Note: This is the fourth story in the Sofie Series. The Sofie Series includes the following stories in this order:

Mouth of Babes

Facing Forward

Sentry Duty

Lessons Learned

After All

Lessons Learned

Chapter 1

Later, John Watson mused that he should've paid more attention in his philosophy course. Surely there was a precise name for the error in reasoning that he'd made.

The starting premise was solid enough: All things that came from Jim Moriarty were dangerous (with "dangerous" in this case defined as cruel, harmful, and potentially deadly).

So far, so good.

Since that night at the pool, John's mistake had been assuming that all dangers in the near future, therefore, would come from Jim Moriarty.

He had not been alone in making this error.

Experience, however, was a harsh and unforgiving pedagogue. None of them would soon forget their lesson.

"Smile, Mrs Hudson!" Sofie's voice carried up the stairs. John opened the door to the flat and stepped onto the landing, smiling down at the little girl's father. Lestrade appeared pleasantly rumpled and comfortably harried; the grin with which he answered John rose up to his brown eyes and shone there.

"Running a bit late," he rasped. "C'mon, sweetheart. Thanks, Mrs Hudson."

Sofie swung around the post to stand on the first step of the staircase. There she paused, arms outstretched, striking a pose.

"Hi, John! See my new uniform-that's-not-actually-a-uniform-but-really-it-is?"

"You look so grown up!" John said, and he meant it. Her matching jumper and skirt were a subdued dark charcoal, her shirt and knee socks a rich claret. A single, thick braid of dark hair draped over her shoulder. "Quite sophisticated."

"Thanks. The jumper itches, though."

Following behind her as she climbed the stairs, Lestrade rolled his eyes. "She insisted on wearing it today so she could show you two."

"I'm honoured," John said. When Sofie reached him, he leaned down to give and receive a hug.

Only when she'd passed him, dashing into the flat to find Sherlock, did John note the backpack she wore. It took the form of a plush snowy owl: Hedwig, of course.

"Ruins the 'grown up' effect a bit, yeah?" Lestrade chuckled. "Fine by me. I'm afraid she's half-convinced herself she's going to Hogwarts, though."

It had been several weeks since work allowed Lestrade to enjoy a full day with his daughter, and just as long since she'd graced the threshold of 221B Baker Street. John and Lestrade entered the cluttered sitting room side by side, taking in the sight of Sofie modelling her new clothes for the man who had done so much to secure her future safety and happiness.

For this visit Sherlock had foregone his pyjamas and dressing gown for proper clothes, something of a milestone in his slow recovery.

John forced himself to focus on the pleased expression that transformed his flatmate's finely-drawn features. Better that than dwelling on how the purple shirt and dark jeans, once almost obscenely form-fitting, now hung shapelessly on Sherlock's raw-boned frame.

One step at a time, John told himself. We'll get there. We aregetting there. Every day.

"I see your recent shopping efforts have done nothing for your own wardrobe," Sherlock offered by way of greeting, eyeing Lestrade's bland shirt and trousers without enthusiasm.

"Not my shopping efforts: I stay well out of it," Lestrade explained. "Sofie's now assembled her own dream team to advise on her back-to-school look, including" – he ticked the list off on his fingers – "one grandmother with timeless taste, one detective sergeant with style and attitude, and one personal assistant of a 'minor government official' with her finger on the pulse of the fashion world.

"Me," he said, "I keep my head down and mouth shut. I just set the spending limit, pay the bills, and admire the final results."

"Wise man," John said.

Making room for Sofie to climb up and sit beside him on the sofa, Sherlock shifted his laptop. Indicating its screen, he said, "It seems there are new developments with former members of the Carleton syndicate."

"Some," Lestrade frowned. "Unexpected, so I'm told."

"Wasn't that the family—"

Lestrade shot a meaningful glance in Sofie's direction as he interrupted. "Years ago, yeah. Not exactly welcome news, as you can imagine."

John considered the two men, making a mental note to ask Sherlock about the matter later.

"Reckon this is related to…?" Lestrade let the question trail off, unfinished.

Him, John thought to himself. Moriarty. Like Voldemort: You-Know-Who, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

"No," Sherlock said. With a frustrated jerk of his head, he added, "At least, not yet."

Lestrade let out a gusty sigh and ran a hand through his hair. "Small favours, eh?" He shook himself, as if resisting a chill, and rallied against the sudden change of atmosphere in the room. "In other news," he continued, "Sofie has a new mobile—"

At this, the little girl held the device aloft in a triumphant hand.

