Five Months Later; January 2016
People were bustling through Heathrow airport, checking their bags, showing and receiving their tickets, and making sure everything was in proper arrangement for their travels. The clock on Elizabeth Tower (which many people still call Big Ben) struck through the noise of the crowd, signalling a new hour had arrived. And on this hour came the arrival of a flight from Atlanta, tires screeching on the tarmac as they slowed down on the cold pavement below. On this flight, amidst all the other one hundred or so passengers, was a young woman of twenty-two years of age. She had dyed copper hair, gunmetal blue eyes (which many found interesting), was about five-foot-five or so in height, and about an average weight, somewhere around 130.
The young woman waited at the baggage claim until she saw her olive green and crimson red suitcases pass by, picking each up with an arm and leading them to customs. Upon being scanned for non-existent weapons, she handed the receptionist her passport, who eyed her suspiciously.
“I wouldn’t worry,” the young woman reassured, her Received Pronounciation top notch, “My mind is sane.”
Nodding, the receptionist handed the passport back and said, “Welcome back to London.”
“Thank you. It’s good to be home.”
Mycroft Holmes woke up to the screeching of his phone ringing, which annoyed him to great lengths. Glancing at the clock, he groaned and answered the phone, his tone tired and irked.
“Do you realize it’s four o’clock in the bloody morning?” Mycroft scolded the person on the other line, “Why on earth are you…?”
Upon hearing what the other person had to say, Mycroft was instantly alert and sitting up, sleep no longer an issue. He stood up from his bed and stretched, then responded, “Yes, of course. I’ll be there as soon as possible. Thank you for this development.”
Ending the call, Mycroft sighed, then headed towards his bathroom (which also had a suit of armor in it) to take an early morning shower. This was going to be one hell of a morning.
“So, how are things going?” Eurus Holmes asked her brother, both sitting on either side of the glass, playing a game of tic-tac-toe with some glass paint. She had recovered well in the five months since her game ended and was now on better terms with Sherlock, even managing to start talking to him two months earlier.
“Well,” Sherlock replied, placing an “x” in a corner, “John and Rosie are doing fine, Mrs. Hudson still vacuums to Iron Maiden, and Greg is getting better at being a Detective Inspector.”
“Nothing on Molly Hooper?” Eurus placed an “o” in the center of the board.
“Molly’s well. We made up five months ago and we’re doing fine.” He placed an “x” on the top row, then motioned for Eurus to go.
“And, there’s nothing else to report on?” Eurus continued to inquire as she placed one final “o” in a square then crossed a line through it. She smirked as Sherlock shrugged in defeat, then began to clean her side of the glass.
“That’s a lie, Sherlock. Remember what I said then? Emotional context. You care for her. Always have and always will. But how do you love her?”
Standing up, Sherlock said, “I’m done talking about it, Eurus. My time’s almost up.”
Eurus also stood and said, “You can’t hide from it forever, brother. I heard you when you said you loved her. That tone was that of realization. The man you used to be is gone. Don’t become what you once were.”
“My life is mine, Eurus. Don’t tell me how to live it.”
“I’m not trying to, Sherlock. All I’m saying is that it would be best for you to two to talk it out and see where you stand.”
“Are you trying to manipulate me into admitting how I’m feeling for Molly?”
“Hard habit to break.” Eurus shrugged, “Just think about it, Sherlock. You told me that you two had made up, but it sounds like words have still gone unsaid. Believe me, there are things I want to say to people from the past, but that may never happen. They’ll never know how sorry I am. No more hiding, brother. It’s time for your heart to take center stage. Let it be your guide.”
Sherlock scoffed, but in a slightly humored way, “Are you my conscience now?”
“I don’t exactly have a tux and umbrella, so no.”
Continuing to smile as he put on his Belstaff, Sherlock said, “I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. I’ll bring some cards next time.”
“You need to teach me that waltz you played once. It was pretty.”
Sherlock stopped in his tracks, his shoulders tense. He shuddered a breath before replying, “It was for John’s late wife, Mary. She died protecting me from a traitor.”
“Horrible. See you in two weeks, Sherlock.”
“See you in two weeks. Behave.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Are you certain of this, Mycroft?” Lady Smallwood asked as she and Mycroft stood in his office, looking over security footage on his laptop, “Why would they call you if there’s no real threat posed.”
“We cannot take any chances, Alicia,” Mycroft answered, shutting his computer, “We know what happened last time.”
“Of course, but wait before you do something drastic. Wait until a move is made then do what you do best.”
“Just what is it that I do best, Lady Smallwood?”
“Be Mycroft Holmes.”
“You know, Rosie’s turning one tomorrow,” John mentioned to Sherlock that evening once he’d returned to Baker Street, “Mrs. H and I were planning a small party for her. Just a little get together.”
“Hmm,” Sherlock responded, obviously not interested, despite the subject being about his goddaughter, “I still don’t understand why people have to celebrate their child turning another year older. Pointless, if you ask me.”
“Some people do that to spoil their kids. I am not one of those parents. This is just a small get together with some cake, ice cream, biscuits, and champagne. Nothing more than that.”
“I’m alright with that. This is Rosie, after all.”
“Very well.” John got up from his chair and stretched his back, “I’ll let Mrs. Hudson know. Might as well get some champagne tomorrow morning. That and Rosie’s out of apple juice.”
