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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40. Chapter 40

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

Here is the next part of His Last Vow

I own nothing, except Calliah and my ideas.

Later that day, I get a call from Sherlock. “Get up, get dress, and come to the flat.” He tells me.

“I’m sleeping.” I tell him.

“You have been sleeping the whole day. Time to get back to the case.” Sherlock says.

“Mycroft is mad with you. He’ll be mad if I go.” I say.

“I need my sister.” He says. I sigh and sit up. “Please.”

“Fine. I’ll be there soon.” I tell him and hang up. Mycroft walks into the room.

“Going to follow Sherlock?” He asks.

“Yeah. Are you okay with that?” I ask.

He sigh and sits by me. “I would rather you not go but I know that isn’t you. I know it would kill you to let the boys go off and you be at home, so yes. I am okay with that. But come home safe?”

“Of course love.” I say. “No drugs.”

I kiss him and get up. “If you come home after doing drugs, I will kill Sherlock.”

I get dressed and look at him. “Not addicted.” I grin and walk over. “I’ll be back soon.” I kiss him one more time and leave. I go to the flat and see the boys waiting outside. We get in a taxi. In the taxi, John and Sherlock tell me what happened with Magnussen.

We walks towards the entrance of a skyscraper building which houses CAM Global News. In the foyer, a TV screen is broadcasting the company’s news channel, which is currently showing a Breaking News item reading, “MP JOHN GARVIE ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF CORRUPTION.” A photograph shows the man who spoke at the parliamentary hearing at the beginning of the episode. A newsreader’s voice can be heard. “And breaking news now. John Garvie MP has been arrested today on charges of corruption. This follows an investigation ...” We walk through the revolving doors and approaches the security barriers which need an electronic key card to open them.

“Magnussen’s office is on the top floor, just below his private flat…” Sherlock says. He looks towards lift doors on the next level up. “…but there are fourteen levels of security between us and him… two of which aren’t even legal in this country. Want to know how we’re going to break in?”

“Is that what we’re doing?” John asks.

“Of course it’s what we’re doing.” Sherlock says and turns and walk away.

Later we each have a takeaway cup of coffee and are walking towards an escalator in the building. “Magnussen’s private lift. It goes straight to his penthouse and office. Only he uses it…” Sherlock starts to say. We get onto the escalator. “…and only his key card calls the lift. Anyone else even tries, security is automatically informed.” We get to the top and walk towards the lift. Sherlock holds up a key card. We stop. “Standard key card for the building. Nicked it yesterday. Only gets us as far as the canteen.” We walk to the lift, stops and looks at it. “Here we go, then. If I was to use this card on that lift now, what happens?” He gestures to the lift.

“Er, the alarms would go off and you’d be dragged away by security.” John says.

“Exactly.” Sherlock says.

“Get taken to a small room and somewhere and your head kicked in.” John says. Sherlock looks round at John.

“Do we really need so much colour?” Sherlock asks.

“It passes the time.” John says.

Sherlock gives him a look and passes him his coffee cup. John takes it and returns the look. Ignoring it, Sherlock takes his phone from his coat. “But if I do this…” He presses the security card against his phone. “If you press a key card against your mobile phone for long enough, it corrupts the magnetic strip. The card stops working. It’s a common problem – never put your key card with your phone. What happens if I use the card now?”

“It still doesn’t work.” John says.

“But it doesn’t read as the wrong card now.” Sherlock says. “It registers as corrupted. But if it’s corrupted, how do they know it’s not Magnussen?”

“Huh.” John says.

“Would they risk dragging him off?” Sherlock asks.

“Probably not.” I say.

“So what do they do? What do they have to do?" Sherlock asks.

“Check if it’s him or not.” John says.

“There’s a camera at eye height to the right of the door.” Sherlock explains. “A live picture of the card user is relayed directly to Magnussen’s personal staff in his office – the only person trusted to make a positive ID. At this house, almost certainly his PA.”

“S-So how’s that help us?” John asks.

Sherlock smiles along the corridor, then looks round to us. “Human error.” He winks at me and pats his breast pocket. “I’ve been shopping.” He walks along the corridor to the life, John looks around before we follow him. Sherlock reaches the lift doors and raises his card towards the reader. “Here we go, then.” He presses the card against the reader. A circle on the reader screen, and the words CAM GLOBAL NEWS at the bottom of the screen, both turn from blue to read and there’s a beep.