"—for emergencies only." Lestrade's emphasis suggested that this had been a subject of considerable negotiation. "Not for sending pictures of Mrs Taylor's new guinea pigs. Not for ringing about how many times she's spotted a yellow car. Not for texting that she's found nail polish the exact colour of the T.A.R.D.I.S."

Sofie nodded agreement, solemnity warring with merriment in her wide eyes.

"Tinkering with it put us behind schedule this morning," Lestrade continued. "I promised her a chocolate éclair as a special treat for breakfast, and, well. Hasn't happened yet, has it?" Lestrade looked from Sherlock to John, brow furrowed. "I could, um, run to the bakery down the street…"

"Go on then," John said. "She's fine here."

"Of course," Sherlock added. "Sofie can tell us her latest news."

"Right. Thanks. Won't be a minute." Clapping his hands decisively, Lestrade asked, "And what can I bring you two?"

With a negligent wave, Sherlock declined the offer.

"I'll have what Sofie's having," John said. "And grab an extra one, will you? Sherlock pretends he's not interested now, but later he'll try to nick mine. Or hers."

Sherlock glared, but he didn't argue.

"Will do. I'll see if Mrs Hudson cares for anything. Sofie, mind your manners, all right?"

Already holding out her mobile for Sherlock's closer inspection, Sofie laughed. "I will, Daddy. 'Bye!"

"And Lestrade—" John began, voice pitched low.

"I know. I'll be careful."

With a casual salute, Lestrade disappeared through the door and closed it behind him.

"I put everyone's pictures with their numbers in my contacts list. See?" Sofie's nimble fingers played over the phone's screen. The two flatmates leaned close, an attentive audience.

The first picture showed Mrs Hudson smiling and waving her hand. Beneath her photo was "Mrs H" followed by the landlady's number.

Then came the likeness of Sergeant Donovan, her arms crossed, her head on one side, a bold, cheeky grin on her face. "Sally," the caption read above her contact information.

The next image was that of a familiar young woman peering over the top of a Blackberry, one eye closed in a conspiratorial wink. The only label above the number was a single "A."

After that followed a photo of a lone umbrella leaning against an elegantly panelled wall. No name was given, and asterisks obscured the digits of the number.

Half of the leaders of the Free World would kill for such access, John thought, fighting a grin. And the other half doesn't have high enough clearance even to appreciate that they should.

Mycroft, you terrifying, Orwellian old softie.

The next picture revealed a woman of faintly exotic features – was she of Eurasian heritage, perhaps? – with hair that fell in a straight and shining chin-length curtain of black and silver. John could tell that she was old enough to be his own mother, but she remained undeniably attractive to his eyes, her dignity only enhanced by her years. Her lips curved in a half-smile that was no less warm for its subtlety.

"Gran," the screen read.

So that was Julia, the mother of Lestrade's late wife.

The final photo, presumably the first taken, was one of Lestrade himself. As always he appeared tired and somewhat dishevelled, complete with stubbled jaw and ruffled hair, but he wore a simple tee-shirt and denim jacket instead of his customary dark suit. The openness of his tender expression was almost painful in its vulnerability. Moved, John glanced away, offering privacy to the unguardedness of that preserved moment.

"Now it's your turn," Sofie declared. Then, with sudden uncertainty, "I can, can't I? You'll be my contacts?"

"Are you joking?" John said, nudging her with a friendly elbow. "'Course we will."

"Me first," Sherlock demanded, straightening where he sat as Sofie stood and readied the mobile's camera. As she concentrated, her tongue peeked out at an angle from between her lips.

After a moment, she giggled. "That's it! That's you! That's your look!"

Then, "Oh, it's blurry. I moved too much. Sorry. One more time."

"I have a look," Sherlock informed John. After a beat, he thought to ask Sofie, "What is my look, exactly? Be precise."

"Hmmm… like music is playing in the background, even when it's quiet, and wind is blowing in your hair, even when you're indoors." Blinking at him over her phone, she added, "Like you should be wearing a cape. All the time."

Sherlock seemed inordinately pleased.

Once he approved of his photo – a process that required four separate portraits to be taken – he accepted the mobile and typed in his number, then added Sofie's to his own.

Throughout the process, John bit his lip, shook his head, and swallowed his laughter.

When his own turn came, he sat square-shouldered and grinning, hoping he looked Johnenough for Sofie's taste.

