. “I’m going, too.”

            “No.” He said sternly, grabbing my shoulders and placing me back down on the couch. “You’re not going anywhere. I told you that last night, and look what happened; you went and got yourself a concussion. I checked you out though- it wasn’t serious, so I let you sleep on it.”

            “A simple ‘Thank you for saving our lives’ would suffice, John.” I huffed, my usual humor coming through despite my condition.

            He gave a hum of amusement. “Thank you for being an absolute idiot and getting yourself hurt to save Sherlock’s life.”

            “I did it for both of your lives.” I corrected.

            John raised his eyebrows and grinned. “Sure you did.” He chuckled when my face morphed into a frown. “Joking. Thank you.”

            I smiled. “That’s better.”

            “Look,” he said, shaking his head, “you need at least 24 hours of rest after a concussion, and right now you’ve only had, oh... 9? 10? Doesn’t matter. Point is, you’re staying here today, and that’s final- doctor’s orders. Are we clear?”

            I rolled my eyes. “Okay, dad.

            He stood and ruffled my hair. “That’s better.” He turned and grabbed a blanket off his chair. “They’ve rebuilt the wall, but they haven’t replaced the windows from the explosion yet. Might get a little drafty.” He handed me the blanket. “You’ll need this.”

            “You’re the best John.” I took in a long breath. “Now get going! You’ve got a case to solve, and all that jazz.”

            Now it was his turn to roll his eyes. “Okay, fine! I’m going. Sherlock!” he yelled towards his room. I winced, the loud noise made my head throb.

            I head a door open and I assumed Sherlock had emerged from his room. “Yes, John?” I heard him call.

            “(Y/n)’s kicking us out of our own flat- let’s go.”

            Sherlock rounded the corner dressed in his suit, like he was every day. Does this man ever go casual? A half-smile was plastered on his face and his eyes gleamed with amusement. He was carrying two paper plates, one flipped upside down on top of the other so no one could see what was inside. He placed it on the coffee table in front of the sofa, next to the glass of water that I hadn’t noticed before. “Kicking us out? How terribly rude.” He said as he grabbed his coat from the hanger and put it on. “Well, at least we know she’s back to normal.”

            John stifled a laugh and I gave a fake scowl. I grabbed the pillow from behind my head and chucked it at Sherlock, ignoring the pain that came with it. He dodged it easily. “See you tonight, (Y/n).” He sang, rushing out the door.

            “Bye!” John called out as he, too, rushed out the door before I could make him my next target. The door slammed shut and I winced again, the loud noise making my head feel worse.  I groaned, resting my head back on the couch and staring at the smiley face on the wall. Man, I’m going to need some advil or something soon. I sighed. It wasn’t as comfortable without my pillow.

            Groaning once again, I forced myself off the sofa and trotted over to where my pillow lay on the floor. I put the pillow against my chest and crossed my arms. I didn’t want to sleep, but I didn’t want to stay up and do nothing around the flat all day. I stood there by the door, looking around. The plates on the table caught my eye. I guess they’re for me.

            I walked over and took a swig of the water, then decided to sit on the couch and see what the plates held.  Gingerly, I removed the top plate and gave a small gasp of surprise. Sherlock Holmes, the Sherlock Holmes, had cooked breakfast for me. I didn’t even know he could cook. The aroma wafted through the air and I took a deep breath. Delicious. I tucked a strand of my (h/c) hair behind my ear and laughed. Scrambled eggs and toast filled the plate, with two advil sitting on the side. I took them immediately.

            I set the first plate down, flipping it over so it would be right-side up. I froze. There was a note written on it in pen.

Thank you –SH

            Hmm. Maybe Sherlock wasn’t so bad after all.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            Despite John’s stern warnings, I had made myself useful throughout the day, organizing a few things here, cleaning a little there. Mrs. Hudson had stopped by to give me some biscuits, and we ended up chatting over tea. She said she had a mini fridge she was getting rid of, and she wanted to know if we had any use for it. It had sparked an idea, and immediately I said we would take it.

            After several hours and a lot of disinfectant, all of Sherlock’s experiments were carefully labeled and in the mini fridge. The regular food (well, the little we had, anyways) was in the fridge, which had been wiped down and cleaned. I didn’t want any chemicals on my food. I’d also taken the liberty of organizing all the dry foods in the cabinets. Much to my surprise, Sherlock also had an abundance of soup cans with little experiments going on inside of them. Ugh, gross. So, I dedicated the far left cabinet closest to the mini fridge to all his little experiments that weren’t refrigerated. Satisfied that no one could accidentally eat an experiment, I laid down and took a long nap.

            Currently, I was curled up in my blanket, shivering from the cold draft coming in through the cardboard-covered windows. I had stolen Sherlock’s chair- it was the most comfortable in the flat. I was watching the late night Maury show; they had just started a new segment, and this man obviously wasn’t the boy’s father.

            Footsteps. Two pairs, coming up the stairs. Ah, the boys are finally home.

            The door opened. “Evening, (Y/n).” John was the first one in.

            “Hey, John.” I said, not looking away from the television.

            “You’re looking better.” He said, heading to the desk by the wall.

            I smiled. “Feeling it, too.”

            “Fantastic.”

            Sherlock walked in shortly after, slamming the door shut. He went straight into the kitchen, mumbling something about thermodynamics.

            “Hello to you, too, Sherly.”

            I got nothing in response, just a grunt to know he had heard me. The fridge opened, and there was a moment of silence. “Where’s my head?” Sherlock asked, clearly annoyed.

            I chuckled. John looked at me accusingly. “What did you do?” He asked.

            “Nothing.” I said innocently, flashing him my sweetest smile.

            “(Y/n)!” Sherlock rounded the corner and narrowed his eyes. “Where’s my head?”

            I pulled the blanket tighter, the cold seeping in. “On your shoulders.” John laughed and I smiled. Sherlock, however, was less than amused. His eyes narrowed and I shrugged. “What? Ask a stupid question and get a stupid answer.”

            He studied me for a moment and then walked over to stand right in front of me. I strained my head to look up at him, giving him the most pleasant look I could muster. “Tell me where the head is.”

            “Nope.” I said, popping the ‘p’. He scowled- he hated when I did that.

            “Fine.” He quickly grabbed my blanket and stormed off with it. I gasped- it was freezing.

            “Sherlock!” I jumped up and ran after him. “Give me the blanket back!”

            “Tell me where the head is.” He held the blanket above his head, where no matter how high I jumped, I couldn’t reach it. After a few attempts, I gave up.

“Some detective you are. It’s in the mini fridge, stupid.” I huffed, crossing my arms. 

“We don’t have a mini fridge.”

Sherlock lowered the blanket and I gave a sly grin. “We do now.” I grabbed the blanket quickly and ran back to Sherlock’s chair, plopping myself down. “Don’t put your experiments in the big fridge again, or I’ll make you eat them!” I covered myself in the blanket and brought my knees to my chest, shivering.

            After a few moments of checking out the new fridge, Sherlock came back out into the living room. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He stopped, frowning. “You’re in my chair.”

            Tearing my gaze from the television, I looked down at the chair, then up at him. “Yes, I am.”

            “So move.”

            “I was here first.”

            “(Y/n), don’t be a child.”

            “Hey!” John piped up, looking up from his typing. “You’re both being children, and there is absolutely no need for your churlish behavior! Now shut up before I throw something.”

            “Fine.” Sherlock and I mumbled, crossing our arms and staring at each other. After a few moments, I sighed, giving in. I scooted over to the right side of the chair, leaving ample room for him to sit down, then patted the empty space. “C’mon, Sherly. Sharing is caring.”

            He sighed. “It’s Sherlock.” Nevertheless, he climbed onto the chair and sat down next to me. He copied my posture, crossing his arms and bringing his knees to his chest. We were angled a bit, so Sherlock took up most of the chair. It was a tight fit, but I didn’t mind. He was warm, and right now that was what I needed. I shivered against him. He looked down at me, suddenly concerned. “You’re cold.”

            “Mhm.” I said, still watching the television. They were about to announce the results. I felt a weight around my shoulder, and flinched a little, not expecting the touch. Sherlock froze when I flinched, but then continued to wrap the flap of his trench coat around me, leaving his arm around my shoulder. I looked at him with wide eyes, my (e/c) meeting his turquoise. Well, this is new.

            He gave a tight-lipped smile. “Sharing is caring.”

            I gave a hum of appreciation and tapped his nose. “I taught you well.”

            He snorted, amused by my actions. I smiled and rested my head on his chest. Since we were angled, he was in the perfect position to be my pillow. He stiffened at my touch, and I worried I had gone too far. Sherlock really wasn’t one for these kinds of things. But he relaxed after a few seconds, and I internally sighed in relief.

            For a moment, everything was perfect. I angled my head to look up at Sherlock, taking in the view from this angle. His perfectly chiseled cheekbones and mess of dark brown curls were particularly flattering from this angle. I sighed internally. Too bad he’s ‘married to his work’. I’d marry the hell out of that.... Okay, stop it, (Y/n).

            Suddenly, Sherlock’s face became furious, and I turned my face to the TV, wondering if I had missed something. Oh- the results.

            “No, no, no!” Sherlock yelled, hurting my ears a bit. He gestured towards the screen indignantly, frustrated with the results. “Of course he’s not the boy’s father! Look at the turn-ups on his jeans!” He brought his arm down with a flop, pouting.

            I chuckled. “Knew it was dangerous.”

            “Hmm?” He asked, a bit distracted.

            “Getting you into crap telly.”

            “Hmm.” He chuckled. “Not a patch on Connie Prince.” I rolled my eyes at the reference to our case a few days ago. Sherlock rested his head on the top of mine, presumably deciding he needed a pillow as well. I heard John shift and turn around in his chair to see what all the fuss had been about.

            There was a moment of silence. “OTP.” John whispered something almost inaudibly, so it was difficult to tell. I blushed, wondering if I had heard correctly, but remained silent.

            “Sorry, what?” Sherlock asked. Clearly, he hadn’t heard John over the noise of the television. Once he realized John was watching us, he quickly removed his head from mine, looking round to face John. I risked a glance- a light pink tinted his cheeks. I gave a small smirk of pride that no one saw.

            John cleared his throat. “I said, have you given Mycroft the memory stick yet?” I frowned- that definitely wasn’t what he said before.

            “Oh, yes. He was over the moon. Threatened me with a knighthood- again.”

            “You know, I’m still waiting.”

            “Hmm?”

            “For you to admit that a little knowledge of the solar system and you’d have cleared up the fake painting a lot quicker.”

            “Didn’t so you any good, did it?”

            “No.” John mumbled awkwardly. I rolled my eyes at the two of them, lifting my head off Sherlock’s shoulder.

            “Perhaps not, but John’s not the world’s only consulting detective.”

            Sherlock smiled at me, cocking his head to the side momentarily. “True.” I smiled back and shook my head, then allowed myself to look into his blue eyes for a moment longer. John closed the lid of his laptop, and the sound made me break my gaze. I looked behind me at John, who was standing and getting ready to leave. Sherlock returned his gaze to the TV.

            “I won’t be in for tea. I’m going to Sarah’s.” He slipped on his coat. “There’s still some of that risotto left in the fridge.”

            I gave him a small wave. “Kay, thanks John. See you tomorrow.” He turned to leave, so I turned around and rested my head on Sherlock’s shoulder again. I heard his footsteps stop.

            “Uh, milk. We need milk.”

            “I’ll get some.” Sherlock said, not looking away from the screen.

            Both John and I looked at Sherlock in disbelief. Yeah, right. “Really?”

            “Really.”

            “And some beans, then?”

            “Mm.” Sherlock was still focused on the TV.

            I rolled my eyes, knowing full well he wasn’t paying attention. “And a Lamborghini for me too, then?”

            “Mhm.” He gave a slight nod and I sighed. I turned to John.

            “I’ll get them.”

            John hesitated, but then shook his head and laughed. “Alright then, I’ll be going. Bye!”

            “Behave yourself!” I called after him.

            “I could say the same to you!” He wiggled his eyebrows and shut the door behind him. I chuckled. I turned back around to see Sherlock closing his laptop. Now that I thought about it, there was a distinct sound of typing a few moments ago. “What were you doing?”

            He looked disinterested. “Hmm? Oh. Just business.”

            I nodded, a bit suspicious. I narrowed my eyes, but he turned and gave me an innocent smile. I let out a long breath- he knew I couldn’t even attempt to be mad at him when he pulled the sweet face. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, then.”

            He moved his legs aside so I could stand up. “Where are you going?” He asked, genuinely confused, as I tossed the blanket onto John’s chair.

            “To pick up the milk and beans you promised John you’d get.”

            He frowned. “I never promised that.”

            I sighed. “Yeah, you did.”

            “Oh.” There was a moment of silence. “Why are you going now? It’s late.”

            I shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. Nothing to do here, really.” I gave the flat a once-over. “Suppose I’ll hit up one of the late-night stores.” Giving a satisfied nod, I went over to the coat rack and grabbed my trench coat, slipping it on.

            “You could just stay here.” He pouted. I smirked. Knew it. I had a sneaking suspicion that he was starting to like me. “Wait.” He said, shaking his head. “Never mind. You should go now.” Suddenly disinterested, he turned back to the television for the umpteenth time that night, as if nothing had happened. Now it was my turn to pout. Or... maybe not.

            Shrugging, I grabbed my bag and headed out of 221B. The air was cold and stinging. Ugh, I thought. If this is August weather, I don’t even want to know what the winter weather is like. I headed to the road, trying to get a cab as quickly as possible. As I stood by the road, I noticed someone in a suit several feet away- someone I recognized.

            “James?”

            He turned around, a shocked smile growing on his face. “(Y/n)! Hey!”

            I laughed and walked up to him. “What are you doing here?” I tucked my hands deeper into my pockets, trying to ward off the cold.

            “I gave you my number, (Y/n).” His sweet voice suddenly became malicious, and his face deadpanned. I swallowed in fear. “I thought you might call.”

            In one quick movement, he pulled a cloth out of his pocket and placed it over my mouth and nose. I struggled, trying to wriggle away, but he kept one arm wrapped firmly around my waist. I stared into the eyes of the man I thought I knew, filled with fear. I recognized the smell of chloroform- I was growing weaker by the moment.

            He gave a half smile terrifying enough to send the bravest of men running to their mothers. “Hush now.” He whispered. Then everything went black.

Chapter Text

(Sherlock’s POV)

            I walked through the doors leading to the indoor pool at exactly midnight, the heels of my shoes echoing off the tile. It was quiet- serene. The smell of chlorine was overwhelming. I walked slowly towards the shallow end of the pool, looking up. The viewing gallery was still dark. Squinting my eyes, I strained to see into it- but to no avail. I allowed my face to relax, reaching into my pocket and pulling out the missile plans. I hadn’t returned them like I had told John I had.

            “Brought you a little getting-to-know-you present. Oh, that’s what it’s all been for, hasn’t it? All your little puzzles; making me dance- all to distract me from this.” I spoke loudly to the empty room, knowing full well that my man in question was nearby. I turned in a slow circle, waiting for a response. When my back was to the pool, I heard a door about halfway down the hall open and close. I looked over my shoulder, still holding the stick. The blood drained from my face and my mouth hung open in shock.

            “Evening.” John’s voice rang throughout the room, echoing slightly. My hand began to lower slightly in shock. John was Moriarty? “This is a turn-up, isn’t it Sherlock?”

            “John...” My voice was soft and weak, and I hated it. “What the hell...” I had thought this man to be my friend until now. Had he just been playing his part this whole time? Stupid Sherlock. Stupid, stupid. You’re getting slow. Sentiment has blinded you.

            “Bet you never saw this coming.” John’s horrified face matched my own as he pulled back the big coat he was wearing to reveal a bomb strapped to his chest. I sucked in a breath, not sure if I was frightened or horrified. John wasn’t betraying me: Moriarty had captured him. But then again, there was a chance he could die now. A red laser danced over the bomb on his chest. They’re in the viewing gallery... I knew it. I began to fill with nothing but pure dread- something was very, very wrong.

            “What... would you like me... to make him say... next?” It was then that I saw the earpiece John was wearing- they must be relaying the words for him to say. One word off, and the sniper would shoot, blowing the both of us up. “Gottle o’ gear, gottle o’ gear... gottle o’ gear.”

            “Stop it.” I contained my fury, knowing it would do neither of us any good.

            “Nice touch, this: the pool where little Carl died. I stopped him...” John cringed, and I knew the next words were going to be unpleasant. “I can stop John Watson, too.” John glanced down at his chest, and I knew what Moriarty was saying. “Stop his heart. (Y/n) (L/n)’s, too.”

            For the first time in a long time, I was terrified. Truly, utterly terrified. I prayed that wherever (Y/n) was, she was safe. I gulped. She hadn’t come back from the store before I had left. I turned on the spot, trying to look everywhere at once. “Who are you?”

            I heard a door open from the far end of the pool and I immediately turned to face it, heart pounding. A man in a suit and tie walked through, tugging on the arm of a girl, dragging her along. I couldn’t see him properly- my view was obstructed by a column.

            “I gave you my number, Sherlock.” An Irish voice, soft and lilting, carried across the room to meet me. “I thought you might call.”

            As he rounded the corner, I got a better look at him. Sharply dressed, immaculate dark hair, murderous dark eyes. My eyes turned to his partner, and I inhaled sharply. “(Y/n)...” John’s eyes widened when he heard her name, but he couldn’t move in fear of getting shot. She looked awful.  All of the spark was gone from her eyes, leaving her looking lifeless and emotionless. She didn’t look physically harmed in any way. There were no lasers pointed at her. That was slightly relieving, but seeing Moriarty with his hand on her... I stiffened, angry.

            “Is that a British Army Browning L9A1 in your pocket...?” At Moriarty’s words. I reached into my suit pocket and pulled out the pistol. I had shed my trench coat before I left the flat. “...Or are you just happy to see me?”

            I raised the gun, keeping it steadily pointed at his chest. “Both.” He stopped walking, forcing (Y/n) to as well.

            Despite my gun, he looked back at me unafraid. “Jim Moriarty. Hi!” I tilted my head and got a closer look at him, eyes narrowed.  I said nothing, playing dumb- he seemed disappointed. “Jim? Jim from the hospital?” Jim began to walk towards the deep end again. (Y/n) stood there, unmoving. I brought up my other hand to support the gun. Jim turned to face me, biting his lip. “Of course, (Y/n) here knows me as James.” He walked up behind her and spoke softly into her ear. “We had a fun couple of dates, didn’t we, dear?” He tried to snake his arm around her waist.

            She clenched her jaw, refusing to look over at him. “Don’t touch me.” She hissed. I raised my eyebrows in surprise. So this was the mystery man she had been out with. I chuckled. She didn’t have feelings for him then, and she certainly won’t now. Why do you care, Sherlock? My internal monologue fought with itself.  I don’t know. Shut up, Sherlock. Focus.

            Jim tutted, feigning hurt. “Ouch.” He clutched his heart, then grinned a malicious smile. “Look at her eyes, Sherlock. So vacant. Hello?” He waved a hand in front of her face, but she still refused to move. He lowered his hand. “Emotionless. That’s how she copes, you know. She can detach herself from her emotions for as long as she needs to. She could kill a man right now and not even blink. Makes her the perfect partner, wouldn’t you say? I might just have to keep her.”

            I let out a low growl, tightening my grip on the pistol. “I won’t let that happen.” I looked (Y/n) in the eyes, hoping for something. Anything. Her eyes flickered towards me and she gave a small smile, letting me know she was okay. I let out a quiet breath of relief.

Jim chuckled. He had turned around, leaving (Y/n) behind again, and made his way to the corner of the pool. “I’ve given you a glimpse, Sherlock. Just a teensy glimpse of what I’ve got going out there in the big bad world. I’m a specialist, you see.” He gasped, as if he had just noticed a connection, but it was obviously faked. “Like you!”

            “Consulting criminal.” I said softly. “Brilliant.”

            Our conversation continued, both of us on edge, going back and forth. I chose my words carefully, fearful that a wrong word or action on my part could kill John or (Y/n). I was determined not to let that happen, no matter the cost. Eventually, I had had enough of our banter. I took one hand off the pistol and grabbed the memory stick, holding it out. “Take it.”

            “Huh? Oh! That!” He strolled past John and (Y/n) and reach for the flash drive, grinning like a schoolboy. He brought it up to his mouth and kissed it. You have what you want... let us go. “Boring!” I looked up in shock when I heard him sing the word. “I could have got those anywhere.” With that, he threw the drive into the pool nonchalantly, no doubt destroying them. I remained unnerved, standing as still as I could.

            With a sudden start, John turned and threw himself onto Moriarty’s back, wrapping one arm around his neck and another around his chest. I took a step back in surprise. “Sherlock, run!” He yelled. I didn’t- rather, I stood there in shock, my face matching (Y/n)’s. I looked up anxiously, wondering what the sniper would do.

            “Good!” Jim laughed. “Very good!”

            “If your sniper pulls that trigger, Mr. Moriarty, we both go up.” John whispered savagely.

            Jim continued calmly. “Isn’t he sweet? I can see why you like having him around. But people do get so sentimental about their pets.” John grimaced angrily and tightened his hold on Jim. “They’re so touchingly loyal. But... oops! You’ve rather shown your hand there, Doctor Watson.”

            He chuckled, and I cocked my head in confusion. But then I saw it- a red beam coming down from the viewing area, no doubt pointed straight at my forehead. I locked eyes with John and shook my head slightly. John released his grip, putting his hands up in surrender.

            Moriarty straightened his jacket, gesturing at it. “Westwood!” He scoffed indignantly. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes- this was no time to complain about his designer suit. Although, when one is a raging psychopath, there is time for little else, I suppose.

            “James, stop this.” (Y/n) spoke for the first time.

            Jim turned around in surprise. “Ah, the lady speaks!”

She stiffened under his gaze. “Let them go.” She pleaded softly.

            Jim looked her up and down. “Hmm.” Ignoring her request, he turned back to me. “D’you know what happens if you don’t leave me alone, Sherlock, to you?”

            “Oh, let me guess.” I said, feigning boredom. “I get killed.”

            “Kill you?” He grimaced. “No, don’t be obvious.” His eyes shifted back and forth quickly, as if thinking: Man, I hope no one else saw Sherlock being so obvious. The thought almost made me chuckle. “I mean, I’m gonna kill you anyway someday. I don’t want to rush it, though. I’m saving it up for something special. No-no-no-no-no. If you don’t stop prying, I’ll burn you.” His eyes ran up and down my body once, and his voice became suddenly vicious. “I’ll burn the heart out of you.” He practically snarled his words, but by the end of his sentence, he looked almost sorry. Regretful, even.

            I froze. (Y/n)’s voice rang in my ears as I remembered what she had said to me a few days ago. You’re a cruel and heartless man, Sherlock Holmes. When I managed to speak, my voice was soft. “I’ve been reliably informed I don’t have one.” I risked a glance at (Y/n) – she was looking at the ground, refusing to meet my gaze.

            Jim followed my gaze to her, then looked back at me with a knowing smile. “But we both know that’s not quite true.” I blinked involuntarily, and Moriarty knew he had won. He pulled out a pen and started writing something on his hand. I didn’t bother asking what it was. “Well, I’d better be off.” He turned, but I kept my pistol steady in case I needed to use it. He walked straight past John, still writing on his hand. All of us stood still as statues.

            As he walked by (Y/n), his pace slowed. What is he up to? Quick as lightning, he placed the hand with the writing on her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. All of us stiffened in disgust, including (Y/n). My chest blazed as if it was on fire, and I resisted the urge to pull the trigger right then and there. After a moment, I realized she wasn’t pulling away- she was melting into it. Oh my God... she’s enjoying it... She continued to fall. Wait, no she’s not... she’s passing out... Christ, he’s done something to her.

            Moriarty pulled away, grinning, and caught (Y/n) in his arms. She hung there limply, unconscious, but breathing. My anger boiled over, clouding my judgement and messing with my head. There was writing on her neck now, but I couldn’t make it out from here. James Moriarty, if you touch her one more time, I swear to God I will murder you.

            John could tell I was getting angry and knew I was about to do something irrational. “Sherlock...” He mumbled in a warning.

            Jim glowed with pride. “Lovely girl, isn’t she? I’ll show you she’s mine, Sherlock.” He grinned, and then proceeded to throw her unconscious body into the deep end of the pool.

            “(Y/N)!” John and I shouted in unison, both heading for the pool.

            “Stop!” Moriarty called out, and we both froze. “One more step and John Watson dies.” My head whipped back and forth between the pool and Moriarty in frustration. She didn’t have long- I would have to talk my way out of this quickly.

            “Let me save her.” My voice was barely a whisper. She was sinking slowly, and my heart felt like someone had taken a knife to it. Come on...

            “Hmm.” Moriarty hummed in amusement and pretended to consider my offer. “No.”

            “Let me save her!” I took a half step forward, but moved back quickly. My breathing became rapid and I panicked- I couldn’t choose between her and John.

            “Why?”

            “LET ME SAVE HER!” I demanded. Tears rolled down my face, shocking not only myself but John as well. Moriarty cocked an eyebrow expectantly. Clicking on the safety, I dropped my gun, letting it clatter to the floor, and raised my hands in surrender. “Please.” My voice quivered, and I mentally chided myself for being so weak.

            He looked me up and down, then turned on his heels and walked away. “She’ll be your downfall, Sherlock Holmes.” I took this as my cue. Stripping off my suit jacket, I dove in after (Y/n).

            I resurfaced, holding onto her tightly. By the time I had gotten to her, John had stripped off the bomb vest and skidded it halfway down the hall. I passed her to him, and he hauled her out of the pool and immediately began performing CPR. I clambered out of the pool frantically, rushing to her side. Tears were still running down my face, and water dripped off my clothes. “Come on, (Y/n). Don’t... be... dead.”

            John was going to give her mouth-to-mouth, but as it turned out, he didn’t have to. She woke up, sputtering and coughing up water. We stepped back for a moment so she could get everything out of her system. When she was done, she rolled onto her back, breathing heavily. I grinned with delight- her eyes had their usual spark in them again.

            Despite having just drowned, she laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. “Hello, boys.” She sat up, propping herself up with one arm.

            “Good to have you back.” John said fondly, clapping his hand on her shoulder. I said nothing, still soaking in the fact (no pun intended) that she was alive.

            She spoke for me. “Come here, you big idiot.” With that, she pulled me into a hug, ignoring the fact that I was dripping wet. Although, she was as well, I supposed it didn’t matter. I wrapped my arms around her tightly, wanting to keep her there and never let go. As long as she was here, she was mine- not Moriarty’s. I’m never letting her out of my sight again. “Thank you.” She whispered.

            I hadn’t registered the tears of joy that were sliding down my face until now. I held her gently, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “I’m glad you’re okay.” I felt her cheeks grow warmer. John, who had walked away a few moments prior, returned with my suit jacket.

            “Here.” He said, holding it out to (Y/n). She was shivering, her wet clothes sticking to her body. I couldn’t help but enjoy the view for a moment before chiding myself once again. Stop it- sentiment will do nothing but distract you.

            “Thanks.” She said, smiling sweetly at John. “For everything.” She put on the jacket over her t-shirt.

            He nodded. “Now,” he said. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

            We practically ran out of the pool and into the cold night air. I went in front, with (Y/n) and John following closely behind. A few steps out the door, out of nowhere, John froze in place. “Sherlock...” He said, fear riddling his voice.

            I whirled around, worried there were more snipers. “What?” John was staring intensely at (Y/n)’s neck, and she looked absolutely terrified. I trotted over and looked to see what the problem was. My face went pale and my blood went cold at the sight. How could I have missed it before? There, pressed on her neck in impermeable ink, was the word BURNED.

            Moriarty was right. He had found a way to burn me.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            The next several weeks went by quietly. Mycroft dropped in to check up on us on Sundays, but other than that, there was almost no movement in or out of the flat. John was in and out to Sarah’s or his job, while I went out for a walk every evening. It had become my stress-reliever; all thoughts of Moriarty or the still visible word on my neck were gone once the cool air hit my face. It was doing wonders physically, too. I felt better, physically and mentally. Like I could take on anybody- Moriarty included.

            Sherlock never left the flat, spending most of his days on the sofa in his mind palace. He would only sleep or eat every couple of days, and that worried me. He needed food just like every other normal human being. Not that Sherlock could be defined as normal. Occasionally, Mrs. Hudson would pop in with tea and biscuits. Sometimes Sherlock ate them, but mostly he didn’t. He just laid there on the sofa. Since that was supposed to be my bed, I ended up stealing his most nights. Might as well, he wasn’t paying attention enough to care.

            It was all so strange. The three of us hardly said a word to one another- not out of anger or contempt, but simply because none of us could find the words to say. The silence made me want to scream. I had gotten myself a job, finally. Lestrade had graciously offered me a paid position as consulting detective. Basically, I followed Sherlock around and helped out with the cases. Nothing new, but now I was getting paid for it. However, this last week had held no new cases for our little trio. Considering this, it was a miracle that Sherlock hadn't attacked the wall yet.

            So with all the silence and inactivity, you can imagine my surprise when I came home from a walk one evening to find the flat bustling with life. Mycroft and Sherlock were seated in the living room, chatting away about something or another. John was busy in the kitchen making coffee for everyone. I took a deep breath in. Mm... Smells just like a coffee shop.

            “Smells great, John! Sherly, I’m home!” I sang out as I closed the door softly behind me. I practically bounced over to his chair and ruffled his hair, embarrassing him in front of his brother.

            Mycroft chuckled. “Sherly?”

            “Shut up.” Sherlock mumbled, blushing.

            I headed over to the bathroom to change out of my athletic wear, giving Mycroft a pat on the shoulder on the way out of the living room. “Good to see you, too, Mikey.”

            Mycroft groaned. “Oh, brilliant. Are you going to call me that all the time, now?”

            I stopped in the doorway of the bathroom. “Oh, sorry. Does it really bother you that much?” I made myself sound genuinely concerned.

            Mycroft let out a small sigh of relief, thinking I was going to drop the nickname. “Yes.”

           "Then yes, I will." Mycroft scowled and I gave a sly grin, locking the door behind me. Not wanting to have to steal one of the boy's rooms every day to change, I had decided to keep all my bags stowed under the sink in the bathroom. I changed out of my clothes into ripped, acid wash skinny jeans and a gray tee. I quickly took my hair out of its ponytail and shook it out, then replaced my sneaks with comfy socks and headed back out to the living room.

          “Ah, (Y/n). Excellent, now we can begin.” Mycroft’s voice carried from the living room, where he was still seated in John’s chair. John sat on the coffee table nearby. I headed over to join him, grabbing a cup of coffee from the kitchen first. Sherlock was grinning, trying not to bounce out of his chair.

            “What is it?” I asked, sipping my drink. It wasn’t often Mycroft stopped by, so I figured it must be something important.

            “We’ve got a case!” Sherlock practically yelled, grinning. John smiled, too.

            I rolled my eyes, restraining myself from joining in on the excess smiling. “Finally. I was dying of boredom.”

            John knew I really was excited, but Sherlock didn’t seem to pick up on it. With an indignant huff, he leaned back in his chair.

            Mycroft watched the whole spectacle with observant eyes. He gave a hum of amusement, then shook his head and reached for a manila folder lying on the side table. He passed it to Sherlock, who took it eagerly and began rifling through the contents. “Alexander Wellington.” Mycroft began. I stood and walked over to look over Sherlock’s shoulder at the files. “CEO of Franco Enterprises. We believe he may be in league with a large scale criminal network threatening to destroy London.”

            Sherlock stopped rifling when he came to a picture of Alexander, trying to memorize it. I sucked in a breath and raised my eyebrows. “Whoa.” I had been expecting an older guy, but he was actually pretty young. Tall, too, with curly brown hair and mischievous brown eyes. He looked pretty good in a suit if you asked me, but not as striking as Sherlock.

            Sherlock, though, didn’t seem to know that, and shot me an annoyed look. “He’s not that handsome.”

            “Aw, is someone jealous?” I chuckled, leaning down and giving him a peck on the cheek.

            “No.” He said unconvincingly, rolling his eyes. His face was tinted pink.

            I grinned, knowing I had won. “Mhm.”

            Mycroft cleared his throat awkwardly. “If I may continue...”

            “Good God.” John piped up, slightly disgusted. “Get a room, you two.”

            Sherlock opened his mouth to say something, but I cut him off, clearing my throat loudly. “So! What do you want us to do about it, Mycroft?”

            Sherlock shut his mouth, and Mycroft turned his attention back to the case.

            “Right. Yes.” Mycroft shuffled through his own copy of the files. “There’s to be a party at the Dorchester Hotel ballroom tomorrow night.” He glanced up, looking at each of us in turn. “You’ll all need to attend.”

            “So... a ball?” John asked, a bit skeptical. “You want us to go to a ball?”

            Mycroft took a sip of his coffee. “Exactly.”

            I shrugged. “Well that’s a new one.”

            “Indeed. You’ll also need to be present at the restaurant he has a reservation at earlier that evening. Follow him around, talk to him, see if he says anything about the network. It is of utmost importance that we get every piece of information we can- London depends on it. Understand?”

            We all nodded solemnly, understanding the importance of the situation. “Understood.” We said in unison.

            “Excellent. I’ve already informed Lestrade- his men as well as mine will be listening in and watching.” Mycroft stood slowly, straightening his suit jacket. “But we’ll work out all the details tomorrow. For today, look over the files. I’ll be back with Lestrade tomorrow afternoon.” He nodded in farewell. “Until then.”

            “Bye, Mycroft.”

            “Yeah, see you.” John said, collecting Mycroft’s empty cup. With that, Mycroft picked up his umbrella from by the door and headed out, the door closing softly behind him. We all sat still for a moment, unmoving.

            “Well.” I broke the silence. “That’s a new one.”

            With that, Sherlock took in a long breath and stood up excitedly. “Isn’t it?” He clapped his hands together, already forming a plan. “Oh, this is going to be exciting.”

            John chuckled. “Looking forward to it, are you?”

            “I do love dancing.” He said nonchalantly.

            I sighed and plopped down in John’s chair. “Well, I don’t know about John, but I’m a terrible dancer. You’ll need to find a convincing dance partner once we’re there.”

            “Hmm.” Sherlock was now staring out the window, hands clasped behind his back. “We can fix that.”

            “We?” John asked. “You’re the dance expert, Sherlock, not me.”

            Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Technicalities. They can be so annoying sometimes.” He turned to face John. “I’ll teach her how to dance.”

            “Better.”

            I rolled my eyes and huffed in a joking manner. “Alright then, boys. No need to start fighting over me.” I stood, heading to the door and grabbing my coat. John headed to the kitchen, and I knew he was looking for food. “We’ve got nothing in, I might as well go pick something up. Anyone else want some fries? I’m absolutely dying for some.” I swung on the trench coat, noticing how it complimented my outfit.

            “Yeah, sounds good.” John said, heading up to his room.

            “Chips.” Sherlock said, annoyed. He walked over slowly, hands stuffed in his pockets. “They’re called chips, not fries.”

            I hummed in amusement, rustling around in my pockets for my black gloves. “I’ll chip your face.” I said as I slipped them on, giving him a warning look.

            He shook his head and tutted, grabbing my right hand. He removed the glove, turning my hand over and pretending to study it carefully. “With what?”

            I balled my other fist and prepared to swing it. Not hard, just a fake punch. “My fist of freedom.” I swung my arm, but he caught it easily, giving me a fake look of disappointment.

            “Whatever you say, Miss America.” I sighed and tried to remove my hands, but he held fast to them. After a moment, I realized he wasn’t planning on letting go. I stared into his blue eyes expectantly, eyebrows raised, waiting for him to release his grip.

            Never breaking my gaze, he released my gloved hand. Taking my other glove, he slowly replaced it and then dropped that hand as well. “Chips sound lovely.” He murmured in a voice much lower than usual. He took a step forward. Surprised by his closeness, I took a step backwards and found my back pressed against the wall. He reached for something behind my head, leaning in while he reached. I felt my cheeks grow pink. His face was barely a centimeter from my own. He gave a sly grin. “Mind if I join you?”

            I opened my mouth, and nothing came out the first time. I tried again. “U-um. Yeah. I mean... n-no. No, not at all. That’s fine.” I barely whispered. Dang it, (Y/n), what the hell was that?

            He straightened up, smiling. “Excellent.” He pulled his coat to him, swiftly putting it on. Oh, so that’s what he was reaching for...

            I turned away and opened the door, embarrassed. I looked over my shoulder to see Sherlock standing there, studying me instead of following. “Coming?” I asked, some confidence returning.

            After a few more seconds of silence, he answered. “Coming.” With that, we headed out of the flat and down the stairs in search of dinner.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            I’m no Disney Princess. When I wake up in the mornings, no chirping birds serenade my ears with sweet melodies as I slowly stretch and comb my fingers through my perfect (h/c) hair. No. Instead, I woke up the next morning with a stiff back, groaning.

            With a new case to focus on, Sherlock wasn’t spending his days moping about in his mind palace. This also meant that he was now using his bed again. Unfortunately, that left me stuck on the uncomfortable sofa once again.

            I sighed, sitting up and attempting to tame my wild hair with my fingers. After a few moments of trying to no avail, I gave up. I huffed, grabbing my phone to check the time.

            I raised my eyebrows in surprise. 7:30 a.m.? Well, aren’t I the early bird this morning. John was probably gone already, he had said something about going shopping really early so we could do the case this afternoon. Guess it’s just me and Sherlock. I stood slowly, stretching my stiff muscles. Knowing Sherlock wasn’t a morning person, I knew he wouldn’t be up until at least nine. Might as well take advantage of the personal time.

            I made my way to the bathroom, allowing myself an extra-long time in the hot shower. It was just what I needed- my muscles were totally relaxed by the time I stepped out. Not planning to go anywhere until this evening, I changed into my around-the-flat clothes. Nothing fancy, just black leggings and a white crop-top. I put my wet hair up in a messy bun and headed out into the kitchen.

            The flat was silent; the only noise was the quiet hum of the air conditioning. I sat at the kitchen table for a few moments, taking it in. It wasn’t often you got peace and quiet around here. But once you did, it was maddening. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I trotted over to where my iPod was plugged in on the kitchen counter. Scrolling through my playlists, I selected my Elvis one. Immediately, the tune of Blue Suede Shoes filled the kitchen, cutting through the silence.

            I pulled out a pan and the last carton of eggs, ready to cook breakfast. Soon, the stovetop was on, the pan was sizzling, and the eggs were cooking. I stood there waiting for the eggs to finish, swaying to the music and tapping my foot.

            A pair of cold arms wrapped around my waist. I gave a soft gasp, startled, before I realized the only person it could be. I relaxed, melting into Sherlock’s chest as he rested his chin on top of my head. “Morning.” His morning voice was low and raspy, and it sent shivers down my spine. Dang, that’s sexy.

            “Morning.” I said softly. We stood silently for a moment, enjoying the music and the feel of each other’s company. I thought about the Sherlock I had met that horrible night in front of my old flat complex- rude, uncaring, cold, harsh. Then I thought about the Sherlock I knew now- still the same to everyone else, I supposed. But when he was with me or John, he was totally different. He was kinder, sweeter. Like he was right now. I could never have imagined Sherlock acting this way when I met him nearly two months ago. Yet here he was, in the kitchen with me, holding me by the waist and swaying with me in time to the music. I chuckled softly to myself. Funny how wrong first impressions can be.

            “What’s so funny?”

            I grinned, shifting and turning around so I was facing him. He kept his arms wrapped around me. I put my arms around his waist, drawing him in for a hug. “Nothing.” I rested my head on his chest. “Want some eggs?” I tilted my chin to look up at him. His blue eyes were sparkling with life, even though it was early in the morning. His hair, however, was a mess. I resisted the urge to ruffle the curls. It’s kinda cute, though.

            “Sure.” I nodded and let go of him, turning around and taking my eggs off the stove- they were done. I scraped them out of the pan and onto a plate. I heard the table being pushed to the wall of the kitchen, leaving the center of the kitchen wide open. What is he doing? I shook off the thought- there was no use questioning Sherlock’s strange behaviors.

            “How do you like them?”

            “Benedict.”

            “Mkay.” I went to grab an egg, but he stopped me by taking my hand.

            “Not just yet.”

            I turned to face him, confused. “Why?” Still keeping a hold of my hand, he walked backwards to my iPod, opening it and scrolling through the Elvis playlist.

            “Because,” he said, selecting a song. “You have to learn to dance.” That explains the table.

            The sound of the music faded as the next song loaded. Which one did he choose? “Are you any good, yourself?”

            He gave a cocky half smile. “The best.” He said playfully.

            I chuckled, lightly placing a hand on his shoulder as he took my right hand into his left. “Alright then.” He rested his right hand on my shoulder blade- completing the setup for a waltz. I might not know how to waltz, but I know one when I see one. “Sweep me off my feet with your dancing skills.” I raised an eyebrow in a joking manner.

            He grinned and moved in closer until we were only a few inches apart. “With pleasure.” A soft melody of eighth notes began to play, and I recognized the tune immediately- Can’t Help Falling in Love. Appropriate, I supposed. It had a three-four feel, which was perfect for a waltz. Nevertheless, I felt a blush spread across my cheeks. Nothing like dancing to your favorite song with someone you may or may not have a crush on. (I just haven’t quite decided if I want to like him, yet.) “A waltz is a counter-clockwise dance, okay?” His voice snapped me out of my thoughts.

            “Got it.”

            “Step back with your right, then out with your left.” His voice was soft yet commanding.

            Wise men say...

            I did exactly as he said and followed his lead- he really was a surprisingly graceful dancer. I kept my hand firmly clasped in his, as his support was the only thing keeping me from tripping and falling over my own feet. When it comes to dancing, I consider myself a hopeless case.

            Only fools rush in...

            “Now bring your feet together...” I brought my right foot in. He looked down to see if I was doing it correctly, then smiled in approval.

            But I can’t help falling in love with you.

            “Good. Now forward with your left... Excellent... now the same out-together step...”

            Shall I stay?

            I grinned. “Oh my God, I’m doing it.”

            Would it be a sin?

            He returned the smile. “Stay on your toes... There. Now follow my lead.”

            If I can’t help falling in love with you?

            Using the same steps, I followed his lead around the kitchen, twirling counter-clockwise in beautiful patterns.

            Like a river flows...

            “I’m going to take you for a six-count spin, okay?”

            Surely to the sea...

            “I drop my hand, you step backwards...” I did my best to follow his directions. I let him guide me, raising my arm so I could spin.

            Darling, so it goes...

            “And now a three-step spin... and back into position.” He grinned in approval, eyes twinkling. “Perfect.”

            Some things are meant to be.

            We continued our waltz pattern, and he moved in closer with every step.

            Take my hand...

            I held my breath. His face was leaned down so our noses practically touched. Slowly but surely, he moved his right hand from my back to my waist, hitting exposed skin because I was wearing a crop top. I knew I was blushing, but there was nothing I could do about it. My skin was on fire, his touch leaving sparks in its wake.

            Take my whole life, too...

            When he spoke, his voice was barely a whisper, but it was enough to make my heart skip a beat. That’s it- I’m whipped as hell. “I’m going to dip you- don’t be alarmed.” Keeping one hand firmly holding mine, he used his other hand to hold the small of my back as he slowly dipped me towards the ground.

            For I can’t help...

            We stayed like that for a moment, suspended in time. He stared at me intensely, taking in everything. I didn’t look away from his eyes, worried I might get distracted. Not that it helped- his eyes were just as distracting as the rest of him.

            Falling in love...

            He looked me straight in the eyes as he slowly lifted me out of the dip. When we were standing straight, we didn’t continue dancing. Instead, we kept our hold on one another, the tension rising. Hang on, are his pupils dilating? They definitely were.

            With... you...

            As the last eighth notes signaled the end of the song, we simply stood there, gazing into one another’s eyes, at a loss for words. Sherlock opened and closed his mouth a few times, seemingly gathering the courage to say something.  I waited anxiously, lips parted slightly in anticipation.

            “(Y/n)...” He started.

            “Sorry, am I interrupting something?” John’s voice cut Sherlock’s off, and we both whipped our heads around to see him standing in the entrance to the kitchen, smirking. I felt my face go pink- again. I risked a glance at Sherlock- his face was a shade darker as well.

            “Uh... no.” I said, awkwardly pulling away from Sherlock’s hold. He followed suit, releasing me and clasping his hands behind his back.

            “Mhm. Morning, you two.” John sang, trying not to laugh. “So, uh, how’s her dancing coming, Sherlock?” He quickly changed the subject, setting down the grocery bags on the table, which was still pushed up against the wall.

            Sherlock cleared his throat awkwardly, heading out into the living room. He had shed his speechless demeanor and was back to his old self. “For someone who says she can’t dance, she’s a natural.” He turned and shot a smile in my direction, which I returned.

            John turned to me with an incredulous look. “Is she, now?”

            I tilted my head up, placed my hands on my hips, and looked down my nose at John. “I’ll have you know,” I scoffed playfully, “that I’m simply the best around.”

            John rolled his eyes and I grinned. “Yeah, okay there, (Y/n).”

            I laughed, trying to shake off some of the tension from earlier. Wow, that was awkward. I wonder what Sherlock was going to say...? I smiled to myself as I replayed the last few minute’s events in my head.

            Seeing that John was busy putting away groceries, I headed out into the living room to join Sherlock. He was sitting in his chair, his eyes intensely following my every move. I plopped down in John’s chair and leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees. After a moment of silent staring, I jumped straight into it. No need to beat around the bush. “So. What were you going to say earlier?”

            He scrunched his brow in confusion. “What do you mean?”

            “You were going to say something... before John walked in.”

            “Oh, that.” Sherlock relaxed a little, leaning back in his chair and making full use of the armrests. I copied his relaxed stance, glad that any tension had dissipated. He looked me dead in the eyes, and answered my question nonchalantly. “Date me.”

            My mouth hung open for a second. “I- u-um... what?” He continued to sit there, perfectly relaxed, watching my reaction with mild interest.

            “For the case.”

            I let out a long breath and looked down. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or disappointed- either way, it stopped me from having to make up my mind on that matter. “Oh. Um, yeah. Okay.” I muttered silent curses under my breath. Of course he wasn’t being serious, you idiot. Why would he ever take an interest in you? I shook away the thoughts, I didn’t want Sherlock catching on to how I felt.

            I finally gathered the courage to look back up at Sherlock, who was grinning from ear to ear. When he saw me looking, he dropped the smile and cleared his throat. “Um, excellent. I’ll let Mycroft know you agreed to his plan right away.”

            I nodded, but inwardly frowned. Something about that sentence wasn’t quite right- I had a sneaking suspicion that it hadn’t been Mycroft’s plan. I shrugged. It’s whatever. After he finished typing something into his phone, Sherlock glanced down at his watch. Thinking for a moment, he stood and walked purposefully over to me.

