Three years after Sherlock learns that he has a secret sister and receives his eighty-third DVD from Mary Watson, he also remembers that he has a god-daughter when his best friend, looking melancholy and wistful, arrives at Baker Street after dropping Rosie off at Cambridge.
Sherlock sat up sharply in his favourite chair, staring at John Watson in surprise. “How can Rosie be at Cambridge? She’s barely more than a toddler.”
John smiled sadly. “They do grow up quickly, don’t they? Before you know it, they’re going off to study philosophy.”
“No,” Sherlock said. “I meant that literally. She’s only three years old…Did you just say philosophy?”
“Oh, Sherlock, you know time moves differently in soap operas,” Mrs. Hudson said. She had appeared in Sherlock’s flat with two cups of tea and a plate of biscuits. “Still not your housekeeper,” she whispered to John, though she patted his shoulder solicitously and fussed over him until he sat in the chair adjacent to Sherlock’s.
Sherlock’s brow was furrowed and he was frowning. “What is the mad hag blathering about now?” he muttered. “Soap operas?”
Mrs. Hudson gazed at Sherlock fondly. “Oh, yes, dear. We’re living in one, of course.”
Sherlock groaned and fell back in his chair dramatically. “Mrs. Hudson, have you been taking those herbal remedies again?”
Mrs. Hudson turned away from Sherlock sharply and handed the whole plate of biscuits to John. “We are living in a soap opera. Sherlock came back from the dead and discovered he had a sister he knew nothing about. You found out that the woman you loved wasn’t actually a nurse, but a spy and an assassin. And don’t get me started on all those nasty people who have insisted on blowing up my house. I’m fed up with it.”
“You’re right, Mrs. Hudson,” John said around a mouthful of biscuit. “Our lives are like a soap opera. It certainly explains why Rosie grew up so bloody quickly. Kids do that on soaps, don’t they?”
Mrs. Hudson beamed at Sherlock triumphantly. “Exactly.” She walked over to the mantelpiece and picked up the latest package that had arrived from Mary. “Why don’t you watch it, John? It might cheer you up.”
John shook his head morosely. “I’m not sure if I can bear seeing Mary on the same day our little girl went off to University.”
“Oh, go on. I’m sure it will be lovely.” Mrs. Hudson threw the package at Sherlock and glared at him until he opened it.
“Will it be lovely, though?” Sherlock asked. “The first dozen DVDs were lovely, but things are starting to get out of hand.” He looked down at Mary’s familiar writing on the DVD and winced at the message:
You do miss me. I know you do. You really, really do. You and John couldn’t possibly manage without me because I was so incredibly AWESOME and you two are completely hopeless. Seriously, you are. Don’t try destroying this DVD, Sherlock. You know what happened the last time. Almost out of space. Love you! Byeeeeee!
Mrs. Hudson was watching Sherlock, a knowing look in her eye. “Well, go on, then. Pop it in the player.”
“Yes, yes, all right!” Sherlock cried, trying to resist the temptation to break the DVD in two.
“You know, it’s really sweet that Mary recorded so many messages for us,” John said. “With all of her DVDs and my traumatic flashbacks and hallucinations, it’s like she never really left us. Sherlock, why didn’t you record any DVDs for me when you faked your death?”
Mrs. Hudson’s eyes were positively twinkling. “Yes, Sherlock, why didn’t you? It would have been a great comfort to us.”
Sherlock was squeezing the DVD so hard that his knuckles were even whiter than usual. “We’ve gone over this. I couldn’t tell anyone I was alive. Even if I had been able to tell you, there simply wasn’t time to record 500 DVD messages.”
“Mary found time and she didn’t even know for sure if she was going to die,” John said. “You knew exactly when and where you were going to ‘die’. You had more than enough time and opportunity to record some messages.”
Sherlock stabbed the power button on the DVD player with about ten times the force necessary and slammed the DVD into the tray viciously before closing it. Mary’s angelic face appeared on their TV screen a few seconds lately.
“Hey, boys! Hello, Mrs. Hudson! I know it’s been a while since we last saw each other, so I thought we could have a quick chat. No doubt Rosie is off at uni now, so there will be that huge, gaping void in your lives. I think now, more than ever, it’s important to remember who your friends are and to rely on them during this difficult time. Reach out to Molly. Reach out to Greg. They’ve proven, time and time again, that they’re both doormats. They’ll do anything for you. Lean on them for support. They’re your friends whether they like it or not.”