Apparently he didn't.

"That's not you," she said. "It's polite, but it's not the way you smile at me. Your eyes are all soft and secret when you look at me" – she thought a moment – "like I know what you really are. Because I do."

"What I really am?" John braced himself for her particularly uncensored brand of honesty, a bit unnerved by Sherlock's keen interest in their exchange.

"On the outside you're… you know, like a meerkat."

Ah, familiar territory, this. John wondered whether it was more pathetic for a man his age to be pleased at being compared to a meerkat on the outside, or to be disappointed that he wasn't considered a meerkat on the inside, too.

Quite pathetic either way, he decided, and he sighed.

"And on the inside?" The question brought no little dread, but he'd come this far.

"A ninja," Sofie said with obvious satisfaction.

"A ninja," John echoed, bemused.

Sofie turned to Sherlock for backup. "I'm right, aren't I?"

As John steeled himself for Sherlock's inevitable snide remark, the consulting detective pinned him with a penetrating stare that turned suddenly, inexplicably… delighted.

"You are indeed," Sherlock said. "Well spotted."

Sofie nodded, vindicated.

The resulting photo showed a John Watson with pink cheeks and a crooked, goofy grin, but he wasn't particularly fussed.

"'Hack' is a value-laden and ignorant term, John, the refuge of—"

"Be that as it may," John interrupted, "somehow I think that teaching his daughter to hack her phone violates the spirit of trust we have with Lestrade. In loco parentisand all that."

Muted sounds downstairs, barely audible, might or might not have been voices.

John stretched, grunted, and rose. "I'm going to make tea." His limp remained pronounced, but it couldn't be described as a full-fledged hobble anymore. His cane sat next to the door gathering dust, unused now for ten straight days. John took his victories where he found them.

Over his shoulder, he offered, "Honestly, I can't believe I'm saying this, but why don't you show Sofie your latest experiment?" It might represent simply another effort at exploring Moriarty's methods – in this case, the chemical tagging of surveilled subjects – but John had to admit that it was interesting, especially compared to Sherlock's past endeavours. At least no eyeballs had found their way into the microwave for this one.

Sofie's mobile disappeared into her backpack, and the next moment she was eagerly extending her hand to Sherlock.

Footfalls thumped on the steps.

Sherlock accepted Sofie's assistance with a curt nod of thanks and levered himself to his feet, wavering only for an instant as he sought balance. Then, apparently satisfied that all mending limbs and joints were in order, he aimed the two of them in the direction of the kitchen table and the creative chaos he'd nurtured there.

A knock came at the door.

"Mr Holmes? Dr Watson?" Mrs Hudson's voice piped through the wood, reed-thin and strained.

For a heartbeat, John's puzzled gaze met his flatmate's.

"It's your housekeeper," she continued, stressing the end of the sentence. "May I have a word?"

Pale eyes widened as they stared into John's. A whisper, a mere breath of air between Sherlock's lips: "Something's wrong. Badly wrong."

The consulting detective's body seemed to forget its past injuries as he propelled Sofie toward John with grim speed.

"Hide her," Sherlock muttered, his expression closing like a fist. "Hide her now."

Then, much louder, "Good morning, Mrs Hudson! I'll be with you in just a moment. Allow me to finish getting dressed."

Oh, God, John thought. Oh, God.

Weeks – months – of waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Moriarty to make his next move, and now…

He turned in place, looking everywhere at once. He scrubbed a hand across his scalp and down his face. He forced one deep breath, then another.

John dropped to one knee, extending his arm for Sofie. She closed the short distance between them at once, her eyes searching his for any clue about how to understand what was happening, how to react to the sudden confusion.

He felt the responsibility of her trust settle on him like the dead weight of a wounded man draped across his shoulders.

"Sofie," he said, hushed but clear and very, very steady, "remember that time I called you my soldier? Well, I need you to be my soldier now."

John was aware of each second as it passed, as clearly as if a time bomb hung around his neck, ticking down to the moment of detonation.

He reached for the box at the far end of the table, the one that held Sherlock's extra slides, test tubes, and beakers. Turning it on its side, he eased the glass and plastic pieces onto the table, mindful of the noise they made.

Then he turned to the cupboard under the sink. With swift, economical movements he swept the clutter of half-used cleaning supplies and half-forgotten household goods into the box. Once the unit was empty, he replaced the box on the table, hoping its jumbled contents would blend in with the rest of Sherlock's mess.

