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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37. Chapter 37

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

Here is the next part of The Sign of Three

I own nothing, except Calliah and my ideas.

I was sitting by Sherlock at the dining table. We were reading an article on Major Sholto. It shows a photograph of Major Sholto before he was injured, and a large strapline beside the photo reads, “‘He destroyed us all. And he gets a medal for it.”’ A few visible lines of text above and below the photo show that this is an interview with Madeline Small, the mother of one of the soldiers who died under Sholto’s command. The headline of the article reads, “V.C. Hero – The Unanswered Questions. Why did my boy have to die?” Sherlock looks towards the living room door when he hears John climbing the stairs. He switches to a different tab on the laptop – the website for I DATED A GHOST.COM. John comes in and walks across to the dining table where we are sitting.

“There are going to be others.” Sherlock says.

“Others?” John asks.

Victims, women. Most ghosts tend to haunt a single house – this ghost, however, is willing to commute, look.” Sherlock explains. He stands up and they look at a map of London spread out on the table behind the laptop. Sherlock has stuck a pin in various places. There are seven pins in the map, forming a rough circle spanning a few miles around the Thames. Sherlock gets six laptops and starts messing women who have had “Ghost dates”. He starts talking to them all. I roll my eyes and lay on the couch. John looks at me.

“Calliah…” He says softly and walks over to me. I look at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” I say and look away. He picks up my hand and makes me get up. He pulls me to his old bedroom. “Now, John. I know I’m amazing and you love me, but I’m a married woman and you are an almost married man.” I joke without smiling.

He laughs. “Yeah, no. You are not my type. You are like my sister.” He says and we sit on his bed. “Calliah. I know the signs. You are depressed. What is wrong? When Mary said something about marriage you didn’t say anything. The Calliah I know would have bragged about her marriage, said how wonderful Mycroft was, or even smiled. The last few times you have been around, you are moody, unsociable, and just don’t want to do anything. I mean Sherlock and I haven’t seen you in months. What is wrong? Is it Mycroft?”

I look at my hands. “So you think Sherlock will mess up his best man toast? Molly does.” I say, trying to not answer the question.

“Is he hitting you? Making you stay away?” John asks.

I glare at him. “No! Don’t ever think that Mycroft would do that!” I yell.

He grins. “There she is.” I frown and roll my eyes. “Calliah, I need you to talk to me. I can help you if you tell me what’s going on.”

I sigh and look at him. “He isn’t ever home…” I say softly.

“He isn’t? Why?” John asks.

“I don’t know. He says work, but… I just don’t know.” I say and get up. “Let’s get back to Sherlock. Never know what he is up to.” I start walking to the door.

“Are you cutting?” He asks.

I turn back. “No.” I lie. He nods and we go back to the living room. Sherlock hasn’t moved since we left, other than to reply. I lie back on the couch.

John goes over to Sherlock. “You okay?” Sherlock looks at John. “Don’t let your food go cold. Mrs. Hudson’ll play hell.”

“Not now, John.” Sherlock says. He unbuttons his jacket and squats down to the coffee table. He goes back to talking with the women.

After a little, John goes behind Sherlock. “But only for one night.” He says. Sherlock turns to look at John. “Then he’s gone.”

“He’s not a ghost, John. He’s a mayfly. He lives for a day.” Sherlock explains and then turns back to the computers. After a little, he shuts down the lid of one of the laptops. “Why? Why would he date all of those women and not return their calls?”

“You’re missing the obvious, mate.” John says.

Sherlock turns to John. “Am I?”

“He’s a man.” John says.

Sherlock slams the lids down on each of the laptops by turn. “But why would be he change his identity?”

“Maybe he’s married.” I suggest.

Sherlock slowly straightens up as if realizing something. “Ohh.”