John sniffed loudly and grabbed another biscuit. “Mary always knows just what to say. I don’t know who these Molly and Greg people are, but you’re a detective, Sherlock. I’m sure you can track them down.”
Sherlock spun around wildly. “What do you mean you don’t know who Molly and Lestrade are?”
John shrugged. “Never heard of them.”
Sherlock laughed. “Of course you’ve heard of them, John. They’re our friends.”
“Are they?” John glanced at Mrs. Hudson, who seemed equally baffled. “Do you know these people?”
“No, I’m sorry, dear,” Mrs. Hudson said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met them.”
“You have met them!” Sherlock shouted. “They’ve been in this flat more times than I can count!” He leapt up from his chair and leaned over John, grabbing him by the shoulders. “You must remember them. Molly is soft-spoken and shy. She has big brown eyes and long brown hair. She works in a mortuary and wears odd jumpers. She-she’s in love with me.”
John’s forehead creased in concentration. “There was a Molly who used to look after Rosie…”
“Yes, that’s her!”
“So, she’s a nanny, then?”
“No, no, she’s a specialist registrar.”
“Then why was she looking after Rosie?”
“I don’t know. It was convenient, I suppose.”
“And did that guy mind Rosie too?”
“What? No. No, I don’t think so. Look, it’s not important. All you need to know is that Lestrade gives me cases and shows up when we need him to arrest people. He’s a very important part of our lives, just like Molly.”
“I’m sorry, Sherlock, but I can only just picture Molly and I don’t remember this Lestrade bloke at all,” John said. “Are you sure he isn’t someone you dreamt up during one of your cocaine binges?”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “No, I did not dream him up. He’s very real and – and I can’t believe that neither of you remember him!”
“Well, maybe you should invite him round. Mary seemed to think it was important to get to know the guy.”
“You do know him.” Sherlock put his head in his hands. “I’ll admit that I may have lost touch with Lestrade recently, but it couldn’t have been that long.” He lifted his head and began pacing around the flat. “Something’s not right here. In fact, everything seems wrong and has been since I came back.”
“From the Ferguson case?” John asked.
“No, since I returned from the dead. That’s when it all started. I’m sure of it.” Sherlock paced another circuit and then stopped in front of John’s chair again. “We need to see Mycroft. If anyone knows what’s going on, it will be him.” He seized John’s arm and hauled him from the chair.
“But we haven’t hired anyone to dress up as a clown, though I think Mike might have a chainsaw I can borrow,” John said.
“Well, I assume you want to scare the life out of Mycroft again. Isn’t that why we usually like to visit him?”
Sherlock sighed. “You remember that, and even Mike Stamford, but you don’t remember Lestrade. I just don’t understand it. No, we’re just going for a regular visit this time.”
John frowned. “But you think he’s keeping secrets from you. Surely, you want to force them out of him through torture and terror. That’s what you Holmeses are good at.”
Sherlock paused as he was about to don his coat. “Let’s try a regular visit first and see what happens. If Mycroft doesn’t give us the answers we need, I’ll certainly consider your suggestion.”
“So, we’ll stop off at Mike’s just in case?” John asked.
“Noooo…but I think we’ll be making an appointment with your latest therapist when we return to Baker Street.”
At first, Sherlock didn’t notice anything strange or out of place in Mycroft’s palatial home. The security guards had barely paid attention to them when they had first arrived, and the butler had been efficient and polite, taking both their coats and ushering them into the drawing room. However, they had only been sitting on Mycroft’s sofa for two minutes when they were greeted by a bizarre sight. Greg Lestrade, hair damp and a fluffy white towel wrapped around his waist, drifted past the doorway. Then Lestrade retraced his steps and peered in at them.
“Oh, uh, hi,” Lestrade said. “Sorry. I didn’t realize we had guests.”
Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “We?”
“Well, yeah. That’s what happens when two people get married. They become a ‘we’.”
“Married…? Ah, yes. Of course.” Sherlock had forgotten that he’d sworn never to speak to Lestrade again after the engagement had been announced. By the amused expression on Lestrade’s face, it was obvious that he hadn’t forgotten. “Remind me. How did you two crazy kids get together again?”
