Author's Note:

Happy New Year, everyone! Here's a nice long chapter to reward you all for your patience; sorry that you had to be patient, but this chapter was incredibly problematic for me—I went through multiple drafts before it finally started falling into place. I have teenelizabeth to thank for helping me (also for catching the many grammar mistakes I made in this chapter, eesh!). Oh, and thanks to everybody who read and reviewed "A Time for Christmas." I certainly didn't expect as many reviews as I got! (If you haven't read it yet, you might want to check it out—it's a companion piece, and it's on my profile.) Also, glad that you enjoyed the spoilers in the last chapter!

The majority of this chapter is actually in Holmes's POV. Wow, I really didn't expect that to happen! There's also a lot of Christy and quite a bit of Aubrey, as well as some Watson!angst (apparently, you can't have a Sherlockian epic without it, though I actually prefer Holmes!torture ;D).

Also, no guarantees on when I can get the next chapter done, sorry. I gots to plot it out still! Meantime, check out my profile—I have a link to a Picasa album page full of Sherlockian icons made by yours truly. They're free for grabs!

To my reviewers:

Historian1912: Your excitement amuses and delights me. =D My favorite Sherlockian author, KCS, once wrote a one-shot in which Holmes made his own list of Watson's limits, if you'd like to read it: h t t p : / / www . fanfiction . net /s/4147365/1/A_Mans_Limits Oh, and as soon as my fantasy is in the press, I'll let you know. ;D

As far as For Good goes, I actually have Chapter 9 for Breakaway in the works, and it's veeery different from the original. Very Warp/Erin-centric (not necessarily romantically), and you'll also get to meet an important OC. I still hope to slowly but surely get through the series, including making it past the first installment. Don't use the roleplays as a standard, because they are actually so very far from what I have in mind—about all that they have in common are the couples (that, and the scattered bits of info about Erin's time in the Academy). …Btw, hope you did well on your semester exams!

The Pearl Maiden: Yeah, see, that's why I got afraid about an equestrian reading my horse scenes. *sighs* In my defense, I got the "holding on with your knees" from C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, in which the horse Bree tells the boy Shasta to hold on with his knees rather than by the reins. At least I did know about the "heels down." =D I do have another friend that's a horse girl (I think it's her major in college), and we talk often, but if I ever have a question she can't answer, I'll be sure to come to you next. Thanks, hon! (Oh, and though I enjoyed writing "A Time for Christmas," I hardly think it was "amazing," lol.)

kissbee: *grins* Wait no more, Pooh Bear makes his début in this chapter, although I think it will be in the next chapter that Holmes is introduced to him. The Great Mouse Detective… will come. Sometime. ^^ And I'm not ticked off at all by your lists—I enjoy reading them! (I really appreciate your taking the time to give me such nice, long, cushy reviews!)

A dog… my lips are sealed, sorry. *winks* …Eh, Kathleen needs her own sofa, though I don't think she'd go so far as to kill to keep it. =D Yeeeah, she's rather feisty. It's all in her genes—I should know. Hmm, now Holmes and video games… interesting idea, hadn't thought of that one… Well, as I said before, the slash discussion was what I honestly think Holmes would feel about the issue. *shrugs*

x-Pick'n'Mix-x: Ha-ha, thank you! Sorry for the wait, but like I said, this chapter gave me serious issues. Glad you enjoyed the Christmas fic!

nomdeplume30: Aaand once again the spoilers were a success—hope they keep you coming back for more. =) And I hope you enjoy this update.

Brazeau: Wow, thanks! Yeah, little Aubrey seems to be ending up Watson's girl. =) And it is kind of perversely funny that Holmes registered on dA just to see the blocked pic, and just like him, too. …Christmas really inspired my muse this year, and the result was a rash of new SH fics. Hope you enjoy them, as well!

==Chapter IX==

At Home and Abroad

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


I disentangled myself from Edward's and Aubrey's arms and hastily stepped back. "Okay, guys—I really have to get going, or I'll miss my flight."

Clarice smiled over Kirk's head. "Have a safe trip." That opened up a floodgate of farewells from the kids.

"Good luck, Mama!"

"Send postcards!"

"Knock 'em dead!

"Love you!"

"Bring back chocolate!"