            I quirked an eyebrow in surprise when he extended a hand for me. “Yes?” I inquired, accepting the gesture and allowing him to help me out of the chair. Several emotions swirled in his eyes, moving so quickly that I couldn’t make any of them out. I sighed inwardly. He was a tough case to crack, this one. No pun intended. There was silence between us for a moment- the only sound to be heard in the flat was the shuffling of bags in the kitchen.

            “You were up early this morning, and our case is going to last pretty late tonight. You should rest while you can.”

            I was a little taken aback by his words. This was a little abnormal for Sherlock, being sensitive to my well-being and all. He usually only did that when I was seriously injured or on the brink of death. “But Mycroft is coming...”

            “He won’t be here until this afternoon.” He cut me off abruptly. “I can wake you once he gets here.”

            Now that I thought about it, I was a little tired. Recently, I hadn’t been sleeping as well as I usually did- and that’s even considering my regular insomniac sleeping patterns. I supposed a few hours of rest wouldn’t kill me. I nodded, making up my mind. “Okay, I’ll sleep.” I took a step towards the sofa, but Sherlock held out his arm in front of me to stop me.

            “My bedroom’s that way- I know you don’t like the sofa.” He added upon seeing my confused face.

            I sized him for a fraction of a second, trying to figure out if he was serious or not. He was. I flashed him a genuine smile. “Thanks, Curly.” I reached up and ruffled his curls playfully- something I’d been wanting to do since his arrival in the kitchen this morning. He rolled his eyes at the new nickname and placed a hand on the small of my back, pushing me in the direction of the bedroom.

            “Oh, go take a nap or something, (Y/n).”

            I gave him a fake pout, but then laughed softly. "Fine. Someone better eat those eggs." With that, I turned and made my way through the kitchen, passing John, who was wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. I gave him a swift jab in the side with my elbow before heading down the hallway and into Sherlock’s bedroom.

            Curling up under the covers, I let my thoughts consume me for a few minutes. What the hell even was this morning? I replayed the dance over and over in my head before clearing my mind and drifting off to sleep.  

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “Psst...” I opened my eyes slowly, blinking to adjust to the light. “(Y/n).”

            “Yep, I’m up, I’m up.”

            “Mycroft’s assistants just arrived- they’re in the living room setting up.”

            My brow furrowed in confusion. Now that everything had come into focus, I could see Sherlock standing by the bed. He still wasn’t wearing his suit jacket, so he was just in a black button-up and suit pants. “Setting up what?”

            He gave a half-smile, not wanting to give anything away. “You’ll see.”

            I quirked an eyebrow and gave him a once-over. He was smiling innocently. “Hmm.” I drew in a long breath. “Alright, coming.” He waited patiently as I climbed (less than gracefully) out of the bed. As he followed me closely out of the bedroom, I tried desperately to make my hair look presentable. Surprisingly, it worked, and by the time I rounded the corner into the living room, I didn’t look like a hot mess.

            “Afternoon, John.” I beamed at him, as he was the first person I saw. “What’s going...? Whoa.” I stopped midsentence when I saw the rest of the people in the living room. Four of them, total. Who were these people?

            A professionally dressed woman with brown hair stepped forward and extended her hand for me to shake. From the way she carried herself, it was easy to tell that she was in charge here. “Anthea.” She introduced as I shook her hand.

            Liar, I easily deduced. “That’s not your name.”

            “I know.” I chuckled at her casualness- probably someone who worked for Mycroft. She turned, gesturing to the other three newcomers in the flat I hadn’t recognized. She gestured first to the one on the far left, a tall, lanky man with blonde hair and hazel eyes. “This is Claude- he’ll be doing hair for the gentlemen.” Claude nodded curtly. She then gestured to the other two, clearly twins of Asian descent. They were petite, with soft features. “And this is Mai and Lin- they’ll be your hair and makeup for tonight.” They smiled shyly and waved.

            I raised my eyebrows in surprise. I definitely hadn’t been expecting a prep team at my disposal- I supposed this was going to be one hell of a ball. Just exactly how high-scale was the Dorchester Hotel? I really should have looked it up.

            “Let’s move on to your outfits, then, shall we?” Anthea’s voice pulled me out of my thoughts. I nodded, following Anthea over to the sofa, where three outfits were laid out. John and Sherlock followed closely behind. I gasped almost inaudibly in surprise. Oh my God. Definitely should have looked up the hotel. Draped on the sofa, in between Sherlock and John’s tuxedos, was the most stunning and elegant dress I had ever laid eyes upon. “You approve, I hope?”

            “Yeah.” I said softly, still a tad shocked. The dress was midnight blue and floor length. The top was low-cut and sleeveless, the folds crisscrossing in the front. From what I could tell, it would hug my figure until about my knees, and then fan out in mermaid style. The heels were the same shade of blue. I examined the diamond necklace and matching earrings. Long story short, I was going to look breathtakingly gorgeous. I didn’t even get a chance to look properly at the boys’ tuxedos before I was hurriedly ushered into Sherlock’s room once more, so the twins could work their wonders.

(Time skip)

            After about an hour, I was basking in the glory that was me. The dress was stunning, and my makeup and hair had been styled to perfection. Quite frankly, I don’t think I’d ever looked this good in my life. I must have praised the twins a hundred times before there was a knock on the door.

            “(Y/n)?” Sherlock called out. “(Y/n), Mycroft and Lestrade are here- they have some things to go over with us before we can leave.”

            I smoothed down my dress. “Okay.” I called out and hurried to the door, unlocking and opening it. I froze when I saw Sherlock. “Whoa.” I allowed myself a second to take it all in. I should be used to seeing him dress formally by now- he does it every day. But somehow, today was different. He looked absolutely amazing, sporting what was clearly a designer tuxedo. Every piece was black from his oxfords, to his cummerbund, to his bowtie- save the white tuxedo shirt (and even that had black buttons). It all made his pocket handkerchief stand out- it was the same midnight blue as my dress. I quirked an eyebrow. So we’re all matching, then? Squad goals. I moved my gaze to his hair, which had been thoroughly combed and styled so that his curls looked even more perfect than normal.

            “Enjoying the view, are we?” Sherlock joked, snapping me out of my thoughts. I blushed and slapped him on the shoulder playfully.

            “Oh, shut up.”

            He chuckled and moved aside, gesturing for me to walk ahead of him. As I passed, he leaned in and whispered in his baritone voice. “You look stunning.” I smiled at the ground. With that, he fell into step beside me, his hand on my lower back. My nerves tingled. In the few short seconds it took to get to the living room, several thoughts flashed through my head. The most prominent one was that Sherlock and I actually could pass for a real couple- we sure looked the part. Our facial features, though contrasting, complimented each other in ways I couldn’t explain. You could just look at us and think... they just go together, you know? I shook my head, dismissing the thought. Maybe it was just me.

            We rounded the corner to meet everyone else, and Sherlock moved his hand to my waist. Lestrade and Mycroft were fiddling with earpieces, assumedly for the three of us. The prep trio stood talking to each other, and John was trying (and failing) to make conversation with Anthea. As soon as we walked in, all chatter ceased and the entire room looked on in awe. Everyone had stupid grins on their faces, and I was momentarily worried. Oh God, what is it? What happened?

            “Wow.” John said breathily. “(Y/n), you look amazing.”

            I felt Sherlock pull me a little closer towards him, though I had no idea why. I blushed. “Thanks, John.” I surveyed his attire. Same shoes and suit as Sherlock’s, except his handkerchief was plain white instead of blue. Okay, maybe we’re not all matching... His hair had been parted to the side and was gelled down, pretty much like Moriarty’s. No, stop it. Now’s not the time... Don’t think about him. “You look very handsome, yourself.” He smiled and nodded in thanks, and the room resumed its chatter once more, the trance broken.

            “Miss (L/n).” Mycroft said as he and Lestrade approached Sherlock and I. “You look wonderful.” His smile was genuine today, unlike the condescending ones he usually wore. Sherlock pulled me closer again, his grip tightening. Good grief, what’s his deal?

            I chose to ignore Sherlock, instead addressing the two gentlemen standing in front of me. “Evening Mycroft. Lestrade.” I nodded to each of them in turn, and they returned the gesture.

            “Evening to you as well, (Y/n).” Lestrade said as he pulled earpieces out of a small box he had been carrying. “Let’s get straight to it, then. John!” He called out for the third member of our trio, and he was at my side in seconds.

            “Ready.” He said, standing a little straighter, waiting for his orders. I resisted the urge to smile. Good old John, ever the soldier.

            Lestrade handed an earpiece to each of us in turn. Instead of traditional earpieces, they were small and round, almost button-like. I recognized them- they were meant to go behind the ear instead of in. This way, they were more discreet. “Put these on. We’ve got hidden cameras in the restaurant and hotel already. We can see what’s happening, but you’ll need these so we can communicate with you. They’ve got built in mics. Give it a press and you can stop sound from relaying to us, but we’ll always be able to talk to you. Another press and it allows us to hear again.” He eyed us all sternly. “Try not to press it too often, okay? We need to hear anything that could give us clues on Wellington’s network.”

            “Okay.” The three of us chorused in unison. Satisfied, Lestrade gestured to Mycroft, giving him the floor.

            “Right, then.” Mycroft said, pulling out two index cards from his suit pocket. “Your aliases. Do try to memorize them.”

            “We’re going undercover?” John asked, a tad surprised.

            “Naturally.” He extended the first card to John, and John studied it thoroughly. “Connor Murphy, CEO of Cumberbatch Incorporated. Status: Unmarried. You-”

            “Cumberbatch Incorporated? The hell kind of a name is that?” John interjected.

            Mycroft shot him an icy glare. “A convincing one.” John raised in hands in mock surrender, muttering to himself. “If I may continue...” John nodded and Mycroft gave an indignant huff before finishing his description of John’s alias. “You’re British, of course. 34 years old instead of 36, for tonight. You began working there when the company was founded in 2006. The company is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, in case you can’t do the math.” Mycroft shot another glare at John, apparently still salty about being interrupted. “The company works closely with the government. As far as anyone else is concerned, that is all you are allowed to divulge about the happenings of the business. The same goes for you two.”

            Sherlock and I nodded in understanding- this wasn’t going to be too hard. Mycroft handed the last card to Sherlock. Wait, do I not have one? After glancing at it for a second, Sherlock held the card in between us so we could both read it. I blushed when I realized why there was only one card between us.

            “Mr. and Mrs. Colin and Katherine O’Reilly. Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer of Cumberbatch Inc., respectively. Sherlock, you can keep your age- 30. (Y/n), for tonight, you’re 25.” Mycroft continued. John gave me a small nudge of approval in the side, and I gave him my best death glare. Instead of intimidating John, it just humored him. I huffed. Sherlock asked me to date him for the case, not marry him. As if reading my mind, Mycroft spoke up. “Originally, we were going to leave it at a simple relationship, but we decided this would be more convincing. Besides,” he added when he saw my face was still reluctant, “in terms of the case, it won’t mean anything different physically. You’re supposed to be in love and make it convincing either way.”

            “Fair enough.” I said simply, not trusting myself to say anything more.

            “Won’t take much acting, if you ask me.” John muttered. Lestrade and Mycroft watched our exchange with amused expressions.

            “Shut up.” I hissed, my cheeks growing pink.

Sherlock’s cheeks were growing a shade darker as well. He cleared his throat awkwardly, changing the subject. “Anything else we should know about...us?”

            “Ah, yes.” Mycroft followed Sherlock’s lead, bringing the subject back around where it was supposed to be. “(Y/n), or Katherine, rather- you’re still American, but you moved to England with your husband Colin after you married in March of 2010. The relationship is still new- less than two years, so keep that in mind when you’re acting.” I nodded, pretending I knew what that meant. Not sure how that last bit makes a difference... “Sherlock, Colin, you’re Irish, but you live in England. You’ll need to modify your accent.”

            Sherlock nodded, containing his excitement. “Not a problem.”

            Mycroft smirked. “Now, Sherlock, if you’ll follow me. About your request...” The two of them left with Lestrade to go talk about something in hushed tones at the edge of the room.

            “Well, well, well.” John chuckled. I turned to face him, putting on an air of apathy about the whole situation. “How does it feel to be Mrs. Holmes for the night?”

            I rolled my eyes. “It’s an act, John. And that’s Mrs. O’Reilly to you, Mr. Murphy.”

            John scoffed. “Yeah, as if the name makes a difference. He’s whipped, you know. I have a feeling he’s going to enjoy tonight even more than you are.”

            “Oh, stop it.” I blushed for the umpteenth time today. Curse my blushing... I’ll give it away. I risked a glance at John, who was smirking. Too late... Looking behind me, John gestured for me to turn around. I did, confused.

            I sucked in a breath when I realized how close Sherlock was. I remained silent, as did he. Not moving his gaze from my eyes, he gingerly lifted my left hand, holding it in his own. I opened my mouth to say something, but stopped as I felt the touch of cold metal on my finger. Looking down, startled, I watched as he slowly slid a beautiful diamond ring onto my ring finger.

            “Sherlock...” I whispered. “It’s gorgeous.” I lifted my gaze back to him once more. He was beaming.

            “Oh, you know.” He said nonchalantly, shrugging. “You have to look the part to play it.”

            “Where’s yours?” I inquired. He held his palm out to reveal a simple silver band, the same color as my ring. I reached out and lifted the ring gently out of his hand. Might as well- who knows if I’ll ever get the chance to do this again? “May I?” He gave a nod of approval.

            “Do I hear wedding bells? Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today...” John’s jokes were cut off as I gave him a swift kick to the knee without even looking at him. I chose to ignore the fact that the rest of the room was chuckling at John’s remark. “Ow!”

            “One more word out of you, John Watson, and I swear it will be your last.” I hissed, rather savagely. I assumed John’s silence was him complying with my demand. With a huff, I shook my head and smiled, rather amused. “My, my, my, Mister Holmes. I’ve known you for barely two months and we’re already married. Moving a bit fast, are we?” Sherlock shrugged, too flustered to speak. Grinning, I lifted the ring up once more, holding his left hand in my right. Sherlock watched with shining eyes as I slipped the band on his finger. “Mr. O’Reilly.” I said, looking him in the eyes.

            He gave a devilish grin, snaking his arm around my waist and pulling me close so that our chests were pressed against one another. “Mrs. O’Reilly.” After a moment, we both started giggling for no reason at all. Oh, this is going to be fun.

            “Alright, you two.” Lestrade intervened. He stood there with his arms crossed, wearing an ‘I-knew-it’ face. He and Mycroft had relocated by our sides again. “Save it for the ballroom.”

            Mycroft glanced down at his watch, wearing an expression similar to Lestrade’s. “Your reservation is in half an hour- my driver is outside and the dinner has been pre-paid for.” When none of us moved, he looked up at us expectantly. “Well? Get going, you three.”

            I nodded. “Right, okay.” I lifted a finger to my earpiece, gesturing to it. “Mics on now or when we get to the restaurant?” My companions for the night bustled around me, putting on their coats.

            “Restaurant, please.” Mycroft said, giving me a tight-lipped smile. “I’m not particularly interested in listening to more flirting than I have to, thank you very much.” Lestrade chuckled, and I noticed that the prep trio had left some time ago.

            I opened my mouth to protest, but John called me to the door, waiting with my coat in hand. Shooting one last glare at Mycroft, I headed out of the flat, John closing the door behind me.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            The car ride was long and slightly awkward. None of us said much- I guess we were all too preoccupied with the case. With all the crazy things happening in preparation for tonight, it was easy to forget that we had an actual job to do tonight. I tried not to get distracted, but that proves hard to do when one is seated between two good-looking gentlemen.

            By the time I broke the silence, we had already almost arrived at our destination. “What’s the point of this ball, again?” Mycroft had skimmed over the basics with me, but I figured one of these two knew more than I did. I was right.

            “The main purpose is business.” Sherlock stated monotonously, not moving his gaze from the window. “Alexander Wellington founded Franco Enterprises a while back, but we believe it to be a cover for a criminal network that he may or may not be leading. He’s invited representatives from several companies- most likely he’s hoping to find some allies with... similar interests.”

            I nodded- it all made a bit more sense now. “Okay. And we’re the representatives?”

            “Precisely.” The car slowed to a stop in front of a rather large building. “We’re here.” Sherlock exited first, extending his hand to help me out of the car. I sucked in a breath as I stared at the restaurant in awe. Sherlock followed my gaze and hummed in amusement. “It would seem our Mr. Wellington has a taste for the finer things in life.”

            “Yeah, no kidding.” I breathed. The restaurant, clearly Italian, was most definitely five-stars. Once John had stepped out and the car had driven off, we took a brief moment to pull ourselves together and get in character.

            John straightened his tuxedo. “Ready?” He asked, shooting me and Sherlock a face that said ‘hurry up’.

            I turned to Sherlock, biting my lip in sudden nervousness. He chuckled. “Having second thoughts, are we, Katherine?” He offered me his arm and I linked mine with his.

            “Maybe.” I whispered, a coy smile playing on my lips.

            “You’ll do fine.” He whispered. He straightened up and turned to myself and John, grinning. “Onward.” He beamed, switching to the Irish-English accent he would have to use for the rest of the night. As we walked up to the double doors, I reached up and turned my microphone on. The boys followed suit.

            The doors were held open for us as we walked through, and a young woman took our coats for us. We were met in the lobby by a man clad in all black, who was standing behind a podium. “Buonasera,” he said, his Italian accent obvious. “Do you have a reservation?” He eyed us suspiciously, as if we were a bunch of teenagers who were up to something. Well, in all fairness, I am a teenager.

            “O’Reilly for three, sir.” Sherlock said confidently, his accent never wavering.

            The waiter nodded. “This way, please.” We followed him further into the ginormous restaurant until he seated us near the center of the large room. I glanced at the ceilings, taking in the high arches and expensive chandeliers. However, what really caught my eye was the object in the very center of the room. There, in all its glory, was the finest-looking grand piano I had ever laid eyes upon. Out of instinct, my fingers started twitching, aching to rush over and play. It had been ages since I had last been able to perform, even for myself.

            Sherlock pulled out my chair for me, and I quietly thanked him as he sat down next to me. John was seated directly in front of me. I took in the sights and sounds for a few more seconds before Sherlock leaned over and whispered into my ear.

            “There’s our man.” He said in his normal voice, pointing discreetly. John and I followed his gaze to the table just diagonal of ours.

            “That’s him?” John asked.

            “Yes.”

Alexander was seated at a fairly large table- there were ten people, total. Five men and five women- naturally, I presumed each of them were couples. I allowed myself a moment to look over Alexander himself. I smirked and put on my best impressed face. “Wow.” I said, directing my words at Sherlock, but talking to no one in particular. “He looks even better in person.”

            John stifled a laugh, and Sherlock turned to me, a scowl etched onto his face. “Hey.” He said playfully, knowing I had just been joking. “Behave yourself, you’re a married woman.”

            I quirked an eyebrow. “Make me.” I looked him in the eyes as I intertwined my left hand with his right.

            He tsked, grinning devilishly. He brought our hands up to his lips and kissed my fingers. “Not in public, dear.” He winked, and I felt myself blushing. Fine, Holmes. You win this round. Sherlock knew he had won and sat back in his seat contentedly. John looked on, pretending to gag.

            “Alright now, stop flirting.” A voice sounded in all of our ears and we jumped slightly, startled.

            “Lestrade!” Sherlock hissed, having forgotten about the microphones.

            A chuckle sounded on the other line, and this time it was Mycroft who spoke. “And Mycroft, brother dear. Don’t get distracted- focus on the case. Quit dropping the accent, you’ll blow it.”

            “Sorry.” Sherlock said sheepishly, reverting back to the accent he was supposed to be using.

            Soon enough, the waiter was back to take our food and drink orders. Sherlock tried to get me to order wine, but I refused to drink something alcoholic. I tried to argue that I wasn’t old enough, but Sherlock reminded me that I wasn’t in America anymore. Besides, I was 25 for the night, remember? But I stood my ground, ordering water much to Sherlock’s disappointment. Our food came soon after, as well.

            “Are you getting the information you need?” John inquired, directing his question at Sherlock, as he was positioned the closest to Alexander’s table.

            He sighed, frustrated. “No.” He flailed his hands around while he talked- it was kinda cute. “They’re not talking business at all, just chatting away like old friends. It’s maddening.” His false accent became more and more prominent as he spoke, until it was full-blown Irish. I chuckled.

            “Calm down, dear.” I leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. To my surprise, it actually worked, and Sherlock’s breathing returned to normal.

            “Thank you.” He mumbled.

            I raised my eyebrows in surprise, taking a sip of my water. Sherlock didn’t apologize often. “Any time.”

            “Just keep alert- he’s due to leave within twenty minutes. Save the information collecting for the ball. I doubt you’d get any from him here, anyways.” Mycroft’s commanding tone washed over our ears. “Feel free to turn off your microphones now- just be sure to turn them on as soon as you arrive at the Dorchester Hotel.”

            “Got it.” I said, and the boys mumbled variants of it. We all flipped off our microphones, glad for the privacy. At least Mycroft and Lestrade had held their tongues most of the night. A hiatus followed, all of us staring at our plates and none of us saying a word.

            “It’s rather dull in here.” Sherlock piped up. He looked me straight in the eyes with a half-smile on his face. “You should go play.”

            I furrowed my brow in confusion. “Play?”

            “Piano. I know you play.”

            “Oh.” I laughed quietly and looked down at my lap, blushing. “I don’t think I’m allowed to. Besides, I’m not that good- they’d probably kick me out because it would sound horrible...” I fiddled with my fingers, not wanting to look him in the eyes.

            Turns out, I didn’t have a choice. He raised his hand to my cheek and pulled my face around so that his striking blue eyes were looking straight into my (e/c). He opened his mouth to say something snarky, but thought better of it and closed it immediately. We sat there for a few moments, tension rising and staring intensifying. A blush was rising to his cheeks, and I knew mine were probably the same shade. “Please?” He finally said, barely whispering. “I’ve never heard you play.”

            Sherlock Holmes, don’t you freaking dare... Oh my God he did it. Sherlock pulled the puppy dog eyes, silently pleading that I go play. “Sher-” my breath hitched in my throat, and I knew I was screwed. “Fine.” I muttered. There was no resisting Sherlock when he pulled that on me, and he knew it. It drove me insane.

            He gave a small hum of delight and placed a chaste kiss on my forehead. “Thank you.” I rolled my eyes and huffed, standing so I could make my way over to the piano. Some of the murmurs in the restaurant died down as I approached the piano, but most continued. I risked a glance at Alexander’s table- he was watching me intensely.

            Oh God. I gulped in fear. I don’t even know what to play. Moonlight Sonata? No, too basic. Fur Elise? No, too common- too easy. I sat down at the bench, a thousand songs running through my mind until I settled on one. Slow, beautiful, easily played and easily remembered- River Flows in You. I took a deep breath and played the opening note, letting it ring throughout the restaurant.

            The entire room grew silent. Eerily silent. I blocked out the silence and the awkward tension that hung in the air, simply focusing on the keys in front of me. I raised both hands to the piano and began to play. Soft notes cascaded from my fingertips, rising and falling, fading in and fading out. Sometimes the notes spiraled up, my fingertips flying. Sometimes, they slowed down, throwing a melancholy feel over everyone in the room. But it was bliss. Pure bliss. I hadn’t played in so long, and it felt amazing to feel keys under my hands once again.

            I ended the piece perfectly, drawing it out, not wanting it to end. As the final chord faded away, there was silence. Not a person stirred until I stood, embarrassed, taking my leave. A single clap rang out, and I turned, startled. Another one followed, and another, and another, until the entire room was a roar. Most people were even giving me a standing ovation. My cheeks flushed red and I scurried back to the table, head down.

            John and Sherlock had been among those standing. “Bloody hell, (Y/n). I didn’t know you could do that.” John said, struck by awe. “That was amazing.” I smiled, but waved his compliment off.

            “It was nothing.” I said sheepishly.

I went to sit down, but Sherlock stopped me, grabbing my wrist. “What was that about them kicking you out?” He whispered, wrapping his arms around my waist. “Nothing doesn’t get the entire restaurant on their feet.” I smiled, not knowing what to say. I looked around the restaurant- everyone was still standing and clapping. “And now I get to show off my wife.” I cocked my head, not sure what he was about to do. Grinning, he lifted my left hand in his right, holding it up for everyone to see. “The Lady O’Reilly, everyone.” His words got everyone’s attention, leading to even more applause. He smirked at me, pride shining in his eyes. He then beckoned to John, and the three of us walked out, retrieving our coats at the door. I was still a blushing mess by the time we stepped outside into the cool evening air. Oh  jeez, that just happened. 

            “So um, why are we leaving now?” John asked, slipping on his coat. We all looked around for Mycroft’s car- it hadn’t arrived yet.

            Sherlock sighed, exasperated. “Really, John. You should pay attention sometime.” John simply stood there expectantly, waiting for an answer. Sherlock rolled his eyes, and I stifled a laugh. He was so childish sometimes. “While everyone was entranced with (Y/n)’s piano playing, Alexander’s entire group took their leave. I figured it would be prudent to leave immediately.” With that, Sherlock put his coat on with a dramatic swoosh.

            “Alright then.” I said, stopping Sherlock before he could be even more of a drama queen. “Get in the car, you two.”

            They both stood there facing me, confused. “What car? It’s not-” He stopped when he turned around and saw that the car had arrived. Now, it was my turn to play drama queen.

            I gave an overdramatic sigh. “Really, Colin dear, you should pay attention sometime.” Smirking, I strode past the both of them, shooting John a wink as I passed him. For a moment, I didn’t hear either of them move. I was almost to the car when I heard Sherlock mumble something to John.

            “Honestly, John, she’ll be the death of me. I’m not sure why we keep her around.”

            John chuckled. “I keep her around because she’s nice and puts up with you being a total arse. You keep her around because you want her around.”

            “Do not!”

            “Then why is she still living with us?”

            “...Shut up.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “Whoa.” John was the first to speak as Sherlock and I stood there in awe of the ballroom. I had thought the restaurant was huge, but this place certainly took the prize. The ceiling arched impossibly high, adorned by extravagant chandeliers. The walls were littered with artwork- each piece was worth a fortune, no doubt. Whoa, just... Whoa.

            “Good evening, sirs and madam.” A voice snapped all of us from our thoughts. “To whom do I owe the pleasure of your company?” Alexander Wellington stood before us, flashing a charming smile.

            I recovered from my stupor first. “Katherine O’Reilly.” I said, curtsying. Alexander grinned and took my right hand gently.

            “It is a pleasure, Miss O’Reilly. I must say, you look absolutely breathtaking” He kissed my hand, and I thanked him. I felt Sherlock stiffen beside me. As Alexander lowered my hand and straightened back up, Sherlock wrapped his arm around my waist protectively.

            “Colin O’Reilly.” He interjected with a cold undertone. He gave Alexander’s hand a shake, perhaps a tad too firmly. Alexander winced as he pulled away. “Katherine’s husband.”

            Alexander’s face fell a little bit as I intertwined my hand with Sherlock’s, subtly showing off our ‘wedding’ rings. But within a second, he had pulled himself back together and regained his composure. “A pleasure. And you are, sir?” He turned politely to John.

            “Connor Murphy.” John said with an even voice and a tight smile. “CEO of Cumberbatch Incorporated.”

            “Ah!” Alexander’s face lit up. “You must be the representatives! I must say, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all.”

            “It’s our pleasure.” I have to say, John can be a convincing actor when he needs to be.

            “Do you mind if I borrow your wife for a moment?” Alexander was addressing Sherlock now, who returned the question with a steely look. His jaw clenched, and I knew he was planning on refusing.

            I spoke up before Sherlock could answer- I might be able to find something out that would help with the case. I mentally checked to make sure I had turned my microphone on already. I had. “Absolutely.” Sherlock glared at me, but I just returned it with a sweet smile. Giving his hand a small squeeze of reassurance, I took Alexander’s arm and headed off towards the left with him.

            “So, Mrs. O’Reilly.” He began the conversation once we were out of earshot, but he never stopped our leisurely walking pace. “I heard your performance earlier this evening, and I must say, I was extremely impressed. Where did you learn to play like that?”

            I blushed at his compliment and answered truthfully. “I taught myself.” I allowed myself a moment to deduce his behavior. “But I trust you didn’t steal me away just to compliment my musical abilities, Mr. Wellington.”

            For the first time in a while, Mycroft spoke up in my ear. “Good- you know where to lead the conversation, (Y/n).” I nodded slightly, knowing that they had secret cameras set up all around the place. Somewhere, in an observation van, Mycroft and Lestrade would see the movement.

            “Ah, yes.” Alexander laughed lightly. “You are as intelligent as you are beautiful, Katherine. And please, call me Alexander.” I had to keep myself from cringing at the sound of my fake name- I was going to have to get used to answering to it.

            “Thank you, Alexander.” I kept my tone formal and polite, waiting for him to continue the conversation. I risked a glance behind me- Sherlock and John had made their way over to the drinks table. John was chatting away with a redhead, and Sherlock was staring at me intensely, his face slightly furious.

            “I thought we should have a little chat- businessman to businesswoman.” Alexander’s words snapped my attention back to him, and I nodded, showing my compliance. He continued.  “I figured I would pull you aside- your husband didn’t seem like much of a negotiator.”

            I chuckled. “Well, he is quite stubborn. Lovely, though.” I made my voice sound a teeny bit wistful, hoping he would buy into the whole ‘married’ thing. I was pretty sure he did, as he showed no sign of suspicion. Instead, he just smiled and nodded.

            “Naturally.” He stopped walking as we reached the far corner of the room, away from the noise of the party. I unlinked my arm from his, and we turned so we were standing face to face. He wasted no time, getting straight to the point. “So what would you think about a mutual partnership between our companies?”

            “Careful, (Y/n). Find out about what they do before you make promises.” Mycroft warned in my ear. Lestrade was mumbling in the background. There was a moment of silence as Mycroft listened. “Also, Lestrade says that if you don’t hurry up with the conversation, Sherlock’s going to throw a fit and come over there.” I gulped- the last thing we needed was for Sherlock to blow his top right now. Why did he care so much, anyways?

            I hesitated before answering Alexander. “I’m not sure- what exactly does your company do that could benefit ours?”

            Alexander’s smile was warm, but his eyes were guarded- he was keeping something from me. “We work closely under the government, hence the reason we don’t advertise our company much. Our main purpose is to support other up and coming entrepreneurs that the government handpicks.”

            “What kind of entrepreneurs?” His answers were becoming more and more vague.

            “Ah,” he said with a small smile. “That, I’m afraid, I cannot say.”

            I pretended to not be upset in the slightest. I continued, unnerved. “That’s quite alright. Where are you based out of? I would think you would need an optimal area for such a company.”

            He nodded, relieved with the change of subject. “You’re quite right. Not too far, actually- just Northern England. Manchester, actually.”

            “Bingo!” There was an excited yell in my ear that could only be Lestrade.

            “I’ll get my men researching the company and area immediately.” Yep- there’s Mycroft.

            “Very well, then!” I said a tad excitedly to Alexander. “I’ll definitely consider it- and I’ll try to talk to Colin about it.”

            He grinned. “Excellent! Okay.” We turned and headed back towards the center of the room, where all the life was. “Would you care to dance?”

            I hesitated, unsure of whether or not to accept. I glanced around the room, looking for Sherlock and John; they weren’t at the drinks bar anymore. While John was nowhere to be found, I finally spotted Sherlock sulking at one of the tables at the edge of the room. Poor guy, parties aren’t really his thing, I guess. “Sorry, Alexander. But I believe I promised my first dance of the night to my husband.” That wasn’t necessarily true, but I figured it was something a wife would do.

            Something glinted in his eyes, but I wasn’t sure what it was. It worried me for a second, but I soon relaxed when he gave a nod of understanding. “Of course. Might I escort you to him?” I repressed a chuckle. Ever the gentleman.

            “You may.” He guided me around the crowd of dancing couples over to where Sherlock sat forlornly, one hand on my upper back the whole time.  When we approached, Sherlock didn’t even take notice of us. Instead, he sat with his elbows propped up on the table and head resting in his hands. After a brief (yet awkward) second, Alexander cleared his throat. “Mr. O’Reilly?”

            With that, Sherlock snapped his head up, his expression glazed. “Yes?” He asked harshly, making Alexander cringe. It even made me cringe, and I shied away from his cold stare. Something was wrong with him- but what?

            “I... Um... Thank you for letting me speak to your wife.” He shifted uncomfortably.

            With that, a glint returned to Sherlock’s eyes and a smile tugged on his lips. He stood and held out an arm to me- not for me to take, but to bring me to his side. I accepted, giving him a loving smile as he drew me closer. What worried me was the mischievous glint in his eyes- What is he up to? “Welcome back, darling.” He leaned in and gave me a quick peck on the corner of my mouth. It wasn’t an actual kiss, but it was enough for him to show Alexander who I belonged to (as well as make me blush profusely and render me at a loss for words.) “That will be all, thank you Mr. Wellington.” He said curtly. Eager to leave, Alexander scurried off. Sherlock watched him leave, glaring.

            I swiftly regained my composure, giving Sherlock a light slap on the shoulder. “Way to scare him off, babe.”

            He broke his stare and looked down at me, trying not to smile. Humming in amusement, he leaned down and pressed a kiss to my temple. “I didn’t like the way he was looking at you.”

            I scoffed and rolled my eyes. “You don’t seem to like the way anyone looks at me these days.”

            “Mm.” was the only response I got. I sighed.

            “It’s okay to be jealous, dear. But possessive? You might need to tone it down a bit.” I said jokingly, hoping he would come back to his senses and stop being... well, whatever he was being. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was throwing me off big-time. Sherlock started to say something, but then changed his mind. He ran his eyes over me a few times, confused. I tilted my head in concern. What the hell is going on with him, tonight?

            No sooner had the thought crossed my mind, he shook his head, relieving himself of whatever had been bothering him. “Sorry.” He said, a bit too perkily. “Just lost in thought.” I let out a sigh of relief. “Care to dance?” I listened to the music- a waltz had just begun.

            I grinned, taking his hand. “I’d love to.” He returned the grin, leading me to the dance floor and getting into position. We both heard wolf whistles in our ears.

            “Lestrade!” Sherlock hissed, not for the first time that night. I chuckled.

            “Oh, don’t mind me.” Lestrade joked. Mycroft was laughing in the background.

            I laughed as well, starting to dance with Sherlock. “Next time I see either of you, I will personally kill you.”

            “You wouldn’t.” Mycroft prodded.

            Sherlock smiled, stifling his laugh. I threw him a wink, looking him straight in the eyes as I said “Watch me, Holmes.” Mycroft mumbled something about upgrading his security, but I ignored him. Instead, I gave all my attention to the man in front of me, who also happened to be leading me in a dance. I stepped lightly, trying not to screw up and send us both to the floor. Knowing myself, that was quite possible.

            But I found the more I focused on Sherlock, the easier the dancing became. We stepped and twirled and dipped perfectly in sync, each of us becoming a simple extension of the other’s arms. I smiled. I could do this all night.

 

(Sherlock’s POV)

            To call her beautiful was an understatement, and to describe her with one word was a crime. Here, in the dim light with her eyes taking in everything, she was the epitome of perfection. She embodied the definition of classical beauty. She was enthralling, charming, alluring, enticing, mesmerizing, enchanting, and above all- captivating. She had captured my interest from the night we met, and I had known then that nothing good could come of it.

            Sentiment, as always, is a chemical defect found on the losing side. In fact, I dislike sentiment in general. Truth be told, I had hated myself for allowing (Y/n) to grow this close to me in so little time. Although, I supposed I had allowed myself to do the same with John. But here, tonight, I was beginning to wonder if my long-time mantra was completely true, after all. Perhaps sentiment was necessary. Perhaps it was a human need. Perhaps... I couldn’t close myself off forever. I reminded myself that even though I could allow sentiment, I must always be wary of it. Too much could send me over the edge, out of control. My mind was something I could not afford to lose.

            (Y/n) did a lot of things to me- things I didn’t understand. When the rest of the world mocked me, she stood by me. When I got angry and hurt her, she calmed me down and forgave me. Sometimes she gave me hope, and sometimes she took it away. As all these thoughts swam in my ever-growing mind palace, I was realizing something.

            She was my opposite. My other half. The balanced scale. We were two sides to the same coin. Not completely, of course; we were alike in many ways. No- she was my opposite in all the areas I needed her to be. Where I was harsh, she was kind. Where I was bitter, she was sweet. In every aspect where I was at my worst, she was perfection, and I adored her for that. I was an emotionless machine, and she had made me a little bit more human.

            She made me feel something in the pit of my stomach- something warm and fuzzy. I wasn’t sure where the feeling came from- probably some sort of stupid emotion. I loved every moment I spent with her, because when she went away, the fuzzy feeling did as well. But I also hated the fuzzy feeling. It was extremely distracting, and made problems more difficult to solve.

            But that was just it. When I couldn’t solve a puzzle, she always could. What did that say about me? About her? I knew we worked well together as a team, but would I need her as a partner if she wasn’t around? It was all so confusing. Several emotions dashed about inside me, most of them positive. I tutted to myself- John was making me soft. Positive emotions... this means I want to be friends with her... right? I’ll have to ask John.

            I had no idea, and it was maddening.

 

(Your POV)

            The dance ended too quickly, and Sherlock smiled at me as he led me off the dance floor. But as soon as we reached the edge of the room, that confused and frightened look grew on his face again. I studied it, trying to figure out why he was doing that. “Sherlock...” I started, worried I had done something wrong.

            “Well that was lovely, you two. Your footwork could use some work though, (Y/n).” Mycroft’s voice went straight into my ear. I ignored him, not offering a response of any kind. Sherlock’s face continued to morph through a range of emotions.

After a second, he just stared at me blankly. Okay, that’s it. “Sorry, Mycroft. Lestrade.” I mumbled, knowing they would hear me. “I need a moment.” Ignoring their protests, I turned off my microphone, then reached up and turned off Sherlock’s as well, ignoring his questioning gaze. When I was done, I placed my hands on either side of his cold face and stared at him straight on. My fingertips barely brushed a few of his hanging chocolate curls. He leaned into the touch. His clouded, icy eyes met my concerned (e/c) ones. “Hey.” I said, trying to break his trance. “What’s wrong?”

            He looked as if he was about to cry. “I-I don’t know.” He whispered, distraught.

            My heart melted. “Oh, Sherlock.” I drew him in and hugged him tightly, not caring that I wasn’t using his cover name. He stiffened at first, but then melted into it. I could feel a single tear drop onto my shoulder and I knew he was crying. I hated seeing him like this. I also hated not knowing what was wrong.

            Suddenly, he pulled away, practically shoving me off of him. “I... I have to go find John.” He said monotonously. He walked away quickly, hands clasped behind his back in search of our companion. I stood there frozen in irritation, his actions stinging more than his words. He didn’t mean it, I tried to comfort myself, he’s just not himself tonight. Now it was I who was on the verge of tears.

Reluctantly, I shuffled off to a nearby table and sat down, wondering what I had done wrong.

 

(Sherlock’s POV)

            It took me a minute to find John, as I was trying to blink tears out of my eyes the entire time. Crying. Stop crying. I hadn’t cried for an extremely long time until I met (Y/n). This was all her- all her fault. All of these weird emotions, my clouded mind, that fuzzy feeling. I hated it. It all had to stop or it all had to get under control. Otherwise, she would have to leave. But I didn’t want that, did I? I glanced back at her to see she was sitting at a table with her head in her hands. The sight made me feel like someone had stabbed me in the chest, so I turned around and stopped looking at her.

            “John!” I called out when I spotted him. He was sitting at the bar, staring into his drink. He looked around when he heard me call, but didn’t acknowledge it at all. I frowned- this was very unlike John. Actually, now that I thought about it, John had been a little off since we arrived at the restaurant. Not his usual, joking self. I plopped down in the seat next to him. “John, are you alright?”

            He turned and gave me a tight-lipped smile. “I’m fine, why do you ask?”

            “Well it’s just...” I frowned. “You’ve been really quiet tonight, that’s all. Are you feeling well?” (Me: *screaming* It’s because John loves you, idiot! But alas, there is no room for JohnLock in an xReader fic) I raised my hand to feel his temperature, but he swatted my hand away, annoyed. Okay, he’s definitely acting weird. I sighed, promising myself I would investigate his behavior later.

            “Look,” I said, “I have to ask you a question. It’s about (Y/n) ...”

            Several screams were heard throughout the room as the entire ballroom went pitch black. Eventually, they were quieted and the room fell into an eerie silence. I held my breath, counting the seconds until the lights returned. This wasn’t an ordinary power outage. If it were, the emergency lights would have come on automatically. Someone wanted this to happen.

            I heard faint sounds of scuffling, doors opening and closing. Something was very wrong. The lights returned, and the guests resumed their conversations. Sixty-five seconds: long enough for someone to be taken away. I wonder... My eyes widened in fear as a thought crossed my mind. I whipped my head around, frantically looking for (Y/n). She wasn’t at the table where she had been just a minute before.

            “John!” I said, grabbing my companion’s arm. “She’s gone!” John’s eyes widened just as mine had, and he hauled himself to his feet, ready to take off as soon as I pointed out the right direction. But the problem was, I hadn’t the slightest idea where they had gone.

            Someone tapped my shoulder. I whirled around, not sure of who to expect. Oh. The bartender stood there, holding out a piece of paper for me to take. “Are you Mr. O’Reilly?” he asked.

            “Yes...” I said reluctantly. “Why?”

            “This is for you.” He kept the paper extended until I took it, opening it quickly.

I scanned it. John read over my shoulder. It was vague, but I knew exactly what it meant. My blood ran cold, my face paled, and I stumbled backwards. “John...”

            He understood immediately. “C’mon then, we have to go. Now.” We ran out of the ballroom, John shouting instructions into his microphone the whole time. I followed blindly, paralyzed by fear. Not again...

 

BURNED

Manchester- come quickly.

JM x

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “Wakey, wakey.” A familiar, lilting voice washed over my ears. I groaned, slowly regaining consciousness. Where am I? The last place I remembered being was the ballroom. The light went out and... Oh, crap.

            I tried to assess the situation without opening my eyes. Okay... I’m sitting in a chair. Barefoot. Ankles tied to the legs of the chair... wrists tied behind it. I mentally scoffed. How original. I opened my eyes slowly, adjusting to the dim light.

            Despite my situation, I rolled my eyes when I saw who it was. Moriarty stood in front of me, smirking, hands clasped behind his back. I squirmed in my tight bonds- the ropes were digging into my skin. “Comfortable?” He asked, pretending to care.

            I ignored the question. “Really, James, tying me to a chair? Bit cliché, don’t you think?” I kept my tone light, hoping I would seem unfazed by the whole situation. In reality, I was screaming on the inside and on the verge of panicking. Luckily, my acting skills and incredible poker face allowed me to keep that from Moriarty.

            He just shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets. “Whatever works, right princess?” He began to pace around me. Not touching me or harming me, just pacing. I took a few moments to survey my surroundings. It was an empty, cement room- a warehouse, probably. The lights that weren’t burnt out were barely lit, so the entire room seemed to be cast in a huge shadow. The room was completely empty except for my chair, which was placed in the center of the room. Two exits- one in front of me, and one behind me. I remained silent. 

            After what seemed like hours but was only minutes, Moriarty sighed and came to a halt beside me. “It’s taking your little friends much longer to find you than I thought.” He started mumbling to himself. “Manchester is only a bit over an hour by helicopter, what’s taking them so bloody long...?”

            I quirked an eyebrow. “So you want them to find me?”

            “Oh, yes, of course.” He reassured me. “I’m not trying to kill anyone... yet. You’re a part of this game now, (Y/n).” He smiled to himself. “My Great Game. It’s not even begun, really. I’m just getting started. This...” He gestured to me. “This is just warmup.” He chuckled darkly, and the sound sent shivers up my spine. I wasn’t exactly sure what the game was supposed to be, but I knew full well that it couldn’t be anything good.

            I was ripped from my thoughts when he gently grabbed my chin. He looked me in the eyes and I gulped. I tried to pull away, but with being tied down and all, I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Moriarty just tsked and grabbed my face again, a bit more forcefully this time. Slowly, he tilted my head to the side until my neck was exposed. “You can still see it, you know.” His finger softly traced the word on my neck. The six letters that had haunted me for over a week. Those six letters that meant nothing and everything at the same time. “They did a good job of covering it up tonight, though. The twins” I didn’t even ask how he knew about that. He let his hand drop away, returning it to his pocket. Suddenly, he scrunched up his shoulder and started giggling. I looked on in confusion. What is he on about?

            “Too bad it’s fading- the writing. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, honestly.” He added when he saw my still-confused face. “But I’m so glad it did. Sherlock even went pale, I mean, did you see his face?!” He practically sang his words, and I rolled my eyes in disgust. This guy was a total psychopath. Only he could get high off of hurting other people. Not just physically, but emotionally, too.

            “Yeah, I did.” I tried to sound disinterested. “I was there.” Please hurry, Sherlock- this guy’s a sadist. Not that I was in any sort of pressing danger, I just wasn’t sure if I could handle any more of James at the moment. My wish was granted not a moment later.

            “Well, I’d best be off.” James said, looking at his watch. “Your friends will be here any moment now.”

            “Oh, praise.” I muttered, seriously wanting to get out of these restraints. I was going to have some nasty rope burn.

            James chuckled again, running a hand through his slicked-back hair. “I wouldn’t be singing hallelujah just yet, darling.” With that, he took my chin in his hand again and his eyes darkened. “Sweet dreams.” He muttered. With that, he pressed his lips to mine. I didn’t fight it- I knew it was coming before it even happened. But that didn’t stop my inner self from jumping around, screaming ‘Eww gross gross gross make it stop’. I’m not sure how he did it... Chloroform chap stick, maybe? I felt my vision fade and I slumped down, just like I had that awful night at the pool.

           “Time to set the stage.” Was the last thing I heard before everything went dark.

(Sherlock’s POV)

            Police lights blared all around me, the sirens creating a horribly distracting noise that made it difficult to concentrate. The Manchester Police and nearby M16s surrounded the warehouse. I wrung my hands impatiently. Any moment now, they would give us the go-ahead, letting myself, John, and Lestrade know that it was safe to go in and get here.

            It had been easy to find the warehouse, really. It was almost like he wanted us to find her. All Mycroft had to do was run the address that Franco Enterprises was listed under. Turns out, it was just an empty warehouse- the whole company was a fake. Which meant the whole ball had been a setup. Moriarty somehow knew that (Y/n) would be there and...

The mere thought of him with his hands on her made my blood boil. Last time he had a hold of her, she had gotten thrown into a pool and she nearly drowned. He had her for only minutes that night. Now, it was closing in on two hours since I had last saw her; I could only imagine the horrors he could be doing to her right now. 