 

“Married. Obvious, really. Our Mayfly Man was trying to was trying to escape the suffocating chains of domesticity ...” Sherlock says. John grimaces and shakes his head while Mary widens her eyes briefly and then smiles at him. “... and instead of endless nights in watching the telly or going to barbecues with awful dreadful boring people he couldn’t stand, he used his wits, cleverness and powers of disguise ...” He finally takes a breath, and smiles slightly. “... to play the field. He was ...” He stops when he realizes that he has lost his audience again. The guests look silently back at him. I smiled and rested my head on Mycroft’s shoulder. He wraps an arm around my waist. He looks down to his right to see John looking back at him straight-faced and Mary wrinkling her nose and shaking her head slightly. “On second thoughts I probably should have told you about the Elephant in the Room. However, it does help to further illustrate how invaluable John is to me. I can read a crime scene the way he can understand a human being. I used to think that’s what made me special – quite frankly, I still do. But a word to the wise: should any of you require the services of either of us, I will solve your murder, but it takes John Watson to save your life. Trust me on that – I should know. He’s saved mine so many times, and in so many ways.” He holds up his phone. “This blog is the story of two men and one woman and their frankly ridiculous adventures ...” He smiles, and the guests chuckle. I grin at him. “... of murder, mystery and mayhem. But from now on, there’s a new story – a bigger adventure.” He looks down at the newlyweds, who smile happily. “Ladies and gentlemen, pray charge your glasses and be upstanding.” He picks up his own glass while the guests do likewise and stand up. The photographer walks forward with his camera. Sherlock raises his glass. “Today begin the adventures of Mary Elizabeth Watson and John Hamish Watson.” John sighs a little, while Mary giggles. I roll my eyes. “The two reasons why every single one of us is ...” He stops, freezing in place, staring blindly towards the guests. The photographer snaps several photos of him but the popping flashbulb doesn’t make him react. Sherlock’s fingers loosen slightly and his champagne glass slips out of them and begins  to tumble towards the floor. I look at him worried. What happened? “... here today.” His champagne glass smashes on the floor at his feet. He looks down at it. He raises his head. “Ooh, sorry. I ...” He looks down at the floor, making an exasperated noise and clearing his throat. The Master of Ceremonies/Head Waiter hurries over to him.

“Another glass, sir?” The master of ceremonies asks and offers him a glass.

Sherlock takes the glass. “Thank you, yes. Thank you, yes.” He looks out at the guests.  Sherlock looks around. “Now, where were we?” Greg and Mrs. Hudson look at each other in worry. Sherlock shakes his head a little. “Ah, yes. Raising glasses and standing up. Very good. Thank you.” Sherlock raises both hands and gestures downwards. “And down again.” We all sit down. The other guest murmuring amongst themselves. I look at Sherlock and frown. Sherlock looks at us all for a moment, then puts his glass down on the table and straightens up. “Ladies and gentlemen, people tell you not to milk a good speech – get off early, leave ’em laughing. Wise advice I’ll certainly try to bear in mind. But for now ...”He puts one hand on the table and quickly jumps over to the other side. The guests gasp in surprise. I shake my head slightly. “... part two.” He walks into the central aisle between the tables. “Part two is more action-based. I’m gonna ... walk around, shake things up a bit.” He looks at each person as he walks past. “Who’d go to a wedding? That’s the question. Who would bother to go to any lengths to get themselves to a wedding?” Two thirds of the way along the room he turns around. “Well, everyone.” He claps his hands once. “Weddings are great! Love a wedding.” I share a look with John. We were worried. What was Sherlock trying to figure out? Sherlock points at John. “And John’s great, too! Haven’t said that enough. Barely scratched the surface. I could go on all night about the depth and complexity of his ... jumpers ...” John closes his eyes in disbelief. Sherlock is pacing and turning back and forth. “... and he can cook. Does ... a ... thing ... thing with peas ...” Sherlock continues to pace and look closely at the guests. “... once. Might not be peas. Might not be him. Probably Calliah. But he’s got a great singing voice ... or somebody does. Maybe that is Calliah again.” He sighs in frustration, his teeth clenched. “Ahh, too many, too many, too many, too many!” I frown and start to get up. Mycroft shakes his head. “Sorry. Too many jokes about John! Now, er … Where was I? Ah, yes ...Speech!” He points towards the top table, grinning round at the guests. “Speech.” He claps his hands together again. “Let’s talk about ... murder.” John sighs and lowers his head, while Mary frowns. I look at Mycroft. He shakes his head. “Sorry, did I say ‘murder’? I meant to say ‘marriage’ – but, you know, they’re quite similar procedures when you think about it. The participants tend to know each other, and it’s over when one of them’s dead.” He emphatically sounds the ‘d’ at the end of the word. Again John sighs and lowers his head. “In fairness, murder is a lot quicker, though. Janine!” She looks up a little wide-eyed. Sherlock walks over to stand behind one of the male guests. “What about this one? Acceptably hot?” He grins at Janine, then looks at the woman sitting beside the man. “More importantly, his girlfriend’s wearing brand-new uncomfortable underwear ... and hasn’t bothered to pick this thread off the top of his jacket  ... or point out the grease smudge on the back of his neck. Currently, he’s going home alone. Also, he’s a comics and sci-fi geek. They’re always tremendously grateful – really put the hours in.” He chuckles. “Geoff, the gents.” He looks across to Greg and jerks his head towards the door. “The loos, now, please.”