"Be careful!"

"Vaya con Dios!"

Sometimes, leaving my kids behind makes me want to cry—usually when I'm going to be gone for a few days or longer. I was definitely tearing up as I said, "Bye, guys—I love you!" I hurried into the car and shut the door, waving as I started the engine. A chorus of goodbyes followed me.

As I pulled away from the house, a gentle voice behind me said, "Will you be all right?"

I sniffed and nodded. "Yeah—" I wiped an irritating tear out of my eye—"I'll be okay, John, thanks." I let out a sort of barking half-laugh. "Question is, will you two be?"

"I believe Watson and I can manage," Sherlock said dryly.

"And you're sure, John, that you can handle driving back home?"

"With Holmes navigating for me," John said confidently, "I should do fine."

"And you have Mike's cell number in case you need help?"

"Right here on My Contacts."

"Mine, as well," Sherlock added.

"Good." At that point, we left the driveway. "I've probably driven a car's lifetime through New York City, and I still hate doing it. John, if it gives you a headache, you know where the Ibuprofen is, right?"

"Affirmative, Houston."

I laughed incredulously. "Where did you pick up that?"

"Cameron," John grinned.

I laughed again and shook my head. "Two and a half weeks. Two and a half weeks and you're already using modern slang…"

"Quick learners," Sherlock supplied.

"Your exam scores proved that."

It was Tuesday, May 6th; Sherlock Holmes and John Watson had been living in my home since April 19th. My children had readily accepted their beloved heroes as family, but it amazed me how quickly Sherlock and John were adapting. Probably a houseful of Sherlockians made the transition easier, but even so…

Now here we were, the boys and I, driving to New York City where I'd catch a plane to Berlin. I made it a point not to get mixed up with the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, NATO, etc. when I could help it. Too much corruption, too much stuff that was pro-Federalist or pro-UN, which really went against my grain. Sometimes, however, a certain general in the USAF did a little arm-twisting, just one of the reasons why I didn't get along very well with my half-brother anymore (one of these days, the military hierarchy was going to find a very dead lieutenant general in its midst). I was now on-assignment with the CIA on an affair in Berlin, the details of which remain highly classified. I would be away from home for a week at the very least, probably more.

Normally, such situations would require an extended babysitting à la Clarice, who was actually with the kids right at that moment. This time, however, Clarice was relegated to backup, while Sherlock and John would be holding down the fort. I might have been more nervous about the situation had Christy and Jeremy been younger, but she was twenty and he was seventeen; though they argued to kingdom come, both had good heads on their shoulders. If our Victorian guests could just keep the kids in line, Christy and Jeremy could handle the practical matters of running a household. Thankfully, I didn't even have to worry about the garden being started late, since my dad volunteered to oversee horticultural operations while I was away (which was usually the case, anyway).

Speaking of which, by this point in time, yes, my parents knew. In fact, being only an hour's drive away, they'd recently had dinner with us like they do every so often, and they got to meet our guests. Though initially and understandably skeptical, they eventually warmed up to Sherlock and John. My thoroughly Sherlockian father was just about in paradise that night.

Anyway, as far as leaving Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to baby-sit my kids was concerned, I technically had nothing to worry about.

The thought did nothing to ease the anxiety gnawing at my stomach.


I need only a few words to sum up my initial (and enduring) impressions of New York City: vast, busy, bright, loud, and insane. The traffic was "murder," as Kathleen put it. And as we drove through the metropolis, I noticed something else—damaged buildings and construction almost every which way one turned. When I asked Kathleen about it, she said that the city was still recovering from the war that had ended ten years ago. She would say nothing more.

At any rate, we still made it to the airport in good time, and as we traversed that huge complex, Kathleen fired off a last-minute mental checklist. Holmes and I were prepared, but on the other hand, it was her privilege to fret. At last, her luggage (of which there had been a good deal—she conformed to a female stereotype in that respect, at least) was taken care of, and she had just a few more minutes before she had to board her plane.

"Goodbye, John!" She flung her arms around me and kissed me solidly on the cheek, upon which I both colored and chuckled.

"Goodbye, Kathleen, and take care of yourself," I smiled.