            I shuddered. “Gary.” I hissed. “Can’t you make this operation go any faster?” I was growing more and more impatient. I needed to make sure she was alright. Why? Why do you care about what happens to her? I mentally fought with myself. I don’t, I just... Oh, shut up. She’s my friend. The thoughts startled me. I had never thought I would have more than one friend. It would seem John wasn’t alone now.

            “It’s Greg, and no! We have to be sure the building is safe.” Lestrade hissed right back, and I huffed indignantly.

            “And I have to be sure my friend is safe!” I was yelling now, and Lestrade looked as if he was about to yell right back. He didn’t get the chance, though.

            “Sherlock! Lestrade!” John came running over from where Mycroft was standing. Both of us whipped our heads towards him quickly, hoping for news. “They’re giving us the go-ahead. Let’s go.”

            With that, I took off at a full sprint towards the warehouse, Lestrade and John following closely behind. I flung open the door impatiently and stormed in, determined to find (Y/n). Hopefully, I’d find Moriarty as well and could rid myself of that bastard. But instead of finding Moriarty, I found something that made my freeze in my tracks and my heart drop.

            (Y/n) was bound to a chair, her limp figure slumped forwards. But that wasn’t the problem. There was blood. Her blood. Oh God, there was blood everywhere. It spread out in a circle, encircling the chair where she was tied. In front of her feet, someone had written in black marker on the warehouse floor.

            In my frozen stupor, Lestrade and John had passed me, bounding over to (Y/n) to make sure she was alright. I quickly followed, chiding myself for freezing up like that. By the time I got to her, they had gotten her untied. I took in the sight of her.

            Her dress was wrinkled, but not torn, and her shoes were nowhere in sight. Her hair, which had been in a fancy up-do earlier tonight, had fallen down and was now hanging loosely around her shoulders. Her face was completely peaceful, every muscle relaxed, and I figured that she was still under the effects of an anesthetic- chloroform, likely. What relieved me most was that there wasn’t a scratch on her and that she still had color in her face. Good- that means the blood on the ground isn’t hers, after all.

            “Sherlock, look at this.” John’s voice called me out of my thinking state. He was gesturing to the words written by her feet. I quickly stepped back to read them.

The stage is set- your move.

            I straightened up and huffed. So this is what he wanted- to toy with me. He set up some stupid game and expected me to play along. That’s not happening. I made up my mind right then and there- I was going to march home right now with John and (Y/n) and take no part in his childish game, however intriguing it may be. It had been a fun puzzle at first, but now he had gone too far. Now, he had involved the two people I care about most. This is where I draw the line.

            I stepped purposefully over towards (Y/n)’s limp body and scooped her up into my arms bridal style, trying to ignore the word on her neck that was visible from this angle. I noticed the marks on her wrists and ankles from the ropes and my jaw clenched. “Lestrade,” I said evenly, trying to contain my quiet fury. “You might want to take a sample of this blood to find out who it belongs to. John?” I turned to my companion as Lestrade muttered his agreement.

            “Yes?”

            “We’re going home.” He gave a small smirk of approval, and the both of us headed back out to the helicopter to make our way home.

            You want me to play your game, Moriarty? Fine.  I’ve taken her back and I’m keeping her safe from you. That’s my move. Do your worst.

---time skip brought to you by John’s many, many girlfriends---

(Your POV)

            I groaned- literally every muscle I could name hurt like hell. Where was I, anyways? I remembered how I passed out, but it must have been hours since then. I took a deep breath, not wanting to open my eyes just yet. Maybe I could even go back to sleep- I already felt extremely tired.

            The room smelled of tobacco ash, violin resin, clean laundry, and old books. I smiled to myself- I knew exactly where I was. I opened my eyes to see Sherlock’s room, which was becoming more and more familiar to me. I noticed that I hadn’t been placed under the covers, and that I was still in my dress from the night before. I huffed. Well, no wonder I’m so uncomfortable. I’m still in this stupid thing. Although, I decided it was better this way. If someone else had changed me into pajamas... well, that would’ve been really awkward.

            After a moment’s debate about whether or not to go back to sleep, I decided to get up and be productive. The day had only just begun- the light of the sunrise was just starting to peek through the blinds.

            I swung my legs over the side of the bed and padded down the hall to the bathroom. After a long (and well-deserved) shower, I tried to pick out something to wear that was decently good looking, but also comfortable. I ended up settling on my favorite graphic tee, high-waisted shorts, and converses before heading out into the kitchen. As for my hair, I kinda just let it do its own thing, leaving it down to air dry.

            “Morning.” I said to Sherlock, who was sitting in his chair with his hands in their thinking position. He was wearing pajamas and a dressing gown, but he looked like he hadn’t slept at all last night. I suddenly remembered that he had been a bit of an arse last night, but I elected to forgive it because I knew it was he and John who had gotten me out of the whole ‘Moriarty’ mess.

            At the sound of my voice, his striking eyes flitted to me. “It’s early.” He stated flatly.

            I rolled my eyes. It was impossible to ever get a proper response out of Sherlock Holmes. “Good to see you too, Sherlock.” I mumbled. I raised my voice back to its normal level as I made my way over to the fridge to get some water. “Yes, it is.”

            “Why are you awake? You should be resting.”

            I sighed- he sounded like a concerned parent. “I don’t know, my body just decided that this was a good time to wake up, I guess.” I said, a tad exasperated.

            “You’re an insomniac, (Y/n). Who knows the next time you’ll be able to get a proper night’s sleep? It’s not healthy.” He stood from his chair and was making his way over towards me now.

            “Oh, you’re one to talk.” I said teasingly, setting down my glass of water. “Did you even sleep at all last night?” He closed in and drew me in for a hug, resting his chin on my head.

            “No.” He mumbled. “I never sleep when I’m working on a case.”

            “I thought we just finished it?”

            “I have a new one- John and I leave in an hour for the next crime scene.”

            “Oh.” I said simply, wondering what the case was about. “Good thing I’m almost ready, I’ll go over with you.”

            He pulled away from the hug abruptly, fixing me with a firm look on his face. “No.”

            I frowned; this wasn’t like Sherlock. “Why not? I want to help. Besides, I thought that was part of the whole ‘living here without rent’ deal...”

            He grabbed my arm and lifted it up so I could see it. He gently tapped my wrists, pointing out the burns from the ropes that were still visible. “Because you got hurt, and it’s my fault. I can’t let that happen again.” His voice was soft, and his eyes looked guilty, as if it was actually his fault.

            I rolled my eyes, lowering my arm. “Sherlock,” I said sternly. “It is not your fault, okay? I could get hurt literally anywhere. Honestly. Look at me, I’m a klutz. Moriarty would have gotten me whether or not we had gone to the party last night.”

            “You don’t know that.” He whispered.

            “Yes, I do.” I took one look at his face and sighed. He looked so guilty and resigned that I figured it would comfort him tremendously if I stayed home. “Fine.” I said after a moment. “I’ll stay home and rest, but only for a couple days, okay? After that, I want to help again. Got that?”

            Sherlock looked extremely pleased with the results. “Understood.” In his excitement, he gave my forehead a quick, chaste kiss before bouncing off towards his bedroom so he could get ready.

            “Sherlock!” I called after him before he could get too far. He stopped and turned back.

            “Yes?”

            “Here.” I slipped off my ‘wedding’ ring from last night and handed it to him. He frowned, and I noticed he was still wearing his. He took it reluctantly.

            “You don’t want to keep it?”

            I laughed. “What’s a single, aromantic girl going to do with a wedding ring? Use it to curve boys?”

            He looked crestfallen for a moment and I bit my lip, worried I had gone too far. But the look was soon replaced with a small smile and he chuckled. “Point taken.” He slipped off his own and set the both of them down on the kitchen counter before walking away. “I’ll give them back to Mycroft later.” He called out before closing the door to his bedroom.

            I smiled, turning back around to head out into the living room. I literally almost jumped three feet in the air when I saw John standing in the doorway. “Christ, John! You scared the crap out of me!” I said, clutching my chest and calming myself down.

            He simply stared off in the direction Sherlock had gone before turning back to me with a stupid grin on his face. “He is so whipped.”

"Whatever you say, John."

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “It just doesn’t make any sense!” Sherlock’s hoarse yell rang throughout the flat as I walked through the door. “I mean, there’s no connection at all!”

            “Sherlock?” I asked tentatively, closing the door behind me. “What are you doing?” It had been three days, and he still hadn’t solved the case he was on. He and John left every morning to a different crime scene, examining the victims the killer had reached. This meant that Mrs. Hudson and I were left with the company of only each other. Honestly, we quite enjoyed it. No Sherlock shouting at odd hours of the morning, no John complaining about he hadn’t got off in a while. We had bonded quite well, Mrs. H and I- I even had a nickname for her now.

            Sherlock, who had been sitting in his chair and flailing his hands about, turned and gave me a confused look. I returned it. “(Y/n)! You’re... home?”

            I chuckled. “So are you.” I shifted the hangers in my hand. I had gone out to pick up Sherlock’s clothes from the dry cleaner because he was picky. I’d only been gone an hour and Sherlock was already going crazy. Well, crazy is rather normal for him. He’s quite tame at the moment, actually.

            He looked around wildly for someone who wasn’t there. “Then... who was I talking to this whole time?” His brow furrowed in the most adorable way.

            Smiling, I walked over to where he was sitting and ruffled his curls with my free hand. “The air, Curly.” I pressed a short kiss to his forehead. That had become our ‘thing’, forehead kisses. John had just about flipped when he kept seeing us do it, but I assumed they were purely platonic. After all, Sherlock did nearly the same thing with Mama Hudson. It was probably as close to actually loving us as someone like Sherlock could get.

            “Hmm.” He said as I pulled away. “Where did you go?”

            “Dry cleaner’s.” I explained, walking away. “I took the liberty of picking up your clothes because you can’t seem to wash them like a normal person.” I rolled my eyes dramatically.

            Even though I wasn’t facing him, I could practically hear his scowl. “Normal is boring. Besides, at least I’m not like you, washing jeans and tops in the same load.”

            I sighed, exasperated, and turned back around when I reached the hallway leading to Sherlock’s room. “That’s because they can go in the same load. So can John’s. Yours could too, you know.” I gave him a pointed look and he huffed, waving me away with his hand.

            From there, I headed into his room and started hanging up his shirts and pants. It took me a while, because Sherlock liked everything ‘just-so’. I mean, he has a sock index, for Christ’s sake! I silently giggled at his antics. Three weeks ago, I would’ve been annoyed by Sherlock’s crazy habits. Now, they were just amusing. Character development, anyone?

            When I had finished, I headed back out into the living room, where Sherlock was now standing, studying the evidence pinned on the wall. He looked serene, standing with his hands clasped behind his back.  His brow was furrowed and his jaw was clenched. His blue eyes gleamed in concentration.

            I sighed. He needs to lighten up a bit. I went and stood next to him for a moment- first taking in his stoic features, then taking in the gruesome pictures on the wall. I cringed and raised my eyebrows in surprise. Well, no wonder he’s been so stressed... This is the most gruesome one I’ve ever seen.

            Knowing I wasn’t tall enough to block his view, I got in front of him, wrapping my arms around his firm waist and resting my head on his shoulder. He stiffened for the first few moments, but then started to relax. After a moment of silence, he wrapped his arms around me as well, continuing to study the pictures on the wall over the sofa.

            We stood intertwined for a solid minute before I reluctantly pulled away. I guess I’ll go make tea or something- something to help him think. I didn’t get further than two steps before Sherlock caught my wrist, pulling me back into him. Now, my back rested against his chest. I laughed quietly as he wrapped his arms around me, knowing that this meant he was even more stressed than I thought.

            “Tough case, is it?” I asked.

            “Hmm.” He hummed as he rested his chin on my head. “It’s a two-hug problem.”

            I smiled to myself, and for a moment everything was perfect. Here I was, wrapped in the arms of my closest friend. He shifted behind me again and I frowned, thinking the moment was over. Much to my pleasure, it wasn’t.

            “Thank you.” He mumbled, pressing a kiss to the top of my head.

            I smiled knowingly. “Tea?”

            His cupids-bow lips quirked upwards. “Please.”

            With a nod, I sauntered off to the kitchen. No sooner had I filled the kettle and set it on the stove, John walked in the door. It slammed shut behind him. “Evening, (Y/n).”

            “Evening, John. How was the date?” I asked, not looking up from my work.

            “Em... okay I suppose. She’s not really my type.” He shrugged and plopped down in his chair. “Got anything new on the case, Sherlock?” He asked, addressing his companion.

            Sherlock groaned and threw his hands up in the air. “No! None of it makes any sense, John!” He brought his hands up to his head and ruffled his curls in frustration.

            “I’m sure you’ll get it soon, Sherlock.” I assured him as I poured us all tea.

            “I don’t have time for soon, I need an answer now!” He mumbled, flopping down in his chair. His voice had a sharp edge to it- the kind he usually used with Anderson or Donovan. But he never used it with me. I frowned; something was off.

            “Sherlock.” I said sternly. “When was the last time you ate?” My voice took on its ‘concerned mother’ tone.

            He blushed and rubbed the back of his neck, knowing he was about to get a scolding. “Erm... Thursday morning.”

            My mouth fell open. “Thurs...” I face palmed, then placed my hands on my hips. “Sherlock! It’s Sunday night!” I sighed. “You’re just going to fall over one day at a crime scene, I swear.”

            Neither he or John said anything. John sat there awkwardly while Sherlock stared sheepishly at his feet. “But I don’t eat when I’m on a case.” Sherlock whined. I laughed in disbelief. No, seriously. I laughed outright. He was such a child! Honestly, how is he even still alive?

            “Like hell you don’t! You’re eating tonight, and that’s final.”

            He reluctantly dropped his childish demeanor and replaced it with his trademark stony gaze. He looked as if he was about to protest, but didn’t. “Fine.” He growled as I practically slammed his tea down in front of him.

            I huffed, then turned around and handed John his cup. He muttered an awkward thanks, not wanting to anger me further. I didn’t even bother drinking my cup. Instead, I headed straight to the kitchen to cook something for London’s most childish detective.

            The boys let me cook in silence for over half an hour, giving me much-needed time to cool down. I was honestly really worried about Sherlock. He shouldn’t need someone to mother him and remind him that humans needed to eat. What an idiot.

            John broke the silence first, clearing his throat. “Smells delicious, (Y/n). His light tone was forced. “What are you making?”

            “Chicken parmesan and pasta.” I responded, much calmer now.

            John noticed the change and his eyes lit up. “Can I get some, too?”

            I chuckled. “Of course, John.” I plated two dishes and handed them out. I really didn’t have much of an appetite at the moment. John took his plate eagerly, but Sherlock didn’t even seem to recognize that I had set food in front of him. His eyes were closed, and his hands were in their usual spot, resting under his chin. It would take more than that to fool me, though.

            “Sherlock, you need to eat.” I said. My words merited no response, and I was left with silence.

            “Sherlock, I know you can hear me.”

            His eyes flitted open and an annoyed look graced his features. “Do I have to?”

            “Yes.” I answered firmly. With a sigh, he gave in and took a tiny bite of chicken. John was already chowing down.

            Sherlock’s eyes widened in surprise, but the look disappeared as quickly as it had come. He cleared his throat. “It’s uh... not bad.”

            I smiled- I knew that this was going to be as close as I got to an actual compliment. Pleased, I headed over to the door and slipped on my shoes. I turned back to the boys when I was ready to leave. “Well, I’m going running- be back soon. John?”

            He took a moment to reply, chewing quickly, as his mouth had been full of food. “Yeah?”

            “Make sure he eats enough.”

            “Yes ma’am.” He continued shoveling in the chicken parm, but not before sending Sherlock a pointed look. Rolling his eyes, Sherlock reluctantly took another bite. With a nod of satisfaction, I headed out.

--- time skip ---

            BANG! Yelling. BANG!

            What the hell...? I headed up the stairs to 221b carefully, not sure what I was going to find. My 20-minute run had turned into a four-hour excursion that ended with me walking aimlessly around a three-story mall. What can I say? I got bored.

            BANG!

            “Sherlock!” John yelled, thundering down the stairs. “Sherlock, put the gun down!” I walked in just in time to see John rip the gun out of Sherlock’s hands.  

            I groaned. Not again... “Really, Sherlock? It’s nearly two in the morning! You probably woke the whole neighborhood with that!” I gestured to the gun, which John was putting in the safe.

            He huffed indignantly and shoved his hands into the pockets of his dressing gown. “I was bored. John was asleep, you wouldn’t answer your cell, and this stupid case is becoming incredibly...”

            “Sherlock.” I stopped him mid-sentence as John came out of the kitchen. “I know you’re frustrated, but you cannot shoot the wall at two in the morning, understood?”

            He sighed and slumped down in his chair. “Understood.” His voice was so resigned that it was obvious he didn’t fancy that prospect in the slightest. John gave a loud sigh of exhaustion before practically collapsing into his own chair.

            “You know,” John started, “at two in the morning, most people... oh, I don’t know... sleep?” He pinched the bridge of his nose.

            Sherlock scoffed. “Sleep.” He mumbled. “I can’t sleep, I’m on a case!”

            “Yeah? And how’s that working out for you?” I crossed my arms, my sarcasm evident.

            “Fine.” He growled, sending me an icy glare. I stiffened in anger. Oh, he did not just use that tone with me. Nobody can talk to me like that.

            “Sherlock...” John warned.

            “Sherlock Holmes, don’t you dare use that tone of voice with me.” I snapped. He held my gaze, his eyes as cold and defiant as my own. He stood up and began pacing around his chair.

            “Shut up, (Y/n), I’m trying to solve this case.”

            “Sherlock.” John warned again.

            My jaw clenched. I don’t think so, Holmes. “Sit down.” I hissed at him.

            He stopped pacing. “No.”

            “William Sherlock Scott Holmes.” His eyes widened in fear at the sound of his full name, knowing that I would never use it unless he was in huge trouble. I kept my voice level, attempting to calm down. “Sit down. Now.” His face resembled that of a frightened puppy, and the fear on his face was reflected on John’s. He sat down immediately, still not breaking my gaze.

            While my composure radiated calm, I knew my (e/c) eyes were still burning with fire. “Do you know why you can’t solve this case, Sherlock?” I started advancing towards him slowly. “It’s because your brain is in overdrive. You need to sleep, Sherlock.” My voice was soft. The goal wasn’t to anger him, he just really needed to sleep.

            He protested immediately. “But I don’t-”

            “Save it, Holmes.” My voice came out as a sigh. He shut his mouth, throwing me a look of resentment. Slowly, I walked behind his chair and put my hands on his shoulders. “When was the last time you slept?” I asked, starting to rub circles into his tense muscles. John looked on in wonder as Sherlock started to visibly relax.

            “I... um... five days?” He struggled through the words, his brain starting to shut down. I nodded at his answer, expecting as much. Not saying a word, I slowly moved my hands up to his head and continued the circular motions. After a few seconds, he let out a small sigh and sank back into the chair, his eyelids drooping.

            I continued for a few more seconds before leaning down and whispering in his ear. “Sleep, Sherlock.” His eyes closed completely and I pulled away.

            “Not fair...” he mumbled. I smiled to myself and continued massaging his scalp for another minute, just to make sure he was actually asleep. When the sound of soft snoring could be heard, I stopped. I glanced around the room. Eventually, my eyes landed on Sherlock’s plate, which was completely empty. I grinned, satisfied with knowing that I had gotten him to take care of himself.

            “Goodnight, Sherly.” I whispered, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. When I pulled away, my gaze moved to John, who was sitting in his chair with his jaw hanging open.

            “How did you do that?”

            “Uh... I just made him relax.” I glanced down at our curly-haired companion, who was sleeping peacefully. “He needed it.”

            John just chuckled and shook his head. “Well, however you did it, that was bloody amazing.” He got up and stretched as I walked over towards him, ready for bed. “Now I can sleep in peace.” He sent me a playful smirk and I smiled.

            “Goodnight, John.”

            “Goodnight, (Y/n).” He drew me in for a long hug, sighing when he pulled away. He gripped my arms lightly and gave me a very serious look. “You’re an angel, you know that? A bloody angel.”

            My lips quirked upwards. “I know. I’m pretty great.”

            Laughing, he let go of my arms. “Get some sleep, (Y/n).” I heard him call out as he headed up the stairs.

            “Will do.” I said to myself, not wanting to wake Sherlock. Speaking of Sherlock... I looked over once more to where he was sitting on his chair. His arms draped gracefully over the armrests, and his head hung down and to the side. I winced. That neck is going to hurt in the morning. I debated just leaving him and going to bed, but I groaned and decided to move him.

            After half-carrying and half-dragging his limp body, Sherlock was finally laying down on the sofa. Dang, he’s a deep sleeper... and not as light as he looks. I made a circle with my arm, stretching out my shoulder muscles. Who knew? When I set him down, he had been in kind of an awkward position, with one arm hanging off the side of the sofa. But by now he had shifted in his sleep, choosing a more comfortable position.

            I found the nearest blanket and draped it over him lazily. “There.” I mumbled. “Now I can get some sleep.” I grabbed another blanket and went over to John’s chair, since it had a higher back than Sherlock’s. Curling into a ball and wrapping myself in the blanket, I soon drifted off to sleep.

---yet another time skip---

            “There’s been another murder!” Sherlock’s yell woke me with a start, and I practically leaped out of the chair.

            “What?”

            “A murder, (Y/n)! Oh, it’s Christmas in July. John! Wake up!”

            I frowned. “It’s September, Sherlock. Not July.” I rubbed my eyes to get the sleep out of them.

            He waved his hand dismissively. “Is it? Eh, doesn’t matter.” He dropped his phone onto his chair before heading over to me. “We leave in 15, go get ready.” With that, he bounded off into his room, a new pep in his step. I didn’t know if it was the case or the sleep he had gotten, but either way I was glad to see the improvement.

            “Boy, what a wake-up call.” John mumbled from the doorway, still in his pajamas.

I chuckled. “Tell me about it.”

            “Is Sherlock finally letting you out of the house for a case?” He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to get it to lay down properly.

            “Yes, finally.” The relief in my voice was clear- I had been cooped up in this flat with no case for too long.

            John noticed and chuckled. “Good! Now we might actually get this case solved.” He winked and headed up the stairs to get ready.”

            Sherlock’s yell rang throughout the flat. “I heard that!”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            Getting ready was a breeze. In a matter of minutes, I had donned my favorite Supernatural tee, black shorts, and red converses. To finish the ‘Winchester’ look, I tied a red, plaid shirt around my waist and pulled my (h/l) hair into a ponytail. I smiled confidently into the mirror. I looked good.

            Sherlock was so ecstatic about the new murder that he rushed John and I out the door before the ten-minute mark. “Geez, Sherlock. You’re so pushy.” I had joked, earning myself a glare in return.

            Currently, our trio was exiting our cab onto Munroe Street. The mid-day September wind swirled in gusts around us, sending our hair whipping all over the place. It was a little chilly- I was beginning to regret not wearing jeans. I shrugged it off, knowing we’d be out of the wind soon.

            “Is this the same one you’ve got the pictures up on the wall for, Sherlock?” John asked, referring to the case.

            “Yes.” Sherlock replied simply, keeping his gaze straight ahead. He lifted up the yellow police tape so John and I could walk under. I mumbled my thanks.

            “So is this one going to be the same way, then?” I queried. I hadn’t liked the look of those bodies on the wall, and I secretly hoped it would be a little less gruesome.

            He smirked. “Well I haven’t seen it yet, have I?” His blue eyes twinkled with amusement as he sent a playful glance in my direction.

            I hummed in acceptance, still looking at him. His coat collar was turned up against the wind, which was blowing his chocolatey curls into his face. I looked away quickly when I realized I had been staring. Cursing myself mentally, I scowled. “Suppose not.” I grumbled.

            He quirked a perfect eyebrow, vaguely interested in my sudden mood change. He dismissed it as we reached the doorway of the small home. “Lestrade!” He called out cheerfully, greeting the Detective Inspector.

            “Morning, Sherlock. John.” Lestrade nodded to each of them in turn, then smiled when he got to me. “(Y/n)! Long time no see.”

            “Good morning.” I grinned as he pulled me in for a hug. “Yeah, sorry about that, Greg.” I said as I pulled away. “This one’s been keeping me indoors.” I nodded my head in Sherlock’s direction, who’s face had morphed into a scowl. I sent him a wink to let him know I had been joking before turning back to Lestrade.

            Lestrade was always happy to see me working on a case, especially when Sherlock was in a particularly cranky mood. When that happened, Sherlock threw out insults to everyone left and right. Most of them were aimed at Lestrade. “He’s not an idiot, Sherlock” and “Shut up, Sherlock” became my most popular phrases. Even Anderson and Donovan snickered every time I said something along those lines. Apparently, no one had ever had the guts to stand up to Sherlock like that before. Not to my extent, anyways.

            “Well, it’s good to have you back.” He clapped an arm around my shoulder, and I returned the gesture. Sherlock’s frown deepened, but Lestrade was oblivious. “Let’s go solve this case, shall we?”

            “Yes, please.” John said, leading the way into the house. Sherlock brought up the rear. “So what’ve we got this time, Lestrade?”

            “Same thing, I’m afraid.” He pointed out the signs as we headed up the stairs. “Another woman. Obvious signs of forced entry into the house, same stab wounds, eyes missing.” We all nodded solemnly. Just like the three before. Hung up on the wall in the flat were pictures of three women. From what I could tell, each one had been stabbed numerous times before having their eyes carved out. Each time, the killer left no trace. Not even blood. It was strange, like he just took it all with him.

            As we entered the bedroom of the latest victim, I saw that this one was just the same. Something about the whole thing put me off. I cringed at the sight of her dead body on the floor. Her profession, if you could call it that, was obvious. She worked at the local diner- she even still had her uniform on. But that wasn’t what had bothered me.

            She was so young. Hell, she was probably my age. The thought of my body in her place made me queasy. I risked a glance at Sherlock, who was being uncharacteristically quiet. Usually, he would be jumping around, already spouting off facts about the murder. Not today. Today, he stood stiffly by the doorway, mouth pulled into a firm line. What’s the matter with him?

            “Jean Carter.” Lestrade began, pulling me from my train of thought. “(Y/age) years old. No type of connection to the other victims, as far as we can tell. Estimated time of death: 6 a.m. Could you take a look, (Y/N)?”

            I nodded solemnly. The room was silent as I crouched down by her body. Just by looking at her, it wasn’t hard to tell that she’d been very beautiful, once. Now, her dirty blonde hair was matted with blood, and her body mutilated beyond recognition. There were empty sockets where her eyes were supposed to be. I shuddered in disgust, kind of creeped out. Whoever did this was sick human being. Judging by the awkward silence in the room, I knew everyone else was a bit uncomfortable as well.

            I studied the wounds in her chest and stomach, making a few deductions before standing. “What have you got so far, Sherlock?” I wanted to know what we had to work with before voicing my opinion.

            He wasted no time, taking a deep breath and spitting out the facts in rapid-fire. “University student, works... well, used to work at the burger joint down on the corner. Had parents, but not a good relationship with them. Cause of death was blood loss because of the stab wounds on her abdomen- they’re clean, but random cuts. The killer knows how to handle a knife, but not necessarily how to kill someone.”

            I nodded, satisfied. Nothing I hadn’t gotten. My brain racked itself for answers, puzzle pieces fitting into place. Connection... connection.  I was taking my gloves off when I froze. “Oh!” It all made sense, really.

            “What?” the three of them chorused in unison.

            “You said there was no connection between the victims, right?”

            “That’s right...” Sherlock answered tentatively. “As far as we can tell.”

            “Uh-huh. What color were her eyes?”

            Silence. “I- I don’t know. Why?”

            I smirked proudly. “Oh, Sherlock. You’re getting slow.”

            I was met with confused, blank looks from everyone in the room. I sighed in exasperation They’re a bunch of idiots, they are. “What?!” Sherlock crowed. “What did I miss?”

            At first, I ignored his question, turning to Lestrade. “Greg, I need every file you’ve got under the four victims. All of them. I want their entire biological profile. Hell, I want to know where they so much as breathed on the day they were murdered. Got that?”

            Lestrade was already typing my instructions into his phone. “Yes, ma’am. Who are we looking for?”

            “A butcher.” I said confidently, pulling up Google Maps on my iPhone.

            “I don’t understand.” We all looked at Sherlock in surprise. Hearing those words from his lips was rare. I rather liked it.

            “You should get that on a t-shirt, Sher.”

            He rolled his eyes, dismissing my comment. “What does her eye color have to do with anything?”

            I looked up from my phone, having found the destination I needed. I grinned devilishly as I turned to face him. “Sometimes, Sherlock, the connection is in the evidence that isn’t there.” I looked around at the three of them, watching realization spread across their features. “Let’s have lunch, shall we?” I asked casually, holding up my phone. On the screen was a map from here to the diner where Jean had worked. “I hear the burgers at this diner are... killer.”

            With that, I strode out, making my dramatic exit like the drama queen I was. While I was still sort of creeped out by the whole premise of the case, I was mostly excited. I’d basically just solved a case! On my own! No help from Sherlock necessary. I smiled to myself. I was getting pretty good at this whole ‘detective’ thing.

            My pace faltered after a few steps when I realized that none of the men were following me. I was going to turn back, but Lestrade’s words made me stop. “She’s bloody brilliant, she is. Keep her.” Grinning, I kept walking, knowing they would follow.

--- (This time skip is sponsored by Mycroft’s umbrella) ---

            “Yes, obviously it’s a butcher. Haven’t you been listening?” I muttered as I took a sip of my chocolate milkshake. Sherlock, John and I sat at a table for four in the retro diner, waiting for Lestrade and the files we needed. Hits of the 70s and 80s played softly around us, and a soft red light washed over the whole room. I loved the whole feel of this place. I would love it even more if Sherlock wasn’t being such an arse.

            “Just because of the cuts?” Sherlock asked from beside me, slightly disbelieving. “Anyone could have made those cuts with that level of inexpertise. You saw them.” He took a sip of his own shake: strawberry. John had settled for tea.

            I rolled my eyes for the umpteenth time that day. “No, Sherlock. Because of the type of knife that would need to be used to make those cuts.”

            “What kind of knife would you need?”

            “Professional grade, obviously. My dad was a chef- I would know. Nobody without a job dealing with some sort of meat would have that just lying around the house.”

            “But how can you be s-”

            “Can you just believe her for once, Sherlock?” John interjected, tired of his constant questions. Sherlock gave up and slumped back in his chair, pouting. I breathed a sigh of relief and mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ to John.

            “Here we are.” Lestrade as he approached the table, files in hand.

            “Ah, thank you.” I said as he handed the (rather large) folder to me. I said nothing for a few seconds, rifling through the papers and taking in all the information. To break the silence, John and Lestrade made small talk while they waited for my conclusion. Sherlock scooted his chair over and peered at the papers over my shoulder. I made a note of where each victim lived on my phone.

            “Does anyone have a pen?” I asked suddenly, looking up from my work.

            “Yeah, here.” Lestrade handed me a blue fountain pen after fishing around in his pocket for a few seconds. I mumbled my thanks and continued looking through each file. I finally got to the biological profiles, reading through every physical aspect about each victim. I circled each person’s eye color as I went.

            After a few minutes, Sherlock got a little too close for comfort. I assumed he was just intent on the files, which was fine, but his breathing on my neck was getting a little distracting. “Sherlock...”

            “Yes?” He asked smugly. I huffed- the bastard was doing this on purpose. I knew he was still salty that I had solved the case much quicker than he ever could have, but I didn’t think he would go so far as to distract me to slow me down.

            “Personal space.”

            “What about it?”

            “I need it.”

            “Oh, I’m sorry.” He said innocently, leaning in even further until his nose brushed my cheek. My breath hitched in my throat and I could feel his smirk. “Is this distracting you?”

            There was no way I was giving him the satisfaction of answering. Slowly, wordlessly, I scooted my red chair to the left until I was a respectable distance away. Then, I cleared my throat and shoved the biological profiles towards him. He pouted, disappointed in my reaction. John and Lestrade’s conversation had ceased, so I knew they had seen the whole thing. They probably had stupid grins on their faces right now, but I didn’t even care.

            “They all have the same eye color, Sherlock.”

            “Yes, they all had gray eyes. So what?”

            “Well...” I paused. “I don’t know yet.”

            He scoffed. “Oh, well that’s brilliant.”

            I scowled. “Oh, like you’re doing any better, Sherlock!”

            “Look, we don’t even know if your lead is correct. Like you said, anyone with a job dealing in meat could have that type of knife. And you’re going to pinpoint it to a butcher just like that? You’re an idiot.”

            “Uh...” John debated whether or not to warn him to shut up, remembering last night’s events when he had done nearly the same thing. After a split second, he decided it would be best if he just let Sherlock learn the hard way. He slouched back and hid his face behind his hand, not wanting to watch.

            I sat up a little straighter and cleared my throat, ready to bombard Sherlock with the facts. It’s about time he got a smack down. He thinks he’s sooo smart, doesn’t he? God, it’s like dealing with a child.

“Oh, and I suppose it’s just a coincidence that they all lived within 8 miles of the same butcher shop? And I suppose it’s just a coincidence that they all went there the day before they were killed? Think about it, Sherlock. No excess blood? Freezer paper under the body. No eyes? You could stick them in the freezer at the butcher’s and no one would say a word. The only thing to figure out would be why the butcher is taking the eyes in the first place. And if I’m correct...” I pulled up a profile of the head butcher on my phone. “The owner’s wife just died a week ago.” I was fuming by now, but I honestly did not give a royal crap. Sherlock’s jaw clenched and he set me with a firm gaze, not retracting his previous statement.

“You know what color eyes she had, Sherlock? Gray. This guy is a sicko. Probably lookin’ for the same color eyes as her or some crap. Who cares? I was right. So look me in the eye and tell me again that I’m wrong. Go ahead. I dare you.”

            The entire diner was silent as Sherlock and I both attempted to stare one another down. Come to think of it, these stare-offs seemed to happen a lot between us. After a few seconds, my gaze softened when I realized that I had just yelled at my best friend. Sherlock’s jaw unclenched, and uncharacteristic worry filled his green eyes. John cleared his throat awkwardly.

            “Sorry...” I mumbled awkwardly, averting my gaze to the floor.

            “No, I’m sorry.” Sherlock nearly cut me off. I looked up at him hesitantly. His eyes were closed as he drew in a long breath. “I’m sorry. You were right.” He opened his eyes slowly, and I welcomed the return of his brightly colored orbs.

            I opened my mouth to tell him it was fine, but Lestrade cut me off with an exclamation “So!” Both of our heads whipped around to face him. I didn’t fail to notice the suppressed smiles on his and John’s faces. John covered his face with his hand to hide it while Lestrade continued. I glared at him. “You said the owner, right?”

            I simply nodded. “Well!” He continued, standing up and straightening his suit jacket. “In that case, I’ll be off. Gotta get someone in to interview him, see if he has an alibi. Thanks for all the help, (Y/n).” He gathered the files up into the folder. With a nod and a tight smile, he turned to leave.

            “Uh, Lestrade?” John called out.

            The Detective Inspector turned around. “Yeah, John?”

            “Couldn’t Sherlock just interview him?”

            Lestrade looked over at Sherlock apprehensively before answering. “Sherlock is not doing anything with this case. He’ll get himself into trouble. Actually, I think he’s done quite enough today. You should probably go home.” He pointed his finger at all of us. “All of you.” He turned to leave once more, shooting us all a warning glance that said ‘Just stay out of this one’.

            I sighed, disappointed. “Bye, Greg.” I gave him a wave as I took another sip of my shake.

            “See you, (Y/n).” The bell jingled as he closed the door, leaving our trio alone once more.

            Silence fell over us until John spoke up. “You’re not planning on staying out of this, are you, Sherlock?”

            Sherlock quirked a smile, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Not a chance.”

            I grinned. Knew it. “Well, what are we waiting for?” I enquired as I stood up from the table. I looked down at my excited companions.  “Let’s get out of here.”

            “We wait for the place to close,” Sherlock rambled off instructions as we stepped out of the diner. It was a nice afternoon- perfect weather. I might just walk home. “Then two of us break in and poke around in the freezer while the other one keeps an eye on Jones- make sure he doesn’t try and kill someone else.”

            “Who’s Jones?” John asked, hailing a cab. Sherlock hung back by me.

            “Head butcher and owner.” I replied quickly.

            “Sounds good.” A cab pulled up to the side of the road and stopped, waiting for us to climb in. John opened the door, then looked at us expectantly. “Coming?”

            Sherlock took a step forward, but I stayed put. “Actually,” Sherlock stopped walking, wondering why I wasn’t coming. “I think I’ll catch one in a few minutes. It’s really nice outside right now...”

            “No.” I looked at Sherlock, startled. What? “Get in.” He motioned towards the cab, then placed his hand on my back and tried to lead me to the cab.

            “I-I was just going to w-”

            “(Y/n).” He moved so he was standing right in front of me, blocking John’s view of our conversation. He paused for a moment, then seemed to change his mind. He turned his head to face John and motioned towards the cab with his left hand. He placed the other one on my shoulder.

            John took this as his cue and climbed into the cab, waiting for us there. Satisfied, Sherlock turned back to face me and placed his other hand on my shoulder as well. I stood there puzzled, brow furrowed parted in confusion. “(Y/n).” He repeated slowly, his voice dropping an octave to show his sincerity. “Someone just murdered a girl your age. Until this guy is taken care of and I know you’re safe, I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

            My lips parted in shock. Wow, look! He does have feelings. It was almost comical how overly emotional he was being, but laughing wasn’t an option when I saw the intensity in his eyes. Oh shoot, he was serious. Well, I guess it explains why he was so quiet at the crime scene. When I didn’t say anything, he sighed. “Get in the cab, (Y/n). Please.”

            "But my eyes aren't even..." I trailed off as I searched his eyes for a few moments longer, relishing in his newfound emotion. It was touching, really. But not like him at all. I mentally shook off the weird feeling, complying with his demands. “Okay.” I said softly.

            He closed his eyes in relief and took his hands off my shoulders. “Come on.” He opened the door for me and I climbed in. Sherlock settled in next to me, leaving me between my two flatmates. The cabbie took off immediately, having already received instructions from John.

            John grinned when he saw the look on my face, knowing exactly what it meant. “A little shocked, are you?” He spoke lowly so only I could hear him.

            I scoffed. “You have no idea.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “(Y/n)?” Sherlock’s distinct voice cut through the blanket of sleep surrounding me.

            “What?” I grumbled rather grouchily from the sofa, keeping my eyes closed.

            “It’s time to go.” I opened one eye slowly to see the detective standing over me. He had his arms crossed expectantly, waiting for me to get up. I gave him a once-over. He had changed his dress shirt to a black one as opposed to his navy blue one from earlier today. Every piece of clothing he wore was black (except the scarf), making him look like a well-dressed ninja. I suppressed a chuckle.

            “Five more minutes.” I rolled over so my back was to him, smiling to myself. I could feel his gaze boring holes into my back, but I didn’t care. I was tired as hell. We were supposed to go break into the butcher’s now, but sleep was so much more favorable.

            “(Y/n).” Sherlock warned condescendingly. “Last chance.” When he received nothing in reply, he sighed. “You leave me no choice.”

            A yelp escaped my lips as I tumbled to the floor. I looked up at Sherlock, pouting. Did he really just push me off the couch?? “Rude.” He just smirked.

            “It’s time to go.”

            I waved him off. “Yeah, yeah. Give me a minute to change.” I stood and started to head for the bathroom.

            “Nope.” He reached out an arm to stop me. I looked at him, confused, and my gaze was met with his disapproving turquoise eyes. “There’s no time anymore. You should’ve gotten up quicker.”

            I raised an eyebrow. I was still in the Supernatural tee and shorts I had on earlier today. He’s not serious, right? It’s gonna be freezing out there... Well, by my standards anyways. When the look etched into his features didn’t falter, I sighed. “Fine, let’s go.” I grabbed the plaid shirt I had worn around my waist earlier off the arm of the sofa and threw it on over my t-shirt. In my haste to leave, I forgot my coat.

--- (mini time skip) ---

            “John’s been following Jones around since the shop closed this evening.” Sherlock explained as we entered a cab. When he saw the confused look on my face, he answered my question before I could even ask it. “It’s 11:30 now. We’ll get there about midnight.”

            I nodded in reply.

            We reached the butcher’s at exactly 11:58 pm, according to the digital clock on the taxi dashboard. Sherlock paid the driver, and we both exited the cab and stood on the curb until the driver was out of sight. The moment it turned the corner, Sherlock whipped out his flip phone and dialed John.

            I scoffed. “Really, Sherlock?”

            He shot a puzzled look at me while he waited for John to pick up. “What?”

            “This is 2011, get an iPhone or something. That thing is ancient.”

            He merely rolled his eyes. “John!” He exclaimed into the phone. He listened intently as John rambled off information to him. “Okay. If you don’t hear from us by three, phone Lestrade... And an ambulance.” Without even saying goodbye, he hung up.

            I quirked an eyebrow. “What are we going to need an ambulance for?”

            An unknown emotion flashed across his eyes, but disappeared quickly. “Just taking precautions.”

            He sounded like he didn’t want to be pushed on the matter, so I let it go. “Okay.”

            “Cover me, will you?” He stepped up to the door and immediately began picking the lock with a... wait, is that seriously a bobby pin? Leave it to Sherlock. ‘Serious break-in’ my arse.  I shook my head in a resigned manner, but moved so I was blocking him from the wandering eyes of the passerby. Not that there were many of them at this hour. A soft blue light shone from the word ‘Butcher’ hanging over the door.

            A breeze picked up, and I shivered. Anxious to get inside, I turned to Sherlock. “Are you almost done?” I hissed.

            “Be patient.” He grumbled angrily, jimmying the bobby pin in the lock once more. I rolled my eyes- it was going to be ages before we made it inside.

            “Lestrade is going to kill us if he finds out about this.”

            “Mm... nah. Break-ins aren’t really his division.”

            After 20 solid minutes of Sherlock attempting to open a door whilst muttering curses under his breath, I decided to take things into my own hands. “Give me that, Sherlock.” I huffed, snatching the bobby pin from him.

            “Hey!” He protested. I gave him a warning look, silently telling him not to draw attention to ourselves. “Rude.” He whispered, shooting daggers at me with his eyes. “You won’t be able to do it.” He smirked at me, sure of himself.

            “Nah ah ah.” I waved my finger at him and held up the bobby pin. “You picked a fight with the wrong girl, Holmes.” I moved to put the bobby pin in the door, but froze when I got a better look at it. “Sherlock, is this my bobby pin?”

            “Yes.” He said simply, using his ‘duh’ tone. “Problem?”

            “Stay out of my stuff.” I scowled, going back to the task at hand. A faint click was heard 15 seconds later. My face lit up. “Ta-da!”

            I looked to Sherlock, who simply rolled his eyes. “Beginner’s luck.” He mumbled.

            “Practiced skill.” I corrected, holding open the door so he could slip in. He didn’t thank me. Instead, he questioned me.

            “Where did you learn that?”

            I raised my eyebrows in surprise. “Can’t you deduce it, Mr. I-know-your-whole-life-story-just-by-looking-at-you?” I slipped in behind him and closed the heavy door quietly.

            He threw me a pointed look before heading towards the back of the building. We both fumbled around in the darkness until Sherlock pulled out a flashlight. “You know how it is when it comes to you. You’re too changeable.”

            I hummed in amusement. “Let’s just say there were a lot of locked doors I wanted to get into when I was a teenager.”

“You are a teenager.”

I rolled my eyes. “Barely.” When he said nothing in response, I continued. “What are we looking for, exactly?”

            “A key...” He mumbled as he opened a drawer behind the counter. “Aha!” He exclaimed, holding it up. What little light there was reflected off its shiny surface. He looked at me, an excited gleam in his eyes. “Let’s go.”

            We went through the staff door and down the hall until we reached the door of the locker. It was white and sleek, with a single window towards the top. Sherlock grabbed the metallic handle, slipped in the key, and opened the door.

            Immediately, we were hit with a blast of cold air. I shivered and immediately crossed my arms, huddling for warmth. “Jesus, that’s cold.”

            “Hmm... strange.” Sherlock was looking at something by the door. I shifted to get a better look. It was the thermostat.

            “What?”

            “The freezer is kept much colder than a normal meat locker...”

            “Oh.”

            A moment of silence followed before he turned to me expectantly, blue eyes glistening in the dim light. The shadows from the flashlight made his cheekbones look impossibly high. “Well? Get in there and take a look around.”

            “Me? Why can’t you do it?” I frowned- I really didn’t want to go into the cold.

            “The door is locked from the outside. Someone’s got to hold the door or else we’d be stuck in there.”

            “So why can’t you go in there?” I pouted.

            He smirked. “Because I don’t fancy the cold and you’re the assistant.” He gave me a light shove. “Now go.”

            I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breath as I passed him. “I’m no assistant, Holmes.” I knew he heard me, but he said nothing. I strode into the freezer and let my hair down to trap the heat on my neck. Even with that, my teeth were still chattering. I pulled the plaid shirt around me tighter. I could see my breath, and had fun making the little clouds despite being on the lookout for clues.

Various types of meat hung from racks that covered the locker. Their red coloring stuck out painfully against the white walls. The freezer was bigger than I’d expected, so it took me a while to scour all the racks.

            I was about to give up and retreat back to the heat when something caught my eye. Is that...? Oh my God. “Sherlock!” I called out. “I f-found them!” The cold was seeping in now, the chattering of my teeth affecting my speech.

“Excellent!” There, on a top shelf amongst brisket-cut meat was a jar of eyes. Human, gray, eyes. I reached for it carefully, but then stopped myself.

            “D-don’t we need a p-picture of the evidence? I don’t want to m-move it before we have some.”

            “Definitely.” Sherlock called out from the doorway and scurried over. He quickly pulled up the camera on his fossil of a phone and tried to take a picture of the jar.

            BAM!

            My heart dropped and my expression morphed into one of terror. I looked over at Sherlock- his face was pale and his mouth was drawn into a tight line. “Sherlock...” I began tentatively. “Did you put something in to hold the door?”

            He closed his eyes slowly, his expression paining as he realized what he’d just done. “...No.”

            I let out a long, painful breath. “We’re s-stuck.”

            “Yes.”

            “In a f-freezing cold meat locker.”

            “It’s not that cold.”

            “S-says the p-person wearing two layers of clothes and a trench c-coat! So we’re here until John realizes we’re m-missing?”

            His eyes flew open and lit up as he looked down at me. “(Y/n), you’re a genius!” He flipped open his phone again and tried to type in a few numbers. The light in his eyes slowly faded as he struggled with his phone. Something was wrong. Eventually he huffed and threw the phone back into his pocket. “Frozen circuits.” He mumbled.

