Calliah Mullen is the sister to Irene Adler and has always been called the ugly sibling. After hearing it for so long, Calliah believes it and cuts her self to relieve the pain. When see meets Sherlock and John, her views on the world, herself, and her sister change. Will it be for the better or worse?


22. Chapter 22

Thank you Ariane DeVere aka Callie Sullivan on livejournal for the transcripts. They help so much.

Here is the first part of The Hounds of Baskerville

I own nothing, except Calliah

It was my second week of staying at Mycroft’s. I had missed him that few weeks and I didn’t want to leave him yet. We were lying in bed, my head on his chest and his arms around me. “You aren’t going to in trouble for missing all this work?”

He kisses my head. “No. I told you I was able to get off work.”

“You sure? Britain won’t fall?” I ask and look up at him.

“No. You are more important.” He says softly. He kisses me softly and I kiss back. He slowly moves his hand up the back of my shirt and I push him away. “Sorry.”

I shake my head and turn around. “No, I’m sorry. I just… I’m just not ready.”

He wraps his arms around me. “No, I shouldn’t have done that.”

I turn around and place a hand on his cheek. “We have been together for over a year. Why wouldn’t you try something?”

“Because we aren’t a usual couple?” He smirks.

I laugh. “No we aren’t but still…” I sigh. I look up at him. “This is a new experience for the both of us. But I want to wait. Wait till marriage.” I say softly.

“M-Marriage?” Mycroft stutters.

“I’m not saying that it will be soon or anything but I would like to wait.” I say softly and looks down.

He lifts my head. “Ardaigh. Love. I’m okay with that. I would do anything for you. I love you.” He says softly.

I grin. “I love you too.”

I spent the next week and half at Mycroft. We watched movies, read books, and was just enjoying our time together. I learned about his childhood and he learned about mine. I had to leave a week later when Mycroft was forced back to work.

I got home to see John sitting in his chair. He looks over and smirks. “Have fun at Mycroft’s?”

“I did.” I say and sit down in Sherlock’s chair. “We talked a lot. We learned more about each other.”

“Is that all you did?” John asks.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Did you get something?” John asks and smirks.

“W-What? I, er, no.” I stutter and look down.

“You sure?” John asks.

“We didn’t do anything like that. I want to wait and Croft is okay with that.” I say softly and bring my knees to my chest.

“Oh, I didn’t know. Sorry.” John says.

“It’s all good. You didn’t know.” I say.

“I shouldn’t have assumed.” John says.

I smile and look at the door and see Sherlock, who is wearing black trousers and a white shirt and whose arms, chest and face are covered with blood – far too much blood for it to be his own – and who is holding a harpoon. He looks round to us, breathing heavily. “Well, that was tedious.”

“You went on the Tube like that?!” John asks.

“None of the cabs would take me.” Sherlock says irritated. He walks out of the room.

I look at John and we bust out loud.

Later he is back in the room having cleaned himself up and changed into a clean shirt and trousers with one of his blue dressing gowns over the top. He is still carrying the harpoon and is pacing rapidly between the door and the window, looking round repeatedly at John and me who is sitting in th chair and flicking through the newspapers. “Nothing?” Sherlock asks us impatiently.

“Military coup in Uganda.” John says.

“Hmm.” Sherlock says.

I chuckle in amusement when I see another photo of Sherlock in the deerstalking cap. “Another photo of you with the cap.” I tell him.

Sherlock makes a disgusted noise. John moves onto another newspaper.

“Oh, um, Cabinet reshuffle.” John says.

“Nothing of importance?” Sherlock says furious. He slams the end of the harpoon onto the ground and roars with rage. “Oh, God!” He looks round at us intensely. “John, I need some. Get me some.”

“Some what?” I ask.

“No.” John says.

“Get me some.” Sherlock says intensely.

