Author's note:

This story is a sequel to my story Read Like a Book. You may wish to read it first, but plot wise it is not necessary.

This story is set four years after the events of the first one, four years after John and Mary's wedding. Since all I feel regarding Mr Moffat's upcoming efforts in Season 4 is terror and apprehension, I'll pretend in this fic that four years down the road everyone is alive and happy, and Sherlock still resides in Baker Street, solves crimes, and has tea with Mrs Hudson, who is still not his housekeeper.

And now to something completely different!

Best,

Katya kolmakov


"So, what can I do you for, Mrs Greaves?" Sherlock asked, looking at the woman in front of him. Her strong, long fingers were still wrapped around his after a firm handshake. Slanted eyes roamed his face, a small soft smile touched her lips, and she finally released his hand.

"I'd rather you call me Wren, for sentimental reasons." She wrinkled her nose, grinning - he'd quite forgotten this gesture - and stepped away from him. She looked around the living room, and Sherlock studied her. Hair shorter, stylish bob, straightened. Visited a salon before coming here. Diamond and sapphire earrings, matching the engagement ring. Never taken off. The bracelet with turquoise, new. Recent purchase, abroad. Vintage. Egypt. Yellow scarf. Bold, tasteful accessories. None of the grey, faceless clothes of four years ago.

"How's your friend, Dr Watson?" The redhead walked up to the mirror on the wall, and checked her looks in a clearly habitual gesture. High self-esteem. Pleased with her appearance. Comfortable in current romantic relationship. Relaxed. A trace from a small diameter wheel on the suede of the right ankle boot. A small object, clearly forgotten in the coat pocket. Light, plastic. A toy.

"Married. Happily. Two children." Sherlock folded his hands behind his back. "Two girls. And you? Boy, or girl?"

She quickly turned around, and a wide smile quickly replaces the surprise on her face.

"Oh, I forgot how delightfully smart you are." She emitted a silver laugh. "A boy. Thomas. He is three. Born ten months after that story of mine." She wiggled fingers in the air, and snorted.

"By the story of yours," Sherlock drew out, "I presume, you allude to having a memory stick with state secret planted in your flat by a random stranger you met in a pub, who was seeking casual sexual intercourse with you; Russian special forces planning to torture the stick's location out of both of you; you and I being kidnapped and jumping out of a moving car; and finally you deciding to marry the aforementioned gentleman from the pub, who has turned out to be a former SAS and intelligence."

"Yes." She was openly laughing now. "That little anecdote is exactly what I alluded to. And how have you been, Mr Holmes?"

"Quite well, thank you." He continued to stand. After all, he was too well-brought up to sit in the presence of a woman on her feet.

"You seem content. Settled." She studied the skull on the shelf. "Tired a bit, perhaps. Just completed a difficult case?" She looked back at him over her shoulder, and he saw her eyes squint impishly.

"I see your presumed empathy has enhanced… Wren." He hadn't spoken this name once in the four years. When John would mention her in the first few months, Sherlock always had insisted on 'Mrs Thorington.' "I'm indeed quite content."

She walked to John's armchair and sat down. Not in the client's chair. Not in the sofa where she had been sitting four years ago in her pyjamas. Confident movements. Long manicured nails. Office job. Highly paid position.

He sat in front of her and steepled his fingers.

"I am the Data and Examination Manager of a certain private secondary school for children with special needs," she spoke in an even tone. Proud of her position. Careful to maintain confidentially. New to the job. "Some of our children have specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, or dysgraphia. Interestingly enough, gifted children are qualified as special needs as well, so we have many children with higher IQ, or special abilities. But as it is a privileged institution, most of our students are children who experience behavioural problems, and their parents can afford to place them to our school..."

"As an alternative of the Youth Court, I assume?" Unpleasant memories stirred in Sherlock's mind. Both 'a school for children with special needs' and 'alternative to conviction to an offence' were painfully familiar. Thankfully, he had deleted those.

The woman in front of him nodded.

"As you can imagine, I am fond of my job. I find it rewarding, and I fit the profile..." she started. But then she smiled softly and changed the subject. "I do not think you care to listen about it. I have… a case for you, Mr Holmes. It's rather insignificant, but I decided I'd abuse our familiarity, and ask for your help."

"You may," he answered, and felt a smile tug at his lips. He had been bored in the morning. He expected it to change now.

"We had an important exam last month. It was to determine the future of several students, as well as who was to receive a scholarship provided by a certain charity organisation. The answer sheets were in my office three days prior to the exam. The office was locked, while I was on my lunch break, and when I returned, I realised someone went inside and moved them. They were put back to the same spot, but..."

"But you're suffering from a mild form of OCD," Sherlock remembered, and she nodded.

"I saw right away they'd been moved. I asked my Secretary, she confirmed she'd gone into the office to water flowers, but she swore she didn't touch the papers. Out of the students who would most profit from passing this exam, three were on the school premises at the time. The School Council cancelled the exam, and all three of them aren't allowed to take the replacement. Two of them would have been expelled if they hadn't passed. The third one needed the scholarship. I need to know which one of them did it, and I need to know how."

Sherlock sat for a few seconds, carefully sorting the data in his mind, and then he realised that she just sat quietly, without moving. Most usually tried to speak to him.

"Which one do you think is the guilty one?" he asked, without looking at her, his eyes still fixed on the wall behind her.