Lestrade walked into the room and perched on the edge of an armchair. “He was a wreck after everything that happened at Sherrinford, and you asked me to look after him, so I did. I gave him all the love I had to give. God knows, he wasn’t getting it from anyone else in his life. I wasn’t expecting him to reciprocate, so I was surprised and overjoyed when he did.”
Sherlock grimaced. “It’s a shame I missed the wedding.”
Lestrade shrugged. “It’s okay. Your parents were there, and Eurus was more than happy to play the violin for us. Sherrinford wouldn’t have been my first choice of venue, but it made for a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The catering wasn’t half bad either.”
Sherlock shifted uncomfortably. “And Mycroft is able to make you happy?”
“Mycroft saved me. He made me whole again, made me feel like a real person. Up until that point, I felt as if I was fading, disappearing completely out of existence.”
“I don’t remember who you are,” John blurted out.
Lestrade smiled at John sympathetically. “Yeah, it happens. Not as much as it used to, but it does happen, especially if I haven’t seen someone for a while. Mycroft says it was because I had become a plot device – whatever that means.”
Sherlock’s eyes widened. “But that’s impossible. People aren’t plot devices. That only happens in…” He trailed off, his face blanching.
“Sherlock, what is it?” John asked in concern, placing a hand on Sherlock’s back.
“I always felt as if there was someone else pulling the strings, but I had always assumed it was Mycroft.” Sherlock stared at Lestrade, looking like a lost child. “It isn’t Mycroft, is it?”
“No, Sherlock, I don’t think it is,” Lestrade said.
“I see. Yes, that explains a lot. It explains everything, actually.”
John looked from Sherlock to Lestrade and then back to Sherlock again. “Explains what? Neither one of you is making any sense.”
“No, it does make sense, John,” Sherlock said. “With the exception of the occasional wedding or christening, why do we only see Lestrade when I need a case or someone needs to be arrested? Until Molly became your childminder, we hardly ever saw her outside the mortuary unless we needed some light comic relief.” Sherlock ran a hand across his face. “Don’t you think it’s strange that your wife became a super spy and assassin because that’s what you needed her to be? That, and the numerous DVDs that she keeps sending from the beyond the grave, seems highly convenient and suspect. Have you forgotten Donovan and Anderson? Did they simply evaporate the way poor Lestrade almost did? And, lastly, how could I suddenly have a mind-controlling sister that I never knew about and such an absurd and incredibly melodramatic family history? All of those things that happened at Sherrinford were completely ludicrous and implausible. None of it was real.”
Two hands began clapping, and everyone turned to find Mycroft standing in the doorway. “Bravo, little brother. I knew you’d get there eventually.”
Sherlock gritted his teeth. “John, I think we should have stopped off at Mike’s after all.”
The corners of Mycroft’s mouth lifted and he sat on the arm of Lestrade’s chair. To Sherlock’s disgust and chagrin, Mycroft pecked Lestrade on the cheek and Lestrade wrapped an arm around Mycroft’s waist. Then Sherlock thought he saw movement out in the corridor and raised an eyebrow at his brother questioningly.
“Please feel free to join us, Molly,” Mycroft said. “I’m sure my brother would love to see you again.”
Sherlock muttered a curse under his breath and steeled himself for a blushing and bashful Molly Hooper. His jaw dropped as a woman wearing a black catsuit, stiletto heels and scarlet lipstick strutted into the drawing room instead. John instantly moved to make room for Molly on the sofa, grinning at her goofily. Molly returned John’s smile and sashayed to the sofa, leaning towards John as she sat, running beautifully manicured fingers through the silky strands of her layered bob.
Sherlock swallowed, trying to form words. “What…what is this?”
“Molly has become one of my operatives,” Mycroft said.
“One of your operatives? Why?”
Molly studied her bright red nails for a moment before peeping up at Sherlock from under her eyelashes. “It was the only way to survive. They were no longer using me for comedy, so I knew my days were probably numbered.”
“Who are ‘they’?” John asked.
“Whoever is controlling us and interfering in our lives,” Molly said. “I went to Mycroft for advice and he helped me transform into an entirely new woman. He explained that they prefer overly aggressive women who are either ninjas or nymphomaniacs – preferably both. We realized early on that I couldn’t manage either of those things, but that it might be okay if I at least looked the part and could drop clever one-liners once in a while.”
Mycroft tutted from the armchair. “You do yourself an injustice, Molly. You may not have the stomach for extreme violence or promiscuity, but you excel at martial arts and have become a first-rate cat burglar.” He turned to Lestrade. “Oh. Sorry, sweetheart.”