"Will do!" she said, a bit more cheerily now, her eyes alight with the prospect of her first case in over two weeks. She turned to Holmes and said, "Goodbye, Sherlock!" She flung her arms around him, too, and kissed him right on the cheek. I nearly choked in surprise, and Holmes froze briefly, then chuckled self-consciously.

"Goodbye, Kathleen," he managed.

Kathleen seemed only then to realize what she had done, and clapped her hand over her mouth as her eyes went perfectly round. "I just kissed Sherlock Holmes," she gasped in a rush, looking like nothing so much as lovesick schoolgirl at that moment. "Oh my word, I can't believe it." She seemed to be unable to decide whether to be elated and triumphant or embarrassed and apologetic. "Bye!" She hefted her laptop case and sprinted away for her flight.

I laughed in amazement. "And there goes a woman I don't think any man could ever understand."

"I believe the proper term is fangirlism." A hint of shock remained in his expression as we began to retrace our steps through the colossal airport. "However, I did not expect a highly intelligent woman to display such behaviour outside the anonymity of the Internet."

I chuckled. "Fangirlism, eh? I have observed that she idolizes you."


"Don't tell me you haven't seen it."

Holmes snorted. "You obviously didn't see her berating me for leaving my laundry in my room."

I grinned, easily imagining the scene. "Apparently not."

"A Scotch-Irish temper is bad enough, a Latin Jewish temper the same, but combine them and the results are rather explosive."

"German and Polish."

"Beg pardon?"

"She's also German and Polish," I clarified. "Ruth told me."

"Ah. A true American—a woman of many nationalities."

"Something like that," I smiled. "Not that either of us can claim purebred lineage either, what with your French grandmother and my own Scottish grandparents."

"Indeed," Holmes said absently, his keen gaze flitting around from one person to the next, obviously making deductions about each of them.

"For all her faults, however," I continued, "she's a good friend."


"And a fine criminal."

"Quite s—Watson."

I laughed. "Merely testing your conversational focus, my dear fellow."

He snorted, then muttered something unintelligible as we finally left the building.

I scanned the parking lot for the Durans' black Subaru and spotted it. "Let's just focus on getting home, shall we?"

"An excellent idea."

"Good…" I unlocked the car and climbed in. "Get out the map, old boy—you're navigating."


"We are lost, aren't we?"

"We are not lost—I have a perfectly accurate roadmap. I simply need to extrapolate our position on it."

"In other words, we're lost."

"We are nothing of the kind."

"You just cannot admit defeat, can you?"

"I am perfectly capable of the action."

"But perfectly unwilling."


"I see i—wait a moment!" The car slowed to a halt at the intersection, and Watson turned to face me. "How did you know what a stoplight is?"

I gave him a disappointed look. "Tut, tut, old man—it's practical knowledge."

"So are driving skills."

"Well, that's what I have you for—haven't you read 'His Last Bow'?"

Watson threw me a displeased glance. "Biographer, bodyguard, partner, and personal physician… that's one thing. But if you think that I would ever degrade myself to chauffer…"

"Even in an affair of international importance? Watson, you surprise me."

The light turned green, only momentarily cutting off his retort. "I'll simply teach you how to drive before I'm ever faced with such a decision."

"I do not care for motorcars, thank you."

"What difference does that make? Practical is practical, and what if I wasn't able to drive you somewhere? What if Kathleen couldn't, or Christy or Jeremy? What would you do then?"

I considered. "I am sure there must be some kind of transportation service available—"

Watson shook his head. "Not like there is in the city."

I folded my arms stubbornly. Automobiles had certainly changed drastically since our time, but my dislike for them had not. They reminded me too sharply of what the world was losing at the close of the Victorian Era.

"Consider it, at least?" I heard Watson say.

I nodded reluctantly. "I shall."

"Mr. Hooolmes!" Christy's moan from the dining room several hours later bordered on a whine. "What've you done to the computer?"

I scowled and made my way back to said dining room. "I have several downloads in progress…"

"Which ties up the bandwidth—no wonder Gchat wasn't working! I was supposed to talk with a friend this afternoon!"

"Very well, I'll pause them." As long as the older children were getting along with each other, Christy ruled the roost, and I would do well not to make an enemy of a twenty-year-old female—heaven knows girls are so unstable at that age. I performed the task and turned to her. "Satisfied?"

