Cuts

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?

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23. Chapter 23

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

Here is the next part of The Hounds of Baskerville

I own nothing, except Calliah

Sherlock drives up to the main complex at Baskerville, parks the car and we get out. Another soldier leads them through barriers and towards an entrance to the main building. As they walk, I looks around at all the military men patrolling the area, many of them armed. Even the scientists in lab coats are being escorted. As they approach the entrance, a military jeep pulls up and a young corporal gets out. I look at his name plate and see that he was Corporal Lyons.

“What is it? Are we in trouble?” Lyons asks.

“’Are we in trouble, sir?’” Sherlock says sternly. I elbow him and frown. He steps in front of them and holds out his hands to prevent them getting nearer to the entrance. “You were expecting us?”

“Your ID showed up straight away, Mr. Holmes. Corporal Lyons, security. I there something wrong, sir?” Lyons asks.

“Well, I hope not, Corporal, I hope not.” Sherlock says.

“It’s just we don’t get inspected here, you see, sir. It just doesn’t happen.” Lyons explains.

“Ever heard of a spot check?” John asks. He takes a small wallet from his pocket and shows the ID inside to the corporal. “Captain John Watson. Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.” Even before he finishes speaking, the corporal comes to attention and salutes. John crisply returns the salute. I grin at John.

“Sir. Major Barrymore won’t be pleased, sir. He’ll want to see you both.” Lyons says.

“I’m afraid we won’t have time for that. We’ll need the full tour right away. Carry on.” John says. The corporal hesitates. “That’s an order, Corporal.”

“Yes, sir.” Lyons says. He spins around and walks towards the entrance. Sherlock glances across to John with a proud smile on his face as we follow. I look at John and grin.

“That was kinda hot. You pulling rank. I can see why a lot of girls date you.” I say and giggle.

He looks at me and smiles. “Thanks. So you like a man in charge.” John says.

I laugh and nod. “Of course. My boyfriend is the British Government.” I say and laugh as John joins me laughing.

At the entrance, which is marked “AUTOMATIC SECURITY DOOR”, Lyons swipes his pass through a reader, then waits for Sherlock to walk over and do the same with his own pass. The message “ACCESS GRANTED” appears on the reader. Lyons then presses a button and the locks on the door disengage. Sherlock checks his watch. At Baskerville, the door swings open and Lyons leads us inside, taking off his beret as he goes. As he leads us towards the next security door, we talk quietly.

“Nice touch.” Sherlock says.

“Haven’t pulled rank in ages.” John says.

“Enjoy it?” Sherlock asks.

“Oh yeah.” John says and winks at me.

Reaching the door, Lyons swipes his pass and then steps aside for Sherlock to do likewise. As he does so and another “ACCESS GRANTED” message appears, the authorization request is sent out again. The doors slide opens and reveal an elevator on the other side. Lyons leads us inside and Sherlock looks at the wall panel. The lift, now on the ground floor, only goes downwards to five floors marked -1, -2, -3, -4 and B. Lyons presses the -1 button and the doors close, opening shortly afterwards on the next floor down. Lyons leads them out into a brightly lit and white tiled laboratory. As they walk forward, various scientific staff dressed either in white coveralls including full breathing masks, or in lab coats and face masks walk around the lab. There are large cages to the right of the elevator and as Lyons leads the way past them, a monkey screams and hurls itself at the bars towards them. Sherlock spins on his heel as he passes the cage, looking at the monkey and the chain around its neck.

“How many animals do you keep down here?” Sherlock asks.

“Lots, sir.” Lyons says.

“Any ever escape?” Sherlock asks.

“They’d have to know how to use that lift, sir. We’re not breeding them that clever.” Lyons says and laughs.

“Unless they have help.” Sherlock says.

A man who just took his mask off comes over to the group. “Ah, and you are?” he asks us.

“Sorry, Doctor Frankland. I’m just showing these gentlemen and lady around.” Lyons explains.

“Ah, new faces, huh? Nice. Careful you don’t get stuck here, though. I only came to fix a tap!” Frankland jokes.

John chuckles politely as Frankland walks towards the lift. John turns to Lyons. “How far down does that lift go?”

“Quite a way, sir.” Lyons tells us.

“Mmm-hmm. And what’s down there?” John asks.

