Sweet Silver Lining

Dearest Sherlock, I know what you see before you does not remind you of the Irene Adler you knew, but after reading this thoroughly, you will realize that this exactly the Irene you knew. As usual, I am on the run, and a permanent home, a permanent life is impossible for me. I have been with many men, but you are the only one I trust with my precious gem, my Sophia. I will return for when a more stable time arrives, but until then, please take care of her.
With love, Irene

"Holmes," Watson breathed, as the two men stared at the unexpected visitor before them. "What have you done?"

They stared at her, and she stared at them. Her satchel was twice the size of her own body. Latched tightly in her arms was a worn-out rag doll. A funny odor emitted from it. She looked away and stroked the matted, chocolate-covered yarn on its head. Holmes stared at her, and Watson stared at him. The little girl continued to stare at her doll.

"Right." Holmes moved forward, past Watson and the child. He moved to his favorite chair and sat down. Watson frowned at him, but knelt down to be eye-level with the child.

"How old are you, Darling?" he asked softly.

The little girl's dark eyes widened and her bottom lip began to tremble. She buried her face in her stinky doll, beginning to cry. Her shoulders shook and her legs trembled. Squeaking gasps emitted from her as she wept. Watson moved his eyes up to look at Holmes, and the detective shrugged one shoulder. He took his violin and stared into space, beginning to play meaningless notes.

Pluck, pluck, pluck, pluck, pluck

The little girl slowly raised her head and followed the noise with her eyes. She was still sniffling, but no longer hysterical. Holmes continued to stroke the chords, and did not notice her make her way over to him. Even when she placed her hand on his leg, he still continued to play, absent-mindedly. It was only when she leaned over and plucked one of the strings did he finally notice her, and he jumped. The little girl giggled, smiling toothily. She did it again.

"Stop that," Holmes said. He clutched the instrumently posessively to his chest.

The little girl held up her doll, and Holmes' brows furrowed. He watched suspiciously as she placed it upon his thigh, making it sway side to side. His gaze moved over to Watson who also watched silently as the doll danced on his leg. The little girl stared up at the detective, grinning as the little doll moved back and forth. Holmes looked at Watson again. As he did so, the child reached over and plucked the violin chords again. She giggled. Holmes moved it out of her reach, carefully placing it on the opposite side of the chair. Her eyes followed his foot as he nudged it away with the toe of his shoe.
He stood up, and she attached herself to his leg. His moved down briefly, and with difficulty, he took a few steps.

"Watson," he said quietly. "Help."

The doctor sighed through his nose and made his way over to them. The child's grip tightened on the man's legs. Watson knelt down, a good foot away, and smiled sweetly. "Sophia," he said. "That's your name?"

Sophia began to wail again, burying her face in Holme's trousers. The detective frowned again. "Do something," he said desperately, but in a hushed tone.

"She doesn't like me," the doctor said simply.

"What's that got to do with anything?" Holmes stared at him, using one hand to try and pry the child away. "You're the doctor! Make her like you."

Watson only shook his head, a trace of amusement crossing his face. Holmes closed his eyes for several seconds. When he opened them, he spoke. "Sophia-"

"Sophie." She looked up at him.

"Of course," he nodded. "Sophie."

"Ask her how old she is," Watson commanded, sitting down in a chair across the room. Holmes looked at him like he was an idiot, but Watson shrugged one shoulder, leaning back.

"How old are you, Miss Sophie?" Holmes asked, looking at Watson.

"Six," The little girl replied.

"She's not six," Watson said.

"She just said she is," Holmes countered.

"She's too small," Watson pointed out.

"Sophie," Holmes tried again. "How old are you?"

"Ten!" She giggiled, holding up eight fingers. She released Holmes' leg and held her doll up to him. "Lucy."

The detective gingerly took it with two fingers. Sophie raised her arms up, staring at him again. He stared back at her, and then Lucy. He handed her the doll back. She gave it back to him and raised her arms again. Holmes looked at Watson who only grinned at him, giving a small nod. The detective handed her the doll once more and briskly made his way back to his chair. He picked up his violin and Sophie was right next to him once more. She leaned over him, standing on her tip-toes, reaching for the instrument.

"Watson..." Oh, good lord, was he actually...pouting?

"Sophie." The doctor stood up and walked over to her. "May I see Lucy?" He picked her up, and she began to scream bloody murder, tears springing from her eyes. She reached for Holmes, stretching to her limits and Watson gave him his classic know-it-all look.

Holmes put the violin back down and stood up, his arms at his sides. Whimpering, Sophie reached for him, struggling against the doctor, and looking away, Holmes opened his arms. She practically jumped into them and wrapped her arms around his neck. Watson walked over to the door, grabbing his coat. Panicked, Holmes set the girl down. "Where are you going?"

"Out." Watson looked around for his hat.

"Out where?" Holmes paced around, Sophie his shadow. He climbed up on the window sill and she held out her arms, standing on her toes again, whining.

"I'll be back," the doctor replied, grabbing his hat. "While I'm gone, put away anything she could harm herself with." He opened the door, and turned to his partner once more. "And don't try any experiments on her either."

Holmes fell down, and quickly stood up before Sophie could touch him. He stared at Watson, shaking his head slightly. "I was just going to set it free in the wild," he said. "The way they're meant to live...naturally...and happily..."