John and I stand to the side out of view. “You realize you don’t look exactly look like Magnussen.” John asks quietly.

Sherlock looks confidently into the security camera while speaking quietly and barely moving his lips. “Which, in this case, is a considerable advantage.”

“Sherlock, you complete loon! What are you doing?!” Janine asks. I grin and clap my hands. He was using her to get into Magnussen’s office. That is just amazing. Sherlock smiles more widely into the camera. John looks round in surprise.

“Hand on – was that…? That…!” John says. He instinctively starts to step closer but Sherlock holds up the flat of his hand to him to stop and talks into the camera.

“Hi, Janine.” Sherlock says, secretively, and glancing around. “Go on, let me in.”

“I can’t. You know I can’t. Don’t be silly.” Janine says.

“Don’t make me do it out here. Not…” Sherlock says. He pauses and turns his head to glance at a woman walking past, then once she’s gone he turns back to the camera. “…in front of everything.” What was he going to do? This was amazing.

“Do what in front of everyone?” Janine asks.

John smiles and nods politely at another woman as she walks past. Sherlock lowers his eyes and blows out a big breath, then takes out a small dark red box and clicks it open before holding it up to the camera to show the large diamond engagement ring inside it. I start laughing and cover my mouth. I look at Sherlock and start laughing harder. John stares at the ring. Sherlock holds the box in front of his face and turns on his biggest puppy dog eyes over the top of it as he looks into the camera and then smiles. Janine lets out a silent delighted laugh – and the card reader screen turns from red to blue and the lift doors open. Sherlock grins into the camera, then clicks the box closed and turns to John, whose mouth is open as he stares at his friend.

“You see? As long as there’s people, there’s always a weak spot.” Sherlock says and starts to walk into the lift but John stops him.

“That was Janine.” John says.

“Yes, of course it was Janine. She’s Magnussen’s PA. That’s the whole point.” Sherlock says. I move over to him and grins up.

“You were amazing.” I said softly.

“Did you just get engaged to break into an office?” John asks.

“Yeah.” Sherlock says and we step into the lift. “Stroke of luck, meeting her at your wedding. You can take some of the credit.”

“Je-Jesus!” John says. He looks down at the coffee cups he’s still holding, then drops them into a waste bin just before getting in. “Sherlock, she loves you.” John says leaning close to Sherlock and speaks quietly.

“Yes. Like I said – human error.” Sherlock says. I hit his arm softly.

“Not human error. She is just…. Not right for you.” I say.

The lift doors close and the lift begins its ascent. John turns to look at Sherlock. “What are you gonna do?”

“Well, not actually marry her, obviously.” Sherlock says and looks at John. “For one, Calliah would kill me and two, there’s only so far you can go.”

“So what will you tell her?” John asks.

Sherlock faces the front. “Well, I’ll tell her that our entire relationship was a ruse to break into her boss’ office. I imagine she’ll want to stop seeing me at that point ...” He looks at John again. “... but you’re the expert on women.”

The lift stops at floor 32 and the door opens. Sherlock turns on his human smile and walks out, bobbing up and down as he looks around for his new fiancée. I follow and grin. After a moment he stops, looking around more carefully and frowning when there’s no sign of her. We walk into her office but still can’t be seen. “So where did she go?” John asks.

“It’s a bit rude. I just proposed to her.” Sherlock says.

John walks across the room towards the window and stops. “Sherlock…”

Sherlock and I walk over as John bends down to her. “Did she faint? Do they really do that? Did you do that?” He asks me.

“No way. I’m not a prissy.” I say.

John takes his hand from her head and finds blood on his fingers. “It’s a blow to the head.” He bends lower to her. “She’s breathing. Janine?” She moans quietly.

Sherlock looks round the rest of the office. He walks across the office and I follow. “Another in here.” John looks over at us but doesn’t leave Janine. In the next room, we see an unconscious suited man lying face down on the floor. Sherlock does a full-circle turn to look around the rest of the room. “Security.”

“Does he need help?” John asks.

Sherlock walks to the man’s side and looks down at him. “Ex-con. While supremacist, by the tattoo, so who cares?” He points back towards John. “Stick with Janine.”

John hesitates. “Calliah, check him over.”

“He’ll be fine.” I say.

