A/N: I apologize; I had meant to make the ending lighter. Oh well, the ending of the next one is lighter. Already wrote it! Yes, this is officially a trilogy! I'll try to have the next one up in a few days, keep your eyes out for it.
Sherlock worked vigorously while Raven slept peacefully in the room upstairs. The little girl had been exhausted. She hadn't even wanted him to read to her. As soon as she'd climbed up onto the bed and he'd draped the blanket over her, she'd curled up and been fast asleep in minutes.
He'd gotten straight to work, looking at crime scene photos, making phone calls and doing internet searches, often simultaneously. There were links that he could make sense of now, and he could follow them.
This was what he lived for. The thrill of being right, the energy of his mind working. It hadn't been gone long, but oh, how he had missed it. Every fibre of Sherlock's being was rejoicing, thriving on the sensation of putting a puzzle together again.
When he'd finally pieced it together, he hadn't paused to consider it - he just dashed out the door and flagged down a cab.
It was only after they'd left Baker Street that he remembered the girl sleeping quietly in the upstairs bedroom.
He debated his options quickly. He could have the cab turn around and go back for her, and then drag an uncooperative, miserable sleepy child with him on a delicate and likely dangerous operation, wasting valuable time in the process.
Or he could let her sleep, and return as quickly as possible.
It wouldn't be long, he reasoned. He would be back at the flat within an hour. He'd probably be back before she even woke up.
John's phone beeped, and though he complained aloud, he prayed it would be from Sherlock. Not that he didn't enjoy spending time with his wife, curled up together on the couch just watching telly, but he'd seen this episode of Glee at least twice before and to be honest, it never really was his kind of show to begin with.
He did miss the excitement of 221b, sometimes quite terribly.
Luckily, he had a wife that understood, even if she never said anything about it.
"Sherlock?" She asked sleepily.
"No," John frowned at the screen. "Mycroft. He wants me to meet him at 221b."
"You'd better go then," Molly said, giving him a sympathetic look. "We don't need a team of agents coming after you. I've finally got the house looking nice again."
John laughed and kissed the top of her head. "Can't be any worse than Sherlock and Raven."
"it's nice, isn't it?" She asked, stretching her arms as her husband got up.
"Sherlock and Raven. No one should be alone, even him. Having someone else around is good. She's a sweet little girl, andI don't think he hates her as much as he pretends," she stated.
"I don't think he really hates anyone as much as he pretends. Except maybe Mycroft. Or Anderson. He never did like Anderson."
"Or Jim," Molly added, darting her eyes away. She still felt foolish for how easily he'd used her to get to Sherlock. She had believed that bastard. She'd even loved him, or had started to at least.
"No," John disagreed. "They understood one another, and though Moriarty was what I'd call the definition of evil, Sherlock loved the games that he set up." John caught her look. "He used everyone, just like Sherlock and Mycroft. They use people to get what they want. It wasn't your fault."
"I know," she blinked back her tears. How many times had she been used by Sherlock? At least she'd been aware she was being used then. It was just a conscious choice to let him use her. Anything to get that smile. Now, John's was much more appealing, and he actually loved her back. "It's just hormones. Now get going."
John arrived to a very quiet 221b. It was a bit unsettling.
Mycroft was waiting for him, sitting in an armchair and swinging his umbrella absently back and forth. "Hello, John, how nice to see you."
"Where's Sherlock?" John asked, feeling uneasy as he looked around the flat. A few of Raven's drawings lay discarded on the floor, but everything seemed to be in order, as much order as Sherlock had anyhow.
"Out rescuing a small boy. He'd be just turning him over to the police now," the elder Holmes commented, looking at his watch.
"In the car you saw outside."
"I need you to give my brother a message."
Sherlock raced up the stairs, high off the adrenaline from solving the case entirely. He had almost bounded past the sitting room when he caught sight of John. Odd, John wasn't ever there unless Sherlock had instructed him to be there.
From the look on John's face, Sherlock knew. There was no reason to go upstairs.
"When?" He demanded.
"About half an hour ago, I think," John answered truthfully. "That's when I got here anyways." He noticed Sherlock's hands tense, tightening into a fist and releasing several times; he was upset, though he was fighting very hard to keep from showing it.
"Good. I can return to my work then."
"He wanted me to tell you that you lost this round." John informed him. "What does that mean?"
Sherlock looked at him as though the answer were clear. "It means I lost, obviously."
"Doesn't it bother you that you're playing a game with this girl's life?" He asked, but received no response. Instead, his friend and former flatmate took to looking out the window, his hands folded behind his back. "Is that the last you've seen of her then?"
"Of course not," Sherlock answered simply. "We're tied. I won the first round, remember? No, it'll be the best two out of three." His hands were still tense, though John pretended not to notice. "Once I win the next round, then this game will be over."
John crossed his arms. "What happens when you win?"
"I don't know."
"Right." The two were silent, and John wondered if he was the only one to notice. "I'm sorry," he said softly, and Sherlock nodded. It was the tiniest of moments, but it was there. John cleared his throat. "I should get back home. When you get another case, bloody ring me, will you? You hate doing them alone."
"And you hate not being involved." The smile was evident in Sherlock's voice, even if it wasn't present on his face. "I suppose I could see if you're not busy."
"Good. No one needs to be alone. You're always welcome around our place, for dinner or whatnot," John added before making his way out of the flat. He knew Sherlock would probably never take the offer, but it was still only right to have the offer known.
Sherlock wondered if he actually agreed about being alone. He had never felt more alone. Funny; he'd been alone many times beforehand and had never noticed how odd and uncomfortable silence could be.
Taking Raven's drawings from off the floor, he looked at a crudely drawn figure which could only have been of him, going by the hair and what he assumed to be a scarf. He smiled as he placed them into a nearby box. A child was not what he needed running around the flat, it was about time Mycroft took her off his hands anyways.
Still, he was very much looking forward to the next round. He wouldn't make a stupid mistake this time. He'd beat Mycroft.
Maybe he'd get a dog in the meantime.