            I groaned. “You’ve g-got to be k-kidding me.” I flopped down on the floor, ignoring the cold. Or at least, trying to. My bottom felt numb immediately. I hugged my knees to my chest, trying to conserve body heat. It was going to be a long two and a half hours until 3 am.

            “Ugh, why’d you have to go and call me in here? You could’ve just come and gotten the phone from me, then we wouldn’t be in this mess.” Sherlock was pacing back and forth now, gauging every possible outcome of our situation.  

            I looked up at him incredulously. “This is my f-fault? I didn’t even c-call you in here, I j-just asked you a question!”

            “Yes, of course this is your fault!” He sneered as he threw his hands in the air. My chest clenched and I felt like I had just been stabbed through the heart. He had a dangerous glint in his eyes- something I had never seen before. I suddenly became very frightened of what he might do. “Why couldn’t you just use your own phone?!”

            I was gaping at him now. “Because it’s in the pocket of my coat and I left it at the flat, Sher-”

            “Ugh, why do you have to be so STUPID sometimes, (Y/n)?!?”

            “Sherlock!” His name caught in my throat- tears were welling up in my (e/c) eyes. Who was he to blame me for this? He froze immediately and winced, recognizing the harshness of his words. “Stop yelling at me, I’m not the one who got us stuck here in the first place!”

(Sherlock’s POV)

            She was right, of course. I stood there, face blank, while my mind raced. I’d done it again. Offended her. Hurt her. I could see it in her eyes- the tears she was fighting back.

            There she went again, changing. The first time I hurt her, she had cried. The next few times, she had yelled at me. Now, she refused to cry and instead fixed me with a horrified look. It was intriguing, really, to see how she constantly altered. Whether it was naturally her personality or the effect of her surroundings, I had yet to figure out. I made a mental note to look into it later- sometime when she wasn’t scolding me and we weren’t at danger of freezing to death.

            My eyes softened as I took in the sight of her small form huddled on the icy ground, desperately trying to warm up. A rush of determination rushed through me and I felt my jaw jut out subconsciously. She was going to be fine. Both of us were, and I was going to make sure of it.

            I reached out a hand to help her up, and she took it hesitantly. As soon as she was standing, I pulled her shivering body into my chest, wrapping my arms and coat around her. She immediately buried her face into the crook of my neck and snaked her arms around my waist. I leaned down and planted a light kiss on her (h/c) hair, apologizing as best I could without using words. “You’re right.”

            I felt her smile, and I knew my apology had been accepted.

            Half an hour later, we had moved and positioned ourselves on the floor, leaning up against some cardboard boxes near the door. We made small talk, anything to keep each other awake. We knew that if we slept, our heart rate and blood flow would drop in pace, making it easier for us to freeze to death.

            But the ice was already taking its toll. Our eyes were drooping, our speech was slurred, and we draped lazily against each other, barely even holding on.

            “Sherlock?” She struggled to get the word out, but it still sounded like music to my ears. I always liked the way she said my name. Not that I would ever tell her that.

            “Hmm?” was all I could manage.

            “You l-look ridiculous.” She slurred.

            I chuckled weakly. “You d-don’t look much better y-yourself.” Truth be told, I thought she looked wonderful. The cold had made her cheeks a rosy pink, and a light frost was forming on her face. She looked... angelic. If angels were real, I suspect they would look a little like her.  Wait- frosty skin. Stop distracting yourself and DO something! I tried desperately to shake myself out of my dreary state, but found it impossible.

I lifted up a hand to her face quickly, wiping away the frost in an attempt to restore the warmth to her skin. Then I lifted the hand to my own and did the same. I shut my eyes tight as I dusted the frost off of my eyebrows. When I opened them again, (Y/n) had her eyes closed and was breathing evenly.

            I started to panic. “(Y-Y/n).” No no no no no, wake up, (Y/n). You can’t fall asleep- fall asleep and you won’t wake up. I shook her, rather violently, but she didn’t budge. I tried to stand, but found that my muscles didn’t want to move- the cold was seeping in too deep. Giving one last heave, I was able to force myself to my knees. Frantically, I attempted to shrug off my coat so I could wrap it around her.

            I never got the chance. My hands hadn’t even made it to the collar of my coat before my body surrendered and I slumped down, nearly unconscious, next to the person I had just failed to save. One last thought crossed my mind before I blacked out completely- If she dies, it’s my fault.

--- (several hours later) ---

*Beep*

*Beep*

*Beep*

            God, what is that incessant noise?

            I opened my eyes slowly, taking in my surroundings. I was met with a bright light, so I retreated, shutting my eyes again. Once more, even slower, I opened my eyes and looked around. White, everything was white. And that beeping, oh, that horrible beeping. I was in a hospital bed, obviously. An IV was in my left arm, pumping fluid into my dehydrated body.

            I’m in a hospital... why? The last thing I remember... I delved into my mind palace for a few moments to recollect the most recent events.

            I gasped and sat straight up. “(Y/N)!” I threw off the thin covers and swung my legs over the side of the bed, prepared to jump off and look for her.

            “Whoa there, Sherlock! Are you alright?” John was holding his arms out to stop me. John? What is John doing here? Now that I thought about it, I vaguely remembered a figure sitting at the side of the room when I was looking around.

            “John! What are you doing here?”

            He looked me up and down, checking for injuries. “I was waiting for you to wake up. Here, I’ll call the nurses.” I opened my mouth to protest, but he had already pressed the call button. “How are you feeling?”

            “Fine.” I answered urgently. “I just need to see (Y/n).”

            “Sherlock...” John warned. There was something in his voice- something close to pity. My heart sunk.

            “What’s happened to her?” If she died, I’ll never forgive myself.

            John looked down at the ground and swallowed hard, choosing his words carefully. “She... she hasn’t woken up just yet.”

            Silence passed over us as I comprehended the information. “Will... will she ever wake up?”

            “It’s hard to say, but the doctors think she should, and relatively soon at that. Took them three times with the defibrillator just to get her heart working again.”

            I breathed a sigh of relief and laid back on the hospital bed- she was okay. “So what happened, exactly?”

            “Um... well, three o’clock came around and I hadn’t heard anything from you yet, so I phoned Lestrade and an ambulance like you said. Sent them to the address you gave me, and Lestrade phoned me telling me you were admitted to the hospital. You’ve only been here for about an hour.”

            I nodded. That meant I hadn’t been out very long- only about three hours. “And where’s Lestrade now?”

            “He went to officially arrest Jones. He picked up the jar while he was there. I would think he’d be back here soon, actually. He’ll want to have a word with you.” John gave me a pointed look.

            “About what?”

            “You know what.”

            “Mr. Holmes?” A voice asked from the doorway. Both John and I quickly turned our heads to see who the newcomer was. “I’m Dr. Thatcher. Good to see you’re awake.”

            I gave him a tight-lipped smile, trying not to be ruse. The ‘nicer’ I was, the sooner he’d let me go. “Thank you, doctor.”

            “You were lucky, Mr. Holmes.” He looked me over while he spoke. “That coat of yours saved your life.” He paused, wincing. “Your friend wasn’t so lucky.”

            Instantly, John and I were extremely alarmed. “Why? What’s happened to her?”

            The doctor let out a long breath, avoiding the question. “Get dressed.” He pointed to my clothes, which were hanging in a corner. Neither of us moved, and he gave in. “Get dressed and I’ll take you to her.”

            At this, I jumped into action. Both the doctor and John left the room as I changed from the hospital gown to my clothes as quickly as I could. I didn’t even bother with the coat and scarf, throwing them over my arm and rushing out of my room.

            I met the other two men in the hallway. “Take me to her.” I demanded. Dr. Thatcher nodded, leading the way.

            He rambled off her diagnosis from a clipboard as we walked to the east wing of the hospital. “(Y/n) (L/n). Her skin suffered from second-degree frostbite, nothing we couldn’t fix. By the time the ambulance got to her, though, her heart had completely stopped and most of her muscles were immobile. We were luckily able to restart her heart, but she has yet to wake up. Her body has to internally heal before she can do that. Be warned,” he looked back at me very seriously, “there’s a chance she might not wake up at all.”

            I nodded, bracing myself for the worst. It was only a few seconds more before we stopped in front of Room 394, where I assumed she was being held. I did nothing but stare at the foreboding door for a few seconds. The doctor stood there awkwardly.

            “Would you like to go in?” I finally asked John.

            He shook his head. “I’ve already seen her. You go ahead and have a minute alone.”

            I raised an eyebrow in surprise- that meant that he had gone to see her before he came in to see me. Something about that concept bothered me. Dropping my coat and scarf on one of the chairs outside, I pushed open the door nervously, unsure of what I might find.

            What I found shattered my heart and rendered me at a loss for words. My mouth dropped open and the door slammed shut behind me. She looked... dead. But she wasn’t dead, she couldn’t be; the heart monitor was beeping slowly and steadily. Her (s/c) skin was now several shades paler, giving her a ghost-like appearance. Her veins were visible in several places and her (h/l), (h/c) hair was knotted and splayed around her head. There were IVs in her arms while tubes pumped oxygen into her nose. She shouldn’t even be alive, yet here she was.

            “(Y/n) ...” I mumbled, pulling up a chair to sit to the left of her bed. “I am so sorry.”

            Everything was silent for a moment, and then I scoffed at myself. “Look at me, talking to an unconscious person. I’ve reached a new low.” More awkward silence. Tentatively, I took her left hand in mine. It was cold. Too cold.

            I didn’t know what emotion overcame me, but I started talking like a fool again. “You’re such a fighter, you know that? You died. You literally died, and yet here you are, breathing again.”

            I forced myself to shut up, embarrassed that I was doing the whole cliché ‘inspiring hospital scene’ thing. I heaved a sigh, looking around to make sure no one was in the room. There were some things I needed to get off my chest, and I needed to tell her when she couldn’t hear me.

            “You’re beautiful, you know that? Well, beauty is actually a construct based entirely on childhood impressions, influences, and...” I trailed off, embarrassed yet again despite the lack of audience. “What I’m trying to say is, you’re aesthetically pleasing.” I nodded, satisfied.

            “You’re always so full of life, always so interesting. That’s what I like about you. You’re always changing; sometimes you’re almost ordinary and other times you’re absolutely extraordinary. See, people are supposed to be one or the other, and they stay that way. But you don’t. You’re my puzzle. The only puzzle worth solving...” I trailed off, tears forming in my eyes.

            “A-and...” my voice cracked “now I might never be able to. I might lose you, (Y/n), and it’s all my fault. I made you go, (Y/n). I made you go into that freezer and you didn’t even want to go...” The first tear rolled down my cheek. I took her hand in both of mine now, resting my elbows on the bed and leaning my head against my clenched fists for support. “I... I killed you. Honest to God killed you, and they brought you back to life. My second chance...”

            Unfathomable pain filled my eyes and I looked up at her earnestly, begging her to wake up. “LOOK AT ME, (Y/N).” The tears flowed freely now, cascading down my cheeks. “I am a cold, cruel man. You said so! You said so yourself, the first week I met you. I DON’T DESERVE A SECOND CHANCE, (Y/N)! It’s my fault! It’s my fault you’re here, it’s my fault I couldn’t save you, and...”

            I took a moment to breathe deeply, chest heaving as I pulled my thoughts together. The next time I spoke, it was not a yell, but a whisper. “I’m a terrible, terrible man, (Y/n), and I’ll never understand why you stick around because I’ll probably never ask.” I forced a chuckle. “A month ago, I would have said sentiment is a chemical defect found on the losing side. Now... now I’m not so sure...”

            I gripped her hand even tighter, closing my eyes because of the sting of the tears. “But damn it, (Y/n), I don’t care if I’m losing. I can’t lose you. You and your temper, your laugh, your distracting self... I-” my voice cracked again, “I don’t know what I’d do...”

            “I used to think that the way you distracted me was terrible. I kept thinking about you when I should’ve been thinking about my work... But then it was even worse when you weren’t around! Every day, all I could do was think about you. Where is she? What’s she doing...”

            “(Y/n), if you don’t wake up, I already know that guilt will consume my every waking moment and I won’t... I won’t be able to live with myself.”

            The tears subsided and I took a final deep breath, prepared to tell her the truth. “You have to wake up, (Y/n). I lo-” I winced. I couldn’t say it- I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself. “I need you. I know you don’t feel the same, how could you? But... please, just... just wake up. For me.”

            I leaned back in the chair, frustrated, wiping tears from my eyes. I scolded myself for being so emotional. What would Mycroft say? I didn’t really care as much as I should; I felt so much better with that off of my chest.

            What I had just said could never be repeated to anyone. Not John, not (Y/n), not Mycroft. Nobody needed to know that I’d become emotionally dependent on someone.

            “Sherlock?” John’s voice rang out from the doorway, startling me. I looked up at him pitifully.

            “Yeah?”

            “Lestrade’s outside- he wants a word.”

            I nodded. “Just one moment.” John nodded understandingly and shut the door gently behind him.  

            I stood slowly, remaining by her bedside for a few moments longer. I lightly let go of (Y/n)’s hand, letting it rest on the bed once more. Nothing changed. No change in pulse, no magical movie-worthy moment. I turned stiffly to walk out of the room, but stopped myself.

            Suddenly, I turned back around and did something I would never have the courage to actually do. I kissed her. An actual one, on the lips. It was short and fleeting, but it meant nothing less than the meaning that entailed it. The very meaning I didn’t even have the courage to say out loud...

            “I need you.” Was all I could manage as I pulled away and strode out of the room.

Chapter Text

(Sherlock’s POV)

            I quickly blinked the last of the tears out of my eyes as I closed the door softly behind me.

            “Sherlock.” Lestrade’s curt voice cut through me as I approached with my head hanging low. I looked up to see him standing with his arms stiffly crossed, an angry scowl on his face. John stood next to him, and Dr. Thatcher slid behind me to enter (Y/n)’s room. I moved over to let him pass.

            “Yes?” I answered, attempting to put on my usual cold and uncaring façade to mask the pain I was engulfed in. I saw John smirk and I knew he wasn’t buying it. Lestrade, however, didn’t seem to care what state I was in.

            “Good to see you’re alive.” His words were short as he attempted to keep his emotions at bay.

            “Likewise, Graham. I trust you’ve made the necessary arrests?” My monotone voice was laced with mockery, setting him off.

            “Oh, for God’s sakes. DAMN YOU, SHERLOCK, I told you not to get involved! I told you to just go home!” He seethed, his emotions all erupting at once. Fury blazed in his brown eyes, but there was something else- something I couldn’t quite place...

            I took a deep breath. “I do feel... remorseful... about my actions, Lestrade.” The sentence didn’t convey my true feelings, but then again, that was rather my goal.

            “Yeah, and you very well should! You could have died! (Y/n) could have died!” Aha! There it was, the look in his eyes was even stronger. Worry. Protectiveness. Lestrade genuinely cared about the wellbeing of myself and (Y/n). I scoffed mentally. Sentiment- nothing more than a chemical defect... not that I’m one to talk, given the last hour’s events... I was almost touched. Almost.

            “Um, Greg...” John tried to reason with Lestrade, but he waved John away. John complied easily, shutting his mouth and hanging his head. I presumed he had already been in my shoes earlier, facing Lestrade’s scolding, and wasn’t eager to go through that again.

            “I was perfectly aware of the potential consequences of my actions, thank you very much. I knew what I was getting into.” I sneered, trying everything I could to get Lestrade to end the conversation.

            “Did (Y/n)?” I inhaled sharply as his words jabbed into my chest. “Did you tell her everything that might happen, or did you just drag her along?” Guilt washed over my entire body and my façade dropped as he confirmed my deepest fears. It’s my fault- it’s all my fault. I made her go... The same two words kept ringing in my head. My fault... My fault...

            “I’m sorry.” I choked out, my eyes beginning to sting.

            Lestrade’s eyes softened. “Sherlock...” his voice was quieter now, “it just seems like every time you take her on a serious mission, she gets hurt. And that’s not good for her.” I knew he was right. I was bad for her. A parasite. She needed to stay away from me- for her own sake. “...Sherlock, you have to let her leave. You have to let her go.”

            I knew my eyes radiated the agony I was feeling as they began to water. (Y/n)? Leave? As necessary as it was, I found it impossible to comprehend the idea. I didn’t want her to go, I wanted her to stay. Needed her to stay. She kept me grounded. Happy, even, at times.

            Lestrade read me like a book. “If she wants to leave, Sherlock, you have to let her. You must at least give her that option. Just because you want her around doesn’t mean she wants to stay around. She doesn’t deserve to live in that kind of peril... You and I both know that.”

            I nodded, accepting my inevitable fate. She’d choose to leave, of course. What other choice was there? If she stayed, it wouldn’t be long before I would see her name on a gravestone. She had already faced death once, but survived. Undoubtedly she wouldn’t be so lucky again. Who would choose to live that kind of life?

            “I understand.” The weight of my words hung heavy on my shoulders and my features were pained.

            There was a moment of silence before he sighed and clapped a hand on my shoulder. He looked almost... apologetic? I couldn’t be sure. “Take care of her, Sherlock.” His voice was soft and filled with pity.

            I frowned, confused. Didn’t he just say to let her leave? “But... you just said I have to-”

            “I know.” He interjected, taking his hand off my shoulder and sliding it through his silver hair. “I know. You do.” With that, he turned and trudged off, stress hanging heavily over him.

            “John?” I furrowed my brows and turned my focus to my blogger, silently begging for clarification. “John, I don’t understand.”

            He regarded me with a sad smile. “He only said that you have to give her the option to leave.”

            “...Yes. And?”

            “I think we all know she’ll choose to stay, Sherlock.”

            I registered his words silently and stood there rather dumbfounded. Surely she’d want to leave, so why did John say otherwise? Hope sparked in my chest, but I quickly quashed it as I reasoned with myself. I sighed, resigned. “You don’t know that, John.”

            He just smirked and shook his head in amusement. “It’s been a long day; you should go home and get some proper rest, yeah?”

            “I think it might be better if I stayed with-”

            “Home.” John cut me off, determined to have me leave. “Now. I’ll sign (Y/n) out and bring her home when she comes ‘round.”

            With a suspicious glint in my eyes and a heavy heart, I nodded reluctantly, gathered my things, and headed back to Baker Street.


 

(Your POV)

            “Sherlock?” I called out tentatively as I pushed open the door to our flat. Although I was eager to see him, John had warned me to tread lightly, saying that Sherlock had some important things on his mind right now. Which I understood, of course. He was probably on to another case already.

            When I woke up, my immediate urge (after I realized where I was) was to find Sherlock and make sure he was okay. John and Dr. Thatcher told me everything, from my diagnosis to what had happened when I’d been unconscious. Apparently, Sherlock had even made a short trip to come visit me for a few minutes. I was flattered, of course, knowing that the amount of people Sherlock would take time out of his day for were next to none.

            Ten hours, John said. Ten hours I’d spent in between the world of the living and that of the dead. I can’t exactly say it was an unpleasant experience- I don’t remember anything. The last thing I recalled was resting my head on Sherlock’s shoulder, and the BAM! I’m in a hospital bed being told I’m lucky to be alive. But I don’t feel lucky, or even relieved. Funny how perspective changes people, huh?

            I step in slowly, closing the door soundlessly behind me. After dropping me off at the doorstep of 221, John headed out to get everyone some lunch, promising to get my favorite. He claimed it was something of a ‘welcome back, glad you’re alive’ present, but I saw right through him as usual. He knew Sherlock and I needed some alone time.

            “You’ve got some things to discuss.” He’d said before he sped off in the cab. And I planned to do just that. Well, once I actually found Sherlock, anyways.

            I took a look around 221B’s most-used room, relishing in its feel again. I couldn’t stand being away from this place- it always felt so homey.

            “You’re awake, I see.” Happiness fluttered in my chest when I heard Sherlock’s unmistakable baritone voice, and I whirled around to greet him. He was standing stiffly by the dining room table and I chuckled lightly at his demeanor. I quickly rushed over to embrace him, relieved to see he was looking perfectly healthy- I had been worried. Instead of holding his arms out in anticipation like he always did, he surprised me. His arms remained firmly by his sides. I faltered- and in the most awkward way- let my arms and face fall, making no attempt to conceal how much the simple action hurt me. It was so... odd. John had made it sound like he was going to be happy to see me. At least a little bit, anyways. He never rejects my hugs.

            He sucked in a breath. “Tea?” There was no emotion in his voice. Even his eyes were emotionless: glazed and far-away.

            “Sure.” I answered hesitantly, taking a seat opposite from him as he sat down and poured some out of the kettle. I looked him up and down. He seems fine, physically. Why does it seem like he doesn’t want to talk to me?

            I thanked him awkwardly as he handed me the cup. Silence fell between us, setting my nerves on edge and making me feel anxious. “Good to see you, Sher.” I piped up softly, having worked up the courage to break the silence.

            His face pained for reasons unbeknownst to me. “And you as well, (Y/n).”

            I was taken aback at his too-formal attitude. More silence. He didn’t say a word, just drummed aimless rhythms into the table with his long fingers.

            “Talk to me.” I said suddenly.

            He glanced up, startled. “What?”

            “Talk, scream, tell me what’s wrong, tell me you hate me, I don’t care. Anything. Just don’t make me endure the silent treatment for one second longer. I’ve nearly died, Sherlock, and I’ll not have you acting this way when I just wanted to say hello and make sure you were okay.”

            He quirked an eyebrow and drew in a deep breath. “(Y/n), I understand you’re upset at me for nearly letting you die. Well, for killing you, really.”

            “I’m not.”

            My reply seemed to surprise him. “Sorry?”

            “I’m not mad- I don’t blame you.” I said plainly.

            He nodded, unsure of himself now, but continued. “And... I also understand if you want to leave, because you no longer want to be around me-”

            “I don’t.”

            He hung his head. “Yes, I know.” He whispered, crestfallen.

            “No.” I shook my head, my voice full of conviction. “I mean I don’t want to leave.”

            His head snapped up, but not a muscle on his face moved. “You... you want to stay?” I saw a glimmer of hope in those blue eyes I so adored.

            “Yes.” Of course I did, what would make him think otherwise?

            “B-but it’s extremely dangerous for you to do so, between Moriarty and concussions and the fact that you’ve just had a near-death experience...”

            “I knew it would be dangerous.” He seemed disbelieving, so I elaborated. “On the night I met you and you invited me here, you said it could be dangerous. I still came. I knew what I was getting into, Sherlock. Still do.”

            Ever still, his face remained inanimate. But he looked different now, better, and it was easy to see he was pleased. His eyes twinkled and his skin glowed; overall, he radiated happiness. A long silence ensued before the corners of his lips inched upwards into the smile he was trying to conceal.

            “So... you definitely want to stay here?”

            “Yes.” I didn’t hesitate.

            “Permanently?”

            I giggled and shook my head. “My, my, my, Holmes. Look how far you’ve come.”

            His brow scrunched in confusion. “Sorry?”

            I tilted my head to the side as I fondly remembered my first minutes with Sherlock and John. “Remember the night I met you?”

            He actually laughed as he recalled the events. To be honest, I nearly laughed as well. The circumstances seemed so ridiculous now. The biggest thing I had to worry about that night was getting shot at. Now? Been there, done that. I’d been through far worse, and I’d only been living with Sherlock and John for barely more than a month. “Of course.” He said. “What about it?”

            I leaned forward, placing my elbows on the table and resting my chin on my hands. “Well, I believe your exact words were...” I deepened my voice, mimicking him. “You’ll only be there temporarily- I don’t need the likes of you sticking around for too long.” I stuck him with a pointed yet playful look.

           Sherlock sighed and rolled his eyes. “Yes, well, there was a change of plans.” He said innocently.

            I pretended to think deeply. “Yes. Yes, there was, wasn’t there?” All he did was hum thoughtfully and I shot him a crap-eating grin. “And why was there a change of plans, might I ask?” There was a specific answer I was hoping for, but I didn’t let my features reveal it.

            “.......... So exactly how long are you intending to stay, precisely?” I sighed internally. Leave it to Sher to change the subject.

            “Until I have to leave.”

            “Leave?”

            “My last year at Cambridge, remember? I go back at the beginning of October for orientation.”

            “Oh.” He looked down dejected. He paused for a moment and seemed to weigh a few possibilities. “But... if you didn’t have to go back to Cambridge, how long would you stay?”

            I grinned, knowing full well he didn’t want me to go. “Until you’d have me leave.”

            He scoffed and chortled softly. “Never.”

            I smiled sincerely, warmth spreading through my chest. “Then, forever it is.”

            Time seemed to stand still for a moment. I’m not cheesy, I swear- it’s just that neither of us could tell how long we sat there. We just stayed there, smiling like idiots at each other from across the table. It could have been hours or seconds before one of us piped up- neither of us will ever know.

            Sherlock cleared his throat and pulled out his phone, typing in something as he spoke. “Well, if you’re planning to stay for the long term, we’ll have to make for more comfortable accommodations.”

            My eyebrows raised in surprise as I considered all of the possible things he could be thinking of. My favorite guess included me not sleeping on the sofa anymore. “Oh?”

            “Yes.” He stopped typing and looked up at me very seriously. “The sofa’s not exactly suitable for long-term use, and I already know you dislike sleeping there in the first place...” I did a fist pump inside my head. “... And I think you’ll find my bed to be far more comfortable.” Wait, whaaaat?? I literally froze, slowly comprehending what he had just said. (No, he didn’t mean it like that, ya nasty!)

            Sherlock didn’t pick up on my surprise and kept talking. “It’s plenty large enough for two people to sleep separately. Besides, since you use it half the time when I’m on a case and not sleeping, you might as well use it all the time. You could move your bags out of the bathroom and into my wardrobe, too.”

            I finally answered after a few more seconds of silent gaping. “Uh... okay, yeah. Sure.”

            He nodded firmly, as if this was all normal to him. And maybe it was. Something like this- sharing a bed- was probably as mundane as the kitchen table to him. It wouldn’t elicit an awkward response like it did to me. I shrugged it off, sighing. It’d be weird the first couple nights, I guessed, but I’d get used to it. It was only for a month, after all.

            Okay, so that just happened. I took a sip of my tea, which was now cold. I frowned- just how long exactly had we been sitting here?

            The sound of a chair scraping across the floor shook me from my thoughts, and I watched as Sherlock stood slowly, and then made his way around the table. I stood as well, not exactly knowing what to expect (as usual).

            And he just stood there. Stood there, looking down at me fondly, eyes sweeping every inch of my face. It was as if he were trying to commit every detail to memory- something I had done with him long ago. I hadn’t done it on purpose. But every time he had his eyes closed, I couldn’t help but stare.

           There were so many pictures of him in my head now. There’s one with him absentmindedly plucking the strings of his violin, his face a handsome expression of relaxation. There’s one where he’s in his mind palace- in this one, his brow is furrowed and you can practically see his mind working through his marble complexion.

           Then there are also ones with his eyes open, of course. Those are my favorite. There’s one from the first time we met, with the fire blazing in his eyes as the two of us argued. There’s one from a few nights later, an immeasurable amount of pain in his eyes as he realizes he’s hurt me. There’s his proud smirk after I say something snarky to Anderson. And the last one- the best one- is one where he’s smiling at me, pure joy etched across his features. His eyes crinkle when he smiles- I don’t think he ever does it enough. 

            When he seems satisfied, he opens his arms and engulfs me in the hug I had been needing since I walked in the door. Immediately, I respond, reaching up and wrapping my arms around his neck. Sherlock leaned down and buried his face in my neck, keeping his arms firmly around my waist, drawing me closer still.

            And it’s right here, right now, that I feel the safest I have ever felt in my entire life. Yes, I had just nearly died. Yes, Sherlock had as well. But something about that made it feel even better. Like maybe, just maybe, if we stuck together, we’d both turn out alright.

            “Welcome home, (Y/n).” He mumbled contentedly. I smiled into his neck- I liked the sound of that. Even when I had to leave, I knew 221B would always be home.

--- (time skip brought to you by The Purple Shirt of Sex ™) ---

            It was late evening by the time Mycroft came around for a surprise visit.

            “Brother mine.” He called out in a singsong voice as he waltzed in the door. Well, as close to waltzing as one can get when one is a stiff-backed government agent. “I heard you nearly got yourself killed... again.” John was the first to look up. I could see how much he wanted to groan and hide himself in his newspaper again, but he sighed and attempted to look pleasant. Mycroft noticed immediately. “Hello, John.” He said with a condescending edge.

            Sherlock looked up from his book, actually seeming happy to see his brother for once. I don’t know which surprised me more- the fact that he was happy to see Mycroft, or the fact that I had actually gotten him to settle down and read a book. “Ah, brother dear. Concerned, were we?”

            “Ah, well, less about you and more about (Y/n).” I suppressed a giggle at the frown this merited from Sherlock in response. Mycroft’s gaze moved over to where I was, sprawled across the sofa with a book in hand. He gave a half-smile, hiding his amusement. “And how is the lady in question? You gave everyone quite a scare there, Miss (L/n).”

            I stood and made my way over towards him, grinning. “Aw, I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t worry you too much, Mr. Holmes?”

            He gave a fake scoff. “Not at all, I couldn’t be bothered.”

            We both held in our laughter before chuckling simultaneously, shaking our heads. I wrapped my arms around him for a quick hug, which he returned. “Good to see you, Mycroft.”

            “And a pleasure it is to see you, Ginger Snap.” He said warmly as I pulled away. He called me that now. At first, I was confused, because I’m not even ginger. (If you are... #1 lucky you, #2 Oops just roll with it. Look, now you have a cool nickname :D ) But when he explained to me that it was because of my frequent quick temper with idiots and ‘I don’t put up with any of your crap’ attitude, I had to agree with it.

Mikey didn’t like to admit it, but I had grown on him in the last month. Every time he visited, he was nicer and nicer- not that this made him entirely pleasant. But he was never overly rude with me anymore, and he even admitted I wasn’t completely a goldfish. More of a chimpanzee, he’s said. I hadn’t been quite sure how to take that, but I think it was a compliment. Chimps are kinda smart, right?

            What is Mycroft to me? I’m not entirely sure. Probably like the slightly annoying, overprotective big brother I never wanted. Like seriously- never wanted. But I was fond of him all the same. Plus, being nice to him annoyed Sherlock, and that was fun to watch.

            Sherlock cleared his throat in an overly dramatic manner, right on cue. “Now that we’ve all reacquainted ourselves.” He snipped with that jealous edge to his voice that always came out when Mycroft was around.

            “Yes,” Mycroft smirked, pulling out a thin manila folder from the inside of his jacket. Seriously, where are those fantastic inside pockets on girls’ clothes?? “For you.” He turned to me.

            For me? I eyed both of the Holmes brothers suspiciously as I took the folder from Mycroft. I undid the clasp slowly and lifted up the top flap. Inside, I could see two pieces of paper. Brow scrunched in confusion, I drew the first one out. John, having no idea what the brothers were up to, looked on curiously.

            It was... something from Cambridge, definitely. The seal was at the top. I scanned it quickly, wondering what it might be. I hereby certify... Doctor of History... signed... (Y/n) (L/n) ... My mouth hung agape in astonishment.

            “Wha- What is this?!?”

            Sherlock scoffed. “Your diploma from Cambridge. I thought that was fairly obvious.”

            “Yeah, but- but how? I haven’t even finished my bachelor’s yet. This is a frikking PhD!”

            John, too, was in a state of shock. “Bloody hell.” He muttered.

            “Let’s just say I have... connections with my position in the government.” Mycroft supplied.

            Still trying to comprehend that I now had a PhD, I pulled out the next certificate. I read it, and nearly passed out. This was all too much. I took a few steps back and sat on the couch. I tossed the papers onto the table and put my head in my hands, head shaking in disbelief.

            “(Y/n)?” Sherlock called out to me, concerned. “(Y/n), are you alright?”

            “I’m fine.” I squeaked. “Just a lot to process.”

            Sherlock frowned, directing his attention to Mycroft. “Did you make the Criminology one a PhD as well?”

            Mycroft shrugged. “I figured I might as well. She deserves it for putting up with you all the time, anyways.”

            Sherlock ignored the insult, focusing instead on his first sentence. “I’m impressed.”

            “Thank you, brother mine.”

            “Hang on.” John nearly shouted, grabbing everyone’s attention- including mine. “She just got two bloody PhD’s?” I nodded slowly, making no attempt to mask my surprise. “And you’re how old??”

            “Yeah.” I laughed. It was all so impossible. Although, one should probably never use that word to describe anything when one is living with a Holmes.

            “Bloody hell.” He slumped back in his chair, fascinated. “I betcha she could waltz into New Scotland Yard right now and they’d make her head of the Criminologist department.” I giggled- I liked the sound of that. Head Criminologist.

            “With a recommendation from Lestrade, they certainly would.” Sherlock agreed. “But I think NSY is a bit mundane for (Y/n). Besides, she’d need to be a British Citizen first. Actually, she’d need to be a British Citizen to do just about anything anymore, considering that she can’t use her Student Visa now.”

            That made me freeze. With everything that had happened since July when I moved here, I had completely forgotten that I didn’t even belong in this country. I was still an American, despite the fact that England was now home. “Well...” I began cautiously, “... Why don’t I apply for citizenship, then?”

            My response was met with several different reactions from the men around the room. John seemed rather shocked, the poor thing. Sherlock seemed delighted, and Mycroft smirked like the smug bastard he was. “I thought you might say that.” The elder Holmes said as he took out yet another- thicker- manila folder and handed it to me.

            I opened it without hesitation, letting all the contents slide out onto the table. I grinned as I watched everything that came out of it. A passport, a driver’s license, a citizenship card, a credit card, a pen, and two huge stacks of papers that already seemed to be filled out. I took the papers and rifled through them.

            “Paperwork.” Mycroft explained. “I took the liberty of filling them out. One is your copy, one is mine. All you have to do is sign on the last pages, and it’s official.” I took the pen and immediately started flipping to the last page, but Mycroft decided to intercede. “You must understand, (Y/n), the weight of what you are about to do.” I looked up at him with innocent eyes as I mentally reviewed the consequences of my actions. “You’ll be able to stay here as long as you like, obviously, but I can’t say the same for when you’re in the United States. If there’s something that makes it worth staying in the States, I would consider not signing.”

            I had nothing going for me in the States. Not even family (except my cousin, but even if I sign, there’s nothing against visiting). I didn’t have a job there, didn’t have close friends, didn’t have anything. But here? Now that was a different story. I looked up at Sherlock, who was looking rather anxious, and gave him an affectionate smile. “Forever, right?”

            The other pair of gentlemen in the room had no idea what we were talking about, but we didn’t care. He returned the smile, knowing exactly what my decision was. “Forever.”

            With a nod of affirmation, I quickly signed both copies of the forms and handed one to Mycroft. “Welcome to England, Ginger Snap.” He said, then turned to address everyone else. “Good evening.” With that, he strode out of the room- his work here was done.

            Silence hung over the room until John voiced his only concern. “Does this mean we can’t call her Miss America anymore?”

            That night we all went to bed early, exhausted from the day’s events. And so, as per the new arrangement, it was in the dark of Sherlock’s room that I changed into my pajamas. I debated leaving my bra on because I was still a bit uncomfortable with this whole thing, but I knew Sherlock would notice if I did. Sucking up my pride, I slipped on black shorts and an oversized t-shirt before slipping into bed. It was then that I noticed I had nothing to worry about- Sherlock was already fast asleep.

             I chuckled. “’Night, Sher.” I mumbled before succumbing to sleep, the most content I had ever been.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            And so the months passed. September soon faded into October, and November approached soon after, bringing a blend of fall and winter as the seasons seemed to merge. Since I no longer had to go to Cambridge, I accompanied Sherlock and John to nearly every crime scene we were called for (the ‘Geek Interpreter’, as John dubbed it, was my favorite). I managed not to get myself hurt at all during those few months- this in itself was a small miracle.

            Although I enjoyed every moment I spent with my Baker Street boys, Sherlock’s growing popularity was becoming increasingly annoying. Every case we solved, the press tried to follow. Lestrade helped a lot with this, forcing the crowds back so we could cover our faces and get through quickly. The last thing Sherlock needed as a private detective was a public image.

            I might be a British citizen now, complete with my acquired London accent, but that didn’t change my American roots. I still threatened Sherlock with my fist of freedom from time to time. I had to be constantly reminded that I couldn’t say “Land of the free, bastard” anymore. That was rather disappointing. The only downfall of my American upbringing was the cold. I was accustomed to much warmer temperatures back in the states, so to put it lightly, I wasn’t very appreciative of the 50-degree weather. More times than not, I ended up stealing Sherlock’s coat when we were out. Well, I say steal. More like he offered it to me every time I so much as got a little chilly.

If this wasn’t Sherlock we were talking about, I might even think he had a crush on me. I know, at the very least, he cares for me platonically. But of course, this is Sherlock we’re taking about, so naturally he feels no attraction towards anyone. Which is unfortunate, since I’m head over heels for him- not that he ever needs to know that. If I wasn’t so good at faking disinterest, he’d probably be onto me by now.

            We do have a connection, though- that much in undeniable. I don’t mean physically, like with the forehead kisses, I mean mentally. It started in late October out of nowhere; I had just returned home from doing some fieldwork research on our latest case.


 

            I quickly shut the door to keep out the cold air and shook off my boots. Slightly shivering, I shrugged off my coat and made my way over to the fireplace, which was alight and blazing with warmth. As John occupied his chair, napping, I took residence in Sherlock’s.

            It was moments later that Sherlock left the kitchen to come to the living room. Following the feeling in my gut, I picked up his phone from the side table without hesitation and tossed it to him. Sherlock overcame his initial surprise just in time, catching it before it hit the ground. We stared at each other in confused silence for a few seconds.

            “How...” He shook his head. “How did you know that I needed my phone?”

            I shrugged sheepishly. “I dunno, just had a feeling.”

            He studied me with a calculating gaze for a few seconds before shaking his head and turning away. “Okay.”


 

            After that night, it sort of just kept happening. Sometimes, I’d walk in the door and immediately toss something over to Sherlock, who would be over by the wall studying evidence, on the couch thinking, or at the dinner table experimenting. He would catch it without looking. His phone, a pen, a piece of evidence- it varied. Sometimes I didn’t even throw anything, just asked him if he needed what I thought he did. I was always right.

            This morning, I woke up in a good mood and went straight to work in my mind, planning. After all, it was the first day of December, which meant there was only 24 days until Christmas. There were decorations to be acquired and gifts to be bought. I smiled to myself as I swung my legs over the edge of the bed. Today was going to be a good day- I could feel it.

            Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I padded over to the wardrobe and opened it quietly. Halfheartedly, I glanced over all of the clothes on my side. I didn’t pick out anything- I wasn’t really feeling the whole ‘actual clothes’ thing at the moment. Right now, I was in red, plaid pajama pants and a fitted, black V-neck. Yeah, this’ll work for now. It’s early, anyways. I quickly slipped on a bra under my shirt and closed the wardrobe. As I headed for the door, I twisted my hair in a messy bun.

            My hand froze over the door handle when I heard a soft snore from the bed. I turned back to look at Sherlock, smiling fondly as I took in his sleeping form. He looked so peaceful, I almost left him there to sleep longer. I took in the view of his marble face for a bit longer before sighing, climbing back into bed, and sitting crisscross by my pillow.

            I nearly decided to take the cream duvet off of him to wake him up, but halted myself when I realized he wasn’t wearing a shirt. I pulled my hand back and blushed. Not that I hadn’t seen him shirtless before- sometimes he walked around the flat only half-clothed. During those occurrences, it was all I could do to keep myself from staring and practically becoming a tomato. I didn’t need that same problem right now. I also had to restrain myself from reaching out and fixing his mussy curls. I kept my arms pinned to my lap, looking but not touching.

            I did, however, allow myself to enjoy the view I could already see from here. He was on his stomach with his left arm tucked under the pillow, so I had a full view of his broad shoulders and surprisingly muscled arm. You wouldn’t think he had muscles, since he doesn’t work out and he hardly eats; but they’re there, and right now they’re mine to appreciate.

            “Are you going to wake me up, or are you going to sit there and stare at me all morning?” Sherlock muttered, not moving an inch.

            Oh my God. So much for not becoming a tomato- I couldn’t see my face, but it was radiating heat and I knew I was blushing. “Um...”

            His grinned impishly and gave his baritone chuckle before opening his eyes and looking up at me. “I take it’s the latter.”

            He laughed as I punched him on the shoulder. “You arse. Were you awake this whole time?”

            “Yes.” He answered simply, bright blue eyes gleaming with amusement. I rolled my own (e/c) eyes and groaned. He chuckled again, so I turned away and swung my legs over the bed.

            “Get up, Sherlock. You have a case with John, remember?”

            “Enh, don’t really fancy it right now.” He grumbled pitifully, reaching out and grabbing my wrist to stop me from leaving.

            I sighed. “Sherlock, you gotta-” I tried to warn, but yelped as he pulled me back down onto the bed. “Christ, Sher! What was that for?”

            “I said I don’t feel like it.” He gave a small pout but didn’t let go of my wrist.

            I huffed and pulled my hand away. “Oh, quit your moaning and just get up, Holmes. You’ll like this one.” I ignored his protests as I left the room in search of his laptop. I stopped in my tracks at the sight of the kitchen table. “Aw, what the...? Sherlock, you left your experiments all over the table again!” There was no reply. I shook my head and just left the experiments there- no way I was cleaning up his mess.

            Once I entered the living room, I immediately spotted his laptop balancing precariously on the edge of the coffee table. It’s a miracle he doesn’t break all of his things, the way he just leaves them lying around. Kneeling down, I opened it up and typed in the password I had deduced long ago. Immediately, the request for a video chat popped up from John. I clicked it.

            “Morning, John.” I chirped as he came on the screen.

            “Morning, (Y/n).” He said cheerfully, welcoming me as a pleasant surprise. “Where’s Sherlock?”

            “Right here.” I nearly jumped a foot in the air as Sherlock practically materialized behind me, a cup of tea in hand. When did he have time to make tea?

            “Jesus, Sher.” I exhaled. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

            He smirked and took the laptop from me. “Nonsense, your heart is in perfect condition.”

            There was a moment of silence. “Are you wearing any clothes, or...?”

            “Mm... nope. Just the sheet.”

            “Did you... Did you sleep naked?”

            “Yep.” He said nonchalantly, popping the ‘p’.

            “So why couldn’t you be here, again?” John’s voice piped up from the speaker, stopping me before I could get too flustered. Sherlock sat on the couch and I slowly settled in next to him, leaning in so I could see.

            “Look, this is a six.” Sherlock replied. “There’s no point in my leaving the flat for anything less than a seven. We agreed. Now, show me the grass.”

            John frowned. “When did we agree that?”

            “We agreed it yesterday. Stop!” Sherlock leaned in to get a close look at the mud. “Closer.” Sighing, John complied.

            I knit my brows in confusion. “John wasn’t even home yesterday. He was in Dublin.”

            “Well it’s hardly my fault he wasn’t paying attention.” He scoffed. The doorbell rang, but both of us ignored it- if it was a client, we were too preoccupied at the moment to care.

            I nodded reluctantly. “Right, okay.” After a few more seconds of silence as Sherlock scoured the screen, I stood up. “I’m just gonna go get some water.” A hum of acknowledgement was all I got in response.

            Stretching my back, I padded softly into the kitchen and opened up the fridge, only to be met with the sight of bagged body parts littering the shelves. “Ugh... SHERLOCK! What have I told you about keeping your experiments in the mini fridge?!?” I whipped my head around the corner, prepared to scold him further. He paid no attention to me- instead, he was leaned back and rubbing his top lip in concentration. My insides promptly melted into a puddle of goo, like they always did when he was being unintentionally sexy. I quickly retreated to the kitchen before he could catch me staring.

            Okay, (Y/n), just pull yourself together and get your dang water.

            “Pass me over.” Sherlock growled angrily at the screen as I re-entered the room.

            “Alright, but there’s a mute button and I will use it.” John said warningly as the view shifted on the screen. I settled back down on the sofa next to Sherlock and took a sip of my water.

            “Up a bit, I’m not talking from down ‘ere!”

            “Okay, just take it, take it.” John passed the laptop to whom I assumed to be the detective inspector on the case. I wrinkled my nose at the sight of him- he didn’t look very friendly.

            Sherlock went off in quick fire. “Having driven to an isolated location and successfully committed a crime without a single witness, why would he then call the police and consult a detective? Fair play?” He added the last bit sarcastically. I stifled a giggle and he shot me an approving glance. I wasn’t sure what had happened to aggravate him, but I was almost positive that his intelligence had been insulted.

            “He’s trying to be clever. It’s overconfidence.” The detective spat, sure of himself.

            “Wait, are we talking about Phil? The client from yesterday?” I chimed in, already laughing at the detective’s ridiculous assumption.

            “Yes.” The detective looked at me and frowned. “I don’t need the opinion of a child, thank you.” His view shifted to Sherlock. “Your daughter?”

            “My daughter?” Sherlock hissed in utter amazement of his stupidity.

            I could already see the rage in his now icy eyes, so I cut him off before he could say anything stupid. “Oh, please.” I addressed the screen with malice. “Listen to me carefully, Detective...” I squinted to read his nametag, “...Carter. did you see him? Morbidly obese, the undisguised halitosis of a single man living on his own, the right sleeve of an internet porn addict and the breathing pattern of an untreated heart condition. Low self-esteem, tiny IQ and a limited life expectancy – and you think he’s an audacious criminal mastermind?!”

            There was silence on the other end of the line as both John and Detective Carter gaped at the screen for a moment before John regained his composure. “Right...” he mumbled, “I’ll just take this back, then.” Sherlock threw his head back and full-out laughed for the second time this morning. John hefted the laptop out of Carter’s hands and looked into the camera sternly. “Was that really necessary?”

            “Yes.” I said evenly, quirking an eyebrow.

            His laugh receding to small snickers, Sherlock composed himself once more. “Oh, I knew there was a reason I kept you around.” I hummed appreciatively as he wrapped an arm around my waist and placed a lingering kiss on my forehead. He pulled away and turned back to the screen, but left his arm draped around me.

            “Oh for God’s sakes, just elope already.” John inaudibly, unheard by the both of us.

            “Go to the stream.”

            “Why?” Detective Carter peeked in from the side and John shifted to he could see Sherlock. “What’s in the stream?”

            “Go and see.” There were loud thumping noises as Mrs. Hudson entered the room, followed by two men in suits. My eyes widened in surprise, but Sherlock seemed almost apathetic.

            “Sherlock!” Mama Hudson called out in her motherly tone. “You weren’t answering your doorbell!”

            The taller, darker man turned to his colleague and jabbed his thumb in the direction of the back hallway. “Their room’s through the back. Get them some clothes.” The other man nodded and left immediately.

            “Sorry, who the hell are you?” I barked, visibly annoyed.