“No.” He says and points sternly at Sherlock. “Cold turkey, we agreed, no matter what.” Sherlock leans the harpoon against the table, irritated. “Anyway, you’ve paid everyone off, remember? No-one within a two mile radius’ll sell you any.” I frowned. Was he looking for drugs?

“Stupid idea. Whose idea was that?” Sherlock asks. John looks round at him and clears his throat pointedly. Sherlock looks towards the door. “Mrs. Hudson!” He shouts. He starts hurling paperwork off the table, desperately searching for what he needs.

“Look, Sherlock, you’re doing really well. Don’t give up now.” John says. Why was he on drugs again?

“Tell me where they are. Please. Tell me.” Sherlock says, frantically as he continues his search. As John remains silent, Sherlock straightens up and then turns his most appealing puppy-dog eyes on him, hesitating before he speaks and almost forming the word a couple of times before actually speaking it. “Please.”

“Can’t help, sorry.” John says.

“I’ll let you know next week’s lottery numbers.” Sherlock says. John chuckles. “Oh, it was worth a try. “He looks around the room, then gets inspired and hurls himself to the floor in front of the fireplace. I laugh at him. Unearthing a slipper from the pile of papers in front of the unlit fire, he holds it up and scrabbles about inside as Mrs. Hudson arrives at the door and comes in.

“Ooh-ooh!” Mrs. Hudson says. “Oh Calliah. You’re back. Have fun?”

“I did. I missed the flat and the boys and you.” I tell her.

Sherlock was rummaging about in the fireplace and speaking almost sing-song. “My secret supply. What have you done with my secret supply?”

“Eh?” Mrs. Hudson asks.

“Cigarettes! What have you done with them? Where are they?” Sherlock asks. Ah cigarettes. At least it wasn’t drugs.

“You know you never let me touch your things!” Mrs. Hudson says. She looks around at the mess. “Ooh, chance would be a fine thing.”

Sherlock stands up and faces her. “I thought you weren’t my housekeeper.”

“I’m not.” Making a frustrated noise, Sherlock stomps back over to the harpoon and picks it up again. Behind him, Mrs. Hudson looks down at John who does the universal mime for offering someone a drink. She looks at Sherlock again. “How about a nice cuppa, and perhaps you could put away your harpoon.”

“I need something stronger than tea. Seven per cent stronger.” Sherlock says as I laugh. He glares out of the window, then turns back towards Mrs. Hudson and aims the point of the harpoon at her. She flinches. “You’ve been to see Mr. Chatterjee again.”

“Pardon?” Mrs. Hudson asks.

Sherlock says, pointing with the harpoon’s tip. “Sandwich shop. That’s a new dress, but there’s flour on the sleeve. You wouldn’t dress like that for baking.”

“Sherlock ...: I say.

“Thumbnail: tiny traces of foil. Been at the scratch cards again. We all know where that leads, don’t we?” Sherlock explains. He sniffs deeply as he finally stops aiming the harpoon at her. “Mmm: ‘Kasbah Nights’. Pretty racy for first thing on a Monday morning, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve written a little blog on the identification of perfumes. It’s on the website – you should look it up.”

“Please.” Mrs. Hudson says exasperated

“I wouldn’t pin your hopes on that cruise with Mr. Chatterjee. He’s got a wife in Doncaster” Sherlock says and adopts a south Yorkshire accent to say the town’s name. “that nobody knows about.”

“Sherlock!” John says angrily.

“Well, nobody except me.” Sherlock continues.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I really don’t.” Mrs. Hudson says sadly. She storms out of the flat, slamming the living room door closed as she goes.

“Get out of my chair.” Sherlock tells me. I sigh and get up and go over to the couch. Sherlock leaps over the back of his chair from behind it, then perches on the seat, wrapping his arms around his knees like a petulant child. John slams his newspaper down.

“What the bloody hell was all that about?” John asks.

Sherlock rocks back and forth. “You don’t understand.”

 “Go after her and apologize.” John says sternly.

