Mistaken Identity

by Angelina

"Most people fancy themselves innocent of those crimes of which they cannot be

convicted" ~Seneca~

"Evil is a fact, not to be explained away, but to be accepted, and accepted, not to be

endured, but to be conquered." ~John Haynes Holmes - no relation :)~

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"I should shoot you right now."

My hand was on the trigger, the pistol was loaded. Lord knows I could pull back that little working mechanism and eliminate the source of my troubles, the destroyer of my family name, the murderer of my father and who knows who else in his evil plotting, a not-so-common thief and a liar. Some people knew his name, even fewer his occupation, and a minute handful could even grasp the far-reaching extent of his destructive powers. The muscles in my hand twitched from the weight of the gun. Even with the slight tremble in my nervous hands, I felt confident he could never move fast enough to touch me, much less kill me.

"Tell me, my dear, for what most serious grievance are you holding me hostage?"

I tamped down the anger that welled up within me. I didn't know whether to be more insulted by his laconical assessment of the situation at hand or his complete disregard for my family and my intelligence. The well- appointed office overlooking Pall Mall certainly did not reflect the criminality that took place within its wood and leather confines. "I believe you know who I am."

He surveyed me briefly, scanning me with those cold, gray eyes full-length before leaning his large frame back in the leather chair. "Quite assuredly I am not at all familiar with your person." At first, I could not believe what I was hearing. He could deny it all he wanted, but he knew me...he had to. But as I regarded him a little longer, I realized he truly didn't know who I was or to be truthful, really cared beyond the fact that I held his life in my hands within the walls of his office.

Still training the pistol on him with one hand, I reached into my coat pocket with the other and retrieved a small object from it. I tossed out to him where it landed on the desk with a clatter. The shiny metal of the ring glinted in the waning sunlight streaming in the window behind my captive. I watched recognition dawn upon his face as he recalled the various symbols upon the ring, and thereby, discerned his owner. He tried to mask his surprise, but it was too late...I had seen the emotions, even a bit of fear, plastered upon his countenance before he swept them away.

"I presume you are here about your father. It was really too bad about what happened to him. I tried to help but ..."

"Bull shit and you know it." The words came out in little more than a whisper. "It wasn't bad enough you sucked him in and used him, but then you had him killed and our good family name forever tarnished by your conniving machinations."

"I think you may be mistaken...what happened to your father was horrible but unavoidable due to the course in life he chose to take."

"The course you forced upon him. The course he tried to leave and forfeited his life over. The course that left us penniless, homeless, fatherless, and on the lam for too many years. After so long even my mother started to believe..."

"And you think to avenge his 'good' name, my dear?" His body language was guarded, the situation not so humorous than a few minutes prior. "I will give you my word that if you should choose to make the wise decision to put that handgun away and depart from here immediately, I will not seek any sort of ..um, retribution in this matter." I studied his face for the lie I knew was there, but his eyes stared back, lacking any warm emotion.

"You won't let me live. I knew that coming here today. My father trusted you and look what happened to him. Sacrificed to save your empire, no matter how vile that may be." Berating myself for the sadness and anger that slipped into my voice, I struggled to steel myself against the overwhelming tide of desperation and futility inherent I felt in dealing with this demon from my past. "I wonder how your brother will feel once he discovers you have duped him, as well."

One dark eyebrow lifted for the briefest of moments, then returned to its natural position. "He won't find out about that."

"Can you be so sure?" I asked him calmly. The conviction of my question elicited some doubt in the corpulent man, and for the first time, I began to see his carefully composed demeanor begin to slip. "Do you really think I would come here today, with the knowledge I have about you, without a secondary plan to see to your demise should I fail? I may be a woman, but I do have a brain."

"And a genius for a father."

I nodded my head slightly in agreement, his generous compliment tossed out there to knock me off balance had no effect. Flattery would get him nowhere. "What makes you think he will believe whatever missive of untruths you have sent to him? He is family after all. And the killer of your father, by the way."

"Which I suspect he deeply regrets. Papa's death is still distinctly troubling to him, even after all these years."

His steel gray eyes widened at this bit of information. "How, may I ask, have you arrived at that conclusion?"

"I am acquainted with your brother on quite intimate terms. He should be arriving any time now."

As I watched him digest my confession, the light of understanding dawned upon him. "You are the mysterious Miss Joyce, are you not?" The door knob rattled as an unseen person turned it to gain access into the office. I had not thought to lock it because I knew my other guest would have to be present. A second later, his lanky frame filled the doorway and took in the sight of my armed person and his hostage brother. I did not allow him near me and merely gestured for him to shut the door behind him.

"Maggie, what are you about?" His voice was soft, calmly modulated, but I could tell by his expression he was deeply shocked by recent events. "Why is a gun necessary when having a visit with my brother?" His blue-gray gaze shifted slightly in his brother's general direction. "Mycroft, what in heaven's name is going on?"

"I was under the distinct impression you already knew, dear Sherlock. But no matter, it seems your lady friend is completely set upon killing me."

I knew Sherlock to be quite stoic at times, but not a person completely devoid of emotion, like his biographer would have the world believe. The painful expression of disbelief and hurt caused me to ache with remorse at the turn of events; however my course was charted and I had to follow through with it. "Maggie, why Mycroft?"