He sighs and turns back to Janine. “Janine, focus on my voice now. Can you hear me?”

Sherlock looks around the room again and then goes to the nearby glass desk. He bends down, holding his hand over the top of it while looking at it closely, then works his way round to the other side, looking carefully at everything. He squats down to the leather chair behind the desk and puts his hand on the seat.

“Hey. They must still be here.” John stage whispers.

Sherlock straightens up. “So’s Magnussen. His seat’s still warm. He should be at dinner but he’s still in the building” Sherlock says in a stage whisper. He looks around and then raises his eyes upwards. “Upstairs!”

“We should call the police.” John says.

“During our own burglary?! You’re not a natural at this, are you?” Sherlock says. John sighs. “No, wait, shh!” Standing at the side of the chair, he closes his eyes, sniffs deeply and holds his hands out to the sides. Sherlock sniffs twice more, the final one a deep long sniff. “Perfume – not Janine’s.” Sherlock waves his hand around beside his head. He waves again, then opens his eyes and upwards triumphantly. “Claire-de-la-lune.” Sherlock says. He turns around, grimacing. “Why do I know it?”

“Mary wears it.” John says.

Sherlock turns back. “No, not Mary. Somebody else.” He lifts his head as he hears a noise from upstairs and his gaze becomes intense.

“Sherlock.” John whispers loudly.

Sherlock grabs my hand and runs across the room to the stairwell and we hurry upwards. Pausing for a moment to look up the stairs before quickly continuing on.

Sherlock and I walk softly along the carpeted hall towards where we can hear Magnussen talking quietly and sounding very anxious and almost tearful. “What-what-what would your husband think, eh?” Magnussen says. Sherlock and I walk carefully towards a partially open door at the end of the hall. “He ... your lovely husband, upright, honourable ...” Sherlock looks through the gap in the door “…so English. What-what would he say to you now? Nej, nej! [No, no!]” Sherlock slowly pushes the door open. I follow him. “You’re-you’re doing this to protect him from the truth ... but is this protection he would want?”

Sherlock slowly walks to stand a few feet behind the person holding the gun, who is also wearing all black, including a black knitted cap on their head, covering their hair. “Additionally, if you’re going to commit murder, you might consider changing your perfume ...” The potential killer raises the gun a little, turning it slightly to the left. “... Lady Smallwood.” I stand by Sherlock’s side.

“Sorry. Who?” Magnussen says in a slightly stronger voice. Sherlock focuses on the back of the assassin. Magnussen’s gaze goes from him to the face of his potential killer as the person adjusts their grip on the pistol. “That’s ... not ... Lady Smallwood, Mr Holmes.”

Sherlock frowns. The person in black turns to face him, aiming the pistol at him, and Sherlock and I look into the face of Mary Elizabeth Watson. I gasp and cover my mouth. “M-Mary….?”

“Is John here?” Mary asks firmly.

“He-he’s downstairs.” Sherlock says. She nods.

“So, what do you do now? Kill all three of us?” Magnussen asks. Keeping her pistol aimed in front of her, Mary smiles humourlessly over her shoulder towards him before turning her gaze back to Sherlock. As Sherlock speaks, Magnussen slowly lowers his hands and begins to reach down towards the floor on his left.

“Mary, whatever he’s got on you, let me help.” Sherlock says. He shifts his weight onto one foot, preparing to step towards her.

“Oh, Sherlock, if you take one more step I swear I will kill you and Calliah.” Mary says in an exasperated voice.

Sherlock says with a small smile on his face. “No, Mrs. Watson.” She stares at him, her mouth opening a little. “You won’t.” He starts to lifts his foot off the floor. Immediately she pulls the trigger. The bullet impacts his lower chest, just above the V of his buttoned jacket and slightly to the right of his shirt buttons. I gaps and she turns the gun on me and shoots me in the shoulder. Magnussen straightens up again. Mary sighs regretfully. I look down at the bullet hole and after a moment blood begins to pour from the hole.

“I’m sorry, Sherlock and Calliah. Truly am.” Mary says a little tearful.

“Mary.” I hear Sherlock say beside me. I start to slump. I start to lean forward but Sherlock pulls me back with him. I close my eyes as I hit the floor.