At least she was sincere in her gratitude as she said, "Yes, thank you." But then she continued: "So… you're looking up different adaptations?"

"Quite so. I trust there's nothing wrong in that?"

"No, no, just wondering." She took another look at the monitor screen. "Ronald Howard, Basil Rathbone, Robert Downey, Jr.—oh, boy—Peter Cushing, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Lee, Robert Stephens…" She giggled at that last one, and looked up at me, her dark eyes dancing. Despite the fact that there was no computer-fast brain lurking behind those eyes, she looked very much like her mother in that moment. "That one's interesting—Robert Stephens, I mean. I'm… not sure you'll like it, though."

"I'm quite sure I'll survive."

"I would warn against RDJ, for sure—you'll probably have a hernia or something."

I sighed theatrically. "Christy, I am an adult; I can take care of myself. And I've read multiple conflicting opinions on the 2009 film—I want to judge for myself."

"You won't like it."

"Thank you, Christy."

She shrugged. "We have the Ronald Howard series, you know. The Robert Stephens movie, too, though that one's just a computer file."

"That's all right; I'm simply fishing for clips right now."

She nodded. "We also have the RDJ movies as computer files…" She smirked. "There's one scene where I know what happens, but Mama won't let me see it; and to be honest, I'm okay with that. What I really like about those movies is Jude Law—I like his Watson, and I like the friendship dynamics. Other than that…" She made a buzzer sound and gave a double thumbs-down.

I laughed. "Thank you, O Sherlockian Critic."

She smiled sheepishly, then took another look at the monitor. "You're not downloading any Jeremy Brett clips?"

"Well, I do know that you have a boxed set of the series."

Her brown eyes flashed over me in a piercing manner I would not have associated with her. "You're bothered about what happened to him."

I arched an eyebrow, too impressed with her quick (and accurate) deduction to be very affronted. "And how did you deduce that?"

She raked a hand through her hair, a habit she had picked up from her mother. "The Granada series is one of Mama's top favorites, so one would think that she'd jump at the opportunity to watch it with you and the Doctor. Instead… it's like she avoids all mention of it, which really isn't like her. I mean, she loved Jeremy Brett so much that she named one of her sons after him."

I thought as much, concerning Jeremy Duran's name. "And?"

"Well, you're not looking up any clips of Granada, even though you said you were fishing. And I figure that if you did know about Jeremy Brett's later life, it would… um…" She hesitated, with more consideration than I might have shown had positions been reversed.

"'Bother' me?" I finished for her.

She nodded wordlessly.

"Correct, all the way through, Christy. Well done."

She drew herself up defensively. "Just 'cause I don't have Mama's lightning-fast brain doesn't mean I'm entirely without perception." Then, just as quickly, she deflated. "Sorry. I, um… Jeremy… well, you've probably figured out by now that Jeremy's smarter than I am. And he's my younger brother. That, uh, that causes some friction."

And that was probably an understatement. "I can imagine," was all I said. Being the younger of two brothers myself and certainly Mycroft's inferior in intellect, I could not personally know, but I certainly could imagine. "Christy, permit me a personal question?"

"Fair is fair, I guess," she shrugged. "What is it?"

"From what I've gathered, most young people are living out of their family's house by your age, and most young people are employed and in college."

"And I'm neither."

"Quite so."

Sighing, she looked down and raked her hand through her hair again. "Yeah, and I sometimes get flak for that, too—I mean, not harsh criticism or anything, but just… well, people just don't understand." She met my gaze frankly. "Do you?"

I gave that question the solemn consideration it deserved. Christy was a young adult both childish and mature with buoyant spirits, but I'd also often detected a veiled defensiveness. This was a girl who was used to being criticised, and had erected a defence to try to protect herself. But she was also sensitive, and I feared that whatever darts to which she had been subjected often hit home and struck very deeply.

"I believe I may," I said slowly. "The pervasive love in your home is quite evident—a sensitive, caring girl such as yourself would be quite hesitant to leave it. Also, though your thoughts and ideals are quite mature, your nature is still quite young; you prefer staying home where it's safe, where you have your niche in life, and where you need not worry about all the practicalities of day-to-day living. And a regrettable laziness in your nature makes you rather adverse to the idea of subjecting yourself to another's employ, while an inherent need to follow your ideals alone brings you to pursue an independent career as your mother has done."