"Not scared of tight spaces, are you?" he asked Sofie in a whisper, readying his assurances that she'd be just like Harry Potter under the stairs at Privet Drive.

Sofie, however, already was climbing under the sink gamely, backpack and all, as she shook her head.

Right. Of course not.

Sherlock called out again to Mrs Hudson, buying them time. John couldn't spare the attention to listen to his words.

As Sofie settled into the cramped quarters, John kneeled and leaned forward until they were nearly nose to nose.

"Listen carefully, Sofie. This is very important."

"It's an emergency," she said, a question as well as a statement.

He folded his hand over hers where it curled around her knee.

"That's right. It is." John's mind raced. He had to make every word count. "You need to stay quiet, and you need to stay here. No matter who or what you hear, you stay in this cupboard. All right?"

"All right."

"When it's time to come out, we'll knock on this door and identify ourselves, to let you know it's safe. Wait until that happens, as long as it takes."

"John!" Sherlock's hushed voice, urgent. "Hurry…"

"Don't be afraid, whatever you hear," John continued. "We may have to pretend, to trick the bad guys." Anything to spare her anguish, should things get ugly. "But if you come out before we're ready, it could put all our lives in danger. Understand? You'll help us best by staying hidden. Promise you will, Sofie."

Her hand turned to clutch his, an almost frantic pressure. "Promise."

Then, in a voice that sounded faint and timid and very un-Sofie-like, she asked, "John? What if someone opens the door without knocking first?"

Good question.

The thought of leaving Sofie defenceless was inconceivable.

"John…" Sherlock again.

Please, John thought. Please, let this be the right thing to do.

Stretching upward, he groped inside a nearby drawer until he felt one, then two familiar handles.

"Be quiet and still, and no one should know you're here," he told her in a rush. "But if someone does open this door without warning" – he pressed a knife into her hand – "you stab, as hard as you can, and then you run. Run fast. Do whatever it takes to get away. Understood, soldier?"

Her features went slack in surprise as he spoke, but then twisted into a mirror of her father's stubborn frown. Clutching the knife to her chest, she gave John a short, determined nod. "Understood."

The right thing to do, after all.

"Brave girl." He smoothed his hand over her hair and withdrew from the cupboard.

As he closed its door, shutting her away in darkness, he heard a soft, "'Bye, John."

Setting his jaw, he climbed stiffly to his feet. Even as he turned, nodding his readiness to Sherlock, he tucked the second knife, handle first, into the back of his jeans.

"I'm so sorry, my boys," Mrs Hudson said. Tears welled in her eyes.

The young man directly behind her had a tight grip around her upper arm and a blade pressed to her throat. Two additional men stood at his side.

"It's not your fault, Mrs Hudson," John said, keeping his voice as quiet and soothing as possible as he came to stand beside Sherlock. "Are you hurt?"

"No, dear." She offered a sheepish half-smile. "Just a bit rattled. I thought they were – well, doesn't matter, does it? Not who they turned out to be."

"Let. Her. Go." Sherlock's voice was the deep, low rumble of approaching thunder.

The young man withdrew his knife and gave Mrs Hudson a forceful shove.

Before she could stumble, Sherlock and John each caught her by an arm. As they steadied her, the three newcomers shouldered their way into the flat and closed the door.

John gathered Mrs Hudson close, shifting to place his body between hers and the three men.

They were dressed in nondescript shirts, trousers, and jackets, as if they'd taken pains to avoid drawing attention to themselves. The one who had threatened Mrs Hudson possessed unnaturally blond hair; he and the younger of his companions, a round-faced, stocky youth with a prominent mole on his cheek, looked to be in their late teens or early twenties. Both held knives.

The older man was closer to sixty than fifty, John guessed. He carried a Beretta – a 92FS Centurion, from the looks of it – with the easy familiarity of someone long comfortable with its use. A professional then, or a former pro. And two amateurs: one keen, one an unknown quantity.

Sherlock angled himself forward, drawing attention away from John and Mrs Hudson, straightening into an arrogant stance that betrayed no hint of his recent wounds.

"I confess I'm disappointed," he complained to the would-be attackers. "This is hardly up to Jim's usual standards."

"Jim? Jim who?" the blond asked. "And who's this skinny shite?"

"Don't know," the older man said. He pointed his gun like a finger, first at Sherlock and then at John. "Not him. Not him," he said. "So where is he? Thought you saw him here, Tommy."