“Well, we have to keep the bins somewhere, sir. This way please, gentlemen and ma’am.” Lyons says. John and I follow Lyons and I look behind to see that Sherlock wasn’t coming. I stop and he starts to follow.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Not sure yet.” Sherlock tells me and we catch to Lyons and John.

“So what exactly is it that you do?” John asks.

“I thought you’d know, sir, this being an inspection.” Lyons says.

“Well, I’m not an expert, am I?” John says and I giggle.

“Everything from stem cell research to trying to cure the common cold, sir.” Lyons says.

“But mostly weaponry?” John asks.

“Oh one sort or another, yes.” Lyons says.

He swipes his card through the reader of the door at the end of the lab, then steps aside for Sherlock to do likewise.

“Biological, chemical…?” John asks.

“One war ends, another begins, sir. New enemies to fight. We have to be prepared.” Lyons explains. He sounded a lot like Mycroft. Lyons leads us through the doors and into another lab where a monkey stands up on its back legs with one hand high in the air and shrieks before sitting down again on a high metal table. As a woman walks away from the table, Lyons approaches her. “Doctor Stapleton.”

“Stapleton.” Sherlock says thoughtfully.

“Yes?” She asks and looks at us. “Who’s this?”

“Priority Ultra, ma’am. Orders from on high. An inspection.” Lyons explains.

“Really?” Stapleton asks.

“We’re to be accorded every courtesy, Doctor Stapleton. What’s your role at Baskerville?” Sherlock asks.

Stapleton looks at him and snorts with disbelieving laughter. “Er, accorded every courtesy, isn’t that the idea?” John asks.

“I’m not free to say. Official secret.” Stapleton says.

Sherlock smiles at her. “Oh, you most certainly are free…” His face and his voice becomes ominous. “…and I suggest you remain that way.”

Stapleton looks at him for a moment. “I have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. I like to mix things up – genes, mostly; now and again actual fingers.”

“Stapleton. I knew I knew your name.” Sherlock says.

“I doubt it.” Stapleton.

“People say there’s no such thing as coincidence. What dull lives they must lead.” He holds up his notebook to her and she stares at it in amazement while Sherlock watches her face closely.

“Have you been talking to my daughter?” Stapleton asks.

Sherlock puts his notebook away. “Why did Bluebell have to die, Doctor Stapleton?” He asks.

“The rabbit?” John and I ask.

“Disappeared from inside a locked hutch, which was always suggestive.” Sherlock says as Stapleton stares at him blankly.

John and I look at each other. “The rabbit.” I frown.

“Clearly an inside job.” Sherlock says.

“Oh, you reckon?” Stapleton asks.

“Why? Because it glowed in the dark?” Sherlock asks.

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Who are you?” Stapleton asks.

Sherlock checks his watch again. He turns to Lyons. “Well, I think we’ve seen enough for now, Corporal. Thank you so much.”

“That’s it?” Lyons asks surprised.

“That’s it.” Sherlock says and turns and head briskly back towards the door. John and I frown and follow him. I hear Lyons follow behind us. “It’s this way, isn’t it?”

“Just a minute!” Stapleton calls after us.

John and I catch up to Sherlock. “Did we just break into a military base to investigate a rabbit?” John asks Sherlock quietly.

“And put Mycroft at risk?” I ask angrily. Sherlock reaches the door and swipes his card, then waits for Lyons to catch up to them and do the same with his own card.

Sherlock walks swiftly through the security doors and heads for the lift as his phone trills a text alert as mine does.

I get my phone out without stopping.

What has Sherlock gotten into? MH

I giggle. I would call him later.

“Twenty-three minutes. Mycroft’s getting slow.” Sherlock says.

Reaching the lift doors, he swipes his card and Lyons does likewise. The doors open revealing Doctor Frankland standing inside as if he has been waiting in there. Trying to look nonchalant, he smiles at them. “Hello…again.” We all get into the lift.

We go one floor up and the doors open. It reveals a bearded man in a military uniform who did not look happy. “Er, um, Major…” Lyons says.

“This is bloody outrageous. Why wasn’t I told?” Major Barrymore asks.

“Major Barrymore, is it?” John asks and steps out of the lift towards the Major. “Yes, well, good. Very good.” He offers Barrymore his hand to shake. “We’re very impressed, aren’t we, Mr. Holmes and Miss Adler.” I frown at John.

Barrymore refuses to take John’s hand. Sherlock and my phone sounds another text alert. I look at my phone as Sherlock says, “Deeply; hugely.” And I nod.