I open my eyes and see a bright light and I instantly close my eyes. I groan. “Calliah? Ardaigh?” I hear. I open my eyes again and look to the side. “Oh Calliah. My Calliah.” I see Mycroft sitting by my bed. I just stare at him. He stands up and kisses me softly. “I’ll go get the doctor.” He says and rushes off. I lay there and see Mary walk in. She comes over to me.

“You don’t tell him” She says. “Okay? Don’t tell John.” I nod softly. She leaves and Mycroft comes back in with the doctor. The doctor check me over.

“You will be fine. Just need rest.” He tells me and leaves.

Mycroft sits down and takes my hand. “Oh Calliah. Are you okay?” I nod. “You had me worried. I mean they thought you weren’t going to make it. You had lose so much blood.” He rests his head on my hand. “Don’t do that. Ever again.” He says. He looks up at me. “We found something else out.” He says and smiles. I look at him. “You…” Sherlock comes in, interrupting him.

“Calliah. We have to go.” Sherlock says.

Mycroft gets up. “No she needs rest.”

“John needs us.” Sherlock says. He looks at me. “Calliah, you know John needs us. He needs to know.” I nod and start to get up.

Mycroft stops me. “Please Calliah. Don’t go.”

“Croft…” I say softly. “If I don’t go…”

“Sherlock can do it.” He interrupts me.

I look at Sherlock and nod. “I’m not feeling the best. Maybe you should go alone.” I say.

He frowns and glares at Mycroft. “Fine.” He storms out. I frown and curl up.

“He is mad.” I say.

Mycroft plays with my hair. “I know he is, but he will get over it and you do need your rest love. For both of you.”

I freeze and look up at him. “B-Both of us?”

He grins. “You’re pregnant.” He says and takes my hands.

I grin and tear up. “No.”

“Yes Ardaigh.” He says. I sit up and we hug.

“Oh my…” I say as we pull apart. I put a hand on my belly.

“Only a month along but still.” He says. I start crying and grin. “We made a baby…”

“A baby…” I say.

Later that week, I get a text from Sherlock.

John knows. Come to the flat. Please. SH

I look up at Mycroft. “I have to go now. Please. The other boys need me. Please can I go? I’ll let you drop me off and pick me up but I have to go.” I explains. He sighs and nods.

We get to the flat. I lean over and kiss him. “I’ll call when we are done.” I say and get out. I run inside and up the stairs.

“Is everyone I’ve ever met a psychopath?” John says as I go up the stairs.

Sherlock was standing at the door. I slip under his arm. “Yes.” I go to John and hug him.

He hugs me back and then I go sit on the couch. Sherlock watches me. I look at him and smile. He looks back at John. “Good that we’ve settled that. Anyway, we…”

John turns to Sherlock. “SHUT UP!” He yells furiously.

Mrs. Hudson jumps at the loudness of his cry and puts one hand to her mouth. “Oh!”

“And stay shut up, because this is not funny.” John says to Sherlock at a more normal volume. “Not this time.”

“I didn’t say it was funny.” Sherlock says.

John turns his head to look at Mary. “You.” He turns to face her. “What have I ever done… hmmm?... my whole life… to deserve you?” He asks, his voice and face full of barely-controlled anger.

Sherlock leans against the right-hand door post. “Everything.”

John turns and faces him. “Sherlock, I’ve told you…” he walks towards him. “…shut up.”

“Oh, I mean it, seriously. Everything – everything you’ve ever done is what you did.” Sherlock says quietly.

“Sherlock, one more word and you will not need morphine.” John says, very softly and dangerously.

“You were a doctor who went to war.” Sherlock says. John’s eyes are fixed on him and he is breathing rapidly and deeply. “You’re a man who couldn’t stay in the suburbs for more than a month without storming a crack den and beating up a junkie. Your best friend is a sociopath who solves crimes as an alternative to getting high.” He pauses for a moment. “That’s me, by the way.” He raises his left hand and waves at him. “Hi.” He points at me. “Your other best friend is a woman who would cut herself to feel no pain.” He says and I smile. I was John’s best friend. Sherlock points at Mrs. Hudson. “Even the landlady used to run a drug cartel.”

“It was my husband’s cartel. I was just typing.” Mrs. Hudson says.

Sherlock looks at her. “And exotic dancing.”

“Sherlock, if you’ve been YouTube-ing…” Mrs. Hudson says.

