It's strange. Sherlock doesn't remember the last time he was scared. He can feel the adrenaline being pumped in his veins as his heart races.
"What's he doing?" Watson whispers in the dark. His hands are clammy with sweat and his heart beat matches Sherlock's.
Before Sherlock could answer, a silhouette of a figure starts to form in the light, emerging from the shadows. It is not Jim Moriarty. It is not the man who disappeared and has now come back for blood.
Even in the dim light of the abandoned warehouse, it is clear as day that the figure standing in front of Sherlock and John is a woman. She wears dark clothes, blending into the darkness of the environment; more specifically a tattered black dress. However, it's the gun in her hand that took John's interest, rather, attention.
"You're the wife, the secret wife." Sherlock points out, recognising her. John Watson realises that he's already pieced together most of the puzzle pieces together in his head. He's not surprised.
"No." She says, cocking the gun in her hand and then letting it hang by her side. "I'm your problem." She raises the gun and points them.
While Sherlock is seemingly relaxed, John is uncomfortable, shifting slightly from foot to foot.
"You're not going to kill me." Sherlock's voice is steady and calm. John frowns behind him while she cocks her side to the side with a quizzical expression on her face.
"And why aren't I?"
"Because you emptied your gun when you cocked it before. You had an empty shell in it anyway. You're doing this to threaten me; to see how I would react-"
"No." She cuts off Sherlock. John can't see Sherlock since he is behind him, but Sherlock's silence tells John that he surprised. Nobody has ever cut off Sherlock before.
"No..." Sherlock murmurs, as if he understand exactly what she's saying. "No. He's telling you to do this. HE wanted you to threaten me, to see how I would react."
Now, John's nowhere near as fast as Sherlock. John's mind doesn't work like clockwork; clogs, puzzles and keys, unlike Sherlock, but John's fast enough to realise that the "he" in context is the one and only Moriarty.
When she doesn't say anything, Sherlock continues. "So, did I- we- pass your test?" He asks and starts taking small steps towards her.
"You don't understand." She says and it's the first time both Sherlock and John see the fear glistening in her eyes, like a fierce fire igniting.
"Then why don't you educate us?" John states. In a sense, he feels sorry for this woman that he now understands has probably been manipulated greatly by Moriarty. He realises that while she is the one who holds the gun, she's not the danger, but Moriarty. She's merely the puppet, whose strings are controlled and jerked by the puppet master.
"Look, just let us go. Tell us what he's doing, why he's doing it and we'll solve it. You won't be involved anymore." Typical John; reasonable and caring with the stern yet stable voice.
"We all know it's not as simple as that, though, don't we?" The woman laughs bitterly. "I tell you everything, you find him, you kill him and it's happily ever after for all of us. If only. If there's one thing I've learnt, is that once you get tangled up in the web, you play the game, and it's not an easy game. The stakes are high as always; you think you're the fly and he's the spider, but in reality, you're the vulnerability on the ground and he's the falcon circling above. Prey? No. Carcass is more like it. He sees you. And he smells your fear from miles away. A 50/50 game either ends in life or death and there is no in between." She halts, and it's mesmerising what she says because no-one knows Moriarty like that. She must have some experience.
"You'd know a bit about that now, Mr Holmes, wouldn't you?" She asks, eyeing him. "A 50/50 game. The hunter and the fox. The pills and the unlucky victim."
Even before she finished, Sherlock's head snaps up with the look of horror and disbelief on his face. "You" is the only thing he whispers.
"No. I didn't poison them. The cab driver did. I did something much worse. I invented the pills. Wasn't too hard. A bit of poison and chemical here and there, masked with the shape and properties of any other pain killer pill." She shrugs and then slouches again. John studies her body language. She's not proud of what she did. Her voice isn't good at hiding the guilt.
Sherlock on the other hand, is fascinated. He expected Moriarty- as corrupt as he is- to have had these ideas, but he never imagined a mastermind woman behind it too.
"That's not the worst. I was involved in a little bit of everything. The train carriage to blow up Parliament? It was my job to set the timer on the bomb." She pauses, looking at John and Sherlock and scoffs.
"You're looking at me in the way I feared the most; judging. I'm not a killer or a hunter, or an assassin. I'm just a woman tangled in a spiral of lies and deceit with no way out."
"And then he forced you to marry him to tie the knot that had been loose all this time. All the mysteries that you were part of, you were slowly tightening the knot and now, it's finally tight- and you can't escape what he does." Sherlock says.
She looks up and blinks. John steps put from behind Sherlock and instead, stands next to him in the masked shadows.
"Let me guess." Sherlock pauses, perhaps gathering his thoughts, or perhaps frantically searching for the right words, no-one would ever know. He starts for her, taking small steps towards her in the mute darkness.
"He found you a while back, perhaps a few years ago. He seemed like the perfect guy for you- rich, successful and everything you ever wanted, he could get, in the click of his fingers. He lured you in; small tests at first, and as you aced them, you climbed higher. Higher expectations, higher risks, higher responsibilites, but at the same time, bigger and bigger amount of deaths." Sherlock whispers the last word into her ear, that is hidden admist her hair. Her eyes are closed, but John, being the kind soul that he is, swears inside that he can see a tear lingering on her right lower eyelash.
"Deeper and deeper you sank into HIS life, HIS wrongs and HIS mista-"
"I tried to get ou-" she tries to interrupt.
"HIS mistakes." Sherlock continues, almost ignoring her little intervention. "And..." He makes his way around her again.
John steps forward after seeing the tears begin to fall down faster, and in a much more heartbreaking fashion.
"And, as you fell harder, the web of lies spin thicker and thicker around you. The walls built up and there was no. way. out. You were the fly in the web. You ARE the fly in the web of lies as you spins harder still." She thinks he is finished because she opens her mouth but he's faster. As he always has been.
"He used you." He says softly, but it is more of a statement. He stands in front of her as he says this, so while she sees him as clear as day in the dark shadows of the abandoned warehouse, he finally sees her tear-stained face.
"He didn't use me. He just needed someone to drag him out of the darkness of the hole he was in." Her voice is weak, John realises. He also realises she is trying to convince herself more than she is trying to convince Sherlock.
But Sherlock already knows. "No. He needed someone to drag into the darkness of the deep hole that he was in- the one that he is forever in- for an accomplice, or a partner as he could phrase it."
He turns away. She sniffs.
"You can try to convince yourself otherwise, but he used you to do the dirty work. I don't know how the recents were murdered, but I will find out." Sherlock mutters under his breath while John lets out a sigh of relief.
"I know what you want me to say." She wipes her tears away and then looks up at the pair of investigators in front of her. "Okay. I like your reckoning. Will you help me?"