Sherlock stares at him. “Apologize?”

“Mmm-hmm.” John says.

Sherlock sighs. “Oh, John, I envy you so much.”

I see John hesitating, wondering whether to rise to the bait, but eventually asks. “You envy me?”

“Your mind: it’s so placid, straightforward, barely used. Mine’s like an engine, racing out of control; a rocket tearing itself to pieces trapped on the launch pad.” Sherlock says. “I need a case!” He says loudly and frantically.

“You’ve just solved one! By harpooning a dead pig, apparently!” John yells.

With an exasperated noise, Sherlock jumps up in the air and then lands in the seated position on the chair. “That was this morning!” He starts drumming the fingers of both hands on the arms of the chair while stomping his feet on the floor. “When’s the next one?”

“Nothing on the website?” I ask.

Sherlock gets up and walks over to the table, collects his laptop and hands it to John, who looks at the message on there while Sherlock stomps over the window and narrates part of it. “’Dear Mr Sherlock Holmes. I can’t find Bluebell anywhere. Please please please can you help?’”

“Bluebell?” John asks.

“A rabbit, John!” Sherlock says irritated.

“Oh.” John and I say at the same time.

“Ah, but there’s more! Before Bluebell disappeared, it turned luminous ...” Sherlock says sarcastically. He adopts a little girl’s voice for the next three words. “... “like a fairy” according to little Kirsty; then the next morning, Bluebell was gone! Hutch still locked, no sign of a forced entry ...” He stops and his expression becomes more intense. “Ah! What am I saying? This is brilliant! Phone Lestrade. Tell him there’s an escaped rabbit.” I laugh slightly and John glares at me.

“Are you serious?” John asks Sherlock.

“It’s this, or Cluedo.” Sherlock says.

“Ah, no!” John says as he closes the laptop and gets up to put it back on the table. “We are never playing that again!”

“Why not?” Sherlock asks.

“Yeah, why?” I ask.

“Because it’s not actually possible for the victim to have done it, Sherlock, that’s why.” John says. “Calliah, you missed a lot while you were gone.”

“Well, it was the only possible solution.” Sherlock explains.

John sits down again. “It’s not in the rules.”

“Then the rules are wrong!” Sherlock asks furiously.

The doorbell rings. John holds up a finger thoughtfully as Sherlock looks towards the living room door. “Single ring.”

“Maximum pressure just under the half second.” Sherlock says.

John and Sherlock say simultaneously. “Client.”


Not long afterwards, a recording of a documentary is playing on the TV. Sherlock has taken off the dressing gown and exchanged it for a jacket and is sitting in his chair. John has relocated to the dining table chair near Sherlock’s, and Henry Knight, the client, is sitting in John’s chair. I was sitting on the couch. The documentary footage shows scenes of Dartmoor. Sherlock instantly looks bored.

 “Dartmoor. It’s always been a place of myth and legend, but is there something else lurking out here – something very real?” Presenter says in voiceover. Footage of “Keep Out” signs. “Because Dartmoor’s also home to one of the government’s most secret of operations ...” Sherlock’s eyes flick repeatedly between the screen and the man in John’s chair as the footage shows a large sign saying:






By this time Sherlock’s eyes are permanently fixed on Henry as he watches the documentary anxiously. “... the chemical and biological weapons research center which is said to be even more sensitive than Porton Down. Since the end of the Second World War, there’ve been persistent stories about the Baskerville experiments: genetic mutations, animals grown for the battlefield. There are many who believe that within this compound, in the heart of this ancient wilderness, there are horrors beyond imagining. But the real question is: are all of them still inside?” The footage switches to an indoor scene where Henry is sitting in front of the camera talking to an offscreen interviewer. A caption at the bottom of the screen shows him as “Henry Knight, Grimpen resident”. “I was just a kid. It-it was on the moor. There’s a cutaway to a child’s drawing of a huge snarling dog with red eyes. The caption says, “Henry’s drawing (aged 9)”. “It was dark, but I know what I saw. I know what killed my father.”