She nodded slowly, clearly impressed. "Right on all accounts," she admitted. "I hate to admit it, but it's true: I am lazy. I've gotten… I've gotten better about it, over the past couple of years, but… I don't know, sometimes, I don't feel very old at all."

"I'm afraid I cannot empathise with that feeling," I smiled.

She grinned. "Well, you were probably born old. Y'know, test tube in one hand, magnifying glass in the other."

I chuckled at that. "I think you'd be surprised to know what I was like as a child."

She pounced on that remark, her eyes alight with enthusiasm. "Tell me? Pretty please?"

Unfortunately for her, I was quite immune to the charm of a pretty young woman, no matter how sweet. "I think not. Besides, isn't your friend waiting for you on Gchat?"

Her eyes widened, and her jaw fell. "Lissie! I forgot!"

I laughed. "You'd best get on and explain that you were conversing with a fictitious retired Victorian detective."

She let out a brief laugh, and I was subject to a display of fangirlism for the second time in less than twelve hours. She embraced me briefly and impulsively, saying, "You're pretty cute sometimes, you know that?"

Before I was able even to stammer out a vaguely coherent sentence, she was seated at the computer and "dead to the world." I blinked, shook my head, and—to my eternal mortification—turned to see Watson standing in the hallway just beyond the door and grinning puckishly at me. "Like mother, like daughter," he said mildly, and ducked out of sight.


I flopped onto the bed in my hotel room, breathing a long sigh of relief. I enjoy flights, but they always wear me out. On the taxi ride to the hotel, I'd made the usual phone call home, letting the kids (and two certain Victorian gentlemen, this time) know that I'd arrived safely.

I rolled onto my stomach and reached down for my laptop case, pulling it up and digging out my laptop. I checked my email accounts—nothing new that was important, except for a review on a Sherlock Holmes fanfic. Yes, eternal childhood, thank you.

Every now and then, I did Startpage searches on the two men who were currently our guests. I don't know what prompted me to do it now, typing in Dr. John Watson, but I was totally unprepared for one of the results. "The Blog of John H. Watson, M.D." It was not the title that surprised me; rather, as I read it, it was the realization that this wasn't just a fan roleplaying—this was John Watson, the Real Deal. His style was unmistakable.

Wide-eyed, I scrolled down through the blog and discovered that John had been doing this for three days already. It wasn't a description of his current time-travel situation, but a log of his adventures with Sherlock, starting with A Study in Scarlet, which he had not gotten past yet. In fact, this version of "STUD" contained material that hadn't been seen in the original—honest-to-goodness deleted scenes! I realized then just what a genius John Watson was: he couldn't really write and publish more cases under his name, but he had the heart of a writer. The stories he had to tell needed an outlet. And even if no one took his writings seriously, he was still writing, still releasing stories for others to enjoy.

Who knew? Maybe, with any luck, we'd finally get the true story of the giant rat of Sumatra, the shocking affair of the Dutch steamship Friesland, and all those other cases to which the good Doctor alluded but never published. Meantime, I was going to enjoy this bonus material thoroughly.


I was coming to regard film entertainment as the curse of the modern era, one of my reasons for this belief being that I myself already harbored an addiction. Edward and Aubrey did nothing to remedy the situation. In the past fortnight, the little ones had begged me to watch several Veggie Tales DVDs, and despite the often bizarre and absurd aspects of the show (or rather, perhaps, because of them), I found it quite amusing.

On this first night of their mother's absence, the children turned from musical produce to talking animal toys. In other words, we watched The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Aubrey was on my lap, and Edward was curled up against me. I could not help but marvel at their implicit trust; I was their hero, therefore I was kin. It sent a sharp pang through my heart, bittersweet, for I knew that I was experiencing something denied to me ten years ago when my wife and son died in labour. Ten years later for me and a hundred and thirty-one for the world, I was, somehow, something very much like a father to two fatherless children.

A tear escaped my defenses and rolled down my cheek, and it was at that moment that Aubrey chose to glance up at me. Her perfect little face puckered into a frown as she said, "Doctor, why are you crying? Is it 'cause the show's sad?" At that, Edward looked up at me questioningly.