Tell me what’s going on Ardaigh, please. MH

I quickly reply.

I have to tell you later love. I swear. CM

Sherlock hurries towards the exit door with John and me in tow. I hear Major Barrymore follow us. “The whole point of Baskerville was to eliminate this kind of bureaucratic nonsense…” Barrymore says.

“I’m so sorry, Major.” Sherlock says.

“Inspections?!” Barrymore yells.

“New policy. Can’t remain unmonitored forever. Goodness knows what you’d get up to. Keep walking.” Sherlock tells us the last two words urgently and quietly.

“Sir!” Lyons calls out. Alarms start to blare, red lights flash and the automated security door locks itself. We all turn to Lyons “ID unauthorized, sir.”

“What?” Barrymore asks.

“I’ve just had the call.” Lyons explains.

“Is that right?” Barrymore turns to us. “Who are you?”

“Look, there’s obviously been some kind of mistake.” John says.

A little further back, I notice Frankland is slowly walking towards the group, looking thoughtful. Barrymore holds out his hand for Sherlock’s ID card, which he gives to him. He looks at the card and then up at Sherlock. “Clearly not Mycroft Holmes.” Barrymore says.

John gets out a notebook and starts writing. “Computer error, Major. It’ll all have to go in the report.”

“What the hell’s going on?” Barrymore asks/yells.

“It’s all right, Major. I know exactly who these gentlemen and ma’am are.” Frankland says.

“You do?” Barrymore asks.

“Yeah. I’m getting a little slow on faces but Mr. Holmes here isn’t someone I expected to show up in this place.” Frankland says.

“Ah, well…” Sherlock says.

Frankland offers Sherlock his hand to shake. “Good to see you again, Mycroft.” Sherlock smiles falsely and shakes Frankland’s hand. “I had the honour of meeting Mr. Holmes at the W.H.O. conference in ...” he pretends to think. “... Brussels, was it?”

“Vienna.” Sherlock corrects him.

“Vienna, that’s it.” Frankland says and turns to Barrymore. “This is Mycroft Holmes, Major. There’s obviously been a mistake.”

Barrymore turns and nods to Lyons, who goes back to the alarm switch and turns it off. The lights stop flashing and the alarm falls silent. A moment later the entrance door’s lock disengages noisily. Barrymore turns back to Frankland. “On your head be it, Doctor Frankland.”

Frankland laughs as he looks at Lyons. “I’ll show them out, Corporal.”

“Very well, sir.” Lyons says.

Sherlock spins on his heel and walks towards the now open entrance door. John, Frankland and I follow him. We go outside, and I notice that John was grimacing anxiously with an “Oh gods, I really hope we’re going to get away with this!” expression on his face. Frankland trots after them. “Thank you.” Sherlock says to Frankland.

“This is about Henry Knight, isn’t it?” Frankland asks. We don’t answer. “I thought so. I knew he wanted help but I didn’t relies he was going to contact Sherlock Holmes!” Sherlock grimaces. “Oh, don’t worry. I know who you really are. I’m never off your website. Thought you’d be wearing the hat, though.”

I laugh as Sherlock says. “That wasn’t my hat.”

“I hardly recognize him without the hat!” Frankland says.

John tries unsuccessfully to bite back a smile. “It wasn’t my hat.” I smile at Sherlock and grab his hand to show someone was listening to him.

“I love the blog too, Doctor Watson.” Frankland says.

“Oh, cheers!” John says. I smile at John.

“The, er, the Pink thing ...” Frankland says.

“Mmm-hmm.” John says.

“... and that one about the aluminum crutch!” Frankland laughs.

“Yes.” John says.

“What am I chop liver?” I ask softly. Sherlock squeezes my hand and I look up and him to see him smile at me.

Sherlock stops and turns to Frankland. “You know Henry Knight?”

“Well, I knew his dad better. He had all sorts of mad theories about this place. Still, he was a good friend.” Frankland says. He looks back the way they came and we can see that Major Barrymore is standing some distance away and watching them. He turns back to Sherlock. “Listen, I can’t really talk now.” He takes a card from his coat pocket and hands it over. “Here’s my, er, cell number. If I could help with Henry, give me a call.”

“I never did ask, Doctor Frankland. What exactly is it that you do here?” Sherlock asks.