Sighing, Sherlock picks up the remote control and switches off the footage. “What did you see?”

“Oh.” Henry says and points to the television. “I ... I was just about to say.”

“Yes, in a TV interview. I prefer to do my own editing.” Sherlock says.

“Yes. Sorry, yes, of course. ’Scuse me.” Henry says. He reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out a paper napkin and wipes his nose on it.

“In your own time.” John says.

“But quite quickly.” Sherlock says.

Henry lowers the napkin. “Do you know Dartmoor, Mr. Holmes?”

“No.” Sherlock says.

“It’s an amazing place. It’s like nowhere else. It’s sort of ... bleak but beautiful.” Henry says.

“Mmm, not interested. Moving on.” Sherlock says.

“We used to go for walks, after my mum died, my dad and me. Every evening we’d go out onto the moor.” Henry explains.

“Yes, good. Skipping to the night that your dad was violently killed. Where did that happen?” Sherlock says. John’s eyes raise skywards at Sherlock’s insensitive question.

“There’s a place – it’s... it’s a sort of local landmark called Dewer’s Hollow.” He gazes at Sherlock who tilts his head at him as if to say, “And...?” “That’s an ancient name for the Devil.”

Sherlock quirks an eyebrow. “So?”

“Did you see the Devil that night?” John asks.

His face haunted with memories, Henry looks across to him and nods. “Yes.” Henry says quietly. “It was huge. Coal-black fur, with red eyes. “It got him, tore at him, and tore him apart.” Sherlock watches him intensely. “I can’t remember anything else. They found me the next morning, just wandering on the moor. My dad’s body was never found.”

“Hmm.” I say and look across to Sherlock. “Red eyes, coal-black fur, enormous: dog? Wolf?”

“Or a genetic experiment.” Sherlock says. He looks away, biting back a smile.

“Are you laughing at me, Mr. Holmes?” Henry asks.

“Why, are you joking?” Sherlock asks.

“My dad was always going on about the things they were doing at Baskerville; about the type of monsters they were breeding there. People used to laugh at him. At least the TV people took me seriously.”

“And, I assume, did wonders for Devon tourism.” Sherlock says.

“Yeah ...” John says uncomfortably. In an attempt to stop Sherlock’s continuing sarcasm, he leans forward to Henry. Sherlock rolls his eyes when he realizes what John is doing and I laugh. “Henry, whatever did happen to your father, it was twenty years ago. Why come to us now?”

Henry sits forward, staring at Sherlock. “I’m not sure you can help me, Mr. Holmes, since you find it all so funny.” He stands up and walks around the chair, heading towards the door.

“Because of what happened last night.” Sherlock says.

“Why, what happened last night?” I ask.

Henry turns back towards them. “How ... how do you know?”

“I didn’t know; I noticed.” John shuffles on his chair and looks at me with an “Oh dear lord, here we go” expression on his face. I giggle and look at Sherlock. “You came up from Devon on the first available train this morning. You had a disappointing breakfast and a cup of black coffee. The girl in the seat across the aisle fancied you. Although you were initially keen, you’ve now changed your mind. You are, however, extremely anxious to have your first cigarette of the day. Sit down, Mr. Knight, and do please smoke. I’d be delighted.” Henry stares at him, then glances across to John who averts his gaze and sighs. Hesitantly, Henry walks back to the chair and sits down, fishing in his jacket pocket.

“How on earth did you notice all that?!” Henry asks.

“It’s not important ...” John says.

But Sherlock’s already off. “Punched-out holes where your ticket’s been checked ...”

“Not now, Sherlock.” John says.

“Oh please. I’ve been cooped up in here for ages.” Sherlock says.

“You’re just showing off.” I tell him.