“Sorry Miss (L/n). You and Mr. Holmes are coming with us.” He reached forward and closed the lip of the laptop, despite John’s outcry on the other end. The second man returned from Sherlock’s bedroom, a pile of clothes and shoes in each hand. He set them down on the coffee table expectantly. Sherlock raised his eyebrows and shrugged disinterestedly. Clearly irritated, the first man continued. “Please, where you’re going you’ll want to be dressed.”

            I sighed and leaned forward for my pile, but Sherlock yanked me back. I shot him a confused look, but he wasn’t paying attention to me. His focus was on the first man. Only a second later, Sherlock smiled smugly and looked him in the face. “Oh, I know exactly where we’re going.”


 

            “I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.” I whispered as I looked around the room, awestruck by the ornate hall and massive chandeliers. “I mean, honestly, Sher. We’re barefoot in Buckingham Palace; you’re in a sheet and I’m in my pajamas.”

            He looked over shot me a lopsided grin. “I know. Fun, isn’t it?”

            I shook my head and chuckled. “Yeah, something like that.” I looked to the right at the same moment as John walked in the doorway. I smiled as he looked around the hall, then to the pair of us, then to the pairs of clothes placed in front of us. Sherlock, just recognizing his presence, looked calmly over to John.

            John raised his hands in a ‘What the hell is going on?!’ gesture. Sherlock and I shrugged simultaneously. ‘Right, okay.’ His resigned nod seemed to say. Running a hand through his blond hair, he made his way across the room and sat next to me on the sofa. He stared straight ahead, chewing back a giggle, before peering closely at Sherlock’s sheet.

            “Are you wearing any pants?” he asked.

            “No.” Sherlock answered.

            “Okay.” John sighed quietly. We all looked at one another and promptly burst out laughing. “At Buckingham Palace? Fine.” He tittered, gesturing around the room. He calmed down just enough to form a proper sentence. “Oh, I’m seriously fighting the impulse to steal an ashtray.” We all laughed again. “What are we doing here, Sherlock? Seriously, what?”

            Still smiling, Sherlock answered honestly. “I don’t know.”

            “Here to see the queen?” The question was sarcastic, but honestly it was quite possible, given the current situation.

            Right on cue, Mycroft entered the room. I bit my lip, holding back another outburst as I added my own commentary. “Oh, apparently yes. Morning, Mikey.”

            With that, we all cracked up again, leaving Mycroft standing there rather exasperated. “Just once,” the elder Holmes hissed angrily, “can you three behave like grown-ups?”

            John gave a half-shrug. “We solve crimes: I blog about it, he forgets his pants, and she nearly gets herself killed on the daily. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.”

            Mycroft rolled his eyes and advanced further into the room. As he did so, Sherlock glared up at him, all signs of humor gone from his features. “I was in the middle of a case, Mycroft.”

            “What, the hiker and the backfire?” Mycroft scoffed, “I glanced at the police report. Bit obvious, surely?”

            “Transparent.” John and I looked at each other, startled. We sure as hell hadn’t figured it out yet.

            “Time to move on, then.” He bent down and picked up Sherlock’s pair of clothes off of the table and held the pile out to him. Sherlock gazed at it uninterestedly. Mycroft sighed. “We are in Buckingham Palace, the very heart of the British nation. Sherlock Holmes, put your trousers on.”

            Sherlock shrugged. “What for?”

            “Your client.”

            Sherlock stood. “And my client is...?”

            “Illustrious.” Everyone whipped their heads to see the man who had just entered the room, except Mycroft. “... in the extreme.” The mystery man kept eye contact with me as he walked in and kept talking. Slightly wary, John and I stood respectfully, not really recognizing the man. “And remaining– I have to inform you- entirely anonymous.” He turned to the elder Holmes to greet him. “Mycroft!”

            “Harry.” Mycroft actually smiled (wow) and shook Harry’s hand. “May I just apologize for the state of my little brother?”

            “Full-time occupation, I imagine.” Sherlock scowled, but I smirked. Upon seeing my amused face, he glared down at me. A few months ago, I would have obediently dropped the smirk; now, I just see his glares as a challenge. I looked up at him expectantly as Harry and John began conversing, my face conveying ‘What are you going to do about it?’ We continued our silent conversation, our faces morphing through a variety of emotions before Harry finally addressed Sherlock, breaking his concentration.

            “And Mr. Holmes the younger. You look taller in your photographs.”

            Sherlock quirked an eyebrow. “I take the precaution of a good coat and short friends.”

            “That, and he’s usually wearing shoes.” I offered, grinning once again as I received another glare from the detective. Harry looked me up and down.

            Sherlock walked abruptly past myself and John, forcing us to take a step back as he approached his brother. “Mycroft, I don’t do anonymous clients. I’m used to mystery at one end of my cases. Both ends is too much work.” He looked over to Harry. “Good morning.” With that, he marched out of the room- or rather, he tried to. Mycroft stepped on the bit of the sheet that was trailing behind him, forcing Sherlock to stop before the sheet fell and he was completely naked. Sherlock tried to pull the sheet back over himself, but it didn’t cover much. I smirked and ran my eyes up and down his body while he couldn’t see me. John caught me and sent me a pointed look. I shrugged innocently.

            “This is a matter of national importance. Grow up.” Mycroft spat.

            Sherlock grit his teeth, furious at being forced into a case. “Get off my sheet!”

            “Or what?” Mycroft’s words were a challenge.

            “Or I’ll just walk away.” My innocent half caused my face to flush at the thought. The less innocent half of my mind had other thoughts. No, please do.

            “I’ll let you.”

            I meant to voice my disapproval, but John beat me to it. “Boys, not here.”

            By now, Sherlock was nearly incandescent with rage. “Who. Is. My. Client?”

            Evidently, the other Holmes brother was equally angry- just better at containing his fury. “Take a look at where you’re standing and make a deduction. You are to be engaged by the highest in the land. Now for God’s sake...” he glanced at Harry briefly, getting his anger level down before continuing. “Put your clothes on!”

            “...Fine.” Sherlock growled. He turned and snatched his clothes off of the table before storming off like the pompous little git he was. After a moment of awkward silence, I cleared my throat.

            “Well, I guess I’ll just... go change, now.” I took my pile and retreated in the same direction as Sherlock had, in search of a restroom.

            I didn’t know the name of the man they had sent to get our clothes, but he certainly knew how to pick an outfit. I had to say, I looked pretty great. It wasn’t exactly something I would have chosen normally, but I made it work all the same. Like I said, I don’t know the name of the guy, but he’s wasted as an agent. He should probably quit and become a fashion guru. Or maybe he already is one. Hey, can’t a man have a side job?

            Another unnamed agent waited for me outside of the restroom and took away my pajamas, promising they would find their way back to 221B. I reluctantly complied. Here, stranger! Take my clothes! This is totally normal. I sighed as he walked off and shrugged off the jacket- it was much too hot for it indoors. I also decided to leave my hair in its messy bun, stubbornly keeping an air of casualness despite being in the Palace.

            My suspicions about the secret fashion guru were confirmed when I re-entered the hall where all the men were seated, already discussing the basics of the case. I had to admit Sherlock looked quite dapper in his all-black attire; It brought out his eyes. I hung on the edge of the room for a few moments more, listening in.

            “Why?” I heard Sherlock question. “You have a police force of sorts, even a marginally secret service. Why come to me?”

            “People do come to you for help, don’t they Mr. Holmes?” Harry supplied with a sarcastic and slightly suggestive edge. “You should be grateful, I would think. Is that not how you met Miss (Y/n)? A cry for help from one Greg Lestrade? She’s quite beautiful, isn’t she? Not that you would notice.” There was a barely noticeable change in the Mycroft’s expression at the mention of Lestrade’s name. I frowned and ran my eyes over his face several times, trying to deduce what it was, but it was gone as quickly as it had come. Weird.

            “I think that’s none of your business.” Sherlock growled lowly. My jaw dropped just a fraction of an inch, surprised and flattered by his protectiveness. I looked over at John- he was shooting Harry a look that said ‘Don’t go there with him.’ I grinned- I loved my boys.

            Harry smiled smugly. “But they do come to you for help, correct?”

            Sherlock snorted. “Not to date, anyone with a Navy.”

            “This is a matter of highest security, and therefore trust.” Mycroft explained.

            I chose this moment to make my presence known. Leaning on the frame of the doorway, I interjected my thoughts. “You don’t trust your own Secret Service?”

            Everyone’s eyes were on me now, seemingly startled by my sudden presence. Either that or I just looked that amazing. Hey, hey, hey. Probably the former- living with Sherlock has made you overconfident. Take a chill pill. Mycroft recovered almost instantly. “Naturally not, Ginger Snap. They all spy on people for money.” I bit back a smile as I strode over to the couch and reclaimed the middle seat, draping my jacket next to Sherlock’s on the back of the seat.

            Harry’s eyes were still lingering on me- a little longer than I found comfortable. “I do believe we have a timetable.” He finally quipped, trying to hurry us along.

            Mycroft jumped into action. “Yes. Of course, um...” He reached down and opened his briefcase, removing a glossy headshot of a woman and handing it to Sherlock, who took it gingerly. “What do you know about this woman?” I had to admit- she was stunning. I was almost jealous. Almost.

            “Nothing whatsoever.” Sherlock stated plainly.

            “Then you should be paying more attention.” Mycroft chided. “She’s been at the center of two political scandals in the last year, and recently ended the marriage of a prominent novelist by having an affair with both participants separately.”

            I chuckled. “That’s quite a reputation.”

            “You know I don’t concern myself with trivia.” Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Who is she?”

            Mycroft sucked in a breath. “Irene Adler. Professionally known as The Woman.”

            “Professionally?” John questioned suspiciously.

            “There are many names for what she does. She prefers ‘dominatrix’.” I felt my face go hot- not for the first time today. Oh, jeez. I don’t know what that means but I’m sure I don’t want to. I’m too innocent for this, too pure. Get me out of here.

            “Dominatrix.” Sherlock said thoughtfully, drawling the word out, making me even more flushed. Mycroft handed him a few more pictures of Miss Adler. These ones were a little more... revealing. I looked away quickly.

            “Don’t be alarmed. It’s to do with sex.” Mycroft jabbed at Sherlock. Oh my God, someone shoot me now. I groaned softly and hid my face with one hand.

            “Sex doesn’t alarm me.” Sherlock retaliated.

            “How would you know?” Mycroft smiled snidely, then quirked an eyebrow and switched to a devious grin. “Unless...?” he looked between myself and Sherlock suggestively. Sherlock’s eyes widened and I could swear his cheeks even got a little pink when he realized what Mycroft was saying. His lips parted to stutter something, but I was in a rush to change the subject.

            “No. Nope. Mikey, I’m gonna stop you there.” Sending him a threatening yet exasperated look, I sighed. I leaned forward and rested my elbows on my knees. “Okay, so let me get this straight. Harry, this woman has... revealing photographs of herself and someone in the palace, correct?”

            Harry looked startled by my quick deduction. “Yes.”

            “Whom?” I demanded.

            He shifted uncomfortably. “I can’t exactly say...” he changed his mind when I shot him a menacing glare. “I can tell you it’s a young person.” I didn’t say anything, silently telling him to go on. “A young, female person.” John’s eyes widened in surprise and Sherlock smirked. Okay, plot twist.

            I exhaled slowly and sat back before spouting off the facts in an indelicate tone that made Harry cringe. “So basically one of the princesses is gay, contacted Adler for her services, and now Miss Adler has a bunch of pictures of the two of them in an imaginative range of compromising scenarios.” Now things are getting interesting.

            Harry flushed red. “Y-yes. Can you help us, Mr. Holmes? Will you take the case?” He addressed someone other than me so he wouldn’t have to meet my gaze.

            Sherlock just crossed his arms and laughed disbelievingly. “What case? Pay her, now and in full. As Miss Adler remarks in her masthead, ‘Know when you are beaten.’” He turned to grab his jacket off the back of the couch.

            “She doesn’t want anything.” Mycroft’s words grabbed his attention and Sherlock froze, then slowly turned back around. “She got in touch, she informed us that the photographs existed, she indicated that she had no intention to use them to extort either money or favor.”

            The three of us on the couch all shared impressed and surprised glances. Finally interested, Sherlock replied. “Oh, a power play.”

            I nodded. “A power play with the most powerful family in Britain.”

            “Now that is a dominatrix.” Sherlock agreed. “Ooh, this is getting rather fun, isn’t it?”

            “Sherlock...” John warned, trying to appreciate the delicacy of the situation.

            Sherlock hummed in concentration, reaching back for his coat. “Where is she?” He didn’t even wait for a reply before grabbing the trench coat and standing. “Text me the details. I’ll be in touch by the end of the day.” Sensing the end of our visit, John and I stood up.

            “Do you really think you’ll have news by then?” Harry asked doubtfully.

            “No,” Sherlock refuted proudly as he swung on his coat, “I think I’ll have the photographs.”

            “One can only hope you’re as good as you seem to think.”

            Sherlock looked at him sharply, indignant that anyone should insult his genius. I repressed a smile- his ego was so fragile sometimes. Sherlock looked him up and down, in deduction mode, before smirking. Uh oh, I know that face. Sherlock had dirt on him now, something he was planning to either exploit or make fun of. I was surprised when he asked calmly, “Can I have a box of matches? Or your cigarette lighter, either will do.” I frowned. That’s it?

           “I’m sorry?” Harry seemed thrown off by the question. “I don’t smoke.”

            “No, I know you don’t- but your employer does.” Puzzled, I looked Harry up and down before seeing the signs that proved Sherlock’s statement. I gave an involuntary hum of approval that didn’t go unnoticed by either man. Sherlock reached down and picked up my jacket off of the back of the couch.

            Annoyed, Harry reached into his own jacket pocket to reveal a cigarette lighter. “We have kept a lot of people successfully in the dark about this little fact, Mr. Holmes.” Sherlock snatched the lighter from him and pocketed it. I sighed disappointedly. That’s the dirt Sherlock had on him- the Queen smokes? Who cares? But I looked up at Sherlock and realized that he still had The Smirk™, which meant that there was something else coming.

            Sherlock stood close behind me and politely held open my jacket, throwing me off guard as he usually dismissed such formalities. I turned and slipped my arms in the sleeves, allowing him to pull the leather over my shoulders. Harry watched his every move. Sherlock made sure to do it slowly- deliberately slow, running his hands down my arms when he was finished. He hands lingered on my elbows when he was done, and my eyes widened as I realized what he was doing.

            Harry was glowering at Sherlock, and my mind immediately recalled all of the times Harry had looked at me for just a little too long or said something a little too suggestive. Oh Lord, the ‘dirt’ was that Harry thinks I’m attractive. Hehe, Sherlock is such a jealous bastard; I love him. I sneaked a glance at John- his face was half ‘Whoa there Sherlock, whatcha doing?” and half ‘I knew it’.

            “I’m not the Commonwealth.” Sherlock stated smugly before pressing a kiss to my temple, not breaking eye contact with Harry. The equerry looked down quickly, his face turning beet red. Chuckling darkly, Sherlock moved one hand to the small of my back and began guiding me out of the room.

            John inhaled sharply. “And that’s as modest as he gets. Pleasure to meet you.” Harry looked up and nodded to John, acknowledging his statement.

            “Laters!” Sherlock called back, mimicking Harry’s estuary English accent. John threw an apologetic glance over his shoulder.

            When we were out of sight, I laughed softly and jabbed Sherlock in the side with my elbow. “You are so terrible.”

            The corner of his lips threatened to tug upward as he suppressed a smile. “I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

           After a hilarious taxi cab ride and a quick stop at Baker Street (well, I say quick), we hopped in another cab to head to the address Mycroft had given us. Originally, Sherlock was going to change his clothes, but I guess he changed his mind. He did that quite often.

            “So what’s the plan?” John asked, dubious about the prospect of jumping straight into things.

            Sherlock shrugged. “Well, we know her address.”

            I scoffed. “What, just ring her doorbell?”

            “Exactly.” He smiled at me, then turned to the cab driver. “Just here, please!”

            “You didn’t even change your clothes.” John sighed.

            Sherlock smirked. “Then it’s time to add a splash of color.” John and I shared worried glances as we exited the cab and followed Sherlock down a narrow street. Suddenly, Sherlock pulled off his scarf and turned around.

            I frowned. “Are we here?”

            “Two streets away, but this’ll do.”

            “For what?”

            He turned to John, gesturing to his left cheek. “Punch me in the face.”

            John was silent for a moment, confused by his request. “Punch you?” John seemed rather taken aback and honestly, I was too. But I was pretty sure Sherlock was onto something, so I didn’t try to argue.

            Sherlock continued hurriedly, gesturing to his face once more. “Yes, punch me. In the face. Didn’t you hear me?”

            “I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speaking, but it’s usually subtext.” John said nonchalantly, and I put my hand to my mouth to keep a laugh from escaping. When neither of them did anything for a few seconds except share expecting glances, I huffed in exasperation. Pick up the pace, boys. We have things to do, here!

            “Oh, for God’s sakes.” I mumbled, pulling back my fist and landing as hard of a blow on Sherlock’s face as I could possibly muster. Sherlock grunted in pain and reeled over, muttering curses under his breath.

            John took a step back, startled. “Whoa, what the...?”

           Immediately, my hand started throbbing. “Ow, shit.” I hissed, shaking my hand out to try and relieve the stinging. Stupid sharp cheekbones. I flexed my hand painfully, examining my knuckles which were already discolored. I was going to have a bruise for that.

            “Jesus, (Y/n), you alright?” John fawned over me like a concerned mother, looking over my hand. He completely ignored Sherlock.

            I waved him off. “Fine.”

            Sherlock straightened up and regained his composure. I noticed the new splash of red on his marble complexion. “Thank you.” He nodded, impressed. “That was... that was good.” He lifted a hand to his face and gingerly touched the bleeding cut on his cheek. “Have you always been able to punch like that?”

            I smiled to myself. “I told you, Sherlock. My fist of freedom.” I gave him a pointed look and he rolled his eyes.

            “British citizen.” He reminded me, walking off, presumably in the direction of Irene Adler’s house. I scowled, following behind him with John.

            “... ’Murica.” I mumbled under my breath. Neither one of them heard me.

            We stopped just short of the address. “Okay.” Sherlock turned to explain his plan to us in rapid fire. “I’m going to pretend I’ve just been jumped. John, you’re going to be an onlooker. (Y/n), I’m going to need you to pretend to be my wife again.” He pulled a piece of white plastic out of his pocket and slipped it through his shirt collar to make himself look like a vicar.

            I nodded, unfazed. Sherlock and I had actually used that cover story several times over the past few months, so it was nothing new to either of us. We got better at it every time.

            Satisfied, Sherlock got into position in front of the door while I clung onto his arm, pretending to be worried sick about him. I held in my laughter as Sherlock buzzed the intercom and gave his little spiel to the woman behind the door. Eventually, she buzzed us in and the two of us entered, followed by John.

            After receiving a questioning look from the woman who had let us in, John used his cover. “I- I saw it all happen. It’s okay, I’m a doctor.” Buying his story, the woman nodded. “Now, have you got a first aid kit?”

            “In the kitchen.” She said evenly, then turned to me and Sherlock. “Please.” She said, gesturing to the front room. It was a fairly large and well-adorned room, which wasn’t surprising seeming as we were practically in a mansion. Well, she certainly lives in the richer part of town.

            “Oh! Thank you!” Sherlock grizzled pathetically as she led John to the kitchen. Once we were sure we were alone, we dropped our personas, breathing sighs of relief.

            “Do you think she bought it?” I whispered.

            Sherlock grinned triumphantly and shrugged off his coat. “Definitely.” The distinct sound of footsteps could be heard down the hall, so Sherlock and I quickly moved onto the couch. He handed me a handkerchief, and I started dabbing his face with it. Immediately, he pretended to be distraught, so I made soft cooing noises to ‘console’ him.

            Sherlock grabbed my right hand with his left, leaving butterflies in my stomach. A sultry voice called out from the doorway. “Hello. Sorry to hear that you’ve been hurt. I don’t think Kate caught your name.” Ah, Kate must be the one who let us in.

            Neither of us looked up right away, but Sherlock greeted her in his tremulous voice. “I’m so sorry. I’m-” His voice failed him as he turned to address the new voice. Confused, I turned to look for myself. My jaw dropped as I comprehended what I was seeing. It was Irene Adler, definitely, but she was naked. Stark naked except for her high heels. Whoa, what the actual...??? Sweet Jesus this is singlehandedly the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever had the misfortune of going through. Where’s John? I looked down at my lap quickly, embarrassed.

            “Oh, it’s always hard to remember an alias when you’ve had a fright, isn’t it?” She said teasingly, making her way across the room until she was directly in front of us. I risked a glance up to see that she was staring me down with calculating blue eyes. She looked me up and down once before smirking.

            Giving no warning, she straddled Sherlock’s legs, half kneeling on the sofa. I inhaled sharply as she pulled the fake clerical collar off of Sherlock’s shirt collar. I screamed internally. Startled, Sherlock subconsciously gripped my hand tighter, and I rubbed my thumb over the back of his hand reassuringly. “There, now we’re both defrocked.” Sherlock’s gaze didn’t move from her face, but he swallowed uncomfortably.

Oh, great. I bet Sherlock’s really enjoying this, I thought sarcastically. I could feel my face growing warmer as I sat there awkwardly, watching the whole thing play out. Irene shifted her gaze to me, daring me to say something, but I kept my mouth shut tight. She smiled. “Miss (Y/n) (L/n).”

            I froze for a fraction of a second, shocked that she knew who I was. Looks like they were expecting us- we weren’t fooling anybody. I composed myself quickly. “Miss Adler, I presume.”  I said evenly.

            She quirked one of her shaped eyebrows. “Oh, your voice is even sexier in person.”

            I nearly choked on air. “What?” But I was given no clarification, as she had already turned her attention to Sherlock.

            “Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”

            He nodded politely. “Miss Adler.”

            She gazed down at him admiringly. “Look at those cheekbones. I could cut myself slapping that face. Would you like me to try?” I clenched my jaw. Don’t you dare, Adler, or I will personally throw you into hell. She narrowed her eyes and bit down on the collar she had taken from Sherlock, trying to get her point across. Sherlock looked up at her, confused, not getting her underlying meaning. I breathed a mental sigh of relief. I honestly didn’t know how I would react if he showed an interest in her.

            “Right, this should do it.” We all turned to see John standing in the doorway, his face mirroring our shocked expressions from a few minutes ago. He was carrying a bowl of water and a rag, presumably to attend to Sherlock’s face. The tension built as he looked awkwardly to Adler, then to us, then to the bowl he was carrying before looking back up at the three of us again. “I’ve missed something, haven’t I?”

            Irene took the collar from her mouth. “Please, sit down.” She said to John, getting off of the couch and walking away from Sherlock. He fidgeted uncomfortably as she left, releasing my hand. I hid my disappointment when he did so. John stayed where he was. “Oh, if you’d like some tea I can call the maid.” She continued.

            “I had some at the Palace.” Sherlock said disinterestedly. I grinned- I loved how he was curving her at every opportunity.

            “I know.” She said in that sultry voice again, sitting on an armchair near us and folding her arms gracefully to cover her most important parts.

            “Clearly.” Sherlock said in a voice deeper than normal. There were several long seconds of silence as the two stared each other down. My grin dropped. I grew more worried with every passing second and I looked frantically between the two of them. Crap, he’s not actually... interested in her, is he?? With all the intense staring, it was becoming increasingly difficult to convince myself that Sherlock was supposed to be asexual as hell.

            John broke the awkward silence. “I had tea, too, at the Palace, if anyone’s interested.” Sherlock kept his focus on Irene, making John and I more and more uncomfortable by the second. After another moment, Sherlock turned to me, scanning me with bewildered eyes. He turned back to Irene and did the same thing. My chest clenched as I realized he was probably comparing us. Irene smiled confidently in my direction, and Sherlock and I frowned simultaneously.

            “D’you know the big problem with a disguise, Mr. Holmes?” Irene asked. He quirked an eyebrow, waiting for her to continue. “However hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”

            Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “You think I’m a married vicar with a bleeding face?”

            “No, I think you’re damaged, delusional man who believes in a higher power. Look, you’ve even got yourself a... pet. In your case, the higher power is yourself.” I felt my anger threaten to boil over as I realized the ‘pet’ was me. She smirked at my reaction, and I knew she wanted to see me get mad. I unclenched my jaw and let my face remain neutral, determined not to let her get to my head (even though she already had).

            Sherlock squirmed under her gaze again and suddenly seemed to have trouble breathing. I watched him, concerned, as his slender fingers unbuttoned the top two buttons on his shirt. I felt my heart sink. That was a basic move that every guy did when he was interested in a girl or even... Nope, don’t even think about that. Happy thoughts.

            Irene leaned forward. “Oh, and somebody loves you.”  She glanced to me momentarily, triumph shining in her eyes. I realized then that she had already figured out how I felt about Sherlock. My eyes fluttered shut as a look of defeat passed over my featured momentarily. I felt John’s eyes on me as well. “Why, if I had to punch that face, I’d avoid your nose and teeth too.”

            There was awkward silence until John forced a laugh. “Could you put something on, please? Er, anything at all.” He looked down at his hands, seeing if he had anything for her. “A napkin?”

            “Why?” Irene countered teasingly, “are you feeling exposed?”

            Sherlock stood suddenly. “I don’t think John knows where to look.” I cringed at his tone of voice- it sounded like he knew where to look, and the very thought made me uncomfortable. He picked up his coat, shook it out, turned away from Irene and held it out to her. I snorted. Oh, so now he has some decency. I was becoming more and more annoyed with Sherlock’s behavior by the minute. I had no right to feel the way I did, but it still ticked me off.

            Irene ignored Sherlock for a moment, instead making her way over to John. I watched as John rolled his head on his neck uncomfortably, forcing himself to keep eye contact instead of letting his eyes drift lower. “No... I think he knows exactly where.” She strode back over to Sherlock, who was still keeping his gaze steadfastly averted. “I’m not sure about you.” She took the coat and wrapped it around her.

            “Oh trust me, he knows where to look.” I hissed under my breath.

            “What was that?” Everyone’s eyes were on me as Irene called me out.

            I kept a poker face. “Nothing.”

            Irene plastered that stupid smirk on her face again, setting each one of my nerves on edge. I clenched one of my fists in anger, but played it off and resting my chin on the fist. “Well, never mind. We’ve got better things to talk about. Now tell me – I need to know.” She made her way over to the sofa. I moved to where Sherlock had been and she sat in my seat. “How was it done?”

            Sherlock scrunched his brow in confusion. “What?”

            Irene took off her shoes. “The hiker with the bashed-in head. How was he killed?”

            Our trio looked at each other, confused. “That’s not why we’re here.” I said plainly, turning my head to face Irene.

            “No, no, no, you’re here for the photographs but that’s never gonna happen, and since we’re here just chatting anyway ...” She shrugged innocently and I rolled my eyes.

            “That story’s not been on the news yet.” John narrowed his eyes questioningly. “How do you know about it?”

            “I know one of the policemen. Well, I know what he likes.”

            “Oh.” Something in John’s eyes had changed, and he came over to the sofa to occupy the seat on the other side of Adler. “And you like policemen?”

            I literally groaned aloud when I realized that John was just a little bit turned on by Irene. I put my elbow on the arm of the couch and covered my face with my hand, exasperated and thoroughly annoyed at Irene’s effect on my flat mates. “Really?” I snapped. Everyone ignored me, angering me further.

            “I like detective stories-” Irene answered, “and detectives. Brainy’s the new sexy.”

            “Positionofthecar.” My head snapped to Sherlock and my eyes narrowed as he mumbled something incoherently. Everyone else stared at him as well until he pulled himself together and repeated himself and began to pace slowly. “Er, the position of the car relative to the hiker at the time of the backfire. That and the fact that the death blow was to the back of the head. That’s all you need to know.” He nodded as he finished and I rolled my eyes once more. Oh, the things he’ll do to impress a girl.

            “Okay, tell me; how was he murdered?”

            “The same way that I know the victim was an excellent sportsman recently returned from foreign travel and that the photographs I’m looking for are in this room.” I raised my eyebrows in surprise. I didn’t know about Irene, but I was certainly impressed, even if I was mad at him right now.

            “Okay,” she said, her voice letting me know that she was equally impressed, “but how?”

            A look of triumph shone in Sherlock’s eyes. “So they are in this room. Thank you. John, man the door. Let no-one in.” I smirked, reveling in the fact that Adler had just made a huge slip-up. John left and closed the door behind him. Suspicious, Irene straightened up and eyed the locked door. Sherlock started pacing again. “Two men alone in the countryside several yards apart, and one car.”

            Irene frowned. “Oh. I- I thought you were looking for the photos now.”

            Sherlock stopped to stare at her. “No, no. Looking takes ages. I’m just going to find them but you’re nearly as clever as (Y/n) and we’ve got a moment, so let’s pass the time.” He shot me a fond look that I returned with a glare. Don’t you dare drag me into this, Holmes. Don’t you dare ever compare me to her again. A glimmer of hurt in his eyes, he frowned momentarily before shaking it off and turning back to Irene.

            I scoffed as he tried to explain the case to Adler and she floundered with her answers, not really knowing what he was trying to get her to understand. After Sherlock had given the first clue, I had immediately solved the case. But with every word either of them spoke, I felt my blood boiling. My jaw clenched as I watched them converse and I knew I was going to have to leave the room soon, or else I would punch the both of them. Why? I wasn’t sure. Do I need a reason? “I don’t understand.” She said eventually.

            “Well try to.” I snapped suddenly, gaining the attention of the two raven-haired intellectuals.

            Irene smirked yet again. Oh, I am so going to punch her. “Why?”

            “Because you cater to the whims of the pathetic and take your clothes off to make an impression. Stop boring me and think.” I hissed ruthlessly, then continued in a sarcastic tone, “It’s the new sexy.” Her shocked expression soon turned to one of hate as we glared at each other, both of us resisting the temptation to kill each other right then and there. Sherlock looked back and forth between the two of us, startled at the sudden change of dynamic in the room.

            I continued slowly so her idiot brain could comprehend what I was saying. “The car’s going to backfire. There’s going to be a loud noise.”

            “So, what?” She countered.

            I opened my mouth to give her another clapback, but Sherlock interjected before I could say anything. “Oh, noises are important. Noises can tell you everything. For instance...” At that moment, the fire alarm went off and Sherlock smirked; everything was going according to plan. Irene immediately shifted her gaze to the large mirror hanging over the fireplace. I stood and paced near the sofa aimlessly.

            “Thank you.” Sherlock said smugly, making his way over to the mirror and running his hand under it. “On hearing a smoke alarm, a mother would look towards her child. Amazing how fire exposes our priorities.” He found the latch and clicked it. The mirror slid upwards, revealing a small safe. Irene stood quickly, panicking, and Sherlock turned back around to face her. “Really hope you don’t have a baby in here.”

            I moved closer to where Sherlock was, secretly proud of him for finding the photographs. But of course I was still pissed at him so I didn’t say anything, just examined the keypad on the safe. “Hmm...” Sherlock watched over my shoulder as we tried to figure out the code. “Should always use gloves with these things, you know. Heaviest oil deposit’s always on the first key used – that’s quite clearly the three – but after that the sequence is almost impossible to read. I’d say from the make that it’s a six-digit code. Can’t be your birthday – no disrespect but clearly you were born in the eighties; the eight’s barely used, so ...” I smiled to myself at the low-key insult I had thrown in there.

            “I’d tell you the code right now, but you know what?” Sherlock and looked to Adler as she spoke. Her panicked demeanor had been replaced for one of collected confidence. “I already have.”

            Sherlock glanced at me in confusion, then back at Irene. “What?”

            “Think.

            *BANG!*  I yelped as the door slammed open and three armed men rushed in, the third one pointing his pistol at John. My eyes widened in fear. Oh no. The leader, Neilson, pointed his pistol at me and Sherlock. Instinctively, Sherlock put out an arm to shove me behind him, putting himself between me and our attacker. “Hands behind your head.” Neilson ordered. Sherlock and I looked at each other despairingly and hesitantly complied with his demands. Neilson turned to his colleague and Irene. “On the floor. Keep it still.” I smirked as he referred to Irene as ‘it’.

            The second man tugged Adler closer to John, who was still being held at gunpoint. “Sorry, Sherlock. (Y/n).” John said, apologizing. I just shrugged understandingly. How was John supposed to take on three armed gunmen? I risked a glance at Sherlock. He was glaring at Neilson with a hatred I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I smirked. No one who received that look ever escaped with their wits about them.

            “Ms. Adler, on the floor.” Neilson instructed. Thug #2 shoved her to the floor and the third one did the same with John. My nostrils flared in fury and it took every fiber of self-control in my being to not take these guys head-on for putting their hands on my friend.

            “D’you want me on the floor, too?” Sherlock said jokingly, trying to alleviate the situation. I rolled my eyes. Still low-key mad at you. Stop making jokes.

            “No, sir. I want you to open the safe.” I quirked an eyebrow and Sherlock cocked his head to the side when we realized that this man wasn’t from Britain.

            “American. Interesting.” He narrowed his eyes. “Why would you care?” He looked down and over to Irene suspiciously. I did the same, but then decided to keep my eyes on the real threat here: the gun. Neilson was itching to use it, I could tell.

            “Sir, the safe now, please.”

            “I don’t know the code.” Sherlock stated plainly, turning back to face Neilson.

            “We’ve been listening. She said she told you.”

            I rolled my eyes and spoke up. “Well if you’d been listening, you’d know she didn’t.”

            Neilson wasn’t having any of it and turned to my companion. “I’m assuming I missed something. But from your reputation, I’m assuming you didn’t, Mr. Holmes.”

            “Oh, for God’s sakes.” John cried out, annoyed at how the situation was playing out. He gestured to Irene. “She’s the one who knows the code. Ask her!” Preach, John. While you’re at it, have him shoot her.

            Neilson let his gaze move to John, but his pistol remained steadily aimed towards Sherlock and I. “Yes, sir. She also knows the code that automatically calls the police and sets off the burglar alarm. I’ve learned not to trust this woman.”

           “Mr. Holmes...” Irene tried to interject, but Neilson silenced her.

           “Shut up. One more word out of you – just one – and I will decorate that wall with the insides of your head. That, for me, will not be a hardship.” Sherlock shot Neilson that ferocious look again that didn’t go unnoticed by me. I felt my heart sink in my chest a little. Of course he’d be protective of her. He likes her, after all. The room was silent for a moment. Neilson looked between myself and Sherlock, recalling how protective Sherlock had been when the trio came in. “Mr. Archer,” Neilson dragged out his sentence as the man pointing a gun at John lowered his hand and stepped closer to his leader, “at the count of three, shoot Miss (Y/n).”

           “What?!” Sherlock and John exclaimed simultaneously, extremely alarmed. I inhaled sharply and my eyes widened as I started internally panicking. Crap. In one swift movement, Archer was behind me and I let out a yelp as he tugged me by my shirt collar away from Sherlock and forced me to the floor. I looked up at Sherlock frantically, but his gaze was fixed on Neilson.

            I thought I’d seen Sherlock angry. He’d yelled at me a lot when we first met, and he looked ready to fight our attackers just moment ago. But even that was nothing compared to what I was looking at right now. Right now, I was looking into the eyes of a man about to commit murder, and that scared me to death. “Sherlock...” I muttered weakly. He turned to me instantly, his blue eyes melting from murderous to desperate in less than a second. Help. I silently willed, my annoyance at his earlier behavior all but forgotten.

            “I don’t have the code.” He said monotonously, still looking straight at me. His voice might have been level, but I could see the agony and fear growing in his eyes as they changed shades of blue.

            “One.” Neilson said. I whimpered as I heard Archer cock the gun and felt the muzzle on the back of my neck, forcing me to look downward. I moved my eyes over to John, whose face was radiating the panic I was feeling course through me.

            Sherlock looked to Neilson and his voice took an empathetic tone. “I don’t know the code.”

            “Two.” The tension in the room was tangible now.

            “She didn’t tell me.” Sherlock was properly panicking now- he was yelling. “I don’t know it!”

            “I’m prepared to believe you any second now.” Neilson said warningly. I swallowed hard, accepting the inevitable. I was going to get shot. Sherlock was telling the truth- Irene didn’t tell him the code. I forced myself to look up to see what was happening for myself, hands still behind my head. If I’m dying, Sherlock is going to be the last thing I see, not some godforsaken floor. My heart clenched as I saw the tears in his eyes that were threatening to spill over.

            “Three.” I squeezed my eyes shut and braced myself.

            “NO, STOP!” When there wasn’t a gunshot, I opened my eyes slowly to see Sherlock lower his hands in relief. I looked at Neilson, shocked. He had his hand up to stop Archer. I felt the muzzle of the gun removed from my neck and I sagged on my knees in relief. Oh my God... Sherlock turned to punch in a code, but I didn’t see what he typed in as I was promptly hauled back to my feet by Archer. He shoved my back towards Sherlock before making his way back around to John.

            *Click* Irene smirked while the rest of us breathed silent sighs of relief. We’re gonna be okay. “Thank you, Mr. Holmes” Neilson said triumphantly, “Open it, please.” Sherlock nodded and twisted the button that opened the door, taking a quick glance towards Irene. I narrowed my eyes as she made a slight movement with her head. What is she trying to say?

            “Vatican cameos.” Sherlock said urgently. I frowned. Vatican what? My eyes widened as Sherlock wrapped an arm around me and pulled me down and away from the safe quickly as he opened it. My eyes widened in surprise- not only because Sherlock was practically on top of me, but because I watched as a gun in the safe fired directly on Archer, sending him crumpling to the floor.

            Instantly, Sherlock reached out and grabbed Neilson’s gun. Just like that, the whole room went into pandemonium. Irene and John started attacking the other guard. Having successfully taken Neilson’s gun, Sherlock kept me drawn close to his side as he smashed the butt end of the gun against Neilson’s face, knocking him out. Still holding me, Sherlock took something out of the safe and slipped it into his coat pocket.

            “Thank you.” Irene called out to Sherlock, looking down at her disarmed and unconscious attacker. “You were very observant.”

            I frowned. “Observant?”

            “I’m flattered.” She continued, now smirking towards the both of us.

            “Don’t be." Sherlock deadpanned, moving his grip from my waist to my hand. I felt my chest flutter as he laced his fingers with mine and held tight like it was his lifeline.

            “Flattered?” I questioned, but Sherlock and Irene ignored it. That’s when I noticed that he was scowling at her, staring her down. John looked over at me and shrugged, equally confused. Whoa, what’s with the sudden change in mood? Do you not like her now? Did I miss something? Clearly I had, because the whole dynamic was different between them now. I scowled. What the hell could have happened in the past 30 seconds?

           Sherlock sucked in a breath and straightened up. “There’ll be more of them. They’ll be keeping an eye on the building.” Our trio nodded in unison as we scurried out of the room, starting to check the house. Irene hung back for a few seconds, though I wasn’t sure why. I couldn’t be bothered to care- I was too relieved that Sherlock wasn’t paying any attention to her anymore.

           “We should call the police.” John offered.

           “Yes.” Sherlock said firmly, already dragging me with him towards the door. Once we were outside, he fired Neilson’s pistol into the air five times. Nearby, we heard tires screech. I chuckled. That’s one way to do it. “On their way.”

            “For God’s sakes!” John chided.

            “Oh, shut up. It’s quick.” Sherlock retorted as we went back inside. He let go of my hand and gestured towards John. “You and John go check the rest of the house, see how they got in. Okay?”

            “Okay.” I gave him a half-smile, which he returned.

            John and I hurried upstairs, looking for anything out of the ordinary. When we reached the top, John went to the right to check the bedroom while I went to the left to check the main sitting room and hallways. “Sherlock!” I heard John call out, but I ignored him until I had finished checking everywhere. After one final sweep of the sitting room, I gave a satisfied nod and headed in the direction John’s voice had come from.

            “What’s this? What’ve you given him? Sherlock!” I heard John yell as I rushed around the corner, worried. “Sherlock? Sherlock, can you hear me?”

            “Sher.” I gasped as I saw Sherlock convulsing on the floor, with John hovering over him. I rushed to his side, kneeling down and using one of my hands to prop his head up.

            “You know; I was wrong about him. He did know where to look.” I tensed at the sound of Irene’s voice and glared up at her, only to see that she was halfway out the bathroom window. What?

            John stood and turned to her, furious. “For what? What are you talking about?”

            “The key code to my safe.”

            “What was it?”

            Irene clucked her tongue and looked down at Sherlock, who was still writhing helplessly on the floor, trying to get up. I pressed a hand on his chest to calm him, looking straight into his wild and helpless eyes. “Hey, hey. Sher. It’s going to be okay.” I removed my hand from his chest and took his far hand in mine. It seemed to help a little bit, and he let his head rest on the floor as the twitching subsided. I ran my other hand through his curls. I wasn’t sure what Irene had injected him with, glancing at the empty syringe not far away, but I was almost certain it wasn’t deadly.

            “Shall I tell your pet, Holmes?” Irene smirked and John turned to look down at Sherlock. Sirens sounded in the distance, signaling the arrival of the police. Vehemence flashed in Sherlock’s eyes, but he couldn’t even form words, much less make a witty remark. Irene looked me dead in the eyes. “My measurements.”

            I felt my breath catch in my throat as I let go of Sherlock’s hand. Irene made her escape through the window, and I felt the jealousy and rage from earlier returning. So he really did know where to look. He really was interested. I clenched my jaw. I was a real idiot for thinking that Sherlock Holmes actually favored me over this woman. Clearly, he was infatuated with her. Sherlock started convulsing again, attempting to get up in vain. Oh, I’m so going to kill you, Adler.


            “John!” Both John and I looked up at each other from across the living room where we were seated, reading novels. Sherlock must have woken up. About time, really. It had been a few hours. “JOHN!” His voice came again, and I sent John a pointed look that let him know that I didn’t want to get up.

            John sighed. “I’ll go get him.” He stood and made his way towards the back hallway.

            I gave a small nod before deciding Sherlock was my responsibility as well. “Be there in just a moment, John.” I finished the paragraph I was on before standing slowly and stretching. I padded towards Sherlock’s room. Maybe he’s come to his senses about Adler. I chuckled dryly.

            “The woman! The woman woman!” Sherlock wailed to John as I entered the room.

            John frowned. “What, Irene Adler? She got away. No one saw her.”

            I sighed as Sherlock stumbled to the open window and looked out of it. “I’ll take it from here, John.” I mumbled. John gave a grateful nod and left quickly. “She wasn’t here, Sherlock.” I said sadly. Of course he’s still concerned with her. Stupid (Y/n). He started flailing around, throwing himself on the floor in his search for Irene.

            What the...? I resisted the urge to laugh. “Oh, those drugs must’ve gotten to you good. What are you ...? What ...? No, no, no, no.” I reached down and grabbed him by the waist, using every ounce of my strength to haul him onto the bed. “Back to bed.” I covered him with the sheet. “You’ll be fine in the morning. Just sleep.” I decided I’d let him have the bed to himself tonight.

            “Of course I’ll be fine. I am fine. I’m absolutely fine.” Sherlock slurred, but his words had a sharp edge to it that made my heart sink. He usually appreciated the encouraging things I said. I didn’t know whether to blame Adler or the drugs, but either way I wasn’t happy.

            I tried to shrug it off with humor, giving Sherlock a tight smile. “Yes, you’re great. Now I’ll be in the living room if you need me.” I made my way towards the door, chuckling to myself despite the situation. Sherlock hyped up on drugs was unpredictable.

            “Why would I need you?” My breath hitched in my throat as I felt his simple words stab a dagger through my heart. I had been hopeful before. Hopeful that maybe Sherlock and I had something. That maybe he was actually a human being who cared for people. But not anymore. Clearly he wanted nothing to do with me. Forcing back tears, I whispered my reply.

            “No reason at all.” I made sure the door was closed softly behind me before I let the first silent tear fall.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “The photographs are perfectly safe.”

            “In the hands of a fugitive sex worker.”

            “She’s not interested in blackmail. She wants ... protection for some reason. I take it you’ve stood down the police investigation into the shooting at her house?”

            “How can we do anything while she has the photographs? Our hands are tied.”

            “She’d applaud your choice of words.” Sherlock said suggestively, a coy smirk playing on his lips.

            “Boys.” I reprimanded as John grinned. The whole morning, I had been trying to keep Sherlock and Mycroft from arguing- so far, so good. Not like anyone else was helping. John was too busy making jokes and Mrs. Hudson was just mothering us as usual. At least they weren’t at each other’s throats... yet. Sherlock was being too calm and indifferent for anything to happen.

            It was kind of ticking me off, actually. The whole morning, he’d been acting like the little incident between us hadn’t even happened yesterday. Maybe he was ignoring it, or maybe he couldn’t remember because he was hyped up on drugs. Either way, his words still stung. But I supposed if he was going to act normal, then I should, as well.

            Sherlock continued on his spiel. “You see how this works: that camera phone is her ‘get out of jail free’ card. You have to leave her alone. Treat her like royalty, Mycroft.”

            John piped up with his own innuendo. “Though not the way she treats royalty.” I rolled my eyes as he sent a sarcastic smile to Mycroft, who returned the smile humorlessly. Honestly, you’d think this was a game to them.

            “I think this whole thing is far more serious than you two are making it out to be.” I said pointedly, sending a stern look to both John and Sherlock. Mycroft shot me an appreciative glance. Sherlock just hummed dismissively and I shook my head in defeat, turning my attention back to my breakfast. I froze mid-bite as the sound of an orgasmic sigh filled the room. Everyone except Sherlock looked at each other in bewilderment. I swallowed my food quickly, blushing. “What the hell was that?”

            “Text.” Sherlock said, nonchalant enough to be suspicious.

            “But what was that noise?” John asked. Sherlock ignored him, standing up from the table to retrieve his phone which was laying nearby. He checked the new message, but didn’t say anything about it. Instead, he turned his focus back to Mycroft. “Did you know there were other people after her too, Mycroft, before you sent us all in there? CIA-trained killers, at an excellent guess.”

            I snorted. Damn right he did. Stupid bastard. John seemed to be feeling the same contempt as I was. “Yeah, thanks for that, Mycroft.” He said as Sherlock sat back at the table.

            At that moment, Mrs. Hudson rushed in, carrying a plate of food from the kitchen and placing it in front of Sherlock. “It’s a disgrace, sending your little brother into danger like that,” she chided, “Family is all we have in the end, Mycroft Holmes.” I nodded- I had to agree with Mrs. Hudson on this one.

            “Oh, shut up, Mrs. Hudson.” Mycroft scoffed. I nearly spat out my food.

            “Mycroft!” “OI!” “Watch it!!” We all yelled furiously at Mycroft simultaneously, not tolerating any sort of disgrace towards Mama Hudson. Even Sherlock rushed to her defense. I scoffed internally. Wow, look, Sherlock does have feelings for once!

            Upon seeing our angry faces glaring at him, he cringed and looked contritely at the elderly landlady. “Apologies.”