"I did." This from the youth with the mole. "Him and some little girl. His car's still out there."

John experienced the stomach-heaving sensation of a sudden drop on a particularly vicious rollercoaster.

Oh, God. Not Moriarty. This wasn't about Sherlock at all.

What should have been relief felt far more like horror.

"If you're referring to that policeman," Sherlock said, without missing a beat, "he already left. Wrong street. Escorting a lost child home, and he couldn't be bothered to take down the directions properly." He shook his head with feigned disgust. "Nothing but incompetence at the Met these days."

The two younger men exchanged looks. The gunman just grinned, showing teeth.

"I think," he said, "that's a load of bollocks."

Shrugging, Sherlock managed to sound bored. "I can't help what you think. Obviously."

"Secure them first, lads. Then search the flat."

Alert for any opportunity, John held himself ready, and he sensed Sherlock doing the same. If the two of them had been alone, they might have made an immediate move against their captors. But John soon realized that they dared not act. Not yet.

Not when they distrusted the speed and strength of their still-healing bodies. Not with Mrs Hudson in the direct line of fire.

Chafing at his helplessness, he offered no protest as his pockets were searched and his hands secured behind him with a plastic zip tie. The men assembled a row of chairs at the kitchen end of the sitting room, and John did as instructed, taking his place beside Sherlock and Mrs Hudson.

Some ninja you are, he berated himself.

When he pressed his weight into the chair, however, he felt the knife blade bite at the skin of his lower back, a bright line of reassuring pain.

"Go on now; see if he's hiding somewhere," the gunman said, thumbing through the menu of John's mobile. "I'll look for – no. No, wait."

He gave a short, harsh bark of a laugh.

"Here it is, spelled out in black and white: Lestrade." With a jerk of his chin, the man indicated his prisoners. "Keep them quiet. Let's see if he'll take my call."

This time Mrs Hudson was ready for the knife at her throat. She met it with a scathing glare of outrage.

"Your mum," she whispered, "must be so proudof you."

"Shut it!" the blond spat.

The gunman put the mobile in speaker mode, and the room went silent, save for the sound of ringing.

"Yeah? Everything all right?" A car horn. Distant voices. Footsteps on pavement. Lestrade was walking back from the bakery.

"Hello, Geoffrey. I s'pose that's not your real name, though, is it? Too bad: it suited you. Been a long time."

Quiet, save for a quick intake of breath. No more footsteps. Lestrade had stopped in his tracks. Then, "Eddie."

"Ah, you do remember me. I'm touched."

Lestrade's gravelly voice deepened around tightly controlled syllables. "How did you come by that phone?"

"Thought I'd throw a surprise party. Rude of you, not to be here. Decided I'd keep your mates company."

A moment's pause. "Let me speak to them."

The gunman sighed. "Haven't got all day, do I?"

"You know I need proof they're alive and well."

"One. You can speak to one of them."

Another pause. "Dr Watson, then."

"That's me," John murmured, lifting his chin.

Eddie moved to stand in front of him. "Fine. Go ahead." He held out the mobile.

"Dr Watson, this is DI Lestrade." John nodded to himself, appreciating both Lestrade's show of formality and the reasons behind it. "What's your status? Are any of you injured? Do you require medical assistance?"

Choosing his words with care, John willed Lestrade to understand. "They have all three of us: Mrs Hudson, Sherlock, and me. We've been restrained, but we're unhurt."

He fancied that he could hear Lestrade thinking through the implications of his words, turning the "all three of us" over in his mind, searching for where this left Sofie.

Then, crisp and grim, Lestrade said, "I'm sorry about this. I'll put things right."

Eddie drew back the phone. "If you intend to 'put things right,' let's do it like men: face to face. On your way now, are you?"

No hesitation. "Yeah, I am. Alone and unarmed. Be there in minutes."

John cursed silently to himself in seven different languages, a skill he had acquired in the sands of Afghanistan.

"But I've got a request, Eddie. Call it a gesture of goodwill," Lestrade said. "I'll come to the front door. You send down Mrs Hudson. She leaves; I enter. An even trade."

Oh, John thought, struck by that bit of quick thinking. Well done.

"Doesn't matter if she can ID you," Lestrade continued. "The Met already knows you're in play again, Eddie. It won't take long for them to put two and two together, once I disappear. Then again, this isn't about lying low for you at all, is it?

"Send her down, if you want me."