“Oh, Mr. Holmes, I would love to tell you – but then, of course, I’d have to kill you!” Frankland says and laughs cheerfully. I snort. And then you would have the whole British Government looking for you.

“That would be tremendously ambitious of you.” Sherlock says straight faced. Frankland’s smile fades and he shrugs in embarrassment. “Tell me about Doctor Stapleton.”

“Never speak ill of a colleague.” Frankland says.

“Yes you’d speak well of one, which you’re clearly omitting to do.” Sherlock says.

“I do seem to be, don’t I?” Frankland says. He shrugs.

Sherlock raises the card that Frankland gave him. “I’ll be in touch.”

“Any time.” Frankland says.

We turn and walks away. He head to the Land Rover.

“So?” John asks.

“So?” Sherlock asks.

“What was all that about the rabbit?” John asks. Sherlock smiles briefly and pull his coat tighter around him. He flips the collar up just as we reach the car. John rolls his eyes and turns to him. “Oh, please, can we not do this, this time?”

“Do what?” Sherlock asks.

“You being all mysterious with your cheekbones and turning your coat collar up so you look cool.” John explains. As he turns to go to the car door, Sherlock looks at me and I shrug. He opens his mouth to speak but is apparently so disconcerted that for a moment he can’t find the words.

“…I don’t do that.” Sherlock says.

“Yeah you do.” John says and gets into the car.

Sherlock turns to me. “Do I do that?”

“Sometimes.” I shrug and steal the car keys. “I’m driving.” Sherlock shrugs and we get into the car.

Later, I am driving us across the moors. “So, the email from Kristy – the, er, missing luminous rabbit.” Johns says.

“Kristy Stapleton, whose mother specializes in genetic manipulation.” Sherlock explains.

“She made her daughter’s rabbit glow in the dark.” John says.

“Probably a fluorescent gene removed and spliced into the specimen. Simple enough these days.” Sherlock explains.

“So…” John says and waits for Sherlock to continue.

“So we know that Doctor Stapleton performs secret genetic experiments on animals. The question is: has she been working on something deadlier than a rabbit?” Sherlock says.

“To be fair, that is quite a wide field.” John says.

We get to Henry’s house. His home is enormous – a four-storey stone building that was probably a very important property in the area in the past. A large old-fashioned glass conservatory is attached to the rear of the building on the ground floor and a modern two-storey glass extension has been built onto the side of the house to join it to another two-storey stone building nearby. We go into the conservatory, which looks very run-down and clearly hasn’t had a paint job in years, and walk across to the door on the opposite side. Sherlock rings the doorbell and Henry opens the door. “Hi.” Henry greets us.

“Hi.” John says. I smile at Henry.

“Come in, come in.” Henry says. Wiping his feet on the doormat, Sherlock walks in and heads down the hallway. John and I follows more slowly, John stops to look into a large high-ceilinged sitting room before following Henry again.

“This is, uh… Are you, um…” John searches for the right word. “Rich?”

“Yeah.” Henry says.

“Right.” John says as I look at him and frowns. Why was John always thinking about money?

We go to the kitchen in the glass extension. I look around. “Any coffee?” I ask Henry. He nods and gets me a cuppa of coffee. I join Sherlock and we put two sugar lumps into our mugs. We are sitting on a stool at the central island and John is sitting next to him. Henry goes and stands on the other side of the island and gazes at the work surface.

“It’s- it’s a couple of words. I keep seeing. ‘Liberty’…” Henry tells us.

John reaches into his pocket for his notebook. “Liberty.”

Henry looks us at us. “’Liberty’ and… ‘in’. It’s just that.” Henry picks up the bottle of milk that’s on the island. “Are you finished?” Henry turns around to put the milk into the fridge.

John looks at us. “Mean anything to you?”

“’Liberty in death’ – isn’t that the expression? The only true freedom.” Sherlock says softly. John nods in agreement as I take a drink of my coffee.

Henry turns around, sighing. “What now, then?”

“Sherlock’s got a plan.” John says.

“Yes.” Sherlock says.

“Right.” Henry says.

“We take you back out onto the moor..” Sherlock starts.

“Okay…” Henry says nervously.

“….and see if anything attacks you.” Sherlock finishes.

“What?!” John asks.

“That should bring things to head.” Sherlock says.

“At night? You want me to go out there at night?” Henry asks.

“Mmm.” Sherlock says.

“That’s your plan?” John asks. He snorts laughter. “Brilliant.” He says sarcastically.