“John, you are addicted to a certain lifestyle. You’re abnormally attracted to dangerous situations and people ...” Sherlock says, talking louder to talk over Mrs. Hudson. “ ... so is it truly such a surprise that the woman you’ve fallen in love with conforms to that pattern?”His voice becomes quieter again.

John grimaces briefly and then, with his eyes still fixed on Sherlock, he points towards Mary at the other side of the room. “But she wasn’t supposed to be like that.” His voice full of suppressed tears. Mrs. Hudson looks at Mary in shock. Mary lowers her head. “Why is she like that?”

Sherlock looks at me for several seconds and then turns to look directly into John’s eyes. “Because you chose her.”

John stares at him, his face unreadable. Sherlock holds his gaze. Finally John turns away, speaking conversationally. “Why is everything ...” He walks towards the dining table, holding up a questioning hand and shrugging. “... always ...” His voice raises to a loud shout. “... MY FAULT?!” He furiously kicks the small table beside Sherlock’s chair across the floor. Mrs. Hudson jumps and flails. Even Sherlock and I jump a little, but Mary remains still.

“Oh, the neighbours!” Mrs. Hudson says. She hurries away.

John turns to face Mary again, breathing heavily. “John, listen. Be calm and answer me.” He says slowly, precisely. “What is she?”

John gaze is fixed on Mary, though he blinks repeatedly. “My lying wife?”

“No. What is she?” Sherlock asks,

“And the woman who’s carrying my child who has lied to me since the day I met her?” John says. I place my hand on my belly. Mary gazes back at him.

“No. Not in this flat; not in this room. Right here, right now, what is she?” Sherlock asks.

John has a small fixed humourless smile on his face as his eyes remain locked on his wife. His head is low on his neck and he looks murderous. After a long moment he sniffs deeply and harshly. “Okay.” He turns briefly towards Sherlock and then back to Mary. “Your way.” He looks at Mary for another second, then half-turns to Sherlock. “Always your way.” Sherlock lowers his head and looks away. John turns, clearing his throat, then picks up one of the dining chairs and puts it down facing the two armchairs and the fireplace. He looks at Mary. “Sit.”

“Why?” Mary asks.

John leans towards her while pointing down to the dining chair. “Because that’s where they sit.” John says in a tight, angry whisper. He straightens up, still speaking in the same tight voice but a little louder. “... the people who come in here with their stories. Th-the clients – that’s all you are now, Mary. You’re a client. This is where you sit and talk ...” He gestures towards the armchairs. “... and this is where we sit and listen, then we decide if we want you or not.”

Sniffing, he walks over to his chair and sits down, clearing his throat and adjusting the cushion behind his back. After a moment, Sherlock walks forward and crosses the room. Pausing briefly in front of Mary to meet her eyes and give her a tiny nod, he turns and sits down in his own chair. He motions me to come over to him. I get up and go over and sit on the arm of the chair, with my feet in his lap. He wasn’t looking so hot. He needed to go back to the Hospital. His injuries were worst then mine and I was still in pain. Mary watches him as he sits, then looks across to John, who has slumped back into his chair and is not meeting her eyes, then she slowly walks in between them and turns round to sit down on the dining chair, putting her shoulder bag onto the floor beside her. She adjusts her coat around her, dusts off the tops of her legs, tugs the lower part of her trousers down a little on both legs, and then turns her head to John as he looks back at her. Mary puts what looks like the same pen drive onto the table at the side of John’s chair, then withdraws her hand. Sherlock, his face in a grimace as if he is in pain.

“‘A.G.R.A.’ What’s that?” Sherlock asks.

Mary looks from him to John and clears her throat. “Er ... my initials.” John grimaces and looks away. Sherlock looks down, then glances towards him. “Everything about who I was is on there.” She directs to John. “If you love me, don’t read it in front of me.”

“Why?” John asks.

Mary was apparently trying to hold back tears. “Because you won’t love me when you’ve finished ...” John holds her gaze. “... and I don’t want to see that happen.” She looks down. With a loud sigh John snatches the drive from the table, looks briefly across to Sherlock and then shoves the drive into his left trouser pocket. Sniffing, he pulls himself into a higher sitting position on his chair. Mary looks across to Sherlock. “How much d’you know already?”