“It’s Greg.” Greg says.

“The loos, please.” Sherlock says.

Greg’s phone beeps a text alert. Greg reaches into his pocket. “Why?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s your turn.” Sherlock says.

“Yeah, actually, now you mention it…” Greg says and goes out of the room. Sherlock pockets his phone.

“Sherlock, any chance of a- an end date for this speech? Gotta cut the cake.” John asks.

Sherlock smiles widely and dances down the aisle. “Oh! Ladies and gentleman, can’t stand it when I finally get the chance to speak for once, Vatican Cameos.” He directs the last two words at John and me. I straighten up and see John do the same. I look at John and frown. We look at Sherlock.

“Why did he say that?” Mycroft asks me. I just shake my head.

Sherlock roars loudly with frustration and rage and slaps himself hard on the right cheek. “No!” He slaps his left cheek. I get up and Mycroft grabs my wrist. “No! Not you! Not you!” Sherlock calms down and points his fingers towards the top table. “You.” He says softly. I sit down as Sherlock walks towards the top table, now pointing at him with just one hand.

“What do I do?” John asks.

Sherlock says something to John softly. He turns to us again with a manic grin on his face. “Sorry. Off-piste a bit. Back now. Phew!” He claps his hands together and looks down at the floor. “Let’s play a game.” He raises his eyes while lowering his head a little more. “Let’s play murder.” Sherlock walks towards me and hands me a piece of paper.

“Sherlock.” Mrs. Hudson says disapprovingly.

Sherlock goes back to the aisle and steeps his hands in front of his chin as he progresses forwards. I look down at the note.

Save a life.

It read. I nodded at him when he looked over. Mycroft looked at me confused and I just kiss his cheek. “I’ll explain it all later. If I get up, follow me.” I whisper to him. He nods as I sit back.

“Imagine someone’s going to get murdered at a wedding. Who exactly would you pick?” Sherlock asks.

“I think you’re a popular choice at the moment, dear.” Mrs. Hudson says. I giggle.

“If someone could move Mrs. Hudson’s glass just slightly out of reach, that would be lovely. More importantly, who could you only kill at a wedding?” Sherlock asks. He turns back to look at the guests. “Most people you can kill any old place. As a mental exercise, I’ve often planned the murder of friends and colleagues.” Rubbing his hands together, he walks back along the room, then gestures towards John. “Now John I’d poison. Sloppy eater – dead easy. I’ve given him chemicals and compounds – that way, he’s never even noticed. He missed a whole Wednesday once, didn’t have a clue. Lestrade’s so easy to kill, it’s a miracle no-one’s succumbed to the temptation.” He turns and heads towards the back of the room again. “I’ve got a pair of keys to my brother’s house – I could easily break in there and asphyxiate him and Calliah.” Mycroft glares at Sherlock. He makes strangely gestures with his hands, then seems to realize that he may have gone too far. “... if, if the whim arose.”