Lestrade gently pinched Mycroft’s side and gazed up at him adoringly. “Not my division, cuddle bunny.”
Mycroft’s cheeks flushed, though it seemed to be more in pleasure than embarrassment. “Molly has become indispensable when it comes to retrieving certain documents and other items of importance.”
“It was one of the Queen’s corgis last week,” Molly said.
Mycroft managed to break eye contact with Lestrade. “For which Her Majesty is eternally grateful.”
Sherlock was staring at his feet. “What if I like the old Molly? What if I want her back?”
Molly reached across John and squeezed Sherlock’s hand. “It’s the only way. You must see that, Sherlock.”
“It isn’t right. It’s completely ridiculous.”
Lestrade’s arm tightened around Mycroft’s waist. “It’s not all bad, is it? I mean, you’ve got John and all that danger and adventure, not to mention your nieces and nephews.”
Sherlock’s head shot up in alarm. “What?”
“You’re an uncle, Sherlock,” Mycroft said. “Greg and I decided to adopt some children. Naturally, they’re at boarding school at the moment.”
This was news to Lestrade. “Boarding school? Since when? No, they can’t be in boarding school. They’re much too young, Mycroft. They’re practically babies.”
“Have you forgotten that delightful montage with all the birthday parties, Christmases, trips to the park and trips to the zoo? It lasted almost an entire minute. It provided more than enough time for the children to reach school age.”
Sherlock rose shakily from the sofa. “You’ll have to excuse me. I need some air.” He hurried out of the drawing room and made his way to the garden. He fumbled around in his pockets, hoping to find a stray cigarette.
“You don’t need a fag. It’s a filthy habit, Sherlock.”
Sherlock froze, turning around slowly to find James Moriarty standing in the garden with him.
“For fuck’s sake!” Sherlock shouted. “Could you please make up your mind? Are you dead or alive?”
“Sheesh!” Moriarty said. “I thought you’d be happy to see me. Your sister certainly was.”
Sherlock’s eyes narrowed and his hands curled into fists.
Moriarty quickly raised his hands and backed away. “All right, all right! Yes, I’m dead, Sherlock. You’re only imagining me – or, if you prefer it, I can be like one of John Watson’s dead wife hallucinations.”
Sherlock’s eyes grew colder. “Why are you here?”
Moriarty grinned. “I’m here because they’re completely infatuated with me and will find any excuse to use me in a scene.” His smile faded. “I’m also here because I despise them and want to be free.”
Sherlock’s eyebrows rose in surprise.
“I wanted to die, Sherlock. That was the whole reason I shot myself. How am I supposed to rest in peace if they keep digging me up to appear in flashbacks, video clips, and your drug-induced dreams? This has to end.”
“What makes you think I can do anything about it?” Sherlock asked. “It has become patently clear that we’re only playthings with no will or power of our own.”
Moriarty took a step closer, though he didn’t appear menacing for once. “I don’t want you to do anything. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
“But you just said – ”
“They’ve already delivered the deathblow,” Moriarty said. “They’ve wreaked about as much havoc as they could and have thoroughly sabotaged everything. It shouldn’t be long before they get bored with us and find someone else’s world to destroy. What you need to do is let it happen. Don’t lift a finger to save it. Just let it go, Sherlock.”
Sherlock studied Moriarty carefully. “How do I know I can trust you or that you’re even telling the truth?”
“Well, you obviously can’t trust me, but even if I were lying what harm could it do now? It’s not as if either one of us is likely to make things worse.”
Sherlock glanced back at the house. “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Not alone, no, but you’re never truly alone, are you, Sherlock?” Moriarty jerked his chin towards the house, and Sherlock saw John standing by the conservatory. “Go on. He’s waiting for you.”
Sherlock started walking towards John. Then he stopped and said, “Thank you, Jim” over his shoulder, but Moriarty was gone.
“Are you okay?” John asked.
“Yes, absolutely. Never better.”
John smiled. “Great. Can we go back inside the house, then? I was having this lovely chat with Molly and was thinking of asking her out.”
“I’m afraid that will have to wait, John. We’ve got a case.”
John’s forehead furrowed. “Case? What case?”
“Remember the Fergusons? I think I may have been wrong about the wife. I suspect she might be a vampire after all.”