"She's lovely, Watson."

I stared at him. Human beings were not in the category of things he considered "lovely." A voice, perhaps, or a steady hand on an instrument. But Holmes' consideration of the outward appearances of others was always to further his profession and intellectual pursuits. Fifteen-year-old girls were not "lovely."

He was smiling into his tea. "I've not met a mind like hers since…"

Ah, she had a lovely mind. That was a little more like Holmes. A little. "Moriarty?"

"No, not even his."

I dared say it. "Irene Adler?"

The smile slid away. "Since my father, Watson."


Blast! Why had he brought his father into it? The great Sherlock Holmes who was above the uncontrollable emoting of less intelligent beings could not close his own lips around his words that came without conscious thought.

Why had his father come to mind, anyway? He had intended to say Irene, but then into his mind had popped the image of his father. Even as a very small child he had recognized his father's blinding intelligence. Perhaps that was why he had had to oppose Moriarty so strongly. He reminded him of his father, whom he had always hated…and worshipped.