“He’s pissed, isn’t he?” I hear Tom say. I look over to see Molly stab a plastic fork onto the back of his hand, all without looking. Tom grabs his hand. “Ow!” I giggle and she looks at me.

“So, once again, who could you only kill here?” Sherlock asks, He turns and faces the guests again. “Clearly it’s a rare opportunity, so it’s someone who doesn’t get out much. Someone for whom a planned social encounter known about months in advance is an exception. Has to be a unique opportunity. And since killing someone in public is difficult ... killing them in private isn’t an option. Someone who lives in an inaccessible or unknown location, then.” I glance up. I knew who it was. I look at Sherlock. “Someone private, perhaps, obsessed with personal security. Possibly someone under threat.” I look over at Major Sholto. As if sensing Sherlock’s gaze, Sholto turns and looks at him. Sherlock stares back at him. Sherlock tries to act nonchalantly as he walks over to a nearby table and picks up one of the names cards on it while pulling a pen on a chain from his waistcoat. “Ooh! A recluse, small household staff.” He starts writing something. “High turnover for additional security.” He walks over to Sholto and casually drops the name card down in front of him before walking away. “Probably all signed confidentiality agreements. There is another question that remains, however – a big one, a huge one: how would you do it? How would you kill someone in public? There has to be a way. This has been planned.”

That little boy from earlier jumps up from his chair. “Mr. Holmes! Mr. Holmes!”

Sherlock stops and turns to him. “Oh, hello again, Archie.” He bends forward to get more down to Archie’s level. “What’s your theory? Get this right and there’s a headless nun in it for you.”

“The invisible man could do it.” Archie says.

“The who, the what, the why, the when, the where?” Sherlock asks very quick fire.

“The invisible man with the invisible knife. The one who tried to kill the Guardsman.” Archie says.

Sherlock gasps and straightens up, his eyes wide. I notice Sholto get up, pick up his ceremonial sword propped against the window and turn to walk towards the door. “Oh, not just planned. Planned and rehearsed.” Sherlock says softly. He turns and watches Sholto reaches the door and start to open it. Sherlock turns back and heads quickly towards the top table, swiping someone’s champagne glass from a table as he goes. “Ladies and gentlemen, there will now be a short interlude.” He skids to a halt in front of the top table and turns and holds up his glass. “The bride and groom!” A little uncertainly this time, the guests stand up and raise their glasses.

“The bride and groom.” The other guest say.

Instantly Sherlock turns back and bends down to John. He turns and starts making his way through the guests who are now blocking the aisle. “’Scuse me, coming through!” I get up and follow Sherlock. I hear Mycroft get up and follow me.

Downstairs, on a half-landing partway up the staircase, Sherlock stands with the tips of his fingers against his temples and his eyes screwed closed. John paces impatiently beside him. I stand there with Mycroft. “How can you not remember which room? You remember everything.”

“I have to delete something!” Sherlock says irritably.

Mary runs around the corner and pelts up the stairs in between them, holding her skirt up with one hand to stop herself tripping over it. “Two oh seven.”

We all chase after her and Sherlock quickly overtakes her. Reaching the second floor, Sherlock knocks on the door of Room 207 and tries the handle. Sherlock rattles the door handle. “Major Sholto? Major Sholto!” He slams the flat of his right hand repeatedly against the door. “Major Sholto!”

“If someone’s about to make an attempt on my life, it won’t be the first time. I’m ready.” We hear Sholto says.

John walks towards the door. Sherlock steps back, shaking out his right hand and flexing the fingers.

“Major, let us in.” John says.

“Kick the door down.” Mary suggests.

“I really wouldn’t. I have a gun in my hand and a lifetime of unfortunate reflexes.”

Sherlock walks to the door. “You’re not safe in there. Whoever’s after you, we know that a locked room doesn’t stop him.”

“’The invisible man with the invisible knife.’” Sholto says.

“I don’t know how he does it, so I can’t stop him, and that means he’ll do it again.” Sherlock says.

“Solve it, then.” Sholto says sternly.

“I – I’m sorry?” Sherlock asks.