“By your skill set, you are – or were – an intelligence agent. Your accent is currently English but I suspect you are not. You’re on the run from something; you’ve used your skills to disappear; ...” Sherlock says. John shakes his head as if he can’t believe what he’s hearing. “... Magnussen knows your secret, which is why you were going to kill him; and I assume you befriended Janine ...” He grimaces, shifting uncomfortably on his chair. He was in deep pain now. We needed to get this over soon. “.. in order to get close to him.”

“Oh – you can talk!” Mary says. Sherlock smiles at her.

“Ohhh. Look at you two.” John says. Not raising his hands from the arms of his chair, he points his index fingers at each of them. “You should have got married.” Mary turns to look at him, and Sherlock blinks a couple of times.

“The stuff Magnussen has on me, I would go to prison for the rest of my life.” Mary says.

“So you were just gonna kill him.” John says.

“People like Magnussen should be killed. That’s why there are people like me.” Mary says.

John lifts his left hand and gently punching the arm of the chair. “Perfect. So that’s what you were? An assassin?” He looks towards Sherlock. “How could I not see that?” He turns back towards Mary.

“You did see that.” Mary says. John’s humourless and slightly murderous smile is back on his face. “…and you married me.” She pauses again, then tilts her head towards Sherlock. “Because he’s right.” Sherlock looks down a little, unusually not looking pleased about being correct. I place a hand on his shoulder. “It’s what you like.”

John looks back at her stony-faced. She holds his gaze for a moment, then lowers her eyes. “So ... Mary ...” He grimaces again. “... any documents that Magnussen has concerning yourself, you want ...” He grimaces yet again, his voice tight as if with physical pain. I frown and look at John to see if he was noticing. It didn’t look like it. I rub Sherlock’s shoulder, wishing I could do something. He places a hand on my hand. “... extracted and returned.”

“Why would you help me?”

“Because ... you saved Calliah’s and my life.” Sherlock says.

“Sor-sorry, what?” John aks.

“When I happened on you and Magnussen ...” Sherlock says, looking at Mary. He takes a couple of noisy, strained breaths, bracing his hand on the arm of his chair. “... you had a problem. More specifically, you had a witnesses. The solution, of course, was simple. Kill all three of us and leave. However, sentiment got the better of you. Two precisely-calculated shots to incapacitate Calliah and me in the hope that it would bide you more time to negotiate our silence. Of course, you couldn’t shoot Magnussen.” He looks towards John. “On the night that both of us broke into the building, your own husband would become a suspect, so ...” He was now taking a painful breath every few words. “... you calculated ... that Magnussen ... would use the fact of your involvement rather than sharing the information with the police ... as is his M.O. and then you left the way you came.” Mary’s gaze is lowered but now she raises it to him. John is looking towards him with a grim expression on his face, then turns his eyes towards his wife.
“Have I missed anything?”

“How did she save Calliah’s and your life?” John asks.

“She phoned the ambulance.” I say.

“I phoned the ambulance.” John says.

“She phoned first.” Sherlock explains. Approaching sirens can be heard. Sherlock looks at John. “You didn’t find us for another five minutes. Left to you, we would have died. The average arrival time for a London ambulance is ...” He lifts his left hand and looks at his watch as the clatter of feet can be heard on the stairs. Two paramedics run into the room.

“Did somebody call an ambulance?” The paramedic asks. John stands up, looking at them in confusion.

“... eight minutes.” Sherlock finishes. Breathing heavily and with his left hand still raised in front of him, he looks towards the paramedics. I get up so he can get help. “Did you bring any morphine? I asked on the phone.”

The paramedic looks puzzled. “We were told there was a shooting.”

“There was, last week ...” Sherlock says. He is now holding his left wrist with his right hand, his fingers on his pulse point. He takes a sharp breath. “... but I believe I’m bleeding internally and my pulse is very erratic.” He puts his hands on the arms of the chair and starts to push himself upwards. “You may need to re-start my heart on the way.” His voice jolts on the word ‘heart’ and his knees buckle. I help him get into his chair. John and Mary hurry forward and each of them takes hold of an upper arm to support him. I back up. The paramedics run towards them.

“Come on, Sherlock. Come on, Sherlock.” John says. Sherlock groans and grabs at him, clinging to his shoulder. Mary steps back out of the way of the paramedics and comes by me.