A smirk appeared on Sherlock’s face as he looked through his contacts and found Molly’s number. For a brief moment, he debated on whether or not to text her, but decided against it. He had almost lost her due to sentiment once, he wasn’t about to put her in that position again.
“Molly’s going to be bringing the cake,” John passed along, putting his coat on, “It’s a homemade strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting.”
“You should stop, John,” Sherlock advised, “I can see you drooling.”
“Don’t pretend that doesn’t sound appetizing to you. You’ve talked about Molly’s cooking before and how good it is. For a pathologist, she’s a bloody good cook.”
“That is a fact I will not deny.”
“Speaking of Molly, she’s been a little upset lately. Know why that is?”
“Most likely because I’m keeping a distance.”
John sighed and ran his hand through his hair, exasperated, “Sherlock Holmes, you told Molly Hooper you love her and smashed the coffin meant for her in an emotional rage. That night, you sobbed yourself to sleep on her couch apologizing to her for that damn phone call. After all that, how can you just distance yourself from her. You love her, dammit.”
“And loving her will get her killed. I’m not putting her in that kind of danger again.”
Chortling, John responded, “So, in order to protect her, you’re staying away from her?”
“Five months. Five long months you’ve been doing that to her. Doesn’t she deserve better treatment from you?” Realization hit John, “Or, maybe, you’re doing this on purpose to see if she’ll stay? That’s got to be it. You clot! Why are you putting her through this again?!”
“To try and tell her she deserves better than me!” Sherlock swiftly stood and towered over John, “Somehow, she’s not getting the damn message! Eurus is already getting onto me about her, so don’t you start too!”
John stiffened, twitching his face a little, “And that, Sherlock Holmes, lets me know you love her. You love Molly so much that you want her to only see your faults and not that you have the heart and capacity to love. It terrifies you.”
“She deserves better than a high-functioning sociopath.”
“No. Molly deserves you, the best you that you can be. She could care less if you’re an ass from time to time or if you get carried away in a case. That’s who you are in her eyes. Don’t be an ass, Sherlock Holmes, especially to Molly Hooper. Whether you like it or not, she is the love of your life. Mary taught me to treasure the ones you love. Take that to heart, for once.”
Having said what he needed to say, John turned and headed down 221B’s seventeen steps and out into the cold, winter night. Sherlock sighed and went to sit back down in his chair, slouching in frustration. This was why he hadn’t tried to pursue a relationship with Molly. He knew everyone would pester him about them just because he told her he loved her.
It was true, nonetheless. Sherlock did love her and he would admit that any day, but what he didn’t want to admit was that, when it came to relationships, he was weak and helpless. Picking up his phone, he opened his messenger to type out a quick, simple text to Molly, not regretting sending it to her: “Have a good night. I love you. SH”
Moments later, he got Molly’s response, which made him smile, “You know me. I’ll be up till the dead of night. Good night. Love you. Molly”
At the Brown’s Hotel, the young woman sat in one of the restaurants, mainly The Albemarle, waiting on her guest to arrive. She was sipping a small glass of white wine while she waited, hoping her acquaintance would show up soon. There were pressing matters to attend to. Moments later, a woman with blonde hair and striking gray eyes sat down across from her, a smirk as wide as the English Channel on her face.
“I see you’ve changed quite a bit,” she commented, then nodded to the younger woman’s left hand, “That says so.”
“That’s now why I called you here, Irene,” the young woman retorted, “I’m here on very urgent business that needs closure as soon as possible.”
“Oh? And what would that be?”
Irene’s face went pale instantaneously, “You can’t be serious? That bitch?”
“There’s a rumor on the wind, Irene, that she’s changing. Sherlock Holmes is having a hand in her rehabilitation. I need you to pull every string you have to try and find Eurus. Past issues have come back and they need to be settled quickly.”
“Does this mean I get to play with Sherlock Holmes again?”
“He’s taken, Irene. I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”
“No, he’s still single. I have a few close friends, mainly Kate, keep a secret eye on him. But a woman does come and go from Baker Street often.”
“That would be Sherlock Holmes’ girlfriend. It’s a secret relationship.”
“Like I said, no. Sherlock Holmes is single and I plan to use that to my advantage. Once I get to Baker Street, I can…”
“I’ll deal with Sherlock Holmes. Besides, I have a case for him that needs to be told.”
“A case? What case could you possibly have?”
“This case is quite personal to me, Irene. If I told you, you’d never believe it.”
“Bring it on.”
Her expression serious, the young woman leaned in so that she could whisper to Irene, “It’s Jim.”
“Jim Moriarty?” Irene asked, surprised.
Shushing Irene down to a whisper, the young woman nodded in confirmation, “Yes. He’s still got one last trick up his sleeve, I know it. Sherlock Holmes is a fool to think Jim’s dead for good.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Tell him about my case and the concerns I have.”
“He may not be interested.”
“Irene, when it comes to Jim Moriarty, Sherlock can’t resist. That’s his weakness. He loves the thrill of the chase.”
“As do I.”
“That aside, he won’t be able to turn down my case. I’ll speak to him tomorrow. Just do everything you can to get information. I’m counting on you, Irene.”
Standing up, Irene said, “I suppose I should call Kate and tell her to get my things ready. The Woman is back in London and, this time, I’m not going down without a battle.”