“Got any better ideas?” Sherlock asks.

“That’s not a plan.” John says.

“Listen, if there is a monster out there, John, there’s only one thing to do: find out where it lives.” Sherlock explains. I nod in agreement. He looks around to Henry and smiles widely at him before taking another drink from his mug. Henry doesn’t look encouraged by this. I snort and get up with my mug.

“I’m going to call Mycroft. He isn’t going to be happy about what you did Sherlock.” I start to leave and stop and look at Sherlock. I hold my hand out. “Give me the card.” Sherlock turns to me and pouts. “Now.” He groans and gives it to me.

I leave the kitchen and goes into one the bedrooms. I sit on my bed and call Mycroft.

“Ardaigh. What happened?” Mycroft asks when he answers the phone.

“Sherlock was being his stupid self again. He took your ID card.” I tell him. I hear Mycroft groan. “I got it from him.”

“Thank you love.” Mycroft says. “Now tell me exactly what happened.” I tell him what happened and lay on the bed. “Wow. My brother does know how to collect fans.”

“Oh I know. He didn’t even say anything about me. He was all like ‘Oh Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Oh John Watson, your blog is my life’.” I say mockingly. I hear Mycroft chuckle. “It’s not funny Croft. I am Calliah Adler! People should respect that or at least notice me. I have no idea why I am here. I’m not smart like Sherlock. I don’t help out with the medical stuff because John has experience with that. Sherlock said he needed me to help John not kill him but gah. I am useless.”

“Calliah. You are not useless. You are the farthest from useless. If people don’t notice you then it is their lost. And any ways, I noticed you.” Mycroft says.

I laugh and turn to my side and curl up. “Yeah, and that is all that matters.” I sigh. “I wish you were here or I was there. I tried to convince Sherlock to let me stay but he wouldn’t hear of it.”

“I wish you were here too. I love you.” Mycroft says softly.

“I love you too. I’ll call you tomorrow?” I ask.

“Or I will.” Mycroft says.

“I might call a little later than usual. Sherlock is making us go to the moor tonight to hunt for the beast.” I say. “I’ll probably want to sleep in.”

“He is taking you to track the beast that Henry says killed someone?” Mycroft asks.

“Yes Croft. I can handle myself. I am not weak. I can defend myself.” I tell him.

He sighs. “I know you can. Call me when you are done tonight? I will worry if you don’t.”

I giggle. “I will love.”

“You have corrupted my life Ardaigh.” Mycroft says softly.

“Oh whatever. I made it better.” I say and laugh.

“Okay you have. Call me.” He says.

“Or what?” I ask.

“I won’t let you…. um… watch movies.” He threatens.

I laugh and roll my eyes. “Okay Croft. I will call. Love you.”

“I love you too Ardaigh.” Mycroft says and I hand up. I put my phone to my chest and grin. I close my eyes for a second and then go back out to the boys.

  As night begins to fall, Henry leads Sherlock, John, and me across the rocks towards Dewer’s Hollow. All four of us have flashlights to light the uneven ground below their feet. Foxes scream repeatedly in the distance. By the time they reach the woods it is almost full dark and it becomes even darker when they head into the trees. I was close by Sherlock because it was creepy out. We walk in silence for a while. “Met a friend of yours.” Sherlock says to Henry.

“What?” Henry asks.

“Doctor Frankland.” Sherlock explains.

“Oh, right. Bob, yeah.” Henry says.

“Seems pretty concerned about you.” Sherlock says.

“He’s a worrier, bless him. He’s been very kind to me since I came back.” Henry says.

“He knew your father.” I assume.

“Yeah.” Henry says.

“But he works at Baskerville. Didn’t your dad have a problem with that?” Sherlock asks.

“Well, mates are mates, aren’t they? I mean, look at you and John. Or even you and Calliah.” Henry says. I look at him questionably.

“What about us?” Sherlock asks.