“John?” Sherlock asks. The paramedics put their bags down on the floor near him and take hold of him, supporting his weight, but he ignores them and stares intensely at his friend. “John – Magnussen is all that matters now. You can trust Mary. She saved Calliah’s and my life.”

“She shot you.” John says quietly.

Sherlock pulls a face, half-nodding his agreement. “Er, mixed messages, I grant you.” He grimaces, crying out in pain, and starts to fall.

John and the paramedics start to lower him to the floor. “Sherlock? Sherlock.” John turns to the paramedics. “All right, take him.” Sherlock cries out again. John releases him, watching the paramedics. “Got him?” They lay Sherlock down as he groans and whimpers. John straightens and looks down in concern as one of the paramedics gets out an oxygen mask. While they continue working, John looks across to Mary, breathing heavily and with his teeth slightly bared.

It was Christmas and Mycroft, Sherlock, John, and Mary were at Mummy and Daddy Holmes home. I was four months pregnant and had a slight baby bump. I was sitting on Mycroft’s lap and he was complaining. “Oh, dear God, it’s only two o’clock. It’s been Christmas Day for at least a week now.”  He was wearing a shirt and tie and a sleeveless waistcoat and we were sitting at the side of a large table in the middle of the kitchen rubbing one hand wearily over his brow. Christmas lights – wrapped around green foliage – are strung along the bottom of the window we are looking through and another set of lights is wrapped over the curtain rail above a window on the opposite side of the kitchen. The latter lights then progress to where they drape over the top of a picture on the wall beside the window and then dangle down haphazardly towards the floor. On the kitchen table is some crockery, including a large plate with red paper serviettes and some cutlery on it, another plate with mince pies on it, a small iced and decorated Christmas cake, and various other items. Mummy was dropping some more Christmas crackers onto a pile of them lying in a wicker basket on the table. Sherlock, wearing his usual dark suit and a very dark green shirt, is sitting in an armchair near the table. “How can it only be two o’clock? I’m in agony.” I hit his arm and roll my eyes. He looks at me and I giggle.

“Shut up.” I say and kiss him softly.

Sherlock was looking at the front page of ‘The Guardian’. “Mikey, is this your laptop?” Mummy Holmes asks. I giggle at the name. She points down to a silver-grey laptop on the table, half-obscured by a chopping board on top of it which has several whole peeled potatoes and the peelings on it.

“On which depends the security of the free world, yes…” Mycroft says and smiles rather sarcastically up at her. “…and you’ve got potatoes on it.”

“Well, you shouldn’t leave it lying around if it’s so important.” I say. Mummy Holmes smiles at me and reaches to pick up the basket of crackers and puts it down again when Mycroft speaks while gesturing around the kitchen.

“Why are we doing this? We never do this?” He asks.

Mummy Holmes looks a little exasperated and leans on the table. “We are here because Sherlock is home from hospital and we are all very happy.”

Mycroft looks up at her with an extremely insincere smile. “Am I happy too? I haven’t checked.” I hit his arm again.

Mummy Holmes picks up the basket. “We are happy about Calliah being pregnant too, so behave, Mike.”

“’Mycroft’ is the name you gave me, if you could possibly struggle all the way to the end.” Mycroft says. I hit him again and he just looks at me. I glare playfully at him.

Bill Wiggins walks over and holds out a glass of punch with pieces of fruit floating in it. “Mrs. Holmes?”

She looks round and takes the glass from him. “Oh! Thank you, dear.” Mummy Holmes looks up at him. “Not absolutely sure why you’re here.” She drinks from the glass. Bill walks over and hands me a glass. I smile and take it and drink from it.

“I invited him.” Sherlock says.

“I’m his protégé, Mrs. ‘olmes. When ‘e dies, I get all his stuff, and ‘is job.” Bill says.

Mummy Holmes looks at him, a little startled. “No.” Sherlock says precisely, still reading the paper.

“Oh. Well, I help out a bit.” Bill corrects himself.

“Closer.” Sherlock says.

Mycroft, Mummy Holmes, and I look up at Bill. “If ‘e does get murdered or something…” Bill says. We three look appalled.

“Probably stop talking now.” Sherlock says.

“Okay.” Bill says.

“Lovely when you bring your friends round.” Mycroft says sarcastically.