"Always the chivalrous one, eh? Some things never change." Eddie considered his hostage. "Yeah, fine. Ring when you're at the door. No surprises now, there's a good lad."

He ended the call before Lestrade could reply.

"Thank you, dear," Mrs Hudson said simply, gazing down the stairs at the detective inspector silhouetted in the front doorway.

Nodding, Lestrade looked past her to the blond young man on the landing, keeping watch over them both.

She didn't have to feign the stiffness in her joints, but she pressed a hand to her bad hip for added emphasis. Her descent was haltingly slow.

As she neared the very bottom of the staircase, she raised her eyes to Lestrade's. With a faint frown of concern, he moved forward, an arm outstretched to assist her if needed.

Yes. Good.

She drew a quick breath, gathered her nerve, and took a deliberate step into thin air.

Of course he caught her, his arms strong and secure around her shoulders and back. She pressed her face into his neck – and didn't he smell good? lovely man – as she whispered, "Three men. Two knives. One gun."

As he settled her back on her feet, he squeezed her hands in wordless gratitude.

Lestrade's pale face was startling for its utter lack of expression. If Sherlock's silent, intense efforts at observation hadn't already impressed it on him, John would have known from Lestrade's deliberately impassive features just how very dangerous this situation was.

The detective inspector held himself still and allowed the blond to frisk him for weapons and wires.

"All right?" Lestrade asked Sherlock and John, searching their faces. They both nodded.

John wished he could do something, anything, to answer Lestrade's unspoken question about his daughter, to spare the man the strain of not knowing, at least.

"The years have been kind to you," Eddie said. "You kept your good looks. Though you're a bit frayed at the edges, I must say. Don't you sleep well?"

"Do you?" Like Eddie, Lestrade kept his tone calm and casual. They might almost have been two friends on a park bench discussing the weather.

"I expect I'll sleep better tonight." A wry twist of Eddie's lips. "When I saw your picture in the papers, I knew you immediately, grey hair and all. But only a DI, at your age? After all your conspicuous acts of heroism?"

"You know how it is. I get up the nose of some of the higher-ups."

"Imagine that." Eddie's cold smile failed to reach his eyes.

"Look, if you want a reunion, you've got it," Lestrade said steadily, with a nod toward Sherlock and John. "These men have nothing to do with the business between us."

"Who are they, that they matter to you?" Eddie prodded.

"They're civilians. And I'm a police officer, sworn to protect them." The fine lines around Lestrade's eyes and mouth appeared to sharpen all of a sudden. "Thought you'd learned that lesson, Eddie."

"Yeah, I did, didn't I?" Eddie shook his head, as if they'd shared a private joke that wasn't particularly humorous. "Thing is, I also learned you fight when your back's against the wall. You fight hard. And I don't have time for that just now. These two blokes are insurance, to make sure you take your medicine without a fuss."

No, John thought. This won't happen. We can't let this happen.

Lestrade didn't blink. "And if I do?"

"Even you," Sherlock said, so unexpectedly that everyone in the room started, "can't be so stu—"

"Sherlock," Lestrade said. His gaze didn't leave Eddie's face. "Shut up. Please."

To John's astonishment, Sherlock obeyed.

"I assume," Lestrade began again, "you walked in here knowing exactly what you wanted out of this little" – he seemed to search for a fitting word – "drama."

"I did," Eddie agreed. "A photo of you, lying in a puddle of your own blood and puke and piss, as dead as a doornail." He waved at the patch of rug in front of the sofa. "Right about there, but not I'm overly particular."

"A photo" – Lestrade showed no surprise – "to send to the Carletons."

If only one of those two young thugs turned away, John knew he could get to his knife in mere seconds. His fingers itched for it. As it was, he couldn't blink without being observed. Tension coiled and tightened about the room like a noose, and John could scarcely draw a breath.

Eddie nodded. "You ended my career with them, right enough, Mr Undercover Copper. Had to flee the bleeding country to save my hide. Now my boy, my son Seth, he wants a shot at the family business, at restoring our name. You're his ticket in. I make things right, and I reckon he gets a chance."

Spreading both hands in a helpless gesture, Eddie continued to cover Lestrade with the semiautomatic. "So here I am. No limit to what a parent will do for a child."

Lestrade swallowed. "Yeah."

Eddie, John thought, you have no idea. No idea at all.


Vital Stats: Originally written in September 2011.

Originally written for the "Fall Back Into Sherlock" Fest at the Sherlockmas Livejournal community.