“You’re the famous Mr. Holmes. Solve the case. On you go.” Sholto says. Sherlock straightens up, his eyes rapidly flickering from side to side. “Tell me how he did it and I’ll open the door.”

John steps forward again. “Please, this is no time for games. Just let us in! You’re in danger!”

“So are you, so long as you’re here.” Sholto says. Mary watches Sherlock as he paces back and forth across the landing. “Please, leave me. Despite my reputation, I really don’t approve of collateral damage.”

“Solve it.” Mary says to Sherlock.

He stops and looks at her. “Sorry?”

“Solve it, and he’ll open the door, like he said.” Mary says.

“If I couldn’t solve it before, how can I solve it now?” Sherlock asks.

“Because it matters now.” Mary says.

“What are you talking about?” Sherlock asks. He looks at John. “What’s she talking about? Get your wife under control.”

“She’s right.” John says.

“Oh, you’ve changed!” Sherlock says.

“No, she is.” John says and turns and points at him. “Shut up. You are not a puzzle-solver – you never have been. You’re a drama queen.” Sherlock’s mouth drops open and he stares at him. I giggle at him. “Now, there is a man in there about to die. “ He says louder. “The game is on.” He says sarcastically. Angrily, pointing at the door. “Solve it!” Sherlock bares his teeth at him, then his eyes suddenly snap upwards. Outside Sholto’s bedroom Sherlock – who had closed his eyes during the memories – opens them again. He steps over to Mary, takes hold of her head in both hands and kisses her forehead.

Sherlock releases her, then pointing towards John. “Though, in fairness, he’s a drama queen too.”

“Yeah, I know.” Mary says.

“So are the both of you.” Sherlock says to Mycroft and me.

We look at each other and nod. “Yup.” I say.

John frowns. Sherlock goes over to the door and speaks loudly. “Major Sholto, no-one’s coming to kill you. I’m afraid you’ve already been killed several hours ago.”

“What did you say?” Sholto says.

“Don’t take off your belt.” Sherlock says.

“My belt?” Sholto asks.

Sherlock turns around and talks to us. “His belt, yes. Bainbridge was stabbed hours before we even saw him, but it was through his belt. Tight belt, worn high on the waist. Very easy to push a small blade through the fabric and you wouldn’t even feel it.”

John is nodding his understanding. “The-the belt would bind the flesh together when it was tied tight ...”

“Exactly.” Sherlock says.

“... and when you took it off ...” I say.

“Delayed action stabbing. All the time in the world to create an alibi.” Sherlock says and shakes the door handle. “Major Sholto?”

“So – I was to be killed by my uniform. How appropriate.” Sholto says.

“He solved the case, Major. You’re supposed to open the door now. A deal is a deal.” Mary says.

“I’m not even supposed to have this any more. They gave me special dispensation to keep it. I couldn’t imagine life out of this uniform. I suppose – given the circumstances – I don’t have to.” Sholto says. “When so many want you dead, it hardly seems good manners to argue.”

“Whatever you’re doing in there, James, stop it, right now. I will kick this door down.” John threatens.

“Mr. Holmes, you and I are similar, I think.” Sholto says. John turns away from the door and Sherlock walks closer.

“Yes, I think we are.” Sherlock says.

“There’s a proper time to die, isn’t there?” Sholto asks.

“Of course there is.” Sherlock says.

“And one should embrace it when it comes – like a soldier.” Sholto says.

“Of course one should, but not at John’s wedding. We wouldn’t do that, would we – you and me? We would never do that to John Watson.” Sherlock says. Outside, Sherlock steps away from the door and John walks closer, leaning towards the door and listening for any sound from the room. He straightens up and takes his jacket off.

“I’m gonna break it down.” John says,

“No, wait, wait, you won’t have to.” Mary says.

“Hmm?” John asks. The door opens. Sholto glances briefly at Sherlock, then lowers his eyes before looking at John and me. “I believe I am in need of medical attention.”

“I believe I am your doctor.” John says. “Come on assistant.” John says to me. We follow Sholto as he turns and goes back into the room.

“I am not your assistant. I was the one who helped Bainbridge.” I say and frown. 

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