            “Thank you.” Mrs. Hudson said in a dignified manner, heading off towards the kitchen.

            “... Though do, in fact, shut up.” Sherlock added. I rolled my eyes. Aaaaaaand there it is. I knew it was too good to be true.

            Sherlock’s text alert sounded again, and I visibly cringed. This was getting awkward. Mrs. Hudson turned around, a bit unnerved. “Ooh. It’s a bit rude, that noise, isn’t it?” She fretted.

            Sherlock ignored her completely, as was his common theme this morning, and once again turned his attention to Mycroft. “There’s nothing you can do and nothing she will do as far as I can see.”

            “I can put maximum surveillance on her.” Mycroft offered.

            I forced a laugh. “I really don’t see the need to,” I said as I pulled up Twitter on my phone. “You can follow her on Twitter. I believe her user name is ‘TheWhipHand’.” Slowly, my sour mood was disappearing as I cracked a joke for the first time this morning, but my words were still thick with scorn and sarcasm. Sherlock chuckled and shook his head. I turned my phone so Mycroft could see her social profile and he pulled his lips into a tight, thin line.

            “Yes. Most amusing.” His phone rang promptly, and he excused himself from the room as he answered the call. “Hello?” He said eagerly into the phone. I heard a familiar voice on the other side of the phone and I smirked to myself. I tried to eavesdrop, but it was hard to hear him with Sherlock and John bantering back and forth right beside me. I sighed. I would have to wait until he came back to crack a joke.

            The sound of crinkling paper shook me from my eavesdropping endeavor. I glanced over to see Sherlock seemingly preoccupied with the morning paper while John tried to pester him, but I saw right through his facade. His brow wasn’t scrunching like it would usually be if he was actually reading. “I’m wondering who could have got hold of your phone, because it would have been in your coat, wouldn’t it?” John pondered, taking a bite of his food. Oh, come on John. Irene, duh. Who else had his coat yesterday?

            “I’ll leave you to your deductions.” Sherlock moved the paper up so that it was obscuring his face from John’s view. Since I was sitting to his right, directly across from John, I could see him just fine. I caught eye contact with him and quirked an eyebrow. ‘HELP ME’ he mouthed and I covered my mouth to hide my smile as I pretended to not have seen him at all. Sherlock grinned, too, but John couldn’t tell because he still had the newspaper covering his face. I smiled to myself again, but not because of John’s obliviousness. It was because everything seemed to be getting back to normal. Alright, so maybe it was just the drugs talking yesterday.

            John looked back and forth between the two of us and grinned. “I’m not stupid, you know.” He said confidently. I had a feeling he was on a totally different topic now.

            Sherlock tutted. “Where do you get that idea?” He put down the newspaper as I restrained myself from bursting into a fit of silent laughter. Instead, I pulled my best serious face and looked at my food, a ghost of a smile playing on my lips. Oh, how I’ve missed this... and it’s not even been a full day, really. What am I coming to?

            Mycroft re-entered the room but hung by the doorway, muttering softly into his phone as he neared the end of his phone call. “Bond Air is go, that’s decided. Check with the Coventry lot. Talk later, love.” He said so quietly that only I heard him. Once he hung up, he stepped fully into the room and made his way back to where he had been before.

            Everything was silent for a moment before I cleared my throat. “So... Mycroft.”

            Everyone’s eyes turned to me and Mycroft gave me an innocent, almost pleasant look. AHA! I knew something was up... “Yes?”

            “So you’ve got yourself a... goldfish?” Mycroft glared at me condescendingly. I interpreted his expression as ‘Hoe don’t do it’. I considered keeping my silence. Ehehe but ‘oh my God’, here I go. Confused looks were shared by everyone else around the room before I elaborated, casually sipping my tea as I did so. “I mean; I would assume you have a good reason for calling your boyfriend this early in the morning...”

            Chaos ensued. Sherlock choked on his tea, John spit out his food, and Mycroft blushed beet red. I smiled triumphantly as Mycroft tried to compose himself. “Hang on, boyfriend?” John sputtered, taken aback. “Who? Since when?”

            “She’s right.” Sherlock said, a touch of surprise lacing his voice as he looked Mycroft up and down, noticing the signs he hadn’t seen before. “How could I have missed it?” he hissed, but then added more eagerly “Who is it?”

            Mycroft glared at me, ignoring everyone’s questions. “What gave it away? I was so sure I covered everything up...” This didn’t help his case at all, leaving John, Sherlock, and even Mrs. Hudson spouting off more questions and indecipherable exclamations. We ignored them, continuing our conversation.

            “Oh, please.” I mock-pouted. “Your tie isn’t on straight- you would never leave the house looking anything short of meticulously perfect. Obviously, your boyfriend ‘straightened’ it and you left it like that out of... sentiment because you care about him...” I added the last bit pointedly, knowing his stance on feelings of any sort.

            “Yeah, hang on.” Sherlock interrupted. “What happened to ‘sentiment is a chemical defect found on the losing side’?”

            “Not now, Sherlock.” Mycroft growled. I continued with my explanation.

            “Also, your hair has been run through by fingers that aren’t yours and your coat was obviously put on from behind.” I stopped there, leaving everyone to soak in the new information. Mycroft breathed a sigh of relief when I didn’t continue. I almost kept quiet, since everyone seemed content with the information I had provided, but I couldn’t help myself- it was time to spill the beans. I lowered my voice so I was muttering my words suggestively. “And I mean, it helps that you just called Lestrade ‘love’ on the phone not two minutes ago...”

            The whole room was in an uproar once more.

            “GREG?!” “Lestrade?” “GAVIN?!”

            Mycroft sent me a murderous look before resuming his pristine composure and addressing everyone else in the room. “Gregory was the name he was given, if you could possibly suffer all the way to the end of it.”

            “I’m never living this down.” John chuckled, pushing his food around his plate. “This is too good.”

            Mycroft groaned. “Thanks for that, (Y/n).”

            I shrugged. “That’s what you get for nearly getting me shot yesterday. Twice.”

            “Anyways, that’s not the point.” Mycroft took the conversation back where it was supposed to be, but not before fixing me with a belittling stare once more. He stared at Sherlock seriously. “Irene’s phone has much more than just photographs, but her case is no longer any concern of yours. Are we clear?” Sherlock could only nod, as he was in the middle of a fit of laughter. Mycroft took it as a suitable reply. “Right, then. If you’ll excuse me, I have a long and arduous apology to make to a very old friend.”

            I cringed at the thought of Mycroft delivering the bad news. Poor guy, he’s gonna get harped on. Sherlock composed himself, shrugged, and headed over to where his violin lay. He lifted it gracefully and turned back to Mycroft. “Do give her my love.” I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not, but the thought soon faded as the sound of ‘God Save the Queen’ filled the air. Mycroft rolled his eyes and left the room quickly, eager to escape the confines of his embarrassment.

            As soon as the downstairs door slammed shut, the compromising noise of an erotic moan filled the air again. I sighed. “You know; we’ve really got to change that text alert.”


 

            A soft violin melody was the first thing I heard on Christmas morning. I untangled myself from the duvet and excitedly swung my legs over the side of the bed, gingerly placing my bare feet on the cold floor. I grinned- I absolutely adored Christmas. I knew this one would be the best yet, as I was spending it with the people I loved most in the world.

            The last few weeks leading up to now had been far more pleasant than I could have ever hoped for. Everything was back to normal- back to how it had been before Adler. No one really mentioned her anymore. When she was brought up, Sherlock was so apathetic that it was like she was never of any importance- just any old case. Our only reminder of her existence was that stupid text alert of Sherlock’s. He had tried to go in and change it, per my request, but Irene had rigged it so it was permanent for her messages and only hers. So we just decided to live with it. It’s not like he ever answered them anyways.

            I padded over to the wardrobe and pulled out one of Sherlock’s blue dressing gowns, sliding it on over my fuzzy pajamas. Sherlock never minded when I wore his dressing gowns- I was pretty sure he quite liked seeing me in them, actually. But he never liked it when I wore his actual clothes, so I never went that far. I left the robe open, not bothering with the belt, and headed out into the kitchen.

            I peeked around the corner and saw Sherlock in the living room, the soft morning light casting an angelic glow around him. Fitting, considering the occasion. I hummed in appreciation as I realized he was playing my favorite carol. Yawning, I rested my elbows on the kitchen table and just watched him gracefully move his fingers across his violin. There was no sign of John anywhere. He’s probably still sleeping.

            I could see all of our Christmas decorations from here- the fairy lights around the doorway and windows, a Christmas tree, the tinsel and mistletoe hung around the room. I smiled fondly to myself. Sherlock looked so domestic, in his Christmas pajamas and red dressing gown, and just... well, enjoying himself. It was rare to see such a placid side of Sherlock, and I loved catching the glimpses of it whenever I could. Ugh, God I want to kiss him so badly. I didn’t even know why (well, besides the obvious reason that I adored him). It just seemed right, you know? Like... like that’s how Christmas mornings were supposed to go: sharing sweet, light kisses with the person you love most. I sighed internally. Yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen.

            “Domestic life suits you, Sher.” It wasn’t until he stopped playing and turned around with an amused look on his face did I realize that I had said those words aloud. Oops.

            “Does it?” He inquired, setting his violin down into its case. I slowly moved towards him, a soft smile gracing my lips.

            “Surprisingly, yeah, it does.”

            His melodic baritone chuckle washed over my ears. “Well who’d have thought?” He said lightly, snaking his arms around my waist and drawing me closer. My smile widened and I put my arms around his neck but let my hands hang loose, playing absentmindedly with his hanging curls.

            “I always had a feeling.” I shrugged playfully, that stupid smile still on my face. He hummed in acknowledgement, his gorgeous eyes crinkling at the edges as he smiled once more. They were particularly bright and teal today, shining as if he didn’t have a care in the world. His pupils were pretty blown, though, so there wasn’t as much color for me to adore as usual. Pity. He started swaying back and forth, leading me in a dance that didn’t go anywhere, just rocked us in place.

           Gently, he tucked a loose strand of my hair behind my ear with one graceful sweep of his slender fingers. My breath hitched in my throat and I knew I blushed at least a little bit as he leaned down and pressed a lingering kiss right next to my lips, then a shorter one on the tip of my nose. I fought my instinct to squeal with joy, figuring it would ruin the moment and give me away as well. He pulled away and smiled down at me fondly. “Merry Christmas, (Y/n).”

           Okay, DO NOT kiss him on the lips! I commanded myself, my lips quirked in a half-smile. Not that it wouldn’t be nice to do that just once... BUT he wouldn’t want me to so I won’t. I was absolutely beaming as I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him in the same pattern. “Merry Christmas, Sherlock.” We faded into a comfortable silence as he rested his head on mine, grinning, with the two of us still swaying to music that only we could hear.

           I closed my eyes and sighed. This. This: right here, right now, was absolutely perfect. I reveled in the moment for as long as I could before I knew I would have to pull away to ensure Sherlock didn’t catch on about my feelings for him. They were getting harder and harder to hide as it was. After a solid minute, he was still smiling. I could feel it.

           “Stop smiling.” I chided teasingly, pulling my head away.

           “It’s Christmas.” He pouted playfully, justifying himself.

           I leaned back and gave him a light slap on the chest. “Look at you: Sherlock Holmes. Happy and grinning like a fool. It’s not decent.”

           He laughed, pressing a fleeting kiss to my forehead before pulling away entirely, heading to the kitchen to start breakfast. “I thought you said domestic life suited me?” He cast me a glance over his shoulder, simpering coyly.

           I stuffed my hands into the pockets of Sherlock’s dressing gown and cocked my head to the side in mock thought before finally giving in. “It most certainly does.”


          Sherlock, John and I exchanged gifts before the party that evening. I gave Sherlock a black leather, silver-face Rolex watch, which he promised to wear always. For John, I bought a new pair of brown oxfords and a collection of crazy socks, which he adored. I loved John’s gift to me as well- a collection of books and movies I had been meaning to buy for quite some time but never got around to. But above all, Sherlock’s gift to me was my favorite.

            I lifted the blue satin lid off of the box and gasped. “Sherlock.” I said breathily. Inside was a set of necklaces- one silver chain, and one gold. Hanging on them were exact replicas to the keys of our flat, engraved with ‘221B’ on the front. I lifted the silver one out, examining it. It was simple, yet beautiful and represented so much. Oh God, I’m getting ‘Nam flashbacks. It reminded me of all the months I had spent here in 221B, not that I needed a necklace to remember them.

            Sherlock, who was sitting cross-legged in front of me, gave a small smile. “Flip it over.” He whispered. I turned it over in my hand and beamed. The engraving on the back read ‘Forever, right?’. I laughed joyously. “What does yours say?” I asked as I gingerly placed my necklace next to the gold one that I assumed was his.

            He shrugged and didn’t answer. Instead, he preoccupied himself with putting on his new watch. John piped up for him. “See for yourself.” I did just that, picking his up and flipping it over. ‘Forever.’

            If it was possible for my grin to get any wider, it certainly did. I set the necklace down quickly and covered my mouth with my hands, trying to hide my smile as well as restrain myself from kissing him right then and there.

            I looked up at Sherlock, who was looking rather anxious, and gave him an affectionate smile. “Forever, right?”

            The other pair of gentlemen in the room had no idea what we were talking about, but we didn’t care. He returned the smile, knowing exactly what my decision was. “Forever.”

            It was a very couple-y gift to get me, but I knew that Sherlock hadn’t meant it in that way. I didn’t blame him, of course. He hardly had any knowledge on social skills. But that single word had been the most valuable thing in the world to me, and it still was. It meant he still wanted me around; that he cared; that this really was home.

            It was all getting to be too much. A single tear rolled down my cheek. “(Y/n)?” Sherlock panicked. “(Y/n), I’m so sorry, I thought it would be a good idea. Did I do it wrong? John!” He turned to John with wide eyes, and I reached out an arm to stop him. Oh, bless him, he worries so much.

            “Sherlock!” I grabbed his attention along with his hand, looking him in his anxious green eyes. “Sherlock, everything is absolutely perfect.” I reassured him, rubbing small circles on the back of his hand with my thumb. From the corner of my eye, I could see John grinning at us and reaching into his pocket for something.

            Sherlock didn’t seem any less concerned. “But... you were crying.”

            God, what an idiot. I love him so much. I reached forward and cupped his face with my hand, pulling him forward so I could plant a kiss on his forehead. “Happy tears, Curly.”

            He breathed a sigh of relief, letting his eyes flutter closed as I pulled away. “Well, in that case...” he reached down and picked up the silver necklace and I moved my hair aside, allowing him to lean forward and clasp the necklace around my neck. When he was done, I did that same for him, then made sure the key was centered. I found myself fiddling with the key around his neck for a few moments longer, re-reading its engraving over and over before finally looking Sherlock in the eyes. His cheeks were tinted pink, and he smiled sweetly down at me. I returned it shyly. “Merry Christmas, (Y/n).”

*CLICK*

            Sherlock and I jerked away from each other, blinking a few times in confusion before we realized where the sound had come from. My lips parted in surprise and I groaned. “John...”

            “Oh, don’t mind me.” John said nonchalantly, moving his phone from a picture-taking position to a texting one. “Just documenting.”

            I narrowed my eyes and looked back and forth between John and Sherlock, who looked just as confused as I was. “Documenting what?”

            He shrugged innocently, but then gave a devious smile. “You’ll see... Not sure when, but you’ll both see it eventually.” He said teasingly. Sherlock and I exchanged clueless glances before smiling and shaking our heads. Sherlock stood and dusted himself off.

            “Time to get ready for tonight,” he said as he reached out a hand to help me off the ground.

            I chuckled. “As you wish, Mr. Holmes.”


            “Shit.” The Christmas party had been going well. The whole day had been going well, come to think of it. Nope, really well, actually, considering what Sherlock was usually like. There had been a few slip-ups here and there: Jeanette, Molly. But now something was wrong. I watched Sherlock storm off in the direction of our bedroom, debating whether or not to follow. I bit my lip nervously and glanced at John. What’s gotten into him? John sent me a firm nod, silently telling me to go. “’Scuse me,” I said as I brushed past Lestrade and down the hallway.

            “I think you’re going to find Irene Adler tonight.” Sherlock said as I reached the doorway, watching him converse with someone on the phone. I frowned. Adler? My scowl deepened as I realized that Irene’s phone was resting in his hands. Oh crap, what’s going on here? I heard Mycroft’s voice on the other end of the line, but couldn’t make out what he was saying. “No, I mean you’re going to find her dead.” I inhaled sharply. What’s happened?

            Sherlock hung up abruptly, standing up and heading for the door where I was standing. “You okay?” I offered, a worried look etched onto my face as I scanned his face for clues on his emotional state. There was nothing- his features were set neutrally and his eyes were stone cold.

            He looked down at me. “Yes.” He said harshly, setting his jaw and pushing past me. I grimaced, trying to ignore his coldness. I watched as he rushed over to Molly, whispered something, and rushed out the door. Molly was frozen and dumbstruck for a moment, but soon composed herself, said quick goodbyes, and rushed out on Sherlock’s tail. I heaved a sigh. It was going to be a long night.


            Exhausted and on the verge of tears, I flopped down into Sherlock’s chair. John and I had searched every inch of the flat for any drugs that Sherlock might have had lying around. Thankfully, we hadn’t found any. Not so much as Ibuprofen, which I was in desperate need of at the moment. Roughly 30 seconds after Sherlock had left, Mycroft had called to warn us that tonight may be a danger night for Sherlock. I hoped it wasn’t.

            I rested my elbows on my knees and held my head in defeat. I felt a few tears escape me as I let out all the pent-up emotions I had been holding in. Sherlock had shut me out again. He didn’t used to do this before- not until Adler came around. Sure, he’d shut out everyone for days at a time when he was in his mind palace, but never like this. Now, he was consciously pushing me away, and it hurt like hell. I was worried about everything- about whether or not Sherlock would be alright, if he would turn to drugs, how long he’d keep pushing me away...

            I was full-out sobbing now. “(Y/n)? Hey, it’s alright. Everything’s going to be fine.” I lifted my head as I felt arms wrap around me. John. I melted into his embrace as he sat next to me on the chair, cooing soft reassurances into my ear. “He’s gonna be alright, I promise.”

            After a few moments, my tears subsided. “Thank you.” I whispered, resting my head in the crook of his neck.

            I felt him smile, then turn his head to leave a light kiss on my temple. “No problem.” No sooner had the words left his mouth, his phone rang from the side table. He picked it up and we glanced at the caller ID. Mycroft. Leaving one arm wrapped around me, he reached for the phone with his right hand and answered the call, holding the phone between us so we could both hear and talk.

            “He’s on his way.” Mycroft’s voice came from the other end. John and I both sucked in a breath, not anticipating his arrival to be so soon. “Have you found anything?”

            “No.” John answered quickly. “Did he take the cigarette?” It had been John’s idea earlier to offer Sherlock a cigarette. We all knew that if he took it, he was seriously stressed.

            “Yes.”

            “Shit.” He looked over to Mrs. Hudson, who was waiting near the kitchen doorway, anxious for news. “He’s coming. Ten minutes.”

            “There’s nothing in the bedroom.” Mrs. Hudson confirmed, having just checked.

            John nodded and relayed the information to Mycroft on the phone. “Looks like he’s clean. We’ve tried all the usual places. Are you sure tonight’s a danger night?”

            There was a moment of hesitation on the line. “No, but then I never am. You have to stay with him, John.”

            John and I frowned. “I’ve got plans.”

            “No.” Mycroft said firmly.

            I piped up quickly before Mycroft could hang up. “It’s alright Mikey, I’m here. I can stay with him, instead.”

            “No.” he repeated, firmer this time. “He’ll need the both of you. Look after him.” With that, the line went dead. John sighed and set the phone back down on the side table.

            “Alright,” he said, pressing another kiss to my forehead. “You get yourself some water, I’ll go clear everything up with Jeanette.” I nodded as he stood and walked over to his girlfriend. Wait... oh, crap. I cringed as I realized that me and John’s whole scene had probably left her jealous. What would she think when she saw John kissing some other girl’s forehead?

            My fears came to life seconds later. John sat on the sofa next to Jeanette and I scurried off into the kitchen, getting water while I listened. “My friends were wrong about you. You’re a great boyfriend.” Jeanette said with an edge to her voice. I cringed- this wasn’t going to end well.

            I could hear the hesitation in John’s voice, as if her reaction startled him. “Okay, that’s good. I mean, I always thought I was great...” No, John, you idiot.

            Jeanette cut him off. “And I can’t tell who’s luckier- Sherlock Holmes or (Y/n).”

            I groaned at the same time John did. “Jeanette, please,” he begged.

            “No, I mean it. It’s heart-warming,” She continued bitterly. I assumed the sound of shuffling was her putting on her shoes. “You’ll do anything for them – and one of them can’t even tell your girlfriends apart.”

            The banter continued until I heard the slam of the door and thudding steps descending the stairs, indicating Jeanette’s departure. I waited a moment before rounding the corner to see that John had flopped himself down on the sofa. “John?” I called out tentatively, sitting down next to him and placing a hand on his shoulder. “John, I’m sorry.”

            He heaved a long sigh before sitting up and pinching the bridge of his nose. “No, it’s alright, (Y/n).” He gave me another reassuring smile. “She really was a bit dull, anyways.” I chuckled and stood up, holding out a hand for him to take. He took it and I hauled him up. “Right, we’d best be doing something normal when Sherlock gets here.” I nodded my agreement.

            Sherlock was home just a few minutes later. John and I had made ourselves comfortable in our respective chairs, reading novels to make ourselves look busy. Sherlock stopped in the doorway. I looked across the room at him nonchalantly. “Hey, Sherl.”

            Sherlock remained silent, his intelligent eyes running over every inch of the flat. John looked round at him when he noticed that Sherlock hadn’t said anything. “Sherlock, you okay?”

            Sherlock continued to scan the room for a long moment, then turned and walked back to the kitchen door, heading for our bedroom. “Hope you didn’t mess up my sock index this time.” He said monotonously and angrily at the same time. John let out the breath he had subconsciously been holding and my eyes fell shut in defeat. Crap, he knows we searched the flat. He would think we didn’t trust him now. Sparing one last look at John, I stood quickly and headed straight to our bedroom, trying to make things right. We shouldn’t have done that.

            I opened the door slowly to see Sherlock lying on the bed, facing the wall away from me. He was already in his pajamas, by some miracle. “Sherlock...” I said softly, “What’s wrong?” No reply. “Sherlock, don’t shut me out. Talk to me- what happened?”

            “I don’t want to talk about it. Good night.” He snapped, not moving an inch. I flinched at his harsh tone.

            “Okay... Goodnight, Sherlock.” I uttered awkwardly, closing the door behind you. How was I supposed to help him if he refused to speak to me? At least he actually bothered to say goodnight. That’s something... I offered to myself, trying to make the best of the situation. Hopefully he’ll be fine tomorrow.

            But he wasn’t. In fact, he ignored me for the next week.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “John, you wanted to see me?”

            “Ah, (Y/n),” Sherlock said almost invitingly as I entered the living room, setting down his tea and saucer on the side table. 

            I snorted. “Oh, so we’re speaking again, are we?”

            I earned myself a glare. “(Y/n),” John spoke quietly and beckoned me over by his chair where he was seated. “I know you’re upset- I’m a little pissed off, too. Just let him talk, alright?” As if his words weren’t enough, he sent me a pleading look with his soft, blue-grey eyes. I let out a long breath and straightened back up.

            “Fine,” I crossed my arms and turned back to Sherlock, “Start talking.”

            There was a moment of silence before Sherlock came out with it. “Irene Adler’s alive.”

            It took me several seconds to process the words coming out of his mouth. “What do you mean she’s alive?!” I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t.

            “Exactly that.”

            “Wha-?” He’s got to be joking. This was impossible. The body at the mortuary had definitely been hers- John and I had gone to check for ourselves. “How do you know?”

            John answered for Sherlock. “She sent a car to pick me up. I thought it was Mycroft again so I got in, but as it turns out, it was Adler. She spoke to me a bit, and Sherlock was there watching.”

            I pinched the bridge of my nose and groaned. John wouldn’t lie to me, so it must be true. “Well isn’t this just brilliant.” I turned my attention to Sherlock once more, ready to give him a piece of my mind. “Right. Okay. You haven’t said a word to me in a week, and this is how you’re breaking the silence? Telling me Irene Adler is, in fact, alive and breathing?”

            “Yes,” Sherlock answered as calmly and evenly as before, watching me with calculating blue eyes as I paced back and forth by John’s chair. His hands were in their usual steeple position, resting just beneath his chin. “It seemed necessary that you know what’s going on.”

            I stopped in my tracks and gave John a ‘Can you believe this guy?’ face before turning back to face Sherlock. “Fine. That’s fair. Nevertheless, Sherlock, it would’ve been nice to hear even just a word from you this last week. What was that all about!?”

            “What was what about?”

            I gave a quick laugh of disbelief. “You know, for a genius, you sure are thick. The silence! You know, the bit where you ignored me. Constantly!”

            “I was thinking. I do it all the time, you should be used to it by now.”

            “Thinking.” I mocked, knowing full well he wasn’t telling the truth.

            His eyes narrowed, as if his gaze was searing a hole through my skull. Which, in theory, he might actually be thinking about in his mind. “Is there a problem?”

            Yes! There is most definitely a problem here! You refused to even be in the same room as me for days, and now everything is hunky dory because Irene is alive? How much more insufferable can you get?!? There had been absolutely no form of contact from Sherlock in the past week. No physical contact, no verbal contact. Heck, he’d even go out of his way to make sure he never had to be in the same room as me! Every time I had tried to approach him, he’d slam a door in my face and lock himself away. I didn’t know what had clicked inside of him to make him this way, but I hated it.

            Surely it wasn’t Adler’s ‘death’, or at least not completely, because he barely knew her. There had to be an underlying problem, but what? I huffed aloud at myself. Well, if he doesn’t want to tell me what’s going on, then he can handle his stupid problems on his own.

            I glared at him with fiery (e/c) eyes, mentally willing him to either shut up or look away from me, because his intense stare was turning my insides to a puddle of goo. Frustrated, I whipped my gaze away from him and continued pacing. “No.” I growled, a tense silence setting in.

            John cleared his throat awkwardly and adjusted the collar of his jumper. “So where is it now?”

            I stopped pacing once more. “Where’s what?”

            “The camera phone.” John answered and I nodded in understanding. Makes sense.

            “Where no one will look.” Sherlock answered nonchalantly, standing from his chair and making his way over to the window, looking out over the late-night London skyline. He picked his violin up from the table and fiddled with the strings absentmindedly.

            Seeing that his chair was now open, I took advantage of the situation and plopped myself down. Normally I would have relished in its comfortable feel, but I was too preoccupied with aggravation to feel anything else. I hummed in thought. If the Americans that had broken in earlier (and hurt Mrs. Hudson, which I was still very cross about) had been after the phone, then surely there was something on it that was of use to them. “Whatever’s on that camera phone is more than just pictures.” I grumbled halfheartedly, knowing that my new assumption was probably already common knowledge.

            “Oh, so glad you could keep up with that simple fact.” Sherlock jeered under his breath.

            My cold gaze was set on him once more as my anger threatened to boil over. “Watch it, Holmes. You’re treading on thin ice here.”

            Out of the corner of my eye, I saw John hurry out of his chair and dust off his pant legs. “I’ll just... be upstairs.” He mumbled awkwardly, leaving the room as quickly as he could. Sherlock and I didn’t get into fights often, considering the length of time between disputes; but when we did, it wasn’t pretty. By the looks of it, that seemed to be exactly where this conversation was heading. John was right to leave as quickly as possible.

            Sherlock threw me a disgusted look over his shoulder. “Oh, I can’t imagine why.”

            That’s it, here we go. I stood quickly and stormed over to him, grabbing him by the shoulder and whirling him around to face me. I held him there and yelled abuse, an accusing finger pointing at him the whole time. “You shut up, Sherlock, you hear me? If you want to give me the cold shoulder or the silent treatment, that’s fine. But don’t you dare treat me like this. You didn’t have a reason to shut me out, and you damn well don’t have reason to talk to me in this way either. That’s rude, even coming from you, and I’m not going to stand here and tolerate it. Have you got that?!”

            There was a moment of silence as my words rung their last note around the room. Sherlock’s nose was mere centimeters from my own, and our faces were matching expressions of steely, cold fury. As the seconds passed and the silence grew, the tension in the air became almost tangible. He drew in a long, quiet breath, not a muscle in his face moving. “I don’t think I have to answer to you.”

            My heart sank. What the hell is wrong with him? This isn’t Sherlock, none of this is! “Sherlock,” I pleaded, softer this time, “just tell me what’s wrong.”

            He pulled his head back a few inches and looked me up and down, as if he was surprised by my words. The corner of his lips turned upwards in what seemed to be a fond smile. “Oh, (Y/n).” His slender fingers tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “There’s nothing wrong with me.” He whispered, shaking his head slightly.

            I sighed in exasperation and moved closer to him, placing my hands lightly on either side of his face. “Yes, there is.” I insisted. “This isn’t you, Sherlock. And it hurts me that you won’t let me help you. Maybe it’s just... new emotions you don’t have a name to yet, and that’s okay! I can help you, but you’ve got to let me.”

            Sherlock gave another small smirk and placed his hands on top of my own. There were a few hopeful seconds as I recognized the possibility of his agreement. But all of it was dashed as he pried my hands off of his face and moved them back down to my sides. “I don’t need your help.” He turned to leave and I gave an indignant huff, my anger level slowly rising.

            “I’m not stupid, you know.” The click of shoes on wood abruptly ceased as Sherlock froze in place, awaiting my next words. I took a shaky breath and continued. “I know you’re not actually a sociopath, Sherlock. You keep saying you are, and you keep insisting that you haven’t got feelings, but we both know that’s not true.” Sherlock turned around slowly, wondering what point I was trying to make. With each word, I inched a little bit closer. “Of course you’ve got feelings, you idiot, you just force yourself to suppress them while you work. And anyone that knows you could vouch that deep down you are one of the most soft-hearted people on this planet who just wants to help other people. That’s why you’re a detective, isn’t it?” I was standing right up against his chest now, nearly looking straight up to meet his (now misty) eyes and astonished gaze. “Please, Sherlock,” I begged, “As someone who knows you. Who worries about you... Let me help.”

            The mistiness that seemed to be appearing in his eyes dissipated quickly as he tried (but failed) to switch to a convincing stony gaze. “I thought you knew me better than that.” He said almost disappointedly, taking a step back and then turning around to leave.

            Oh, come on! Seriously?! I just wanted to help, but he kept shutting me out. Well, I was sick and tired of it. His coat was on and his hand was on the door handle before my rage finally burst out of me. I’ve had it with him! If not knowing him is what he wants, that’s exactly what he’ll get. “Maybe you’re right; maybe I don’t know you and everyone else was right about you.” Again he froze in place, but this time he didn’t turn around. “Maybe you’re a freak just like they say! Hmm?” Of course I didn’t actually think he was a freak (c’mon, I’m not senseless), but perhaps just a tad insufferable at the moment. I was only trying to prove that those people were wrong about him and that I really did know him better than he was willing to admit.

            He didn’t seem to take it that way. He turned his head slowly to look at me, a look of pure betrayal and agony on his face. I saw a single tear slide down his cheek, and my chest promptly felt like it was being torn apart. “You were the only one who didn’t call me that,” he said softly, his voice cracking a bit at the end.

            Too late, I realized the weight of my words. I tried to call out to him as he ran down the stairs, but my voice stuck in my throat. “Sher-” I sobbed, but he was already long gone. I sank to my knees in despair, once again left without the company of the person I loved and another closed door in my face. The chimes of Big Ben rang in the distance, signaling the start of a new year that was beginning in the worst possible way.


 

            He didn’t come home that night. He didn’t come home the next morning, either. It was now late evening, with stars beginning to speckle the sky, and he still wasn’t home. I sat in Sherlock’s chair, staring at the flames crackling in the fireplace and contemplating what I wanted to say to him upon his return. John had tried to console me all day, but to no avail. The cup of tea he had so graciously made for me sat for hours on the side table, untouched. I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I didn’t notice when Sherlock finally entered through the door, took off his coat, made his way across the room, or stood in front of me.

            “(Y/n) ...” his soft, quivering voice was what snapped me out of my thoughts. I drew in a sharp breath as I realized that he was really standing right in front of me and giving me a chance to explain myself. All plans of my rehearsed spiel flew out the window as I stood quickly, on the verge of tears.

            “Sherlock, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean any of it,” I looked him in the eyes to find that not only was he nearly crying as well, but he wore the most vulnerable expression I had ever seen on his face. “Please, let me explain,” I pleaded desperately. “I-”

            He cut me off abruptly by grabbing my arm. I stopped, confused and watched as he hesitated before pulling me into him and enveloping me in a tight embrace. I responded immediately, wrapping my arms around him and burying my face in his chest. Once I realized what this meant, I let myself cry tears of relief. It’s okay, everything’s going to be okay... The warm tears falling on my shoulder let me know that Sherlock was feeling the same emotions. It had been so long since he had held me, and each passing second left me feeling like the weight of the world was being lifted off of my shoulders.

            Sherlock drew me impossibly closer, moving one hand to the back of my head and leaning down, nestling his head on my shoulder. He clung to me like I was his lifeline; as if the world was ending and I was all that mattered. He smelled of cigarettes, the cold London air, smoke from the fire, vanilla, and everything familiar. Everything that reminded me that this was home. I dragged a hand up his back until I reached his hair, entangling my hand in his curls to remind myself that he was really there. We were both full-out crying now.

            We collapsed to the ground a weeping mess, still entangled with each other. Neither of us knew how long we stayed there by the fire, crying tears of joy until our tear ducts simply ran dry. “Sherlock, I’m sorry...” I sniveled into his chest as he repositioned us so we were leaning against the back of his chair.

            “No, I’m the one who should be sorry,” he countered, stroking my hair. “I’ve been so terrible to you, (Y/n). Just awful. I’ve ignored you and hurt you and pushed you away and... I’m sorry.”

            I tilted my chin up to look up at him. “But I’ve said such terrible things...”

            He silenced me with a reassuring kiss on the forehead, making my heart flutter. “I know what you were trying to do. Besides, I’ve said some terrible things, too. And I’m sorry.” He sounded truly remorseful.

            I breathed a sigh of relief and settled back into him. He leaned into the touch. “I forgive you,” I whispered breathily. I knew I was extremely quick in forgiving him, but there was no possible way for me to stay upset when reconciliation was possible. There were several long minutes of content silence before a question flashed across my mind, making me frown. “W-Why did you shut me out like that, Sherlock? I thought you hated me.”

            I felt him tense up, as if he either didn’t know how or didn’t want to answer the question. I waited patiently for an answer, momentarily reveling in the warmth coming from the crackling embers as well as our close proximity. Eventually, he relaxed. “It killed me, shutting you out,” he began cautiously, “but I thought I had to.”

            Okay... that’s a start. I knew there was more to his answer. I pulled back a few inches and shifted against the cold floor, leaning my head against the upright arm of his chair. Sherlock’s serious gaze followed my movements, and I found myself face-to-face with him as opposed to pressed against him. I wanted him to look at me when he answered. I wanted the truth.

            I held his hand as he took a deep breath and continued, the soft firelight casting warm shadows across his face. It seemed to console him a bit. “When I went to the morgue to see Adler’s ‘body’, Mycroft told me that caring is not an advantage and that all lives end...” His gaze shifted downward. Tears were once more welling in his eyes as he struggled to get the rest of his explanation out. “And... And I realized that I’ve been putting you in so much danger. I’ve been selfish, wanting to keep you close to me, and because of it you’ve come close to death more than once, (Y/n), and it was entirely my fault every time.”

            “That’s not true.” I whispered, but he ignored me.

            He looked back at me again, blue eyes grief-stricken. “I could have truly lost you, (Y/n). I thought that maybe by distancing myself I could stop caring and thus put you out of danger, but...” He broke down into tears and my heart broke as I realized the gravity of what he was saying. Sherlock cares for me. Really, truly, cares. My heart soared, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.

            “Oh, Sherlock...” I lifted my free hand up to his cheek, wiping away his tears with my thumb. “Sherlock, it’s okay...” I was touched that he cared so much, and that he was willing to be this vulnerable with me.

            He was still crying, but he composed himself enough to continue, despite the tears streaming down his face. “As selfish as it is, I couldn’t do it anymore. You were right, of course I have feelings. But this time, suppressing them just made it worse.”

            “Sherlock,” I said breathily, “That’s not selfish. I understand, I really do.”

            He shook his head, a look of devastation growing on his face. “No, but it is. I need you, (Y/n).” His eyes sent a silent plea for understanding.

            I chuckled, trying to make light of the situation. “Of course you need me. Who else would tell you to eat?”

            His grip on my hand tightened and his face suddenly became very serious. He shook his head vigorously. “That’s not what I mean.”

            Wait, what? I froze as the atmosphere abruptly changed. It was absolutely silent, except for the crackling of logs behind me. “Oh,” I said softly, unsure of myself. It was hard to concentrate when he was this close to me. My gaze flicked back and forth between his intense stare and his lips. “Then what do you mean?” My voice was barely audible.

            “(Y/n) ...” There was only a brief moment of hesitation before he tilted his head and leaned in, capturing my lips in a soft, sweet kiss. He raised a hand to my face, caressing my cheek and drawing me closer as his lips moved slowly against mine. My heart pounded wildly, my eyes widened, and I almost forgot to react; but euphoria coursed through me and I melted, returning the intimate gesture. I reveled in the moment, fighting the impulse to grin as months and months of wanting and sexual tension were finally resolved.

            There was something different about the feeling of this kiss compared to the other ones I had shared. It wasn’t just that he was a good kisser (though he certainly was), or that his lips tasted particularly of cinnamon- it was slow and genuine, yet still somehow filled with passion and longing. There was no goal. No other goal than the kiss itself. The moment seemed to stretch on forever, every fiber of my being completely focused on the feeling of his lips on mine. Slowly, I moved my hand upwards, tangling my fingers in his curls while my thumb stroked his cheek. Sherlock took this as a good sign and moved in closer without breaking the kiss, placing his other hand on my waist.

            Setting my free hand on his chest, I pushed away gently to catch my breath. I only caught a glimpse of his eyes, pupils blown wide, before he pulled me back in and mended our lips together once more. I smirked as he pressed for a little more, satisfied that he was enjoying this as much as I was. The kiss was needier now, and ever so slightly faster. My whole body was on fire. I felt like I was losing my mind- like everything around me had disappeared and the only thing that mattered was Sherlock.

            As much as I wanted this to go on forever and my mind, body, and soul screamed for more, it had to end eventually. We both pulled away at the same time: foreheads leaned against each other, lungs gasping for air. And just like that I was grinning like a fool and so was he, our eyes shining with joy as a feeling of contentment settled between us.

            “I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to do that.” Sherlock chuckled as I broke the silence.

            “Oh believe me, I have an idea.”

            I laughed. “Yeah, you’re right.”

            Sherlock shook his head in an amused manner before drawing me into his chest once more and pressing a lingering kiss to my temple. We spent several minutes in a loving embrace, trying to process what had just happened. Sherlock was the first to break the silence. “Hey, (Y/n)?”

            “Yeah?”

            “Date me.”

            I gave a knowing, coy smile as I tilted my head to look up at him. “What, for a case?”

            Sherlock smirked. “No, for real this time.”

            I hummed in amusement and reached up to press a kiss to his cheek. “William Sherlock Scott Holmes, I thought you’d never ask.”


 

            In our elated stupor, we fell asleep right there on the floor by the fireplace, the happiest we had ever been.

            Because we were fast asleep, we couldn’t hear John come home late that night from work.

            We couldn’t watch as he looked at the two of us on the floor, limbs entangled with one another, and smile to himself.

            And we certainly couldn’t hear as he sighed and whispered “Finally,” then headed upstairs for the night.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

             The next month was nothing short of absolutely wonderful. Who’d have guessed? Once Sherlock came to terms with the fact that letting a little emotion in wouldn’t kill him (not that he hadn’t subconsciously been expressing his emotions for months now), he had no problem being open with his affections. Well, open with me, of course.

            At first we had tried to keep our relationship under wraps, especially from John. We knew we’d never hear the end of it if he even had the slightest idea... Yeah, that plan lasted for about 8 hours. Just recalling what John said at the next morning’s crime scene makes me giggle.

            “Oh my God, Sherlock, stop rambling and just kiss her already. We all knew anyways. Oh and Lestrade, Sherlock confessed first. You owe me a fiver.”

              John was still the same as ever, walking in at the most inopportune times and ‘sneaking’ pictures whenever he could. Sherlock was still himself as well, performing random experiments and taking the most logical of approaches, even when it came to our relationship. Not that I really minded. Everything was... perfect.

            Oh, look, I must have jinxed it.


            The early February weather was excruciatingly cold with plenty of precipitation, whether it be rain, snow, or a mixture of the two. Eager to be inside, our little trio hurried up the stairs with the groceries, shivering against the icy morning breeze. Sherlock immediately started sniffing the air.

            “Quite a wind we’ve got today.” I chuckled as I set the grocery bags down on the table. John followed suit.

            “Yeah, it is. Suppose we should start wrapping up a bit more.”

            I hummed in response, only half-listening. I was more intent on watching Sherlock, who was absentmindedly drifting down the hallway. I frowned. “Sherlock?” I called out. No reply. He walked into the bedroom and abruptly stopped. “Sher-”

            “We have a client.” He said suddenly and rather monotonously.

            Yeah, right. “What, in the bedroom?” I sniggered to myself as I walked down the hall. Really, Sherlock, if you wanted to get me into the bedroom you could just ask... “Ohhh.” He wasn’t joking. There, laying in his bed, was a fully-clothed Irene Adler, sound asleep. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Sherlock and I exchanged knowing, exasperated glances.


 

            “You let her wear one of my dressing gowns?” Sherlock whispered almost furiously as he guided me out of his room, one hand on my back.

            “No,” I hissed back, “she just took the one that was hanging on the back of the bathroom door. What was I supposed to do, tell her to wear her old clothes again?!” 

            “She couldn’t borrow some of yours??”

            “She’s not my size!

            Sherlock gave an exasperated sigh. “Fine. Let’s just get this over with.”

            Even though I hated her guts, I figured we should at least make an effort to be hospitable to our not-so-welcome guest. After showering, she had slipped on one of Sherlock’s dressing gowns. It was one of his best, too, and he was pouting like a child. Not that I could blame him- this is Adler we’re talking about. I basically hate her. Let’s just say there’s a reason she’s named after a snake. Well, ok. Not technically, but it's close enough and gave me an excuse to dislike her.

            We both put on fake smiles as we entered the living room where John and Irene were already waiting. Irene had seated herself in Sherlock’s chair (much to his dismay) while John had opted to sit at the living room table, a cup of tea in hand. “So,” Sherlock addressed Irene curtly, heading to sit opposite of John, “who’s after you?”

            “People who want to kill me.” She replied in that regal tone of hers I had grown to despise.

            I rolled my eyes. “You know; it would help if you were a tiny bit more specific.” I said sarcastically, sending her a pointed look. She glared right back at me.

            “... Killers.” She said with just as much venom.

            “Oh, yeah great,” I muttered, “perfectly sound analysis, but I was hoping you’d-”

            Sherlock cleared his throat to silence me, sending me a look that said ‘Save it’. Irene noticed. “Oh, look at that,” she mocked, “The pet takes orders so well. So submissive...” She turned her head to look at my boyfriend suggestively. “If you ever need a change of regime, well, you know where to find me.”

            The only thing keeping me from standing up and beating the crap out of her right then and there was John’s pleading stare. That, and the fact that Sherlock looked ready to murder. I clenched my jaw and kept silent as Sherlock spoke to Irene. “So you faked your own death in order to get ahead of them.” He stood up and started pacing, fiddling with the top button on his collared, white shirt. “Impressive.”

            “Isn’t it just?” She sat up a little straighter, tossing her loose, black hair behind her shoulder. “Where’s my camera phone?” It wasn’t a question at all: it was a demand.

            “The safest place I know.” Sherlock replied easily. I smirked, knowing that Sherlock had entrusted me with keeping the fake phone we needed.

            “It’s not here. We’re not stupid.” John chimed in.

            “Then what have you done with it?” She pressed once more. “If they’ve guessed you’ve got it, they’ll be watching you.”

            “If they’ve been watching me, they’ll know that I took a safety deposit box at a bank on the Strand a few months ago.” Sherlock rambled off his well-rehearsed lie. This was also the lie we had told John, knowing that he was the type to let the cat out of the bag.

            “I need it.”

            John chuckled, crossing his arms after running a hand through his hair. “Well, we can’t just go and get it, can we?” There was a moment of silence as John had a revelation. He looked over to Sherlock as if he was having an epiphany and began to ramble off a plan. “Molly Hooper. She could collect it, take it to Bart’s; then one of your homeless network could bring it here, leave it in the café, and one of the boys downstairs could bring it up the back...”

            I couldn’t help but smile. “Yes, very good, John. Excellent plan, with intelligent precautions.”

            He shot me an incredulous smile. “Thank you! See Sherlock, you could really take a note or two from (Y/n).” He reached for his phone, and Sherlock and I smirked at each other. Oh, John. “So why don’t we... Oh.” He stopped short and his face fell as I reached into my back pocket and pulled out the phone.

            “Sorry John,” I apologized as Sherlock made his way across the room, over to me. “It really was a good plan, though.” John muttered something along the lines of teaming up against him, but I couldn’t catch what it was he said.

            “Thank you, darling.” Sherlock said as he took the phone from my hand, pressing a kiss to my knuckles before turning back to Irene with a smug grin. Irene stood quickly, reaching for the phone, but Sherlock pulled it out of her reach. “The passcode.” He insisted.

            She said nothing, just kept her hand extended expectantly. He sighed and handed it over. Here we go... The plan was working. Irene typed in her code and frowned. “It’s not working.” She puzzled. Yes! I did a mental fist pump. All was going according to plan.

            Sherlock snatched the phone from her triumphantly. “No, because it’s a duplicate that I had made, into which you’ve just entered the numbers one oh five eight.” Irene looked in my direction and I shot the smuggest smirk I could muster at her, only to have it returned right back to me. Sherlock slid behind her to his chair, grabbing the real phone out from under the cushion. “I assumed you’d choose something more specific than that but, um, thanks anyway.” He began to make his way over to where I was sitting. I stood up, wanting to see the phone unlock myself.

            “You two never tell me anything.” John complained as Sherlock entered he code into the real phone.

WRONG PASSCODE. 1 ATTEMPT REMAINING.