Indeed, it was at a melancholy scene, in which Tigger was lamenting his lack of identity. (It may sound humourous, dear reader, but rest assured that it actually was quite a poignant moment in the episode.) I forced a smile at the little girl and said, "I'm fine, Aubrey, truly. Let's just watch the show, shall we?"

"Okay," said she, though she sounded less than certain, and Edward cast me a dubious look. "Don' worry—Tigger's gonna get all his stripes back."

I managed to laugh past the lump in my throat. "Very well, then, I shan't worry."


Watson was rather quiet that night; from the pensively melancholy glances he kept giving Aubrey and Edward, it was not difficult to deduce whither his thoughts were. They lay with a modest grave in churchyard thousands of miles away across an ocean. Action had to be taken.

Aid seemed to come in the form of Christy, who suggested that we watch the Frank Langella Sherlock Holmes play once the younger children were in bed. As I had already viewed this adaptation on YouTube and knew it to be quite comical in parts, I agreed; and the eldest three children, Watson, and I gathered around the dining room monitor to watch the regrettably low-resolution videos.

It appeared to work. Watson chuckled and laughed along with the others, and victory seemed assured. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the Watson in the film was married and that his wife was mentioned a few times. To my Boswell's credit, he barely reacted visibly, though I cursed my deplorable forgetfulness.

Even so, the film turned out to be a success. Watson turned to me with a twinkle in his eye, and I knew what he would say. I silently begged him with my eyes not to say it before Christy, Jeremy, and Cameron, but he would have none of it. "Now, Holmes, how ever did you let a good, dear girl like that go?"

Jeremy and Cameron made faces, but Christy giggled.

"I can give you one very good reason," I said coolly.

"Oh, quite so, quite so," Watson agreed amiably. He shook his head and tsk-tsked. "Such a shame."

Christy doubled over giggling, and Jeremy surged to his feet. "I'm going to bed," he declared in a somewhat disgusted tone—his sentiment directed at his older sister. "Goodnight."

"I'm going, too," Cameron added, rising to leave.

A round of goodnights was exchanged, in which Christy slipped away before her brothers left the room. Watson chuckled as I returned the monitor from the table to its proper place on the desk. "That was fun."


"I thought the romantic aspect well-handled."

"Too close to the Gillette drama."

"Do you think so?" Watson sat back and contemplated this.

"I don't suppose you are game to try another movie."

He raised his eyebrows. "Holmes, it's a quarter to eleven. If we watch another two-hour movie, do you realise how late that will be?"

"I'm sure we can find something shorter," I shrugged, leaving the dining room.

As Watson followed me into the living room, he said, "Well, I did see a DVD the other day called The Day the Earth Stood Still. Black-and-white film, science fiction. It looked interesting." He searched the shelves that held the science fiction films, then pulled out a thin case. "Here we are."

He handed it to me, and I looked it over. "I suppose," I shrugged again. "Klaatu barada nikto. Hum, interesting language."

It so happened that the film was more to Watson's taste than mine, having no complexity of plot other than the largely unexplored mysteries surrounding the alien Klaatu. But Watson enjoyed it, and for tonight, that was what mattered.

We made it quite well through our first twenty-four hours without the lady of the house. Ruth barely avoided a soup spillage on the table, and all the siblings performed their usual bickering; but that was the extent of the damage thus far.

It was now late morning and finally warming up outside, after a foggy, chilly dawn. I went outside and headed for the pasture. Thunderhead stood conveniently in the corner nearest the house, placidly grazing—the only time he was awake and placid, I am afraid.

I had not yet begun to break the stallion in, but I intended to rectify that situation posthaste. I noiselessly, slowly, approached the dark bay from his right, willing myself to project a gentle calm. As I drew near, I murmured, "Good morning."

One ear rotated in my direction, and his head came up.

"It's all right," I murmured. "It's all right." He watched me as I came closer, maintaining a steady steam of soothing words. I would be his master, but I would not be seen as a threat in his eyes. I stepped up to the fence and dared to extend my hand slowly.

He eyed me, then lowered his head to smell my hand as I kept murmuring.