Mummy Holmes puts her glass down. “Stop it, you. Somebody’s put a bullet in my boy…” She walks towards Sherlock with the basket of crackers but then turns back to look at Mycroft. “... and if I ever find out who, I shall turn absolutely monstrous.” She apparently sees something on a nearby work surface. “Ah. This was for Mary. “She walks away with whatever it is. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Sherlock, who had folded his hands in front of his mouth, now lowers his left hand and looks at his watch. Sherlock gets up and leaves. Bill also leaves.

Mycroft looks up at me. “I need a smoke.”

“No.” I say.

“Please.” He says softly.

I sigh and get up. “Fine. One. Let’s go.” He gets up and we go outside and see Sherlock. We walk to him and Mycroft lights up. I stand in front of them and cross my arms. “I don’t like you two smoking.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes. “I’m glad you’ve given up on the Magnussen business.”

“Are you?” Sherlock asks.

“I’m still curious, though. He’s hardly your usual kind of puzzle. Why do you ... hate him?” Mycroft asks.

“Because he attacks people who are different and preys on their secrets. Why don’t you?” Sherlock explains.

“He never causes too much damage to anyone important. He’s far too intelligent for that. He’s a business-man, that’s all, and occasionally useful to us. A necessary evil – not a dragon for you to slay.” Mycroft says. He takes a drag on his cigarette while Sherlock smiles

“A dragon slayer. Is that what you think of me?” Sherlock asks. He turns as he pulls on his own cigarette.

“No.” Mycroft says and smiles. He looks at Sherlock. “It’s what you think of yourself.”

The cottage door opens behind them and Mummy Holmes comes out onto the step. “Are you two smoking?”

The boys rapidly spin round to face her, frantically holding their cigarettes behind their backs as they look guiltily at her. I giggle and smile at Mummy Holmes.

“No!” Mycroft says.

Sherlock says, almost simultaneously. “It was Mycroft.” I roll my eyes.

She gives them a suspicious look, then goes back inside and shuts the door. Sherlock blows out a long plume of smoke in the direction of the door. Mycroft wanders a few paces towards the door, then slowly turns back again as he speaks. “I have, by the way, a job offer I should like you to decline.”

“I decline your kind offer.” Sherlock says.

“I shall pass on your regrets.” Mycroft says.

“What was it?” Sherlock asks.

“MI6 – they want to place you back into Eastern Europe. An undercover assignment that would prove fatal to you in, I think, about six months.” Mycroft explains.

Sherlock, who had started to raise his cigarette to his lips, lowers it again and looks a little surprised. “Then why don’t you want me to take it?”

“It’s tempting ... but on balance you have more utility closer to home.” Mycroft says.

“Utility. How do I have utility?” Sherlock asks He takes a drag on his cigarette.

Mycroft shrugs slightly. “’Here be dragons’.” He takes a pull on his own cigarette, then holds it up to look at, frowning. He coughs. “This isn’t agreeing with me. I’m going in. Come on Calliah.” He drops the cigarette on the path and treads it out, then waits for me to come, then we turn and walk up the path.

“You need low tar. You still smoke like a beginner.” Sherlock says.

Mycroft slows down and stops before we reach the door. He pauses for a moment before speaking. “Also, your loss would break my heart. And Calliah’s”

Sherlock had just started to take a drag on his cigarette and now he chokes and coughs. “What the hell am I supposed to say to that?!”

Mycroft and I turn round and Mycroft holds out his arm a little. “”Merry Christmas’?”

“You hate Christmas.” Sherlock says.

Mycroft pretends to look puzzled. “Yes.” He smiles a little. “Perhaps there was something in the punch.”

“Clearly. Go and have some more.” Sherlock says.

Mycroft turns and goes up the steps, opening the door. I grin at him and he smiles at me. I follow Mycroft. We go to the kitchen were Mummy Holmes was sitting in the arm chair where Sherlock was sitting earlier. Mycroft sits back into his chair and I sit on his lap. Mycroft and I put a hand on my belly. We loved touching it. It was weird at first but I got used to it. I loved being pregnant. “Oh Calliah. I am so happy to hear that you were pregnant. Our first grandbaby. I was worried that I wasn’t going to get any.” Mummy Holmes says.

I giggle. “Oh Mummy. With me around, you will have a lot of grandbabies.” I say and start to feel my eyes close. I frown and see that Mummy Holmes has passed out. I look at Mycroft as I pass out. My head moving to Mycroft’s shoulder. 

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