            What? “I told you that camera phone was my life.” Irene’s smirk was still plastered on her face. “I know when it’s in my hand.” She looked at the man next to me, sending him yet another suggestive glance, this time with an arched eyebrow. Ughhh. Okay, that’s it. I was determined not to let Irene get under my skin any longer. She wants to play that way? Fine. I wasn’t going to let her have any more chances to try and seduce my boyfriend. Who is not interested in your stupid face, thank you very much.

            I looked up at Sherlock with the same quirked eyebrow as Irene. “Oh, she’s rather good.” I said breathily, making it sound as sexy as I could. Sherlock looked down at me, shooting me a warning look. I grinned, knowing exactly what that look was for. A few days ago I had whispered something to him in that exact tone (unaware of the trouble it would cause), and it was all he could do to keep himself from pouncing on top of me right then and there. Unfortunately, we were at a crime scene and he could do no such thing. He just had to fidget uncomfortably all afternoon until we returned home.

            This time was different. A mischievous glint in his eyes, he snaked his free hand around my waist, drawing me close. “Almost as good as you,” he replied with a wink. I knew that he could tell exactly what I was thinking and why I was doing this. I was satisfied, knowing Adler had gotten the hint to back off by now.

            But then he did something I didn’t expect. He leaned in right next to my ear and growled, “You might not want to use that tone with me again unless it’s an... invitation.” Oh. He pulled his face away, his nose a mere centimeter from mine, but not before placing a kiss right under my ear. Just the sound of his cello, jaguar-like voice alone sent shivers down my spine and I knew I was probably blushing profusely.

            I felt John and Irene’s stares boring holes into my head and I knew that I had to pull myself together quickly. So I did just that. “Maybe later,” I smiled coyly, thinking I had won. That is, until I saw the determination in Sherlock’s eyes.

           “Is that a promise?” I didn’t need to be a genius to tell that he wasn’t kidding in the slightest. I opened my mouth to reply, but John cut me off short by clearing his throat.

           “Hamish.”

           Both of us turned quickly in surprise, almost like two teenagers getting caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing. “W-What?” I stuttered out.

           “Erm, John Hamish Watson. If you were looking for baby names. Anyways, just... save it for the bedroom, you two.” His comment made me blush, despite the fact that nothing of the sort had ever gone down in the bedroom... yet.

            “If we could just... turn our attention back to the matter at hand, please.” Irene said, a sour look gracing her features.

            “Uh, yeah.” I said awkwardly, pulling out of Sherlock’s hold and sitting back down in John’s chair. “Please, eh, continue.”

            “There was a man – an MOD official. I knew what he liked.” She walked a short distance away, concealing her phone while she typed in the key code. Sherlock made his way back over to sit opposite of John, where he had been when this conversation started. “One of the things he liked was showing off. He told me this email was going to save the world. He didn’t know it, but I photographed it.” She handed the phone to Sherlock, who took it reluctantly. “He was a bit tied up at the time. It’s a bit small on that screen – can you read it?”

            “Yes.” He answered simply.

            Irene nodded. “A code, obviously. I had one of the best cryptographers in the country take a look at it – though he was mostly upside down, as I recall. Couldn’t figure it out.” I watched as Sherlock leaned forward, intently studying the phone. “What can you do, Mr. Holmes?” I clenched my teeth together and tensed as she leaned over his shoulder. “Go on, impress a girl.” I looked away as she kissed his cheek, pretending not to have seen it. Lord help me. I will not stab her. I will not stab her. I will not...

            “There’s a margin for error but I’m pretty sure there’s a Seven Forty-Seven leaving Heathrow tomorrow at six thirty in the evening for Baltimore. Apparently it’s going to save the world. Not sure how that can be true but give me a moment; I’ve only been on the case for eight seconds.” My thoughts shut down as I listened to Sherlock ramble off his deductions. When he finished, all three of us were giving him incredulous looks. I couldn’t help but smile. Boy, am I lucky. He looked at all of our faces before sighing. “Oh, come on. It’s not code. These are seat allocations on a passenger jet. Look ...” He beckoned me over.

            “Flight 007...” I mumbled as I began reading the screen. “Double oh seven...” I wasn’t even listening as Sherlock went on to explain exactly what flight it was. It was Irene’s intense voice that pulled me out of my thoughts. “Like... agent double oh seven?”

            “I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy twice.” I froze. I knew that voice- it was my voice. Well, not mine exactly, but the one I had used on him just moments ago to elicit a response from Sherlock. And it was working. The two of them were having an intense staring contest just a few feet from my face. I huffed. The nerve of this woman... Using my own tricks against me.

            Sherlock froze, speechless for a few moments before composing himself. “John, please can you check those flight schedules; see if I’m right?”

            John took a moment to respond, a bit overcome by the sexual tension in the air. No really, you could cut it with a knife. He glanced nervously between Sherlock and I before responding. “Uh-huh. I’m on it, yeah.”

            Sherlock turned his words back to Irene, but his eyes had never left her. “I’ve never begged for mercy in my life.” I clenched my fist. She was really crossing a line here, and I was getting kind of pissed that Sherlock kept encouraging her.

            “Twice.” She insisted.

            He looked her over and then proceeded to strike her down in the lowest, most malicious voice I had ever heard him use. “The only person I believe capable of making me beg for mercy is in this room, and it certainly isn’t you. If you value your dignity, you’ll shut up now.” My jaw dropped open just a fraction of an inch. Oh my God, is he talking about... me??

            “Uh, yeah, you’re right. Uh, flight double oh seven,” John chimed in, looking at the information displayed on his laptop.

            Sherlock’s attention immediately snapped to his best friend. “What did you say?”

            “You’re right.”

            “No, no, no. Before that.”

            “Double oh seven. Flight double oh seven.”

            Something clicked inside of Sherlock and he pushed Irene out of the way, pacing across the floor. “Double oh seven, double oh seven, double oh seven, double oh seven...”

            “Uh, could it be like agent double oh seven?” I piped up nervously, not sure if I was correct.

            Sherlock narrowed his eyes and stared at me.

            I shifted awkwardly and repeated myself. “You know, Agent double oh seven.” Still no response. I sighed. “Bond? James Bond?”

            Sherlock’s eyes immediately widened. “(Y/n), you’re a genius! Bond Air! Bond Air is go!” He exclaimed before pulling me in for a quick, excited kiss. Little did we know, Irene had used the momentary distraction to send a message. I noticed her the moment Sherlock pulled away.

            “Hey!” I exclaimed, rushing over to her and snatching the phone away.

747 TOMORROW 6:30PM HEATHROW

            It was too late- the message was already sent. I let out a cry of frustration, then turned to her smirking face. “Who did you send this to?!” Mycroft’s secret was out. 

           Sherlock and John rushed over to me, looking over my shoulder to see who it was. There was no contact displayed- the person wasn’t saved in her phone under a name. “See for yourself,” She answered, satisfied. I looked down at the phone once more.

           Sherlock shook his head. “There’s no name, how-” he stopped abruptly when he saw my face pale. Oh God. No no no no... I stumbled back a few steps and almost fell, dropping the camera phone in the process. “(Y/n)!” Sherlock cried out, catching my trembling figure in his arms. “(Y/n), what’s the matter?”

           “Whoa, hey there, (Y/n). Just breathe, okay? You alright?” John fretted, checking my pulse.

           “Yeah...” I answered weakly. “It’s just- I know that number... Coffee... Not again...”

            Sherlock frowned, concerned and perhaps a little frightened. “(Y/n), you’re not making any sense.”

            I looked up at him, trying to find something in his eyes to anchor me to consciousness as I dealt with the prospect of dealing with the man that had caused me so much psychological damage. “It’s him, Sherlock. She’s working for Moriarty.” Please, God, no. Not him. I can’t do it again.

           Sherlock sucked in a breath, processing the information. “Are you sure?” I nodded weakly. “Okay. Listen to me.” He cupped my face with both of his hands. “You’re going to be alright, you hear? I’ve got you.” He leaned in and gave me a long, reassuring kiss. “He can’t hurt you, no while I’m here.”

          “After all this time, he’s showing up again...” John let out a tired laugh. “You have to hand it to him, he really is persistent. Keeps popping up, doesn’t he?”

          “Oh, please.” Irene said dramatically, drawing all of our attention to her. “While your little theatrics are truly heart-warming, you won’t have to worry about him getting his hands dirty yet. Now’s not the time.”

          I relaxed a little, leaning back to let my head rest on the floor and taking deep breaths. Sherlock scowled. “Then when is the time?”

          Irene shrugged. “Dunno. Says he’s saving his moves for the problem.”

          Sherlock shook his head, confused. “What problem?”

          “Your problem.” She lowered her chin and gave a devilish grin. “The final problem.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            Purple looked good on Sherlock. I mean, really good. As he sat in his armchair by the fire, plucking absentmindedly on his violin and talking to Irene, I couldn’t help but stare. He had changed earlier this afternoon. Why? No idea. I guess he decided white just wasn’t working for him. But then he came out from the bedroom in that and... Daaamn. If Irene hadn’t been there, I might’ve just pinned him to the wall. I chuckled to myself. Yeah, right, as if I would have the guts to initiate that sort of thing. Sure, we showered each other with physical affection daily, but nothing ever got too heated.

            I leaned against the back of the sofa, taking in the sight of Sherlock’s godly image for a while longer. The firelight reflected brilliantly off his face, casting shadows onto those impossibly high cheekbones. It was early in the evening, but as it was winter, the sky was already dark. The lack of light coming in from the windows only added to the contrast on his face.

            But it wasn’t just his cheekbones that had caught my attention from this angle. There were his obscenely long legs. Those dark, chocolatey curls that were like silk to the touch. His brilliant, ever-changing eyes that could reduce me to an incoherent mess with just a glance. Those agile fingers that were delicately plucking his violin right now, but could probably do unspeakable things to... Okay, (Y/n), stop it!!

            I jerked back to reality, surprised by my own thoughts. Of course I had always thought Sherlock was attractive, but my mind had never gone this far. I found it hard to believe that Sherlock’s mind might’ve ever gone that far, either. Was he kidding this morning? He looked serious... I sighed and shook my head- no, he was probably kidding. All part of the act. I’m pretty sure John said something about him being asexual once. That was fine by me- I’d never done anything like that before, anyways.

            I was more than content with just being by his side- the girlfriend of the most brilliant and (secretly) kind person in the world. I smiled to myself. And to think he chose me over the dozens of women that probably throw themselves at him. I jerked back to reality once more. Speaking of other women... I looked over at John’s chair to see Irene staring straight at me, another smug grin on her face. I nearly groaned aloud. How long has she been watching me? Oh God, I really hope she couldn’t tell what I was thinking. But by the way she adjusted the hem of Sherlock’s dressing gown and preened her loose hair, I knew I was done for.

            She stared straight at me as she spoke her next words. “Sherlock, have you ever had anyone?”

(Sherlock’s POV)

            “Sherlock, have you ever had anyone?”

            Irene’s sudden question made me look up in surprise. Had anyone? What was that supposed to mean? Thrown off-guard, it took me a moment to respond to the dark-haired woman sitting in front of me. “Sorry?”

            “And when I say ‘had,’ I’m being indelicate.” She stared at me intently, and I did a mental sweep over her for a few seconds, figuring out what she meant. I took a deep breath, realizing what she must be implying.

            I risked a quick glance at (Y/n), who was sitting on the sofa. She refused to meet my gaze, looking utterly embarrassed. I frowned. Could that mean she never wants me to do anything of that nature with her? I tried to shake off my disappointment. I made a quick calculation. In order to appease (Y/n) as well as get information out of Irene, I had to pretend to be oblivious. “I don’t understand.” I replied simply, setting my violin on the arm of my chair.

            She let out a small sigh. “Well, I’ll be delicate then.” Slowly, she stood up and stepped closer to me. Taking my right hand in her left, she crouched down on her knees in front of my chair. I resisted the urge to pull away, knowing that this was something I needed to do. I cringed internally. I hope (Y/n) forgives me for this. “Let’s have dinner.”

            I studied her face carefully. “Why?” The firelight was casting shadows over her face, giving her a softer look as opposed to her bolder, more striking appearance. Mental note... Pupils dilating. I supposed she was attractive enough, she had to be considering her trade, but not at all like (Y/n).

            “Might be hungry.”

            “I’m not.” I mentally cursed myself for my automatic rejection. I was supposed to be getting information, but my subconscious couldn’t help but reject the simple idea of getting dinner with any other woman than my own. Sentiment really was getting the better of me.

            “Good.”

            Her reply confused me. Is that what she wanted to hear? Hesitantly, I sat forward and turned my hand over so I was holding her wrist. Accelerated pulse. “Why would I want to have dinner if I wasn’t hungry?” I think I have everything I need... Much to my dismay, Irene began to lean forward once more.

            “Oh, Mr. Holmes,” she cooed softly, her gaze fixed on my lips. I kept my gaze nowhere else but her eyes, not giving her the satisfaction she wanted. “... if it was the end of the world, if this was the very last night, would you have dinner with me?” One last time, I stroked the inside of her wrist, making sure I had taken her pulse correctly. I opened my mouth to deliver my rejection to her, but I was interrupted.

            “Sherlock!” Mrs. Hudson’s voice rang up the stairs and I breathed a sigh of relief as Irene pulled away.

            “Too late,” The dominatrix said ruefully.

            I stifled a chuckle as I stood up and walked away at last. “That’s not the end of the world; that’s Mrs. Hudson.” Facing the back wall, I took one look at my girlfriend and knew that I was in deep trouble. She looked absolutely enraged, a fire blazing in her eyes despite keeping a rather calm face. I grinned- it was good to know I was getting a reaction out of her. That face looked rather good on her, actually. I beckoned her over to me as Mrs. Hudson burst into the room.

            “Sherlock, this man was at the door. Is the bell still not working?” With her was none other than Mr. Plummer, the same man that had taken myself and (Y/n) to Buckingham Palace a few months ago. I scoffed. Again? “He shot it.” Mrs. Hudson said to him, presumably about the doorbell. That was true- it kept ringing.

            “Tsk, have you come to take me away again?” I enquired, wrapping an arm around (Y/n)’s waist now that she was within arm’s reach. She allowed herself to be drawn into my chest, though I could still feel her anger emanating off of her in waves. I was going to have to do something about that later.

            “Yes, Mr. Holmes.” Plummer answered simply. Well, at least he doesn’t waste time on small talk.

            “Well, I decline.” I could think of a lot of things I’d rather be doing at the moment, most of which included (Y/n). Perhaps John as well, if it was a case, but he was currently at work so that was out of the question.

            A small smile formed on the face of my escort. “I don’t think you do.” He handed me a small envelope. I glanced in it quickly and sighed. Fine.

            “Alright. I’ll follow you in just a moment, please.” With a nod, Mrs. Hudson and Plummer both showed themselves downstairs, the clicks of their heels slowly growing softer. When they were gone, I relaxed and let out another sigh, turning to (Y/n). The anger in her (e/c) eyes had dulled to annoyance as she tilted her head to look up at me. Slipping the envelope in my pocket, I cupped her face in my hands, studying her. I noticed how she melted into my touch.

            The firelight was changing her face as well, just as it had Irene’s. Only instead of looking softer she looked... angelic. She looked just like this when we had sat in front of the fire on New Year’s Day, finally showing each other how we felt after all that time. I smiled. I had been hopelessly head over heels for this girl in front of me since the week I met her. It took me six months to get up the courage to tell her, but the wait had been worth it. I took in every inch of her face from her (h/l), (h/c) hair, to her perfect lips, to those beautiful eyes I could stare all day into...

            “Hello?” And that voice... “Earth to Sherlock?” I shook my thoughts away as I realized she was talking to me.

            “Yes?” I replied, giving her an amused smile.

            “What’re you smiling at?” She narrowed her eyes apprehensively, trying to look intimidating, but I only thought it made her look even cuter.

            “Jealousy is a good look on you, love,” I hummed. Wasting no time, I brought my lips down to hers for a series of soft, short kisses.

            “Whatever,” she mumbled halfheartedly as I pulled away.

            I shot her a fond smile before tucking a loose strand of her hair behind her ear. “Listen,” I said as I did so, “I have to go now, but I’ll text you an address in a bit, okay? I’ll explain everything later.” I prayed she would understand that I couldn’t do anything more while Irene was in the room.

            My heart fluttered with affection as she stood on her tip toes and placed a chaste kiss on the tip of my nose. “Go save the world, Curly.”

            I grinned and kissed her quickly once more. “I’ll make it up to you later.”

(Your POV)

            I was more upset with Irene than I was Sherlock. She instigated it- it was her fault. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not salty about Sherlock letting it happen. I was beyond annoyed, but I loved him all the same. He’d better make good on his promise later, though. Otherwise he’s in deep shit. I knew Sherlock was going to have to find something out for the case, but I didn’t know what it was. Nevertheless, I wish he didn’t have to make it look so convincing- I was starting to believe he liked her for a second there. I gulped as old securities settled back in. Maybe he really does find Adler more interesting than me, after all.

            It was only a few agonizing minutes after Sherlock left that Irene excused herself, saying something about collecting her winnings. I didn’t really pay attention- I was too lost in thought. I did, however, notice that she took her phone with her, but left behind Sherlock’s dressing gown.

            A little over an hour later, it was my turn. I looked down at my phone as it vibrated.

MYCROFT’S OFFICE, ASAP -SH

            I sighed. No doubt Irene would be there as well. Into battle.

(Sherlock’s POV)

            It was all I could do to keep myself from standing up, marching across Mycroft’s office, and strangling her. She was boasting. Adler had beaten us. Truly, properly, beaten us- and now she was gloating. Not only that, but she had given my brother a list of ridiculous requests that she wanted fulfilled. Insurance. Protection... It was driving me mad. How was I supposed to concentrate on figuring out the code when all I could hear was her smug voice? I knew it had to do something with her sentiment, but I wasn’t sure what that would translate to in terms of numbers. Well, not yet anyways. Actually, let her keep boasting. It’s letting me stall for time.

            “Well, Miss Adler,” (Y/n)’s resigned voice pulled me from my thoughts. Funny how her voice tended to do that to me. Capture my attention. I shifted my chair around so that I could see everyone. Previously I had been moping, staring into the fire. Mycroft was seated at the table, Irene was standing at the other end, and (Y/n) was seated in the armchair next to mine, shoulders slouched in defeat. “You’ve been very... thorough.” She finished.

            Mycroft sighed. “Yes. I wish half our lot were as good as you.”

            “I can’t take all the credit. Had a bit of help,” Irene confessed, and I snorted. Believe me, we know. “Jim Moriarty sends his love.” None of us said anything- it wasn’t news to us. I fidgeted my thumbs, racking my brain, checking for birthdays or symbolisms in numbers to do with sentiment. More specifically: Irene’s. “Thank God for the consultant criminal. Gave me a lot of advice about how to play the Holmes boys. D’you know what he calls you?” She now switched tones as she made her way across the room to sit on the edge of the table closest to Mycroft. My gaze flicked upwards to watch her.

            “The Ice man...” she spoke softly to Mycroft, then turned to me. “The Virgin...” I couldn’t help but be a little embarrassed despite the truth in the statement. Not for much longer. Finally, she turned to (Y/n). “But you, the lovely girl stuck in his game...” My breath involuntarily hitched in my throat- I hadn’t expected there to be a nickname for my girlfriend as well. “What he calls you, Miss (L/n), is unfortunately too explicit to be uttered in front of...”

            I clenched my fist as I felt anger threatening to boil over. “Shut up.” I hissed at Irene.

            “Sherlock...” (Y/n)’s gentle voice calmed me ever so slightly. She reached over and intertwined her right hand with my left, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

            Irene stopped abruptly, taken aback by my outburst, before grinning widely. I seethed at her reaction. “Oh, you really are hopeless. Look at you both.” She shifted on the table, crossing her legs and leaning forward to study us. I exchanged nervous glances with (Y/n). “It’s a shame that not even I could get in the middle of you two.” There was the slightest hint of jealousy in her voice. She sighed. “But, I’ve still won nevertheless, so...”

            I froze. Jealousy? The wheels in my head began turning, connecting the dots, connecting the evidence and... click. I smirked triumphantly. “No.”

            Everyone in the room turned to look at me incredulously. “Sorry?” Irene was the first to ask about my proclamation.

            “I said no. Very, very close, but no.” I stood and began to make my way over to her very slowly. “You got carried away. The game was too elaborate. You were enjoying yourself too much.”

            “No such thing as too much,” she interjected. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, suspense and confusion hanging in the air, as I continued walking closer. I didn’t stop to think about the impact of the words about to come out of my mouth.

            “Oh, enjoying the thrill of the chase is fine, craving the distraction of the game – I sympathize entirely – but sentiment? Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.”

(Your POV)

            I didn’t say a word for the rest of the conversation. I didn’t say a word on the cab ride home. I didn’t say a word as I entered the flat. It was all I could do to keep myself from crying. Sherlock’s words rung in my ears. Chemical defect. Losing side. Destructive. Dangerous disadvantage... Is that how he really felt about love? Is that how he really felt about me? Did he even care for me at all, or was it just an act like it was with Adler?!?

            “Say something.” Sherlock’s quiet voice broke the silence as he closed the flat door behind us.

            Silent tears began to fall down my face. “I don’t have anything to say to you.” The words came out harsher than I had intended, but I couldn’t find it in me to care.

            “(Y/n)-”

            “Leave me alone!” I screamed, whirling around to face him. The hurt in his eyes was evident as he slowly closed his mouth. “That was cold, Sherlock Holmes.” My voice quivered, betraying how hurt I really was. “You played with her feelings, broke her down bit by bit, and you’re not even sorry, Sherlock.”

            “I had to,” he insisted, taking a step towards me. “Please, let me explain...”

            I took a step back, crossing my arms. “Save it. How do I know you won’t do the same to me? How do I know you haven’t already done it?!” I shook my head and drew in a long breath, calming myself.  “I mean seriously, Sherlock, is that really how you feel about sentiment? Am I nothing more than an inconvenience to you?” He looked at the floor, unable to meet my gaze.

            My heart shattered. Oh. Okay. So it is like that. He paced to the center of the room, hands clasped firmly behind his back. I turned away, taking a few steps toward the door before changing my mind and turning back around. There were several long moments of silence. “Say something.” Now it was my turn to utter the words, fighting back tears for all I was worth. I couldn’t leave until I had heard him say it on his own. That he wanted me gone. That he didn’t actually care for me. I shut my eyes tight and braced myself.

            “I’m losing.”

            Tentatively, I opened my eyes and looked up at him. “What?”

            “I’m losing.” His teary gaze was locked with my own as he struggled to find words. “Sentiment is a chemical defect found on the losing side. And I’m losing terribly.”

            It took me a long moment to comprehend what he was saying. “Sherlock...”

            He shook his head. “Let me finish,” he pleaded, a desperate look in his eyes, “Please.” Although I was taken aback by his sudden seriousness, I managed to nod in response. Taking a deep breath, he began walking towards me- ever so slowly. “(Y/f/n), I care for you like I’ve never cared for anyone before. When I first met you, I tried to convince myself that I hated you, because I simply could not cope with the fact that I was developing sentiment for someone. But please believe me when I say that that very sentiment is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

            My lips parted in shock and I swore my heart was going to leap out of my chest, but he wasn’t finished just yet. He was still moving, closing the gap at a still tantalizingly slow pace. “You remember when you ended up in the hospital, correct?”

            “Yes,” I whispered.

            “I visited you while you were unconscious, and I told you something very important.” He paused, waiting for a response.

            “What was it?” I wanted to rush over to him, but I knew that he needed to take his time. He needed to tell me whatever it was on his own terms, not mine. And I could live with that.

            “I told you sentiment was a chemical defect found on the losing side, but that I didn’t care that I was losing.” His voice was cracking as he choked on his tears, and I knew my voice would sound exactly the same if I tried to form any more than a few words. He’s cared all this time... and to think that I ever doubted him. I was so touched that he had said all this to me ages ago that I almost forgot to listen to his next words. “A-and... I told you that you had to wake up. I told you that I needed you.” He looked at me intensely, passion starting to build in his eyes, replacing the tears. “And I do need you, (Y/n), I really do. But I’d like to revise that statement to what I really meant that night.”

            He stopped walking abruptly, his face only a few inches from mine. I tried to look into his eyes, but I couldn’t find the strength to do it. They were so alight, so passionate, that I couldn’t even bear to look at him. “What did you really mean?” I asked softly, turning my eyes to the floor.

            Reaching forward, he placed his hands on either side of my face. “Look at me,” he cooed. Reluctantly, I obliged, my knees nearly buckling as I once again saw the emotion swirling in the depths of his usually steely eyes. “I love you.”

            There was an air of finality to his words as they rang around the room, as if there couldn’t have ever been another choice. Relief washed over me as delight started to course through my veins. “Oh my God, Sherlock. I love you too.”

            That was all he needed to hear. Without a moment’s hesitation, his lips devoured mine in a kiss so passionate that I lost all ability to think. It was slow, almost unbearably so, but made me feel so incredibly loved that I was tingling all over. It only took a few moments before the kiss was needier, hungrier. Sherlock moved his hands to my hips and pressed me against the wall, his tongue swiping against my bottom lip, asking for permission. I didn’t hesitate, parting my lips further as he slipped his tongue in, immediately claiming dominance. Tangling my hands into his curls, I accidently let out a soft moan.

            “(Y/n),” he gasped as he pulled away, pupils blown wide, “Please don’t ever leave me.”

            I didn’t even need to think before giving him a truthful answer. “I won’t. Not ever.” He grinned before turning his attention to my neck. I sucked in a breath, reveling in this new sensation. Giving a sigh of contentment, I leaned my head back onto the wall to give him better access. I ran my hands over his torso, wanting to feel every inch of him. “Have I ever told you that you look irresistible in purple?”

            He pulled away from my neck to look at me and I almost frowned at the loss of contact. “Is that so?” He nearly growled, a devious look in his eyes and The Smirk™ on his face. The sight was... overwhelming. I tried to reply, but all that came out were stutters. He grinned wickedly. “Well we might just have to do something about that.”

            Oh God, yes. I had a two-second, internal moral debate and decided that if that’s where this was heading, I was going with it. “Yeah, we just might.” I whispered breathlessly. The feeling of his baritone chuckle against my neck sent shivers down my spine. I gasped as his teeth grazed against my pulse.  

            He stopped what he was doing and groaned, trying to restrain himself. “Listen to me, (Y/n),” his breaths were short and ragged, his eyes dark with lust. One look into those eyes and I knew I looked exactly the same. “You are the most wonderful person I have ever had the good fortune to meet, and I love you. More than I can say.” I smiled as he wrapped his strong arms around my waist, drawing me into him, chest to chest. “Now, I could tell you all night how much you mean to me, but I’d much rather show you.”

            My heart pounded with anticipation and I clutched onto his shirt, readying myself for what was coming next. “I’ve always told myself I’d never give in to this sort of thing, but I’d much rather take you and lose the fight for good. I’ve... never done anything like this before, and I know you haven’t either, but I would much rather share this with you than anyone else. Please, (Y/n). Just say the words and I’ll be so far gone that I won’t be able to turn back.”

            I let out a soft moan, his words sending a stream of arousal straight south. Without hesitation, I brought my mouth up to his ear. He shivered with anticipation, his grip on me tightening. Taking in a shaky breath, and using that voice he could never resist, I gave my reply without an ounce of uncertainty. “Fuck me, Sherlock.”

            And he did just that.

--- (time skip sponsored by the Purple Shirt of Sex ™, which is now on the floor somewhere) ---

(Sherlock’s POV)

            The next morning, I found myself at the living room window, staring out into the pouring rain. (Y/n) was next to me, wearing my purple shirt and a pair of my boxers. I smirked in approval. Normally, I wouldn’t let her wear my clothes, but it looked like I was going to start making exceptions- I rather liked it. I pulled her closer and she immediately responded by wrapping her arms around me, burying her face into my chest. I gave a hum of contentment. I love you. I had meant those words, and I still did. Always would.

            I fiddled with the camera phone in my hand- the very one that John had given me this morning. It was Irene’s. Was. Past tense. The contents, of course, had been removed for careful inspection by the government. But the woman that we had beaten was about to lose the game in a far more permanent way. Two months, maybe less. Karachi, most likely. I sighed resignedly. I would go save her, of course. I owed her one. After all, the trouble she had caused was the reason I was able to show my affections for (Y/n).

            “The woman...” I flipped the phone in the air and caught it, looking at it as if it were a memoir. Which, in some ways, I suppose it was. Irene truly was remarkable in terms of her wit and cunning mind. She had a weakness, a big one, that gave her away. But then again, we all have at least one secret that will be the death of us. The woman, she called herself. As if she embodied the whole of her gender.

            “The woman,” I mumbled again to myself. But one glance down at the love of my life snuggled up against my chest and I knew that I would never mention Irene again. Not in that way, at least. She might think she is the epitome of her kind, but not to me. Nothing could ever compare to the girl I held in my arms. Not ever. I reached to the side and set the phone on top of the table, dismissing its importance. “The woman...” (Y/n) glanced up at me with unambiguous love in her eyes and I smiled, my affection for her pouring out of me as I leaned forward and placed a meaningful kiss on her forehead. “But not my woman.”

Chapter Text

(John’s POV)

THE PERSONAL BLOG OF DOCTOR JOHN H. WATSON

March 12th

‘The Woman’

I can't say much about the actual case because Mycroft has threatened to throw me out of the country, but-

            “Oh no, don’t put that.” (Y/n)’s disapproving tone halted my typing fingers. I frowned and looked over at her. She was sitting next to me on the sofa, legs drawn up on the couch and angled towards me so she could watch me type. Her delicate fingers curled around her warm mug of morning coffee, and her hair glittered in the sun rays escaping through the curtains. My frown melted. Angelic, as always.

            During the past month and a half, she had made it her personal goal to spend more time with me, saying that it was unhealthy for someone to spend all their time with their significant other, anyways. This was how we usually did it- curled up on the sofa, throwing ideas back and forth. I had asked her about it once. ‘What, I can’t spend time with my best friend?’ had come her easy reply. Best friend. Not exactly the words I wanted to hear, but I was glad to have even gotten that far.

            “Why not? That is what happened,” I countered, shaking off my thoughts.

            She smiled, an utterly contagious smile, and took a small sip of her coffee. “Well, it’s not very professional.”

            I scoffed playfully. “Oh, so you’re the expert now, are you?”

            “Yes,” she replied very seriously. For a moment I almost believed her, but the mischief sparkling in her (e/c) eyes gave it away. I chuckled lightly.

            “Oh, sod off, will you?” I nudged her lightly with my elbow.

            She gave an over-dramatic gasp of indignity. “I most certainly will not. Give it here, ‘Doctor Watson’.” Before I even had time to laugh at her antics, she set down her coffee mug and plucked the computer out of my lap in one swift move.

            “Oh, for God’s sake, (Y/n) ...” I reached for my laptop.

            “Nuh-uh.” She waved a tantalizing finger at me and I obediently retreated. “Watch and learn, Johnny Boy.”

            “Johnny Boy? H- Hey! Don’t erase it all!” I leaned over her shoulder and watched helplessly as she erased the entirety of the entry. I shot her a playful glare.

            “What?” She asked innocently. “It’s not like you even had a full sentence, anyways.”

            After a moment of internal debate, I sighed. “Alright,” I mumbled, “Carry on.” I watched as her fingers danced nimbly over the keyboard.

 I can't say much about the actual case because...

            There was a moment of silence. “What’s that one law?”

            I furrowed my brow and looked her in the eye. “Huh?”

            “You know,” she flailed her hands around, desperately searching for the right words. An adorable looked of frustration passed over her face “The... thing.”

            I quirked a fond smile. “Some expert you are.”

            “Oh, just take it.” She shoved the computer back onto my lap with an indignant huff and crossed her arms, a pout forming on her lips. I chuckled and began to type once more.

            “Official Secrets Act.”

            Her eyes shot to me immediately. “Huh?”

            “The law you were thinking of. The Official Secrets Act.” I made no attempt to hide the smug undertone in my voice.

            Her eyes widened with realization. The she let out a long groan, flopping herself down so her head rested on my thighs, placing herself between me and the laptop. Mindlessly, I let my fingers run through her hair a few times. She seemed to appreciate the gesture, giving a small sigh of contentment and closing her eyes. “You win this time, Watson,” came her soft voice. I looked down at her peaceful figure. Clearly, her coffee had done little to stimulate her.

            “Oo, are we on a last-name basis now, Miss Holmes?” She opened her eyes and gave me a half-hearted glare, childishly sticking her tongue out. I tutted before moving my laptop to the arm of the sofa, so as to not hit her while I finished my blog.

            “Oh, shut up. Just because we’re dating doesn’t mean we’re getting married.”

            I shrugged. “Never know with Sherlock.”

            She seemed to take it in for a moment, furrowing her brow and giving a concentrated hum. She sucked in a long breath. “Just a moment.” I eyed her curiously as she jumped up from the sofa and gracefully moseyed over to the living room table. She bent over to pick something up, and I awkwardly tore my gaze away to keep myself from staring. Focus. I turned my attention back to the work in front of me.

            “Morning, all.” Sherlock’s sudden presence in the room startled me, but I didn’t let it show.

            “Morning,” I replied distractedly, still trying to concentrate on my work instead of the scene in front of me. I inevitably failed.

            A grin spread across (Y/n)’s face as she turned to face Sherlock, who was standing in the kitchen doorway. “Morning, sleepyhead. Catch.” With that, she tossed Sherlock’s mobile across the room and he caught it with one hand.

            I saw him smile fondly and immediately begin texting away on his phone. “How did you know?” he asked.

            She shrugged coyly, shooting him a grin. “I always do.”

            “Hm...” with nothing more than a hum of agreement, he pulled her in close for a kiss. Now that was a sight it had taken me a while to get used to. I averted my eyes to the ceiling and pretended to gag. I wonder if this is how me and my girlfriends look to them.

            “Shut up, John.” Sherlock scolded, pulling her even closer.

            I smiled as I heard (Y/n)’s soft giggles. “But I haven’t said a word, Sher.” This earned me a glare and I chuckled in spite of myself. “How’s this sound, (Y/n)?” I took advantage of their momentary break to capture (Y/n)’s attention once more. Was I jealous? Maybe. They had a relationship like no other- they always knew what the other needed, hell, I was pretty sure they could read each other’s minds. Their wit and sarcasm put together was unmatched, and they made an intimidating pair. No wonder we’d been solving cases so easily lately- I was pretty sure the criminals would rather turn themselves in than get tracked down by these two.

            I gave a small sigh. Pity. Oh, well. There’s always other fish in the sea. I cleared my throat and began to read my blog entry aloud to her. “I can't say much about the actual case because of the Official Secrets Act, but the country was nearly brought to its knees by one person - Irene Adler. She's now under a witness protection scheme so we'll not be seeing her again. And Sherlock seems fine with that. Of course, he isn't fine with it, not really. But he'll get there.”

            I looked up to see a snickering (Y/n) and one very cross detective. “Really, John? Is that necessary?” Sherlock reprimanded. “Absolutely not.”

            “Absolutely yes.” (Y/n) laughed, “Keep it.”

            Sherlock threw us both shocked looks. “I most certainly am fine with Irene being gone!”

            (Y/n) rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah, sure. That’s why you dragged both of us out to Karachi last weekend to save her.”

            “That was a matter of life and death!”

            “The people like to know you’re human, Sherlock. It gives you better reviews.” I interjected.

            “Reviews?” He scoffed, “What reviews? Nobody reads that silly blog of yours.” He waved his hand dismissively and headed over to the coat rack.

            “Bullshit. Where else do all our clients come from?”

            He swung at his coat and gave me a signature ‘duh’ look. “I’ll have you know, I’ve got a blog compiling the means to identify 243 different types of tobacco ash. That’s where our clients come from!”

            (Y/n) and I exchanged looks. “Love,” she began honestly, “let’s face it, nobody reads your blog.” She glanced over at me again. “Just post it, John.” I smiled and gave an affirmative nod, posting the case review to my page.

            “Done and done.” I confirmed. Sherlock watched the exchange with a bewildered look.

            He scoffed playfully, tying his scarf around his neck all the while. “I can’t believe you two. It’s like living with children.”

            “The only child here is you, Sherlock.” (Y/n) sent him a playful glare and he took the moment to lean down and kiss her. I felt that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach again.

            “Anyone up for a case?” he asked as he pulled away, heading for the door. “Giles just called in with a new one a few minutes ago. Something about a stolen painting.”

            (Y/n) and I rolled out eyes simultaneously. “Greg,” I corrected.

            “We’re coming,” she said, grinning at me. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

***

(Your POV)- 13th March

            “Falls of the Reichenbach, Turner’s masterpiece, thankfully recovered owing to the prodigious talent of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.” The gallery director gestured to our trio from the podium as the gallery patrons applauded. He then handed a small, giftwrapped box to Sherlock. “A small token of our gratitude.”

            Sherlock reached out and took the box, looking at it for merely a second before he became utterly disinterested. “Diamond cufflinks. All my cuffs have buttons.” He shoved the box into my hands and I rolled my eyes.

            “He means thank you,” I said apologetically to the director, very aware of all the eyes on us in the room.

            Sherlock frowned. “Do I?”

            “Just say it,” I hissed. Sherlock gave the director a forced smile and insincerely thanked him.

He began to walk away, but John grabbed his other arm and held him back. “Hey,” John said, pulling him over so that we could take pictures for the press. Sherlock grumbled something under his breath, but wrapped his arm around my waist and stood for pictures all the same.

***

29th March

            I stood between Sherlock and John outside a banker’s house, the owner of which we had just rescued. The banker had his arms around his wife and son, and spoke confidently to the press, who were photographing and filming them. Although I was extremely happy that we had reunited the family, I grimaced with the knowledge that those cameras would soon be turned on us instead.

            “Back together with my family after my terrifying ordeal; and we have two people to thank for my deliverance – Sherlock Holmes and (Y/n) (L/n).”

            “Ooh, I get recognition now?” I chuckled to myself. Usually, I specifically asked not to be recognized during press conferences. I guess I had forgotten to mention it this time.

            Sherlock and I gave terse nods to the public crowd as the banker’s son came over and presented the pair of us each with a small box. Sherlock shook his box. “Tie pin. I don’t wear ties.”

            I shrugged. “Maybe you should start to.”

            He eyes me curiously. “Why, do you like ties?”

            “It adds to the appearance.”

            “Hmm... What did you get?”

            I shook the box. “Earrings.”

            “Shhh,” John quietly commanded, “Pictures.”

***

8th April

            John and I stood casually on the raised stage in Scotland Yard, totally at ease in the familiar setting. Sherlock stood next to us, stiff-backed as ever. He never did like press conferences. Or any sort of media attention, for that matter. Greg addressed the press at the microphone and I could see Tweedle-dee and Tweedledum in the back of the room.

            “Peter Ricoletti: number one on Interpol’s Most Wanted list since 1982. But we got him; and there’s one person we have to thank for giving us the decisive leads ... with all his customary diplomacy and tact!”

            This actually made Sherlock smirk. Gregory always was one of Sherlock’s favorites. John cleared his throat and leaned over. “Sarcasm.”

            “Yes,” Sherlock chuckled. The press applauded and Greg walked over to give Sherlock a gift, smiling cheerfully. A little too cheerfully. I smiled, wondering what he was planning on pulling over Sherlock this time.

            “We all chipped in.”

            I eyed the package curiously as Sherlock opened it to reveal a deerstalker hat. I put my hand over my mouth to stifle a laugh and I could tell that Sherlock was trying his best to seem like he liked it. “...Oh!”

            Anderson and Donovan were laughing at the back of the room. “Put the hat on!” “Put the hat on!” “Yeah, Sherlock, put the hat on!” Several cries from reporters came from around the room.

            Sherlock looked at us and then at the reporters like he wanted to kill them. I couldn’t blame them. I cleared my throat. “Just... get it over with.” Literally cringing, Sherlock shoved the wrapping paper into my hands, then unhappily put the hat on his head. Flashbulbs lit up the room everyone applauded. At the back of the room, Sally was clapping with sarcastic delight while Anderson grinned smugly. As much as I pretty much despise them, I couldn’t help but smile as well. It wasn’t every day we got to see Sherlock at the center of a laugh.

Sherlock smiled at the press through gritted teeth and glanced at Greg as if promising him a world of pain later. I glanced over at John and smiled. “Worth it,” I whispered quietly. Not quietly enough.

            Sherlock turned to me mischievously. Uh-oh. “Oh, no. If I’m stuck with this, you are too.”

            I put my hands up in defense, wondering what it was he was going to do. “Sher-!” He cut me off suddenly with a kiss, dipping me slightly with one hand and taking the hat off with the other. I heard several wolf whistles from the crowd and I knew my face must be bright pink. When he stood me up straight again, it was me who was wearing the hat, grinning sheepishly at the crowd. I glared at Sherlock, who was straightening his coat and smirking smugly to himself as if nothing had happened. He would make up for it later.

***

16th April

            “Boffin. Boffin Sherlock Holmes.”

            I shrugged from where I was lying on the couch, searching through the day’s paper. John was seated next to me, a different company’s newspaper spread out on the coffee table in front of him. “Everybody gets one,” John said nonchalantly, rifling through the pages.

            “One what?” Sherlock glared at us.

            “Tabloid nickname: ‘SuBo’. ‘Nasty Nick.’ Shouldn’t worry – I reckon (Y/n) and I will probably get ours soon.”

            “Page five, column six, first sentence.”

            I sat up immediately, suddenly interested. “Ooh, have I got one too? Let me see.” John and I searched for the right page as Sherlock made his way over to the fireplace and picked up the deerstalker hat he had received a week ago. Frustrated, he punched it.

            “Why is it always the hat photograph?”

            “Because people like it,” I answered distractedly, still searching for the right column. “Aha!” John and I read the article silently. I giggled as I read the first sentence.

            “Bachelor John Watson??” John piped up indignantly.

            “What sort of hat is it anyway?” Sherlock went on about his hat, completely ignoring John and myself.

            “Bachelor? What the hell are they implying?” He turned to me.

            I nudged him playfully. “They know you’re a ladies’ man.”

            “Is it a cap? Why has it got two fronts?”

            “It’s a deerstalker.” I glanced up briefly at Sherlock, who was still going on about the hat.

            “You stalk a deer with a hat? What are you gonna do – throw it?”

            I read the article aloud to myself. “Sherlock Holmes, frequently seen in the company of bachelor John Watson and American beauty (Y/n) (L/n). Rumor has it that Mr. Holmes and Miss (L/n) are actually engaged, making Miss (L/n) one of England’s most desirable young ladies...” I sat back, impressed. “Whoa. Now there’s a nickname I could get used to.”

            John was still dissatisfied, and continued reading, but now from the middle of the article. “... Confirmed bachelor John Watson?!”

            “Some sort of death frisbee?”

            John shook his head and looked up from the papers at London’s greatest detective, who was currently perplexed by a cap. I smiled to myself- I could see the headlines now. “Okay, this is too much. We need to be more careful,” John warned.

            “It’s got flaps ... ear flaps. It’s an ear hat, John.” Only half-listening, he threw the deerstalker across the room and it landed right within John’s reach. Sherlock sighed. “What do you mean: more careful?”

            I sat up and addressed Sherlock a little more seriously than I had approached the situation before. “He means this isn’t a deerstalker now; it’s a Sherlock Holmes hat. He means that you’re not exactly a private detective anymore. You’re this far from famous.” I held my fingers an inch apart to make my point.

            Sherlock shrugged it off. “Oh, it’ll pass.” He settled down into his arm chair and put his hands in prayer position in front of his mouth, as was his style.

            “It’d better pass.” John added solemnly. “The press will turn, Sherlock. They always turn, and they’ll turn on you.” He waved a taunting finger at him.

            Sherlock lowered his hands and looked closely at the two of us. “It really bothers you.”

            John and I exchanged confused looks. “What?”

            “What people say.”

            “Yes.”

            Sherlock’s brow furrowed in that adorable way I loved. “About me? I don’t understand – why would it upset you?”

            John gave Sherlock an incredulous look before simply turning his gaze away, dropping the subject. I rolled my eyes. “Because we love you, idiot.” This made him smile. “Just try to keep a low profile. Find yourself a little case this week. Stay out of the news.”

            He closed his eyes and settled back into his thinking position, but there was still fondness in his voice when he spoke. “As much as I return and appreciate your affections, (Y/n), I promise that your concerns are unwarranted. We’ll be fine.”

 

            But we wouldn’t. Not really.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

            “As much as I return and appreciate your affections, (Y/n), I promise that your concerns are unwarranted. We’ll be fine.”

            I fixed Sherlock with a wary look, even though he couldn’t see it with his eyes shut. “Okay...” I said softly, leaning back into the sofa. There was a moment of silence.

            John cleared his throat. “Erm, well, I’m going to take a quick shower, and then maybe we can all get lunch?”

            I gave him a small smile as he stood and stretched. “Sure, John.” He nodded and sauntered off upstairs.

            Sherlock hummed. “Can’t, I’m in the middle of a case.”

            I rolled my eyes and stood up, making my way over to stand by his chair. “You’ll be done by lunch, love.” Absentmindedly, I gently twisted one of his silky curls around my finger.

            He opened one bright eye and smiled. “Not if you keep distracting me.” He warned with a playful edge.

            I smiled and leaned forward, placing a quick kiss on his lips which he happily returned. “Then I guess I’d better get going.”

            “Or...” he winked and wiggled a suggestive eyebrow at me, insinuating that we do something entirely different together.

            I gasped. “Sherlock Holmes!” I giggled, smacking him on the shoulder. “Now is not the time, get to solving your case.” I sauntered off to the kitchen, still chuckling despite myself.

            “Wha-? That’s not at all what I was saying!” He cried out with fake indignation. “I was merely suggesting that you help me solve this case.” I arched an eyebrow at that. Yeah, right. He managed to maintain a relatively innocent look on his face, still trying to sell his story.

            I shook my head and poured myself a cup of tea from the kettle on the stove. “Uh-huh, yes, I’m sure that is exactly what you were implying.”

            He shrugged, a trace of a smile still visible on his face. “There’s no proof that that’s what I meant.” He picked up a few police reports and crossed his legs nonchalantly. “Just saying.”

            I furrowed my brows in mock thought and drifted over towards him. “And... there’s no proof that I’m not actually a Brazilian model named Esteban Julio Ricardo Montoya De La Rosa Ramirez.” He fixed me with a blank look and I took a tiny sip of my tea, eyeing him innocently all the while. “Just saying.”

            He let out a long, exasperated breath and I laughed quietly, plopping down in John’s chair across from him. “(Y/n), you are one strange woman.”

            “Yeahhh, but you love it.”

            He glanced up from his work, a smirk gracing his features. “That I do.” He leaned forward and held out a few papers. “Care to take a look?”

            “Oo, don’t mind if I do.” I set my teacup on the side table and quickly swiped the papers from Sherlock, eager to take a look. I glanced over the information quickly. “Henry Fishgard...”