I almost held my breath as I gradually lifted my free hand to stroke his powerful neck. Oh, he was a beauty, as fine a steed as any could wish to see! It was now my task to make him as fine a steed as any could wish to ride. The trick of the matter was to master the body without breaking the spirit. The process would be slow, but I would succeed.

Error messages on the computer were currently beyond my ken, therefore it was perfectly natural for me to call Christy—who was in the kitchen—for help. How could even I know that she was lifting heavy crockery? And in a house full of people, should she not have had better instincts, anyway?

But I get ahead of myself. The point is that, the very next moment after my call, I heard a crash from the next room, followed by a vociferous but curtailed curse. When I rushed into the kitchen to see what was the matter, I was greeted with one of the most ferocious looks I have ever had the misfortune to behold in a young woman of fine family and good breeding.

Oh, yes, not only was her temper Scotch-Irish-Spanish-Jewish-German-Polish like her mother's, it was also French via her father. In that moment, I heartily pitied her future husband.

"Sherlock!" Christy snarled. Of course, I had startled her as she was lifting the crockery, and she promptly dropped the dishes.

"My sincerest apologies, Christy, for startling you," I said with as placating a tone as ever I had used on an indignant client. "Is anything broken or cracked?"

She huffed and bent down to pick up the dishes, one by one. "I don't think so," she admitted grudgingly. "No." Then she growled. "Now I'm going to have to put them in the dishwasher! Ohhh, I hate the way these cupboards are arranged!"

I backed away. "And there's nothing I can do to help?"

"No, not really." She opened the dishwasher and began to load it with the crockery. "What was it you wanted, anyway?"

"The computer gave me an… 'error message,' if I recall your mother's lessons aright."

She sighed. "Okay, just give me a sec, and I'll check it ou… hey, wait a minute! Couldn't you have asked Jeremy?"

"He and Cameron are outside with your grandfather in the garden."

She growled again and slammed the dishwasher door shut. "Fine. Just a minute." She gave her hands a quick wash—why, I could not fathom—and came out to the dining room, checking the monitor screen. And promptly closing her eyes and dropping her head as if fainting.

Fortunately, I knew from previous experience with Kathleen that such an action was merely a theatrical one, akin to bludgeoning one's head upon a hard surface. (Though, dear reader, I really cannot see much point in either action, even as a vent of frustration.)

Christy moved the cursor over to click on the "x" button on the window and said without looking up, "When that specific message appears, you can just exit it. It's okay." Then, more to herself in an undertone than to me: "I can't believe I went through all that just for a stupid message that could be closed." She stood straight to leave.

"Christy, I am—"

The kitchen door slammed shut behind her.


To borrow the modern habit of saying a single word in a derogatory fashion:



Of late, our nights were nearly as eventful as our days. This particular night, the second since Kathleen's departure, a thunderstorm gusted in around ten o'clock and raged healthily for a good hour. About fifteen minutes into the storm and half an hour into Sherlock bonus features, a small form burst into the living room.

"Aubrey!" I cried, pausing the DVD and going over to the little one. "What on earth are you doing down here at this time of night?"

Before Aubrey could answer, Ruth appeared in the doorway, flushed and rumpled. "Aubrey Rosa Duran!" she scolded, then looked up at Holmes and myself. "Sorry, I think she forgot Mama wouldn't be here."

Indeed, Aubrey clung to my leg and buried her face into it when a particularly loud peal of thunder reverberated through the air. "I scared," said she, her voice muffled.

"Thunder is nothing more than loud noise caused by lightning, little one," Holmes said gently.

"C'mon, Aubrey, back to bed," Ruth coaxed.

Aubrey merely clutched my trousers tighter, and I shook his head. "Ruth, go back to bed; we shall take care of her."

"We shall?" Holmes echoed incredulously.

"You will?" said Ruth.

"Quite," I assured her. "Go on."

There was no mistaking the relief or gratitude in the teenager's face. "Thank you. Goodnight!" And with that, two bachelors were left alone with a frightened five-year-old girl.

Unperturbed, however, I lifted Aubrey into my arms and supported her on my right side so as not to strain my bad shoulder. "Now then, sweetheart, what say we get you back to sleep, eh?"

"Can' go ta sleep," she pouted.