Watson only shook his head and walked out. Holmes stared at the closed door for several seconds, listening to Sophie tinker with things behind him. He heard the chords of his violin again, and quickly spun around to take it from her. When he did, she began to cry, loudly, stomping her feet and chucking Lucy to the floor. Holmes handed it back to her, closing his eyes and mouting a prayer.

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Watson returned some time later in the afternoon, two brown paper parcels in his hand. He dropped them when he saw the room. It had obviously been turned upside down, ten times messier than usual. Holmes was snoring, leaning against the far wall, his clothes and hair more disheveled than ever. Curled up in his lap like a dog was Sophie, also snoring faintly. On the other side of her was Gladstone, snoring the loudest.
Swiftly and quietly, the doctor went to work tidying up the room, putting away all of the hazardous items first. The noise woke Holmes and his eyes opened.

"Where have you been?" he asked.

"I went to talk with Mrs Hudson," Watson replied, opening the parcels. To Holmes' horror, he began to pull out tiny articles of clothing. "She's a grandmother, and luckily had a lot of clothes we could use."

"Watson." Holmes carefully rolled Sophie off of him, sliding up the length of the wall until he was fully standing. "We aren't keeping her, are we?"

"The only other choice we have is to put her in an orphanage," the doctor replied.

"Where's the nearest orphanage?" the detective asked hopefully.

Watson stopped unfolding and stared at him. "Do you know how filthy and poorly-maintained orphan homes are?"

Holmes didn't respond, but looked as disappointed as anything. Watson leaned over and pecked him on the lips. "We'll manage."

They both turned, hearing Sophie whimper. The whimpering turned to whining, and became a full-fledged fit, complete with kicking and flailing. They watched her silently, and when she settled down, she called in a tiny voice, "Mama?" More whimpering. "Mama?"

Watson walked over to her and scooped her up in his arms. "Shh. It's alright, Love."

Sophie kicked and flailed, finding where she'd mislaid her tantrum, and reached for Holmes. He mouthed a swear word and approached them, holding out his arms. She buried her face in his shirt, making a nice wet spot.

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Dinner went a little better than the rest of the day. Sophie had cried until she was sitting squarely in Holmes' lap, spilling milk on his trousers and dropping forkfuls of food on his shoes and on the floor. As they ate, Watson at a safe distance across the table, the doctor cleared his throat and spoke up.

"She's two," he said.

"Beg pardon?" Holmes raised his eyebrows.

"Two feet, twenty-five...maybe thirty pounds...baby teeth," Watson rattled off. "She has to be two, two and a half at the most."

Mrs. Hudson attempted to help prepare her for bed, but when she carried her to the washroom kicking and screaming, she gave up. Everytime she set her down on the floor, Sophie would run down the hall, up the stairs, back to Holmes. He eventually (after a long argument with Watson and the nanny) had to bathe her himself, soaking wet in front of the tub, scowling. Sophie grinned and giggled, splashing and dunking herself under the water.

After she was dried and dressed, Holmes took her to Watson's old room and pointed to the bed.

"Well," he said, turning to leave. "Goodnight."

Sophie stood beside the bed, fingering the comforte with her free hand. In her other hand, she clutched Lucy tightly. Holmes smiled awkwardly and left the room. It only took him seconds to hear the sound of tiny, pattering feet behind him. He quickly grabbed her hand and led her back into the room, this time placing her on the bed and throwing the covers over her.

"Lucy." She held her doll up again, poking her head out.

"Goodnight, Lucy," the detective said, impatiently. He walked out of the room again, to his own room. After he settled down and changed into his night clothes, he climbed into bed beside Watson, who was already asleep. Lucky bastard.

It didn't take long for him to hear the mattress next door squeaking. He breathed heavily through his nose, picturing her every movement in his head. Climbing out of the bed, walking out of the room, walking to their room, opening the door, giving the violin a pluck, moving towards the bed, climbing onto the bed...
She squeezed herself in between the detective and doctor, humming quietly. She then began whispering to herself, and soon Holmes could feel her playing with his hair, as if she were counting each strand.

"Mmm..." Watson woke up, dazed. "Just knock me off of the bed, why don't you?"

Sophie began screaming bloody murder, latching herself onto Holmes for the millionth time that day. He winced as her fingernails dug into his bare chest. Watson sat up, his face mixed with annoyance in confusion.

"You can't sleep in here," he said.

"I couldn't agree more," Holmes nodded.

"You have to sleep in the bed next door," Watson sighed, massaging his eyes with his fingertips.

"He's absolutely right," the detective chimed in.

"I meant you, Holmes."

"He meant me-" He frowned. "Come again?"

"She's not going to go to bed alone," Watson explained. "You have to stay with her until she falls asleep."

"I have a better idea," Holmes told him, rolling over. "Why don't you go in the next room and you stay with her until she falls asleep?"

Watson stared into space for a moment. "Alright then." He grabbed Sophie, who fought and struggled and cried, and left the room.

Holmes heard it all. The same noises as before, only ten times more frantic, and with screaming to boot. This time around, Sophie flung herself back onto the bed, getting tears and snot all over the detective's chest. Her light brown curls were matted to her face with tears and sweat. Watson sauntered back in a few moments later. He smirked at Holmes without actually smiling.

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"I hate my life," Holmes muttered, lying in the bed next door, Sophie spread out beside and over him like a starfish.

To Be Continued...