“Of course. I am a show-off. That’s what we do.” Sherlock says. He turns his attention back to Henry and the napkin that he’s still holding. “The train napkin that you used to mop up the spilled coffee: the strength of the stain shows that you didn’t take milk. There are traces of ketchup on it and round your lips and on your sleeve. Cooked breakfast – or the nearest thing those trains can manage. Probably a sandwich.”

Henry half-sobs, over-awed. “How did you know it was disappointing?”

“Is there any other type of breakfast on a train? The girl – female handwriting’s quite distinctive. Wrote her phone number down on the napkin. I can tell from the angle she wrote at that she was sat across from you on the other side of the aisle. Later – after she got off, I imagine – you used the napkin to mop up your spilled coffee, accidentally smudging the numbers. You’ve been over the last four digits yourself with another pen, so you wanted to keep the number. Just now, though, you used the napkin to blow your nose. Maybe you’re not that into her after all. Then there’s the nicotine stains on your fingers ... your shaking fingers. I know the signs.” His gaze becomes intense. “No chance to smoke one on the train; no time to roll one before you got a cab here.” He glances at his watch. “It’s just after nine fifteen. You’re desperate. The first train from Exeter to London leaves at five forty-six a.m. You got the first one possible, so something important must have happened last night. Am I wrong?”

Henry stares at him in amazement, then draws in a shaky breath. “No.” Sherlock smiles smugly. “You’re right. You’re completely, exactly right. Bloody hell, I heard you were quick.”

“It’s my job.” Sherlock says and leans forward in his seat and glares at Henry intensely. “Now shut up and smoke.”

John frowns towards him. As Henry takes out a roll-up and lights it, John consults the notes he’s taken so far. “Um, Henry, your parents both died and you were, what, seven years old?”

Henry is concentrating on taking his first drag on his cigarette. As he exhales his first lungful, Sherlock stands up and steps closer to him. I frown at him. I would have to tell Mycroft about this.

“I know. That ... my ...” He stops as Sherlock leans into the smoke drifting up from the cigarette and from Henry’s mouth and breathes in deeply and noisily through his nose. Having sucked up most of the smoke, he sits down again and breathes out, whining quietly in pleasure.

“That must be a ... quite a trauma. Have you ever thought that maybe you invented this story, this ...” Henry has exhaled another lungful of smoke and Sherlock dives in to noisily hoover up the smoke again. John pauses patiently until he sits down again. “... to account for it?”

Henry drags his eyes away from Sherlock. “That’s what Doctor Mortimer says.”

“Who?” John asks.

“His therapist.” Sherlock says.

Henry says almost simultaneously. “My therapist.”

“Obviously.” Sherlock says.

“Louise Mortimer. She’s the reason I came back to Dartmoor. She thinks I have to face my demons.” Henry says.

“And what happened when you went back to Dewer’s Hollow last night, Henry? You went there on the advice of your therapist and now you’re consulting a detective. What did you see that changed everything?” Sherlock asks.

“It’s a strange place, the Hollow.” Henry says. “Makes you feel so cold inside, so afraid.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “Yes, if I wanted poetry I’d read John’s emails to his girlfriends. Much funnier.” John sighs hard in an attempt to release the tension that might make him kill him. “What did you see?”

“Footprints – on the exact spot where I saw my father torn apart.” Henry says.

Looking exasperated, Sherlock leans back in his seat.

“Man’s or a woman’s?” John asks.

“Neither. They were ...” Henry starts to say.

“Is that it? Nothing else. Footprints. Is that all?” Sherlock asks interrupting.

“Yes, but they were ...” Henry starts to say.

“No, sorry, Doctor Mortimer wins. Childhood trauma masked by an invented memory. Boring! Goodbye, Mr Knight. Thank you for smoking.” Sherlock says interrupting again.

“No, but what about the footprints?” Henry asks.

“Oh, they’re probably paw prints; could be anything, therefore nothing.” Sherlock says and leans forward in his seat and flicks his fingers at Henry, gesturing him towards the door. “Off to Devon with you; have a cream tea on me.” Standing up and buttoning his jacket, he heads into the kitchen.

