Author's Note: This story takes place right before MREG. Will contain some adult situations as Russ has to deal with aspects of her case that are unsettling, as well as Holmes coming to grips with Russell's femininity. Title from Dixie Chicks' song: Let Him Fly.
Let Him Fly
"What in the hell do you think you were doing, Holmes?" I knew my face had to be the color of beets, as angry and embarrassed as I was, having been unceremoniously yanked from the arms of a terribly handsome but vapid second lieutenant.
"Thinking being the operative word, Russell. Something of which you seem to be in short supply recently," a low growl emanating from my most unusual partner. The snappish tone singed my ear as he guided me forcibly across the parquet flooring of the ballroom. Candlelight shimmered, reflected in a myriad of angles from the mirrors which lined every available vertical surface. I gingerly tried to surreptitiously remove my arm from his iron grip as we made our way towards the front entrance of the London mansion of the Duke of Bainsbury.
"Holmes, stop it. You're acting like a child and besides, you'll wrinkle my dress." The red confection, another of the elves' creations, glistened as it flowed to the floor, a shiny liquid vision reminiscent of a fine wine. We stepped through the doorway and out to the curved drive in front of the opulent home, where Holmes' transportation, the most modern of black saloon cars, was waiting with engine at idle. One of the men manning the entrance bustled to retrieve my heavy cashmere coat. Holmes reluctantly released my arm so that the man could help me into it. I thanked him with my most polite, almost flirtatious smile, an act that cause Holmes to grouse even more.
As he walked me to the car, the chauffeur opened the rear door to permit Holmes and I access to its warm interior. "Really Holmes, what was that little scene back there all about?" I turned to face him, his expression one of barely controlled ire. "I am a grown woman who can do whatever she damn well pleases."
"God forbid I try to save your skinny neck ever again. What makes you think you could pull a stunt like that?"
"Damn it. Mycroft must have told you." I had a few choice words for the older Holmes brother when I saw him next. I didn't involve the younger Holmes for this very reason, and Mycroft had to go and tell him. Pulling the coat tighter around me, I continued to study Holmes' demeanor. This was so out of character with him.
"It doesn't matter if he told me or not. I expressly told you not to become involved with this case."
"You weren't about to take it. It intrigued me," I snapped back, irritated at his high-handed attitude. "You trained me, you don't have any confidence in my abilities?"
"You're a student, not a detective."
"You mean I'm a woman, not a man. Therefore, I can't handle a case without the great Sherlock Holmes' help?"
"Don't bring any of your feminist tripe into the argument. It only serves to make you appear illogical and irrational. There are a lot of things you do not understand, and therefore, could not anticipate, even with your active imagination."
"Only because you insisted on leaving me in the dark. What happened to make you do something so stupid?"
"Inspector Cartleigh was killed sometime last night. He had infiltrated the ring, but someone tipped them off to Cartleigh's real occupation. He was found with his throat slit and his tongue cut out on the front steps of his division's offices. A message to those who would tangle with this organization that spies are not to be tolerated. And not long after I hear this news, Mycroft calls to tell me what you had set off to do."
"But Lt. Wetherby is just an officer in the British Army."
"He works for the head of the organization, Russ."
"I still could have handled him. Holmes, you really need to control this overprotective streak you have seemed to have developed lately. You're not my father, you know."
"This is one situation I want you to step away from." The tone of his voice indicated that the conversation was over.
"And what if I don't?" How dare he be so heavy handed, ordering me to take myself off a case. Who did he think he is?
"You will remove yourself from the case, Russ. One way or another. If it means barring you by every means necessary, I will take those precautions. It isn't just your pretty little neck in danger; however, yours is the only one that matters to me."
"Holmes, I'm giving you one chance to rethink your position. Do you want to throw away our partnership with this one thoughtless act?"
"I could ask you the same thing."
"How dare you do this to me?!" I railed at him, the petulance seeping into my voice. "Don't all the other things we've shared, solved together, mean anything to you?"
"It is you, not I, that continues to force the issue. You claim you want to be considered a grown woman, then by God, make some adult choices." He swallowed hard, then fixed me with those steely gray eyes of his. "Responsible ones, I might add."
"The only responsible one in your eyes would be to stay in my place and keep my mouth shut."
"I know in your case the last isn't possible, so the former would have to suffice."
Heat rose to my face, its source not from the meager heater within the car but from the anger and embarrassment I had been subjected to at Holmes' hands. Usually he was much more witty and pointed with his abrasive reprimands, this time was tiresome, dull and malicious. I had never seen this side of Holmes before....well, I had if I really thought about it but his tone and derisiveness was typically reserved for the incomparably inept and criminal. I had never been on the receiving end and certainly hadn't expected this frontal assault.
"Holmes, you don't have to worry about my mouth annoying you any longer. You can have the driver let me out here and I'll walk the rest of the way." My injured pride was smarting too much to realize that I was about to do something monumentally stupid. Somehow I had a gut feeling Holmes was about to remind me.
"Russell, that wasn't one of those 'responsible' decisions I was talking about earlier. This is certainly not the neighborhood nor the weather to be wandering around in the dark."
"I wouldn't be wandering, I would be walking home. I've been in more unseemly neighborhoods on occasion, not to mention some of those instances at your behest. And when did you suddenly develop the ability to second-guess my judgment?"
"Tonight, when I watched you dance with a dangerous man and involve yourself in an even more dangerous case without weighing the consequences first. Not exactly the most mature choices you could have made."
My face flamed with anger at his cold ability to belittle my ability and cut me to the quick. "Or was it simply that you watched me dance with another man?" At once I had no idea where that came from, or at least wasn't willing to acknowledge it if I did sense its origins. Holmes' face tightened in the darkness; it was almost palpable more than visual. His silver-gray eyes glittered in the dimness of the car's interior, his voice dangerously quiet in his response.
"Russell, never presume to understand what I feel for you or anyone else." The sentence was crisp, bitten off in his anger. He directed the driver in a whisper where my flat was, moments later the car pulled to a stop. I couldn't jump out of the car fast enough to suit me, the tension was deafening with its silence.
I shouted back after him as I stood on the curb in the freezing cold. "No, the Great Sherlock Holmes would never be accused of feeling anything. God forbid, that would be a tragedy." And slammed the door in his face. He sat stonily silent, I had almost prayed he would get out of the car and yell at me, belittle me, anything beyond his simple non-recognition of my existence.
I stumbled into my apartment after struggling blindly with my frozen fingers and slippery keys. As I slipped into the front door, I sank to the polished hardwood floors and cried the baleful tears of the heartbroken.
Continued in Chapter 2….