“Well, I mean, he’s a pretty straightforward bloke, Calliah is a pretty young thing that doesn’t really do cases, and you…” Henry says and glances back and sees Sherlock’s grim expression, de decides not to continue. “They agreed never to talk about work, Uncle Bob and my dad.” He stops and turns to his left. As Sherlock and I stop and look at him, Henry nods in the direction he’s looking. “Dewer’s Hollow.” He says unhappily. Sherlock and I turn and look at the steep drop in the land that leads down into a misty dark valley. I frown. It was creepy. Sherlock and I head down into the Hollow, being careful to keep our balance on the steep slippery ground. Sherlock was helping me down, since I was stupid and wore heels. Henry follow us down more slowly. Sherlock reaches the bottom, turns around and places two hands on my waist and holds me as I jump down. He and I shine our torches around, finding giant paw prints all around the ground. A long anguished howl rings out. Still halfway down the slope, Henry pauses. Sherlock shines his torch up in the direction of the sound ... and his face begins to fill with horror at the sight which greets him. I look up and see a black angry wolf/dog thing. I grip onto the Sherlock’s arm. It is growls savagely from the top of the Hollow. As the beam from Sherlock’s flashlight flails along the Hollow’s rim, the thing already retreated. Sherlock recoils, his face confused and bewildered as he tries to take in what he just saw. I look at him in fright. He looks at me and frowns. From his position some distance away, Henry hurries down to join us.

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Did you see it?” Henry asks us. I nod, too afraid to talk. I was gripping Sherlock’s arm. Sherlock lowers his head. He stares around, shakes his head, and removes my hands, then shoves Henry out of his way and hurries back up the hillside. Henry helps me up the hillside and we start following Sherlock.

After a little of walking, we meet up with John. I rush to him and hug him. I was shaking with fear. John looks down at me worried and holds me. “Did you hear the howling?”

Sherlock stores straight past him and we follow him.

“We saw it. We saw it.” Henry says.

“No. I didn’t see anything.” Sherlock says.

“What? What about you talking about? I was right by you and saw it!” I yell.

“I didn’t. See. Anything.” Sherlock says and hurries onwards. John, Henry and I trail along behind him.

I keep softly keep saying, “I saw it.”

We get back to Henry’s house and John picks me up and Henry and him rush inside. I was clinging to John and trying not to cry. Every time I closed my eyes I saw the thing. “Look, he must have seen it. I saw it. Calliah saw it – he must have. He must have. I can’t… why? Why?” Henry says. He stops in the doorway of the sitting room and turns back to us. “Why would he say that? It-it-it-it-it was there. It was.”

John sits me on the couch and ushers Henry to the couch. John kneels in front of me. He looks at me and Henry. “Henry, Calliah. I need you two to try and relax, please.”

“I’m okay, I’m okay.” Henry says.

“I need Croft.” I say softly.

“Listen, I’m gonna give you two something to help you two sleep, all right?” John says. He looks around the room and sees a bottle of water on a bureau nearby. He goes over to get it, while Henry unwraps his scarf from his neck, smiling.

“I don’t want anything John.” I tell him and curl up on the couch.

“This is good news, John and Calliah. It’s-it’s-it’s good. I’m not crazy and neither are you Calliah. There is a hound, there ... there is. And Sherlock – he saw it too. No matter what he said, he saw it. Right Calliah?” Henry says.

“He had to. I was right by him and I saw it. I need to call Croft.” I say and get up.

“No, you will sit there and call him. I don’t want you out of my sight.” John says. I nod and sit down.

I call Mycroft. “Ardaigh.” I hear him smile through his words.

“Croft.” I say softly. I almost start crying.

“What’s wrong? Do I need to come get you?” Mycroft says urgently.

“No. No. I just need to hear your voice. I saw something unbelievable tonight. I was a hound. It was awful. It was black and huge.” I say softly and my voice cracks.

“A hound? Okay, I am coming to get you.” Mycroft says.

“No love. John will be with me.” I say and close my eyes, only to open then the next second. “I love you.”

“I love you too Ardaigh. Are you sure you don’t want me to come out there?” Mycroft asks. I knew he was worried about me.

“I will be fine. I think we will be back in a day or two. I want to come over if I can.” I say.

“Of course you can. I want you here.” He says.

I smile and see that John had put a blanket on Henry. “Calliah, we should go to the Inn.” He tells me.

“Love, John wants to go back to the Inn. We need to find Sherlock. I will call you tomorrow?” I ask.

“Okay Ardaigh. I love you.” He says.

I grin. “I love you too. Always.” I say.

“Always and forever.” He says and I hang up. I look up and see John smiling.

“What?” I ask.

“You two are cute.” John says and laughs.

“Yeah, he would not agree with you. Mycroft Holmes isn’t cute he says. I disagree. He is adorable.” I say and get up.