Before I could answer, the elder Holmes smiled briefly and interjected, "While your Miss Joyce has accused me of the most serious sort of duplicity, involving a possible murder, she has not been entirely honest with you. She is none other than the offspring of that evil genius, Professor James Moriarty."

The younger Holmes' eyes narrowed at the revelation. He turned back to stare at me so fiercely I wanted to desperately shrink away like a beaten cur. "I never lied to you, only the sin of omitting he was my father...not something that was commonly known."

"You changed your name!"

"I did not, Sherlock. Joyce is my last name... I am a by-blow, my mother only a mistress."

His voice raised in pitch, but was tightly controlled. "Your father died because he was a criminal, a murderer and deceiver."

"He might have been deceitful, but was never a murderer."

"No, he just arranged for others to do it for him. But its the same as slitting their throats himself."

His accusation pushed my anger over the edge. "He wasn't the mastermind...Your brother was! He tried to get out..to quit..and your brother put the onus on him, and set you on his trail in the process."

The scarlet color drained from his face at my pronouncement. Even if he didn't believe me, at least I had his attention. Appealing to his sense of logic was the only way I could get through to him. "How do you think it was so easy for my father to follow you, even on to the Continent? Your brother was the only one here who knew of your escape plans. The deal was that all my father had to do was find you and lead you to a prearranged place where a sniper would be waiting. The sniper would kill you and most likely my father too. The latter was unknown to him, my father was to remove himself from the organization with this last errand. Well, he did, just not in the way he had planned. Mycroft wanted you out of the way because you were getting too close for comfort, and my father was a liability and an easy scapegoat. But his scheme didn't quite work."

"No, you're still alive," Mycroft snarled from his high backed leather chair. "Sherlock, who are you going

to believe? This woman, who has already proved herself to be a liar and possible more, or your own brother."

Familial ties, motives and simple logic warred within his vast mind. Sherlock Holmes asked, almost in a whisper, to me, "What about us? Was that all a lie as well?"

I was taken aback by his inquiry, but knew him to be justified in asking it. "No, I had no intention of even calling upon you , much less making your...acquaintance. Our introduction was strictly serendipitous. I understand if you can't believe it after all of this, but it is the truth. I do care about you, despite what happens here."

"Then you can't kill him."

"But I can and I have to. The government will do nothing to stop him. You yourself said he is the government at times. Who will, if I don't?"

"You will be a murderess, no better than him. You haven't been hardened by evil enough to live with the consequences. Let the courts handle this."

"You know as well as I do that won't happen."

"I give you my word that it will." He held that elegantly sculpted hand out, his long fingers reaching half way for the pistol, understanding that I had to meet him in the middle and take responsibility for my decision. My tired muscles ached to release the pressure, the strenuous hold I had on the heavy piece of metal. Relaxing the hammer with a click, I held the gun out to him in compliance with his request. He gripped it firmly in his hand, shifting it until the butt of the gun rested in the palm of his hand.

Mycroft rose from his chair as soon as he saw me relinquish the weapon to his brother. "Good show, brother. Now go summon the police for her. I'll keep her here until they arrive." He slipped the desk drawer open to reveal another revolver lying on a stack of paper.

My eyes widened, knowing full well what his intentions were but also aware that if his brother remained behind, Sherlock might fall casualty in Mycroft's wake as well. I nodded weakly to the younger Holmes, trying to convince him it was okay to leave. Sherlock looked at me briefly, I knew he saw my head shake. His clear, crisp voice spoke out in the silence. "No, Mycroft, she will be leaving to summon the constable for you." I couldn't believe my ears. Sherlock Holmes, master detective and unwitting pawn in the death of my father, was coming to my rescue and believed my story in the bargain.

"Surely, brother, you don't believe her over your own blood kin."

"Not when my 'own blood kin' has no qualms about killing his own brother to protect his criminal enterprise. She wasn't the one who swayed me. I'm very sorry to say that I have known for a few years who was the real mind behind the crimes. There were aspects of the case I glossed over and discounted as impossible, simply because they touched too close to home. I only wish that the Professor and the others had not died before I had discovered the truth." He turned to me and with sorrow in his eyes, confessed, "Maggie, I can not apologize enough for not doing anything about this, even after I knew about it. My only logic was that the Professor had no children and therefore, did not have to be avenged in the public eye. I thought it best to just simply let the matter lie. That was a horrible mistake on my part."

Sherlock reached behind him and opened the door with his empty hand. "Go down and find the closest constable. Coax him, wheedle him, or drag him....but get him back here soon." I moved to run out the door when Mycroft picked up the pistol from his desk and aimed to fire it, moving with a speed for which I could not credit.

"Over my dead body," he roared as I felt, more than heard, the revolver fire.

The acrid smoke reached me before the pain. Dimly as I fell forward, a searing pain in my upper back, I heard the younger Holmes whisper, "So be it." A second gun shot rang out, the sound and vibration of a heavy body thudding to the floor. I was suddenly aware it was not my own, smiling to myself as I collapsed.Then all was blackness.