Henry turns in his seat to look at him. “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”

Sherlock stops dead in his tracks, then slowly turns and comes back to the kitchen doorway and stares down at Henry. “Say that again.”

“I found the footprints; they were ...” Henry says.

“No, no, no, your exact words. Repeat your exact words from a moment ago, exactly as you said them.” Sherlock tells him.

Henry thinks for a second, then slowly recites his words back to him. “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic ... hound.”

Sherlock raises his head. “I’ll take the case.”

“Sorry, what?” John asks. I look over at Sherlock. Why did he want the case now?

Sherlock adopts the prayer position in front of his mouth and begins to pace slowly across the living room. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It’s very promising.”

“No-no-no, sorry, what? A minute ago, footprints were boring; now they’re very promising?” John asks.

Sherlock stops. “It’s nothing to do with footprints. As ever, John, you weren’t listening. Baskerville: ever heard of it? Have you Calliah?”

“Vaguely. It’s very hush-hush.” John says.

“Some stuff from Mycroft.” I says.

“Sounds like a good place to start.” Sherlock says.

“Ah! You’ll come down, then?” Henry asks.

“No, I can’t leave London at the moment. Far too busy. Don’t worry – putting my best man onto it.” Sherlock says and walks over to John and pats his shoulder. “Always rely on John to send me the relevant data, as he never understands a word of it himself.”

“What are you talking about, you’re busy? You don’t have a case! A minute ago you were complaining ...” John says and laughs.

Sherlock interrupts him. “Bluebell, John! I’ve got Bluebell! The case of the vanishing, glow-in-the-dark rabbit!” He looks at Henry. “NATO’s in uproar.”

“Oh, sorry, no, you’re not coming, then?” Henry asks.

Putting on a regretful expression, Sherlock shakes his head sadly. John groans and I laugh. “Okay.” He stands up while Sherlock smiles smugly. “Okay.” He walks over to the mantelpiece and picks up the skull, taking a packet of cigarettes from underneath it. Putting the skull down again, he turns and tosses the packet across to Sherlock, who catches it and instantly tosses it over his shoulder.

“I don’t need those any more. I’m going to Dartmoor.” Sherlock says and walks out of the living room. “You go on ahead, Henry. We’ll follow later.”

Henry scrambles to his feet. “Er, sorry, so you are coming?”

Sherlock turns and walks back into the room. “Twenty year old disappearance; a monstrous hound? I wouldn’t miss this for the world!”


Later, John carries two large bags out onto the street, shuts the front door and walks over to Sherlock who is holding a taxi door open. I come out with my bag and pout. “I don’t want to go!” I tell Sherlock.

“Suck it up.” Sherlock says and comes to me and grabs my bag and throws it in the truck. “Get in.”

“No.” I pout and cross my arms. “I can stay at Croft’s. You don’t even need me.”

Sherlock walks to me and puts his hands on my arms. “Calliah. We do need you. You keep us from killing each other and keep me human. Please.”

I sigh and nod. “Okay.” I get into the car. Next door in Speedy’s, Mrs. Hudson is shouting angrily at an unseen Mr. Chatterjee.

“... cruise together. You had no intention of taking me on it ...” Mrs. Hudson yells.

She throws something at the closed door. As it bounces heavily off the glass, John recoils. “Oh! Looks like Mrs Hudson finally got to the wife in Doncaster.”

“Mmm. Wait ’til she finds out about the one in Islamabad.” Sherlock says. John sniggers and gets into the taxi. Sherlock follows him in. “Paddington Station, please."


After we get to Dartmoor, we are driving across the moors in a large black Land Rover jeep. Sherlock is driving. I didn’t even know he knew how to drive.