"I don't know." Her voice was frustrated. "Mostly because I don't want to place judgement. And because I do." She sighed, and Sherlock looked at her. Empath. Unlike fours years ago, more confidence, her abilities now applied and fostered. Emotionally supported. "Put simply, I like the student who needs the money. I sympathise with his personal history. I don't want him to be the guilty one. And… it means that I can't be objective. And if i want the answer, I can't let emotions cloud judgement."

"But which do you think is guilty?" Sherlock repeated, and she threw him a mischievous look.

"Oh my, Mr Holmes, are you actually asking for my purely emotional evaluation?"

"Do refrain from your frivolities, Mrs Greaves," Sherlock grumbled, trying to suppress a smile, while she grinned at him widely. "And do give me your purely emotional evaluation..."

Sherlock was interrupted by some noise at the stairs. There was stomping - most likely male, over 12 stones, agile - and then Mrs Hudson's loud voice. The door to Sherlock's flat flew open, the woman in the armchair turned around, and…

Sherlock wasn't fast enough. He jumped ahead, toppling her on the floor, his arms going around her, twisting both their bodies, but the bullet grazed her shoulder. Wren screamed in a high pitched shrill. None of the major arteries impaired; possible damage to the deltoid muscle. Sherlock jerked his face up, and stared at the assailant and the gun in his hand.

"Oh my god, you're not her..." the man muttered under the ski mask, and made a stumbling step back. Sherlock watched him intently, while listening to Wren's ragged breath underneath him. "I am sorry, I am so sorry… I thought you were Violet..."

Mrs Hudson rushed into the room, and screamed loudly, only to be pushed aside by the man, who bolted out of the room, and tumbled down the stairs.

"And I just wanted to buy a new coat, and see an old friend." The calm voice of Mrs Greaves came from underneath Sherlock, and he looked down at her. She was pale but despite it all - smiling. Shock? "That's what I get for associating with the likes of you, Mr Holmes."

"Call the ambulance, Mrs Hudson. Mrs Greaves has been shot." His heart rate was elevated. Aftermath of a gunshot? Clearly, he wasn't affected by Wren being injured. The wound was superficial.

"Oh goodness, Sherlock!" The landlady gasped and rushed downstairs. Probably had left her mobile on top of the fridge as usual.

Sherlock shifted, still pressing his hand into the blood soaked coat on Wren's shoulder. They were on the floor, both half sitting now.

"I live four years with a murderous psychopath, and the worst I have to endure is a delivery, and with an epidural, mind you. I come here, and look at my Chanel!" Her sarcastic, light tone was familiar.

"The ambulance will be here within eight to thirteen minutes. I assume Mrs Hudson called Lestrade as well." Why was he still feeling panicked? They were clearly in no danger now.

"Oh blimey, it's like This Is Your Life," the woman continued joking. "The last thing we need to complete the set is your brother and those two Russians that stuffed us in a van four years ago!"

"Wren, are you feeling dizzy? Nauseated?" Were his hands shaking?

Suddenly her other hand lay on his cheek.

"Sherlock, I'm fine. It's just a grazing wound, and you know it. It's quite alright..." Her tone was soft. Like with a child. He looked at her in surprise. Her fingers lay on his jaw, and he felt her thumb brush near the corner of his mouth. "Don't worry..."

It felt strange. Emotion was foreign, contradictory. No logic. She was wounded, and comforting him.

"It's OK… I'm fine." His fingers twitched on her deltoid muscle. Why was it difficult to breathe? Probably some associative neurosis. She was fine!

"Wren..." His voice felt foreign as well. Her eyes were close. Unusual colour. He had, of course, deleted these memories. Heterochromia iridis. He saw her pupils dilate, and he noticed a vein beating frantically on the pale temple.

And then the sirens wailed outside. The woman in front of him blinked purposefully, and the facial expression changed. He hadn't understood the previous one.

"Queen and country?" she asked lightly, and Sherlock could hear the medics go up the stairs. He assumed Lestrade would be not too far behind.


**YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT**

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Also available on the blog:

romance webserial: Dr. T Series

Summary: Wren Leary, a young biochem student is placed before a choice: Will it be Philip Durinson, the self-assured ball of sunshine and a uni stud, or his cantankerous and mistrusting uncle, John Thorington? The first one is her friend, the second one regrets that night in the tent. Wrennie is in a pickle.

Updated every Saturday!

JukePop: Katya Kolmakov

Blind Carnival, a parody on romance/erotic novels

Summary: Olivia Dane is an author of trashy romance novels. She lost her husband seven years ago and seeks no relationship, preferring the company of her imaginary yet dashing protagonists. When forced to go on a blind date, the last thing Olivia expects is to meet John Dowling, an architect, and a willing guinea pig for her writing research. Armed with openness and eager curiosity, Olivia and John endeavour to find out if erotic clichés even work, whether relationships tie one down, and who wears the trousers in this couple.

Updated every Thursday!

Twitter: katyakolmakov

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Tumblr: kkolmakov-thorin-ff

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My book on Amazon!

CONVINCE ME THE WINTER IS OVER

{my first novel

inspired by the story initially written here}

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paper!


Summary:

Renee Miller is a reclusive web designer who, after several hours of delirium from flu, wakes up to find a stranger in boxer briefs standing in her bathroom.

John is an archaeologist who finds himself stuck in a stranger's flat in a snowstorm.

Frozen in her neat and clean world of highly functional anxieties and her history of childhood trauma, Renee is perhaps the worst possible host for her flatmate's boyfriend's colleague. Yet, while the fervent gush of life that is John Greaves disrupts her carefully guarded existence, Renee finds herself gradually yearning for more.

Is John the first breath of Spring in her frigid world?