Inspiration struck my friend at that point. "Watson, I've an idea," said he. "Half a moment." He disappeared and reappeared swiftly, cradling his treasure, and I understood.

"Excellent," I murmured.

He opened the case and picked up the violin. "Aubrey, does your mother ever sing you to sleep?"

"Lotsa times—'specially when it's stormin'."

"Very well, then, this will be like that, all right?" He tucked the violin under my chin, quite obviously reveling in the feel of it. I suddenly recalled that this was only the second time he would play it.

It was last Thursday evening. Holmes had inexplicably reached from the armchair for his Stradivarius, only to remember that it was no longer in his possession. Kathleen studied him for a long moment, then rose from her sofa, saying, "I'll be right back."

When she returned, it was with a violin case. She wordlessly held it out to Holmes, who eyed her for a moment before carefully receiving it. He opened the case and lifted out a violin and bow, and looked up at Kathleen. "Kathleen, is this…"

She did not speak at first, some silent communication passing between two minds so very dissimilar and yet so very alike. "Yes," she said at last. "Go ahead, try it out."

Holmes tucked the instrument beneath his chin, tested it, tuned it. After a minute, he played a brief tune and stopped. It was not a Stradivarius, but any violin that passed under the hands of the master could sound beautiful; and from what I could tell, it was a well-made instrument.

He lowered the violin and looked Kathleen in the eye. "Are you certain?" he said quietly.

She returned his silver gaze steadily. "It needs to be played," was all that she said.

Holmes closed his eyes and ran the bow over the strings, creating a soft, soothing melody that I recognized as one of his own pieces. I rocked Aubrey gently in time with the rhythm, and in a very few minutes, she was asleep. Holmes opened his eyes briefly to glance at the object of his effort and smiled, and I smiled back.

Even after I had returned Aubrey to bed, Holmes continued to play, and I turned off the DVD machine. Fiction was nothing compared to this reality.

Author's Note:

Some more fluff, some more angst… Btw, the Winnie the Pooh episode mentioned is "Stripes," in which Tigger's stripes are scrubbed off, and everyone thinks he's someone other than himself. His sad little song near the climax of the story is the specific scene in this chapter; and, to be honest, it still can make me tear up (Tigger!angst always could do that to me). Also, the version here of The Day the Earth Stood Still is the original '50s film, not the remake. I've only ever seen the original; and from what I know of the remake, I'd probably enjoy it but not like it as much as the oldie.

As far as the RDJ film is concerned… y'know what, I still haven't seen it, but I've read the script, and I know a lot about it. I think I'd probably enjoy it, though there is stuff that I don't like/approve of. Christy's sentiments echo my own… c'mon, Sherlock probably would have a hernia. xD

The Robert Stephens movie mentioned is The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Again, I've never seen it, but I have read the script (you can get it from IMSDb). I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, 'cause there are some more-than-questionable aspects (definitely not a kids' show, if you take my meaning), but it's still an interesting adaptation. Sad at the end. The funny thing about it is that it stars Christopher Lee as—are you ready for this?—Mycroft. No, I kid you not, and, no, Christopher did not gain a lot of weight to do it. To date, it's the youngest I've ever seen Christopher Lee (the film is 1970), and he played a sort of Mycroft that's more like BBC Sherlock. I may note that Jeremy Brett called Robert Stephens his "bestest friend," and said that he liked Stephens and Colin Blakely (Watson) very much in their roles, "though I don't rate the film too highly" (interview by Wai-Ming Chan & Imran Hussain at Wyndham's Theatre, 5/4/89; copied from the Brettish Empire). One last note: there's at least one clip on YouTube, "Christopher Lee in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," and I must say that Stephens does a good job.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of adaptations, I have now seen Sherlock! HOLY COW, that show is awesome! There's stuff that I don't approve of, of course (and that cabbie creeps me out), but on the whole, I definitely love it.

Christy's problem with the dishes is based off the distinct possibility of an identical situation happening in my own kitchen. =P It was nice to flesh her out more fully in this chapter—just in case you wondered, she's more like me than Kathleen is.

My favorite scenes were the end and the airport—the latter, I've had written for several weeks. =) I love Kathleen's burst of fangirlism. Lucky girl, kissing them both. xD

Please review!