Sometime later, away from the road, Sherlock is standing dramatically on a large stone outcrop while John stands at the foot of it consulting a map and I was standing with John. He points ahead of himself at a large array of buildings in the distance. “There’s Baskerville.” He turns and points behind them. Sherlock and I turns to look. “That’s Grimpen Village.” He turns and looks ahead of them again, checking the map for the name of the heavily wooded area to the left of the Baskerville complex. “So that must be ... yeah, it’s Dewer’s Hollow.” Sherlock points to an area in between the complex and the Hollow.

“What’s that?” Sherlock asks.

“Hmm?” John asks. He uses the binoculars round his neck and now he lifts them and looks more closely at the fencing and the warning signs. “Minefield? Technically Baskerville’s an army base, so I guess they’ve always been keen to keep people out.”

“Clearly.” Sherlock and I say.


Later, we drive into Grimpen Village and pull into the car park of the Cross Keys inn. We get out and walk towards the entrance of the pub, where a young man who is apparently a tour guide is talking to a group of tourists. “... three times a day, tell your friends. Tell anyone!” We walk past the group and see that the man is standing next to a large sign on which is painted a black image of a wolf-like creature with the words “BEWARE THE HOUND!!” above it. “Don’t be strangers, and remember ... stay away from the moor at night if you value your lives!”

Sherlock has been pulling his overcoat around him as he walks towards the pub, and now he pops the collar. John looks round at him pointedly. Sherlock trying and failing to look nonchalant says “I’m cold.” The tourist group walks away from the man. Once their backs are turned he puts on a large shaggy wolf’s-head mask. Sherlock and John walk into the pub, which has a blackboard outside advertising “Boutique Rooms & Vegetarian Cuisine”. The man runs over to a couple of the nearby tourists and roars. They flinch and the woman shrieks in surprise. I stay outside and watch the man in amusement. He comes over and takes off the mask.

“I’m Fletcher.” He says to me.

I smile. “Calliah.”

“Nice to meet you.” He says.

“You too.” I say and hold out my hand for him to shake. He grabs it and kisses the top. “Oh thanks.” I say and take my hand back.

“Are one of the boys you came with your boyfriend?” He asks me.

“Um, no, act…” I start.

“So you’re open to a relationship?” He interrupts. 

“Yeah, no. She is in one.” I hear behind me. I feel an arm come around me and see that Sherlock has come back out. “Mind if I join you two?” Fletcher shrugs and gestures to the table. Sherlock puts his pint down and sits on the bench on the other side of the table. He puts my down and keeps his arm around me. “It’s not true, is it? You haven’t actually seen this ... hound thing.” He grins in a friendly way.

Fletcher looks at him suspiciously. “You from the papers?”

“No, nothing like that. Just curious. Have you seen it?” Sherlock asks.

“Maybe.” Fletcher says.

“Got any proof?” I ask.

“Why would I tell you if I did? ’Scuse me.” Fletcher says. He stands up to leave

“Bet’s off, honey, sorry.” Sherlock says and looks at me.

“Oh damn.” I say and pout, playing along. I hope Sherlock knew what he was doing.

“Bet?” Fletcher asks.

Sherlock looks at his watch.  “My plan needs darkness.” He looks up at the sky. “Reckon we’ve got another half an hour of light ...”

“Wait, wait. What bet?” Fletcher asks.

“Oh, I bet Calliah here fifty quid that you couldn’t prove you’d seen the hound.” Sherlock explains. “The guys in the pub said you could.”

Fletcher smiles and points to Sherlock. “Well, you’re gonna lose your money, mate.”

“Yeah?” Sherlock asks.

“Yeah. I’ve seen it. Only about a month ago, up at the Hollow. It was foggy, mind – couldn’t make much out.” Fletcher explains.

“I see. No witnesses, I suppose.” Sherlock says.

“No, but ...” Fletcher starts to say.

“Never are.” I say to Sherlock.

“Wait ...” Fletcher says. He shows Sherlock a photograph on his smart phone. “There.”