            “Suicide,” Sherlock interjected, still studying the files in front of him. “Or so they think. I know it was murder but I just...” he ruffled his hair vigorously to clear his head. “I can’t figure out who would have done it!”

            I hummed thoughtfully. Looking over the papers myself, I honestly had no idea. “I’d try the brother.” I offered.

            Confused, he looked up at me. “What, why? What makes you say that?”

            I shrugged indifferently, handing the papers back over to him. “No clue, he just looks kinda sketchy.”

            “Tsk. Oh, come on, (Y/n), I’ve seen you do better.”

            “Sorry, hard to think when I’m hungry. Some of us are simple, ordinary humans who need to eat regularly.” It was true- my stomach was practically screaming at me for food. Skipping breakfast had been a mistake.

            He shook his head. “Another thing about you lot I will never understand.” After a few more long moments, he gave up and tossed the papers back on the side table. “I’ll just solve it later.”

            “Giving up so soon?” I asked in mild surprise.

            He stood and adjusted the top button on his maroon shirt, moseying over. “No, I just thought that lunch with my intelligent and beautiful girlfriend sounded much more preferable.”

            I giggled as he pressed a kiss to my hand, my heart fluttering. I stood up to meet him. “Gee, pressing case, is it?”

            “Mm, they’re all pressing until they’re solved,” he mumbled against my lips before leaning in to kiss me softly. I gave a sigh of contentment, wrapping my arms around him.

            At that moment, his mobile phone went off. I felt a twinge of disappointment and reluctantly pulled away. “I’ll get it, shall I?”

            “Ah, don’t bother,” Sherlock responded as I headed for the kitchen table where the ringtone was sounding from, “It keeps doing that.”

            I shifted over some old, junk papers to reach the phone underneath while shooting him a look of disbelief. “Sherlock, that’s the eighth time your phone has gone off this morning. It must be important.” He merely shrugged and sat back down to study the case files again. I chuckled and shook my head in amusement. Alright, let’s see what we’ve got here. I punched in the lock code. “Oh, sweet Jesus.” 7 missed calls from D.I. Lestrade. 1 new text message. I clicked the text notification. “Hey Sherl, you really need to call bac-” I froze, my eyes glued to the screen. God, no, no, no.

            “What was that, dear?” he glanced up from his work.

            “Sherlock,” my voice was barely a squeak, trembling with fear, “It’s for you.”

            With a furrowed brow and concern in his eyes, he rushed over and wrapped a steadying arm around me. “(Y/n), what is it?”

            I turned the screen to face him. On the screen was a single text.

Come and play. Tower Hill. Jim Moriarty x

            I watch as his eyes widen and then he looks away, staring into space. I can practically see the wheels turning in his head.

            “Sherlock.” He turns his attention back to my trembling figure. “I can’t do it again.” I mean it. James had put me through more physical and psychological stress than anyone else on the planet. If we faced him again, I wasn’t sure that I would actually make it out alive this time. We’d had some close calls in the past. James is a powerful man. If he decided he wanted to hurt me, there was no stopping him.

            “(Y/n), look at me.” I hadn’t realized I was crying until his voice brought me back to reality. He cupped my face and his thumbs stroked my cheeks reassuringly. “I won’t let him hurt you.” Determination glinted in his eyes. “Not ever.”

            I gave a weak smile, moving my hands on top of his. “So what are we going to do now?”

            He thought for a moment, letting out a long breath. “Figure out what he has planned.” I nodded and he pressed kiss to my forehead. “Alright then.” He pulled away and ran to the stairs. “John!” he called up, “We’re going to need a rain check on that lunch, we’re needed. Finish up and let’s go!”

            “Coming!” Moments later, a fully-dressed and wet-haired John came bounding down the stairs. “What’s so important that we have to skip lunch?” He asked us as we all pulled on our coats.

            “Moriarty.”

            John’s face became deathly serious. “Oh.”


            At Tower Hill with Lestrade, we watched the security footage play over and over again. Forward. Rewind. Forward. We watch as Jim placed his gum and... something else onto the glass. “What is that?” I enquire as the glass around the crown jewels shatters. “That glass is supposed to be tougher than anything.”

            Sherlock hummed in thought from beside me. “Not tougher than crystalized carbon. He used a diamond.” The four of us watch the tape from a different angle. Jim’s writing on the glass becomes clear.

GET SHERLOCK.

            John sucked in a sharp breath. I notice the smile inside of the ‘O’ and grimace. Is that supposed to be a joke? I look at Sherlock to try and gauge his reaction. He just watched the screen thoughtfully.

            “You know at least one of you will have to testify in court,” Greg pipes up.

            I look at him in shock, fearing the prospect. “What?! Why? We had nothing to do with this.”

            He shrugged and crossed his arms. “Nobody else can do it. As far as we know, no one else who’s met him before has lived to tell about it.” Sherlock and I share a look. He’s right, of course.

            “And on that depressing note,” Sherlock stood straight and clapped his hands excitedly. “Who’s hungry?”

            I grinned. “Starving.”


 

*April 30th*

            This was it. The day of the big trial. James Moriarty was to be put on the stand for what the newspapers were calling ‘The Biggest Crime of the Century’. Sherlock was to be called in as the expert witness on the case. All the evidence was against James, yet his official plea was not guilty. Not guilty... I repeated the phrase in my head over and over in my head. Why would he try to plead not guilty? What does he have planned? I took in a nervous breath and looked in the mirror, straightening my black dress. I looked down at my hands. They were shaking.

            “(Y/n).” Nerves already on edge, I nearly jumped in surprise as Sherlock broke the silence. Calming myself, I turned to face him slowly. He stood in the bedroom doorway, a focused look of concern etched onto his features. “Are you ready to go?”

            I take one last glance in the mirror. “Yeah.” My response doesn’t sound convincing, even to myself. I look Sherlock up and down, pleasantly surprised. “You’re wearing a tie.”

            He smiled, fiddling with the black tie neatly tied around his neck, contrasting with his white shirt. “Well, you said it adds to the look.”

            “It most certainly does.” Reaching up, I used his tie to pull him down so I could kiss him on the lips. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

            His bright eyes crinkled with amusement as he pulled away and held out his arm. I took it, following him through the flat and to the front door where a smartly-dressed John was waiting. We took a moment to collect ourselves, the sound of the crowd outside already coming through the door.

            “Ready?” John asked.

            “Yes.” With that, John opened the door and we walked ahead quickly, the police making a path through the mass of reporters and blinding lights. We ignored the countless questions being thrown at us.

            “Get in,” John ordered as we reached the police car. We did so quickly and the car took off, sirens wailing. There were a few moments of silence. “Remember,”

            “Yes.” Sherlock responded immediately, dismissing John’s unspoken comment.

            “Remember-

            “Yes!”

            Thoroughly annoyed, John changed tactics, speaking as quickly as he could. “Remember what they told you: don’t try to be clever...”

            Sherlock smiled sarcastically. “No.”

            “... and please, just keep it simple and brief.”

            “God forbid the star witness at the trial should come across as intelligent.” He threw me a proud smirk at his clever remark. I did nothing but shake my head in amusement.

            John continued on. “Intelligent, fine. Let’s give ‘smart arse’ a wide berth.”

            There was a pause. “I’ll just... be myself.”

            I looked at Sherlock incredulously. “Are you even listening to him?”

            We reach the Old Bailey courthouse soon after and make our way past more reporters. Once inside, Sherlock straightens his tie and looks around at the high ceilings. “I’ll be there in a moment, you two go ahead.”

            John and I nodded simultaneously, heading for the courtroom doors.

            “Crown versus Moriarty, please proceed to Court Ten,” the intercom boomed above us. When we reached the double doors, I froze, silently working us the courage to go in. He’s in there. Moriarty is in there...

            “Hey,” John’s voice was soft as he placed a hand on my shoulder, “are you sure you’re going to be alright?”

            “No,” I answer honestly. I take in a deep breath, fighting back tears. “What does he have planned, John?”

            He thought for a moment. “I guess we’re just gonna have to find out.” I nodded and blinked a few times, clearing my vision. I can do this. “Hey,” he stuck his hand out. “Together.”

            I smiled and took his hand, grateful for the support. John pushed open the door with his free hand and led me inside, in-between the wooden risers and to our seats in the public viewing gallery.

            I risk a glance to my left. There, across from us and in all his glory, is James Moriarty. Is he chewing gum? His dead eyes bore into me, sending a shiver down my spine. He winked at me. Horrified, I look away instantaneously. I can still feel him watching me.

            Once the trial began, Sherlock was called to the stand by the prosecuting barrister. John and I watched the exchange nervously. I fidgeted uncomfortably under Moriarty’s continuing stare.

            “And how long...”

            Sherlock closed his eyes in exasperation. “No no, don’t- don’t do that. That’s really not a good question.”

            “Mr. Holmes!” The judge yelled angrily. I groaned and lifted a hand to my head. This was about the fifth time in the past five minutes he’d made a smart-arse remark. Was he listening to a word we said earlier?

            Sherlock continued sarcastically. “How long have I known him? Not really your best line of enquiry. We met twice, five minutes in total. I pulled a gun, he tried to blow me up. I felt we had a special something.” I watched Moriarty make an “ooh!” expression with his eyebrows. “Two minutes would have made me an expert. Five was ample.”

            “Mr. Holmes, that’s a matter for the jury.”

            “Oh, really?”’

            John and I exchanged worried looks. Ah, shit. John rubbed his temples as Sherlock went rapid-fire, deducing the jury.

            What. An. Idiot. This man literally cannot take a hit to his ego. We tell him to behave, and what does he do? Runs his mouth. I listen as he finishes and the judge yells at him. He sends me a smug look, as if saying ‘We’re surrounded by idiots’. I return it with a glare. When we get home, I’ll show him what that mouth is really for.

            “Do you think you could survive for just a few minutes without showing off?”

            Sherlock paused, pondering the question. Evidently not, because his next smart remark got him dragged out of the courtroom.


 

            John and I picked Sherlock up from his temporary cell after the court dismissed for the day. Sherlock stood at the reception desk, signing for his personal items. I crossed my arms. “What did we say? We said: Don’t get clever.”

            He rolled his eyes. “I can’t just turn it on and off like a light switch.” I scoffed as he took his belongings and walked away. “Well?”

            John raised his eyebrows. “Well, what?”

            “You two were there for the whole thing, up in the gallery, from start to finish.”

            “Just like you said it would be.”

            I nodded. “Moriarty’s barrister just sat on his backside, never even stirred. And James just... sat there. Staring. Well, until they took him to his cell.”

            Sherlock hummed thoughtfully. “Moriarty’s not mounting any defense.”

            Once we got home, I immediately kicked off my uncomfortable heels, changed into sweatpants and a tank and flopped down onto the sofa. My head was pounding, probably a stress-induced headache. John sat down next to me. Sherlock resorted to pacing. It had been a long day for all three of us.

            John voiced what we were all thinking. “Bank of England. Tower of London. Pentonville. Three of the most secure places in the country and two weeks ago, Moriarty breaks in, no-one knows how or why.” He threw his hands up in the air, clueless. “All we know is...”

            “... He ended up in custody.” Sherlock finished his sentence. He stopped pacing suddenly and turned to us, eyes lit up with excitement and realization.

            I groaned, sitting up. “Don’t do that.”

            He blinked in confusion. “Do what?”

            “The look.”

            “Look?”

            “You’re doing the look again.” John said, annoyed.

            Sherlock scoffed. “Well, I can’t see it, can I?” I arched an eyebrow, pointing behind him at the mirror hanging over the mantle. Duh. He looked into it. “That’s my face.” He said plainly, turning back around.

            I rolled my eyes. “Wow, Sherlock Holmes’ finest deduction yet. Someone alert the press,” I mumbled under my breath.

            “It’s doing a thing,” John insisted, “It’s doing a ‘We all know what’s going on here’ face.”

            Sherlock frowned. “Well, we do.”

            “No, we don’t, which is why we find the Face™ so annoying.”

            “Wha-” Sherlock looked to me in hopes that I would defend him.

            I just shrugged. “You make some weird faces, honey.”

            “Oh, thanks dear, that’s very reassuring.”

            I put my hands up in innocent surrender. He shook it off and continued, untying his tie while he spoke. “Then allow me to clarify. If Moriarty wanted the Jewels, he’d have them. If he wanted those prisoners free, they’d be out on the streets.” I concentrated heavily on his words, processing them. “The only reason he’s still in a prison cell is because he wants to be there.”

            My eyes were fixed on the floor. “The only reason he hasn’t killed me yet is because he has something worse planned,” I whispered, silently begging for someone to tell me I was incorrect. I took the room’s deathly silence as an agreement. “Somehow this is part of his scheme.”

            I lifted my head to look at Sherlock. His eyes were gray, clouded with apprehension. “I’m right, aren’t I?” My voice cracked a bit at the end.

            Sherlock straightened up and swallowed once, hard. John’s eyes widened as he realized what this meant. “Oh... Jesus.” He buried his face in his hands.

            I’m going to take that as a yes. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and my chest felt like it was being crushed, heavy with the fear of what was to come. “He’s going to walk away a free man, isn’t he.” It wasn’t even a question, it was a statement. Somehow, Moriarty would find a way. Then he’d come for us. God knows what would happen to any of us then.

            Sherlock tentatively walked over, kneeling in front of me to look me directly in the eyes. “(Y/n),” he took my hands, “He will have to put me in the grave before he lays a hand on you.”

            I gave him a weak smile. “Don’t you dare die on me, Curly.”

            “Nonsense,” he cupped my face and gave me a sweet, reassuring kiss. “You know I always find a way out. Things will all turn out just fine, you’ll see.”

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

July 1st

       Not Guilty.

       It had been 2 months since the court's decision to release Moriarty scot-free back into the city. There had been nothing since then. No signs of Moriarty, no messages, nothing- just an apple with IOU carved into it which we had thrown out long ago. None of us hardly brought up his name anymore, but we were all thinking about him. Constantly. Sherlock, most of all.

       If you ask me, he had become more closed-off than ever. Not rude necessarily, just more work-centered. He spent every waking moment with a case- hardly slept, hardly ate anything. The effects of running around at ungodly hours in the morning was starting to become taxing on all three of us. Sherlock didn't seem to mind.

       So when Greg and Sally showed up at the flat with yet another case, it was no surprise that Sherlock took him up on it right away.

       "Kidnapping. Rufus Bruhl, the ambassador to the U.S." Greg handed over a folder of evidence to Sherlock, whose calculating eyes began to sift through it.

       I frowned from where I was standing next to Sally. "Isn't he in Washington DC?"

       "Not him – his children," he clarified, "Max and Claudette, age seven and nine." He handed me a photograph and I studied it carefully. Cute kids.

       "Sherlock?" We all turned as we heard John coming up the stairs. "(Y/n), something weird..." He stopped as he saw us all talking in a circle. "Oh, uh, carry on."

       Greg went on explaining the nature of the case, but I headed over to John who was looking downright confused.

       "What's going on?"

       "Kidnapping," I explained. "Some U.S. ambassador's kids."

       "Oh Jesus, that's horrible! Are they alright?" Curiously, he glanced over at the files Lestrade was currently showing Sherlock.

       I shrugged and sighed deeply, rubbing my eyes to keep myself awake. We had all had a late night last night. Potential bombing threat, which we stopped of course. "I guess we'll find out. So... what was it you were going to say when you came in?"

       "Hm? Oh, that!" He held out an opened envelope to me. "I found this on our doorstep."

       I furrowed my brow. "Fancy seal. It's empty, though. What about it?"

       "When I opened it?" I nodded to tell him to go on. "There were bread crumbs inside."

       I stared at him incredulously. "...Bread crumbs?"

       "Yeah I know, strange. And we have a bunch of bloody murders moving in all over this street."

       "Jesus. We should probably tell-"

       "Excuse me, (Y/n)!" I stumbled back as Sherlock barreled in between us and took off down the stairs, grabbing his coat on the way and leaving the rest of us standing around in a moment of awkward silence.

       "The Reichenbach Hero." Sally rolled her eyes and followed him downstairs.

       Greg looked at the two of us expectantly. "Isn't it great to be working with a celebrity?"

       I giggled at the underlying sarcasm in his voice. "Thrilling, I'm sure."

       "After you," he grinned, gesturing the stairs. I grabbed my cardigan off the rack and trotted down, Greg and John following closely behind.


       

       We pulled up outside the boarding school and filed out of Greg's car into the morning air. I took a moment to look around. The school was a large, two-story brick building that still managed to give off a quaint aura. I smiled fondly, following the rest of my posse up the drive to where the other police cars were stationed.

       The five of us approached one of the cars, where a woman with a shock blanket wrapped around her was drying her tears with a handkerchief.

       "Miss Mackenzie," Greg whispered to Sherlock, "House mistress."

       Sherlock nodded, a determined look on his face. Uh oh, I know that look. "Sherlock, go easy!" I was ignored. Not like he ever listens to me anymore.

       He strode over to her like a man on a mission and got right into her face, scaring her half to death. "Miss Mackenzie, you're in charge of pupil welfare, yet you left this place wide open last night. What are you: an idiot, a drunk, or a criminal?" He abruptly whipped the blanket off her shoulders and glared furiously at her and she cringed in terror. "Now quickly, TELL ME!"

       The house mistress began to cry, and my heart wrenched for her, but she answered him all the same. "All the doors and windows were properly bolted. No one, not even me, went into their room last night. You have to believe me!" she wept.

       Sherlock's demeanor instantly changed and he gave her a reassuring smile, gently placing his hands on her shoulders. "I do. I just wanted you to speak quickly." He turned to the policewoman that had been standing beside them. "Miss Mackenzie will need to breathe into a bag now." With a dramatic swoosh of his cape, he was heading off into the building.

       What the hell was that?!

       "Every damn time." John and I looked at each other knowingly, exchanging silent words. "I'll stay," I piped up, "You go on ahead."

       "Alright," John nodded, heading after Greg and Sally, who were already heading inside. "Don't be long!"

       "Yeah, yeah. Lestrade!" I stopped him right as he was about to enter the building. He turned with raised eyebrows. "I'll catch up in a minute!"

       He took one look at Miss Mackenzie and shot me a thumbs-up. "We'll be upstairs!"

       I nodded in confirmation and quickly jogged over to the house mistress. "Excuse me ma'am," the policewoman put out an arm to stop me getting any closer. "But I don't think Miss Mackenzie is fit for any more questioning at this time."

       "Oh! Sorry," I looked down at the policewoman, marveling at the authoritative presence she commanded despite being a good 3 inches shorter than me. "But I'm not going to question her, promise." I flashed her my sweetest smile. She looked me up and down once, sighed, and waved me by. "Thank you very much, ma'am."

       I approached Miss Mackenzie cautiously, who looked up at me through tear-stained eyes. "So, are you going to yell at me, too?"

       I shook my head sincerely. "Not at all Miss." She let out a relieved breath.

       "Thank God," she dabbed her eyes once with her handkerchief, "I don't think I could've taken it." I smiled, but it was tight. Oh, Sherlock. Why do you always have to hurt people? "Do sit down, dear."

       I nodded, and the two of us sat on the hood of the car in silence for a few moments. "I just... came to make sure you were alright."

       "Well, I suppose I am now. What a terribly rude young man." She tutted, wrapping the shock blanket tighter around herself.

       "Look, I'm really, really sorry about him. He's a wonderful person, honestly, but he's just not too good with feelings."

       "And why is it you're having to tell me this?" Her tone was stern, and I could tell she was miffed that Sherlock didn't apologize himself.

       I almost laughed. "Most of my job is cleaning up after his messes. People he accidentally hurts, or leaves behind, but mostly the stuff at home."

       She studied me very carefully as I said this, her wise eyes seeing right through me. "You love him, don't you?"

       I sat there, taken aback. "I... well, yes. Very much."

       "Is he your boyfriend?"

       I smiled sadly. If you can even call it that anymore. I knew he still loved me, but he was so distant that he never showed it anymore. To anyone. It's like Moriarty had gotten into his head and planted himself there, until it was all Sherlock wanted to think about. "Yeah, something like that," I answered truthfully.

       Her eyes were filled with pity. "Well, you must be a truly wonderful girl to put up with him all the time."

       I finally laughed. "Yeah, I get that a lot." We sat in silence for another minute. "You're sure you're alright?"

       "Yes, quite." She gave a tight-lipped smile, but her eyes were sad. "Thank you."

       "Of course," I stood up and brushed off the back of my jeans. "I should get going." With that, I turned and headed for the double doors of the school.

       "Wait!" I turned back suddenly at the sound of Miss Mackenzie's voice. "Take care of him, you hear? Don't let him go."

       Silence. I tried to reply, but I couldn't. The look on her face was haunting, as if she knew something I didn't. I did my best to ignore the feeling of dread growing in my stomach. "I-"

       "(Y/n)."

       I let out a startled yelp and practically jumped three feet in the air, almost falling over in the process. I spun around, hands poised to karate-chop the life out of someone if needed.

       "Alright, alright, it's only me." Sherlock put out his hands to steady me, amusement glittering in his eyes.

       I let out a long breath. "Jesus Christ." I laughed, hitting his chest, "You scared the crap out of me! Don't sneak up on me like that."

       "So sorry, love," He grinned. My heart fluttered at the sound of that. It had been almost two weeks since he had used a pet name for me, and I was utterly relieved to hear one. "I just came to tell you that we're leaving."

       "Oh, already?" I looked behind him- everyone was filing out of the building and heading to Greg's car.

       "I'm going to St. Bart's lab to run some tests on some linseed oil footprint pieces."

       Not without me you're not. "I'm coming, too."

       He gave a warm smile, another pleasant change, and held his hand out for me to take. "Naturally."


 

       We arrived at the hospital in record time, Sherlock and John explaining to me what they had found at the crime scene all the way. We made our way inside and through the fire doors at the end of the lab hall before I nearly crashed into Molly.

       "Molly!" Sherlock exclaimed, please to see her.

       "Oh, hello everyone," she said with a smile, "I was just going out."

       He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her back the way she came, nudging her forward so she was walking with us. "No you're not."

       "I... I've got a lunch date."

       "Cancel it. You're having lunch with us." Dramatically, he whipped out a few bags of Quavers crisps.

       "Oh, Sherlo-" I tried to interject, throwing an apologetic glance at Molly. I didn't know her very well, but we had met several times in the lab over cases and such, and bonded nicely over interests and such. Half the time we just poked fun at Sherlock while he was working.

       "Need your help. It's one of your old boyfriends – we're trying to track him down. He's been a bit naughty!"

       Molly stopped dead in her tracks and I with her, rather shocked. Even John stopped right at the doors of the lab, staring at Sherlock. Sherlock turned around and threw a smile at us, as if to say Problem?

       "...It's Moriarty?" John asked in disbelief.

       Sherlock, in turn, looked at our shocked faces with disappointment, as if this was common knowledge. "Course it's Moriarty."

       "Er," Molly piped up, "Jim actually wasn't even my boyfriend. We went out three times. I ended it."

       "Yes, and then he stole the Crown Jewels, broke into the Bank of England and organized a prison break at Pentonville. For the sake of law and order, I suggest you avoid all future attempts at a relationship, Molly." He brandished the Quavers chips yet again, him and John heading into the lab with a swoosh of his coat, leaving the two of us girls staring at the doors in utter bewilderment.

       "...Oh." I could tell Molly was rather hurt by Sherlock's words, even though she had already read about the crimes in the newspaper months ago.

       "You broke up with a criminal mastermind?? Molly... that's badass." I shot her a grin.

       She smiled shyly, both of us trying to contain our laughter. "I made a criminal mastermind watch Glee with me." We both lost it right then, cracking up at the ridiculousness of the situation.

       "Are you two coming or not?!" We heard Sherlock's baritone yell through the doors, shutting us both up quickly.

       I cleared my throat. "Um, well, I'm certainly not having everyone eat Quavers for lunch, so I'll probably go to the McDonald's down the street and pick something up."

       "Thank you, that sounds much better."

       "Anything you want in particular?"

       "Erm... a number two please, I suppose."

       "Consider it done." I turned to walk out, but stopped. "Hey, Molly?"

       She paused with the door to the lab half-open. "Yeah?"

       "Who was your lunch date with?"

       She smirked guiltily. "Don't have one, just didn't want to deal with Sherlock's antics today."

       I laughed again. "Molly, I like you more and more every day."


 

(Sherlock's POV)

       Chalk, Asphalt, Brick Dust, Vegetation, Glycerol Molecule???

       "I... owe... you." I muttered while I looked into the microscope, Moriarty's threat still at the forefront of my mind. "What are you?" There were all sorts of glycerol molecules, and quite frankly it was the odd one out on the list. How does this fit in?

       "What did you mean 'I owe you'?" Molly's voice snapped me out of my work. John crossed to the other side of the lab where (Y/n) was sitting at an empty lab table with a bag of McDonald's, and I watched him carefully as he did so. "You said, 'I owe you.' You were muttering it while you were working."

       I dismissed the question, turning back to the microscope. "Nothing. Mental note."

       "You're a bit like my dad. He's dead." What? "No, sorry."

       "Molly, please don't feel the need to make conversation. It's really not your area."

       She cringed, but continued despite my best efforts. "When he was ... dying, he was always cheerful; he was lovely – except when he thought no-one could see. I saw him once. He looked sad."

       "Molly..."

       "You look sad," she glanced over at (Y/n) and John and my gaze followed. "When you think they can't see you." She's right. I watched the two of them, my heart heavy with the knowledge that I would most likely have to leave them for quite some time. Statistically, it was likely I might even die at the hands of Moriarty. As of late I had been trying to distance myself from them as much as I could, just to make their transition to life without me easier. It hurt me immensely to do so. They can't miss me if they don't care about me.

       "Are you okay? And don't just say you are, because I know what that means, looking sad when you think no-one can see you." Truthfully? No. I watch from across the lab as John says something funny and (Y/n) laughs loudly, retorting back with a witty comment and taking a sip of her soda with a smug smirk on her face. John laughs at that. I sit there for a moment, watching them genuinely enjoy each other's company. My heart feels like it is being wrenched in two, overflowing with jealousy and despair but I can't show it. I can't march over to them and steal (Y/n) over to sit with me because they need each other. They will need each other. And it's going to be my fault.

       "But you can see me," I was still looking at the pair of them, both still oblivious to our conversation, wrapped up in their own. (Y/n) throws a fry and John catches it in his mouth, making them both erupt in cheers and more giggles. She's so gorgeous when she laughs.

       "I don't count." Startled, I blinked once and looked at her, properly looked at her, for the first time since I've known her. Why would she think that? "What I'm trying to say is that, if there's anything I can do, anything you need, anything at all, you can have me." She flinched at her words, desperately trying to correct herself. "No, I just mean ... I mean if there's anything you need ..."

       "Molly." I cut her off. Her sad eyes look at me expectantly. "Thank you."

       "Hey, Sherlock!" (Y/n) saunters over with a big grin on her face. John. John made her smile like that, not me. "You should really eat something, we've got plenty- what do you want?"

       "Oh... no, thank y-"

       "What's this?" She frowns at the stack of files laying on the table beside her and picks up a picture.

       "Hmm?" She shows me the picture- the envelope inside of Claudette's trunk which held a fairytale book. "What about it?"

       "This envelope that was in her trunk. There's another one. John found it on our doorstep today."

       "What was that?" Upon hearing his name, John joined us around the main lab table and looked at the picture. "Oh geez, yeah, I've got it here." He pulled an identical envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to me. I studied it carefully with scrutinizing eyes, making sure they were, in fact, the same. "Identical seals, too. Look at that."

       I lifted the flap and poured the remaining contents into my hand. "Breadcrumbs."

       "Uh-huh. It was there when I got back."

       "A little trace of breadcrumbs; hardback copy of fairy tales." My eyes widened as I put the pieces together. "Two children led into the forest by a wicked father follow a little trail of breadcrumbs."

       "That's... Hansel and Gretel." Molly chimed in.

       (Y/n) frowned. "What sort of kidnapper leaves clues?"

       "The sort that likes to boast; the sort that thinks it's all a game. He sat in our flat and he said these exact words to me..." My mind wandered back to my conversation with Moriarty right after his release. "Every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain..."

       "So, what does that mean?"

       "It means..." My mind worked quickly, trying to solve the puzzle. "The fifth substance: it's part of the tale. The witch's house!"

       "What?" John enquired, everyone else looking thoroughly confused.

       "The glycerol molecule," very suddenly, the element became clear to me, "PGPR!"

       "What's that?"

       "It's used in making chocolate." I whipped out my phone looking at the map for any place that might match all five elements. "Come on, come on... Aha!" I beamed as I found exactly what I was looking for. "Molly, thank you for all your help but you can go home now. (Y/n), call Lestrade and tell him we need to go to Addlestone factory. We need to go. Now."


 

(Your POV)

       A good half-hour later, our group along with an entire squadron of policemen crept quietly into the abandoned sweets factory with flashlights on, searching for the missing children.

       "You, look over there. Look everywhere. Okay, spread out, please. Spread out." Sally ordered her officers around, making sure we got to every nook and cranny of this place.

       Our group, led by Lestrade, headed in the opposite direction. "Look in there, quietly. Quietly." Greg hissed at a few incompetent officers.

       Sherlock broke away and John and I followed.

       "Woah, look at that," I whispered as I stepped in a large pile of opened candy wrappers. Next to it was an unlit candle.

       Sherlock swooped down, touching the wick. "This was alight moments ago," he said to us. "They're still here!" He called out to the nearby officers. "Sweet wrappers... what's he been feeding you?" We each picked up a wrapper and looked at it closely. Greg spotted us and hurried over, looking down at the pile. "Hansel and Gretel..." Sherlock sniffed his and then licked it, grimacing immediately. Ew. Suddenly, he looked at the wrapper in startled realization. "Mercury."

       "What?" Lestrade asked.

       "The papers: they're painted with mercury."

       John groaned. "Oh, Christ," I muttered.

       "Lethal. The more of the stuff they ate..."

       "It was killing them." John said worriedly. Are we too late?

       "But it's not enough to kill them on its own. Taken in large enough quantities, eventually it would kill them. He didn't need to be there for the execution. Murder by remote control. He could be a thousand miles away. The hungrier they got, the more they ate ... the faster they died." He grinned. "Neat."

       "Sherlock," I said reprovingly, "Maybe don't say that."

       "Over here!" We all turn and ran at the sound of Donovan's shout. Thank God, they're alive! "I've got you, don't worry."


       

       Hours later at Scotland Yard, Sherlock paced outside the door where Claudette was being asked questions by Donovan and Lestrade, while John and I anxiously watched Sherlock worry away. The door clicked as Sally came out first.

       "Right, then. The professionals have finished. If the amateurs wanna go in and have their turn..." She smirked sarcastically at Sherlock and I resisted the urge to whack her.

       John and I stood up as soon as Greg exited, joining the small circle that had congregated outside the door. Greg took a deep breath and looked sternly at Sherlock. "Now, remember, she's in shock and she's just seven years old, so anything you can do to-"

       "Not be myself?" Sherlock said matter-of-factly.

       "Yeah. Might help."

       Without an ounce of his usual wit or eye-rolling, he looked at me somberly as he unpopped the collar of his coat, laying it down flat and calmly walking into the room, taking extra care to speak softly. "Claudette, I-"

       John and I watched in horror as the little girl screamed in terror, leading to Sherlock being forcefully ushered out of the room.

       "It... it makes no sense." I massaged my temples, absolutely bewildered. Why in the world would she be scared of Sherlock? I mean I know he can be a jerk but he wasn't that time.

       Lestrade just shrugged. "The kid's traumatized. Something about Sherlock reminds her of the kidnapper." Like what? He doesn't exactly look like anyone I know.

       "So what's she said?"

       "Hasn't uttered another syllable." Sally answered me. I nodded.

       "And the boy?"

       "No, he's unconscious; still in intensive care."

       Letting out a long breath, I let the others continue the conversation as I walked over to Sherlock, who had been silently staring out the windows ever since he had gotten kicked out. "Hey Curly, don't take it persona-" My breath hitched in my throat as I saw the lights in the building opposite us flicker on in three rooms, graffiti on the windows spelling IOU. The lights are on for just a moment and then it's gone, the lights dark and the message nowhere to be seen. Oh my God, it's Moriarty. It's really Moriarty.

       I look at Sherlock in horror. He's still staring out the window, a look of dread passing over his features. It worries me more than I care to admit. Sherlock is a brave man- anything that scares him might just be the death of me. I feel terror swirling through my body like a storm, the anxiety of things to come crashing over me.

       "He's coming, (Y/n)." He whispers, clasping his hand in mine as if it was his lifeline. "He's coming."

Chapter Text

(Your POV)     

“He’s coming.”

            We both stare out the window in horrified awe for a few moments longer. Lestrade and Donovan go on about something in the background, but I can’t bring myself to focus on it. Another moment passes.

            “Sherlock,” the sound of John’s voice pulls us both suddenly from our trance and we turn to see him standing looking expectantly towards us. “Let’s go.” Sherlock quickly and roughly shakes his hand from mine, as if disgusted by the fact that he was holding it at all.

            I feel my heart sink a little “Sherl-” I start, but he’s already walking swiftly down the corridor, coat billowing out behind him. I look to John, defeated. I’ve really lost him. He gives me a tight smile and puts his arm around my shoulder.

            “Come on, let’s go.” I nod and give him the best smile I can manage. “He’ll come ‘round, I’m sure he’s just stressed.” I ponder that for a moment, knowing that I probably shouldn’t tell him about the IOU windows unless I wanted to lose him to the mind-consuming stress of Moriarty as well. At least I still have John.

            As we step into the chilly breeze outside, I see Sherlock already getting into a cab without us. I stop for a moment, confused. “Hey!” He freezes. “Where are you going?”

            Sherlock looks at me with ice in his eyes, his words jabbing into my chest. “This one’s mine, you two get the next one.” What the hell?! I want to retort but he’s already sped off.

            I look to John, exasperated. “Are you freaking kidding me??!”

            We call a cab and ride in exhausted silence, the long day taking its toll on the both of us. I close my eyes and try my hardest not to think about the hurt I’m feeling on the inside- to no avail. I just don’t understand what I did wrong.. My anxiety kicks in, repeating the phrase over and over in my head. What did I do? What did I do? What did I-

            “STOP THE CAB!” John screams, and my eyes fly open. He leaps out and I follow a little slower, confused as to the sudden pit stop. My eyes widen when I realize that Sherlock is standing on the curb panicking, a dead body at his feet. My stomach turns over. Oh God….

            Sherlock speaks quickly and frantically. “I- I don’t know! He got shot and Moriarty was driving my cab-”

            “Moriarty?!? MORIARTY was in your cab??”

            “Yes! And I was almost hit by a bus and this man saved me and-”

            John and Sherlock continue their screaming but I stand frozen, unable to speak. I watch in a dissociative daze as Sherlock’s curls bounce perfectly with every shake of his head. How the light from the streetlamps cut across his cheekbones just right. My vision starts to blue. What did I do wrong? What did I do?

            It’s not until I collapse to the pavement on my knees that I realize why I can’t see; I’m sobbing.

(time skip)

(Sherlock’s POV)

            Back at 221B, I pull the tiny camera out from its hiding spot on the bookshelf, looking at it with frustration. “Don’t you see, John?! We’re being watched!” I ignore the commotion behind me and continue to search the bookcase for more of the little devils.

            “Sherlock Holmes, look at me!” I feel a hand on my shoulder and John whips me around to face him, his lips pursed and anger glaring behind his usually soft eyes. He lowers his voice and speaks in the whisper-yell he loved to use. “Your girlfriend, (Y/n), is on the sofa having an anxiety attack while you’re over here going on about cameras! I know you’re stressed and that this is a hard thing to handle but you need to suck it up, get over there, and be there for her because you’re not the only one this situation is affecting.”

            I risk a glance over to the sofa to see (Y/n) crying shakily in Mrs. Hudson’s arms. My breath hitches in my throat but I hide the immense pain in my heart, refusing to let it show on my exterior. You’re going to die, Sherlock. You can’t be there for her anymore. More than anything in the world, I want to rush over and hold the love of my life in my arms. But I don’t. I put on my best cold look and turn to John. “She’ll be fine.”

            He lets out a long breath, fists clenched. “Sherlock, so help me God…”

            “No.”

            He stops, surprised. “No??”

            I look over John’s shoulder at Lestrade, who had just stepped into the doorway. “I’m not going.”

            Everything in the room seems to stop as all heads turn to face him. I hear (Y/n) sniffle in the background. “What?” He asks, confused.

            “I’m not going.”

            “But you haven’t heard the question!”

            “Sherlock…” (Y/n)’s soft, broken voice nearly rips my heart in two. Ignore it. “What’s going on?”

            I direct my answer to Lestrade and not her. “You want to take me to the station. Just saving you the trouble of asking.” I pretend not to see the crestfallen look on my love’s face.

            “Sherlock,” his tone suggests what I had suspected ever since the video in the cab. My fists clench. He thinks I’m a fraud.

            “The scream?” I ask. Gavin nods, confirming what I already knew. I let out a tired breath, stepping towards him slowly. “Who was it? Donovan? I bet it was Donovan. Am I somehow responsible for the kidnapping? Ah, Moriarty is smart. He planted that doubt in her head; that little nagging sensation. You’re going to have to be strong to resist. You can’t kill an idea, can you? Not once it’s made a home…” I reach forward and tap his forehead. “Here.” A tad dramatic of a monologue even for me, but I did tend to get more dramatic the more upset I was. And right now, not a thing in this world could make my situation any worse. At least, I’d hoped.

            “Will you come?” Lestrade’s eyes are pleading, as if he’s run out of options.

            I consider it for a moment. No, it’s what Moriarty wants… I pretend not to realize the real reason I don’t want to go- I want, no I need, all the time I can get with John and (Y/n) before my death. “Give my regards to Sergeant Donovan.”

            He exchanges a look with John and heads back down the stairs. (Y/n), who has been holding it together while Lestrade was here, lets out a gut-wrenching wail the moment the door is closed. I press my eyes shut and ignore it. I hear Mrs. Hudson cooing softly over her.

            I take a deep breath and work quickly, plugging in the camera to my laptop to bring up the feed. I spare a glance at John, who’s made his way over to the window and is watching their police car outside.

            “They’ll be deciding.” I tell him.

            “Deciding?”

            “Whether to come back with a warrant and arrest me.” I hear (Y/n) whimper. She’s not rocking back and forth, I convince myself, she’s happy. Anything to get me through the next days. Or day, even. She’ll be happy.

            “You think?”

            I shrug, still working on pulling up the camera feed. “It’s standard procedure.”

            “Should have gone with him,” he scolds, “People’ll think…”

            I cut him off quickly “I don’t care what people think.”

            He shoots me a look and continues anyways. “You’d care if they thought you were stupid, or wrong.” He’s right. I always do.

            But I shake it off. “No, that would just make them stupid or wrong.”

            He turns to me, angry now. “Sherlock, we don’t want people believing you’re… a fraud.” he trails off, his hanging words hitting me loud and clear.

I look around the room to see that all three of my dear friends are looking at me, expectantly. Oh, no. Disbelievingly, I sit back in my seat. “You’re worried they’re right.”

(Y/n)’s eyes widen and her heartbroken voice cracks from all her crying. “What?

            I ignore the stabbing pain in my chest. “You’re all worried they’re right about me.”

            “No.” This time, it’s John who speaks for the group, but I still can’t believe they have the audacity to imply that I could, in fact, be a fraud. After everything I had ever done for them.

            “That’s why you’re so upset. You can’t even entertain the possibility that they might be right. You’re afraid that you’ve been taken in as well!”

            “No, we’re not.”

            “Yes, you are!” I feel anger bubbling inside me now. “Moriarty is playing with your mind too.” Furious, I slam my hand onto the table. “Damnit, can’t you see what’s going on?”

            My yell hangs in the air. Silence. The girls look down, clearly upset, but John holds my steely gaze. “No. No, I know you’re for real.”

            “A hundred percent?” I scoff. “How do you know?”

            (Y/n) pulls herself together to speak and her answer is like a slap in my face. “Because we love you, Sherlock.”

            I don’t dare look at her, instead hanging my head into my hands. I love you too. Every part of me loves you…

            But I can’t tell her. I can’t tell her anything. I miss her and I can’t tell her. I love her and I can’t tell her. I’m going to die, and I can’t tell her. I know she’s pregnant and I can’t tell her.

Chapter Text

(Your POV)

                The world is spinning. I lay on the sofa, looking up at the ceiling as the room blurs around me. This can’t be real. I take deep breaths. In, and out. In, out. It helps a little as I feel my senses coming back to me. John is still on the phone and I lay there dreading what he might be hearing from the other end. In, out. In, out.

                After a lifetime that must’ve only been a few seconds, John signs and ends the call. “So, you still got some friends on the force,” he says to Sherlock. “It’s Lestrade.” I sit up straight, anxiously awaiting the verdict. But what he said next was far less than comforting. “Says they’re all coming over here right now, queuing up to slap on the handcuffs: every single officer you ever made feel like a tit, which is a lot of people.”

                I groan and drop my head into my hands. “Great,” I mumble. “Just great.” I peek through my fingers to find that Sherlock is still sitting at his desk unmoved, pretending not to have heard a word John just said. My eyes narrow in annoyance. A little show of emotion never killed anyone, Sherlock.

Truthfully, I was getting even more sick and tired of his attitude as the days went on. I couldn’t tell what was wrong with him, and John and Mycroft didn’t seem to have a clue either. Now calmed down, I let out an overly dramatic sigh which earns me a split-second glance in my direction from Sherlock before he returns to… well, whatever it is he’s doing. But it’s that very glance, that brief acknowledgement of my existence, that I knew was something Sherlock wouldn’t bother to give other people. I smile to myself. My Sherlock is still in there somewhere.

                “Ooh-ooh!” Mrs. Hudson peeks back in with her customary greeting and an oddly familiar parcel in her hand. She senses the thickening tension in the room, almost tangible now. “Am I interrupting something? Some chap delivered a parcel. I forgot. Marked ‘Perishable’ – I had to sign for it.” She hands it to John, and all three of us immediately recognize the seal. “Funny name. German! Like the fairytales…”

                The sight of the seal sets Sherlock into action and he springs up, staring at the parcel as if he wanted to murder it. I stand from my seat on the sofa to get a better look as John opens it. He pulls out a less-than-favorable looking gingerbread man. I cock my head in curiosity. Just like the others. But my stomach drops as I hear the approaching police sirens.

                “Burnt to a crisp.” There’s an edge to Sherlock’s words, as if he knew what was about to happen. There’s a pounding on the door. I hear Lestrade yelling, and John rushes off down the stairs. I hear him yelling too.

                But I don’t hear them, not really. I’m too busy studying the man before me. The one I fell in love with. I study his sad, blue eyes that look like they’re on some other world and the ebony curls that he’s running his hands through. He’s defeated, I can tell. Crushed by the weight of all that is happening right now and all that could happen to his name, his pride, his dignity. And yet he stands tall, doing everything he can to keep that information from the outside world. But I can tell. I see him.

                In a split second, I make my decision. I rush over to him and wrap him in the tightest hug I can manage, tilting my chin to look up at him. He stiffens for a moment but relaxes a little, wrapping one arm around me and the other in my hair. I see something glimmer in his eyes behind all the sadness, but I can’t figure out what it is. Yet he still says nothing.

                “Sherlock…” my voice pleads for recognition.

                He looks at me for a moment and leans forward. Ever so gently, as if afraid he might break me, he places a lingering kiss on my forehead. I instantly melt into the warmth and musk that I had been missing so dearly. “(Y/n).”

                “I’m going with you.”

                At the sound of those words, Sherlock pulls back from me, alarmed. I instantly miss his embrace. “No, you’re not.”

                I cross my arms and stare back at him, eyebrow cocked. Nobody on this Earth could stop me. “Yes, I am.” I realize my words are a touch harsh, so I soften a little. “Sherlock, you don’t have to do this alone.” Anxiety wells up in him and I see a panic flash across his face for just a moment, and then it’s gone.

                No response.

                I sigh and walk over to the desk, picking up his scarf. I turn to him and gingerly tie is around his neck, the soft fabric running through my hands. Sherlock watches me in disbelief as though he might cry at any moment. I finish and let my fingers graze over the gold key hanging around his neck where it still stayed every day. With my other hand I touch my own silver key. Where you go, I go… I flip his over to the back to see the engraving I loved so dearly. “Forever.” I whisper it to myself. Sighing, I look up at the love of my life to see a single tear rolling down his perfect cheek. I wipe it away. “Forever.” I repeat, gazing into his eyes for one last moment. “Get your coat.”

                Not a moment after, Lestrade barges in with his group of lackeys. “Sherlock Holmes, I’m arresting you on suspicion of abduction and kidnapping.”

                I take a deep breath as Sherlock stands very still, not even resisting the officer who’s slapping cuffs onto him. “He’s not resisting!” John’s indignant voice pops up and I can tell he’s on the verge of fury.

                “It’s alright, John.” Sherlock spares me a knowing glance.

                “He’s not resisting. No, it’s not all right. This is ridiculous!”

                “Get him downstairs now.” Lestrade orders the officer who has completely cuffed Sherlock. He spins him round and begins to march him out the door.

                “Greg.” My voice halts everyone in the room. I stare at Lestrade fiercely, trying to remember that he was just doing his job. “You have to take me too.”

                He looks at me, his eyes pleading for me to stop talking. I know he doesn’t want to do this- he’s like a father to me and he knows it. His voice is barely a whisper. “(Y/n)…”

                I stop him there. “IF Sherlock had committed any sort of crime, you know damn well I’d be the one to know about it.”

                John’s eyes widen in panic. “(Y/n), don’t-” I raise up a hand to stop him.

                “Greg.” This time, my voice is accusing. Come on now, work with me here.

                He runs a hand through his silver hair and draws in a long breath. “Fine.” He gestures at the policeman holding Sherlock and he unlocks one of the cuffs and grabs my arm, cuffing my wrist. I wince at the cold, sharp edges. Not exactly the kind you’d use in the bedroom. I look down to see that my left hand and Sherlock’s right are cuffed together, and I reach over ever so slightly, taking his hand in mine.

                He gives me a grateful look and something glimmers in those perfect eyes. This time, it’s obvious. It’s love.

                “Into battle.” He whispers, and the policeman promptly gives us a light shove towards the stairs.

                Hands still clasped tightly, we march down the steps in unison, chins up and heads held high. Straight past Donovan. Straight past Anderson. Straight past every policeman and woman and cop car in the street. We ignore the few onlookers that are beginning to crowd around the scene in the cold night air, desperate to get in on whatever spectacle was unfolding. I can tell that Sherlock already has something up his sleeve.

We know we’re about to be publicly shamed, our reputations ruined, Moriarty’s plan set into action. We know. But we don’t care.

                We have each other. And for now, that’s all we need.