“Are you sure you are good?” John asks.

“I will be fine. We need to find Sherlock. But you are driving.” I says.

We get back to the Inn and find Sherlock sitting in an armchair by a roaring open fire, his face is still full of shock and disbelief. John and I come in and He sits down in the armchair on the other side of the fire. I sit on the arm of John’s chair.

“Well, he is in a pretty bad way. He’s manic, totally convinced there’s some mutant super-dog roaming the moors. So does Calliah.” With his hands in the prayer position in front of his mouth, Sherlock glances nervously at John and me for a moment, then continues to gaze in the direction of the fire, lost in thought. “And there isn’t, though, is there? ’Cause if people knew how to make a mutant super-dog, we’d know.” Sherlock clasps his fingers together, closing his eyes and breathing heavily as if trying to fend off a panic attack. I move to him and hug him. He pulls me onto his lap and holds onto me. “They’d be for sale. I mean, that’s how it works.” I look over and see that he reaches for his notebook. Er, listen: er, on the moor I saw someone signalling. Er, Morse – I guess it’s Morse.” Sherlock blinks rapidly and repeatedly. John looks at his notes. “Doesn’t seem to make much sense.” Sherlock pulls in a sharp breath through his nose and then blows the breath out again through his mouth. I grab a hand and play with his fingers. “Er, U, M, Q, R, A. Does that mean ... anything ...” John finally realizes how distressed Sherlock is looking and pauses for a moment, then decides that he can’t be right. He puts his notebook away again and sits back in his chair. “So, okay, what have we got? We know there’s footprints, ’cause Henry found them; so did the tour guide bloke. We all heard something.” Sherlock blows out another shaky breath. John looks across to him and frowns momentarily. “Maybe we should just look for whoever’s got a big dog.”

“Henry’s right.” Sherlock says softly.

“What?” John asks.

“I saw it too.” Sherlock says, his voice shaking.

“I knew you did.” I say and he nods to me.

“What?” John asks shocked. I glare at him.

“I knew I wasn’t crazy.” I say.

“I saw it too, John.” Sherlock says.

“Just…Just a minute.” John says and leans forward. “You saw what.”

Sherlock finally meets his gaze but his face is twisted with self-loathing as he forces himself to admit the truth. “A hound, out there in the Hollow.” He talks through gritted teeth. “A gigantic hound.” John almost laughs as Sherlock looks away, trying unsuccessfully to blink back tears. I hug him and place my head on his shoulder. John sits back in his chair again, not quite able to cope with this strange reaction from Sherlock.

“Um, look, Sherlock, we have to be rational about this, okay? Now you, of all people, can’t just…” John says as Sherlock blows out another breath. “Let’s stick to what we know, yes? Stick to the facts.”

Sherlock looks round at John. “Once you’ve ruled out the impossible, whatever remains – however improbable – must be true.”

“What does that mean?” John asks.

Looking away again, Sherlock reaches down and picks up a drink from a nearby table. Looking down at his trembling hand, he sniggers. “Look at me. I’m afraid, John, Calliah. Afraid.” He takes a drink and then holds the glass up again, his hand still shaking.

“Sherlock?” John asks.

“Always been able to keep myself distant ...” He takes another drink from the glass. “... divorce myself from ... feelings. But look, you see ...” He holds up the glass and glares at his shaking hand. “... body’s betraying me. Interesting, yes? Emotions.” He slams the glass down onto the table and I jump. “The grit on the lens, the fly in the ointment.”

“Yeah, all right, Spock, just…” John says. “…take it easy.” Sherlock is blowing out a few more breaths and still failing to bring himself under control. He glances panic-stricken at John. “You’ve been pretty wired lately, you know you have. I think you’ve just gone out there and got yourself a bit worked up. You too Calliah.” I glares at him.

“Worked… up?” Sherlock asks.

“It was dark and scary…” John says.

Sherlock laughs sarcastically. “Me?! There’s nothing wrong with me. Or Calliah.” He looks away, almost beginning to hyperventilate, then puts his fingertips to his temples, groaning in anguish. John looks at him in concern. I grab on of his hands again and wrap his arm around me.

“Sherlock…” John says as Sherlock begins blowing out breaths again, his fingers trembling against his skin. “Sher...”

“THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!” Sherlock yells. I jump and move away. I tear up and wrap my arms around myself. He glares round at John. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” He looks round at the other patrons, all of whom are now staring at him. He looks away again, then looks at John. “You want me to prove it, yes?” He pulls in a deep breath, trying to get himself under control. “We’re looking for a dog, yes, a great big dog, that’s your brilliant theory. Cherchez le chien. Good, excellent, yes, where shall we start?” The patrons have gone back to their eating. Sherlock looks over his shoulder and points towards a man and woman sitting opposite each other at a table in the corner of the restaurant. His voice becomes savage and relentless as he goes into deduction mode. “How about them? The sentimental widow and her son, the unemployed fisherman. The answer’s yes.”

“Yes?” John asks.

“She’s got a West Highland terrier called Whisky. Not exactly what we’re looking for.” Sherlock says.

“Oh, Sherlock, for God’s sake…” John says quietly.

Sherlock looks briefly across at the man and his knitted jumper with reindeer and holly leaves on it before turning away again. “Look at the jumper he’s wearing. Hardly worn. Clearly he’s uncomfortable in it. Maybe it’s because of the material; more likely the hideous pattern, suggesting it’s a present, probably Christmas. So he wants into his mother’s good books. Why? Almost certainly money.” Sherlock says in quick fire. He takes another quick glance at the man. “He’s treating her to a meal but his own portion is small. That means he wants to impress her, but he’s trying to economize on his own food.”

“Well, maybe he’s just not hungry.” John says.

“No, small plate. Starter. He’s practically licked it clean. She’s nearly finished her pavlova. If she’d treated him, he’d have had as much as he wanted. He’s hungry all right, and not well off – you can tell that by the state of his cuffs and shoes.” Sherlock says, becoming almost frenetic. He asks the question he’s expecting to come from John at any moment. “How d’you know she’s his mother?” John, who until now has been looking at his colleague with concern as Sherlock’s voice – while lowered – has become increasingly intense, smiles briefly. “Who else would give him a Christmas present like that? Well, it could be an aunt or an elder sister, but mother’s more likely. Now, he was a fisherman. Scarring pattern on his hands, very distinctive – fish hooks. They’re all quite old now, which suggests he’s been unemployed for some time. Not much industry in this part of the world, so he’s turned to his widowed mother for help. “Widowed?” Yes, obviously. She’s got a man’s wedding ring on a chain round her neck – clearly her late husband’s and too big for her finger. She’s well-dressed but her jewellery’s cheap. She could afford better, but she’s kept it – it’s sentimental. Now, the dog tiny little hairs all over the leg from where it gets a little bit too friendly, but no hairs above the knees, suggesting it’s a small dog, probably a terrier. In fact it is – a West Highland terrier called Whisky. “How the hell do you know that, Sherlock?” ’Cause she was on the same train as us and I heard her calling its name and that’s not cheating, that’s listening, I use my senses, John, unlike some people, so you see, I am fine, in fact I’ve never been better, so just Leave. Me. Alone.” He glares at John, who stares back at him in shock.

“Yeah.” John says and clears his throat. “Okay. Okay.” Distressed by his colleague’s venom, he tries to settle back in his chair while Sherlock stares towards the fire, breathing heavily. “And why would you listen to me? I’m just your friend.”

“I don’t have friends.” Sherlock says savagely.

“Naa. Wonder why?” John says softly. He gets up and pushes past me. I watch him leave and frown.

“Calliah. Sit.” Sherlock says softly.

I look at him. “Why?”

“I need to tell you something.” He says. I sit down in the car that John left. “I don’t believe we saw anything. Maybe a dog or a regular wolf, but not the hound that Henry thinks it is. I think we were drugged.”

I look at me. “Who? How?”

“Someone in Baskerville. With Henry’s sugar.” Sherlock says.

“That makes more sense. Why would they?” I ask.

“Not sure. Will you help me with something?” He asks.

“Sure.” I say.

“I need to test my theory. And I am going to do it on John.” He explains. He looks over and smiles.

“What?” I look over and see a women. “She catches your fancy?”

“No, but she is Henry’s therapist. We should get our best man on that job.” Sherlock says. He texts John.

Henry’s therapist currently in Cross Keys Pub S

He gets an answer

So?

Sherlock rights right back.

Interview her?

John replies

WHY SHOULD I?

“He is really mad.” I tell him.

Sherlock takes a photo of the woman and sends it to John. “He will come now.” I laugh as we go up to the room.

 

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