Sherlock and I looks at the photograph which shows a dark-furred four-legged something in the distance but, with no scale amongst the surrounding vegetation, it’s impossible to tell the size – or even the species – of the animal. He snorts. “Is that it? It’s not exactly proof, is it? Sorry, John. I win.” He picks up the stolen beer glass and makes as if to drink from it, although he never does.

“Wait, wait. That’s not all. People don’t like going up there, you know – to the Hollow. Gives them a ... bad sort of feeling.” Fletcher says.

“Ooh! Is it haunted? Is that supposed to convince me?” Sherlock asks. He puts the glass down again.

“Nah, don’t be stupid, nothing like that, but I reckon there is something out there – something from Baskerville, escaped.” Fletcher says.

“A clone, a super-dog?” Sherlock says and doesn’t really trying to hold back his sceptical snigger.

“Maybe. God knows what they’ve been spraying on us all these years, or putting in the water. I wouldn’t trust ’em as far as I could spit.” Fletcher says.

Sherlock nods to the photo. “Is that the best you’ve got?”

Fletcher hesitates for a long moment, uncertain whether to continue, but eventually he speaks reluctantly, lowering his voice. “I had a mate once who worked for the MOD. One weekend we were meant to go fishin’ but he never showed up – well, not ’til late. When he did, he was white as a sheet. I can see him now. “I’ve seen things today, Fletch,” he said, “that I never wanna see again. Terrible things.” He’d been sent to some secret Army place – Porton Down, maybe; maybe Baskerville, or somewhere else.” He leans closer. “In the labs there – the really secret labs, he said he’d seen ... terrible things. Rats as big as dogs, he said, and dogs ...” He reaches into his bag and pulls something out, showing it to us. “... dogs the size of horses.” He is holding a concrete cast of a dog’s paw print – but the print is at least six inches long from the tip of the claws to the back of the pad. Sherlock stares at it in surprise.

“Er, we did say fifty?” I ask. As Fletcher smiles triumphantly, Sherlock gets out his wallet and hands me a fifty pound note. I giggle and put it away. I was going to buy Mycroft something with that. Sulkily, Sherlock gets up and walks away. I giggle and get up and follow him.

Later, We take the car to Baskerville, Sherlock still driving. As they approach the complex. He drives up to the gates and a military security guard holding a rifle raises a hand. As Sherlock stops the jeep, the man walks around to the driver’s window. “Please.” The security guard asks. Sherlock reaches into his coat pocket and hands him a pass. “Thank you.”

He walks away with the pass. At the front of the vehicle, another security man encourages a sniffer dog to check the jeep, presumably for explosives. John leans forward from the back seat and asks quietly. “You’ve got ID for Baskerville. How?”

“It’s not specific to this place. It’s my brother’s. Access all areas. I, um ...” Sherlock clears his throat. “... acquired it ages ago, just in case.” He says softly. I look at him.

“Brilliant.” John says sarcastically

“What’s the matter?” Sherlock asks and looks at me.

“We’ll get caught.” John says as I says “I’m going to tell.”

“No we won’t – well, not just yet.” Sherlock says to John and looks at me. “No you won’t.” I roll my eyes, cross my arms, and pout.

“Caught in five minutes. “Oh, hi, we just thought we’d come and have a wander round your top secret weapons base.” “Really? Great! Come in – kettle’s just boiled.” That’s if we don’t get shot.” John says.

The gates begin to slide open as the security guard comes back over to the car. “Clear.” One of the guards say.

The security guard comes back and hands Sherlock the pass back. “Thank you very much, sir.”

“Thank you.” Sherlock says as he puts the car in gear and eases the vehicle forward.

“Straight through, sir.” The guard says.

“Mycroft’s name literally opens doors!” John says as I roll my eyes.

“Duh.” I say.

“I’ve told you – he practically is the British government. I reckon we’ve got about twenty minutes before they realize something’s wrong.” Sherlock says. 

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